Thursday 30 June 2016

Where Eagle Daren't

She's bottled it.

So, while there are at least two Israeli-Saudi stooge candidates for Leader of the Conservative Party, one of whom has knifed the frontrunner in order to make it onto the ballot, there is not an Israeli-Saudi stooge candidate for Leader of the Labour Party.

Or, at least, not yet.

Why is Michael Gove not simply backing Liam Fox? Obviously, he wants an Israeli-Saudi stooge candidate who has no baggage as a homosexual man married to a woman.

Great Expectations?

Having done Shakespeare earlier, here is a bit of Dickens.

There are several great Dickensian caricatures of ostentatious religiosity while snatching the bread from the mouths of the children of the poor.

Which is Stephen Crabb, and why?

Eagle Ayes?

As of this afternoon, Angela Eagle is the candidate of Anna Soubry and Benjamin Netanyahu.

I am sure that we can all agree that that is just what the Labour Party needs.

Jeremy Corbyn is the hardest politician that I can ever remember.

Margaret Thatcher resigned after far less than this.

But Corbyn fights on.

Even against what is now the fully deployed might of the State of Israel, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia doubtless about to enter the fray.

When do we get to Brexit from them? When Corbyn is Prime Minister, that's when.

A Sorry Sight

Shakespeare is fiction. Even the Histories, but that is for another time.

But Shakespeare is still true.

And all that we need in 10 Downing Street is Lady Macbeth.

The Scottish Play indeed, Michael Gove. The Scottish Play, indeed.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

On This Rock

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam Meam. 

Considering the claims that the See of Rome makes, then, while individual Popes might be or have been charlatans or lunatics, the institution itself is either telling the truth in making those claims, or else it is indeed the Antichrist, and any professing Christian who does not submit to Rome on Rome’s own terms must believe it to be so.

Who will call good evil by pointing to the Papacy’s defence and promotion of metaphysical realism, of Biblical historicity, of credal and Chalcedonian orthodoxy, of the sanctity of human life, of Biblical standards of sexual morality, of social justice, and of peace, and by then saying, “Behold, the Antichrist”? That is the question.

Ah, Faith of Our Fathers. Father Faber was the son of the Rector of Stanhope, and, like a striking number of Tractarian or Tractarian-influenced converts, his ancestry was largely Huguenot (as is part of mine, although another side is Highland Catholic).

So his “fathers chained in prisons dark” were not quite as his thoroughly rousing hymn would suggest.

That'll Teach 'Em

Pat Glass is my friend, and always will be. Yes, even though I was going to stand against her in 2020. That's politics. But there is more to life than politics.

Jeremy Corbyn will not be replaced with Tom Watson and a Deputy from the Left, so there is no excuse for anyone to do anything other than stand with Corbyn.

Angela Eagle voted in favour of the Iraq War. Chilcot will report in one week's time.

As to Pat's future, there is now nothing to stop her from marching with the Teaching Assistants at the Durham Miners' Gala. No one who had failed to do so ought to be considered as her potential successor.

Is there really anyone so desperate to become a Labour MP that they would take on even the "challenging" Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham?

There will be someone, I suppose.

But if that candidate is not sound on austerity, on wars, on wars in a time of austerity, on Corbyn, and on the Teaching Assistants, then vote instead for Owen Temple, at least if the General Election is held this year.

The nine Independents sitting for wards in this constituency, who all voted with and for the Teaching Assistants just as the Liberal Democrats did, ought in that event to declare their intention to sign Councillor Temple's nomination papers and to place their ward level electoral machines at his disposal.

Next door in Bishop Auckland, the Labour MP, Helen Goodman, has refused even to meet the Teaching Assistants.

An adequately resourced local candidate from within that campaign would be a big ask by the autumn, but would deserve support if she were to emerge.

Failing that, the Conservative candidate lost by only 3,508 votes last year, and there were 7,015 votes for UKIP, which ought therefore to stand aside this year and work to win the seat for a suitably local Conservative candidate.

All four Conservatives on Durham County Council abstained rather than support the injustice against the Teaching Assistants.

All four of them sit for wards in the Bishop Auckland constituency. One of those four councillors ought to contest that parliamentary seat.

The parliamentary loss of the western third or more of County Durham, including major historic centres of coal and steel, would shock the Labour Party very badly indeed.

It may even be enough to force a reversal of the sacking of all 2700 Teaching Assistants, and their rehiring on a 25 per cent pay cut, lest a bloodbath of Labour councillors ensue next May.

This Injustice Can No Longer Be Sustained

Owen Bowcott writes:

Chagos islanders, forcibly removed from their homes in 1971, have lost a legal challenge at the supreme court that could have speeded up their return. 

In a majority ruling, justices at the UK’s highest court said disclosure of Foreign Office documents assessing a feasibility report on the Chagossians’ return would not have altered the outcome of a House of Lords judgment in 2008.

In 2004, the Chagossians’ right of abode on the British Indian Ocean Territory was denied partially on the basis of a feasibility study suggesting settlement would be prohibitively expensive.

An assessment of the drafting of this study, which lawyers for the Chagossians say cast doubt on it, was not presented to the original House of Lords court hearing.

Delivering Wednesday’s judgment, Lord Mance said there was “no probability” that a court would have, if it had seen the papers, made a different decision. 

About 1,500 islanders had been removed in 1971 to make way for the US base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. 

Under a deal, kept secret at the time, the US agreed to contribute to the costs of establishing the bases and waive the UK’s payments for joint missile development programmes. 

A more recent feasibility study by the Foreign Office, carried out in 2014-15, concluded that resettlement was feasible on the islands if Diego Garcia was included. 

A further legal challenge by Chagos Islanders over their loss of fishing rights in the Indian Ocean is expected to reach the supreme court next year. 

Standing outside the court holding the Chagossian orange, black and blue flag, Louis Oliver Bancoult, who brought the legal challenge, said the ruling was “not the end of the road”. 

Bancoult, who was forced into exile along with his family when he was four years old, said: 

“It’s impossible to accept that other people can live in our birthplace but we can’t. Chagossians will be on Chagos very soon. We want to be allowed to return. We implore the British government to go ahead with the exercise to allow us to go back to our homeland.” 

