28 December 2009

BBC bans humanists from 'Thought for the Day'

The BBC doesn't believe; it just believes in belief.

In promoting religion, Thought for the Day endorses faith over evidence and reason, as well as backing moral injunctions, allegedly granted from on high, which irrationally restrict the freedom of individuals.

Esperanto and endangered languages

There is no reason whatsoever to think that the promotion of Esperanto preserves other ‘endangered’ languages. How would the use of Esperanto in Scotland preserve Scottish Gaelic, for instance?

Esperanto is a tool, not an end in itself. Nothing is more daft than slogans like ‘Esperanto brings about peace and friendship.’ People who have learnt Esperanto may support peace and friendship, but Esperanto is one tool among several in that cause. It would be mad to claim ‘cotton is the cause of red flags’ simply because you can make a red flag out of cotton material.

The issue for socialism is: if Esperanto is a tool, how can that tool be used in the service of socialism.

Faith Group Leaders and Government

Faith Groups and Government (27 December 2009)

Religious leaders have been granted a privileged consultative status in the British home office. Implied is the idea that these leaders somehow represent their respective communites. This is nonsense.

If the majority of English people were to be represented by "a religious leader" based on their or their ancestor's religion, most would be represented by the Anglican Church. An atheist can’t represent you even if you are one, because there are only faith groups on Home Office Minister, John Denham's consultative committee.

Most of these "so-called" Anglicans would vomit at the idea that Anglican bishops represented their interests. So why is different for Muslims and Jews?

The Independent Safeguarding Authority, New Labour and the nanny state

It is quite wrong to describe New Labour as building a '"nanny state" in Britain. What it is doing is step-by-step constructing an "authoritarian bureaucratic state" - suggesting otherwise is a huge insult to nannies.

The nanny is overprotective but cares for her charge. Nothing about the recently established and Orwellian-named Independent Safeguarding Authority (requiring the licensing of all those who have contact with children on a voluntary as well as professional basis) is primarily, intended for the benefit of children.

This intrusive and oppressive law seems to have originated in New Labour's on-going attempt to data-base the whole population (invariably they use paedophilia and terrorism as pretexts). Though in fact overwhelmingly unpopular, this new legislation probably also grew out of a miscalculated attempt to gain a propaganda advantage by being seen to be 'doing something’ for children.

One immediate effect of this law is to treat all adults as potential abusers until they hold a piece of paper issued by the state.

Most people unacquainted with British law are surprised to learn that a stranger can walk past a child drowning in a few centimetres of water, do nothing to help but face no criminal sanction. The retort of the average English lawyer is, 'Ah, yes, but that's only theory, it would hardly happen in practice.' The result of the requirement to have legal clearance before one has contact with children undermines trust and confidence between people and promote a 'I-don't-want-to-get-involved' society. Perhaps soon the children drowning scenario won't be quite so theoretical.

The police should be accountable

We need a police force which serves the public and is properly bound by the rule of law. Police forces, if not subject to proper political and judicial control, attract authoritarian personality types and expand their remit, threatening civil liberties and personal freedom. That something like this has been allowed to happen is mainly the fault of the New Labour government.

Self Defence

The rules are clear on this matter. You can use reasonable force to defend yourself or others from attack, which might involve on occasions killing your assailant. You may also use reasonable force to apprehend and detain an assailant until the police arrive. You may not, however, inflict corporal punishment on the assailant, if s/he comes under your control. No civilised country could have it otherwise.

Postal Voting

Postal voting is by its nature open to abuse. It is wrong that the number of votes cast for candidates is determined in major part by party organisation of the indifferent and senile.

If able-bodied people can't be bothered to walk to a polling station, then they should lose their vote. Election officials, if requested, should visit the sick and elderly in their homes on election day so they can cast their votes. Persons who will be away from home should be able to register at other polling stations or, if abroad, at British Embassies.

The timing of General Elections in Britain

The Prime Minister should not be able to time a general election merely to suit his political advantage.

Britain should have fixed term Parliaments of four years.

14 December 2009

Blair now admits Iraq War to change regime

It is now firmly established that Blair took Britain to war in 2003 on false pretences. He stated in Parliament that Britain would not go to war if Saddam complied with UN resolutions and abandoned his WMDs. Yet his ultimatum was dishonest in two senses. First, Blair, as he now admits, had already made the decision to join the US in a war of regime change. And second Blair had no credible evidence to that Saddam had WMDs.

In international law there is the issue of Britain having taken part in a war of aggression without any legal basis. Just as important, however, is the domestic implication.

What should the penalty be for a man who takes Britain to war by means of telling lies to Parliament and people? This is no small matter. Certainly the death of every British soldier (if not that tens of thousands of Iraqis) is directly attributable to Blair’s dishonesty.

8 December 2009

Blair, Iraq & lies

We know that Blair had already decided in 2002 to join the US in a war to topple the regime in Iraq, principally on account of his ideological identification with Bush’s neo-conservative imperial agenda. Blair’s problem was simple: this reason would never wash in Britain. He therefore decided to tell lies.

Blair lied in telling the country that Saddam's refusal to declare and give up his possession of WMDs was the casus belli. This was a lie because Blair had already made the decision to go to war to bring about regime change irrespective of whether Saddam had WMDs.

To support that lie Blair told another lie; namely that he had credible evidence that Iraq possessed WMDs. He had no such evidence; and Iraq possessed no WMDs.

Blair made use of the crown prerogative to go to war. He justified that on false pretences and he took Britain to war without legal justification in international law.

What does all that make Blair?

4 December 2009

Should Turkey join the EU?

Turkey is not part of Europe either culturally or geographically.

Support for Turkish membership of the EU comes from those, such as the British government, who wish to impede European integration and workers' rights. With a populous poor member such a Turkey, setting meaningful minimum standards across the Union in employment, social security, etc.. would be impossible.

The admission of Turkey (or the Ukraine for that matter) would serve only to prevent the EU functioning as anything more than a trading area. I agree with those who say; Turkey should only be permitted to join after an EU-wide referendum, which would almost certainly return a 'no' vote.

Can New Labour attack the Tory Toffs?

Maybe Labour can hold on to a fraction more of its core vote, if it plays the 'Tory Toff' card against Cameron et al.

That said, Blair and Brown have faithfully served the interests of big-business and the rich since 1997 to make Britain its most economically unequal since 1945. New Labour is as much in the pockets of big money as the Tories.

Attacking Toffs is not the key issue. Britain needs a political movement to struggle for greater social equality - and that is not on offer from either the Tories or Labour.

A Hung Parliament

A hung parliament is many people's choice by elimination: they don't want to see New Labour re-elected, nor do they want the Tories in with an overall majority. A hung parliament would indeed be good for cutting back on executive dominance of the legislature - and would probably be more progressive on matters such as civil liberties.

If the Liberal Democrats refuse to form a coalition government (as they did with the Tories Feb 1974 or with the SNP in 2007) that leaves minority government as the only option. One problem with minority administrations (or near-minority ones) is that the Prime Minister has the power to dissolve Parliament and ask the electorate for a working majority (Atlee 1951, Wilson February 1974).

Only proportional representation and fixed term parliaments could really change the existing system.

3 December 2009

How Israel is to be judged?

How many times does it need to be said that the terrible behaviour of dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere across the Middle East can never justify human rights violations by Israel.

Israel will rightly be judged by the same standards by which we judge ourselves and fellow European nations - no more, no less.

29 November 2009

Sadism against prisoners is wrong

British Justice Minister, Jack Straw, wants to restrict prisoner's rights to participate in theatre.

It is a statement of the obvious that those who commit serious crimes against the person or private property should be off the streets and in prison. It also seems to me to be common sense that, as these people will eventually emerge again into society, anything that can “humanise” them is an advantage to them and everybody else too. On these grounds alone Jack Straw’s attempt at populist sadism should be rejected.

However for me there is an ethical point too: it is always wrong to hold that the suffering of a human being per se, however evil he may be, can constitute moral value to society.

16 November 2009

Home Office Minister appoints board of faith advisors

To think that the once great British Labour Party is now being advised, not by trade unionists or other representatives working people, but by faith groups (i.e. religious bigots) shows just how far New Labour has sunk.

Perhaps there is an electoral calculation in it. But I believe even more that New Labour (having built on Thatcher’s work) and having created a totally unequal and dysfunctional society, now sees religion as an illiberal social glue to hold it all together. The ever-increasing authoritarian British state is to be bolstered, as far as possible, by state sponsored religious bigots, who will whip their communities into line through the carrot of school places – and perhaps later charity/welfare. At the same time each community, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, will be divided from each other.

Disgusting politics.

Charities subsumed by state

Nick Cohen (Observer 15-Nov-2009) writing about charities made the excellent point:

The state does not wither or even shrink when it pays charities to do its work. It merely decentralises the provision of services while expanding the centre's command and control into new areas of public life.

Civil society (pressure groups, charities, etc.) is not increasing its role vis-a-vis the state; on the contrary the state is subsuming civil society. The only organised element in society not part of the state are corporate business organisations, the interests of which are accepted and imposed on the state.

The lights of liberal democracy are going out.

13 November 2009

The Glasgow North-East By-Election

Glasgow North-East is a heavily working-class seat, and the sad thing is that the working class have nothing better than New Labour. Today is not a time for protest voting but for participating in a dry run for the 2010 General Election.
What other options are there for working people?

The SNP is fundamentally a bourgeois party whose purpose is independence at any price for Scotland. Independence may be a good thing, but of itself it does not put bread on the table.

