Wednesday, 29 March 2017

One Does Write In Order To Be Read

On Monday, I blogged, tweeted and posted that the Durham County Hall phone number to request Nomination Papers did not work.

This morning, those Nomination Papers arrived in the post.

Unite and Fight

I have voted for Len McCluskey.

As, being eligible, should you.

Who Governs Britain?

So asked Ted Heath in 1974. The answer was, "Well, not you, Ted. If you have to ask, and all that."

But 41 years after his defenestration as Leader of the Conservative Party, his own pre-Cameroon, non-Cameroon, and in some ways even anti-Cameroon Conservative Left, which most people had either forgotten existed or never knew, emerged effortlessly to take back control.

It gave itself the positions of Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Home Secretary, as well as most of the major spending Departments. The Lord Chancellorship was given to a Radical Liberal who had come up through the Lib Dems.

And the Foreign Secretaryship was split in three, with each part given to a man who would resign soon enough. David Davis on principle. Liam Fox because of scandal. Boris Johnson by being Boris Johnson. The old position will then be revived, and given to a stalwart of the Very Old New Order.

They, as such, had not won the General Election, which might as well never have been held, for all the impact that it now has on the government of this country.

They had positively lost the EU referendum, which is to result in the incorporation of the entire acquis communautaire directly into the law of the United Kingdom, with an absolute veto on any "final" deal, both for the implacably pro-Single Market House of Commons, and for the implacably pro-EU House of Lords.

This is beyond mere Heathism, as surely as is the requirement of private companies to have trade unions representatives (and who else are they going to be?) on their Boards of Directors.

Do not, by the way, get hung up about the return of grammar schools. There will never be a majority for that in either House of Parliament.

But speaking of the unions, the pre-Blairite, non-Blairite, and in some ways even anti-Blairite Labour Right has retained a certain amount of clout in some of them, especially Community, USDAW and the GMB, all of which, like Unite, will have much to gain from the scheme to put their reps on the Board.

That Right has also maintained a very strong base in local government. Yet for 20 years, between the death of John Smith and the election of Tom Watson, it held neither of its party's top positions.

It was therefore as dispossessed as the Left was, and it is therefore now as determined as the Left is to keep its man in post. Bear in mind that the votes that elected them both must have been cast in very large part by the same people.

Meanwhile, the General Election-winning Cameroons, in the person of their principal strategist, are about to assume the Editorship of the Evening Standard. Look out for further inroads into the media. The Editor of The Times is 65. The Editor of the Daily Mail is 68.

It is possible that George Osborne intends to be the Mayor of London and the Editor of the Evening Standard simultaneously. It is certain that Ruth Davidson intends to be First Minister of Scotland. Her party has more seats in the current Scottish Parliament than the SNP had in the first one.

All in all, the shape is becoming clear. Politics itself is for the Labour Left and everyone who comes with it, for the traditional Labour Right, and for the traditional Conservative Left. Commentary is for the globalist, socially ultra-liberal, pro-EU, internationally interventionist, and mostly very posh wing of the Conservative Party.

With a few of their Blairite mates let in as a favour. But Blairism in general is now peculiar to hobbyists, dilettantes and cranks. As is the Conservative Right. And as is however many UKIPs there are in any given week.

Of course, there will always be the Daily Telegraph. But unless it adapts to the New Order, then it can expect a circulation comparable to that of the Morning Star, and vastly less influence than the only newspaper that is permitted in the office of the Leader of the Opposition, the only newspaper for which MPs write several times per week, the newspaper on which their Leader has a column.

For that last reason, especially, no one seriously doubts that, like Margaret Thatcher during the Miners' Strike, Theresa May reads the Morning Star every day. But for how much longer will either she or Jeremy Corbyn read the Telegraph? Do they, even now?

Far From The Finished Article

The British Ambassador turned up to hand in the Article 50 letter at lunchtime? In a French-speaking city? You see, this is why we are leaving, and this is why they are glad to see the back of us.

Oh, well, the Great Repeal Bill turns out to mean the exact opposite of that which its name would suggest, being instead the incorporation of the entire acquis communautaire directly into the law of this land.

That can only work by including all future additions and alterations, in which no British institution will have any say whatever. Yet every such addition and alteration will automatically become the law here.

And the promise of an absolute veto on the "final" deal for each House of Parliament was repeated again to one of them by the Prime Minister this afternoon.

This side of a Corbynite Labour landslide, there is no conceivable majority in the Commons for withdrawal from the Single Market.

In the Lords, there never, ever will be, nor even for withdrawal from the EU itself. As Tony Benn tried to tell you, 45 years ago. In accordance with which, you had the opportunity to vote, 34 years ago.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Outright

And so, Donald Trump's infrastructure programme begins to meet with Democratic approval.

The Republican Party, to which he has barely any connection and of which he has no need, is simply irrelevant these days.

In that, it is like UKIP (or however many UKIPs there now are), and it is like the right wings of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in this country.

Or, at any rate, the Blairite Right of the Labour Party.

The more traditional kind, which held neither of the top positions for 20 years after the death of John Smith, does not hold the Deputy Leadership.

In similar fashion, the non-traditional Left of the Conservative Party, rather than the practically archaeological one that now provides three of the four holders of what used to be called the Great Offices of State, is about to assume the Editorship of the Evening Standard, with further such appointments doubtless to follow soon.

After all, it did win a General Election outright a mere two years ago.

The media, and especially the print media, have been the Right's perennial powerbase. It has been impossible to imagine a commentator remotely as Far Left as many were routinely Far Right.

If the Right is losing even the papers, then it really is over.

Root and Branch

Put together the Brexit demands of Open Britain and those of  Keir Starmer, and you have the deal that Theresa May intends to put to the electorate in a referendum in 2019.

The other option will be that of simply remaining in the EU as if nothing had happened.

Who says that you can't do that after Article 50? Definitely not Article 50's (British) author.

May was given the job unopposed precisely because she was a Remainer, and she is surrounded by them.

