Saturday, 24 June 2017

Putting The Big Into The Big Meeting

You will of course all be at the Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday 8th July.

Who won't be? 200,000 are expected at the high point of the Third Corbyn Summer.

It might even get some national coverage this time, although don't bet on it.

With scarcely an affordable hotel room left in the city, camping will be available, if you book now.

But are Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach, Len McCluskey and Steve Gillan prepared to appear on a platform with a member of the majority on Durham County Council?

Even if it is only the Mayor saying a few opening words?

Those words would more appropriately be delivered by one or more of the Teaching Assistants.

Paradise Regaining?

The UN's referral of the Chagos Islands to the International Criminal Court is excellent news.

The treatment of my friends the Chagossians is a stain on this country and a stain on the Labour Party.

But Labour's current Leader has been valiant in their cause over many decades, as he has been in the causes of my friends and theirs, the Dalits, and of my friends and theirs, the Rohingya, the mere mention of which latter is enough to secure one's arrest here in the fiefdom of his internal party enemies.

Moreover, Vince Cable does also have some history of sympathy towards the Chagossians. There are many reasons to see him as the best available candidate for Leader of the Liberal Democrats. This is one of those reasons.

The Red Rose and The White Rose

When my friend Richard Burgon, who has told me that I set the sartorial tone of the whole movement, balked at swearing allegiance to the Hanoverian monarch, then I was delighted to see what a good Catholic boy he still was. 

Perhaps he should have worn an oak leaf and acorns? Next time, perhaps he will?

Andrew Murray, meanwhile, is a scion of the Jacobite Dukes of Perth. That is as it should be.

The Whig Revolution of 1688 led to very deep and very wide disaffection among Catholics, High Churchmen, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.

Within those subcultures, long after the death of the Stuart cause as such with Cardinal York in 1807, there persisted a feeling that Hanoverian Britain, her Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology, imported and at least initially controlled from William of Orange’s Netherlands, were less than fully legitimate.

This was to have startlingly radical consequences.

First in seventeenth-century England and then in the eighteenth-century France that looked to that precedent, gentry-cum-mercantile republican absolutism was an inversion of Jean Bodin’s princely absolutism, itself an Early Modern aberration. But what of the creation of a gentry-cum-mercantile republic in the former American Colonies?

Did it, too, ultimately derive from reaction against the Stuarts, inverting their newfangled ideology against them? No, it ultimately derived from loyalty to them, a loyalty which regarded the Hanoverian monarchy as illegitimate.

Since 1776 predates 1789, the American Republic is not a product of the Revolution, but nevertheless sits under a radically orthodox theological critique, most obviously by reference to pre-Revolutionary traditions of Catholic and Protestant republican thought.

On the Catholic side, that is perhaps Venetian. On the Protestant side, it is perhaps Dutch. On both sides, it is perhaps to be found at cantonal level in Switzerland, where it is possible that such thought might hold sway even now.

There simply were Protestant Dutch Republics before the Revolution. There simply was a Catholic Venetian Republic before the Revolution. There simply were, and there simply are, Protestant and Catholic cantons in Switzerland, predating the Revolution. The literature must be there, for those who can read the languages sufficiently well.

Furthermore, there is no shortage of Americans whose ancestors came from the Netherlands or from Italy, and there may well be many who assume from their surnames that their bloodline is German or Italian (or possibly French) when in fact it is Swiss.

It is time for a few of them to go looking for these things, with a view to applying them as the radically orthodox theological critique of that pre-Revolutionary creation, the American Republic. 

Within that wider context, far more Jacobites went into exile from these Islands than Huguenots sought refuge here. The Jacobites founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They maintained a network of merchants in the ports circling the Continent.

Their banking dynasties had branches in several great European cities. They introduced much new science and technology to their host countries. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. They fought with the French in India.

And very many of them ended up either in the West Indies or in North America. New York seems the most obvious place to look for them, being named after its initial proprietor as a colony, the future James VII and II.

The Highlanders in North Carolina spoke Gaelic into the 1890s, but in vain had the rebellious legislature there issued a manifesto in that language a century earlier: like many people of directly Scots rather than of Scots-Irish origin or descent, they remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.

However, there were many Jacobite Congregationalists, such as Edward Roberts, the exiled James’s emissary to the anti-Williamite Dutch republics, and Edward Nosworthy, a gentleman of his Privy Council both before and after 1688. There was that Catholic enclave, Maryland.

And there was Pennsylvania: almost, if almost, all of the Quakers were at least initially Jacobites, and William Penn himself was arrested for Jacobitism four times between 1689 and 1691.

Many Baptists were also Jacobites, and the name, episcopal succession and several other features of the American Episcopal Church derive, not from the Church of England, but from the staunchly Jacobite Episcopal Church in Scotland, which provided the American Colonies with a bishop, Samuel Seabury, in defiance of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian monarchy to which it was attached.

Early Methodists were regularly accused of Jacobitism. John Wesley himself had been a High Church missionary in America, and Methodism was initially an outgrowth of pre-Tractarian, often at least sentimentally Jacobite, High Churchmanship.

Very many people conformed to the Established Church but either refused to take the Oath or declared that they would so refuse if called upon to take it. With its anti-Calvinist soteriology, it high sacramentalism and Eucharistic theology, and its hymnody based on the liturgical year, early Methodism appealed to them.

Wesley also supported, and corresponded with, William Wilberforce, even refusing tea because it was slave-grown; indeed, Wesley’s last letter was to Wilberforce. They wrote as one High Tory to another.

Wilberforce was later a friend of Blessed John Henry Newman, whose Letter to the Duke of Norfolk constitutes the supreme Catholic contribution to the old Tory tradition of the English Confessional State, in the same era as Henry Edward Manning’s Catholic social activism, and the beginning of Catholic Social Teaching’s strong critique of both capitalism and Marxism.

Whiggery, by contrast, had produced a “free trade” even in “goods” that were human beings. The coalition against the slave trade contained no shortage of Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists or Quakers.

Yet the slave trade was integral to the Whig Empire’s capitalist ideology. If slavery were wrong, then something was wrong at a far deeper level. James Edward Oglethorpe, a Jacobite, opposed slavery in Georgia. Anti-slavery Southerners during the American Civil War were called “Tories”.

Radical Liberals were anti-capitalist in their opposition to opium dens, to unregulated drinking and gambling, and to the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, all of which have returned as features of the British scene.

Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers fought as one for the extension of the franchise and for other political reforms. It was Disraeli, a Tory, who doubled the franchise in response to that agitation. To demand or deliver such change called seriously into question the legitimacy of the preceding Whig oligarchy.

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of Catholicism, of the Anglo-Catholicism that High Churchmanship mostly became at least to some extent, of the Baptist and Reformed (including Congregational) traditions, and, above all, of Methodism, to the emergence and development of the Labour Movement. 