The left, who might be expected to do well, have self-marginalised themselves into three parties: Solidarity, The Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Labour Party. Indeed such is the factionalism and incompetence of the would-be left that they were outpolled by the fascist BNP.

Brown and New Labour deserve a good slap, but that can't be the first priority for working people.

Brown’s misspelt letters to grieving families

Whatever Brown’s motives for writing hand-written letter to the relatives of soldiers killed in the Afghan war is – e.g. guilt at having innocent blood on his hands – is unknowable. Yet, Brown seems to have broken the most fundamental rule of politics: sincerity is no substitute for sense.

In sending such a letter unchecked by his advisors he unnecessarily became a hostage to fortune. In doing so he was a political idiot.

Some suggest that the queen should have written the letters, but Britain’s elderly queen, though, would have just delegated the task to someone else; that is the story of her life.

10 November 2009

Nuclear Power

I think Britain should have a referendum on whether to have new nuclear power stations or not.

I hope the result would be a strong no. But if it is a yes, then they should be built in those localities with the highest yes vote.

6 November 2009

The Lisbon Treaty: a mountain out of a molehill

Let us put the Treaty of Lisbon into perspective because blaming it for the sins of capitalism as too many on the left do, misses the point.

New Labour has facilitated the highest level of social inequality in Britain since 1945 and Britain is the most socially unequal country in the EU. (Cameron’s policies will accelerate inequality)

New Labour has created a police surveillance state in Britain with diminished civil and personal liberties. Britain has the highest level of state surveillance in the EU. (Cameron will not reverse this.)

New Labour has, though lies, involved Britain in the imperial wars of United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most European states avoided wholly or in part these wars. (The Tories supported the war mongering.)

The key problems of Britain are not caused by the EU; they were made in Britain. The Treaty of Lisbon is a bureaucratic tidying-up exercise which has been made a whipping boy for the pain of capitalism by the perpetrators of those sins. Britain would gain, not lose, by becoming more like its immediate continental neighbours in the EU, nor does Britain need strings of opt-outs.

Those things which are wrong in the EU need to be corrected through joint struggle across Europe by the left. The solution is not to get into bed with market fundamentalist Tories, whose so-called patriotic nationalism (like New Labour’s) is nothing more than the surrender of Britain to the unbridled capitalist market and US imperial power.

The weakening or break-up of the EU would not only see the re-emergence of national antagonisms in Europe, but it would see European state becoming satellites of the US, as Cameron and UKIP would no doubt like. The EU is the last hope for retaining the social market economy.

Gordon Brown’s speech to Congress: a fraud

A US speech writing company was paid over GBP 40 000 to help compose Gordon Brown’s speech to Congress. One Guardian columnist defended this.

Put simply, political leaders can either run countries or they can write speeches – there isn't time for them to do both. We wouldn't expect Gordon Brown to redesign the No 10 website single-handedly and nor should we expect him to write his own speeches.

There is a key difference. Brown never holds himself out to compose the Number 10 website; the uniformed observer, though, would think that he had written what for Brown was the speech of his lifetime to the US Congress. If Brown had got up and started,

Good evening, everybody. Here is a speech that a speech writing company in your country, West Wing Writers, has written for me. I will now read it.

At least that would have been honest.

Getting out of Afghanistan

Some have argued that it is difficult for Gordon Brown to extricate the British military from Afghanistan, but it is easy; here is a statement Gordon Brown could make:

The involvement of Britain in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was a mistake. While many British military personnel have perished, nothing has been achieved: Afghanistan has not become a Western-style democracy, nor has our involvement contributed in any way to enhancing Britain’s security. For that reason I announce that the British military will be withdrawn as soon and as quickly as possible.

It’s as simple as that.

4 November 2009

Face the issue of the EU head-on

I think Britain should confront the EU issue head on.

There should be a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU, rather than claiming opposition in principle to everything the Union proposes and then demanding an opt-out when something has been decided.

My belief and hope is that the people would, as in 1975, back continued membership, if only because the psychological, practical and economic effect of withdrawal would be disastrous for Britain.

With the issue of membership out of the way (and UKIP and the Tory right marginalised), Britain could work with and within the EU to achieve its interests.

For Cameron to carry on winging about Lisbon is an own goal

The Lisbon treaty is now EU law and unless Cameron envisages a campaign to withdraw Britain from the EU he would be well advised from his point of view to move on.

Yet who am I as a socialist to advise Cameron? I wish only for the Tories, now waiting in the wings to inflict terrible cuts on ordinary working people, to weaken themselves through pointless bickering about the EU.

So perhaps I should change my advice. Yes, hold a pointless referendum, argue about the EU and the Lisbon Treaty, while unemployment and poverty grows in Britain.

2 November 2009

Government sacks its drugs advisor, Professorr Nutt

New Labour seems to have lost the plot.

Through their control of the executive and legislature, New Labour can make normative laws of all types which tell the police and the courts what to do, e.g. to restrict civil liberties and personal freedom of citizens. And of course they have done this again and again as law-addicted legislators.

What they can’t do is change laws of fact by dismissing the messengers. The truth remains the truth irrespective of the wishes of Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson. That they should try to shoot the messenger illustrates the level to which New Labour has sunk.

The German Left Party - a model for elsewhere?

This short article was prompted by two facts: first, the near disappearance of the socialist left in Britain; and second, the emergence and electoral growth of the socialist left in Germany.

The credit crisis which hit the advanced capitalist economies in the autumn of 2008 destroyed at a stroke the key tenet of the market fundamentalism which had held sway over ruling economic thought in the last three decades. Suddenly gone was the notion that markets were self-regulating. In both the US and Britain, the leading proponents of unbridled capitalism, government opened the public purse and poured public money into private banks to prevent financial collapse.

The financial crisis could have provided opportunities for the left, but decades of ideological assault on socialism and social democracy across Europe had utterly disabled the left as a political force. Social democracy (e.g. New Labour in Britain, SPD in Germany and the PS in France) had aligned itself to neo-economic liberalism to such a degree that these parties were identified in their policies and in the public mind with market fundamentalism, rather than the reform or abolition of it. And across most of Europe forces to the left of these once social democratic parties were weak or non-existent.

In Britain for instance the extreme weakness of the left was revealed in the June 2009 Euro-Elections. New Labour (scarcely in any meaningful sense left-wing) slumped to a historic low with under 16% of the vote. The two left-of-Labour parties (Socialist Labour Party, and the ad hoc No2EU) scraped up around 1% each. The Greens achieved a healthier 9%, but the parties to the right of the Tories did well: UKIP 17% and the fascist BNP 6%. The British political landscape is bleak: there is next no left-wing political force in Britain while right-wing parties are advancing.

The major European country in which a party to the left of social democracy not only exists but is advancing is Germany. In the September 2009 national elections a coalition of the centre-right Christian parties and the free market FDP managed to scrape into office by a narrow 49/46 margin over the left. (In Europe in the late 2000s a 46 percent combined vote for social democrats, socialists and Greens is a good result.) Yet it is the constitution of the Germany’s left vote which is interesting: the rounded up percentages are: SPD 23 (down from 34 in 2005), Die Linke 12 (up from 9), Greens 11 (up from 8). Compared with the previous 2005 elections, the SPD was down massively (Cf. New Labour in Britain), the Greens were up, but the biggest advance was made by Die Linke, a party firmly to the left of the SPD. Though now firmly an all-German party, the roots of Die Linke lie in the East.

The collapse of the German Democratic Republic in 1989 allowed a strong hitherto suppressed democratic left to come to fore and take control of East Germany’s former ruling communist party (SED), They got rid of the former leadership, changed its policies to progressive socialist ones, and rebranded the party as the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism).

In the first all-German Bundestag elections in 1990, the PDS won only 2.4% of the nationwide vote, but because the 5% electoral threshold for this election was not applied across the whole united country, but separately in the East and West, the PDS entered the Bundestag with 17 deputies. In the 1994 election, in spite of an aggressive campaign organised against the party by the then-ruling Christian Democrats, the PDS managed to increase its share to 4.4 percent, winning four single member constituencies (winning three such seats is an alternative to surpassing the 5%), and re-entered the Bundestag with an enlarged caucus of 30 deputies. In 1998, the party secured 37 deputies with 5.1% of the national vote, thus surpassing the 5% threshold required for guaranteed representation and full parliamentary status in the Bundestag.

However in 2000, the resignation of Gregor Gysi, the intellectual and charismatic leader of the PDS, after losing a policy debate with leftist factions brought disaster. In the 2002 national elections, the party's share of the vote declined to 4.0%. For the next four years, the PDS was represented in the Bundestag by only two deputies elected directly from their single member constituencies in Eastern Berlin, Petra Pau and Gesine Lötzsch.

After the 2002 debacle, the PDS adopted a new programme and re-elected long-time Gysi ally, Lothar Bisky, as chairman. In the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, the PDS won 6.1% of the vote nationwide, its highest share to date in a federal election. Its electoral base in the eastern German states continued to grow, making it, with the CDU and SPD, one of the big three in the eastern states. However, low membership and voter support in Germany's western states continued to plague the party until 2005.

Gerhard Schroeder’s Red/Green government (1998-2005), particularly after the 2002 election, decided to deal with Germany’s economic difficulties by adopting market fundamentalist policies which heavily disadvantaged working people and alienated socialist support. In early 2005 the WASG (Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative,) was formed by left-wing trade unionists and disillusioned social democratic politicians, most prominent among them was left-wing former SPD Chairman and finance minister, Oskar Lafontaine. The immediate focus of the group was to contest from the left the election in Germany’s biggest state, North Rhine Westphalia. In the early national election of 2005, an electoral alliance was formed between WASG and the PDS, which won 8.7% of the national vote. In 2007 the two parties formally merged.