Many of the exiled Chagossian community now live in Crawley, West Sussex. Richard Gifford, the solicitor who has represented them through a string of legal challenges, said: 

“Resettlement is perfectly feasible and fervently desired by the Chagossians. Given the acquiescence of the US and the support of Mauritius, this injustice can no longer be sustained.” 

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: 

“We are pleased that the supreme court was clear that additional documents would have not made any difference to the outcome of the case in 2008 and ruled in favour of the UK government. 

“We remain committed to our current review of resettlement and will continue to keep parliament, Chagossians and their supporters closely informed of progress on the issue.”

And Let Us Have Done

Cameron says that Corbyn should go. But Cameron is already going.

His party in the Commons, his party in the country, and the country itself, are united in joy at that impending departure. This is Blair all over again.

Thatcher retained the support of her party in the country. But Blair lost that of all three. As has Cameron.

Paramount Importance

"The Union that really matters is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," opined a Democratic Unionist MP at Prime Minister's Questions.

In former years, and however hypocritically, the Conservative benches would have bellowed their approval of that.

But this afternoon, there was absolute silence from them.

"Keeping the United Kingdom together is of paramount importance," replied the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

In former years, and however hypocritically, the Conservative benches would have bellowed their approval of that.

But this afternoon, there was absolute silence from them.

However, they loudly booed Douglas Carswell before he had said a word, and they cheered a strong denunciation of Nigel Farage and UKIP by Bernard Jenkin.

If UKIP cannot commend itself to Jenkin, then it cannot commend itself to any Conservative MP. Any.

In the event of a hung Parliament this year, and that would certainly be the result of a General Election this year, the Conservatives, all of them, would seek another Coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

In any case, there are always going to be far more Lib Dem MPs than UKIP ones. This year, furious Remainers would elect scores of them. They would need only to be the First Past The Post.

Marriage Guidance?

So what that Stephen Crabb voted against same-sex marriage?

As Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both explicitly ruled it out, as did Ministers in both of their Governments, speaking from the Despatch Boxes of both of Houses of Parliament. Brown never did vote in favour of it.

Well into his time as President of the United States, Barack Obama was frankly opposed to it. Hillary Clinton's conversion to it has been even more recent, and that of Bernie Sanders has been scarcely less so.

One eighth of the current Liberal Democrat party in the House of Commons voted against it.

At least one Labour MP who voted against it nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, has not recanted, and certainly will not be recanting.

The very left-wing predecessors of two other MPs who nominated Corbyn, and one of whom has just been appointed to the greatly improved Shadow Cabinet, voted against it.

One of those had organised John McDonnell's unsuccessful attempt to contest the Leadership when Blair resigned.

There are many reasons to bemoan and resist the prospect of Crabb as Prime Minister. But this is not one of them.

"May Makes Quiet Progress"

The French have been observing us for as long as we have been observing them, and they know.

There's Always The Lib Dems

"Betcha we don't leave," posts Rod Liddle on Facebook.

Every day, this or any other Prime Minister will look at the money markets and think, "Nah, best not. Not today, anyway."

So that day, no Article 50 notification will be made.

In any case, all that such a notification would do would be to alert anyone interested that an attempt was going to be made to repeal the European Communities Act.

But there is never going to be a Commons majority for any such repeal.

Most people are never going to vote on this issue at a General Election, and, from UKIP to TUSC, any party that had it in the mix would always have more reasons to vote against it than there were reasons to vote for it in the minds of the huge majority of voters.

Speaking of General Elections, the 48 per cent of people who voted Remain contain at least as many hardliners on this issue as the Leave vote does, and the Remainers, unlike the Leavers, now at least perceive themselves as having a grievance.

Step forward, the Liberal Democrats.

That party is not the home from home waiting for dissident Blairites after Jeremy Corbyn has beaten them a second time, as he undoubtedly will.

The Lib Dems vigorously opposed the Blair Government on civil liberties, on foreign policy, on some parts of environmental policy, and, from the left, on aspects of economic policy.

They have been in government more recently than Labour has been. Give that a moment to sink in.

And their extremely democratic and participatory constitution, designed as it is for perpetual Opposition, would mean that even 172 MPs were just 172 members, among however many thousands of members there were in the country as a whole.

At the last count, on Monday of this week, there were 66,905 members of the Liberal Democrats. They are adding far in excess of 172 each and every day.

Those people did not only vote to Remain, which not all of Corbyn's enemies in the Parliamentary Labour Party did. They see the EU as fundamental to their political and even civic identity, which, except as an eccentricity as common or uncommon among Conservatives, is simply not a Labour thing at all.

Although I cannot understand why, people like that see their support for the EU as inextricably bound up with their social liberalism, with their vague economic leftishness, with their environmentalism, with their localism, with their civil libertarianism, with their internationalism, with their aversion to military intervention, with their insistent political moderation, and with their sense of themselves as broad-minded, well-educated, and safely middle-class.

And there are votes in that. Quite a lot of votes. That constituency is currently very, very, very angry. There were Remain voters everywhere, and they were mostly like that. At least in aspiration, if not for themselves than for their children and their grandchildren.

For all sorts of reasons, a General Election this year would certainly result in a hung Parliament. No small part of why it would do so would be the huge increase in the number of Lib Dem MPs, which was fairly likely even before the referendum, and which would now be absolutely guaranteed.

In the absence of an overall majority for Labour, the only party to have won one within the law in the last 20 years, the Lib Dems could be back in the Cabinet by Christmas.

Even here in North West Durham, since an Election this year would be fought on the old rather than the new boundaries, it would depend very much on who was the Labour candidate in place of Pat Glass, whether it might not be better, this time round, to advocate instead, even if only this once, a vote for the Teaching Assistants' champion, Owen Temple of the Liberal Democrats.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Light In The Shadows

From Kelvin Hopkins of the successful Labour Leave, who was the first MP to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, to the immensely erudite Barry Gardiner, the scourge of the Gulf tyrants and of our alliance with them, this is a Shadow Cabinet that is so much better than the last one.

