Thursday, 8 December 2022

Tota Pulchra Es, Maria

Et macula originalis non est in te.

Things Go Better With Coke

If steel is now made using marshmallow, and if in any case wind turbines and everything else will soon be made of gingerbread, then tell that to West Cumbria Mining and to EMR Capital. No, I would not have chosen a private equity firm registered in the Cayman Islands, either. But that firm is doing it neither for charity nor on an off chance.

This coming April, it will be 10 years since the death of Margaret Thatcher. The inevitable return of the British coal industry is happening right on schedule. If it is a problem that much of this coking coal is to be exported, then revive the British steel industry as well. We need the State. But we can forget about the Labour Party, which is already committed to closing this mine even before it has been sunk.

Welcome to the coke war. On one side are those for whom coke is used in smelting. On the other side are those for whom coke is used for snorting. Whether it is the coal to make their turbines and their cars, or whether it is the precious metals for their Green New Deal and their toys, or whether it is their cocaine, the Snorters will cheerfully import the produce of child and slave labour, extracted with no environmental standards whatever and then shipped over vast distances of carbon footprint. But they will never, ever, ever countenance the well-paid, unionised, environmentally safeguarded employment of their compatriots, the Smelters. The Labour Party has chosen its side.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Driving On The Wrong Side

There was absolutely no evidence against me, but I was still given a tougher sentence than Anne Sacoolas, against whom there was the evidence of a dead body. By the way, the biggest regret of my life is that I pleaded guilty to harassment. Not that the precious darlings would ever have testified, dropping the charges rather than submit to what I would have done to them, but I should had those people destroyed under cross-examination. A longer prison sentence would only have added to my political capital and social cachet, as another one would, which is why I would never now be given one no matter what I did. I have repeatedly been told that to my face.

Anyway, back to Sacoolas. Who or what could she possibly be, that any American interest might have been imperilled by her attendance in person to be sentenced? Still, no Julian Assange for the Americans, then. Repeal the one-sided extradition arrangements. And close those bases, with their fake British names. This woman killed someone. Keep saying that until it quite sinks in. For all his faults, never more than today do we miss Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition. Any Labour MP who criticised this now would lose the Whip.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

RIP Professor Ann Loades

A force of nature, still publishing books in her eighties.

I last saw her when she delivered the Inaugural Joe Cassidy Memorial Lecture, and she was in her eightieth year then.

The Taig Team Now

It is always good to see a reduction in that ludicrous thing, the authority of Nicola Sturgeon, so a warm welcome should be extended to Stephen Flynn even by those of us who were opposed to Scottish separatism with every fibre of our being.

Defined as an ethnic group, the influx of Irish Catholics into the SNP is a recent and dramatic change. It used to hate them pretty openly, and they used to fear it very openly. They took the same "British Unity, Irish Unity" line as the Labour Left and all points left of that.

On both grounds, only George Galloway still does so with any prominence, and he has only recently moved back to Scotland after decades living in London even while he was a Glasgow MP. In one generation, the change among people who have lived there continuously has been almost unbelievable. 

The SNP's Leader in the House of Commons is called Flynn? Oh, well, he was not born until 1988, so that he was not quite 22 at the death of the 86-year-old Billy Wolfe.

Poisoned Bürger

The Reich of the Reichsbürger is the Second Reich, so that when they had sought to proclaim Heinrich XIII as the Bürger King, then half the hilarity would have been their Wilhelmine costumes. Heinrich comes off a very long line of the rulers of tiny territories, which explains an awful lot. Yearning as he does for the Old Order, he ought to be pleased that the Federal Republic of Germany intentionally contained too many centres of power for a putsch to be possible.

Still, it would be wrong to laugh. Between 27th July and 1st August 1990, there was an attempted coup in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, by Jamaat al Muslimeen, which was not even part of the Muslim minority among Indo-Trinidadians, but a tiny movement of converts from Christianity within the almost exactly equally large Afro-Trinidadian population. It saw political Islam as the only means to the liberation of Afro-Trinidadians, a recurring theme in the world in general, and in the African world in particular.

Although the security forces had had to deal with it from time to time, almost no one had ever heard of it, and even fewer took it seriously. Until it stormed the Parliament building, taking hostage the Prime Minister, most of his Cabinet and most of his staff, while its leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, appeared on the captured state television station and announced that the Government had been overthrown. The hostage situation lasted six days until its inevitable outcome. The whole thing would make an entertaining film.

But 24 people died. And if the Reichsbürger really had stormed the Bundestag, however farcical that would have been, then they would have killed someone. A guard, or someone like that. A human being. It used to be said that European and American Rightism had very little to say to each other. That, though, was before QAnon, and the wilder theories around Covid-19. Even this fruit of that would have been lethal to someone. The next one might be fatally toxic far and wide.

A Vital Ingredient

Over on the excellent Labour Heartlands, Paul Knaggs puts it best:

Many an old miner will be sat at home watching the news wondering when the world really did turn upside down, with not a single mention of the ideological decision to take on the miners for no other reason than to reduce the power of the unions. The Tories have gone and opened up a coal mine, we can only hope Thatcher is turning in her grave.

For all the weak-livered liberals who think that’s a bit hard, then I would point out that hard is what happened to my family and countless others in our former mining communities when the Tories carried out their ideological war on them in 1984.

A war that brought economic devastation to working-class communities, wrecking the prospects of young people for generations. There is no amount of investment that would ever come close to diminishing the deep-rooted hatred those former mining communities feel towards the Tories.

However, one cannot diminish the importance of the British coal industry over its 200-year lifespan neither can we ignore this once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalise one of Cumbria’s poorest regions, creating thousands of jobs and boosting infrastructure in this often overlooked part of the old Labour Heartlands.

New technology has brought this once unattainable coal within reach. This is a colossal 750 million ton seam under the Irish Sea that new technology has made attainable coal and, in Cumbria, there is now much support for the idea it should be used to help the area.

Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, gave the green light for the project on Wednesday, paving the way for an estimated investment of £165m that will create about 500 new jobs in the region and produce 2.8m tonnes of coking coal a year, largely for steelmaking.

Local Labour politicians are almost all united in their support, he adds. They feel let down that those in Westminster are not behind them. “The party is a broad church and everyone is entitled to an opinion,” Councillor Mike Hawkins tells The Independent – but he adds that the disconnect may be why this area “is now the former Red Wall”.

The new mine would bring 500 well-paid jobs, WCM says. That, advocates reckon, would itself lead to another 2,000 in the supply chain. Investment in infrastructure would almost certainly follow, they say. In a ward, Whitehaven South, that has some of the most deprived areas of the region and an area, Copeland, where more than a quarter of all children live in poverty, according to the End Child Poverty campaign, such possibilities would be genuinely transformative.