The new Left Party, Die Linke, thus achieved a base in the western federal states; it surpassed the 5% threshold and entered several state parliaments: Hamburg, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Saarland, Schleswig Holstein. The party is also represented in European Parliament and in many municipalities.

The programme of the Left Party emphasises social solidarity though extensive public investment across the economy, greater self-determination for workers, redistribution of wealth through different means including tax increases for corporations, big businesses and wealthy individuals, the rejection of privatisation and the introduction of a minimum wage. The party also promotes feminist policies.

Concerning foreign policy, Die Linke welcomes the European process of integration, while opposing all forms of militarism; it opposes the market-oriented policies of the European Union. The party strives for the democratisation of the EU institutions and a stronger role of the United Nations in international politics. It opposes the war in Afghanistan.

In its internal politics the party is far from monolithic having a number of internal caucuses, most often referred to as platforms or forums. These include:

Antikapitalistische Linke, (The Anti-capitalist Left) which represents those critical of participation in coalition governments. They believe that government participation should be dependent on a set of minimum criteria (including no privatisations, no war involvement, and no cuts in social welfare spending).

Sozialistische Linke, (The Socialist Left) includes Keynesian economics-leftists and reform communists. The group seeks to orient the party toward the labour movement. Many leaders of the Socialist Left were former members of the WASG.

Emanzipatorische Linke, (The Emancipatory Left) is a current that endorses libertarian socialist principles. It backs a decentralised society and supports progressive social movements.

Netzwerk Reformlinke, (The Reform Left Network) promotes social democratic positions and supports cooperation with the SPD and the Greens. A prominent member of the network is the long serving Bundestag deputy, Petra Pau.

Kommunistische Plattform, (Communist Platform) was originally formed as a tendency of the PDS. It is less critical of German Democratic Republic than other groupings, and it upholds orthodox Marxist positions. A "strategic goal" of the KPF is "building a new socialist society, using the positive experiences of real socialism and to learn from mistakes" The Platform had around 850 members in 2007, around 1% of the party's national membership.


The success of the Left Party in Germany is the result of a combination of five factors which are not present in Britain – or indeed in other European states. First, the inheritance of a Stalinist party structure from the German Democratic Republic; second a movement within East German communism, which wanted to move towards progressive and democratic socialism and which did so after 1989. Third, in the West the willingness of the trade unionist and left wing social democrats to break with the SPD. Fourth a willingness of socialists from different backgrounds to work together in a single party, and finally the Left Party possessing two talented politicians: Grygor Gysi and Oskar Lafontaine.

Historically the aspirations of the left in Britain were channelled into the reform of the Labour Party. The party, however, was taken over by New Labour in the mid-90s and no longer functions as an instrument of progressive, let alone social democratic or socialist, politics. New Labour is devoid of both activists and internal democracy; at the top its MPs and leadership have long accommodated themselves to market fundamentalism and state authoritarianism. Socialists must either capitulate or else try to build a new socialist party. British socialists cannot, nor should they try to, build a carbon copy of Die Linke, but just as British socialists had much to learn from Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century, so, I believe, they have again at the beginning of the twenty-first. The stakes are high: in 2009 in most of Europe the centre right and far right did well. If the Left cannot offer the working class an alternative to the failed market fundamentalism, the right moves in.

30 October 2009

UK Supreme Court to rule on whether a child is Jewish

We have reached a pretty pass indeed when after more than a decade of New Labour government the Supreme Court of the UK is asked to define whether a child is Jewish or not.

That British education operates on principles of religious Apartheid is offensive enough, but that such schooling is funded by the tax payer is outrageous. All schools assisted with state money should be fully secular; and private schools ought not to be allowed to discriminate on grounds of race or religion. The fact that New Labour shuns and rejects those principles shows its fall from being any kind of progressive party in British politics.

Blair’s hopes for EU Presidency fade

The fact that Blair’s hopes of assuming the role of European President are fast fading is wonderful news.

Despite Blair’s love affair with the rich and powerful and his conversion to Catholicism, the centre-right governments in France and Germany cannot stomach this delusional politician, who would use the office of EU President to promote his own pious ego and sell the Union out at every opportunity to the US.

As Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's social democrat foreign minister, said: “There is and will remain a link for the next generation between Iraq, Bush and Tony Blair."

27 October 2009

Oppose Blair for EU President

In the Guardian (27 October 2009)George Monbiot argued that he is supporting Blair for the EU presidency for tactical reasons.I disagree with him.

I agree completely that Tony Blair should spend the rest of his days in jail for his crimes, but I disagree with supporting his presidency of the EU.

Such Machiavellian strategies always backfire. The campaign to stop a Blair presidency is already part of the indictment against the man; so why is it sensible to abandon that campaign? How many ordinary people would misunderstand what progressive people were doing?

Also the EU does matter. To disregard and subordinate EU politics to a plan to embarrass Blair is wrong. Additionally, there is a fear that the slippery eel that Blair is could re-invent himself in the presidency with the result that public focus on Iraq would recede. Who remembers today that it was Winston Churchill who sent in tanks against striking workers in 1926?

26 October 2009

2010 Tweedle Dum replacing Tweedle Dee

The Tory assumption of office in 2010 will be the replacement of Tweedle Dee by Tweedle Dum. Sure each party has its entourage of yes-people; New Labour cosmopolitan yuppies will be replaced by the offspring of landed families supplemented by a few Tebbit-like second hand car dealers.

Yet on the key issues of upholding the undemocratic authoritarian state, maintaining the vast levels of social inequality that characterise Britain and backing US-style capitalism, both the Tories and New Labour are one.

24 October 2009

The BNP, Television & Democracy

The issue is not whether Nick Griffin’s appearance on question time wins the BNP more recruits or not. The key point is whether Britain is a democracy.

British people have a right to hear the representatives and spokespeople from political parties which win election mandates and/or have a significant following. It cannot be for the BBC (and it would be wrong for Parliament) to impose censorship.

The real horror is that in New Labour’s Britain, fascists can win 6% of the vote and two Euro seats, not that such relative success gives the BNP a right to be heard on Question Time.

21 October 2009

Nuclear Power, Policing and Civil Liberties

The British private nuclear industry funds (GBP 57m in 2009) the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, whose armed officers have powers over and above those of regular police officers. As the Guardian reports 21 October 2009:

The force is authorised to send informers to infiltrate organisations and to conduct undercover surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). It is also permitted to obtain communications data such as phone numbers and email addresses…

The force keeps secret the extent of its clandestine surveillance operations on protesters and others. It has been collecting more intelligence in recent years…

Since 2007, the CNC has also been headed by an ex-intelligence official, rather than a police officer. Richard Thompson is reported to have been a senior officer in MI6…

Obviously, the very existence of nuclear power in Britain leads to conspiracy against the British people and a diminution of their civil liberties.

20 October 2009

Chirs Huhne on Griffin

Chris Huhne really can’t have it both ways. The BBC inviting the fascist Griffin, you say, is to the advantage of the BNP because it facilitates the normalisation of the party in British politics. On the other had you claim that to exclude him would play into his “us against the establishment” pose.

The truth is that you, like everybody else, don’t know whether Griffin’s appearance on Thursday’s Question Time will boost or hinder the growth of fascism in Britain.

But the key point is another one. As an elected politician, however vile his ideas may be, Griffin has a right in a democracy to be heard on the BBC. That’s all you need to say to defend liberalism.

Radicalisation and Extremism; the basis for police action?

My problem here arises out of the misuse of language which then legitimises illiberal policing in Britain. In the minds of many I hold radical and extreme views because I dislike all religion and believe that the state should be fully secular. But such views don’t yet make me a criminal in New Labour Britain.

Radicalisation (meaning going to root of one’s belief system) is not something that is necessarily either wrong or illegal. I would describe myself for instance as being of the radical left. In the same way, it is possible to hold extreme views and even act in an extreme way without breaking any law, let alone engaging in terrorist acts.

The police should be concerned only with only one thing: behaviour which is illegal. Making people who hold radical or extreme views per se objects of police surveillance and control is simply wrong.

19 October 2009

No to Blair as EU President

The last thing the EU needs is a disreputable indidividual like Blair as its first president.

Blair has blood on his hands from wars in which he involved Britain on wholly false grounds. It would also seem that he was complicit in torture and he cares nothing for human rights or civil liberties. He also appears to be delusional, amassing fortunes by prostituting himself to international banks, while preaching his newly-found Catholic moralism.

The man makes honest people sick.

Nuclear issues require referenda in Britain

There are two issues on which Britain should hold referenda. The first is whether Britain should have new nuclear power stations; the second is whether the country should replace the nuclear weapon system Trident.

On both issues I would campaign for a clear NO.

16 October 2009

The UK Border Agency

The innocuous-sounding UK Border Agency seems to have become in several respects a police service something akin to a combination of the Staatssicherheitsdienst (Stasi) and the Grenzpolizei (Grepo) of the former GDR.

Formally one used one’s passport to show on entry to the UK that one had a right to be in the country, and on exist to prove that you had a valid passport because you would be wasting everybody’s time if you didn’t have one. Today the philosophy is entirely different: you are entered on a data base on entry and exit, detailing who you are along with the time, date, place of travel plus any other information elicited from you.

BNP to drop racist membership rules

Of course I support the requirement that the BNP membership policies conform to race discrimination laws.