This is the Shadow Cabinet that Corbyn ought to have appointed in the first place.

Polling tonight shows him with 59 per cent support among Labour Party members. That was the percentage with which he won the Leadership last year. He walked that. He is going to walk this, too.

Margaret Thatcher resigned after a far higher proportion of her parliamentary party had continued to express its confidence in her at the ballot box.

Iain Duncan Smith gave way to a coup played out on, by and for the rolling news channels.

But Corbyn is chanting "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough," and he means it. He will take his case to the party in the country, and he will win.

Anyone who can make it to Durham, make it to this.

Giving Voice

There have been five General Elections in my adult lifetime, and The Guardian has backed the Lib Dems at the most recent four of them.

That is in accordance with its historical norm. Its endorsement of Labour in 1997 was altogether exceptional. 

So I do not know why anyone is surprised at articles such as this.

But who needs it?

First the Old Labour areas swing it for Leave, and now Jeremy Corbyn prepares to win the Labour Leadership hands down for the second time in as many years.

Once that is out of the way, how about some new media outlets giving a platform to our voices?

Anyone can have a website. I have four. I have as many websites as my mother has children. And that is without counting Facebook and Twitter, which together take me up to nine outlets. 

But why shouldn't we have a newspaper, a current affairs magazine, a radio station, a television station, a production company? Why not?

Let's get Corbyn confirmed in office first, and then it will be all systems go.

Runners and Riders to Nowhere

Jeremy Hunt? Is it Christmas already?

Removed as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for being a crook who was regulating the media while on the Murdoch payroll.

Moved to Health, where he has been running down the English NHS with a view to privatising it in the interests of the American healthcare companies by which he is already employed, as was his predecessor.

Then there is Liam Fox, who used public money to employ his male lover as a Special Adviser while married to a woman.

Another of his Special Advisers was a foreign national who was denied security clearance by the Ministry of Defence.

Fox himself ended up having to resign because his relationship with Israel was downright treasonable. It is breathtaking that he has never been prosecuted.

Apart from Boris Johnson and the only serious candidate, Theresa May, even political obsessives will struggle to have heard of any of the rest, never mind to tell you anything specific about them.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has not left the European Union, nor served any notice of intent to do so, and no one this week has talked about the possibility.

And We Have No Confidence In Them

The MPs who have expressed their lack of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn are the products of a Hard Right candidate machine that has been running for 20 years.

That machine would give Tom Watson or Angela Eagle a year, and then do all of this again. It will never accept anything other than a Hard Right Leader.

Someone needs to look into who funds the Hard Right. In fact, they already have. But someone in the media needs to pick up the story.

Broken Glass

I have known Pat Glass since we were on Lanchester Parish Council together, and I am not remotely surprised that she will be leaving Parliament "at the next General Election", which might well be in October.

She is too good for all of this.

Far too good.


A Labour Leadership Election cannot be held in a week.

Chilcot will report a week tomorrow.

If Jeremy Corbyn holds on until then, then he will hold on until any General Election, and beyond.

And he will, because a Labour Leadership Election cannot be held in a week.

57 Varieties of Scab

57 failed parliamentary candidates have called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

It is not explained why anyone should care about the opinion of failed parliamentary candidates, but there we are.

Meanwhile, 57 Labour councillors voted to sack all 2700 of County Durham's Teaching Assistants, in order to rehire them all on a 25 per cent pay cut.

Due to the very high level of absence among Labour councillors, that vicious measure passed by one vote, despite the votes against it of the Liberal Democrats and of the several species of Independent, and despite the abstentions of the four Conservatives.

The Labour councillors who voted for this must be removed. The Liberal Democrat and the Independent councillors who voted against it must be re-elected.

But what to do, if your councillor is a Labour absentee or a Conservative abstainer?

Personally, I would be disinclined to vote for the former, although the most realistic, and probably the most useful, outcome next year would be to take the authority to No Overall Control rather than to wipe Labour of the map.

The re-election of the latter, who all sit for the two vast Barnard Castle wards, would actively serve that purpose, although of course we ought to support anyone who stood there from firmly within the campaign for justice for the Teaching Assistants.

It is a different question whether, strategically, any such candidate should contest either of the vast Barnard Castle wards.

As with seats where, in the absence of such candidates, the Conservatives are best placed to defeat any of the 57, a Tory is a Tory. A Tory is not a scab.

Have I ever voted Conservative? That depends on what you count.

I was a member of a Labour-controlled Parish Council that once unanimously co-opted a living member of the Conservative Party in place of a dead one. My hand went up.

No party has ever run a full list of candidates for that council, and I have always voted to re-elect everyone who was already on it and who wanted to carry on, as of course a certain number of people will choose not to do, giving me a few other votes to spread around.

With one exception, and he was a member of the Labour Party, as he still is.

Sooner a Tory than a scab, if that is the choice that has to be made.

The same is true of those of that affiliation who last year defeated any of the 57 failed parliamentary candidates who have called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

Territorial, Indeed

I never understood why anyone other than Clive Lewis, who did sterling work for Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership campaign, was made Shadow Defence Secretary in the first place.

Even before the recent event that made his position morally untenable, Michael Fallon was a lifelong political apparatchik.

More broadly, Labour combat veterans always disconcert the many of the other side who parade the regimental ties of their long ago Short Service Commissions.

One who had arrived at the right views on the issues themselves, unlike the frankly entryist Dan Jarvis, will drive them up the wall.

The Bull Ring, Indeed

More on the Jess Phillips person, whose resigned boss, never mind herself, would not have been a research assistant to any of the great Labour Cabinet Ministers of the 1940s, the 1960s or the 1970s.

Phillips has been tweeting that John McDonnell missed a division on the Finance Bill in order to address yesterday's rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

That rally attracted at least 10,000 people at 24 hours' notice, with hundreds attending simultaneous events in other cities.

Although impressive enough in itself, 10,000 was the Police estimate, so the real figure will have been far higher.

A week on Saturday, a quarter of a million will hear Corbyn at the Durham Miners' Gala. Even the Police will give a figure well into six figures.

But the main point is this. Phillips's claim was a lie. McDonnell did no such thing.

