Friday, 22 June 2018

Healthy Politics

Higher spending on the NHS from increasing VAT on fuel and domestic power (how the years roll back), and from making people pay National Insurance if they work past state pension age?

Or higher spending on the NHS from higher taxes on the richest five per cent of individuals, and on the largest corporations?

Which do you think is going to win?

"I Never Thought I'd See The Day"

Thus do certain of the Consett Irish begin to tell me that their cousins will now be voting for the DUP because of abortion, and that they themselves would do the same. They then add that they will in fact be voting for me. And I have known them for a long time. They are not buttering me up.

But then, we never thought we'd see the day when Sinn Féin would be in coalition with the DUP, something that is now accepted as the natural order, with the present situation as aberrant. We never thought we'd see the day when a coalition was on the brink of being formed between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, which is if anything an even more improbable partner than the DUP.

Power-sharing in Northern Ireland will have to be restored at some point, and when it is, then it will always be between Sinn Féin and whichever Unionist party was larger, which is going to be the DUP for a long time yet. If they came to be more evenly matched, then power-sharing would always be between Sinn Féin and whichever of the Unionist parties offered it the better deal.

Meanwhile, if not from the forthcoming Dáil elections then certainly from the next ones, the Taoiseach will be the Leader of whichever of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil offered the better deal to Sinn Féin, the Leader of which will presumably hold the position of Tánaiste in perpetuity.

For all practical purposes, the 32 County Republic of 1916 will then exist, with those who still proclaimed its sovereignty effectively exercising the same across every inch of Ireland. But where, exactly, do they hold that that sovereignty now resides?

70 Years On

The Empire Windrush, which arrived in Britain 70 years ago today, did so in the same year as the creation of the State of Israel, which in turn, but instantly, created a strong sense of distinct Palestinian nationhood.

In themselves, the Israeli and Palestinian identities, which are now into their fourth generations, are entitled to the same respect and recognition as the Black British identity of post-War, post-Windrush origin.

I am open to correction, but apart from extremely small groups such as the St Helenians, I cannot think of a post-War immigrant community in Europe that is more integrated than the Afro-Caribbeans in Britain. More than 50 per cent of  people with at least one Afro-Caribbean grandparent have at least one white grandparent.

Hence the Windrush Scandal. Hence the fact that it was a scandal. 50 years ago, the young men fought in the streets, and their wives refused to speak to one another in the shops. But 50 years later, those same couples have grandchildren in common.

And they know it. They know each other. They have known each other for years, and years, and years. The white public was recently outraged, not because the West Indians were "like family", but because the West Indians were family.

Up In The Air?

And so the Conservative Party's big business base swings into action, effectively announcing, via the Airbus press office, that that party's policy is to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union, whether outside the European Union or inside it. 

The former would be the only thing worse than the letter, but those two will be the options at the second referendum, with no Third Way. Had this promise not been made by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, then Dominic Grieve would have led his troops into the Division Lobby against the Government and it would already have fallen by now.

No one in the Conservative Party has ever been against the EU on principle. Even Enoch Powell was pro-Market initially. From him onwards, all that they have ever wanted has been better terms. Until the very late 1980s, almost none of them wanted even that, and criticism of the wretched project was pilloried as "Loony Left". 

David Davis was John Major's Europe Minister, when John Redwood, Michael Portillo, Norman Lamont, Peter Lilley and Michael Howard were all in the Cabinet. In 2003, Howard was still so pro-EU that he headed the coup against Iain Duncan Smith, although Brexit had not been Conservative Party policy even under IDS.

Insofar as there ever was a "Common Market", then it has always been the Customs Union, while the Single Market was created by Margaret Thatcher. Of course her flame-keepers want to stay in them. And of course the rest of us need to demand that we withdraw from them. Away with their State Aid rules, with their bans on capital controls, and with all the rest of it.

Forward instead to a trade agreement with each of the BRICS countries while remaining thoroughly critical of all five of their current Governments. Forward to the integration into the Belt and Road Initiative of all four parts of the United Kingdom, of all nine English regions, and of all of the British Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies. And forward to very much more besides.

I need £10,000 in order to stand for Parliament with any chance of winning. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Dopes No More

I realise that it is not particularly representative, but if last night's Question Time was anything to go by, both where the panel and where the audience were concerned, then the debate on cannabis is shifting away from the previously unchallenged legalisation lobby.