Yet it is also true that however much Griffin may huff and puff, I am sure he appreciates the help that Human Rights Commission is giving him in moving his party away from an indefensible racism. Instead, the party can, if it so wishes, claim to be defending so-called British and Christian values, with racism as an undertone and not an up-front embarrassment.

That would all allow the BNP to resemble something like the Austrian Freedom Party, i.e. a pollution on the far right of politics, but not falling off the edge. In many ways this kind of politics, particularly if linked up with UKIP, would be a dangerous development in Britain.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority to register all voluntary workers

I find the argument somewhat implausible, though, that New Labour had good intentions, but simply didn’t think through the consequences of their own actions.

Two features of New Labour thinking are clearly embedded in these regulations. First, the policy of spin; i.e. the need to be seen to doing something to appease society in the short term rather than actually achieving practical outcomes for the long term. Second, we can see their policy of bureaucratic control; i.e. the desire to have the whole population under surveillance and on data bases.

Where New Labour probably miscalculated was in underestimating the degree of common sense opposition from ordinary people who have their private community life damaged by this kind of legislation.

14 October 2009

Welsh Labour should declare its independence

The first move for any successful leader of the Labour Party in Wales should be to declare independence from New Labour in London.

Blair and Brown killed all that was good in the British Labour Party by abandoning social democracy in favour of market fundamentalism, mass social inequality, war-mongering and an attack on personal and civil liberties. The British electorate has the cane raised and it will inflict a devastating and painful blow on New Labour next year. Welsh Labour, never at the heart of London’s New Labour project, needs to be elsewhere, if it can.

Labour in Wales must chart its own path and to do so successfully it needs to disown New Labour completely. Only an independent Welsh Labour Party can do that.

The INLA rejecting violence has nothing to do with Marxism

The decision of the INLA to pursue it objectives without armed struggle is of course welcome. But to describe this event as representing the decommissioning of Marxism, as the Guardian Jason Walsh did today, is absurd.

Karl Marx (1818-83) never considered armed struggle in Ireland for the twenty-first century. What he did write about in his masterpiece Das Kapital were concepts and models to understand the political economy of capitalism; these theoretical tools are still useful today for analysing society.

The value, or otherwise, of Marx and Marxism is not affected by the actions of INLA in Ireland.

13 October 2009

Klaus: sign or resign

Vaclav Klaus is entitled to his personal views on the Lisbon Treaty, but he is not entitled to lead the Czech Republic a dance.

The Czech Republic does not have presidential system, but is a parliamentary democracy. The parliament of the Republic has decided to endorse the Lisbon Treaty and it is merely the duty of the President to sign a treaty which has been lawfully approved in the country.

If Klaus feels so strongly about the issue, he should resign the presidency, not play rogue elephant and embarrass the Czech government, parliament and people. And – if he persists in his obstinacy – cause the constitutional crisis which would ensue from his removal or his being by-passed.

Conservative tie themselves in their own knot over Europe

However much one dislikes the Conservative Party, nobody is seriously suggesting - as some commentators here appear to misunderstand - that Cameron, Hague et al are themselves fascists.

What has happened is that the Tory leadership has made a terrible mistake which many among the Tories already realise. In his attempt to satisfy Tory Euro-sceptics, Cameron took his delegation of Conservative MEPs in Brussels out of the centre-right EPP group and instead formed a parliamentary fraction with right-wing parties which include fascist MEPs from Eastern Europe.

It is no small matter that the MEPs of the party which will probably form the next British government are of their own free will part of a political fraction in Brussels which contains fascists. This point needs to be made again and again until the Tories (or the fascists) leave that grouping.

If Cameron wants to land on planet Earth with regard to the EU he needs to do two things:

First, leave the so-called Conservative and Reform fraction in the European Parliament which contains fascists.

Second, recognise that the EU is a reality (and largely a beneficial one) and work out how best to purse British interests inside that body.

12 October 2009

Sir Hugh Orde on the British policing of protest

The UK police service has a long and proud history of upholding the right to lawful protest

This is far from true.

On 1st April 2009 the police in London mounted a full-scale attack on the freedom to demonstrate. Peaceful and defenceless protesters were herded into street concentration pens, held for hours against their will, beaten with riot equipment and had dogs set upon them.

The police acted with impunity, removing en masse their service numbers in order to beat, punch and otherwise assault the general public.

None of this happened because of bad apples in the barrel, but as a result of a police management that couldn’t give a damn about civil liberties, human or political rights.

No to more public debt

We don’t want higher levels of public debt and we don’t want a fall in aggregate demand.

The only solution is a hard pill to swallow and is certainly not on offer from New Labour, let alone the Tories: i.e. an increase in government expenditure on capital projects funded by tax increases, not borrowing. Such an expansion in public investment would help cut unemployment while the high rates of tax on income, land, capital, inheritance, etc would help bring about greater social equality in Britain.

Cameron is no solution to New Labour's faults

Let as look for a second at the faults of New Labour.

Producing the highest level of social inequality in Britain since 1945.

Privatising, linked to hidden public borrowing, through PPP schemes in the public sector.

Running an economy based on massive credit expansion which led to the near collapse of the whole financial sector

Diminishing civil and personal liberties through the creation of a bureaucratic surveillance state.

Brown-nosing to the US and involvement in its imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Now which of these faults are Cameron and his Tories going reverse?

The unnecessary arrest of Damian Green

Again we see evidence of the abuse by New Labour of national security and the terrorist threat. The leaked documents were merely embarrassing in showing the incompetence of the Home Office.

The question remains why it was necessary to arrest Green and imprison him for several hours, when the police had every opportunity to question him in freedom about the matter. (Compare the questioning of Tony Blair)

The violation by the police of a parliamentarian’s office in the House of Commons was utterly unacceptable.

One has the feeling that New Labour tried to change the rules of the political game by backing the police on this matter. Their hope was to limit the field of activity for opposition politicians. Fortunately for the sake of democracy they failed.

7 October 2009

Tories link up with Euopean fascists

The fact that the Tories share a European grouping with East European fascists does matter. It means that in European politics Cameron and Hague feel nearer to these people than they do to the European Christian Democrats of the centre right.

In some aspects this development is more disturbing than the growth of BNP in Britain, for while Griffin and his BNP are likely to remain on the margins of British politics, Cameron is set to become Prime Minister in 2010.

The Tories are not afraid to stand alone on Europe. If they got the chance they would not ratify the Lisbon treaty, leaving Britain out on a limb. Yet such loneliness was not for them in the European Parliament; they joined forces with East European fascists to form parliamentary group. Their association with fascism is an alliance of choice, and the Tories deserve to be attacked for it.

2 October 2009

The survival of New Labour

The coalition of Middle England and working class voters which brought Blair victory in 1997 has fallen apart. Middle England has Cameron; and working people see nothing for them in New Labour.

In the industrial towns of the north and much of the inner city Labour is likely to be the leading party and will, with the help of first part the post, be assured of a certain quota of seats.

If Labour were challenged on the left, such as SDP in Germany is confronted by Die Linke, then the story would be different, but sadly there is no serious Left Party in Britain.

The photomontage of Brooke Shields

There seem to me two be two issues tied up here.

The first is whether Brooke Shields has a right to have a sexually explicit image taken of her when she was ten removed from public display. I would support her right to have the image restricted, but I believe that issue has to be determined in the US. American courts have already decided against her.

That leaves the second issue whether this photomontage should be banned from the Tate Modern. I think not. The image is already publicly available, and people should be able to make their own judgment about it, morally and artistically.

What to me is the most unacceptable is to have police arriving at art galleries and threatening the promoters of art exhibitions. The police should either get a court order against an art exhibit or keep out of it.

29 September 2009

Prisoners should be allowed to blog

Prisoners should not only be allowed to blog, they should be encouraged to do so. Why?

First it opens up Britain’s gulag to the public, so what is going on in a public institution is in the public domain.

Second, it seems an excellent way to get prisoners to improve their writing skills, computer skills and to have them reflect on their lives. All of these things will help them when they eventually leave prison.

Movements in the German elections

Overall looking at the German election three things happened compared with 2005.

One: on the right (CDU, CSU and FDP), the balance shifted from the Christian parties to the Free Democrats.

Two: on the left the vote shifted from the SPD to the Greens and more significantly to the Left Party.

Three: with a tiny swing, the right block (who are prepared to form a coalition with each other), secured a majority over the left who “won” the election in 2005 (but who were not prepared to form a coalition with one another).

Polarisation within the blocks (the left for social reform and to the right for market fundamentalism) is more pronounced than the swing from the left to the right block.

Brown to target parents of ‘anti-social’ children

The death agonies of New Labour are truly ugly. In a last ditch attempt to scrape a few Daily Mail votes Brown is planning a host of coercive and repressive measures against the Britain’s burgeoning underclass.

Few deny that in Britain’s broken society - now more unequal than at any time since 1945 - steps need to be taken to provide jobs, social help and wealth distribution for those inhabiting junk estates and the inner cities. Yet the swelling of these ghettos is the direct result of New Labour’s market fundamentalism, a policy resulting in mass unemployment, inadequate and insecure housing leading in turn to family breakdown and crime.

For Brown to court so-called Middle England voters by kicking the working class victims of New Labour’s own policies just about sums up Brown and his party.

28 September 2009

The success of the Left Party in Germany

What this article attempts to sideline is the amazing breakthrough of the Left Party as an all-German Party with over 12% of the vote.

The Schroeder government 1998-2005 pushed through policies similar to those of New Labour, and when the right-wing parties (CDU, CSU and FDP) failed to win a majority in the Bundestag, his Social Democrats – instead of building a coalition with the Left - went into government with Merkel. Progressive and socialist votes haemorrhaged to the Left Party.