Consider that, while the Shadow Chancellor and the Shadow Lord Chancellor probably voted Leave, and certainly gave no support whatever to the Remain campaign, the Chancellor is a firm Remainer, while the Lord Chancellor is a fanatical one.

There were proportionally more pro-Leave MPs among the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership bid than there were among the supporters of Theresa May's.

No one in May's office or entourage, and almost no one in her party, has anything remotely approaching the root and branch hostility to the EU that characterises Seumas Milne, or Andrew Fisher, or Max Shanly, or Tariq Ali, or Andrew Murray, or Lindsey German, or John Rees, or Chris Nineham, to name but a few.

Just as only they, who have vigorously opposed the last three Presidents of the United States and who would have done the same to Hillary Clinton, can credibly lead the opposition to Donald Trump, so only they can credibly argue for a coherent vision of a Britain wholly outside the EU.

Seumas Milne and Andrew Fisher, Max Shanly and Tariq Ali, Andrew Murray and Lindsey German, John Rees and Chris Nineham, Liam Young and Alex Nunns, Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell, Kelvin Hopkins and George Galloway, John McDonnell and Richard Burgon.

And, of course, Jeremy Corbyn.

Prescribe This

Prescription charges in England ought to be abolished, with the cost met by cutting the block grant to the devolved body in Scotland, which has fiscal powers of its own.

And the Parliament of the United Kingdom ought to legislate for a Scottish independence referendum this year, whether or not that was when Nicola Sturgeon happened to want it.

Every Little Helps

Among other things, it is time to make the supermarkets invest in agriculture and small business by means of a windfall tax.

Investment to be determined in close consultation with the National Farmers’ Union and the Federation of Small Businesses

A windfall tax to be followed, if necessary, by a permanently higher flat rate of corporation tax

With, in either case, strict regulation to ensure that the costs of this are not passed on to suppliers, workers, consumers, communities or the environment.

How Little We Seem To Care

Not only is Peter Hitchens right to agree with the Left about the shameful contrast between the coverage of Aleppo and the coverage of Mosul, but he is also right about this, a passage from his newspaper column that is strangely absent from his website:

How much longer can Turkey be allowed to stay in NATO?

If this alliance really does exist to defend freedom, how can it tolerate a member whose government has flung so many journalists into prison without any sort of due process?

Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fast turning into a tyrant, dangerous at home and abroad.

I am amazed at how little we seem to care.

Silent Echo

The following letter has managed not to make it into the Northern Echo:

Dear Sir, 

Whatever our opinion of British withdrawal from the EU, it will necessitate an enormous investment in production in the United Kingdom by the Volkswagen Group (including Audi, SEAT, Škoda and several other marques). We intend to bring Volkswagen to County Durham. 

To that end, in view of the closure of the DLI Museum, in view of the amassing of vast reserves while services have been and are being cut, in view of the bailing out of Durham County Cricket Club despite those cuts, in view of the mismanagement of relations with the Regional Assembly, in view of the selling off of care homes at discounted value, in view of the scandal of Windlestone Hall, in view of the enormous compensation awarded to a teacher and the substantial additional cost of the failure to pay it promptly, in view of the lavish expense of entertainment by senior Councillors and Officers, and in view of the appalling abuse of the Teaching Assistants, we welcome, endorse, echo and reiterate the call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to Durham County Council on 4th May. 

We further welcome, endorse, echo and reiterate the call for a Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no Group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size. For the same for scrutiny chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans. And for representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole. 

Yours faithfully, 

Councillor Ted Henderson (Durham County Council, Barnard Castle West)

As has this one:

To: echo@nne.co.uk 
Cc: general.enquiries@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk; PCVC.Media@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk; strobes@private-eye.co.uk; team@order-order.com; enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk; contact@hmic.gsi.gov.uk; inquiries@ipso.co.uk; info@palestinecampaign.org; david.blair@telegraph.co.uk; peter.oborne@dailymail.co.uk

Dear Sir, 

I am the author of Operation Israel: The Rearming of Argentina During the Dictatorship 1976-1983. That is the original and definitive account of Israel’s arming of Argentina during the war with Britain in 1982. From his base in Lanchester, County Durham, the writer and activist David Lindsay is arranging for the forthcoming second edition to be translated into English and published in the United Kingdom, with a preface or foreword by a distinguished British political figure. All of this is undoubtedly known to several Israeli and other intelligence agencies. 

On Tuesday 14th March, Mr Lindsay was arrested at his home and held all day before being questioned by the Police in relation to an incident to which he had no connection, namely the sending of a threatening letter to members of Durham County Council. He was not held overnight, and he was released unconditionally and without charge. Those responsible know who they are. Let them be in no doubt: Operation Israel will be translated into English, and it will be published in the United Kingdom, thanks to David Lindsay. 

Yours faithfully, 
Buenos Aires, Argentina

And this one:

To: echo@nne.co.uk
Cc: strobes@private-eye.co.uk; general.enquiries@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk; PCVC.Media@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk; team@order-order.com; enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk; contact@hmic.gsi.gov.uk; inquiries@ipso.co.uk; paula.henley@rcdhn.org.uk; norcross@btconnect.com; editor.norcross@btconnect.com; lee-jasper@live.com; info@obv.org.uk; gensec@momentumblackcaucus.org.uk; peter.hitchens@mailonsunday.co.uk; afshin@afshinrattansi.com; rliddlemonkey@hotmail.com; brendan.oneill@spiked-online.com; mccarthydp@gmail.com; george@galloway.global

Dear Sir,

On Tuesday 14th March, despite having been given no opportunity to accompany the Police voluntarily, the Lanchester-based writer and activist, David Lindsay, was arrested on the “grounds” of supposed similarities between his letter published in the Northern Echo on Friday 10th May, and a threatening letter allegedly sent to Labour members of Durham County Council. When questioned by the Police, he comprehensively refuted the suggestion of any such similarity. He was released without charge and on unconditional bail.