Quakerism and Methodism, especially the Primitive and Independent varieties, were in the forefront of opposition to the First World War, which also produced the Guild of the Pope’s Peace, and which had a following among Anglo-Catholics of either of what were then the more extreme kinds, “English Use” and “Western Use”. Each of those included Jacobites among, admittedly, its many eccentrics.

Above all in Wales, where Catholic sentiment was still widely expressed in the old tongue well into the eighteenth century, Quakers and Methodists had very recently stood shoulder to shoulder with Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists, including Lloyd George, against the Boer War. 

Paleoconservatives who would rightly locate the great American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that that tradition encompasses the campaign against the slave trade, the Radical and Tory use of State action against social evils, the extension of the franchise, the creation of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.

All of those arose out of disaffection with Whiggery, with the Whigs’ imported capitalist system, with their imported dynasty, and with that system’s and that dynasty’s Empire.

A disaffection on the part of Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish and therefore also American Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.

Behind these great movements for social justice and for peace was still a sense that the present British State (not any, but the one then in existence) was itself somehow less than fully legitimate.

In other words, the view that there was ultimately something profoundly wrong about this country and her policies, both domestic and foreign, was a distant echo of an ancestral Jacobitism.

Radical action for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy.

It still does.

Of course, I know that Richard was really expressing doubts about the monarchy itself. I refuse to believe that every White Gold merchant on the Conservative benches is a God-fearing monarchist.

But when Prince George was born, there were complaints that we now knew that our next three Heads of State, probably stretching into the twenty-second century, would all be white males.

Well, they would all have been white males, anyway. The present one is not male. But any elected Head of this State always would be. And white. And quite or very posh. So why bother changing the present arrangements?

No one with anything like the Royal Family’s foreign background would ever stand a hope of becoming the President of Britain. The Queen is of heavy immigrant stock, and she is married to an immigrant.

They are both probably part-black. In fact, no one could believe anything else having seen a portrait of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose features were publicly called “Negroid” at the time, when her ancestry was common knowledge and apparently disturbed nobody. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after her, and it is the seat of Mecklenburg County.

Furthermore, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are plausibly believed to be descended from Muhammad through various part-Moorish royal lines on the Iberian Peninsula.

Even if Robert Graves was once ushered away from Her Majesty after he had mentioned their common descent from the Prophet of Islam, that view is widely held in an entirely matter-of-fact way across the Islamic world.

Genghis Khan and the Tang Emperor Suzong are less plausible ancestors, but not impossible ones.

Loyalty to the monarchy is nothing if not a bulwark against racism, and not only, although certainly, because the Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth, as well as directly of 16 member-states. Only four of those 16, including this one, have white majority populations.

Only two of the remaining 14 British Overseas Territories are predominantly white, and only one of those two has a population descended primarily from these Islands, something that Canada and Australia also do not have.

Try and imagine anyone with anything remotely approaching the Queen’s known ancestry as a candidate for President of Britain. No such person would stand the slightest chance of election to that office. Nor would anyone aged 26, as the Queen was when she came to the Throne. Nor would anyone aged 91.

The Royal Family is not at the pinnacle of the class system. That is the old Noble Houses of England and Scotland, who look down on the Royals as immigrant noovs, an unfortunate political necessity from the eighteenth century.

That was the root of the trouble with Diana. She had married down. Time was when the Spencers, then the richest family in the Kingdom, had even bankrolled the indigent Hanoverians.

Liberty is the freedom to be virtuous, and to do anything not specifically proscribed.

Equality is the means to liberty, and is never to be confused with mechanical uniformity; it includes the Welfare State, workers’ rights, consumer protection, local government, a strong Parliament, public ownership, and many other splendid things.

And fraternity is the means to equality. For example, in the form of trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies and mutual building societies; numerous more could be cited. 

Liberty, equality and fraternity are therefore inseparable from nationhood, a space in which to be unselfish.

Thus from family, the nation in miniature, where unselfishness is first learned.

And thus from property, each family’s safeguard both against over-mighty commercial interests and against an over-mighty State, therefore requiring to be as widely diffused as possible, and thus the guarantor of liberty as here defined.

The family, private property and the State must be protected and promoted on the basis of their common origin and their interdependence, such that the diminution or withering away of any one or two of them can only be the diminution and withering away of all three of them.

All three are embodied by monarchy.

Monarchy further embodies the principle of sheer good fortune, of Divine Providence conferring responsibilities upon the more fortunate towards the less fortunate.

It therefore provides an excellent basis for social democracy, as has proved the case in the United Kingdom, in the Old Commonwealth, in Scandinavia and in the Benelux countries.

Allegiance to a monarchy is allegiance to an institution embodied by a person, rather than to an ethnicity or an ideology as the basis of the State.

As Bernie Grant understood, and as one expects that Diane Abbott understands, allegiance to this particular monarchy, with its role in the Commonwealth, is a particular inoculation against racial feeling.

No wonder that the National Party abolished it in South Africa. No wonder that the Rhodesian regime followed suit, and removed the Union Flag from that of Rhodesia, something that not even the Boers’ revenge republic ever did. No wonder that the BNP wants (or wanted, since it now scarcely exists) to abolish the monarchy here.

It was Margaret Thatcher who mounted an assault on the monarchy, since she scorned the Commonwealth, social cohesion, historical continuity, and public Christianity.

She called the Queen “the sort of person who votes for the SDP”, and she arrogated to herself the properly monarchical and royal role on the national and international stages. She used her most popular supporting newspaper to vilify the Royal Family.

When the Sex Pistols sang of a “Fascist regime” in the Britain of 1977, then they were referring to a Labour Cabinet with Tony Benn in it. Benn had also been the Postmaster General who had taken on the pirate radio stations in order to protect the livelihoods of the unionised musicians.

The fans of pirate radio and then of the Sex Pistols went on to elect Thatcher three times, and did not vote Labour at another General Election until Tony Blair had come along, giving him a third term as Prime Minister even two years after the invasion of Iraq.

God Save The Queen, Comrades.

God Save The Queen.

Lest We Forget

Armed Forces Day is an invention of the Blair Government, which speaks for itself.

Remembrance Sunday was already there, in the way that the Legion was already there before the strange emergence of Help for Heroes, also under Blair.

Frankly, that seems to be a campaigning organisation for an interventionist foreign policy and for the commercial interests of the arms trade, while today's newfangled shenanigans seem to be held in the same dubious cause.

Save these things for November, and take them back to their original meaning even then.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Teaching Assistance, Indeed

I do not mean this question rhetorically.
 
What says my Member of Parliament, and apparently now my near neighbour, Laura Pidcock, on the latest development in the saga of Durham County Council and the Teaching Assistants?
 