There are many valid arguments about the environment and use of coal, there are also many valid arguments about how environmentalists are willing to turn a blind eye to importing coal as if we all don’t live under the same sky, coal that is needed in the manufacturing of turbines, turbines used for wind farms…

Dr Lisa McKenzie puts it extremely well when she says: “If the UK is to undergo a green industrial revolution, so the theory goes, it will require huge amounts of such steel. While low carbon methods for making this are beginning to be developed – notably in Scandinavia – they do not yet exist in a way that could be used to produce the sheer quantity currently required to build, for example, a wind farm. For now, coking coal remains a vital ingredient of the modern world’s infrastructure. What are we going to do, ship it in from Germany or Poland?”

Now to get Lisa’s and my friend Dave Douglass in as union rep.

We must celebrate the full compatibility between the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past. That means growth, industry, what someone once nearly called “the white heat of technology”, and the equitable distribution of their fruits among and within the nations of the world, so that everyone might enjoy at least the standard of living that we ourselves already enjoyed.

There is always climate change, and any approach to it must protect and extend secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, encourage economic development around the world, uphold the right of the working class and of people of colour to have children, hold down and as far as practicable reduce the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and refuse to restrict travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich. In Britain, we must be unequivocal about regretting the defeat of the miners in 1985.

We sent our manufacturing to India and China, yet now we have the gall to criticise their carbon emissions. And we expect to depend for energy on the Sun, the wind and the tides, precisely because it is beyond our power to stop them from doing what they do and we just have to live with it, yet we also expect to be able to stop climate change rather than finding ways of living with it. I am strongly in favour of solar, wind and tidal energy in the mix. The base of that mix is nuclear and coal. The coal without which there can be no steel, and thus no wind turbines or tidal turbines.

Any economic arrangement is a political choice, not a law of physics, and the “free” market cannot deal with climate change while defending and expanding our achievements. That is precisely why it is being promoted. But instead, we need the State, albeit a vastly more participatory and democratic State than has often existed. The energy sources to be preferred are those which provided high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs. Harness the power of the State, and deliver an all-of-the-above energy policy based around civil nuclear power and this country’s vast reserves of coal. Around those twin poles of nuclear power and of the clean coal technology in which Britain was the world leader until the defeat of the Miners’ Strike, let there be oil, gas, lithium, wind, solar, tidal, and everything else, bathing this country in heat and light. This is why we have a State.

Fracking? There is no problem with any energy source in principle, but none of that shale gas has turned up yet, and if it is anywhere, then it is in heavily populated areas that could do without the earthquakes, the poisoned water, and all the rest of it. Say it again, harness the power of the State to bathe this country in heat and light from oil, gas, nuclear, wind, wave, tidal, solar, and that without which there could also be no steel for rigs, pipelines, power stations or turbines, namely coal. Britain stands on one thousand years worth of coal, and was the world leader in clean coal technology until the defeat of the miners in 1985. Do not vote for anyone who will not say that the miners were right.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Hunter's Gatherers

As a private company, Twitter was quite within its rights to suppress on its platform the story of Hunter Biden's laptop. It clearly took a corporate view in support of Joe Biden's Presidential candidacy, and no one will find that remotely surprising.

Therefore, the people involved should simply state those as the facts. The line that they are taking instead is contemptible. If they were not trying to influence the Presidential Election, then what were they doing? And if Donald Trump would have lost anyway, then why were they bothering to do it?

There's No Pleasing Some People

Conservative MPs overthrew two Prime Ministers in three months in order to install a man who had not merely styled himself "World King" in childhood, but been handpicked in his teens as a future Prime Minister by the people who really did and do decide these things. Yet in as many days, there have been two rebellions so large as to have forced major changes in government policy. And it's still only Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Labour MPs threatened outright secession if the party members had given them any Leader other than Keir Starmer. Yet now the plan is as good as public to bring back David Miliband, which there could be only one possible reason to want to do.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Strikers, Not Senators

Quite by chance yesterday, Facebook brought up a post of mine from 2013 that referred to "the cost of living crisis". That has since started to exist officially, because it has started to hit people beyond the tens of millions who were just expected to be poor and to shut up about it. For them, it has been going on for a very long time. It has not been caused by anything to do with Covid-19. It has not been caused by anything to do with Ukraine. And it has not been caused by anything to do with Brexit. Our communities did not exactly become wealthier or more powerful between 1973 and 2016, deep into our cost of living crisis. That was why we voted Leave, and that in turn was why Leave won. Margaret Thatcher's Single Market holds no attraction for us.

That is the long, long background to the strikes. Under a competent Government, there would be no suggestion of a de facto General Strike at Christmas. These claims would be settled tonight, as every one of them could be, in most cases by the Government directly. The rail operators are contractors of a State that owns Network Rail outright. If anything is so important that a strike in it could cause the chaos of, say, the dispute at the Royal Mail, then it does not belong in the private sector, to be bought up by transnational corporations, or by foreign states, or by the new superclass of global centibillionaires. There was plenty of money for PPE scammers, far in excess of what it would take to resolve all of this. By what authority was Baroness Mone able to bully a Secretary of State? There is more going on here.

Privatisation's weakening of national and parliamentary sovereignty is also its weakening of the Union, yet in the midst of a winter of economic misery, the Government that had already failed to ban section 31 evictions could announce the abandonment of mandatory housebuilding targets, safe in the knowledge that all that the Official Opposition could find to discuss was an Assembly of the Nations and Regions, not to be confused with the Council of the UK. You might have thought that both of those were already called the House of Commons, but apparently you would have been mistaken. Moving Civil Service jobs out of London would save money only if it were the pretext to pay civil servants less for the same jobs. Welcome to the Labour Party.

Resist at all costs the proposal to empower Nicola Sturgeon to contract international treaties. Gordon Brown must be going senile. This is devolution as we have known it for a quarter of a century, extending and formalising the power of the people who already had it, such as the Scottish academic and professional nomenklatura, which was once Nationalist through the Labour Party in the hope of securing from Westminster even more money and power than it already had, but which is now rather less Nationalist through the SNP, forever promising an impossible referendum, and thus running no risk of losing the money and power that it has cajoled out of successive British Governments in the name of  enriching and empowering "Scotland".

In a very similar spirit has devolution benefited the crachach, and the Ulster Protestant hard men, and the IRA. To these are to be added the county set Tories, and the persons and entourages of right-wing Labour councillors. I say again that devolution merely extends and formalises the power of the people who already have it. And Brown, backed by Keir Starmer, proposes that those be given the power to confect a new second chamber, which would contain no shortage of Michelle Mones, with disputes between the two Houses to be resolved by a Supreme Court that would thus be made Supreme even over Parliament itself.

This is a regression to Victorian and Edwardian Liberalism. As it would be, since it is Liberal to see constitutional change as an end in itself, or even as a first order priority, and that is the double basis on which Labour intends to contest the next General Election. Before 1997, Labour Governments made very few changes to the Constitution, and even then only in furtherance of their bread and butter aims. The Blair and Brown Governments made a lot, but again only ever to ulterior purpose, successfully or otherwise. For good or ill, they did a lot of other things, too. Brown's record on child poverty is genuinely praiseworthy, and his response to the 2008 banking crisis did not attract from the public the ridicule that it did from David Cameron and George Osborne. There was no recession on the day of the 2010 General Election, which did not deliver a Conservative overall majority.