This shameful and shameless political hit job recalls the darkest days of Northern Ireland, with no dividing line between the Police, a massively dominant local political party, and a secret society bound by oaths. It is impossible to rule out an anti-Catholic aspect to this case, and impossible to ignore the fact that David Lindsay is mixed-race.

Other than the Teaching Assistants themselves, David Lindsay is their preeminent supporter. He secured the endorsement of their cause by several national trade union leaders in the Northern Echo on 3rd August 2016. He secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn on the eve of last year’s Miners’ Gala. And he secured the support that George Galloway expresses for them regularly on his radio programme, and routinely to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter, as well as at least once (23rd November 2016) in a letter to the Northern Echo.

David Lindsay is also a powerful critic of the closure of the DLI Museum, of the amassing of vast reserves while services have been and are being cut, of the bailing out of Durham County Cricket Club despite those cuts, of the mismanagement of relations with the Regional Assembly, of the selling off of care homes at discounted value, of the scandal of Windlestone Hall, of the circumstances that necessitated the award of enormous compensation to a teacher, of the substantial additional cost of the failure to pay that compensation promptly, and of the lavish expense of entertainment by senior Councillors and Officers.

And David Lindsay is the originator of the proposal that unites the trade unions with Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents, to bring the whole of the Volkswagen Corporation’s production for the British market to County Durham after Brexit.

David Lindsay is the natural and obvious Leader of Durham County Council. We look forward to that happy day. Racist, sectarian and partisan hit jobs must not be permitted to prevent it.

Yours faithfully,

Adam J. Young
James Draper
Sean Caden
John Mooney
Krystyna Koseda

Monday, 27 March 2017

#VoteLen

As a member of Unite, I am honoured and delighted to join pillars of our Movement such as Ken Loach, Harry Leslie Smith, the Durham Miners’ Association, the Blacklist Support Group, and the Morning Star, in endorsing Brother Len McCluskey against the challenges of the opportunist Right and the sectarian ultra-Left. 

Whatever good they may have done within and through our union, Gerard Coyne is seeking to damage Jeremy Corbyn (even stooping to a line on immigration that is the exact opposite of his Blairite backers’ up to now), while Ian Allinson is trying to establish his groupuscule as a presence on the public stage. 

Neither of those purposes is among the proper aims of Unite, aims towards which Len has been working tirelessly, and with considerable success, for nearly 50 years.

Accept No Imitations

As the Notice of Poll goes out, beware of decoy candidates fielded by County Durham Labour Party, the embarrassing relative that the national Labour Party pretends does not exist.

The fielding of decoy candidates is one of its several dirty tricks.

Others include the award of irregular contracts, the issuing of a mere caution to a Council Officer who gazumped land fees, the letting off of Councillors who failed to pay Council Tax, the failure of Councillors to declare interests, the promotion of their own businesses, the refusal to respond to Freedom of Information Requests, and the refusal to provide information to non-Labour candidates.

Indeed, the telephone number listed on the Council's website for requesting nomination papers does not in fact exist.

It is easy to laugh at the waste of five thousand pounds on a bus shelter that was not on a bus route, and that kind of thing.

But the overall picture is very nasty indeed.

Such are Jeremy Corbyn's Labour enemies when they are in power.

Uttar Realism

If the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh were a country, then it would be the fifth most populous in the world. 

Its 200 million inhabitants are now governed by Yogi Adityanath, who makes his Party Leader, Narendra Modi, look like Tim Farron. 

The Commonwealth is a cultural thing, essentially a social club.

It is good and useful as that, but it is nothing more than that, it never will be, and it arguably never has been.

Regardless of any previous tie to Britain, all of the rising powers of Asia ought to be treated in exactly the same way.

A thoroughly wary way.

Fine and Dandy?

First, Thames Water.

And now, BT.

Isn't privatisation grand?

Cohen’s Assertion Is Laughable

The Observer did not print my letter, or anyone else’s, in response to Nick Cohen, preferring this. But here it is:

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn is the Leader of the Labour Party and the Leader of the Opposition is the reason why Theresa May is even talking about workers’ and consumers’ representation in corporate governance, shareholders’ control over executive pay, restrictions on pay differentials within companies, an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, greatly increased housebuilding, action against tax avoidance, a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, a cap on energy prices, banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and banning unpaid internships. 

Two years ago, the only politicians advocating all but one of those were Corbyn and John McDonnell, while the energy price cap, proposed by Ed Miliband, was being screamed down by the people whom Nick Cohen wishes were now running the Labour Party. 

Those people, including most Labour MPs, are well to the right of the Prime Minister. Cohen’s assertion is laughable that an unnamed Cabinet Minister “and George Osborne used to worry about how Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna would strike back against their austerity programme.” 

Corbyn has won two Leadership Elections as the only candidate to the left of May, opposing the austerity programme while having also opposed every British military intervention of the last 20 years, that period’s privatisation of the NHS and other public services, its persecution of the disabled, its assaults on civil liberties, its prostration to Saudi Arabia, and its demonisation of Russia. All of those have happened continuously since 1997, under the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and New Labour alike.

Unpopulism Led To Populism

Larry Elliott writes:

The rise of populism has rattled the global political establishment.

Brexit came as a shock, as did the victory of Donald Trump. Much head-scratching has resulted as leaders seek to work out why large chunks of their electorates are so cross.

The answer seems pretty simple.

Populism is the result of economic failure.

The 10 years since the financial crisis have shown that the system of economic governance which has held sway for the past four decades is broken.

Some call this approach neoliberalism. Perhaps a better description would be unpopulism.

Unpopulism meant tilting the balance of power in the workplace in favour of management and treating people like wage slaves.

Unpopulism was rigged to ensure that the fruits of growth went to the few not to the many.

Unpopulism decreed that those responsible for the global financial crisis got away with it while those who were innocent bore the brunt of austerity.

Anybody seeking to understand why Trump won the US presidential election should take a look at what has been happening to the division of the economic spoils.

The share of national income that went to the bottom 90% of the population held steady at around 66% from 1950 to 1980.