The real tragedy is that Britain has no equivalent of the Left Party.

Brown doesn't deserve one progressive vote

If you juxtapose New Labour with the Tories, you might scrape together a case for Gordon Brown, in the same way that if you compared the Tories with the BNP you would find for David Cameron.

Yet the key point is that New Labour have been a foul government and don’t deserve a single vote from progressive people in Britain.

Progressive politics means a move to social equality and an expansion of freedom. Blair and Brown, by contrast, have made Britain its most unequal since 1945, have crashed the economy, have engaged in US imperial wars and have created a surveillance society with diminished political and personal liberties.

The Labour conference this week will decide nothing for itself because the party itself no longer enjoys any meaningful democracy or debate.

If the left wants a political party, it has to build one. Sniffing around the putrid carcass of New Labour is a perverse distraction.

Polish and Czech politicians with egg on their faces

So the situation is now clear. The US missile systems to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic were principally about military relations with Russia as opponents of Bush always claimed.

The idea that the non-deployment of these missile systems leaves these two countries uniquely venerable to Russian attack is nonsense. An attack on Poland and the Czech Republic is not only highly unlikely but could only occur in the framework of a major war involving the whole of NATO in which possession of these US military instillations would render these Prague and Warsaw targets for special attack.

The truth is that neither Poland not the Czech Republic is more militarily vulnerable today or in the future, but rather that the pro-Bush politicians who pushed these measures against popular opinion in their own countries now have egg on their faces. They are the only losers

17 September 2009

Three aspects of failure for the British Left

The left (by which I mean socialists, social democrats and social liberals) chalked up three failures, which has left British politics with two authoritarian and market fundamentalist political parties: New Labour and the Conservative Party. What were the key moments of failure for the left?

First, they were unable to prevent Blair’s New Labour project taking hold of the Labour Party after 1994, which resulted in the abandonment of social democracy in favour of market fundamentalism

Second, when the failings of New Labour in office after 1997 became obvious (growing social inequality, the Iraq War, etc.), they were unable to remove Blair – or even mount a challenge to his leadership.

Third, having lost the Labour Party to progressive politics, the left were unable to form a serious electoral challenge to New Labour from the Left (Cf. Die Linke in Germany).

Today in Britain there is no agency for progressive politics.

8 September 2009

The Smokescreen of the Alternative Vote

If (and it is only an if) the Alterative Vote (AV) were used for the 2010 General Election the New Labour wipe-out would be even bigger. Why?

Most of the votes of eliminated candidates would transfer to the Tories (i.e. most Liberal Democrat votes plus the vast bulk of those of UKIP and the BNP). Labour would pick a minority of the LibDem votes and most of the Green vote. So the question is why do some New Labour strategists peddle AV?

There are two reasons. First, proposing electoral reform is a bid for popularity and an attempt to be seen as doing something while in fact opposing proportional representation. Second, one can guess that Cameron’s Tories will lose popularity throughout their period of office, so in the 2015 (?) elections most of those eliminated third votes from Liberal Democrats and other might transfer to Labour.

What New Labour would never do is introduce a PR system for Westminster in which Labour could end up with a mere 20 percent of the seats in Parliament.

7 September 2009

The BNP in British democracy

As a left-wing socialist I have a deep loathing of the BNP, and if these fascists ever came to rule Britain I would leave.

However what makes Britain a valuable country to live in is that it is – despite new Labour’s authoritarianism - still a democracy. That means that a political party like the BNP, however vile, has a right to participate in the affairs of the country. It has to be defeated by democratic means not by means of an authoritarian state banning the participation of political parties in the democratic process.

I have no doubt that New Labour would love the power to limit the democratic political participation of political parties. I for one would not give them that power.

4 September 2009

Restricting teachers right to drink

The General Teaching Council has drawn up new rules which would restrict teachers’ rights to drink in public at the weekend. Teachers, however, are employed to teach, not to be 24/7 promoters of New Labour’s new model personalities in today’s authoritarian Britain.

3 September 2009

Children dancing for police powers

The idea of children rapping and dancing for the promotion of police stop and search powers is truly ridiculous.

Even with the massive extension of criminal offences, state surveillance and police powers, Britain are still not yet a police state. It is precisely that which makes this event so out of place and therefore absurd.

There is indeed a sustained attack on civic and political freedoms taking place in Britain. Some developments, such as the tracking of all email and internet use and the deployment of FIT officers to film political protests, are steps in the strangling of freedom. Other events, such as teachers preventing parents taking photographs at school sports day, are instances of sycophants who have attempted to internalise the spirit of the age, who have overstepped the mark and made fools of themselves. Children dancing for stop and search powers comes into this latter category.

29 August 2009

Christian fundamentalist heads Northern Ireland's police

All religion is a dangerous thing.

First, the believer asserts things to be true on the basis of faith, not evidence and makes a virtue of doing so. Hence they can produce utterances, like: “the bible is without error.” Second, religious people have moral norms which they invariably attempt to impose on other people through social pressure and legislation.

Now as a liberal, I believe the citizen has a right to believe things which are false or for which there is no evidence. Citizens may also impose any moral system on his or own private behaviour providing their conduct remains within the law. In other words, I uphold the fundamental rule: Christian, Jew, Muslim or whatever within the private space, but a rigorous secularism in the state.

So that leaves the question: can a religious fundamentalist be head of a province’s police?

28 August 2009

Regulating Finance Capital in Britain

The financier Adair Turner has raised himself above his particular interests to make some radical proposals (e.g. the Tobin tax) to curtail the destructive economic and political power of finance capital in Britain.

The essential reason why New Labour can’t defend working people against finance capital is that the propaganda of the government since 1997 has been the notion that there is no conflict of interest between the needs of finance and those of working people.

In the upswing of the mid 2000s that lie could be concealed behind the credit boom; now Brown is left naked, and working people see that New Labour has nothing to offer them.

The leopard doesn’t change its spots at the eleventh hour. Today, New Labour waits only for defeat; the electorate has raised the cane high and Brown has only a few months to choose when to move into position and lower his trousers. That reality makes a weak government even more cowardly. It’s no time for bold measures.

26 August 2009

Climate Camps do play a positive role

What the climate camp movement is essentially about is holding festivals of opposition. Two things make the movement particularly important.

The first is the failure of New Labour’s market fundamentalism. In addition to supporting the commercial destruction of the environment, Blair and Brown have created the most unequal society in Britain since 1945; a society characterised by mass unemployment, poverty and hopelessness.

Second, there has been a collapse of political activity across the country. The Labour Party itself has been de-democratised and has emptied of activists. No mass movements for progress exist, and we have today a police force that regards any political activity against the status quo as a criminal activity.

If the climate clamp plays any role in drawing attention to these deficiencies, it is well worth it.

Child Poverty in Britain

It has now been revealed that one in five households with children In Britain are surviving only on New Labour’s meagre state benefits, and with a no-hope future.

Both the Thatcherite and New Labour versions of market fundamentalism told us that growth was taking place and that any pain that we suffered in the new market-led society would lead to material rewards tomorrow. The truth is the exact opposite: businesses and those professions that serve them grew richer, while working people ended up only with mortgage and other debts, unemployment, poverty and the threat of destitution.


25 August 2009

The Synthesis of political liberty & social equality

I firmly believe that the struggle for political and civil liberties should be welded into the struggle for social equality and vice versa. However it is entirely possible to disjoin these building block-elements of the left.

One supposes that much of the middle class everywhere will tend to want civil and political liberty, and that workers will eye positively the prospect of greater social equality. The only tool that can synthesise these urges is a progressive political party and that, sadly, is utterly lacking in today’s Britain.

The article which inspired the comment:


August 2009 Opinion Poll

For me as a socialist this polling evidence is utterly disastrous. (the Guardian 25 August 2009)

New Labour has rightly been consigned to the dustbin. Its middle England support has vanished; and on account of its accommodation to market fundamentalism, for working people the Labour Party is a meaningless instrument in the worst economic crisis in living memory.

Such is the tweedle-dum tweedle-dee politics of Britain today that many working class voters can actually believe that a Tory government can better protect the remains of the welfare state and advance their interests.

So next year Cameron will win an overall majority in Britain’s unreformed electoral system and will continue the process of further strengthening capitalist power and social inequality in Britain.

From the article

Labour has lost the August battle on health, with more voters thinking the Conservatives would improve the NHS than think the party would make it worse. While 48% think healthcare would be better under a Tory government, only 41% agree with Labour warnings that it would be worse. Even 24% of current Labour voters think the Tories would improve the NHS. The Tory lead on other policies, including education, is bigger. In an immediate general election, 25% say they would vote Labour – the joint lowest score in Guardian/ICM polling history and the worst for Labour in the series since June last year. The figure has only been lower once, in an ICM poll carried out for another paper during Labour's spring leadership crisis. Labour support has dropped two points since the July Guardian poll and one point since a more recent ICM survey. The Conservatives are on 41%, unchanged since the July Guardian poll, although down two on the more recent survey. The party has scored 40% or more in 10 of the 12 ICM polls this year. This month's poll is also the 10th time in the ICM series that Labour has scored below 30% – nine of those have come since March 2008. The Liberal Democrats meanwhile are on 19%, down one since July and unchanged since the more recent ICM poll. Support for other parties, boosted by the European elections, has not fallen to previous levels. At 14%, up two (including the Greens, BNP and Ukip at 3% each, and nationalist parties on 5%), it has eaten into major party support.At a general election these figures could see Labour lose more than 150 seats, and give the Conservatives a landslide majority approaching 100. Asked, regardless of individual party preferences, whether a Tory government under David Cameron, or a Labour one under Gordon Brown, would be best for Britain, most people back the opposition. While 58% of all voters – including 37% of people who voted Labour in 2005 – now think Cameron would be best, only 31% back Brown. The Conservatives lead Labour among all social classes and in all regions, although they are strongest among richer voters and those in the south. Crucially, a Cameron government is the clear preference of most Liberal Democrats – 56% would rather see the Tories in power, against 36% who want Labour. In recent general elections, Lib Dem voters tended to gang up with Labour ones to stop the Conservatives winning marginal seats. At the next election, Labour could find itself the victim of Lib Dem tactical voting instead. Meanwhile the poll suggests Labour would find little relief by choosing a new leader. Among possible candidates, most make little difference. David Miliband is the only one who matches Brown head to head, while Harriet Harman is the alternative leader most likely to deter voters. Offered a straight choice between Brown and Harman, 20% pick Brown and only 8% Harman. She is also less popular among women – 21% to 5% – than among men – 20% to 10%.