Peter Mandelson is murmuring about the abolition of the House of Lords, but that would make him neither any poorer nor any less influential. Not least alongside the rumoured return of David Miliband, and the forced toning down of what was in any case only ever rhetoric about private schools, this is a factional thing, like Tom Harris's dismissal of the whole business as irrelevant to daily life. It is, of course, like the words or deeds of anyone with nothing better to do with an egg than to throw it at the King, or with nothing better to do with soup than to throw it at the protective screen in front of a painting. But the Blairites are fundamentally on board with arrangements that would have made the Attlee Government's life extremely difficult, preventing any nationalisation of industry and forcing something such as Wes Streeting would favour rather than the National Health Service, and which would render impossible anything like a Corbyn Government. The Blairites have done this before.

What is so wonderful about the Human Rights Act, or about the European Convention on Human Rights? They have not prevented the enactment of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act, the Nationality and Borders Act, the Elections Act, or the staggering Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, nor will they keep the even more stunning Public Order Bill off the Statute Book, or the Online Safety Bill. They are not preventing the Government from imposing identity cards in order to vote. They would not prevent a Labour Government from imposing identity cards across the board. 

They do not preclude the Home Secretary from stripping people of their British citizenship, now without even having to tell the people affected. They have presented no obstacle to vaccine passports. They are doing nothing for Julian Assange, who ought not to be extradited at all, but most certainly not until Anne Sacoolas had been sent back here. Every bad thing that Priti Patel and Suella Braverman have already done, they have done while the Human Rights Act has been in force.

I myself was convicted after the judge had specifically directed the jury to "disregard" the concept of conviction beyond reasonable doubt. Like Claudia Webbe MP, I was then convicted of, and unlike her I was imprisoned for, the offence of harassment, to which there is no defence, since it consists in having made the complainant feel harassed. What matters is that the complainant is sufficiently well-connected that the Crown Prosecution Service will take up the complaint. In Webbe's case, she was convicted of this by a salaried employee, sitting alone, of the same State that had brought the prosecution. None of this is any sort of breach of the Human Rights Act, any more than is the Trade Union Act 2016, splendid though it is to see the uselessness of that in its own terms against the righteous rage of the workers.

Nothing that was beloved of David Maxwell Fyfe, never mind largely written by him, ever did have anything to do with the Left. Not the EU into which he so castigated Anthony Eden for not having taken Britain at the start. And not the ECHR, either. There was a reason why its incorporation into British domestic law was never attempted by any Labour Government until Blair's. It duly proved useless as civil liberties were shredded; it was the dear old House of Commons that stopped the detention of people for 90 days without charge. And it duly proved useless as the poor, the sick and the disabled were persecuted on a scale and with a venom that had not been seen since before the War, if ever. That persecution continued into and as the age of austerity. Against austerity, even as Red Cross food parcels have been distributed to our starving compatriots, human rights legislation has been of only the most occasional use, if any. That has always been the intention. 

In May 1948, the pompously self-styled Congress of Europe assembled in the Hall of Knights, in The Hague. Addressing that assembly, Winston Churchill called it "the Voice of Europe". But in fact it was mostly made up of politicians who had recently been defeated at the polls, of the representatives of Royal and Noble Houses that had fairly recently been dispossessed at least in political terms, of the likes of Churchill who fell into both categories, and of people whose lives' work was trying to delude themselves that so did they.

In the name of the order that had held sway for a century between the defeat of Napoleon and the First World War, their aim was very explicitly to check the Social Democracy that was sweeping Western Europe at the time. The material that they produced had that intention, and it has had that effect. Lo and behold, Blair had it written into British domestic law. And lo and behold, the body that he created for its enforcement, when it has not been sacking its black and disabled staff first, and when it has not been failing to find anything wrong with the Government's handling of the Windrush scandal, played a key role in bringing down Jeremy Corbyn. Not that Corbyn helped himself by backing down when he ought to have been fighting back. But "Equality and Human Rights"? What equality, exactly? Which human's rights?

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Raise The Scarlet Standard High

When they are not forcing us to work until we are 68, the age at which my father died, then they are pumping raw sewage into the water supply and wondering why the old diseases like scarlet fever were coming back. The general opposition of all main political parties to renationalisation makes an overall majority for any of them a danger to national security, and their specific opposition to the renationalisation of water makes any such majority a danger to public health.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Power Lines

The man who inherited a healthily solvent Labour Party and has taken it to the brink of bankruptcy says that he is the man to fix the economy, and the man who has made Constituency Labour Parties effectively redundant by centralising the selection of parliamentary candidates says that he is the man to devolve power.

Keir Starmer could have had Eddie Izzard at Sheffield Central if he had wanted him. He obviously decided that he could do without the circus. But if he thinks that he would be devolving power to his own base of right-wing Labour apparatchiki, then he cannot have been paying attention to the local election results since he became Leader.

Notice that apart from ritually ordering its servant to reverse Brexit, even the BBC can find nothing to ask Starmer apart from something to do with Jeremy Corbyn. Seven and a half years after the Golden Summer of 2015, and even people who hate Corbyn viscerally still recognise that he is the only interesting thing about the Labour Party.

I have been arguing with Fabians and Tankies long enough to know when they might have a point, and considering who would be running things even here, then what good would devolution be to those in the hitherto permanent arc of very considerable deprivation that stretches from the Fens, down through Essex and Kent, along the South Coast, and up across the West Country? What good has devolution been to comparable parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Who cares about the abolition of the House of Lords? The proposal to replace it is the same as it always is, and we are back to provincial grandees again. Again, Starmer thinks that those are largely still Labour, as is mercifully no longer the case, although even that is not an argument for this. In general, constitutional change is for the years of plenty and peace, neither of which would be with us in decades if either main party won an overall majority at the next General Election.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

A New Low?

Nadhim Zahawi screams "Putin!" at nurses the meeting of whose pay claim would give each of them less than he claimed in parliamentary expenses to heat his stables. This is what all critics of the prevailing economic order can now expect, and that is why our masters are prolonging the war in Ukraine by backing one of the bad sides, there being no good side, as there almost never is.

Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe, its Army has been taken over by gangs that the world of the Far Right connects to the global criminal underworld, and NATO Turkey has brought in jihadists from Syria, who have already bombed the Kerch Bridge under British direction. It is no surprise that, according to the President of Nigeria, arms to Ukraine are turning up in the Chad Basin, in the hands of the likes of Boko Haram. Coming to a concert arena near you.