It then began a steep decline, falling to just over 50% when the financial crisis broke in 2007. 

Similarly, it is no longer the case that everybody benefits when the US economy is doing well. 

During the business cycle upswing between 1961 and 1969, the bottom 90% of Americans took 67% of the income gains. 

During the Reagan expansion two decades later they took 20%. 

During the Greenspan housing bubble of 2001 to 2007, they got just two cents in every extra dollar of national income generated while the richest 10% took the rest.

The US economist Thomas Palley (Who Runs the Economy?, Palgrave Macmillan, edited by Robert Skidelsky and Nan Craig) says that up until the late 1970s countries operated a virtuous circle growth model in which wages were the engine of demand growth.

“Productivity growth drove wage growth which fueled demand growth. That promoted full employment, which provided the incentive to invest, which drove further productivity growth,” he says.

Unpopulism was touted as the antidote to the supposedly failed policies of the postwar era. 

It promised higher growth rates, higher investment rates, higher productivity rates and a trickle down of income from rich to poor. 

It has delivered none of these things. James Montier and Philip Pilkington, of the global investment firm GMO, say that the system which arose in the 1970s was characterised by four significant economic policies: the abandonment of full employment and its replacement with inflation targeting; an increase in the globalisation of the flows of people, capital and trade; a focus on shareholder maximisation rather than reinvestment and growth; and the pursuit of flexible labour markets and the disruption of trade unions and workers’ organisations. 

To take just the last of these four pillars, the idea was that trade unions and minimum wages were impediments to an efficient labour market. 

Collective bargaining and statutory pay floors would result in workers being paid more than the market rate, with the result that unemployment would inevitably rise. 

Unpopulism decreed that the real value of the US minimum wage should be eroded. 

But unemployment is higher than it was when the minimum wage was worth more. 

Nor is there any correlation between trade union membership and unemployment. 

If anything, international comparisons suggest that those countries with higher trade union density have lower jobless rates. 

The countries that have higher minimum wages do not have higher unemployment rates. 

“Labour market flexibility may sound appealing, but it is based on a theory that runs completely counter to all the evidence we have,” Montier and Pilkington note. 

“The alternative theory suggests that labour market flexibility is by no means desirable as it results in an economy with a bias to stagnate that can only maintain high rates of employment and economic growth through debt-fuelled bubbles that inevitably blow up, leading to the economy tipping back into stagnation.” 

This quest for ever-greater labour market flexibility has had some unexpected consequences. 

The bill in the UK for tax credits spiralled quickly once firms realised they could pay poverty wages and let the state pick up the bill. 

Access to a global pool of low-cost labour meant there was less of an incentive to invest in productivity-enhancing equipment. 

The abysmally low levels of productivity growth since the crisis have encouraged the belief that this is a recent phenomenon, but as Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, noted last week, the trend started in most advanced countries in the 1970s. 

“Certainly, the productivity puzzle is not something which has emerged since the global financial crisis, though it seems to have amplified pre-existing trends,” Haldane said. Bolshie trade unions certainly can’t be blamed for Britain’s lost productivity decade. 

The orthodox view in the 1970s was that attempts to make the UK more efficient were being thwarted by shop stewards who modeled themselves on Fred Kite, the character played by Peter Sellers in I’m All Right Jack

Haldane puts the blame elsewhere: on poor management, which has left the UK with a big gap between frontier firms and a long tail of laggards. 

“Firms which export have systematically higher levels of productivity than domestically oriented firms, on average by around a third. 

“The same is true, even more dramatically, for foreign-owned firms. Their average productivity is twice that of domestically oriented firms.” 

Populism is seen as irrational and reprehensible. It is neither. 

It seems entirely rational for the bottom 90% of the US population to question why they are getting only 2% of income gains. 

It hardly seems strange that workers in Britain should complain at the weakest decade for real wage growth since the Napoleonic wars. 

It has also become clear that ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing are merely sticking-plaster solutions. 

Populism stems from a sense that the economic system is not working, which it clearly isn’t. 

In any other walk of life, a failed experiment results in change. 

Drugs that are supposed to provide miracle cures but are proved not to work are quickly abandoned. 

Businesses that insist on continuing to produce goods that consumers don’t like go bust. 

That’s how progress happens. The good news is that the casting around for new ideas has begun. 

Trump has advocated protectionism. Theresa May is consulting on an industrial strategy. 

Montier and Pilkington suggest a commitment to full employment, job guarantees, reindustrialisation and a stronger role for trade unions. 

The bad news is that time is running short. 

More and more people are noticing that the emperor has no clothes. 

Even if the polls are right this time and Marine Le Pen fails to win the French presidency, a full-scale political revolt is only another deep recession away. 

And that’s easy enough to envisage.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Game of Fives

Here's a fun fact from the Durham Teaching Assistants' Solidarity March and Rally.
 
Such is the distribution of the TAs by ward, and so small (contrary to what is often assumed) are so many of the Labour majorities these days, that if each TA and four others voted against Labour, then Labour would lose over 50 seats.
 
Frankly, we can deliver those votes in far larger numbers than that.
 
We can. We must. And we will.

We Have No More Kippers

"But UKIP got four million votes!"
 
And how very, very, very long ago that seems now.
 
There is no electoral space to the right of wherever the Conservative Party happens to be at the given time. That space simply does not exist.
 
Ask Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall, with 12 failed attempts between them to enter the House of Commons.
 
Consider, by contrast, that George Galloway's return to Parliament at Manchester Gorton would restore the situation that obtained between 2012 and 2015.
 
That was when members of the House of Commons from outside the Labour Party and to the left of most of its MPs were taking their seats on behalf of all five of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the South of England, and the North of England.

The End of the Party

As of today, UKIP is a party with no MPs.

There are scores of those, and they should all demand as much coverage as UKIP is given, especially by the BBC.

Paul Nuttall is to be on Question Time again this week. Why?

Roar of the Lions

Over a thousand at the Durham Teaching Assistants' Solidarity March and Rally. 

Superb speakers.