He addressed that rally, and he participated in that division. Yet she refuses to recant or apologise in any way.

She complains of incivility at that rally, as she has done at other times.

But her own sole claim to fame is that she once told a woman who was old enough to be her mother to "fuck off".

Race Matters, Democracy Matters

Is it too early to start a campaign for Brother Cornel West in 2020?

It is time for a black President of the United States.

Monday 27 June 2016

Not Resigned To Her Position

I hereby resign my Shadow Cabinet position.

I did not hold one. But nor did Jess Phillips, and she has been resigning all over the media all day.

As the Parliamentary Private Secretary to someone who had already resigned, she had nothing to resign from.


If Jeremy Corbyn had the sympathies and connections that are alleged, then rather a lot of people would now be in a far worse physical condition than they are.

In reality, it is the organiser of the ongoing failed coup attempt, Conor McGinn, whose associations as a Sinn Féin dynast would stand up to no scrutiny whatever, were they to be subjected to such.

Corbyn did vote against the Blair and Brown Governments quite a lot, although he voted with them far more often.

But when he voted against them, then the Conservatives voted with Blair and Brown.

And no matter how much he disagreed with an elected Leader of the Labour Party, he never, ever tried to bring down that Leader.

Almost Down To 45 Minutes

Hilary Benn, Angela Eagle, Vernon Coaker, Chris Bryant, John Healey and Maria Eagle all resigned or were sacked from the Shadow Cabinet yesterday or today.

They all voted for the Iraq War in 2003.

No one has resigned from the Shadow Cabinet who voted against that war.

The Chilcot Report arrives next Wednesday.

Pick A Union

If there is to be a referendum in Scotland, then the question needs to be, "Do you wish Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, or to remain part of the European Union?"

If there is to be a referendum in Northern Ireland, then the question needs to be, "Do you wish Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, or to remain part of the European Union?"

Not that any situation that might give rise to either such referendum shows any sign of ever presenting itself in actual fact.

Going For The Triple?

Having lost the United Kingdom's Triple A credit rating, George Osborne ought to resign.

Then again, George Osborne did not resign the last time that he lost the United Kingdom's Triple A credit rating.

Will George Osborne resign the next time that he loses the United Kingdom's Triple A credit rating?

As If

Still no Article 50 notification, and nothing can even begin without that.

The consequences of the EU referendum are many and various. But there is no sign that they are ever going to include the slightest attempt by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.

No one is even mentioning such a thing anymore.

All concentration is on a Conservative Leadership Election that was going to happen anyway, and an attempt to force a Labour Leadership Election that its proponents have always wanted anyway.

In that sense, it is almost as if the referendum never happened.

In terms of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, it is exactly as if the referendum never happened.

Shuffling Shadows

Every Shadow Cabinet position has been filled, and with better people.

Why was Clive Lewis not the Shadow Defence Secretary in the first place?

Why was Pat Glass not the Shadow Education Secretary in the first place?

Why was Richard Burgon not the Shadow Lord Chancellor in the first place?

The Shadow Cabinet now contains two black women, and another six black or Asian women nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, so watch that space.

By contrast, Blairism's, and not least Blair's, record on such inclusion has always been woeful.

On and on the parade of nonentities resigns, down to the last paperclip monitor of whom no one had ever heard.

But Corbyn does not resign. Take the hint.

And take the hint, resigners, as you are each and all replaced. You are being, because you can be. Anyone can be.

Eventually, everyone has to be.

Boris and Doris

Boris Johnson's Leadership campaign is to be co-chaired by Doris Gove and by Ben Wallace, who is an uncomplicated Remainer.

Johnson's scheme to Leave, such as it is, does not in fact involve Leaving at all.

If it did, then Wallace would not be co-chairing his Leadership campaign.

Nor, for that matter, would Doris.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Starting To Get It

This is behind a paywall, but you can get the point from the blurb, or even from the headline.

The plates are shifting.

Points Based

Several other EU member-states looked on aghast, and still do, at Britain's decision to let in everyone from the new accession states.

They would never have done that, and they still wouldn't. They are certainly under no obligation to.

Although, from the new accession states to the founding Six, their citizens are not entitled to claim benefits in Britain from Day One here. Very far from it, in fact.

Liz Kendall, who was and is no Brexiteer, stood for the Labour Leadership last year on a fully worked out and workable policy of introducing the points-based system of immigration.

That, in itself, has never required withdrawal from the EU, no member-state of which allows absolute freedom of movement by citizens of other member-states, and many of which have tighter controls than Britain chose to have, and could choose not to have.

Boris Johnson probably knows that. Theresa May certainly does. Look out for a fully worked out and workable policy from her, and for something or other from him.

But do not hold your breath for either of them to issue an Article 50 notification upon becoming Prime Minister.

Pave The Way

And now for some proper news. Jamie Doward writes:

A decades-long battle by the exiled people of the Chagos Islands to be allowed to return home will reach its conclusion on Wednesday. 

The supreme court, the country’s highest, will deliver its verdict on whether an earlier ruling by the House of Lords banning the Chagossians from living in their homeland was legal. 

If the decision is overturned it will pave the way for their return to the atoll in the Indian Ocean 45 years after they were removed. 

Some went to the Seychelles, others to Mauritius.

A sizeable number settled in Crawley in Sussex, simply because it was near Gatwick airport where they landed.

It is expected that many of the Chagossians and their supporters will be present for the historic verdict. 

In 2000, the high court ruled that the Chagossians could return to 65 of the islands, but not to the main island of Diego Garcia, which is used as a military base by the United States under a deal agreed with the British government. 

About 1,500 islanders were removed to make way for the base in 1971. 

Under a secret deal, the US agreed to contribute to the costs of establishing the base and provide support for the UK’s nuclear missile programme.

In 2004, the government nullified the high court’s decision by invoking the royal prerogative. 

But this was overturned three years later when judges rejected the government’s argument that the royal prerogative was immune from scrutiny. 

In 2008 the government won an appeal in the House of Lords, which ruled that the exiles could not return. 