In Syria, rather than in Iraq, NATO and the Five Eyes have always approved of IS so forcefully that they even trafficked British schoolgirls to immediate impregnation by its fighters there. The people who thought that the 15-year-old Shamima Begum was capable of being full culpability, even when joining the side that they were supporting, think that the 83-year-old Lady Susan Hussey should be excused, also on grounds of age. Some of them are insisting that Ngozi Fulani is not an admittedly reprehensible person's real name, yet neither the King nor any other patrilineal descendant of the late Duke of Edinburgh goes by Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

Somehow, those people's view at least of that particular 15-year-old does not preclude either Labour's desire to restore the "legal but harmful" clause of the Online Safety Bill, or the Government's proposal to replace it with something that was at best no better. Yet these are the people who have given us, or who did not oppose and would not repeal, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act, the Nationality and Borders Act, the Elections Act, and the staggering Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.

These are the people who have given us, or who did not oppose and would not repeal, the even more stunning Public Order Bill. This is the Government that is imposing identity cards initially in order to vote, and this is the Opposition that would impose identity cards across the board. These are the persecutors of Julian Assange. Yet these are the people with the gall to laud those who "could display only blank sheets of paper" in China, despite having already arrested protesters who had merely displayed blank sheets of paper in Britain.

Under either the Government's or the Official Opposition's proposal, there would be a ban on any online political communication with anyone under the age of 18 or who had not yet left school, all the way down to Messenger, other than the content of the Citizenship courses taught in schools. Those are backed up by Prevent, which is in turn based on a proven hoax that implicated both Michael Gove and one of the grandest of the Labour Right's municipal grandees, Sir Albert Bore of Birmingham. This ban may also extend to undergraduates and perhaps even to postgraduates, since those are classified as "vulnerable adults" for "Safeguarding" purposes.

Vote Labour for what? To put Patricia Hewitt or Sir Michael Barber back into government? They are both already there. In the last seven years, the factions semi-clandestinely behind Downing Street have ranged from the Revolutionary Communist Party to the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, but these days we have to make do with Patricia Bloody Hewitt. Under Keir Starmer, Will Dry would presumably simply keep his job as a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, with a roving brief across the Policy and Briefing Unit, in his very early twenties. In that case, why change the Prime Minister?

Dry's progress has been unaffected by his local expulsion from the Conservative Party due his being a member of the Labour Party. Nor, indeed, does Rishi Sunak appear to have taken any exception to Dry's Labour Party membership, which Dry would seem to have retained. His Our Future Our Choice was an astroturfing operation to subvert the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and he is reaping his reward.

More broadly, what are now the highly international faculties at Oxbridge and comparable institutions can no longer even detect the class indicators that are the main things taught by private schools, and they are not minded to admit anyone based purely on a clutch of IGCSEs. Having been denied admission to the universities that they did not quite consider beneath them, the intense ideologues who had hitherto gone straight into these overtly political roles at 22 will henceforth be going straight into them at 19. They will retain those roles no matter who had won anything so vulgar as an election.

Yet hope springs eternal. Opinium is saying that if you fed the current polling data into the boundary changes, then Labour would be three seats short of an overall majority. I was screamed down in various fora for saying for years before the General Election of 2010 that it was going to result in a hung Parliament. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 Election was called, a prediction that I am not aware was made by anyone else at any time during that very long campaign. And I have now been saying for months that there was going to be a hung Parliament in 2024. Everyone else is catching up. Again.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Labour is already openly down one seat. It expresses no hope of retaining Islington North against Corbyn. Its candidate there would be lucky to place fourth. But if Corbyn really were a friend of Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, a man with links to the regimes in Russia and Iran, then there would be no applicants to become that candidate. No one would dare. Would you? Well, there you are, then.

The same has always been true of Corbyn in general. If anyone had ever thought that he really was in a position to send round the boys from South Beirut and West Belfast, from Kerry and Khan Yunis, then they would have shown him a great deal more respect, in the Tony Soprano sense of the word. That they have not and do not, proves conclusively that they did not and do not. The simple presence of a Labour candidate against Corbyn will reiterate that fact.

As a Commonwealth citizen who is not serving a term of imprisonment either in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland, Assange is eligible to contest an election to the British House of Commons from anywhere in the world. He should therefore do so against Starmer.

And there is talk of bringing back David Miliband. If he is remembered at all in Britain, then it is as a joke, with his banana. But he was perpetrating great evil behind that. He would need to be opposed by one of the two remaining active politicians who were most associated with opposition to extraordinary rendition and with support for the cause of the Chagos Islands. One of those politicians is Corbyn. The other removed Roy Jenkins from the Commons, and Miliband is no Jenkins. Step forward, George Galloway.

Saturday, 3 December 2022

All To Play For

The Conservatives got rid of Boris Johnson when they were five points behind. Labour's lead was 36 points on 27th October, but it is only 14 points now. We are heading for a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power.

Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Countdown

The Thatcher Government created Channel 4 in order to give a platform to minority interests, and was aghast at the programmes that ensued, with Norman Tebbit bewailing that it was supposed to have covered "golf, sailing and fishing".

The Government wants to privatise the Channel Four Television Corporation, so Elon Musk should consider a bid of one billion pounds, including a commitment to maintain its public service remit, itself including both Channel 4 News and the Paralympics.

He should promise that, while the channels themselves would remain free-to-air, everyone who signed up online for free, or who paid a very small subscription to do it by post, would be entitled to elect the members of an Editorial Board, with each of us voting for one self-nominated candidate, and with the highest scoring 14 being elected for a four-year term, provided that all decisions would then require the assent of a Chair appointed for such a term by Musk himself. 

Twitter is now publishing the details of its own suppression, under its previous owners, of the story of Hunter Biden's laptop. In itself, that story is common knowledge now. But it was denied for long enough, and the details were certainly not generally known at the time of 2020 Presidential Election. Hence their suppression, now admitted in full by Twitter itself under Musk. Let's be having some of that.

He Really Does Need A Boost


Among the BBC’s Christmas guest editors of its Today programme is Sir Jeremy Fleming, who heads the rather creepy eavesdropping agency GCHQ. Such bodies may be necessary, but I don’t see why their chiefs should be given airtime to make them look furry and nice.

Why not instead invite Julian Assange, under guard if required? Assange is still absurdly locked up in Belmarsh, and facing lifetimes in an American dungeon if we are weak enough to hand him over. He really does need a boost.

"Oh, I Knew We'd Get There In The End"?

Ngozi Fulani was wrong to go mic'd up in search of a story, and Lady Susan Hussey was wrong to give her that story by rudely persisting in asking a question that had already been answered.

They both have form. But people who are saying that Fulani is a notorious race-hustler, although they are not wrong, cannot honestly claim that anyone of any living generation does not know the true meaning of, "Where are you really from?"

Yet Lady Hussey, as she also is, turns out to be an habitual user of that one. Fulani would already have heard that, among other anecdotes about characters on whom she might have been likely to have chanced at such an event. This whole affair is thoroughly unedifying.

Friday, 2 December 2022

Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?

Kanye West is clearly ill, and the treatment to which he is being subjected is cruelly reminiscent of Bedlam. But if he had wanted to profess his admiration for Hitler, then he should have donned the uniform of the Azov Battalion or the Kraken Regiment.