A promise from Ken Loach to attend the showing of I, Daniel Blake on 27th April.

And a message of "unconditional support for your inspirational campaign" from John McDonnell.

That raises the serious question of the precise sense in which the Labour Group on Durham County Council still purports to be anything to do with the Labour Party.

Well and Truly Trumped

So, Obamacare is to last forever, then.

Thanks to the insistence of the Republican Party.

November now seems like a very long time ago.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Bring Your Banners, Bring Your Voices


City Lights

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour fielded eight candidates in the City of London, where Labour acquired its first ever seat a mere three years ago.
 
Last night, five of those eight were elected.
 
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour enemies intend to field 126 candidates for Durham County Council, which Labour has controlled for more than 100 years.
 
There is no reason why any of those 126 ought to be elected.

Fiddling While Rome Burns, Indeed

The University computers are as slow as ever, and they still don't have spellcheck on the Internet. There is something reassuring about those two facts, isn't there?
 
My main point, however, is that an unbelievably posh student (even by Durham's standards) is braying at huge volume that he has been taken to Caffè Nero and interviewed about becoming a Labour member of Durham County Council.

Wolves Inside The Door

Thomas Mair, the murderer of Jo Cox, 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 thinks that it is now this country’s perpetual party of government need to be very, very, very afraid.
 
But no part of the Far Right, including fanatical support for Israel, is ever treated as a security risk. Just as you can never be too young to be taken entirely seriously as a right-wing commentator. Not long ago, the Telegraph and the Spectator were simultaneously carrying someone who was still at school.
 
And just as there is no view so right-wing that it would preclude, say, a Times column, or a regular gig on The Moral Maze. “White Western nationalism” was extolled repeatedly by Melanie Phillips a few weeks ago, days after she had written that there were no such nations as the Scots and the Irish.
 
Try and imagine a public figure remotely as Far Left as that is Far Right. You can’t. It couldn’t happen.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Safe As Houses?

Parliament attacked using a hire car and a kitchen knife.

The state pension age to go up to 70.

Aren't you glad that we kept Trident?

Caste and Crew

Not least by means of the hashtag #GG4Gorton, through which the posters that are already up may be viewed, George Galloway's by-election campaign is in full swing at Manchester Gorton, using the same means that succeeded at Bradford West, and using much the same pitch, too. 

The Labour shortlist has again been designed to placate the various factions of the Pakistani braderi system, which is in fact the carrying over of ancestral caste into Indo-Islam. Caste itself also persists even among Sikhs, founded though they were in a rejection of it, and among people whose families have been Christian for many generations, even centuries.

Braderi, however, just does not interest second or third generation Mancunians whose first language is English and who easily pass any cricket test (but who are far more interested in football), as it just did not interest second or third generation Bradfordians whose first language was English and who easily passed any cricket test (but who were far more interested in football).

Moreover, the concentration on it alienates everyone else. In 2012, Galloway topped the poll in every ward of Bradford West, including those which were more than 90 per cent white. The seat itself had been a Conservative target only two years before.

The election of Galloway at Manchester Gorton is as important as the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite, and it is as important as the removal of Labour from Durham County Council, a removal on which depend many thousands of new jobs that would simply never occur to the know-nothing, do-nothing, right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment here.

As much as anything else, Galloway's return to Parliament would restore the situation that obtained between 2012 and 2015, when members of the House of Commons from outside the Labour Party and to the left of most of its MPs were taking their seats on behalf of all five of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the South of England, and the North of England.

Meanwhile, at least one of my slogans for the 2020 General Election is already "Tony Blair Didn't Dare", and I intend to put out a leaflet under that title which would detail the entire case against him, stating the fact that that was why had not had the courage or the gall to seek this open seat right here in his old County Durham stomping ground.

As to who was the Labour candidate, is there even going to be one worthy of the name? The new boundaries suggest a Constituency Labour Party even more of the local know-nothing, do-nothing, right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment than North West Durham was in the dark days of Hilary Armstrong.

With no chance of getting lucky a second time, and finding another Pat Glass figure whom they had not realised was there, the all-women shortlist will mean that they really were looking at some girl out of the typing pool, and almost certainly the London typing pool at that.

Beating her would be so easy that it would seem almost cruel. But politics is a rough old trade.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pride of Lions

In itself, this can be seen as the taking of three minutes to say nothing. 

Nevertheless, “I can today announce that we are now extremely close to confirming new grading proposals which will mark a sea change from where we were previously.

“Watch for an update on the review being carried out of roles, responsibilities and job descriptions of teaching assistants from Leader of the Council, Cllr Simon Henig.”

We shall, Simon. We shall, indeed.

It is the Teaching Assistants themselves who have fought so very, very hard for this. The rest of us have been the ancillaries here, and proud to be so.

I, for example, secured the endorsement of their cause by several national trade union leaders in the Northern Echo on 3rd August 2016.

I secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn on the eve of last year’s Miners’ Gala.

And I secured the support that George Galloway expresses for them regularly on his radio programme, and routinely to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter, as well as at least once in a letter to the Northern Echo.

All credit, though, is the TAs’ own.

I could not have been more privileged to have played even so small a part in their justly legendary campaign.

As we approach the County Council election on 4th May, we must all continue to provide powerful criticism of the treatment of the Teaching Assistants, of the closure of the DLI Museum, of the amassing of vast reserves while services have been and are being cut, of the bailing out of Durham County Cricket Club despite those cuts, of the mismanagement of relations with the Regional Assembly, of the selling off of care homes at discounted value, of the scandal of Windlestone Hall, of the circumstances that necessitated the award of enormous compensation to a teacher, of the substantial additional cost of the failure to pay that compensation promptly, and of the lavish expense of entertainment by senior Councillors and Officers.

Some of us are also working on an enormous proposal that will unite the trade unions with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents in very stark contrast to the last third of a century, during which, even while the then Labour MP for Sedgefield was the Prime Minister for 10 years, Labour in County Durham has merely managed the poverty that its own leading figures have so conspicuously evaded.