But lawyers for the Chagossians claim that the law lords’ decision relied heavily on a 2002 feasibility study into resettlement that was flawed.

Celebrities such as the broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle have backed the Chago islanders’ cause.

He has said their treatment by the government has made me “ashamed to be British.”

Theresa May?

Theresa Will.

Lanchester's finest. She and her husband lived here (and they really did, quite a bit) when she was her party's paper candidate for this seat in 1992. They sat behind my mother in church.

Tim Farron was the Lib Dem.

Boris Johnson, who never expected Leave to win and who never wanted it to, now says that the margin by which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union was "not entirely overwhelming".

He has no plan. He has no clue.

Could she beat him? Of course she could.

Could Jeremy Corbyn beat her?

A General Election in which the two main players were both over 60 (she will turn 60 in October, eight days before David Cameron turns 50), were both of very definite views for very definite reasons, and were both calm and measured in their articulation of those views and reasons, would reset the tone of the political debate for several decades to come.

And yes, Jeremy Cobyn could beat her.

Help Me, Rhondda

I appeal to those of you in the dear old Church of England, or perhaps in one of the more "relaxed" corners of the Anglican Communion.

A nice public schoolboy, MA (Oxon), erstwhile official of the Oxford University Conservative Association, deacon 1986, priest 1987, is in search of a position, having felt obliged to resign the one that he held until this evening.

Contact The Reverend Christopher Bryant MP, The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA; or Oxford House (naturally), Dunraven Street, Tonypandy, CF40 1AU.

That is in Wales, apparently. But never mind.

And please, do not go a-Googling for pictures of him. Just don't. Least said, soonest mended.

Onen Hag Oll

It is perfectly reasonable for Cornwall, having voted Leave, to seek assurances about the continuation of the funding that it currently receives via the EU.

I say "via", because that has only ever been the United Kingdom's money back.

Every area, many of them extremely poor, that voted Leave ought to seek the same assurances. And Jeremy Corbyn ought to give them.

As should Tom Watson, around whom, with the resignation of the far from right-wing Karl Turner, matters are very obviously coalescing.

By the way, Cornwall Council, which is the name of the unitary authority, is Liberal Democrat led. How many areas under such leadership or control voted Leave?

Did Both Main Parties Lose?

No, because it is now a matter of record that Jeremy Corbyn deliberately "sabotaged" the Remain campaign. 

Quietly, but very effectively, he won it for Leave in the decidedly non-Boris Johnson areas that won it for Leave. 

By stepping back, and thus enabling those communities to speak for themselves.

Thereby making themselves the focus of political attention for the first time in nearly 40 years. 

Sunderland shook the money markets. Say that again. Sunderland shook the money markets.

Jeremy Corbyn made that possible.

Those communities won. Therefore, Jeremy Corbyn won.

Keeper of the Conscience

Off toddles Charlie Falconer.

He did good work on Hillsborough. But he has never been elected to anything, having been made a Minister thanks to ennoblement at the hands of his erstwhile flatmate, Tony Blair.

Michael Gove is the second non-lawyer in succession to be Lord Chancellor. Let him by Shadowed by one of the surviving MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn and who have not recanted.

If you propose to mock the idea of, say, Dennis Skinner or Ronnie Campbell in that role, then ask yourself how he is any less qualified than Chris Grayling or Michael Gove.

Indeed, without their upper-middle-class arrogance, such a figure (and there are several other possibilities) would be open to the voice of professional expertise.

At the very least, this appointment does need to go to someone who shares Corbyn's own record of opposition to the erosion of civil liberties.

Take Control

No, of course there isn't going to be some merger between David Cameron and Hilary Benn, or even between their younger supporters.

Ignore predictions by Peter Hitchens, for all his other gifts.

He insisted until the last possible moment that the Coalition would collapse, and that Vince Cable would become Deputy Prime Minister under Ed Miliband during the last Parliament.

That is quite typical of his predictive powers. Peter Oborne's are fairly similar. Again, for all his other gifts.

Meanwhile, a party to the right of the Conservatives has enjoyed a very high profile for many years now.

Last year, it won four million votes, as if that were an enormous tally. In fact, four million people voted Labour in seats that were won by the Conservatives. Four million is not a lot of votes.

No, although there is a role for individual MPs outside the normal party system (although arguably not for whole parties like that, at least in England) in what is now this established age of hung Parliaments and tiny minorities, what really matters is control of one or other of the Big Two.

Indeed, one of the roles of those individual MPs is potentially in relation to such struggles, after the manner of Bernie Sanders or the Australian Democratic Labour Party.

Nor is it the case that a majority for Leave means that neither political party speaks for the majority. This issue exists entirely outside party politics. Ask the party that based itself solely on it. Ask its one, effectively Independent, MP.

The battle for control of both parties is of course now in full swing. Nothing else is, and certainly not any reconfiguration of the party system itself.

Moreover, that battle is not, in either case, being fought on the issue of EU membership per se. At least in its aftermath, the referendum has turned out to have been about that scarcely, if at all.

By the way, I shall not be contesting a General Election this year. I have not raised enough money for that, and in any case such an Election would be contested on the present boundaries.

Chicken Coup

Any Labour coup would have to be staged before Chilcot Day, which falls a week on Wednesday.

Jeremy Corbyn would walk any General Election after that.

He is not one of the eight people who have left the Shadow Cabinet today. Nor is John McDonnell, Diane Abbott or Jon Trickett. 

They are all still there.

Think on.

In The Meantime

The Government has literally no plan to pull out of the EU. It is not even going to start planning before October, if it ever does.

I voted for Brexit itself, and I would do so again.

But the forced recognition of the existence of Wales, of the North (and not least of my own North East), and of the Midlands? That will do in the meantime.

It is shaping up to be a very long meantime. Let us make the most of that.

Like Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson is to address the Durham Miners' Gala on 9th July.

Let us hear him denounce the injustice against this county's Teaching Assistants.

Both in itself, and as an indication of his wider concerns, that would demonstrate his suitability or otherwise to be Leader, and thus, potentially, Prime Minister.

As would his articulation of the commitment to honour, in the event of withdrawal from the EU, the promise of an additional £35 million per week for the NHS.