In order to keep the cash and supplies flowing from countries where people were eating dog food if they could afford it, the Ukrainian Government is now making up death tolls that are obviously wildly exaggerated. The botched false flag bombing of Poland had already frayed NATO's patience, and it is notable that even the most respectable of media outlets are now mentioning that the Zelensky regime is not exactly the angelic host.

The Moscow Patriarchate is about to join all independent media, all trade unions, and most Opposition parties, in being banned in Ukraine. The breakaway body backed by Constantinople is the intended and probable beneficiary, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to line up with that is one for connoisseurs of the Church of England's endlessly subtle party system.

Meanwhile, the Holy Father has probably worked out that that this nationalistic foray into state-sponsored autocephaly will be as anti-Catholic as the Henrician Schism was, especially considering which sections of Orthodoxy were most enthusiastic about it, but it was unfortunate of him to blame Chechens and Buryats for the "cruellest" atrocities on the Russian side in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, he did thus draw attention to the existence of jihadists on both sides, since Zelensky has brought in IS fighters from Syria via NATO Turkey, and they have already bombed the Kerch Bridge under British direction. And the Pope has taken on the fiction that Buddhism is pacifist. An examination of the relevant texts shows that violence in general and war in particular are fundamental to Buddhism. A rare balanced treatment of Buddhism and violence was broadcast in August 2013. The subject is also addressed in great detail here. The form of Buddhism practised by the Buryats is that of the Dalai Lama. Think on.

Locking Down To Open Up

You read it here first. There is going to be a lockdown to end the strikes. There is always some sort of public health crisis in winter, and this winter's will be used as the pretext to lock down. Under that cover, the disputes will be settled by a Government that, for all the knockabout at Prime Minister's Questions, was far more open to negotiation than the Opposition was. The cost will hardly be noticed against that of a lockdown. Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting will be left bellowing, "Get back to work, peasants!", only for the peasants to reply, "We already have, because we won. We beat you."

That the Opposition had held onto a seat with an increased majority midterm would not be a story even under normal circumstances. At both of the General Elections when the Labour Party was led by Jeremy Corbyn, it did better at the City of Chester than it did yesterday. Even in 2019, it did better by 9773. In 2017, the difference was a whopping 14,714, only 2595 fewer than its total vote at this by-election. There are still two years to go until the next General Election.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

All In The Family

After more than 25 years, what a week. First Michael Gove hinted at requiring planning permission for change of use if you wanted to turn a main home into a holiday home, and now there has been a tiny chink in the secrecy of the family courts. I have been advocating these reforms for a very long time. I have others. Do please get in touch.

If you are the key swing voter identified by the EU referendum and by the last two General Elections, then the Conservative Party may be the man to whom you have to pay ground rent, but the Labour Party has reverted to type as the woman who banned you from seeing your children without allowing you to speak, and who erroneously called them by your ex-wife's maiden name on all the paperwork.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Brazen, Hussey

Whatever happened to Ngozi Fulani? I am not going to do the "real name" thing. Fulani does seem to be her married name, and in any case who is any of us to tell someone else what her own name is? But she does seem to have been quite the one day wonder.

Petronella Wyatt may think that Lady Susan Hussey cannot be a racist because her late husband had only one leg, but Her Ladyship did give Fulani a story. And Fulani had gone looking for a story. She tagged along to Buckingham Palace on someone else's invitation, and she gained access to a Royal reception while mic'd up. It is no wonder that no one has wanted to talk either to or about her into a second day.

They will have to try harder next time, the people who cannot contain their rage at the seamless Succession, having spent more than half of the King's long life insisting that he was a massively unpopular figure, that his Accession would bring down the monarchy, and that Camilla as Queen would provoke riots in the streets.

On what do they disagree with him? His views are typical of graduate Baby Boomers. At least half of the young probably assume that the Queen is the mother of the King's sons. And while their real mother had grown up on an estate, she had done so in a council house.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Unilateral Declaration

I have decided to take the name of a great African fighter against the British monarchy.

Henceforth, I wish to be known as Ian Smith.

Time For Fresh Leadership

Politics is a rough old trade, and even by those standards the Liberal Democrats do not exactly play nicely, but this is why everyone should say good riddance to Ian Blackford from any position.

Remember Charles Kennedy.

Folk With Faith Left To Fight For It

Right when we are being bounced into assuming the inevitability of a three-figure Labour majority, the articles are appearing about how the National Health Service was a bad idea in the first place and ought to be privatised. Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting are the health privateers’ best hope since the NHS was founded.

Did Aneurin Bevan ever say, “The NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it”? The world divides between those who insist that, since nothing exists until some luvvie says it or does it, that line originates in a 1997 television play by one Trevor Griffiths, and those who know that Griffiths got it from the old Bevanites in the Welsh coalfields during the Strike.

The miners were entirely matter-of-fact that they had heard Bevan say it on a number of occasions. That was why it appeared, as it still does appear, over his name and under his picture on numerous trade union banners and elsewhere. Those date from long before 1997, of all years. Aged 20 in 1997, even I had first heard it at least five years before that.

Therefore, “Nye never said that” is a shibboleth among those who were tellingly never told that you must never call him “Nye”. It is a vital dividing line between those who do, and those who do not, regard working-class culture, and therefore also working-class politics, as having any validity in its own right. It is always the sign of people who hate the NHS, and who hate the people to whom he did say it. 

Bevan said it repeatedly, even habitually, to the South Wales miners, and they put it on banners and so on even while he was still alive. Some London playwright or other eventually got it off them, but who cares? Avoid at all costs anyone who ever tries to tell you that somehow Griffiths made it up, a claim that I am not aware that he himself has ever made. That is the textbook definition of the metropolitan liberal elite. It is the mark of the enemy, and the enemy must be destroyed.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

The Black King

Through both of his parents, the King is descended from Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose features were publicly called “Negroid” at the time, when her ancestry was common knowledge and, as contemporary portraiture confirms, apparently disturbed nobody. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after her, and it is the seat of Mecklenburg County.

She was descended from the part-black Royal House of Portugal, another member of which was Catherine of Braganza, who was the consort of Charles II but from whom no one is descended, unlike her husband, whose descendants have included both of the wives of Charles III, as well as the former Duchess of York. In a portrait displayed in one of the private areas of Durham Castle, Catherine is shown looking just like a mixed-raced Briton of today. Or, indeed, like the sometime Meghan Markle.

Furthermore, the King is plausibly believed to be descended from Muhammad through various part-Moorish Royal lines on the Iberian Peninsula, back through the Kings of Portugal and Castile, to the old Moorish Kings of Seville. Robert Graves was once ushered away from the then Queen after he had mentioned their common descent from the Prophet of Islam, but that view is widely held in an entirely matter-of-fact way across the Islamic world. Genghis Khan and the Tang Emperor Suzong are less plausible ancestors, but not impossible ones.

Identity Politics

We are rubbish at big IT projects in Britain, so believe in voter ID when you see it, and that is just as well, because if it ever came into effect, then we would have American-style denial of the results at every election for evermore.