Everything now hinges on who will be the new Leader of Durham County Council.

I Challenge Tony Blair

This letter of mine appears in today’s Northern Echo, and may well turn up elsewhere over the next couple of days:

Dear Sir,

At 11 o’clock this morning, Tuesday 21st March 2017, listeners to Radio Four were treated to the latest of Tony Blair’s increasingly frequent political interventions, this time bewailing the disarray of the political “centrism” that is in fact nothing more than his own collection of opinions.

In 2020, I shall be contesting the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, most of which is where Pat Glass MP will be retiring. I shall be doing so without any party designation, not even the word “Independent”. I am not a member of any political party, but I am part of numerous partially overlapping networks of political interdependence locally, nationally and internationally. 

Since he has taken to reasserting himself in British politics, I challenge Tony Blair to declare that he is the Labour candidate for this open seat here in his old County Durham stomping ground. Either that, or to shut up and go away. 

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay

The Traditions In Which We Stand

Although, despite several assurances, this does not seem to have made it into print anywhere, it is a matter of record, and it will be pursued:

Dear Sir,

As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Rupert Murdoch might do some good. We represent positions that the BBC simply ignores. 

The workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, as the key swing voters. Identity issues located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. The leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. The decision of the EU referendum by areas that vote Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru. 

Opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, opposition to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

Rejection of any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. Rescue of issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And refusal to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. 

We respectfully request that Mr Murdoch identify and include representatives of the traditions in which we stand.

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE
Ronan Dodds, Newcastle upon Tyne, @RonanDodds
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Nicholas Hayes, Durham; @Nicholas_Sho
Connor Hodgson-Brunniche, Cramlington, Northumberland; @Randomaited
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65
John Mooney, Lurgan, County Armagh
Aren Pym, West Cornforth, County Durham; @arenpym
Gavin Thompson, Newcastle upon Tyne; @GavinLThompson
Matt Turner, Nottingham; @MattTurner4L
Adam Young, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Summer Lightning

There are three elections to win this summer.

They are the removal of Labour from Durham County Council (including for a very specific post-Brexit reason; watch this space), the return of George Galloway to Parliament at Manchester Gorton, and the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite.

All within the context of supporting Jeremy Corbyn and of securing the People's Brexit.

At a rally at the Durham Miners' Hall last night, it was confirmed that Len would be joining Jeremy as a platform speaker at this year's Durham Miners' Gala.

Those of us who will by then have taken control of the Council will also march at that, and, if I may, I hope that at least one of the triumphant Teaching Assistants will also speak.

And, while hoping for him on the platform might be a bit much, one very much hopes to see George, one of the two strongest supporters of the Durham Teaching Assistants among national politicians (with Grahame Morris), and the strongest of all those without constituencies in County Durham, at this year's Big Meeting.

In the meantime, see you all on Saturday at the Teaching Assistants' march, which will begin outside the Gala Theatre at 12 noon, and end in what promises to be a fabulous rally at the Miners' Hall.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

This Is What A Bad Week Looks Like

For some people, anyway.
 
The thirtieth Conservative U-turn since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour Leader.
 
The abandonment of the Budget's flagship policy.
 
The Police and the CPS knocking on the door over the huge and flagrant electoral overspending by the Conservative Party, involving figures who are now at the very heart of government.

The formal emergence of two rival UKIPs.
 
The damp squib of the overhyped Geert Wilders.
 
The collapse of the pro-austerity Dutch Labour Party, which has been comprehensively outflanked from the left.
 
And the striking down in court of Donald Trump's second attempt at a Muslim Ban.
 
For some of us, this is what a very, very, very good week looks like.
 
Here's to many, many, many more.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Far From Trigger Happy

Article 50 was supposed to be happening tomorrow.

But it is now pencilled in for "the last week of this month", with the BBC duly pretending that it always has been.

And then, when?

A Bore No More

Theresa May should refuse to grant Nicola Sturgeon a Section 30 Order without a referendum on whether or not to have one.

My generation thought that politics was boring. As, domestically, it was.

In the 20 years between the death of John Smith and the accession of Jeremy Corbyn, the only domestic policy dispute in England was over foxhunting.

And even that ended in a ban that absolutely no effort has ever been made to enforce.

Once devolution was in place, then Scotland, Wales and even Northern Ireland were scarcely, if at all, more thrilling than that.

Well, politics is certainly not boring now.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Cutting Edge

I carry no candle for Michael Heseltine.

He privatised more of the British economy than any other Minister, ever.

And he completed the destruction of the British coal industry.

All in all, and even granting that he opposed the Iraq War, it is no wonder that he loves the EU so much.

But he did say a sensible and important thing this morning.

He accurately pointed out that Copeland had been a "flukey" by-election result based on the unusual prominence of a single local industry.

There is ample time between now and 2020 to set straight the record of both parties on civil nuclear power.

And there are no nuclear power stations in what are hysterically being described as the Conservative target seats from Bishop Auckland to Tooting.

The boundaries of Bishop Auckland are in any case being altered significantly in what would ordinarily have been Labour's favour.

Much of the constituency, rather than purely the town, will be joining us in the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale.

But is perfectly possible, and it is therefore imperative, that all of the County Durham seats elect MPs from within the Teaching Assistants' campaign.

That campaign is itself the focus and the cutting edge of opposition to the regime that is soon to be overthrown on Durham County Council.

Pat Glass is retiring, and while Grahame Morris is a stalwart of that campaign, none of the other MPs who will be seeking re-election has given it any support whatever.

When Heseltine closed the pits after all, then he betrayed the UDM, as Mick McGahey had always predicted.

Its downfall since then has been the kind of thing that could happen only in real life.

But no one knows where its money went.

Meanwhile, a faction with more than one tie to it controls the massively dominant Labour Group on the first council that Labour ever won, a council that Labour has never lost in more than a century.

But nothing lasts forever.

Vote For NATO's Christmas

NATO revolves around Turkey.