With regard to the Teaching Assistants' campaign in general, I do not live in a ward where the Labour councillor absented himself.

People who do, must make their own decision. The same applies in relation to the four Conservatives who abstained.

But the overriding strategic priorities are the defeat of those Labour councillors who voted in favour of this measure, and the re-election of those Liberal Democrats and Independents who voted against it.

In that order.

Beginning next May, the Teaching Assistants' flag, so visible on Twitter, will fly from County Hall every day for four years.

As the banner of the victory that had taken this authority, realistically, to No Overall Control.

The County Durham flag on which it is based may now be seen, since this was the BBC's accepted bellwether, as the banner of the Old Labour areas that determined the outcome of the EU referendum.

The ramifications of which will therefore be felt for a century, whether or not the United Kingdom ever withdraws from the EU.

With local symbols instead of St Cuthbert's Cross, a version of that flag ought to fly from every public building in those areas, in perpetuity.

In The Shadows

Let me tell you about Heidi Alexander.

Well, let me not. She was in the year ahead of me at Durham, and I knew all the political types of that era, from Jon Ashworth to Mark Clarke.

But I have absolutely no recollection of her, and nor does anyone else to whom I have spoken.

There have only ever been six Labour Prime Ministers, and at some point they have all had a Benn in the Cabinet.

Three generations of them.

Bringing them down a peg or too has been very long overdue.

Labour is tied with the Conservatives in the polls, and Labour supporters are now the centre of the British political universe.

They swung the EU referendum, so everything is now going to have to be tailored to suit them.

More than anything, that is what the Blairobites hate.

Ah, yes, the EU referendum. Whatever happened to that?

The United Kingdom has not left the European Union, nor served any notice of intent to do so.

The comings and goings of Hilary Benn are considered more interesting. Perhaps they are?

Second That Emotion?

I'm in a Smokey Robinson frame of mind.

Of the 50 counting areas with the lowest turnouts on Thursday, 25 were in either London or Scotland.

Of the five highest demanding a second referendum, two are Camden and Hackney.

Those were among the areas with the lowest turnout at the first one.

Dear God, in Your mercy, spare us a second referendum!

But if there were to be one, then we in the non-Conservative Leave areas that swung the first one could name our price.

Mind you, I for one would still vote to Leave. But a lot of people wouldn't.

And the whole thing would be wondrous to behold.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Not 1642

Not 1776. Not 1789. Not 1848. Not even 1917.

2016 is a truly popular revolt.

Hence its base away from the metropolis.

And not least in the rural and small town North of England, instinctively for Church and King in 1642, and never sold on Whiggish capitalism ever since.

Brexit Bonus

Neither the Remain campaign nor the Leave campaign was a political party, and no vote cast in the referendum was for the campaign, as such.

But now that the idea of a Brexit Bonus of £350 million per week for the NHS has been lodged in the public mind, Labour needs to declare that to be its policy.

We Are The Masters Now

The United Kingdom has not withdrawn from the European Union, nor served any notice of intent to do so. Nor has David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister.

The first will not begin to happen until the second has already happened. That will not be until some time in the autumn.

The more days that pass without an Article 50 notification, the less likely it becomes.

There are lots of days between now and the arrival in Downing Street, either of a Prime Minister who openly did not want a Leave vote, or of a Prime Minister who only pretended to want it in order to become Prime Minister.

The question is which of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove is Vladimir, and which is Estragon.

There is no way that EU citizens already living here are going to made subject to visas, or deprived of the right to vote in local elections, or anything like that, any more than Irish citizens were when the Free State became the Republic.

And for the same reason: there are simply too many of them, and since they have already arrived here without any such restriction, the enforcement of it now would be absolutely impossible.

If people from Rwanda or Mozambique, neither of which was ever part of the British Empire, can stand in British elections all the way up to parliamentary level, then why stop people from France or Germany from standing for the council?

Correspondingly, there is no way that British citizens are going to lose EU citizenship unless they specifically renounce it, something that hardly anyone would ever go to the trouble of doing.

The very large Remain minority, at least, is in a position comparable to that of white settlers or of transplanted Asians when certain African and Caribbean countries became independent of Britain.

Except that the descendants of everyone in the United Kingdom who is currently a European Union citizen will be European Union citizens forever. Just wait and see. It will all be written in. If anything is ever written at all.

This country will either never leave the European Union, which is daily a greater likelihood, or will do so on such terms that hardly anyone will be able to tell the difference.

But that is not the point.

The point is that the political centre of gravity has shifted to Wales, the North and the Midlands, and especially to those sections of their populations which traditionally vote Labour.

Such are the voters to whose satisfaction the big questions now have to be answered. By no means only immigration, of which there is barely any in, for example, the North East. But everything.

A good place to start would be in organising local candidates against those pro-Remain MPs for areas that had voted Leave but who themselves supported Monday's vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

If you don't know, then guess. Frankly, it is likely to be all of them unless we are specifically told otherwise.

You can use the name of a registered political party, or the single word "Independent", or no description. I recommend using no description.

I am already standing for the new seat of Consett and Barnard Castle, where the Labour candidate is highly likely to be Pat Glass herself. She is a friend of mine, but this is politics. Please note the PayPal button on this site.

In the meantime, there is going to be a by-election at Batley and Spen. Someone there needs to get busy.

Friday 24 June 2016

To Create A New Settlement

Giles Fraser writes: 

I wanted Brexit and argued for it. But I don’t feel any particular sense of joy now we have won. 

Not because I am having second thoughts. 

But because what this referendum has revealed – not just the result, but how the thing was conducted – is how alienated some parts of this country have become from each other. 

When I wandered over to vote yesterday, I noticed only signs of remain. People wearing little “In” stickers, posters in windows declaring “Better Together”. 

Remain was everywhere. Leave was nowhere to be seen. 

But now we know that was just the London bubble. Outside the capital things were different. 

As if in some parallel universe, the rest of the country saw things differently. They didn’t get the memo. 

And no, they were not being racist – though racism has certainly been out there. They had simply been left profoundly unattended by the political process

Taken for granted, patted on the head – by the Labour party as much as the Conservatives – and dumped upon by a financial services industry that never paid the price for its own recklessness, this was an angry roar for attention. 