We can win this one. If we make enough of an effort. And if we learn from our past. Radical change can never come while the workers, the poor and the youth are in a state of stupefaction. That is what the Big Dope lobby wants. Of course it does. Look at who and what it is. We have been here before.

I need £10,000 in order to stand for Parliament with any chance of winning. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

"A Leading Defence Nation"?

Is Theresa May even a native speaker of English?

Imagine if Jeremy Corbyn had let slip so much as the suggestion that Britain ought no longer to be a "tier one" military power. Even though, even if not in such precise terms, a very large section of the British electorate now thinks along those lines.

As for NATO, it commits us to the defence of Turkish Islamists and of Eastern European neo-Nazis. If Sweden and even Finland have never felt the slightest need to be in it, then nor do we.

I need £10,000 in order to stand for Parliament with any chance of winning. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Trial Date Watch: Day 55

More than 10 weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 110

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Healthy Debate

From the people who have spent at least 50 years mentioning that they were apparently not allowed to mention immigration, comes the increasingly persistent questioning of the supposed stricture against the questioning of the National Health Service. When either of those taboos was in effect, then I must have been in a coma.

But remember that even after Dr Jane Barton had been found guilty of serious professional misconduct for having caused eye-watering numbers of deaths, our old friends in the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute her.

They have, however, claimed to have found sufficient evidence to prosecute me, although not, in 15 months and counting, to present to a jury. Perhaps I should have been a doctor, and killed people? At worst, I would have got the Lavinia Woodward treatment. At best, the Jane Barton.

Not that I am singling out doctors. I feel the need to revisit the case of Andrew "Picard" Boeckman in order to fill up the endless time between my having been charged and my trial, a trial that it is now obvious that no one has ever had the slightest intention of holding.

The only reason to charge me was to keep me charged forever, in order to silence me, and in order preclude my election to public office. Well, how silent am I proving to be?

And while they might have kept me off the Council, I need £10,000 in order to stand for Parliament with any chance of winning. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Flagging Old Hacks

With this does the Parliamentary Press Gallery welcome Emily Thornberry.


She is quite a bit older than I am, but in my childhood no one outside certain ecclesiastical circles (which were obscure even in the Eighties, but around which I did happen to grow up) would have had any idea what that flag was. The 1966 World Cup Final is probably on YouTube or something. Check which flag the English fans were waving. It was not that one. 

This is done now, of course. But it was made up in the Nineties to sell bad beer to football's new middle-class audience, the only people who could still afford the tickets. Or the beer. Thornberry is hardly to blame for having missed all of that. Lucky her.

She is to be a platform speaker at next month's Durham Miners' Gala, the most "white working-class" event on the planet. A six figure crowd will give her a rapturous reception. So the public school Press Gallery can jog on.

They are having hissy fits over on Guido Fawkes as I point all of this out. "Thick Northerners," and all that. Such is the voice of the people who write The Sun, an upper-middle-class joke on its readers. Insofar as there still are any. One dying, almost entirely public school staffed newspaper that thinks that breasts are news is not the voice of anyone at all.

Settled Status

Here we are, then. We are to become a colony of the EU, obeying laws that we are to have no say in making, and a satrapy of the EU, paying tribute to its imperium.

During this period, there is going to be a second referendum between two options: staying in the EU after all (but on its terms, of course, since we have well and truly messed it about), and the only thing worse than that, staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union, so that we can pay but have no say.

We know that there is going to be that second referendum, because without that absolute commitment from the Prime Minister, then one or other House of Parliament would certainly have brought down both her and her EU Withdrawal Bill last night. That she and it are still in place proves conclusively that that absolute commitment was given.

Leave won in the wrong places for it to have been about immigration, at least as the decisive issue. And today, Sajid Javid has duly confirmed that no one from the EU is being sent back or what have you. Nor, let's face it, will they be prevented from continuing to come and go as they please.

Those who support the party of the Unionism, Imperialism, and "the Common Market" are the last  people with any right to complain about a British population with roots across Ireland, the Empire, and the EU.