It is the only member, other than the United States, without which the wretched thing simply could not function at all, and indeed would have very little pretence to a purpose.

It is to this that NATO membership commits us, and indeed the Dutch.

We must defend Turkey, against whomever.

The Dutch should get out. We should get out. Everyone should get out.

Elect George Galloway at Manchester Gorton on 4th May.

And elect Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister in 2020.

Britain Is What's Left

All three parties have their most left-wing Leaders ever. The Conservative and Labour ones have attracted popular attention in a way that has not been seen simultaneously since the heyday of Ted Heath and Harold Wilson. Moreover, the Liberal Democrats are increasing in membership, in funds, and in vote share.

As the largest political party in Europe, Labour does not even notice the loss of a number of members comparable to the electorate of one parliamentary constituency, but spread across the entire country. That handful of people comprises the sum total of those who were ever New Labour, as such, to the extent that they would leave Labour if it ever stopped being like that, but would not therefore go back to the Conservative Party, since they had never come out of it in the first place.

Of course, they could hardly attach themselves to the Conservative Party now, with its talk 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 banning unpaid internships.

Yet that is as far right as British politics, rather than political commentary, now goes. There is no potential electorate to the right of that. Merely because a few newspaper columnists hold views that could be so classified, then that does not mean that anyone else does. UKIP managed to fail to win even Stoke Central, even this year. It has never won any seat without the incumbent MP as its candidate. But it managed to lose half of those in 2015. That left it with one MP, and he pretty openly wants to quit.

By very stark contrast, within the present decade, Scotland, Wales, the South of England (outside London, please note), and the North of England have all elected MPs from outside the Labour Party who were to the left of most Labour MPs and of the then Labour Leadership. Scotland, Wales and the South still have such MPs, at this very moment.

It would be quite a job to be to the left of the present Leader of the Labour Party. But the most active, and by far the best known, candidate at the impending Manchester Gorton by-election is undeniably to the left of most Labour MPs. He is on course to be elected to Parliament as many times as Nigel Farage has failed to be so.

The Absolute Insistence

I've written some lines in my time.

But I have impressed even myself with, "The maintenance of sanity necessitates the absolute insistence that Peter Mandelson does not possess genitalia." 

And that was just a tweet.

The Life of Brian is so rarely shown, and so impossible to imagine being made today, that it belongs in the same category as Performance.

But in the scene that so tickles Jeremy Corbyn's uncultured despisers with its "Judean People's Front", we also see Stan's demand to be known as Loretta.

In similar vein, and indeed vain, we see Owen Jones's demand to be known as Melanie Phillips.

Or is it Jess Phillips?

Why does Comment is Free feature two new articles by her?

"Hasn't £13k a day George Osborne already got a job as an MP?", asks one of them. Well, haven't you, too?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Absolutely Fine

Bring on the second Scottish independence referendum.

The second No vote would be a body blow to the SNP, whose horrific austerity policies and whose general incompetence are impossible to oppose on the part of the Blair Era time warp that is the Scottish Labour Party.

This campaign would be Jeremy Corbyn's opportunity to start again, more or less from scratch, and most obviously around the Leader that Scottish Labour ought to have, Neil Findlay.

In all fairness, the SNP does send a few people to Westminster, such as Mhairi Black, who might be seen as to the left of most Labour MPs, even if not of Corbyn.

Plaid Cymru also does that in Wales.

And Caroline Lucas would at least describe herself in such terms.

So that's Scotland, Wales, and the South of England with MPs outside the Labour Party and in some sense to its left.

Since 2015, however, none such has been returned from the North of England.

Step forward a star of the last Scottish referendum campaign, and a star of the next one, the next MP for Manchester Gorton, George Galloway.

Come on, George, since you already seem to be living there, get on and declare  your candidacy.

Then we can all get on with the twin campaigns up to 4th May.

One would be for the tormentors of the Teaching Assistants, and of so many others, to be removed from Durham County Council.

And the other would be for the champion of the Teaching Assistants, and of so many others in every corner of the world, to be restored to the most famous Parliament in the world.

George, that is the only excuse that I, for one, would accept for your absence from the count here that night.

Twitter Ye Not

On the left side of Twitter, they are singing and dancing so much over the departure of Owen Jones that you would think that Margaret Thatcher had died all over again.

In fact, that was quite restrained compared to this.

But having had dealings in the past with Jack Monroe, I can honestly say that, where her battle with Katie Hopkins is concerned, I have no dog in the fight.

Still, that's a lot of money.

If Hopkins has to pay Monroe quite that much for a couple of deleted tweets, then imagine how much Oliver Kamm is going to have to pay Neil Clark.

Soon, very soon, we shall no longer have to imagine.

Spam For Brains

Owen Jones will not starve. 

No one ever went down either the economic or the social ladder by betraying the Left, and he was already pretty far up both of those. 

Owen Jones has become Nick Cohen, and Nick Cohen is doing fine.

Owen Jones has become Melanie "white Western nationalism" Phillips, and Melanie "white Western nationalism" Phillips is doing fine.

As for those who are taking yet another opportunity to use the line about "the Judean People's Front", that is always an useful illustration of the fact that for Blairites and for what were once called Thatcherites, Monty Python is the upper limit of their frame of reference.

They may, especially in the Blairite case, have been to university, and even to the very grandest of universities. They may have lived much or all of their lives in London.

But the dead parrot, the knights who say "Ni!", and the songs about sperm and penises in The Meaning of Life, are still the most sophisticated things that they have ever seen or heard.

There are no most sophisticated things that they have ever read, because, like Thatcher and Blair, they have never read anything of the slightest cultural importance, if anything at all.

That is what distinguishes them, both from traditional Tories, and, even more so, from the Left.

Fitness To Govern

The days are coming, and are arguably already here, when it will be as bizarre to question the present Government's (and even more so, last year's) old links to the 1980s Far Right, and thus to Thomas Mair, as it would now be to question the Bushes' and the Clintons' links to Saudi Arabia, and thus to the attackers on 11th September 2001. 