On her answer depends whether or not she will be worth a vote at the next General Election, no matter how desperately one might yearn for a Corbyn Government, a yearning that is not shared by the Leadership of Durham County Council.
 
The same is true of every other Labour MP is this county, which is of course every other MP at all in this county.
 
Laura walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when their principal spokeswoman on last night's Look North, a Lanchester resident who is therefore also now a constituent of Laura's, called for a vote against every Labour candidate at what were then the forthcoming local elections.
 
Under the influence of people very close to Laura, and of one in particular, the TAs seemed to back away from that simple and brilliant strategy.
 
As a result, Labour kept control of Durham County Council and the injustice continues unrectified.
 
If Labour had lost that control, then it would have been possible to call for a Labour vote at the recent General Election, and it would be possible to call for a Labour vote at the forthcoming one.
 
But as things stood, that was possible only at Easington last time. Will it be possible anywhere else next time?
 
The Teaching Assistants will march again at the Durham Miners' Gala this year. One speaker, Steve Gillan of the Prison Officers' Association, has already assured me that he will march with them.
 
Will Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach and Len McCluskey, all of whom have offered strong support in the past, do likewise?
 
For that matter, will Laura Pidcock, who already seems to be getting a lot of coverage as a poster girl for the Left?

A Gulf In Thinking

It is easy to have no dog in this fight.
 
My favourite quotation of all time is the one attributed to Henry Kissenger about the Iran-Iraq War: "It's a pity that only one of them can lose." I find that line endlessly useful.
 
But as Saudi Arabia demands that Qatar close Al Jazeera, and stop funding media critical of the Saudi regime such as Middle East Eye, where are the free speech warriors of the West?

Question Time, Indeed

If Theresa May did eventually manage her deal with the DUP, then would that party be on Question Time every week, no matter where it came from? That would be very great fun to watch.
 
What is commonly called fiscal conservatism simply does not exist in Northern Ireland, where there is hardly any private sector, and where all parties exist to ensure enormous levels of public spending.
 
The dispute is over who and where gets the money, not over whether anyone or anywhere should do so in the first place.
 
The same is true of Scotland.
 
And based on John Redwood's Commons call this week for an end to austerity, with a return to investment instead, it may very well now be true everywhere.
 
It certainly will be if Northern Ireland gets an extra two billion pounds, meaning an extra three billion for Wales and an extra eight or nine billion for Scotland.
 
I very much hope that both the DUP and, as is already the case, the SNP are indeed on every Question Time panel in that event.
 
All of this will be to buy 10 votes at least one of which, and possibly three, were obtained by the efforts of the Loyalist Communities Council, which is the common voice of the Ulster Defence Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando.
 
The one MP who certainly owes her position to that support was also endorsed by the Ulster Political Research Group, which is "close" to the UDA.
 
A Loyalist dynast, she even departs from the usual practice in such circles and hyphenates her maiden and married surnames, so that her election literature continues to feature the highly redolent name of her gun-running father.

She has just won her seat from the SDLP by a mere 1,996 votes.

By the end of next week, she could be in the Government of the United Kingdom in all but name.

Truest and Purest?

Some of us have been trying for many years to tell you about George Carey.
 
Far from being a bastion of orthodoxy, he has spent at least the last three decades assuming his own experience to be theologically normative, and then simply working from there.
 
Thus, for example, those of us who have noticed these things have been wholly unsurprised at his support for assisted suicide, backed up in the House of Lords by a piece of pure anecdotage that he described as "theology in its truest and purest form".
 
He has always been like that. Or, at the very least, he has been like that for a very long time.
 
The wonder is that it has taken so long for his faulty approach to catch up with him.
 
In the broadest terms, there are two strands to English Christianity.
 
One, which has been predominant ever since the creation of the Church of England (to which, however, it is far from confined), is doctrinally minimalist, or at any rate capable of astonishing doctrinal compromise, in the service of social conformity and political quietism.
 
But the other, to which even the Church of England is far from immune, is politically radical as the outworking of doctrinal orthodoxy.
 
A small but important part of one of my two little projects at the moment will be the restoration of a public profile to the various expressions of that latter tradition.
 
That would at least do something to balance the rise of an American-style Religious Right among British Evangelicals.
 
That would at least do something to balance the twin influences of the Tina Beattie Tendency and the poisonous little clique around Damian Thompson, half of whom are not even as posh as they are pretending to be, and a good half of whom are nowhere near as gay, although this is the cesspit that first gave the world Milo Yiannopoulos.

And that would at least do something to balance George Carey.

Due To Prevent

In The American Conservative, the magazine founded by Pat Buchanan and Taki and to which I and several other Britons on the Corbynite Left are practically family, my friend Philip Giraldi, late of the CIA, writes:

The recent series of terrorist incidents in Europe has produced the inevitable finger pointing regarding the ability of the security services to respond and has also reopened the debate over what might be done to prevent the attacks in the first place. 

Similar discussions have been going on in the United States for some time, to include consideration of the Violent Radicalism and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 by the House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by then congresswoman Jane Harman, was fairly toothless, seeking to establish a national commission and study center, but it was strongly criticized for many of its assumptions and definitions, with some critics noting how it might be exploited to enable the prosecution of “thought crimes.”

It was passed in the House by a 404 to 6 vote but, fortunately, later died in the Senate.
 
More recently, congressman Peter King has held hearings on radicalization of Muslim Americans that ran intermittently for nearly two years between 2010 and 2012.

As terrorist incidents actually declined in number during that period, there was little desire on the part of Congress to initiate any draconian new legislation in response to the often conflicting “evidence” compiled by King’s House Homeland Security Committee.
 
It should surprise no one that the Europeans are much more advanced in their creation of anti-terror legislation than is the United States, if only because they have been more often on the receiving end of ideologically motivated violence.

Assuming that America might well be arriving tomorrow where Europe is today in counter-terror, it is instructive to look at one of the proactive frameworks currently in place to analyze both its effectiveness and legality.

Britain has experienced three terrorist attacks in three months. The government response has been defined by the British Counter-Terrorism and Security Act of 2015, popularly referred to by the acronym “Contest.”

Contest consists of four so-called “workstreams”:

“Pursue” to physically interdict terrorist attacks;
“Protect” to establish physical barriers against terrorist tactics and weapons;
“Prepare” to minimize the after-the-fact impact of a terror attack; and
“Prevent,” which is a highly aggressive and controversial program to prevent radicalization.
 
Prevent is the program that has received the most attention.

It relies on the so-called conveyor belt theory which postulates that someone who is either alienated or critical of the status quo will inevitably graduate to even more extreme views and eventually cross the line from nonviolence to violence.

Those who are identified as vulnerable by Prevent are sometimes entered into a government funded but privately managed counseling program referred to as “Channel,” which has worked with 8,000 mostly young Muslim men in an effort to avoid radicalization.