Last night's four Labour rebels, and at least four of the six Labour abstainers, were all from the old anti-Market minority within the Labour Right, with Tony Benn's heirs voting for the parliamentary control that was so much a part of his life's work.

But that tradition is an honourable one, and it is often correct. If the decision as to a "meaningful vote" is to be made by the Speaker of the House of Commons, then that Speaker needs to be Frank Field. Indeed, for all sorts of reasons, the Speaker needs to be Frank Field.

Still A Live

The little shills of Peter Mandelson who are complaining that their anti-Brexit banner was taken down at Labour Live need to speak to Walter Wolfgang. Yes, they still can. Then they need to get over themselves. And then, they need to find new patrons.

You're Fired

On this eighth anniversary of George Osborne's Great Austerity Budget, did anyone expect that there was going to be another series of The Apprentice, anyway? 

The wonder is that it has lasted this long. A thoroughly pre-Crash programme, it was always oddly out of place on the BBC, and it has given a grateful nation Katie Hopkins. 

Lord Sugar's tweet yesterday has only confirmed the inevitable.

Vague About Hague

Whenever William Hague gives us the benefit of his wisdom, and we may look forward to a great deal more of that, then he is always billed as a former Leader of the Conservative Party. He held that office 20 years ago, and without success. 

Rather more recently, he was the Foreign Secretary when we invaded Libya, thereby handing it over to the so-called Islamic State and creating the refugee crisis that is now being played out at ports across the Mediterranean.

Yet no one ever mentions it. Funny, that.

Trial Date Watch: Day 54

More than 10 weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 109

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Really Valued

Dynamite from Lisa Nandy at Prime Minister's Questions, as she produced emails that proved that key rail routes here in the North of England were "not really valued" by the Department for Transport.

It is two weeks since many newspapers here collectively published an excellent editorial on the dire condition of the rail service in the North. Yet the sensible proposals that were made in that article have still not become the policy of any political party.

In the hung Parliament that will certainly result from the next General Election, the price of my support for any Government would include the implementation of the scheme that that editorial outlined, which would of course benefit the whole of the North and the whole of the country. 

In the present parliamentary situation, we need to be prepared for a General Election at any time. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Charnwood Overcharge?

Edward Argar has been made a Justice Minister.

Until 2015, he was Head of UK and Europe Public Affairs at Serco, which enjoys highly lucrative contracts with the Ministry of Justice, and which is still under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging on an offender tagging contract.

Oh, and the Conservative Party fought last year's General Election on a manifesto commitment to abolish the Serious Fraud Office.

I just thought that you might like to know.

Insuring Defeat

Would they? Would they, really? Make people who worked beyond state pension age pay National Insurance "for the NHS"? If so, then they have spoiled all the fun by simply having given up.

Nothing Special

Every other country in Europe also thinks that it is America's best friend. As does Australia. As does Israel. As, even now, does Canada. But it is a different question whether any of them would allow Donald Trump onto their soul under the current circumstances.

In any case, they are all deluded, as are we. America's only Special Relationship is with Saudi Arabia, which is the only country in the world with a regime as evil as the one in North Korea, the vast coal and other mineral wealth of which the Trumps intend to control well into the twenty-second century.

We have of course merrily welcomed successive rulers of Saudi Arabia. We ought not to have done that, either. Instead, we need the exploitation of the vast reserves of coal in this country and in this county.

That, and the extension of civil nuclear power, are the means of delivering high-wage, high-skilled, high-status, unionised jobs while securing independence from Arab oil, from Russian gas, and from coal that has been mined using child and slave labour, including in North Korea.

Horror stories about how coal was burned or mined in the Britain of the twentieth century have no relevance to the Britain of the twenty-first. At the same time, I am totally opposed to the open-casting of the Pont Valley or anywhere else, digging up hardly any coal while employing hardly anyone.

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Meaning What?

Really, anyone in the tradition of Tony Benn ought to vote in favour of a "meaningful vote". I hope that they will. But this is not really about that. 

This is about holding Theresa May's feet to fire to ensure that she delivers what she herself wants, and what she really promised those who did not vote to bring her down a week ago last night.

That was, and is, a second referendum between two options, remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union, and remaining in the EU altogether.

If the Government won tonight, then that second referendum, with no Third Way, would be a done deal.