The EU felt a million miles away from their concerns. 

And who cares if the pound loses 10% or 15% of its value when you can hardly make your weekly grocery shop anyway? 

As expert after expert patronised people with talk of financial armageddon, outside London people were sick of being talked down to by pundits who had no stake in what they had been going through.

The wonderful thing about democracy is that it doesn’t give some an extra voting power if they are rich or well-educated.

It’s the great leveller. Invented in this country by the Levellers. And things have now been levelled. 

The biggest failure in all this has been the Labour party, often little more than a bystander in so vital a debate. 

If only Jeremy Corbyn had stuck with his natural instincts and led the leave campaign. He could now be the prime minister in waiting. 

And he could have shaped the debate away from immigrant blaming.

Indeed, many of those who voted out were natural Labour supporters, but their anger has been dismissed as bigoted by those for whom some pop-up chai latte liberal individualism has replaced socialism as the dominant creed. 

Tragically, Ukip has been the beneficiaries of this neglect, hijacking legitimate frustration and redirecting it towards the easy target of the outsider. 

With this referendum the gap between the present Labour party and its base has been exposed. 

And this result must jolt them into a rediscovery of their roots. No more sneering at the Gillian Duffys of this world. 

For it was the contempt in which Labour held its own people that precipitated this rebellion. 

We have become strangers to each other and it’s high time we got to know each other again. And perhaps to find some way to like each other a little bit more. 

For this has been one of the nastiest campaigns I can remember, exposing bitterness and deep anger one for the other. 

Now is the time to stop blaming each other for our differences, and to listen a little bit more sympathetically.

With Brexit, we have our democracy back.

The London bubble has burst. The world has been turned upside down.

Now is the time to create a new settlement with each other.

And when we build ourselves back up and regain our economic vigour – and, of course, we will – no one should be left behind this time.

The British Spring, The European Spring

Peter Oborne writes:

Last month Middle East Eye editor David Hearst and I paid a pilgrimage to Sidi Bouzid, the central Tunisian town where street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight on 17 December 2010.

This was the act of desperation which ignited the Arab Spring.

At first it seemed to provide hope that an ugly era of despotism and economic inertia across the Middle East and beyond could come to an end.

The Arab Spring was indeed a great democratic moment.

But it has also led to chaos and horror in Syria, Libya and Egypt – though mercifully not in Bouazizi’s native Tunisia.

The decision of the British people to vote No in yesterday’s European referendum was another revolutionary moment.

We in Britain have been part of an explosion of popular feeling against the morally bankrupt political class which has given Britain the Iraq invasion, the exchange rate mechanism debacle and the banking crisis of 2008.

I voted Leave yesterday because I believe that the European Union was sucking democracy out of Britain.

It has been sucking democracy out of every other part of the European continent as well.

And I expect that the British referendum vote will certainly set off a chain reaction across an economically sclerotic and politically moribund European continent. Large parts of Europe are in distress.

The single currency, dogmatically imposed by an arrogant and out-of-touch elite, has proved a disaster.

This job-destroying euro economic experiment has driven youth unemployment up to a horrifying 50 percent in large areas of Spain, Italy and Portugal.

The Greek economy has been destroyed. Europe is crying out for change, and now Britain has shown the way.

We reformers should brace ourselves for resistance.

Angela Merkel is poised to play the same role as the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Arab Spring. Merkel will be the Prince Metternich of the counter-revolution, battling to restore the existing order.

I don’t believe the formidable German chancellor can succeed. In the wake of the British decision, Greece will surely cease to be part of the single currency.

When it leaves a period of initial chaos will be followed by the return of economic growth.

Almost certainly there will be a chain reaction across southern Europe.

Italy, Spain and other southern European countries will once more be able to stand on their own feet economically.

Politically there will be benefits as well. Remember that the rise of the European Union has paradoxically coincided with the abolition of democracy in many European countries.

Soft coup d’états engineered by the European central banks in alliance with the IMF have removed democratically elected governments in Italy and Greece.

As with the Arab Spring, there is cause for apprehension as well as celebration.

We have every reason to fear the rise of far-right parties across Europe.

Indeed, thanks to the prolonged period of austerity which Europe has already suffered, they are already resurgent in France, Germany, and across much of central Europe.

It’s no coincidence that Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, who takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on 1 July, is a bigot who wants to ban Muslims.

In Britain too Muslims rightly fear Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party which has frequently demonised law-abiding Muslims.

But so did David Cameron, Britain’s soon-to-be former prime minister.

It is completely wrong, as many advocates of the European Union assert, that racism and bigotry is confined to the anti-European Union cause.

It’s alive and well inside the EU too.

So we all need to be careful in the very difficult months and years ahead.

I believe that the restoration of democracy and prosperity to Europe can make the entire continent a freer, better and more stable place.

The Second Peasants' Revolt

Neil Clark writes: 

The first Peasants' Revolt in Britain occurred 1381. The second took place on Thursday 23rd June 2016. 

On the Remain side in the EU Referendum campaign stood the giants of US finance capital — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were among those who funded the campaign — and NATO, the IMF, The Times newspaper, The Economist, 1280 "business leaders" of multinational corporations and almost the entire British Establishment. 

The multimillionaire children's author JK Rowling, changed her Twitter name to JK RowlIN to encourage a Remain vote, while the billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson took out a whole page of newspaper advertising on Tuesday (June 21) to warn us not to vote for Brexit. 

"Although I've been living in the British Virgin Islands for some time now, I have never stopped caring passionately about the UK and its great people. I truly believe that leaving the EU would be devastating for the long-term future of Great Britain and the future of Europe," said the Virgin supremo.

Meanwhile, the pro-Remain multimillionaire rock star Sir Bob Geldof did his bit by sticking two fingers up at Brexit-supporting fishermen on the River Thames. 

The Establishment operated "Project Fear" for most of the campaign and attempted to frighten the "peasants" — because peasants is how they regard us — with tales of austerity budgets and swingeing cuts to pensions and services if they dared to disobey their masters and vote Leave. 