The problem with evaluating Prevent’s effectiveness is that it is the government doing the assessing.

It equates success with the numbers going through the program and it ignores the many critics who note that it has so alienated the Muslim community that it actually creates more new potential militants than it succeeds in deradicalizing.

The fundamental issue is that there is no actual model or profile of a terrorist that one can focus on in an effort to prevent radicalization, so the definition of who might be a threat has been continuously broadened lest anyone escape the net.

Nearly all of the recent terrorist attacks in Britain were carried out by young men born in Britain who were at least nominally Muslim, but beyond that they had very little in common in terms of education, family and social background or even religiosity.

Their belief in a violent solution to what troubled them certainly sets them apart but it is unlikely that the security services would be able to discern that in any event, so their names frequently join the 23,000 others on the British “subjects of interest” potential terrorism database.

From a policing point of view, those 23,000 are joined by thousands more names submitted by ordinary Britons as part of the Prevent program, each one of which has to be investigated and either cleared or added to the database.
 
The British security agencies have inevitably been overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of terror suspects. Surveillance of a suspect is extremely labor intensive, even when assisted by Britain’s extensive CCTV system, which covers large parts of the country’s cities and towns as well as the roads connecting them, so it is safe to assume that very few dangerous individuals are actually being watched at any given time.

This asymmetry makes the odds very much in the terrorist’s favor as he can strike anywhere with any kind of weapon while the police must try to protect everywhere.
 
Due to the public outcry over the recent attacks, the British government is currently undertaking a sweeping security review on terrorism.

It will likely expand the Prevent program in spite of uncertainty at all levels over whether it is actually working or not.

In addition to encouraging citizens to support suspicious behavior, the legislation actually compels institutions that are in any was connected to the government to actively seek out and identify those exhibiting potential terrorist sympathies.

That includes, schools, universities, libraries and any government office that deals with the public. The establishing legislation for Prevent defines early warning signs of terrorist sympathies as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
 
A recent article in the London Review of Books entitled “Don’t go to the doctor,” explores how Prevent sometimes works in practice in an educational environment. Universities and other schools are required to aggressively seek out radicalized students.

They have to submit regular reports demonstrating that they are complying with the law to include specific information regarding individual cases and follow-up action to make sure that they are diligently seeking out radicals.

In one case cited, an instructor at Oxford, in dealing with a Muslim university student who was struggling with her course work, learned that the woman had gone to see her doctor regarding depression.

Due to Prevent, she felt obligated to ask the student whether she was being radicalized.
 
Similarly, a librarian at a major university was asked by another college to provide a professional reference for a colleague.

 One of the questions was “Are you completely satisfied that the applicant is not involved in extremism?”

Other universities in Britain have stopped allowing Muslim students to use college rooms for gatherings out of fear that the meetings will be used for radicalization.

Guest lists for many university sponsored meetings that are open to students must now be provided 48 hours prior to the event for security screening.

College authorities are allowed to search the rooms of Muslim students “on suspicion.”
 
Some might regard Prevent as a relatively innocuous but necessary measure to combat radicalization.

I do not agree as any program that focuses on a particular minority while compelling ordinary citizens to report on other ordinary citizens opens the door to many types of abuse.

In any event, the U.S. Constitution would seem to make the type of legislation that established Prevent in Britain unimaginable on this side of the Atlantic, but one should not relax too soon as this is the home of the Patriot and the Military Commissions Acts.
 
Prevent operates on the principle that individuals who are maladjusted will eventually become pathologically so if they are not counseled and convinced to abandon their wicked ways.

It neither addresses nor in any way concedes that many of the disaffected that it targets are actually angry for reasons that are at least comprehensible, including what the British government continues to do to fellow Muslims overseas, which is sometimes referred to as “blowback.”

End the bombing of Syrians and Iraqis and much of the motivation to bomb in Birmingham just might disappear.

Oddly enough, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn raised that very issue in the recent British electoral campaign, saying that terrorism was often a response to the policies that the government was carrying out in the Middle East.

His comment was largely ignored by the British media, but the Labour Party went on to win many more votes than anticipated and Corbyn nearly became Prime Minister.

Perhaps the real message on what actually causes terrorism is beginning to get through to the public.

Let us hope so.

It Is Paramount That This Is Opposed

Tom Barker writes:
 
Less than two weeks since the Blairites’ damascene conversion to Corbynism, and the knives are out again.
 
This time they are attacking Corbyn indirectly, by renewing their commitment to an institution which would act as an obstacle to the implementation of his socialist manifesto. 
 
That institution is the single market.
 
Those who claim that the majority of Labour’s new membership backed remaining in the EU so Corbyn had to follow suit fail to grasp the complex dynamics of the situation.
 
If Corbyn had put forward a socialist leave position, it would have reconstituted the party membership on different lines, possibly winning back much of UKIP’s voter base to a progressive position.
 
Many of the progressive remain voters as well, who see the EU in terms of their own feelings of internationalism, of solidarity with workers and young people in other countries, could also have been won to a socialist leave position.
 
The truth is that Corbyn was bullied and blackmailed by the Blairites into campaigning for remain.
 
He did not need to compromise on this, but he did. It was a mistake that would always come back to haunt him.
 
Nationalisation and the EU
 
The prospect of a Corbyn-led government coming to power over the course of the next year is now a distinct possibility. Socialist ideas are being popularised in a way unseen in decades.
 
But any government committed to nationalising major industries would do well to consider what membership of the single market would mean for such plans.
 
If Corbyn is elected on his manifesto, then he will quickly find that his plans to nationalise energy, rail, post, and water must be carried out in defiance of the single market, which has cuts and privatisation in every one of their directives.
 
This is why the Blairites are moving to block any kind of exit from the single market.
 
First Rail Directive
 
One particularly salient example of this is the First Rail Directive which was introduced by the EU in 1991 with the aim of creating a more efficient rail network by breaking up “national monopolies.”
 
Its effect has been to undermine the economic basis for a nationalised railway system, run for human need rather than profit, by selling off contracts to the lowest bidder.
 
This has led to spiralling customer costs, deteriorating services, and an environment hostile to workers’ rights.
 
More recently, what remained of the national rail network was been carved up for private interests through the Fourth Rail Package which, as the document details, plans “to remove the remaining barriers to the creation of a single European rail area. The proposed legislation would reform the EU’s rail sector by encouraging competition and innovation in domestic passenger markets”… whatever this means.
 
In 2013, the Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT) Union described the Fourth Rail Package in plain English as a “set of regulations… that aims to impose privatisation on domestic rail passenger services in every EU member state.”
They continue:
 
“Currently, on the whole, every EU state has the freedom to choose which way it wants to run its passenger rail services. These measures will remove that freedom, imposing a model of fragmentation and privatisation that has been an abject failure in the UK.”
 