Even if the Government lost tonight, then those who demanded it were just going to keep going until they got it. The Prime Minister really wants it, anyway. And she has no majority without those who are absolutely determined to secure it.

For those of us who do not favour either option, the only solution is a change of Government, with our people holding the balance of power in the next hung Parliament that is inevitable in itself.

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

There Is Another England

Once again, Craig Murray is more right than wrong:

Given the centuries of economic exploitation, political domination and depopulation, I perfectly understand why many Scots support any team at the World Cup which is playing England.

But, with an English mother and two English grandparents who largely brought me up, I do not feel that way and I raised a glass at Harry Kane’s late winner. Let me tell you why. 

My grandfather Henry was a lifelong socialist who had no illusions about the British Empire and its role in the world. Yet he was also a patriotic Englishman whose life, like so many of his generation, was largely defined by the struggle against Nazism, in which his only son had been killed. 

That focus on the Second World War partly explained his fondness for the Soviet Union, in discussing the abuses of which he would always remark, “But you have to consider what came before. Given where they started, they are making progress.”

He would recite “A man’s a man for a’that” to me as a small child and explain its meaning. Yet Henry would fly his St George’s flag proudly when occasion warranted it. I do not therefore automatically associate that flag with UKIP or with Essex Man. 

Because there is another England, that from which Henry sprang, the England documented lovingly by E P Thomson and vividly recorded by Robert Tressell, the England of William Hazlitt, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Putney debates and Thomas Paine. 

Michael Foot embodied the inherited wisdom of that tradition and it has re-emerged with unexpected vigour in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn, a man whose attraction lies in the very fact he encapsulates notions of basic decency that the English political elite had attempted to cast off. 

I regard Scottish Independence as part of the continuing process of decolonisation. Ireland’s population will in the next decade overtake Scotland’s for the first time in centuries, and as of today Ireland’s GDP per capita stands 25% higher. 

Scotland can never achieve its potential without first achieving its Independence. But we can do that without wishing ill to our neighbours; some of them are quite nice.

Trial Date Watch: Day 53

10 weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 108

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Keep Your Mind Active

I have very bad arthritis, and it is getting worse. If cannabis relieves that or anything else, then it has an active ingredient that does so. That active ingredient needs to be identified and prescribed. When we need aspirin, then we do not simply ingest bark.

The Side That Decides

Of course referendums are won and lost on the votes of Labour supporters. They are held on constitutional questions, and while Labour supporters often have very strong views indeed on those, they have them in pursuance of first principles, not as first principles in themselves.

Thus, while SNP supporters were obviously in favour of Scottish independence, and while Conservative supporters in Scotland are even now sometimes referred to as "Unionists", the deciding question was how well or how badly independence would serve the interests of the Labour Movement and of its core communities. 

That Movement and those communities were split on that, but the eventual result was decisively for No. Now the Union has to serve those interests, as without them there would no longer be a Union, whether in the present or, as a second referendum looks ever more likely, in the future.

Similarly, while Liberal Democrat supporters have come to be defined by their support for the EU, and while Conservative supporters were already either strongly pro-Leave or strongly pro-Remain on ideological grounds, the deciding question was how well or how badly British membership of the EU had served the interests of the Labour Movement and of its core communities. 

That Movement and those communities were split on that, but the eventual result was decisively for Leave. Now Brexit has to serve those interests, as without them there would be no Brexit, whether in the present or, as a second referendum looks ever more likely, in the future.

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

John Bull's Other Island?

Of course most people in Great Britain, across the political spectrum, would rather let the Union with Northern Ireland go than lose Brexit. Who, exactly, in Great Britain has ever looked at the DUP or the Orange Order and seen the face, or heard the voice, of their own culture? 

But I for one warmly welcome the additional billion pound investment in jobs and services in Northern Ireland, and I call for Scotland, Wales, and each of the nine English regions to receive the same per capita. 

The Government's deal with the DUP, like yesterday's announcement about NHS funding, has been a frank declaration that austerity was only ever a political choice rather than any kind of economic necessity. So there is that. 

Still, the Conservative Party's right wing, perhaps 20 mostly rather eccentric MPs but certainly not 30, can be asked whether they wanted to add the dissolution of the Union with Northern Ireland to their already stated aim of the abolition of the House of Lords. Not that that question is now rhetorical. How very, very far Brexit has moved them. 