But requiring photographic identification to vote is not about electoral fraud. It is only partially about even voter suppression. This is about identity cards, which have been the Home Office's solution in search of a problem for as long as I can remember.

And identity cards, which are once again Labour Party policy as well, obtained from whom? The Passport Office and the DVLA, documentation from one or other of which is now required in order to exercise the franchise, are about to be privatised. Who is going to buy them? Infosys? The foreign states that have bought the utilities and the rail companies? Who, exactly?

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

La Vista, Baby

Boris Johnson wants to be Prime Minister again. There is no other conceivable reason for him to him to seek to remain in the House of Commons even now, much less in the next Parliament.

"Where Are You Really From?"

They can call themselves whatever they like, but it is simply a matter of fact that upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, our reigning dynasty changed from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a branch of the House of Wettin, to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a branch of the House of Oldenburg.

The House of Oldenburg has reigned in Sweden in its time, and it reigns in Denmark and Norway to this day. It has also provided Kings of Iceland, Kings of the Hellenes, and Emperors of Russia, but until 8th September 2022 it had been pared back to its Danish and Norwegian roots. Then it acquired 15 new Realms, from Saint Lucia to the Solomon Islands, plus an array of Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories, associated states, and so on.

It has only taken that House 308 years. None of the children of Queen Anne and of Prince George of Denmark survived, so the Throne passed to the House of Hanover. That was largely due to arrangements made by the Spencers, entwining the two dynasties for centuries until they went too far and intermarried.

Until recent days, Spencerism was a kind of Whig Jacobitism, demanding that the Succession skip a generation and alight on the sometime Princess Diana's elder son precisely as such. But the Succession has happened seamlessly, because that is what it does. By the way, like Sarah Ferguson, both of Charles III's wives have been descended from the numerous illegitimate children of Charles II. In fact, although there are others in the mix, they have all been descended from the same one, Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond. William V will be the first monarch descended from Charles II, who left no legitimate heir when he died in 1685.

Others, however, have no shortage of legitimate heirs. Although one of them is too young to know, and the other no doubt considers it an honour to two beloved grandparents, there are two patrilineal descendants of Elimar I, Princes of the ancient and illustrious House of Oldenburg and specifically of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, who bear instead the double whammy of "Mountbatten-Windsor", as will their respective sisters until marriage. There has never been a Principality of Battenberg, and there is no such place at all as Mountbatten. "Where are you really from?", indeed.

World AIDS Day


Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western non-governmental organisations and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour." Huge numbers of condoms were distributed in Botswana, and the result was for the then President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die." 

Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

Home At Last?

Since the last century, I have been using the available platforms to call for a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it were proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

If Michael Gove has caught up, then I claim no credit. I am just very, very glad. The last Labour Government, the model for any future one, was completely unresponsive, and I would not be surprised to see a Labour whip to vote against this.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Demonstrably

Demonstrations in Iran and China are cheered on by the people who have made them illegal in Britain, by the people who have no intention of making them legal again in Britain, and by the people who have consciously chosen not to report those sorry facts.

China's heavy lockdown policy is regarded as a legitimate cause for protest, but Australia's heavy lockdown policy was not. Anti-lockdown protests in China, although tiny for the size of the country and of the cities in question, are given saturation coverage in Britain, where large anti-lockdown protests were repeatedly ignored by media on whose doorsteps they were being held.

The globally unparalleled repressiveness of the Chinese Communist Party is presented as manifest in its increasing moves towards the relaxation of Zero Covid, as sought by those who had felt the jackboot on their necks by being allowed to demonstrate noisily and in front of international media hostile to the regime.

And Xi Jinping is obviously on the way out, because that is the view of everyone who has been saying the same thing about Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Nicolás Maduro, and a dozen others, for years on end.

Still, at least the British State has bought out the stake that the Chinese or any other foreign State should never have held in Sizewell C. There are rather a lot of other things that, for the sake of national security, also need to be brought back into public ownership. Just do not expect that case to be made by the Labour Party.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

A World To Win

My trade union, Unite, is engaged in strike-busting activity at the Royal Mail. In February, the General Secretary, Sharon Graham, declared that "the remaining financial relationship with the Labour Party is now under review" because of the Coventry bin strike, yet nothing has come of that while Keir Starmer's Labour has become more and more anti-union. The talks that some unions are now having with the Government would be unthinkable if Starmer were Prime Minister.

And Unite remains affiliated to the ILGA, which ungrammatically calls for action to, "Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalise same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex or sexual and reproductive health services or laws authorising non-consensual abortion, sterilisation, or contraceptive use." The World Health Organisation defines adolescents as those aged between 10 and 19 years. This is a call to lower the age of consent to 10.

Therefore, I am in principle still a candidate for General Secretary of Unite the Union in 2026. Join Unite Community here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Opening Our Reach

The dispute with BT and Openreach has been resolved. Strikes work. Over in the officially public sector, although obviously you cannot imagine the State allowing BT or Openreach to go under, subsidies are greater than would be necessary to avoid the strikes altogether. Essentially, that is a slush fund. How much of it winds up in the coffers of the political parties? Yes, all of them.

The public sector could be given an inflation-matching pay increase if capital gains tax were equalised with income tax, but the only thing even less likely than that would be the abolition of the exemption of main residences from CGT. I have never understood it, but I am neither an academic nor a newspaper columnist. I am a political activist and a parliamentary candidate, and I have to pick my fights.

As for VAT on school fees, that is the Labour Party's perennial internal crowdpleaser, the unfulfilled promise of which will always be too useful for when activists started to ask what their party was actually for. It is never going to happen. But for the sake of argument, as with so many things, the claims made for and against it are equally contemptible.

Fees have gone up every year forever, but pupil numbers have remained constant. No one who could find £20,000 would struggle to find £24,000, never mind the suggestion that people who could find £30,000 would struggle to find £36,000. No one is struggling already to find that sort of money; you either have it, or you do not.

If a Labour Government were to tax private schools into oblivion in Britain, not that it ever would, then they would set up abroad as if nothing had happened. In any case, it was Michael Gove who in 2017 proposed putting VAT on school fees, and that year's Conservative manifesto threatened in black and white to do so unless at least the major public schools sponsored academies.

There is a class war being waged in British politics, and it is the same one as it always is, the one of "tough decisions" that are always essentially the same ones, both in themselves and no matter who is in office. This most right-wing Government since the War faces the Loony Right on three fronts. The SNP is toying with charging to use the NHS, as the Conservatives are with charging £50 to see the doctor. The Liberal Democrats' departure from government led to a moderation of austerity, and since then there has been nothing like either the invasion of Libya, or Vince Cable's privatisation of the Royal Mail.

As for the Labour Party, it promised even more austerity in 2010 than the Coalition ended up delivering, and it did not oppose the austerity programme in 2015. Most Labour MPs and all Labour Party staffers remained fanatically pro-austerity even after the Government had changed direction, and that has never ceased to be the case, firmly continuous with every Labour Budget from December 1976 onwards.