Because of this package, we have already seen East Coast Rail, one of the most profitable nationalised rail lines in the country, being sold off to Virgin Trains.
 
Not to worry though, because within the EU there are supposed to be safeguards (Public Procurement regulations) that stop publicly owned industry being sold off to the lowest bidder.
 
The most recent (2014) form of these regulations state that “to prevent a ‘race to the bottom’ in outsourcing public services” contracts are awarded on the basis of social criteria such as commitments to living wages and energy efficiency.
 
And yet, as a 2016 UNISON union report explains, “the UK government… decided not to take the EU opportunity to mandate the use of social (employment) criteria and ‘price only’ still remains in the UK public procurement regime despite its detrimental effects to quality service provision and workers.”
 
The government is free to do this because of “opt-out” clauses.
 
In addition to this, the depth of the EU’s commitment to environmental issues was demonstrated last year when it was revealed that Volkswagen had fraudulently fitted eleven million diesel engines with “defeat devices” to rig pollution tests… with the full knowledge of the EU regulators!
 
This has caused nearly one million tonnes of lethal air pollution a year – equal to the UK’s combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles, agriculture and industry.
 
So much for safeguarding!
 
There are many other examples of the EU’s commitment to market liberalization, i.e. privatisation. Most recently, the privatisation of Royal Mail was carried through with the backing of EU Directive 2008/6/EC, which called for the postal sector to be fully open to competition by 31 December 2012.
 
This has already led to the, now private, 400-year-old company cutting staff and service in efforts to boost profits.
 
Socialists against the EU
 
Much of this explains why, historically, Corbyn has always maintained a principled opposition to the EU.
 
In the 1975 referendum, for instance, on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) – forerunner of the EU – Corbyn voted for Leave.
 
Corbyn has also taken a principled opposition to the many anti-worker amendments that have been forced through since then.
 
Corbyn voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, stating that:
 
“It takes us in the opposite direction of an unelected legislative body—the Commission—and, in the case of foreign policy, a policy Commission that will be, in effect, imposing foreign policy on nation states that have fought for their own democratic accountability.”
 
More recently in 2008, Corbyn voted against the Treaty of Lisbon – an international agreement which was widely understood as providing an EU-wide legislative basis for the privatisation of public services, and facilitating attacks on the wages, conditions, and rights of workers.
 
Article 188c, for instance, helps to remove the ability of states to veto trade deals involving health and education, opening up the prospect that financial speculators could, as a right, intervene and cherry pick the most profitable aspects of health and education.
 
The Lisbon Treaty was opposed overwhelmingly by delegates at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – the main organising body of the British trade union movement. Irish workers rejected the Treaty outright in a referendum.
 
Prior to his election as Labour Party leader, Corbyn was unequivocal in what the EU was about. In 2009, he wrote:
 
“The project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy.”
 
Even during the 2015 Labour leadership campaign, Corbyn said he was ready to join an “out” campaign if David Cameron trades away workers’ rights, environmental protection and fails to crack down on Brussels-backed tax havens.
 
Why did Corbyn change?
 
Once he was elected leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn came under immense pressure from the right wing of the Labour Party – and from the capitalist class – to support a vote for Remain.
 
Shadow Foreign Minister Hilary Benn, before he tried to blackmail Corbyn over Syria, threatened to resign unless Corbyn buckled on the issue of the EU.
 
Those who claim that Corbyn “changed his mind” demonstrate an ostrich-like unwillingness to face up to facts. Corbyn spent his entire career opposing the EU.
 
He did not change his mind overnight. The EU did not change overnight either. If anything, it is becoming more repressive as the crisis in the Eurozone develops.
 
The slightly more reasoned argument, at least on the surface, is that Corbyn found himself leading a party machine which was overwhelmingly pro-EU.
 
According to this logic, Corbyn’s compromise on the issue of the EU was done in respect of party democracy.
 
But what this misses is that Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader was premised precisely on a break with the politics of New Labour.
 
And, indeed, such a break has been a persistent feature of the past two years, over a wide variety of issues – from the bombing of Syria, tuition fees, to Trident.
 
Why, then, did Corbyn maintain a principled position on war – in defiance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party – and not on the EU?
 
In any case, what allegiance does Corbyn really owe to the Blairites, who would later stab him in the back – and the front – repeatedly?
 
Those who claim that the majority of Labour’s new membership backed remaining in the EU so Corbyn had to follow suit fail to grasp the complex dynamics of the situation.
 
If Corbyn had put forward a socialist leave position, it would have reconstituted the party membership on different lines, possibly winning back much of UKIP’s voter base to a progressive position.
 
Many of the progressive remain voters as well, who see the EU in terms of their own feelings of internationalism, of solidarity with workers and young people in other countries, could also have been won to a socialist leave position.
 
What does the public want out of Brexit?
 
For a start, it is worth pointing out that there is no appetite amongst the working class for a second referendum.
 
This is evidenced by the complete wipe-out of the Liberal Democrats, who staked everything on a hard remain position, in the General Election.
 
More than this, according to polls only a quarter of voters want a second referendum on the final deal with the EU.
 
The number who want another in-out referendum ahead of that would undoubtedly be lower!
The issue, then, is to define what sort of Brexit we want.
 
A recent opinion poll by Opinium, published in the right-wing Daily Express, asked people to rate out of ten the most important issues for them in the Brexit negotiations.
 
The highest at 8.31 was “ensuring the UK’s public services are well-funded”, followed by “ensuring jobs are available in the UK” at 8.28.
 
“Reducing the number of people immigrating to the UK scored 6.88 – so it was an issue. Nonetheless, it was 13th out of the 22 issues listed, and only one place ahead of “ensuring that EU citizens already in the UK are able to stay” on 6.78.
Clearly, the majority of the British public are not interested in punishing EU migrants. And on this issue, Labour’s manifesto was spot-on:
“A Labour government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries. EU nationals do not just contribute to our society: they are part of our society. And they should not be used as bargaining chips.”
But the manifesto also talks of “retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union”. If it means accepting its neoliberal rules, then this is a serious mistake.
 
Many working class communities know that – to the cost of industries such as car, steel making and shipbuilding – the capitalist single market doesn’t act in the interests of workers but the multinationals, who want to protect their profits by manufacturing in the lowest-cost economies.
 
This approach on the EU is hardly surprising given the person Corbyn appointed to negotiate Brexit, the Blairite QC Keir Starmer.
 
In fact, Starmer has written what he calls the “six tests for the Brexit deal”, one of which is that Brexit must deliver the “exact same benefits” as the single market.
 
Corbyn’s manifesto
 
Corbyn’s programme made significant gains at the General Election, leaving the Tories without an overall majority.
 