The idea that the United Kingdom has a land border at all, never mind one that is more than 300 miles long and which has more than 200 crossing points, has shaken the Right's own sense of national identity to its core. 

But there are more crossing points on the Irish Border than there are on the entire eastern border of the EU. Some of them are streams so small that they have no names, and so shallow that they have no bridges; you just have to wade. 

Yet such is the land frontier of the United Kingdom, a frontier the very existence of which entirely blows the minds of the Our Island Story brigade.

Comprehensively Lost

Of course William Hague wants to legalise drugs. He comes from the Northern bourgeoisie originally, but he came up via the Oxford University Conservative Association and the Oxford Union.

Margaret Thatcher herself was never a supporter of drug legalisation. But it has always been an article of faith among her strongest supporters.

Thatcherism was not in fact a reassertion of the supposed respectability of the pre-1960s provincial and suburban middle classes, to which we now know that its archetype, Thatcher's own father, did not conform.

Rather, it expressed the desire of provincial and suburban middle-class boys, arriving at the swankier universities, to be allowed to behave in absolutely any way that they pleased, like David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson, and the rest of the posh boys whom they encountered there and who mostly went on to run their party over their heads despite having shown little or no interest in it when seen from the perspective of the bookish boot-strappers.

Fast forward half a generation or so, and a sort of Eurocommunism did vaguely provide a kind of ideological framework for accommodation to that, in turn, by rather similar, if very slightly posher, types who wished to carry on defining themselves as fashionably leftish in their own minds. 

But the Conservative Party of Hague and then Cameron did not adjust itself to a New Labour project that had been defined by a highly superficial reading of Gramcsi as several degrees' remove. No, that project was itself an adjustment to the Conservative Party as defined by the Thatcherite demand that the sons of Rotherham soft drinks manufacturers be allowed to behave with the same irresponsibility and impunity as the Old Etonian members of the Bullingdon Club. For example, by taking drugs. Marxism Today merely provided the tools. If it had not done so, then something else would have done.

After all, the more "modernising" Labour Right of yesteryear had already done so. Scarcely a Conservative MP had voted against most of the social legislation of the Wilson Governments. On at least one occasion, more than half of the Conservatives on a Bill Committee had been with Roy Jenkins, not merely at Oxford, but at Balliol.

For a time, Jenkins was Shadowed at the Home Office by a very close friend and sometime employer, and another Balliol contemporary, with whose immensely aristocratic wife he was conducting a 40-year affair.

For almost as long, Jenkins was also carrying on with an American heiress who was married to his publisher, yet another Balliol contemporary who was a member of the first family of the Liberal Party and who sat for a time as a Liberal MP before being raised to the peerage. Welcome to "the centre ground".

Almost as an aside, ponder that an elected second chamber became Conservative Party policy immediately upon the election of Hague as Leader in 1997 (by then, he had already being calling for many years for the abolition of hereditary peers), and that same-sex marriage was the subject of an enthusiastic editorial in the Daily Telegraph at that time, being seen as a characteristically Conservative policy.

By contrast, the Blair and Brown Governments were ruling them both out from the despatch boxes of both Houses all the way up to the General Election of 2010, due to the need to keep peace with other important strands in Labour thinking. But by 1997, fully 21 years ago now, there was no other strand in Conservative thinking. All thinking Conservatives were like this.

The increasingly fashionable claim that the Conservative Party turned itself into a vehicle for Gramscian, Eurocommunist Blairism entirely misses the point. Even if not necessarily in the way intended, the observation that New Labour was about "turning Labour into the Tories" was spot on. Gramscian, Eurocommunist Blairism merely made it possible to do so while remaining on speaking terms with the Labour Movement until the Iraq War. But that is a whole other story.

Trial Date Watch: Day 52

More than nine weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 107

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Monday, 18 June 2018

She's About To Snap Again

"Put up taxes and borrow more, to fund the NHS, albeit at a lower level than even the Thatcher Government managed." That is not much of an original policy proposal, is it? Theresa May tried to make it something to do with Brexit in order to manage her own MPs, but that lasted only a couple of hours and is now forgotten.