19 August 2009

Marriage and Immigration

This kind of situation can only be sorted out if clear and bold rules are introduced.

If it is the case that people under 21 years of age who marry are likely to be participants in a ‘forced’ marriage or a marriage of convenience, then the age for recognised marriage in the UK could be increased to 21 for everybody, citizens and non-citizens. There is nothing to stop young people living together and only tying the legal knot at 21.

If a British citizen marries a non-citizen there is rightly an assumption that the couple can live in the UK. Of course this is something that can be abused and there is not much the state can do about it. Yet it is possible to stop the offending British citizen playing the same ruse twice.

18 August 2009

The Soviets and US in Afghanistan

The Soviets and the US (with Britain in tow) invaded Afghanistan for the same reason: to fight radical Islam. The key difference is that when the Soviets were doing it, the US armed the Afghani resistance.

How the Guardian CiF should be organised

I would like to see all the comments addressing the facts and arguments in the main article, not responding to what commentators have said. This simple rule would stop the thread going all over place.

If one has to respond to what a contributor says better than:


the commentator should use the form, “Some have argued (plus a summary of the point you want to rebut)

Popular posts should be elevated up the thread.

Commentators should have the right to re-edit what they have uploaded. Even though I tend to write my post first in a word document, I nonetheless often upload terrible English which I wish to correct.

Commentators should be able to make one substantial contribution per article. Minor contributions limited to say 70 words would be possible for humorous comment or to inject points of fact.

Posts which are badly written, irrelevant, misinformed and poorly argued should be moved to the bottom of the thread.

17 August 2009

Britain in Afghanistan for no good reason

Only saving US face keeps the British in Afghanistan

New Labour says that British troops are in Afghanistan to keep terrorism off the streets of Britain. This is untrue.

The US led war against Afghanistan began in 2001 soley on the basis that some non-Afghans sympathetic to the attack on the 9/11 enjoyed safe haven there. No serious attempt was made to resolve the issue: George Bush wanted war.

The US overthrow of the Afghan Taliban government with the assistance of local law lords was swift, but the military occupation of the south, principally by the US and Britain, has led to eight years of sustained resistance.

The resistance is based on Afghans wanting foreign armies out of their country, not because the Taliban want to attack Britain. The British are killing Afghan civilians not vice versa.

Those planning terrorist-style attacks do not need Afghanistan. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Saudi Arabia and Germany. The 7/7 attacks were planned in Britain. There are any number of disorderly havens around the world where fanatical Muslim can train.

Obama has said he wants to fight in Afghanistan; and his subordinates in London jump to his orders. Britain’s troops remain in Afghanistan for one reason only: to save the US from losing face. That reason is not worth one British life.


13 August 2009

Women have a right to sexual fantasy

Women (and men) should be free to purchase sexually explicit material which reflects their fantasies. That of course includes material depicting erect penises, ejaculations, men being sexually humiliated or whatever.

No human being can control what images excite them and every free human has the right to explore their own sexuality. If law or commercial forces cause one sex to suffer discrimination, it is the responsibility of law makers to correct that.

Working people left without hope

Mass indebtedness and sky-rocketing unemployment, show that capitalism, or at least the market fundamentalist variant of it peddled first by Thatcherism and then copied by New Labour, cannot serve the needs of ordinary working people.

The three decades of market fundamentalism (1979-2009) are ending as they began; i.e. with mass unemployment and human misery.

The Labour Party at one time sought reform: to bring about greater equality and security for ordinary working people. Tony Blair and New Labour betrayed that goal and turned the Labour Party into a vehicle for market fundamentalism – and a servant of business interests.

People today are left without hope.

11 August 2009

Primaries for British elections

Party primaries, such as the one held recently by the Tories in Totnes, are a sham.

The candidate is elected from a closed list drawn up by the party leadership either locally or increasing nationally; these sorts of closed-list elections resemble those formally held in Eastern European. Such primaries give the appearance of choice to local electors, but the actual amount of real choice, if any, in terms of candidates’ policies is determined by the party leadership which drew up the list.

Moreover once the candidate is elected he or she is then bound by a centrally determined manifesto, and, if elected, is subject to the party whip in parliament.

Primaries also finally render local party activists utterly powerless. Joining a party will give them no say in candidate selection at all, so there is little incentive to become active in local politics. The main beneficiaries of primaries are not the local electors, nor the rank and file party members, but top brass of the party itself.

It is precisely these anti-democratic features which make primaries attractive to New Labour politicians such as David Miliband. At a stroke they see how they can rid themselves of any residual trade union and local activist pressure.

Proportional representation (under any of the PR systems) plus the devolution of power to local councils would actually increase the amount of democracy. Yet both Cameron and Miliband run a mile from such proposals.

7 August 2009

Brothels & Casinos on the British High Street

Some say it is all wrong that the British High Street now filled with betting shops, casinos and lap dancing parlours. However two issues are confused.

One issue is: do people have the right to gamble and purchase sexual services. In a liberal society, the answer is ‘yes.’

The second issue is whether promoters of these activities have a basic right to display their wares in the public space: e.g. glaring shop fronts, advertisements on TV, etc. Although that is a matter for the democratic polity, my own view is that public space should be free of such things.

If punters wish to find addresses for sex and gambling, then a few clicks on-line should lead them to appropriate places. They don’t need a brothel and casino either side of the now shut-down Woolworths on the High Street.

5 August 2009

Harriet Harman: an apologist for New Labour

Harman is today nothing more than an apologist for the New Labour government.

When she steps forward to support the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US, saying his possible sixty year sentence might be served in a British jail, I just think back to the days when this now utterly corrupted individual was once a civil liberties lawyer.

As far as I am concerned she can hang with rest of them.

Police women in Sheffield wear veils

Policewomen dressing up in veils as a publicity stunt to promote multicultural Britain is truly ridiculous.

The New Labour government fully endorses religion as a means of dividing and controlling the population, hence its promotion of religious schools. They would love to see the dominance of conservative religious leaders enforcing religious norms on their own people while dancing to the government’s authoritarian tune.

It is not the job of the police to promote veil wearing, but to start treating Muslims, whether they wear veils or not, with respect – and, for instance, not feeding questions to Pakistani police as they torture British Muslims.

4 August 2009

Giving points to citizenship applicants

The whole idea of a secret bureaucracy awarding and subtracting points from desperate people seeking British citizenship is truly awful. Such a system can only function on the back of Britain’s ever increasing surveillance society. FIT police officers photographing everybody who attends a demonstration, identifying people and informing home office bureaucrats. Informers in immigrant communities meeting with police to give character tittle-tattle about people.

This kind of intrusive surveillance will affect not just applicants for citizenship, but will intrude in the lives of everybody. Instead, we should demand clear and open rules for the acquisition of British citizenship.

3 August 2009

Extraditing Gary McKinnon to the US

McKinnon, a British citizen, committed an alleged crime in Britain. If extradited to the US under this humiliating extradition treaty, he faces a wholly disproportionate punishment. He can and should be tried in Britain.

The McKinnon case yet again shows the New Labour government’s fidelity to the US trumps justice and compassion for British citizens.

31 July 2009

Creationalism accredited in Britain

So NARIC at the New Labour government’s behest thinks that religious claptrap about science is of equal value to science itself.

New Labour’s promotion of religion through education is but one aspect of its authoritarianism. The problem for New Labour with real science is that it is value neutral and it allows the individual to create his or her own moral judgments within the realm of fact. Religious mumbo-jumbo in science is always made compatible with divine injunctions which have the effect of restricting personal freedom and limiting knowledge.


Photographs have an ability to create a meaning that brings together the subjectivity of the photographer and the raw material that is “out there” Photographic reality is always photographer dependent.

The freedom of photography is an aspect of the freedom of expression. For that reason the current restrictions on, and intimidation of, photographers by police in the United Kingdom should be a focus of any European meeting of photographers.

No opportunities for the young

Hard working young people will seek to go to university after school, partly for the qualification of having a degree and partly to expand their intellectual grasp of the world. Nothing wrong in that.

The rupture lies in the transition from a world where exam marks count to one governed entirely by capitalist power. There are only a certain number of professional jobs available and these are allocated on the basis of the economic power of the competitors (i.e. high cost further training, internships, connections).

Despite New Labour’s expansion of higher education (and the consequent devaluation of degrees), the level of social mobility in Britain has declined as social inequality has increased to the highest level since 1945

28 July 2009

Proportional Representation for Britain

I am a strong supporter of proportional representation because I believe that a parliament that mirrors how people vote is vastly better than one which doesn’t.