This means that, for now, the Blairites’ have resorted to more creative methods to depose their leader. (To do otherwise at present would be to risk being removed from the Labour Party altogether.)
 
But although their strategy may be different, their objective remains the same: remove Corbyn, make Labour safe for big business again.
 
They will use the single market as a tool to sabotage Corbyn’s programme.
 
It is paramount that this is opposed.
 
This means campaigning for mandatory reselection of the Blairite MPs and a Brexit in the interest of the working class.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

After The Speech, The Action

So, no ending of the Triple Lock, no means-testing of the Winter Fuel Allowance, no taking away of free school meals, no bringing back of Secondary Moderns for most people, and no repeal of the ban on foxhunting (a ban that I have never liked, but there have come to be certain principles at stake).

We did this. Never forget, fellow-voters, that we did this.

But no energy cap in the Queen's Speech, either, despite that policy's popularity.

In the coming Leadership contest, will there be a candidate committed to Theresa May's programme of workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, of shareholders' control over executive pay, of restrictions on pay differentials within companies, of an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, of greatly increased housebuilding, of action against tax avoidance, of a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, of a cap on energy prices, of banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and of a ban on unpaid internships?

Indeed, there will be. That candidate will be the man whose very presence first put those issues on the agenda at all.

That man is Jeremy Corbyn. And that contest will be the next General Election, sooner rather than later.

Lost In Space

The Queen's Speech addressed the important matter of space flights.

To give some context, I suggest that you look up the bus times to and from Lanchester in the evenings, on Sundays, and on Bank Holidays.

Or even the train times between Durham and Newcastle in the evenings.

This Government, if it can be so described, is living on another planet.

As, for that matter, is the nominally Labour majority on Durham County Council.

To Fill The Space

If the Daily Mail really wanted to annoy The Guardian, then it would give a weekly column to Jeremy Corbyn.

And why stop there? Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray are journalists.

Only this weekend, John Pilger told Neil Clark that the "liberal Right" Guardian was full of "precocious windbags". 

He did so on a programme that is ordinarily presented by George Galloway, a sometime Mail on Sunday columnist who remains an occasional contributor.

So that's six: Corbyn, Milne, Murray, Pilger, Clark and Galloway. One for every day.

Meanwhile, The Guardian will just have to make do with Owen Cohen, the little boy who wants to be Nick Cohen when he grows up, as if it were possible to do both.

In any given year of Tony Blair's Premiership, he was the most prolific freelance on Fleet Street, writing "exclusively" for every national newspaper.

There is another General Election coming up, so Corbyn and Milne need to be offering the former's byline on a weekly basis to each of The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Star, the main national stables of local and regional newspapers, The Sun and the Daily Mail again ("and twice on Saturdays," as it were), and the Mail on Sunday.

That would cover all seven days of weeks in which there is no time to be precious.

Why should those papers carry such columns? Pay them.

Get the unions, or whoever, to pay them what they would have been paying someone else to fill the space. At least.

Shy bairns get no chocolates.

Re-Housing All Round

Jeremy Corbyn says it, and it happens. Anyone would think that he were Prime Minister.

Indeed, Conservative MPs now question him in Parliament as if he were. They are facing up to the inevitable.

He, too, will have a much swankier residence in the West End before very long at all.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

To Cap It All

Those whom the fire at Grenfell Tower has rendered homeless now face being moved out of their city of London, and in some cases moved hundreds of miles away.

MPs who are rightly bemoaning this, Jeremy Corbyn voted against the benefit cap.

Did you?

Accepting The Timetable

And so it begins.

"Europe" as the excuse to remove a Prime Minister under whom civil order might break down, if it has not already done so.

How the years roll back.

Civil Contingency, Indeed

It turns out that requisitioning is perfectly legal under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

I'd have to check, but the Conservative Party probably voted in favour of that Act. If anyone will have voted against it, then it will have been Jeremy Corbyn.

The Conservatives have certainly had long enough to repeal it. They have never done so.

Of course, that applies to the property of people who live here full-time and pay the tax. Never mind to the property of people who don't.

DUPed No More

The day before the Queen's Speech. The day before. I ask you!

Is no deal still better than a bad deal, Prime Minister?

And you'll be shaking the Magic Money Tree all over Northern Ireland, on which its fruits will rain down as if this were September.

Monday, 19 June 2017

"A Revenge Attack"?

That's what they all say.

And does anyone seriously suggest that there is no connection, none whatever, between the perpetrator in this case, and either the 1980s Far Right that produced both Thomas Mair and several current or recent Cabinet Ministers, or the Ulster Resistance, symbiotically related to the DUP?

If I were a betting man, then I would bet on very, very, very close ties to both of them.

Meanwhile, it may be impossible to secure every mosque all the time, but how hard can it be, or how unimportant can it be considered, to secure one of Europe's largest mosques during Ramadan?

All in all, bring on the General Election.

A Purchase On Things

Compulsory purchase orders seem to be perfectly fine when the full-time homes of middle and working-class people are standing in the way of a runway, or a motorway, or HS2.

Why, then, are they not perfectly fine when properties occupied barely, if at all, by enormously wealthy people who do not ordinarily live in this country are needed to order to accommodate people whose homes have burnt down?

One Last Golden Summer

The sun is beating down, and two hundred thousand people are expected to hear Jeremy Corbyn at next month's Durham Miners' Gala, in preparation for this year's second, rather more decisive General Election.

As I approach my fortieth birthday in September, it seems that my youth has one last Golden Summer left in it after all.

It's My Baby Too


The BBC can still have its moments.

That Which Divides Us

All right, it has been over a year now, so here goes.

Jo Cox's cliché-ridden maiden speech attracted no attention at the time, and her Memorial Fund is channelling money to the White Helmets.

As Vanessa Beeley set out to the great Neil Clark on this week's Sputnik, the White Helmets are really just a trading name of the al-Nusra Front.

Is funding such an operation even legal? It certainly ought not to be.

This week's Sputnik was also notable for the greater-than-great John Pilger's brilliant description of the "liberal Right" Guardian as "precocious windbags".

Resist This

Sammy Wilson, who was then the DUP's Press Officer and who is now a DUP MP, chaired the founding rally of the Ulster Resistance.

Ian Paisley (the Elder, so to speak), Peter Robinson and Ivan Foster all spoke at that rally.

Emma Little-Pengelly, who is now the DUP MP for Belfast South, is the daughter of Noel Little of the Paris Three.

One could go on.

All in all, the two organisations are more than casually acquainted.

Would you want Sinn Féin in the Government of the United Kingdom, although it is telling that the DUP long ago stopped being bothered about having it in the Government of Northern Ireland?

If not, then you cannot stand for this, either.

Speech and Drama

Supporters of Boris Johnson ought to absent themselves from the Division on the Queen's Speech, although of course turn up for the Motion of No Confidence that would follow the Government's defeat.