Oh, well, it is nice of her to admit that the cuts were only ever a political choice in the first place. And there is obviously now another of her "snap" General Elections on the way. On the clear understanding that General Elections, like referendums, are decided by the people who, above all else, always want more money for the NHS.

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Cross Him At Your Peril

I still have a lot of Respect for George.  Jonathan Griffin and Lee Kumutat write:

"Philip Cross" has made hundreds of thousands of edits to Wikipedia pages. But in the process he's angered anti-war activists and critics of British and Western foreign policy, who claim he's been biased against them.

"Christmas Day, Eid day, Easter Day, Cup final day, early hours of the morning, in the middle of the night - this man is on my case," says George Galloway, the former Labour and Respect Party MP.

"And it doesn't take an Einstein to work out he's not tending this garden with loving care or to make it look as nice as it can look. It's the opposite."

The subject of Galloway's ire is a prolific Wikipedia editor who goes by the name "Philip Cross".

He's been the subject of a huge debate on the internet encyclopaedia - one of the world's most popular websites - and also on Twitter.

And he's been accused of bias for interacting, sometimes negatively, with some of the people whose Wikipedia pages he's edited.

The Philip Cross account was created at precisely 18:48 GMT on 26 October 2004. Since then, he's made more than 130,000 edits to more 30,000 pages. That's a substantial amount, but not hugely unusual - it's not enough edits, for example, to put him in the top 300 editors on Wikipedia.

But it's what he edits which has preoccupied anti-war politicians and journalists. In his top 10 most-edited pages are the jazz musician Duke Ellington, The Sun newspaper, and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre.

But also in that top 10 are a number of vocal critics of American and British foreign policy: the journalist John Pilger, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Corbyn's director of strategy, Seamus Milne.

His critics also say that Philip Cross has made favourable edits to pages about public figures who are supportive of Western military intervention in the Middle East.

He's recently caught the attention of bloggers and has been the subject of stories in Haaretz and Russian state-owned outlets Sputnik and RT.

There have been allegations on social media - all unproven - that he's a government agent, employed by rich and powerful media interests, or is a mainstream journalist with an obsessive hobby.

"His edits are remorselessly targeted at people who oppose the Iraq war, who've opposed the subsequent intervention wars … in Libya and Syria, and people who criticise Israel," Galloway says.

Recently Galloway offered a reward of £1000 to anyone who could provide information to reveal the editor's identity.

End of Twitter post by @georgegalloway
The former MP says he's received information about Philip Cross and that the reward has already been claimed, but that he is not revealing the personal details of the person behind the account.

Ambiguous edits 

When it comes to Galloway's page, the Philip Cross account is responsible for 20.4% of all edits. But it's difficult to get an overall sense of whether those changes were solely motivated by any particular political bias on behalf of the person behind the account.

For example, a sentence where Galloway criticised the Labour Party as "Tony Blair's lie machine" was removed, with Cross citing "partial repetition, poor source".

In another case, Cross removed links to lurid tabloid headlines about Galloway's private life. In addition, many of the edits were simply grammatically or stylistic.

At one point Cross noted: "It helps the article if each sentence or paragraph does not begin with 'Galloway' or 'He'."





Screenshot of wikipediaImage copyrightMICHAEL WENDLING



Wikipedia, which was launched in 2001, relies on volunteers to write and edit entries. Wikipedians have developed an enormous set of rules and procedures guiding the development of a site which now has more than 5.5m articles in English.

In addition to his Wikipedia edits, Philip Cross has a Twitter account which he has used to interact with Galloway and other politicians and journalists. In one tweet, for instance, he called a group of anti-war activists "goons".

That raised claims of a conflict of interest, which is potentially against Wikipedia guidelines. The account is currently subject to a review process run by Wikipedia volunteers, although Philip Cross has promised to stop editing Galloway's entry for an "indeterminate length of time regardless of any decision".

The Wikimedia Foundation - which established and funds Wikipedia - declined an interview request, but said in a statement:

"Independent volunteer editors consistently monitor Wikipedia, often aided by technology, to ensure its articles remain neutral and well-sourced for the hundreds of millions of people who rely on it every month.

"If repeat violations to Wikipedia policies do occur, volunteers have a variety of mechanisms to draw from, including issuing warnings and blockings, to address content and behaviour that does not meet Wikipedia standards."