We were even told we had to stay in the EU to keep us safe from terrorism (did I imagine the Brussels and Paris bombings?), and from the Russian "threat." 

After the tragic murder of pro-Remain MP Jo Cox on June 16, Project Fear became combined with "Project Grief." 

Despite a call from Cox's friend Rachel Reeves, for the killing not to be linked to the referendum campaign, some EU supporters did just that. 

In a leaked recording featuring Will Straw, executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, and son of a former Foreign Secretary, Straw is heard to say:

"We need to recognize that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox's death and it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK. That is something we must all do…" 

David Cameron was also accused of trying to exploit Cox's death. 

As referendum day dawned, the Remain side must have felt very confident that their tactics had worked. Late opinion polls showed Remain back in the lead. 

It seemed that Labour voters, horrified by the murder of Jo Cox, were going to do what was expected of them. 

At 10.00 clock on Thursday (June 23) night, when the polling booths closed, the bookmakers odds of a Brexit had drifted to 9-1, from 9-2 earlier in the day. 

The pound surged. In the City, champagne corks were popping. Remainers got ready to party.  

And then the peasants spoke. 

The people who had been talked at and patronized for years, but never listened to, started to make one hell of a noise.

The first result that told us that the Establishment might be in for the shock of its life was Sunderland, when Leave won by a much wider margin (61-39) than predicted. 

UKIP MEP, Diane James, said there had been much anger after management at the local Japanese owned Nissan car plant had written to workers expressing the company's preference for a Remain vote — after being "effectively asked" to do so by the Prime Minister David Cameron. 

Then the Newcastle result came in. Remain had expected to win this quite comfortably but only scraped to a very narrow win by just 1%. 

By now the bookies odds on a Brexit had come in to 4-1, but Remain were still the odds-on favorites. 

As district after district flashed up as a Leave win, with a turnout higher than at last year's general election, it was clear that we were witnessing something quite extraordinary. 

The Establishment, who would have been so confident of success earlier in the evening, were being given a big thumbs down from the "peasants" in the North, the south-east, the east, the south-west, the Midlands and Wales. 

The hostility towards direct democracy from some liberal-left "democrats" came out into the open. 

Tony Blair's former spin doctor and Remain supporter Alistair Campbell was called "arrogant" after he declared: "I have always thought it was a bad idea to have it (this referendum). I want politicians to be elected and lead." 

Meanwhile, the BBC gave airing to the view that Brexiters were less educated than Remainers. 

Of course, the "peasants" could only have voted the way they did because they aren't as bright as us — and/or because they're "racists'/'xenophobes." 

There can be no other explanation. 

Watching the Establishment trying to come to terms with their defeat has been highly revealing. And also highly comical. 

"I don't think I've ever wanted magic more," bemoaned the multi-millionaire JK Rowling (or is it RowlIN?). Billionaire businessman Lord Sugar said he had "no words".

His Lordship may be speechless, but the "peasants" have found their voice.

They've not only brought about Britain's exit from the EU, but the resignation of the hard-right neocon David Cameron as Prime Minister.

Chancellor George "Slasher" Osborne, who threatened the peasants with a new austerity budget if they dared to vote the wrong way, will surely be on his bike soon too.

The rebels may also have helped to bring about an early general election. Not bad for a day's work was it?

While faux-left hipsters, who only pretend to want radical change are in shock that the "peasants" ignored their advice to vote for the Establishment-friendly status quo, the genuine left, who know that things needed a real shake-up, are ecstatic. 

George Galloway, a politician who by backing Brexit showed once again he is much more in tune with majority public opinion than his condescending and insufferably smug Establishment detractors, tweeted: "First they ignored us. Then they laughed at us. Then they attacked us. Then we won #Lexit #Brexit ".

Significantly, the areas of the country which delivered the strongest support for Brexit were ones that have been neglected by the elite for years. 

Only one in the twelve areas of the North East voted Remain — (and that was only by 1%). 

The North East is the only region of the country where house prices fell in the year to February. People in the North East are also most likely to be diagnosed with cancer. 

The region also has the highest child poverty rate in the UK. 

According to a report from Barnardo's, some neighborhoods in the North East have more than two-thirds of children living in families on out of work benefits. 

It is unlikely that many voters in the North East would have been swayed by the billionaire financier Lord Jacob Rothschild taking to the pages of The Times to urge a Remain vote. 

Or by the tweets of wealthy pro-Remain "celebrities" either. 

It's not just in the North East where people are experiencing real hardship. 

All over the country, workers have seen their real living standards fall as their wages are frozen or reduced — and prices for utilities rise. 

Well-heeled "inside the tent" Establishment figures based in London know very little of life in this other Britain. 

For them and their equally well-heeled friends, the EU and globalization in general is working just fine.  

You would think, listening to Establishment figures that a quite awful thing happened in Britain last night. 

"This is the worst day in the life of postwar Britain," said New Labour guru Lord Mandelson and chair of the international financial advisory firm Lazard International. 

But in fact something quite wonderful has taken place. 

Nearly 17.5 million Britons defied the instructions of their "superiors" and defiantly stuck two fingers up at the people who John Rees has called "the power brokers of the world system." 

Goldman Sachs donated millions to the Remain campaign and they lost. Ditto JP Morgan. 

This is not just about getting out of the European Union, it's about ordinary people refusing to do what they were told to do by those who up to now, have always got their own way.

After Thursday night, things will never be the same again. Thank goodness for that.

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is Our Land

Suddenly, the London media have heard of Sunderland, although I still doubt that they could find it on a map.

Suddenly, the North East matters. Suddenly, Wales matters. And so on.

"Daily Mail readers voting like Daily Mail readers" is not news. Everyone knew that that was going to happen.

But carrying Wales, carrying all three Northern regions, and carrying both Midland regions? That is news.

Those are the places and the people that now matter politically.

All parts of each of them, which is a change of epoch-making significance.

Not the Margaret Hodges who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn because he stepped back and allowed working-class and non-metropolitan opinion to express itself.

And not those newspapers whose readers simply voted as everyone always knew that they were going to vote.