Does Johnson want to be Prime Minister, or not? We never did quite find out last year. This is his second chance. And in life, there are no third chances.

Ernest In Town and Jack In The Country

LADY BRACKNELL : [Sternly]... What are your politics?
JACK: Well, I am afraid I really have none. I am a Liberal Unionist.
LADY BRACKNELL: Oh, they count as Tories. They dine with us. Or come in the evening, at any rate.

There are 13 of them in the House of Commons now, I suppose.

After the defeat of the '45, Toryism, as such, barely featured in Scotland until the split in the Liberal Party over Irish Home Rule.

At least arguably, it still doesn't, or it doesn't anymore.

The above exchange is sometimes omitted from modern productions of The Importance of Being Earnest.

It probably never ought to have been, and it certainly ought not to be so today.

The Germany Test

The death of Helmut Kohl has crystallised in my mind the concept of the Germany Test.

From Sunday trading to nuclear weapons, if Germany does perfectly well without something, then so could we.

If it is mass incineration that you want, then we have just seen it.

Had it happened a week earlier, then the Prime Minister would now be a man who makes no bones about the fact that he would never press a nuclear button (a science-fictional question that he is never asked in any grown-up country), while the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be a man who would simply refuse to pay for nuclear weapons.

As Peter Hitchens writes:

It continues to amaze me that we spent a large chunk of the Election campaign discussing the renewal of our grandiose and unusable Trident missile system, which allegedly protects us from enemies we don’t have in a war which ended 26 years ago.

And that we think we are so great and wonderful and important that we can launch wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

But we could not even protect the victims of Grenfell Tower from horrible, needless deaths that a child could have foreseen.

The Long and Winding Road

Ah, the spirit of the Swinging Sixties.

Congratulations to Her Majesty’s new Companions of Honour, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Terence Conran, on having so successfully brought down the British Establishment.

For all its alleged left-wingery, and its ability to annoy the forces of conservatism no end, rock’n’roll was made up of common or garden proto-Thatcherites, often tax exiles.

The only exceptions were David Bowie and Eric Clapton, way out on the Far Right.

The Sixties Swingers hated with a burning passion the Labour Government of 1964 to 1970.

The pirate radio stations were their revolt against its and the BBC’s deal with the Musicians’ Union to protect the livelihoods of that union’s members.

Behind this union-busting criminality was Oliver Smedley, who was later to be a key figure behind the proto-Thatcherite Institute of Economic Affairs.

Viewers of The Boat That Rocked, now a mainstay of late night television, should consider that the Postmaster General so mercilessly ridiculed in it was in fact Tony Benn, and that the Prime Minister who legislated against pirate radio was Harold Wilson.

Those Swingers used the lowering of the voting age to put what they thought were the Selsdon Tories into office in 1970.

They then went on to entrench their own moral, social and cultural decadence and libertinism, first in the economic sphere during the 1980s, and then also in the constitutional sphere under Tony Blair. 

David Cameron accepted uncritically the whole package: moral, social, cultural, economic, and constitutional. Indeed, he embodied it.

The coming Boris Johnson accepts uncritically the whole package: moral, social, cultural, economic, and constitutional. Indeed, he embodies it.

When is this country going to wake up to what has really been happening over the last 50 years?

Of the original 17 Companions of Honour, however, five were trade union leaders, Labour politicians, or both.

A sixth was a leader of the women's suffrage movement which had not at that time attained its objective.

A seventh was soon afterwards to expand her social reforming work into Independent Liberal political activity.

Two more were Liberal Unionists, of whom, by the way, there are arguably now 13 in the House of Commons.

If the industrialist Viscount Chetwynd took the Conservative Whip, then he was the only person on the list who was in any sense politically involved with that party, and even then barely so.

The pattern was set for many decades thereafter: relatively right-wing Labour politicians by pre-Blair standards, a few downright left-wing figures, trade union leaders, upper and upper-middle-class Boadiceas of social reform, luminaries of the Australian Labor and New Zealand Labour Parties, an extremely long-serving editor of the Manchester Guardian, a prominent campaigner on behalf of the rural working class.

Peace activists were notably numerous.

The first Prime Minister of independent Papua New Guinea remains, while the first Prime Minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago was also a member.

There was even an Indian nationalist politician.

The one who had been Prime Minister of Northern Ireland had been a founder-member of the Ulster Unionist Labour Association, and had gone on to chair it.

There was a distinct preponderance of Nonconformist ministers, as well as towards Scotland and, strikingly in view of its relative smallness within the population, towards Wales.

There were brilliantly maverick clergymen, generally influenced by Tractarianism, such as the Church of England used to produce: Wilson Carlile, Dick Shepherd, Tubby Clayton, Chad Varah. 

Varah did not die until 2007, yet he is already an unimaginable figure.

There were plenty of other people, too, including lots of Tories. But the old Radical tradition was very much in evidence.

Alas, no more.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

While Ensuring That The Views

Whenever there is a social movement in this country, then it is accused of being a bunch of professional agitators and middle-class hypocrites.

That is now happening even when people complain that their homes burnt down because they had been kept unsafe in order to save tiny sums of money while ensuring that the views from the nearby luxury flats were not unduly affected.

Take Back Control

There are shades of Brexit about Theresa May's attempt to do a deal with the DUP, and about the sight of Sinn Féin in Downing Street, throwing its weight around.

The time has come to refuse to allow the composition or the programme of our Government to be determined, either by 10 members and fellow-travellers of the Ulster Resistance, or by seven members and fellow-travellers of the IRA.

The time has come to ask ourselves whether or not we still wanted to keep Northern Ireland and its utterly bizarre little polity, entirely regardless of whether or not the Republic wanted to take it.

The time has come to Take Back Control.

Prime Mover

I do not believe that Theresa May is heartless or what have you. But she is no good at being Prime Minister.

As the extremely bitter chapter on the Poll Tax in Margaret Thatcher's autobiography makes clear, she herself never believed for one second that she had been brought down by or over "Europe", as if that had been what had placed her anything up to 20 points behind Neil Kinnock in the polls.

She regarded her own removal from office as Britain's greatest ever concession to "the Far Left", and she was right.

The All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation made no bones about being the Militant Tendency (no friend of either Kinnock or European federalism, of course), which has justly crowed ever since that it brought her down.

Not only was and is that the view of, for example, Dave Nellist. But it was also the view of Thatcher herself, in a print bestseller, in the associated television series, and to her dying day.

"Europe", however, was the convenient excuse. As it will be again when May is removed. "She was got rid of to stop Hard Brexit," we shall all be told, and not at all because, however unwittingly, she had been on the brink of plunging urban England into riots, if they had not already happened by then, and Ireland into a many-sided civil war.