On Twitter, Wikipedia's co-founder, Jimmy Wales, rejected claims that Philip Cross is making entries biased.
Of course there's only one person who could definitively lay to rest questions about the origins of the account - and that is Philip Cross himself.

BBC Trending has been able to establish that he lives in England, and that Philip Cross is not the name he normally goes by outside of Wikipedia.

We made several attempts to contact him via Twitter and via an intermediary - but he declined to comment for this story.

Culture and Values

Peter Lazenby writes:

Ex-miners, campaigners and trade unionists raised their banners at the weekend as they marched to the site of the former Orgreave coke works in South Yorkshire where one of the state’s most brutal acts against workers took place 34 years ago. 

On June 18 1984, police attacked miners striking to defend their jobs, the coal pits and their communities. 

On Saturday, an annual march to the site was staged by the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign, which is demanding a public inquiry into the attack and the Tory government’s complicity in it. More than 300 ex-miners, their families and supporters took part in the event. 

The rally was addressed by speakers from the labour and trade union movement, who pledged support to the campaign for truth and justice. Shadow business minister and Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss told the gathering:

“I am the widow of a Nottinghamshire miner who stood with the union throughout the strike. 

“Orgreave was the most violent event in British industrial history. The government had decided to make a public example of the miners.” 

Chris Peace, a leading Orgreave campaign activist and Labour’s candidate for North East Derbyshire, read out a message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott. 

They pledged that one of the first acts of a new Labour government would be to order a public inquiry into what happened at Orgreave. 

President of the Durham Miners’ Association Joe Whitworth recalled how his own village in the Durham region was subjected to a violent police invasion, as were many other mining communities during the strike.

“This was in a sophisticated so-called democratic state, because of Thatcher,” he said. “Orgreave and attacks on mining communities were organised political violence.” 

But he said the culture and values of mining communities continue through the annual Durham Miners’ Gala, which takes place this year on July 14.

Messages of support came from other campaigners, including those seeking justice for the Shrewsbury pickets, victims of blacklisting and those campaigning to expose the activities of spycop officers who went under cover to infiltrate more than 1,000 activist groups.

Human Sensibility

Craig Murray is more right than wrong: 

A few weeks’ break gives you a perspective on British politics aside from the day to day excitements, and the long view is just horrible. An astonishingly inept and irrelevant government maintains itself by a series of straight lies to both Tory Remainers and Tory Brexiteers about its intentions. Both these groups know they are being lied to, but the show stutters on because all in the Tory Party are clinging on, with a death grip, to office if not to power. 

They are in turn sustained by a Northern Irish party of antediluvian beliefs that appears to have time travelled from the less enlightened parts of the seventeenth century, and whose leader’s idea of politics is to march at the head of a group of ill-educated bigots, who will muster far too few teeth in relation to number of feet, proceeding with drunken braggadocio along the streets of Cowdenbeath. 

Meantime society is well on its way through an extremely painful process of transformation. Well-paid, long term jobs offering job satisfaction and career progression are almost as improbable a dream for people under 30 as appearing in the World Cup final or owning their own home. 

Employee protection, whether through organised labour with clout or a legislative framework to prevent employers from abusing their power, has dwindled in practice and is a concept well outside the Overton window. Our younger generation grasp for the prospect of a few months’ unprotected employment at low wages, as desperately as did their ancestors in the 1830s.

It is as though there has been a deliberate rolling back not just of human progress, but of human sensibility. 

Meantime the rich get richer at an unprecedented rate. The concentration of wealth is mirrored by a concentration of the ownership of housing. Media ownership concentration into an ever-tightening circle continues to exert social control, while the gatekeeper role of the big new media corporations of Twitter, Facebook, Google and Wikipedia is now being very openly abused to maintain the Establishment narrative. 

In the international world, the interests of the City of London and the armaments industry shamelessly and openly drive British foreign policy, with the continuing economic dependence of the flimsy UK construct on the pandering services to the global 1% offered by the City of London remains always at the front of the government’s mind. 

At the front not in acknowledgement of the fact that London’s days as a major global financial centre are very plainly numbered as economic gravity moves East, but rather in desperate attempts to avoid the need for an economic re-orientation that would affect the distribution of wealth in the UK away from the core of the Tory Party. 