Having opportunistically pretended to have opposed the only mini-Budget measure that had not been in Liz Truss's pitch to the Conservative membership, the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax, Labour is stuck with its support for all of the others. If you still think that Trussonomics was a good idea, then vote Labour. It has accepted the existence of a "fiscal black hole" of £55 billion, which is a figure made up out of thin air in order to justify predetermined policies.

Therefore, Labour accepts both of Jeremy Hunt's fiscal rules, that underlying debt must be falling as a proportion of GDP at the end of a five-year rolling period, and that public sector borrowing over the same period must be below three per cent of GDP, rules that are not coincidentally reminiscent of those of the eurozone, where they were suspended during the pandemic but are due to be reactivated from the end of 2023. Labour will certainly go into the next General Election with a commitment to adhere to whatever departmental spending limits it had inherited. Of course Labour would not abolish non-domicile tax status, the defenders of which cannot explain where its beneficiaries would go, since it exists nowhere else on Earth.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

"Opposing China and Defending Taiwan"?

Those were Tsai Ing-wen's frequent words during the recent election campaign. That was her choice of ground. The voters of Taiwan have given their answer. How often does a President or Prime Minister resign as party leader because of local election results?

Not that we should be misty-eyed about the Kuomintang, which ruled Taiwan as a military dictatorship for 38 years, and a faction of which did originate Taiwanese nationalism. Rejecting the authority of the present Chinese Government to resolve territorial disputes, "the Republic of China" lays claim to most of Mongolia, as well as to parts of Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Still, the war that was never on is well and truly off for anything like the foreseeable future. Nancy Pelosi is going to have to find an alternative source of income in retirement. Regime change, indeed.

Service à la française, service à la russe

Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the "Interim" Prime Minister of Mali in the military junta that came to power in May 2021, has expelled all non-governmental organisations that are funded or supported by France.

France has never stopped having an empire in Africa, where it fights wars that more than give the lie to lazy jokes about lack of military prowess, and where it maintains two effectively interchangeable currencies across a total of 14 countries with a combined population of 193 million and a combined GDP of $283 billion.

A lot of French blood and treasure goes into all of this, yet France has this month ended all development aid to Mali, three months after it had withdrawn the forces that had spent nine years fighting a major Islamist insurgency that was very much ongoing. In response, Mali has kicked out the French and French-backed NGOs. What is going on?

France asserts that Mali has brought in the Wagner Group, disguised as "Russian military instructors". There is every reason to believe that. The voting figures at the United Nations over Ukraine have awoken a sleepy "international community" to the breadth and depth of continuing Russian ties to the old anti-imperial struggles of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific, supported as those often were by the Soviet Union. Throughout this century, China will also continue to benefit from that legacy of goodwill.

Wagner Group arms and ammunition, up to and including four Mil Mi-17 helicopters, have certainly arrived in Mali. A base has clearly been built near the airport of the capital, Bamako, a city of 2.8 million. The Group has also taken over the former French bases at Gossi, Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu. Numbering 400 across the country, those "instructors" would have to be delivering an awful lot of instruction. Not all of them are Russians. Clashes with jihadists have already killed at least one of them as a matter of official record, although they in turn have already killed at least 200 jihadists.

Africa has been Wagner country for quite some time. The Group provided bodyguards to several candidates in the 2018 Presidential Election in Madagascar, even including the winner who had been favoured by China and the United States, thereby guaranteeing the Russian takeover of Kraoma, Madagascar's national chromite producer. The Wagner Group had also been "guarding" the chrome mines themselves. Its involvement in Mozambique has been extensive. Its participation in the never-ending Libyan Civil War remains so. Ignore anyone who tells you that that is over.

More than anywhere else, however, the Wagner Group's African operations have been, and continue to be, in the Central African Republic. Again, that is in the French sphere of influence, although the Group originally went in there, in 2018, to fill the security vacuum that had been left by the French military withdrawal, in 2016, following the loss of three quarters of the country's territory to rebel control. By all accounts, it is "guarding" the diamond mines in regime-controlled and rebel-controlled areas alike, as it also takes a great interest in the diamonds, gold, uranium, and thus government of Sudan.

There has lately been an operation to take down cryptocurrencies, not that I am any fan of those, after the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in the CAR had posed a threat to the CFA franc, itself pegged to the euro and so on. The CAR is a front line in the Great Game as it is being played in the present age. There are anything up to 2000 Wagner Group personnel there, if not more, and it has a firm grip on a number of government institutions, including the General Staff, such that it supervises or directly commands most of the units of the Armed Forces, including at least one EU-trained battalion. Known as "Black Russians", hundreds of Centrafricans, former UPC rebels who surrendered, are now fighting for the Wagner Group in Ukraine, or are awaiting deployment there from Russia.

Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed to a Finnish newspaper that 20 or so Finns were fighting in a British battalion of the Wagner Group, commanded by a former United States Marine Corps general. There are not awfully many former United States Marine Corps generals, so which one do we think that it is, and why? It is rubbish, of course. But just as you can bet your life that there are British and American Nazis fighting on the other side, you can bet your life that there are British and American pure mercenaries in the Wagner Group. We have no interest in whether that or the Kraken Regiment won, just so long as it did not bother us, which it would have no cause to do unless we had been foolish enough to have backed its enemy.

Britain is indeed engaged in such folly, and that on a cross-party basis. But we are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Where The Dragon Really Is

If the diminutive demonstrations in China were any threat to the regime in that gigantic country, then they would already have been suppressed without mercy. Their ephemeral nature is evident from the fact that they are still happening at all. The real story is the emphatic vote of Taiwan for the principle of One China, throwing out the existing puppet of the same CIA that was trying and failing to foment unrest in the cities of the Mainland.

What is Taiwanese nationalism? Just as everyone knows how bad Vladimir Putin is, but that does not alter the Nazi roots and character of Ukrainian nationalism, so the wickedness of Xi Jinping, or indeed the heavy baggage that the Koumintang brings with it, does not alter the fact that Lee Teng-hui always regarded Japanese as his first language and Tokyo as the cultural capital of his wider civilisation.

A volunteer Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army until the very end of the Second World War, Lee stood in the same tradition as Park Chung-hee, the dictator of South Korea from 1961 to 1979, who had been an officer in the Japanese Manchukuo Army that had occupied Manchuria. These are the heroic Asian Tigers of successive generations of the same neoliberals who have always lionised Augusto Pinochet. To put it mildly, their economic system neither requires democracy, nor necessarily upholds it.

Japan itself is run by people who believe, “that Japan should be applauded for liberating much of East Asia from Western colonial powers; that the 1946–1948 Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate; and that killings by Imperial Japanese troops during the 1937 Nanjing Massacre were exaggerated or fabricated,” as well as that the comfort women were not coerced. The first of those, at least, has been a widespread view in several of those countries at the time and since. Indonesia, as such, is a direct product of it, since the Japanese-backed rulers of the Dutch East Indies simply declared independence under that name at the end of the War. See also Park Chung-hee, and the Lee Teng-hui whose heirs the Taiwanese electorate has just ejected.