That said, it is utterly hopeless to think about a change to the electoral system right now. We are at the fag end of a much loathed government, and anything which they touch will be fatally stained.

If Cameron wins a working overall majority next year, PR will again be off the agenda. However if the parliament is hung and shows up absurd disproportionalities (e.g. the SNP winning more seats than the Liberal Democrats!), then perhaps we are in with a chance.

24 July 2009

Judging Brown’s economic record

There is no reason at all to praise Gordon Brown’s economic record – neither as chancellor nor as prime minister. The reality is his myth of eternal growth based on market fundamentalism fell apart in the collapse of the credit boom in 2008. Amid a failing economy, Britain today under New Labour is now a more unequal society than at any time since 1945.

The argument that Brown should be applauded because he used public money to bail out collapsing banks in the crash of 2008 just doesn’t add up. It’s rather like praising a man who has defecated on the carpet and then succeeded in cleaning some of it up.

Labour loses Norwich North By_Election

Yet again the cane bites deep into Gordon Brown. Yet it is saddening to see the Conservatives as the beneficiaries because everything which is rotten in New Labour is as bad or worse in the Tories.

23 July 2009

British Army tortures in Iraq

The following fact seems clearly established now: the British occupation army in Basra arrested people and tortured them; and in some cases (e.g. the hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa) tortured them to death.

There are three types of people who are culpable.

First, among the lower ranks of the British army there are sadistic torturers who enjoy the protection of their peers and probably their superiors. Every legal measure must be deployed to find, prosecute and imprison these people for life.

Second, the officers in charge of those units whose soldiers engaged in torture should at the very least be expelled from the army. If it can be established that they colluded in the torture (i.e. by knowing it was happening and doing nothing to prevent it), they too should face imprisonment.

Third, the same test - applied to British army offices - should be applied to the Prime Minister at the time (Tony Blair) and his defence minister (Geoff Hoon). If any government minister knew that torture was taking place and failed to take steps to stop it, they also should face imprisonment.

It’s just possible that a private soldier may be thrown to the wall, but the army top brass and government ministers will almost certainly walk away unscathed. Such is the rotten state of the country we live in.

17 July 2009

Release Biggs

Robbing trains in a serious crime, so Biggs is a type of criminal who should at one time have served a long prison sentence. However today there is no point (not for him or society) in keeping this elderly crippled man in prison. The only beneficiary is Jack Straw’s sadistic ego.

The slow torture of those subject to control orders

One issue is whether these people should be in Britain at all. Some people point out that they have no connection with Britain and in some cases have committed criminal offences. Yet that be as it may, they are here and have nowhere else to go. (Sending somebody to country where they will be tortured and/or killed is not an option)

The second issue is that while they are in Britain, should they be treated in this manner. Here my argument is clear: if they have committed a crime, then they should be prosecuted in open court for it; if not, then they should be free to work and earn money for themselves and their families.

My own hunch is that these are desperate and/or pathetic people who represent a threat to nobody in Britain. Rather than admit there is nothing against these people, a wholly immoral British government is playing secrecy/national security card, merely to hide the lack of evidence; thereby hoping to avoid a loss of face.

30 June 2009

The decline of social democracy

The argument that social democracy is only possible in socially homogenous states contains an element of truth but misses the key point. Social gains happen when working people politically fight for them.

The instrument of progress in the first three-quarters of the last century across Europe was the workers movement. Capitalist power, in Northern Europe in particular, found the easiest path to be a compromise with or an acceptance of social democracy. That was especially true in those zones which bordered the old iron curtain: Scandinavia Germany and Austria.

With the demise of reforming left parties (often through self-destruction carried out by the likes of Tony Blair) and the disappearance of the Soviet threat, the balance of power has shifted in favour of capital; and hence workers’ rights are diminishing.

29 June 2009

G20: Police commander blames own officers for misdeeds

The attempt by the police commander Bob Broadhurst to explain away the extensive police violence against demonstrators on 1 April as merely the deeds of inexperienced young officers is disingenuous.

It was Broadhurst who earlier inflamed the situation with his predication of a summer of rage, who gave orders to imprison (i.e. kettle) thousands of peaceful protesters without food, water or toilet facilities, then to baton-charge them and beat them. It was officers under his command who with impunity took off their service numbers so they could assault at will.

Individual officers certainly sometimes went on a frolic of their own, but they did not decide to compulsorily photograph individual demonstrators as the left the street concentration centres, or issue that wholly false press release about the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Quite clearly Broadhurst miscalculated. He though the police violence which he unleashed would be applauded by New Labour and the Daily Mail. Thanks to people-photography he got it wrong – and now the coward wants to blame his own officers.

22 June 2009

What does Heigegger mean practically?

The Cartesian tradition: thinking subjects attempting comprehend things/objects in the world. Heidegger: Dasein (being there) the subject is not behind a glass wall but immersed in activities, which often do not need to be thought about, in an already pre-given world.

The question that any practically minded person is going to ask is: what does this mean in practice?

Outside the field of literature and philosophy, I would say this: Heideggerism results in shifting the emphasis from rational thinking to intuitional feeling and from an attempt at absolute knowledge to relativism, (your truth is as good as mine). Heidegger can be seen as replacing the individual with a zombie-like conception of the human being in the flow-of-life.

Heidegger reveals some important aspects of human existence, but one should avoid over reliance on his philosophy.

17 June 2009

Miliband to keep British torture guidelines secret

Everyone knows the truth: MI6 officers sat around or strolled the corridors while British citizens were being tortured for them. Perhaps curiosity never got the better of these agents and they never peeped in as the finger nails came out; I tend to doubt that.

Miliband lied when he claimed the government never participated in or condoned torture. The truth is that New Labour are as intensely relaxed about electric shocks applied to the genitals as they are about corruption and income inequality.

Next to the crimes which British government ministers, MI6 and its specific agents have committed (all three share culpability) the so-called guidelines under which these people were supposedly operating are almost irrelevant.

16 June 2009

Man tasered three times in Nottingham

It is increasingly clear that, whatever the legitimate uses of tasers as alternatives to live bullets, the weapon is mostly used an instrument of on-the-spot torture.

The truth is that any police service will descend into a band of thugs, unless it is held to account by political and legal authorities. Unfortunately, New Labour, in a bankrupt attempt to outflank the Tories in appearing tough on crime, has been happy to let this descent in thuggery gather pace.

The situation is truly appalling.

Inquiry into the Iraq War

The fact that Gordon Brown’s inquiry into the invasion and occupation of Iraq is to be held in secret renders it meaningless and useless.

It is no secret that Blair took the decision to follow the US politically and militarily first and then searched for a reason later. The claim that Saddam had WMDs was a lie; the original legal advice on the legality of the War was sent back to be changed; and the notion that Blair was acting out of humanitarian concern (even though acting illegally) was shown to be a sick joke by subsequent events in Iraq.

A proper independent inquiry would have one key meaning: it would establish who should properly be Tony Blair’s co-defendants on trial. And precisely for that reason there never will be an independent inquiry into the crime.

15 June 2009

Heidegger on Being

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Heidegger and Being is this:

The philosophical tradition before Heidegger was based on the so-called Cartesian division of thinkers, subjects; and the external world of things, objects.

Heidegger says we don’t primarily look at the world like this, i.e. through a “glass window;” rather we are there, part of it. He calls this sense of being in the world from the German, Dasein (being-there). We are part of the world which is already a pre-given for us; we, for the most part, act as others do, and we rarely think about what we are doing.

That is Heidegger’s concept of Being in a nutshell.

My own view is that Heidegger’s notion of Dasein is correct but an irrelevant dead end in philosophy. Cartesian still has rich themes to be worked.

11 June 2009

The Alternative Vote

The alternative vote, which is not a system of proportional representation (it would still mean no Green or BNP MPs), usually has one advantage over first past the post: people need not vote tactically. They can vote for their first preference, and if that candidate is eliminated, transfer their vote to another.

That usually works, but not always. In constituency X the first past the post results is as follows.

Centre: 40
Right: 36
Left: 24

The centre candidate has only won perhaps because 10% of left voters have voted tactically for the centre. Without tactical voting the first round would be.

Right: 36
Left: 34
Centre: 30

Under AV the centre candidate is now eliminated and if his vote transfers equally between left and right the right candidate wins.

We can thus see that AV neither leads to proportional representation, nor does it necessarily lead to MPs more closely reflecting voters’ wishes. It’s a marginal improvement, if that.

British thinking and the EU

British thinking on Europe has always been a contradiction.

Euro scepticism is built on the simple emotion that British people don’t like foreigners making their laws for them.

On the other hand there are obvious advantages to being a powerful influence in a powerful EU, as opposed to begging for first satellite status to the US, and getting nothing in return.

Many areas are policy (competition law, consumer protection, the environment, and even immigration and foreign policy) are more effectively dealt with at a pan-European level.

Britain will not be leaving the EU, so it is important that British politicians are effective in fighting for their interests and their designs for Europe, not shuffling off to the sidelines.

14 May 2009

British police killing people

Good practice would require that police may only shoot to kill if the victim poses an immediate threat to the life of police officers or someone else and there is no other means to disable the victim.

In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes (July 2005), armed police assassinated a terrorist suspect who at the point when he was shot presented no immediate threat. Menezes could have been arrested without serious injury to anyone. The police were allowed to get away with the killing which maintained and reinforced a terrible precedent.

It would seem, then, that armed police units have de facto impunity to execute anybody who is or might be armed or whenever the police are told in advance that the victim may be armed. No doubt many police officers will not kill a victim unnecessarily, but if they do they will not be called to book after the event. It is also unfortunately true that too many armed police enjoy killing.