The days of the United Kingdom itself are now numbered in a very short series of figures. Tory hubris at having climbed, on the back of an incredible concerted propaganda deluge, to 25% electoral support in Scotland, appears to have convinced them that Scots will endure any humiliation at all and not have the courage to stand up.

The incredible arrogance involved in the Tory abrogation of devolved powers, against the express vote of the Scottish parliament, was captured by the jeers of “Bye-bye” at SNP MPs leaving the Commons in protest at the lack of debate. That “Bye-bye” will have a significance they did not intend. 

Any political party with the slightest prospect of power, will always be influenced and infiltrated by those with a strong stake in the economic status quo wishing to defend it, while advancing their personal interest. That is an eternal truth and afflicts both the Labour Party and the SNP. 

But while the programme of neither the Labour Party nor the SNP is as radical as is needed, both do reflect a genuine discontent with the status quo and with an economic philosophy which emphasises above all the freedoms of the very wealthy. 

There is more genuine choice on offer to the electorate than has been the case in the UK as a whole for many decades, which explains the crescendo of reaction from the media and the de facto casting off of the practice of political neutrality of the BBC, which was prepared to be reasonably fair in treatment of political parties only when they were all neo-conservative. 

Whether in the next decade the Labour Party is now sufficiently radical to contain the tensions racking the UK’s political economy, within a broadly constant political system, remains to be seen. It continues to be my view that the first great crack will open with Scottish Independence, and more radical societal change throughout the rest of the UK will swiftly follow that catalytic event.

Trial Date Watch: Day 51

More than nine weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 106

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Welcome To Our World

20 years ago, the participants whined and whined about the supposedly heavy-handed policing of the Countryside March. That event had barely been policed at all when one considers its size and the fact that, extremely unusually in Britain, it had been organised by a lobby that was armed to the teeth. But on and on they went about it, and some of them are still doing so. At best, the reaction from the Left has always been, "Welcome to our world."

In the intervening decades, and across a range of issues, much the same people have come to complain, justly and otherwise, about lack of media coverage, about lack of political representation, about cliques of media types installing and protecting political leaders who might as well have been on the other side, and so on. Welcome to our world.

And now, they are openly accused of collusion with the Kremlin, and of being in receipt of Moscow Gold, by the people who really did have Michael Stewart and Sam Watson on the payroll, and by the people who are still paying heaven knows who. These accusations come from a very specific and very entitled political tendency that is sore beyond words at Trump and Brexit, at Sanders and Corbyn.

Trump supporters and Brexit campaigners, welcome to the club. Welcome to the club of the first Labour Government, of the General Strike, of the wave of strikes in Western Europe in the late 1940s, of the anti-colonial movements in the post-War years, of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s, of the peace movement in the 1980s, and of the NUM. Welcome to the world of "Comrade Corbyn" and "Agent Cob". Welcome to our world.

Full Marx?

Peter Hitchens returns to his familiar, and far from baseless, theme of the Eurocommunist roots of the New Labour project. 

But he implies that the Blairites, as enthusiastic participants in the Sexual Revolution and in the associated drug culture, were somehow un-Tory, so that it is the Conservative Party that has moved in their direction over the last 20 years. That will be completely laughable to anyone who has ever encountered the Tory subculture at any of the grander universities.

The discovery of the works of the conveniently dead Antonio Gramsci was able to provide an ideological framework of sorts for the realisation that Marx's Revolution was never supposed to have started in the former Russian Empire, that the form that it had taken there was incapable of replication in Western Europe, and that numerous aspects of it had become thoroughly embarrassing. (That position goes well beyond Trotskyism, in which the Soviet Union went wrong very early on, but the Russian Revolution itself was and is fundamentally sound.)

And that in turn was able to provide an ideological framework of sorts for purporting to remain on "the Centre Left" while fulfilling the cherished dream of the Oxbridge lower middle class to meet the Bullingdon Boys exactly where they had always been economically, chemically and sexually, not merely since the 1960s, but since 1066.

So yes, New Labour was indeed a takeover by the Right. It would not have passed as one in a land of Gaullists or of Christian Democrats, of conservative traditions with deep roots in Magisterial Catholicism or in Confessional Protestantism. But this is not such a land.