The India to which both main parties in Britain are so keen to cosy up is run by the heirs of Mahatma Gandhi’s Nazi-linked assassins, and it has always recognised among the fathers of the nation the likes of Subhas Chandra Bose, who raised an army in support of Japan. He has featured on stamps six times, and on coins three times. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is the aviation hub for the whole of eastern and northeastern India. There is also a Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island. Yes, an island. Up to a point, it is understandable that Rishi Sunak might feel some affinity with Narendra Modi. But Keir Starmer has no excuse.

We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.

Thirty Years of Hurt

Little Britain started on television seven years after the end of Fantasy Football League. The piggybacking mediocrity David Baddiel had single-handedly brought back blackface, which by the middle of the 1990s had not been seen on British television in a good 10 years.

Baddiel gave blackface an extra decade of life, although that did not include Papa Lazarou, which was an example of an actor playing a blackface performer as Brian Conley had played Al Jolson, but which was not in itself the blackface performance of Baddiel's Jason Lee or of David Walliams's Desiree DeVere.

That is the background to Baddiel's self-appointment, in his late fifties, as a national and even international intellectual guiding light and moral arbiter, clearly positioning himself as the successor to Stephen Fry, former game show host, and author of The Liar and The Hippopotamus. Ceding to these grifters the authority that they imagined for themselves would enthrone blacking up and the favourable depiction of pederasty. Resist.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Shocked And A Bit Excited

Openly calling for the resignation of Xi Jinping is notable and even brave, although I expect that he will survive, and they are not saying who or what they would want instead. But the demonstrations in China are extremely small for the size of the country, or indeed of the cities in question, and they are not especially unusual there.

Yet they could no longer legally happen here. Under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which Labour barely opposed and has no policy of repealing, they could land you in prison for 10 years. Just wait for it to be joined on the Statute Book by the Public Order Bill, which is also being given only the most Official of Opposition.

If you doubted quite how much a part of the Establishment Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil were, then consider that they were not being hauled off to be sentenced to 10-year stretches. Will striking workers be so indulged? Yet strikes are not performative. Even in themselves, without any picketing, they entail a loss of pay. No one submits to that purely to make a point.

The cost of living crisis is nothing new to at least 14.5 million people in Britain, who have been experiencing it unremittingly for 12 years or more, and in some cases for 40. It is news because it has come to affect people are not just expected to be poor and to suck it up. Notice that it is only those suddenly new poor who are ever asked about it. Still, at least it is now being discussed at all.

If, for example, it would take a 19 per cent increase to bring nurses' pay up to the level at which it would have stood if it had kept pace with inflation since 2010, then that is the fault of the people who have been government during that period, a period during which MPs have enjoyed nine increases in pay.

There was no war in Ukraine in 2010. There was no Covid-19. There was no Brexit. Neither the crisis in Ukraine, nor the recent pandemic, has been experienced solely by the United Kingdom. European Union membership has never extended to most of the countries in the world, nor to one third of the countries in the OECD, nor to three quarters of the countries in the G20.

Existing economic problems are being exacerbated by the sanctions against Russia, and by the vast diversion of money and resources to the likes of the Kraken Regiment that it is tellingly now permissible to mention. But the anti-lockdown monomaniacs and the anti-Brexit monomaniacs are mirror images of each other.

For the sake of what they regarded as their natural inferiors, they were once mildly inconvenienced for the first time in their lives, and they are determined to bang on about it until the day they died. Predict that the thing that you disliked would lead to every conceivable form of doom and gloom, and whenever one of those arrived eventually, then you could always claim to have been vindicated. Here we are.

Impoverishment had long been inflicted on many millions of their fellow-citizens by their preferred policies, and not least by the requirements of membership of Margaret Thatcher's Single Market and of the Customs Union, as well as by the support for austerity on the part of the Labour Party until 2015 and again now, most of its MPs and all of its staff continuously, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, and all parties in Northern Ireland, including the one that was now selling itself as potentially an anti-austerity Government in the Irish Republic.

That impoverishment has been visited on its previous enthusiasts, who still believe that its longstanding victims deserve it, by the chaos that ensued from the mere announcement of an intention to implement the economic programme that had been promised by their favoured candidate for Prime Minister. At 45, the effects will define the background, and often the foreground, of the rest of my life.

None of Jeremy Hunt's measures was being suggested by anyone at the moment that Kwasi Kwarteng stood up to deliver the mini-Budget, when Ukraine was old news, when Covid-19 was very old news, and when Brexit was practically prehistoric. Those measures have nothing to do with anything other than the catastrophic attempt, 40 and more years in the planning, to implement the lunatic economic ideology to which Kwarteng and Liz Truss subscribed.

Blame attaches solely to Kwarteng, to Truss, to the mere one in 13 MPs who ever wanted her to become Prime Minister, to the barely more voters than one parliamentary constituency who gave her the job, to the media outlets who told them what to think, and to the think tanks that told everyone else in this sorry little tale what to think.

Labour at least pretends to believe that there is a "fiscal black hole", because it wants the consequences. It does nothing to challenge Hunt's illiterate assertion that a sovereign state's budget worked like a household budget, and possibly does not even know that that is factually incorrect.

Labour promised even more austerity in 2010 than the Coalition ended up delivering, and it did not oppose the austerity programme in 2015. Most Labour MPs and all Labour Party staffers remained fanatically pro-austerity even after the Government had changed direction, and that has never ceased to be the case, in the spirit of every Labour Budget from December 1976 onwards.

Having opportunistically pretended to have opposed the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax, Labour is stuck with its support for all of the other mini-Budget measures. If you still think that Trussonomics was a good idea, then vote Labour. Like the Lib Dems since their foundation in 1988, Labour since 1995 has been constitutionally committed to all of this. Being purely and simply a vehicle for securing power, the Conservative Party carries no such baggage.

So hope springs eternal. While our media were obsessed with a few hundred bored youths in Beijing and Shanghai, the voters of Taiwan were rejecting the rattlers of other countries' sabres so comprehensively that Tsai Ing-wen has resigned as the Leader of her party. The Kuomintang brings its own issues, but the war that was never on is well and truly off for anything like the foreseeable future. Nancy Pelosi is going to have to find an alternative source of income in retirement. Regime change, indeed.

If it can be done there, then it can be done here. Look at Keir Starmer's tragicomic transition from the man whose red line was saving freedom of movement, to the man whose red line is preventing any return to freedom of movement, which in any case does not mean what most people in Britain thinks that it means.

Being an EU citizen has never conferred an absolute right to live in any EU member state of your choosing. Britain chose to apply it like that because it had chosen an economic model that depended on mass immigration, the model to which the CBI wants to return. Truss's and Kwarteng's model openly depended on that, too. Logically, so does Hunt's and Rishi Sunak's. And so would Starmer's.

The broad electorate is waking up to the fact that you cannot believe a word that Starmer says, because nor does he. There are two years to go before the next General Election. We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.