We, I, used to branded as loonies for mentioning that, too. But everyone accepts it now, and a lot of people pretend that they always did. 

That does not mean that the Bushes and the Clintons organised those attacks. Nor that, say, Michael Gove or Liam Fox ordered the murder of Jo Cox. 

But it is still important, and it raises very serious questions about fitness to govern.

The Good Riddance of Owen Jones

We should be so lucky, of course.

But he was only ever the BBC's licensed impersonator of a left-winger, anyway. 

Perhaps now it could let a real one on from time to time?

The only people to have murdered an MP since 1990 have been the Far Right.

To which numerous members of Thomas Mair's own generation who are now senior Conservatives or leading UKIP members (if there can still be said to be such a thing) were intimately connected back in the day.

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.

But no part of the Far Right, including fanatical support for Israel, is ever treated as any kind of security risk.

Just as, to return to Owen Jones, you can never be too young to be taken entirely seriously as a right-wing commentator.

Not long ago, the Telegraph and the Spectator were simultaneously carrying someone who was still at school.

And just as there is no view so right-wing that it would preclude, say, a Times column, or a regular gig on The Moral Maze.

"White Western nationalism" was extolled repeatedly by Melanie Phillips this week, days after she had written that there were no such nations as the Scots and the Irish.

Try and imagine a public figure remotely as Far Left as that is Far Right.

You can't.

It couldn't happen.

"Owen Jones Quits Social Media"


His Twitter account still blocks me, indicating that it still exists. 

Silly little boy. 

Come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life, as some of us have had in our time.

And that doesn't go only for Little Owen.

Corbyn Hides £40,000?

One of the many people whom returning to politics has caused me to befriend, and whose impossible youth is matched only by their brilliance, is Liam Young. 

This is a tour de force.

Friday, 10 March 2017

We Are Many

Come along to the Durham Miners' Hall on Monday at 7pm, and see this, introduced by your humble blogger. 

Apparently, I am that important. News to me, but there we are. 

There is talk of asking for £2:50 on the door, so be prepared. But don't worry, none of that will be going to me.

Election Expenses Exposed


The clock is ticking.

Burma Source

Jonah Fisher is a very great man. It is a privilege to have known him way back when. 

Watch his report on the Rohingya at 21:30 GMT on Saturday and Sunday, on the BBC News Channel and on BBC World. 

It is of the utmost importance, not least with regard to the complicity of Aung San Suu Kyi. 


The subject is also addressed in great detail here.

No One Loves A Fairy When She's Forty

Although in the case of Councillor Neil Fleming MP, who is 40 today, no one ever loved her in the first place.

Famously, when asked her greatest achievement, Margaret Thatcher replied, "New Labour."

If anyone were to ask my greatest achievement, then my reply would be, "Councillor Neil Fleming MP."

Or, rather, the fact that she is no such thing, that she has never been elected above Parish level any more than I have, and that she is most unlikely ever again to attain even that dizzy height.

In 2009, the Labour Party went to the length of imposing an all-women shortlist in order to scupper even the remote possibility that Fleming might become a parliamentary candidate, although many of us did wonder how that excluded her, as it certainly would not do today.

In view of recent developments in these parts, developments that have tellingly received little local and no national attention despite the best efforts of certain politically beleaguered self-publicists, mention of Fleming and her family explains why I remain dry-eyed.

Something through the post? Come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life, complete with hands around your throat. Come back to me when, although no one disputes that it has happened, absolutely nothing is ever done about it.

I go back a very long with the right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment in County Durham, and I do not even bother to pretend to have any sympathy.

Although I am sorry that the names of the other signatories have been omitted, this letter of mine appears in today's Northern Echo

There are five groups on Durham County Council, plus two completely independent independents.

But only Labour members voted against the teaching assistants.

None voted in support of the campaign that has electrified the trade union movement and the Left throughout the country, thereby earning international attention.

Yet that campaign has been endorsed by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the largest working-class and left-wing event in Europe, the Durham Miners’ Gala, in front of at least 150,000 people and the television cameras. Only the Conservatives abstained, although that does make the Labour Group objectively “worse than the Tories”.

It is therefore not only reasonable, but morally and politically obligatory, to call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to that Council on May 4.

And then, what? A Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size. The same for scrutiny chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans. And representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole.

Such is the support that has been attracted by the Durham teaching assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, that Labour’s loss of overall control, and indeed its loss of every seat, will be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Crimea, to Kashmir, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia.

A bully with a bloody nose is still a bully.

Don't dish it out if you can't take it.

And no one loves a fairy when she's 40.

If anyone ever loved her in the first place.

Disaster Insurance

Defeat, whether by surrender or otherwise, is coming the Government's way on the issue of National Insurance contributions.

But this is nothing.

Just wait for grammar schools, should Theresa May ever be daft enough to try and life the statutory ban on new ones.

And just wait for leaving Thatcher's European Single Market.

Staying in that, regardless of any referendum result on EU membership, was a Conservative manifesto commitment in 2015.

As, of course, was not increasing National Insurance contributions.

The Price of Leaving

The EU could unilaterally declare that every British Citizen would remain a citizen of the European Union unless he or she chose to renounce that status, a renunciation for which an "administrative" fee would be charged.

The European Parliament would probably insist on that, anyway.

It certainly would if Guy Verhofstadt told it to.

Open, Reach

Who are to be these Independent Directors of Openreach (which it is blatantly obvious ought to be in public ownership, but never mind)?

Instead of protecting the powerbase of the municipal Labour Right, we need to bypassing it and cutting our own deals for representation in the new educational order, a representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old one.

Instead of protecting the privileges of the most Liberal Establishment institution of all time, we need to bypassing it and cutting our own deals for representation in the new broadcasting order, a representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old one.

And instead of being pitifully grateful if some Fabian or Progress grandee is appointed to one of these economically, socially, culturally and politically vital new positions, we need to bypassing that little world and cutting our own deal for representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old nationalised industries.

Theresa May at least professes to support elected workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance. She could and should start here.