May herself will never have any of this, complaining to the end that she had been forced out to placate the Momentum shirt-wearers and the SWP placard-bearers who had organised the storming of Kensington Town Hall, and to prevent distress to the Sacred and Royal Person of Gerry Adams, who was Europe's nearest approximation to an Asian god-king, including the Pope.

All of that will be true. But the millions who have bought Thatcher's memoirs over the decades have almost always remained unaffected by the mere facts of her defenestration. How many people are even going to buy May's memoirs, still less read them, still less have their minds changed by them?

As for the prevention of Hard Brexit, for which there was never a parliamentary majority in the first place, consider that the Prime Minister who is going to be installed in order to deliver that prevention will almost certainly be Boris Johnson.

He, of course, wrote two Telegraph columns on the referendum, one for Leave and one for Remain, before making a calculation in terms of his own advancement as to which he was going to file. His beautiful assistant, and clearly intended successor, is to be Michael Gove, whose decision to back Leave has left everyone else entirely bewildered from the moment that he made it.

Still, they will deliver a few of the essentially Corbynite goods on Grenfell Tower and on the wider issues of housing and the fire service, despite Johnson's very weak record when he was Mayor of London, and they will not go into any kind of coalition with the DUP.

Just as the Major Government got rid of the Poll Tax, implementing a watered down version of the Labour policy instead (it remains in place to this day), while changing nothing of the substance, rather than the rhetoric, of Thatcher's European policy, completing her Single European Act by signing what everything in her record made obvious would have been her Maastricht Treaty.

Think on.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Known Unknowns

Yes, there needs to be a Coroner's Inquest, and not only a public inquiry, into Grenfell Tower.

There has never been an Inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, either.

Let's have them both.

And remember, we need Trident to keep us safe. We don't need sprinklers. But we do need Trident. Remember that.

The Kohl Face No More

I know that it was wrong, but my first reaction was, "You mean that Helmut Kohl was still alive?"

Worse Than Weak, Worse Than Wobbly

The persistence in office of this Prime Minister is now practically guaranteed to bring riots to London, even to the very West End, and all out war to Northern Ireland.

Away with her.

This is nothing new or foreign. It last happened in Britain as recently as 1990.

Read the extremely bitter chapter on the Poll Tax in Margaret Thatcher's memoirs.

She knew who had really brought her down, and it was not Geoffrey Howe.

Theresa May: The Beginning of The End

In the morning, she was openly mocked by the Queen.

Yes, the Queen.

And in the afternoon, we have the storming, now followed by the siege, of Kensington Town Hall.

Yes, Kensington.

This is all very "Crown and People against the Whig oligarchs". Look it up.

More That Unites Us

Thomas Mair, the murderer of Jo Cox one year ago today, described himself to the Police as “a political activist”, and so he was.

No Irish Republican organisation has murdered a Member of Parliament in the present century or in the preceding decade, and the people responsible are now such pillars of the British Establishment that they are entertained at Windsor Castle. No Islamist or Leftist organisation has ever murdered a Member of Parliament. But the Far Right has done so, only last year.

Although a “strong supporter” of Israel did attempt to murder George Galloway while he was the MP for Bradford West. These days, though, that constitutes part of the Far Right. Give that a moment to sink in.

National Fronts come and BNPs go, EDLs come and Britain Firsts go, but certain institutional and organisational manifestations of the Far Right are perennial, hitherto even permanent. Mair’s is the Springbok Club, which is run by the people who also run the London Swinton Circle. And that, in turn, was addressed by Liam Fox (born 1961) and by Owen Paterson (born 1956) as recently as 2014.

Ah, those old 1980s Tory Boys, in their Hang Mandela T-shirts and all the rest of it. Wherever did they all end up?

In the Thatcher and, to a lesser extent, Major years, there were Ministers who were members of the Western Goals Institute or the Monday Club. Those crossed over, via such things as the League of Saint George, to overt neo-Nazism on the Continent, to the Ku Klux Klan, to apartheid South Africa, to Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, to the juntas of Latin America, to Marcos and Suharto, to the Duvaliers, and so on.

Nick Griffin’s father, Edgar, was a Vice-President of Iain Duncan Smith’s Leadership Campaign. He answered what was listed as one of its official telephone numbers (in his house) with the words “British National Party”.

The days of treating even support for the NHS as Loony Leftism, while maintaining no right flank whatever on the officially designated political mainstream, are well and truly over. The dominoes have already started to fall. Some highly prominent people in what incredibly still thinks that it is now this country’s perpetual party of government need to be very, very, very afraid.

Send Her To The Tower

The Queen has managed to visit the former residents of Grenfell Tower.

So her Prime Minister's claims about security were clearly baseless.

Theresa May has got to go. Taking Boris Johnson, Nick Hurd and Gavin Barwell with her.

Where is her party? Or has it lost its touch?

Caught Red Handed

Tim Farron gained seats, but he's still gone. Theresa May lost seats. She'll be gone, even from being gone. 

Farron is no martyr. He does himself no credit by pretending to be one. It is simply that, with people like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Jo Swinson back in Parliament, he was no longer needed.

For good or ill, those are all former Ministers, two of them at Cabinet level. They just needed Farron out of the way. And now, they have got him out of the way, even though he did quite well at the General Election. They have an efficiency of which the likes of Yvette Cooper cannot even dream.

But then, we already knew that. The Lib Dems knifed the far more impressive Charles Kennedy (a totally pro-life Catholic, by the way), and they would have had no difficulty knifing Farron. Indeed, they did have no difficulty knifing Farron.

Remember that his views would have disqualified him from even contesting the Leadership of the Conservative Party, still less winning it.

And so to the DUP.

The problem with the DUP is not that its MPs hold the same views on abortion and on same-sex marriage as at least one MP who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, as at least one Campaign Group MP who stood down in 2010 having been John McDonnell's campaign manager, and as at least one active Corbyn supporter who has recently returned to his previous role as a stalwart of the Labour Left in the House of Commons.

No, the problem is the Ulster Resistance, which has never disbanded, with at least seven brigades or divisions still active in Northern Ireland, with at least one support brigade still active in Britain, and with the daughter of one of the Paris Three now the MP for Belfast South.

The story of the Paris Three has it all where the Far Right of yesteryear is concerned. Some of the detritus of all of that is now in Cabinet, in one case ostentatiously reappointed to it. Some holds the balance of power. And some committed, one year ago today, the only murder of a sitting MP in the present century.

More profoundly, the problem is a part of the United Kingdom that can give 10 parliamentary seats to an outfit such as that, and seven of its remaining eight seats to Sinn Féin.

If they persisted in such voting habits in what is now the age of hung Parliaments as the norm, then the people of Northern Ireland would need to be confronted with the question, entirely regardless of whether or not the Republic would take them, of how much longer they expected the voters of Great Britain to keep them on.

Self-determination is a two-way street.