13 May 2009

Put up candidates against New Labour

Bryan Gould has hit the nail on the head when he says that Labour’s abandonment of principle for power (i.e. instead of confronting capital becoming an instrument of it) provided the backdrop for the widespread corruption of the Labour backbenchers.

There is near unanimity that New Labour has failed and is now widely loathed across the country. War, corruption, debt and increased social inequality are what Blair and Brown have bequeathed to the country. Yet opinion is sharply divided on one key point.

Some relish an immediate general election which would catapult Cameron’s Tories into office. Yet those of us on the left cannot see Thatcher’s heirs as a solution to the problems created by New Labour; they would be a means of making a bad situation for ordinary working people worse.

What the left needs to do is not call for an immediate election. Nor should it follow Polly Toynbee’s idea of believing that a new leader drawn from the ranks of New Labour can put everything right. Instead, the left needs to disown utterly and completely the government and start putting up serious candidates in elections.

11 May 2009

The Labour Party should disown the government

A corrupt and disgraceful end for new Labour this certainly is. Yet the question to ask is what is the Labour Party going to do – or more precisely what could it do?

This is a Ramsay MacDonald moment. The National Executive of the Party should call a conference with the purpose of disowning this so-called Labour Government. A new leader should be elected who may or may not be an MP. A policy commission should draw up a new set of social democratic policies to put before the electorate. Most constituencies would select new candidates for MPs for the next election.

But of course none of this will happen. The once great British Labour Party will sink with New Labour.

8 May 2009

Trade Union leaders are powerless

You forget that Labour has already used the electoral college while in government in the meaningless six-horse race election of Harriet Harman as deputy leader after the Blair/Prescott resignation in 2007.

Yes, it is constitutionally the case that the affiliated trade unions and Labour Party members could take control of the party they created and own and ignore the power of the business interests which have bankrolled and controlled New Labour. But sadly that power is only a theoretical one. Why?

First, there is nobody in the New Labour government who has the slightest loyalty to the trade union movement. Mandelson et al would leave the party before they became representatives of ordinary working people.

Second, the trade union leaders lead hollow armies. Just as they have no friends above they have no active rank and file below them. Any attempt by these men to exercise their power would just show they had none. Much more likely in a leadership contest, the trade union leaders would be there to be bought off by the competing candidates emerging from within the upper echelons of New Labour.

5 May 2009

Banning people from the UK

People should only be prevented from travelling to the UK if there is strong reason to believe that they will commit a crime in the country.

In some of the comments above the assumption is, it seems, that as Britain is our country, we (i.e. Jacqui Smith) can decide on a whim who can enter and who can’t. However, with every exclusion there is another side: the British citizen who invited the would-be guest has his or her rights to invite foreigners to his/her home taken away totally arbitrarily.

More often than not, though, the exclusion has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with government spin and propaganda.

Hazel Blears is just a careerist

There are two kinds of people in politics: those of who speak truth to power and those who display power against truth. Hazel Blears is an example par excellence of the latter.

Every government in Britain and elsewhere has careerists like Blears. Tragic it is indeed that the once great British Labour Party is now constituted only by such people.

29 April 2009

New Labour is the cause of the BNP

Much of the cause of the growth of the BHP is New Labour.

In 1973 Labour adopted as its purpose ‘a fundamental shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families’ Blair and New Labour replaced those social democratic ideals with debt, spin and flexible working.

Yet whatever short-term material gains the credit boom of the 2000s generated for some working people, it all went up in smoke in the financial convulsions in the autumn of 2008.

Thus, the Labour Party today has betrayed its past and bankrupted the future. The only voice left for working people to hear, it would seem, is that of fascism.

27 April 2009

G20 See the whole picture of police violence

Two cases have been highlighted of people being assaulted by police: Ian Tomlinson because he died and Nicola Fisher because she is a woman – and in both cases video evidence shows very clearly what happened.

Police authorities will try to pass off Tomlinson and Fisher as isolated cases using the ‘rotten apples in the barrel’ argument. However this approach deliberately deflects attention from the wide scale use of police violence.

The truth is that tens (if not hundreds) of demonstrators, who were neither violent nor vandalising property, were beaten with truncheons, riot shield, or were kicked or punched by police officers. Officers removed their identification number en masse precisely so they could assault with impunity.

Many of the victims were people who were corralled for hours into street concentration pens (the so-called kettling) who could not even leave the demonstration if they wished.

After several hours without food, water or toilet facilities demonstrators were allowed out the kettles, only if they agreed to identify themselves and be photographed. No legal authority for this exists; yet neither police management nor the government cares.

It is impossible not to draw the conclusion that police tactics were to punish demonstrators, not to police the demonstration. And the government is quite content, it would seem, to let that stand.

For the government Lord West has already congratulated the police on their operation. The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is anything but independent, has thus got the political support to procrastinate and to exonerate the police whenever it can. We need not hold our breath for them to finish their deliberations.

Indeed Tomlinson and Fischer need justice in their individual cases. But what really needs to happen is that large numbers of these police thugs need prosecuting and should be dismissed from the police force – and those senior officers in charge of these police on April 1st should be put on trial for conspiracy to assault.

Attempt to recruit "Plane Stupid" activitist as a police informer

Whatever the merits of your cause, even the most liberal republic will take measures against you if you throw custard at government ministers and block airport runways.

That said, non-violent protest should be met by non-violent policing. And using menacing police officers to bribe and intimate protesters into becoming police informers stinks in a democratic society.

24 April 2009

Pornography is fantasy

Many people enjoy pornography because it affords them sexual enjoyment in a fantasy world. You don’t change people’s sexual desires by restricting access to pornography; you just make them less happy. The issue is not to censor, but to teach people to realise that porn (like kung-fu films and Mills and Boon) is fantasy and nothing more.

If it offends, then by all means put it on the top shelf, so long as those who want it can still reach.

23 April 2009

The police killing of Jean Charles Menezies

Here is a case where armed police assassinated a totally innocent terrorist suspect in circumstances where he could have been arrested without injury. (Arguably once he was grabbed and thrown into the seat he was already de facto under arrest anyway)

Every step was taken by the police and the establishment to exonerate these anonymous police officers who are now back on duty. The precedent set was a terrible one, namely that even the most worst police excesses could be swept under the carpet.

21 April 2009

Police violence against peacful protesters

It is revolting to see batons, dogs and fists used against protesters who are protesting wholly peacefully. The police deal with the protesters as if their protest were a crime per se, instead of a democratic right which the police should protect. How else can you understand the gratuitous police violence and the incarceration of hundreds of innocent people in street concentration pens for hours?

If someone breaks the law during a demonstration (e.g. committing vandalism, assaults or trespassing) they should be arrested not subject to on an on an on-the-spot beating. If they are not breaking the law they should be left in peace.

These police and policing tactics are incompatible with the norms of a democratic society.

(I find utterly vacuous the argument of the people who argue that because police in similar situations in some other countries might beat more people and more brutally that therefore people in London have nothing to complain about. By this criterion nothing can ever be wrong because there is always worse. It is hopeless and depressing argument.)

1 April 2009

G20 demonstrations against capitalism

The creation of a carnival circus around the institutions of capitalism may indeed be fun and raise consciousness about the processes of domination and exploitation in New Labour’s Britain. There is however a downside: many people suffering loss of jobs, savings and a house will find it difficult to identify with clowns.

However hard it may be there is no alternative to building a mass political organisation to confront unbridled capitalism and diminishing political freedom. As Lenin once remarked he who has organisation has power.

26 March 2009

God doesn't exist and is irrelevant

Let us make the absurd supposition for a moment that there is a God.

If God can intervene to save the world but doesn’t, then he’s a sadistic voyeur. If God lacks the power to intervene in human affairs and weeps as a loving onlooker, then he’s useless.

It seems to me that in any kind of rational argument about what will or will not happen talking about God is a red herring.

19 March 2009

Political exclusions from Britain

People should only be banned from visiting the UK to argue their political case, if it likely that they will commit crimes here. However we see the power of exclusion used against people simply because the government disapproves of their opinions or they may cause the government embarrassment.

New Labour’s exclusion policy is but one aspect of its attack on civil liberties.

What I think is not sufficiently understood is that exclusion does not just take way rights from the excluded person, but from the British people who invited them or who want to meet them.

I think Wilders, for instance, is a bigoted rightwing twit. But why should those who want to talk to him in person have to travel to the Netherlands to do so? Imagine the outcry if the Netherlands responded by following New Labour’s example and banning British parliamentarians.

The exclusion of nasty, but non-criminal, people from the UK threatens British freedom.

18 March 2009

Don't consider economics without politics

Unfortunately many articles don't really say anything other than the capitalist economy is cyclical with expansion and contraction.

What I find missing from these articles is not so much empirical data, but a false separation of the economic from the political. The thirty years of market fundamentalism marched alongside a profound shift in politics in both Britain and US. There is a hidden assumption that the upturn when it comes will take place in a political configuration akin to that of the 1990s or early 2000s.

The economic ideology that underpinned 1979-2009 has now fallen apart; unemployment, debt and poverty are multiplying. There is today a feeling of a phoney war as socio-political pressure builds up. It is highly unlikely that in the next half decade there won’t be major political changes which will themselves impact on economic structures.

17 March 2009

Privatising welfare the last straw

Privatising welfare is more about supporting the profits of the companies concerned than it is about helping recipients.

New Labour is no longer just disapproved of or simply unpopular, it is hated and despised on account of its corruption, lying and total betrayal of ordinary working people. Many would like to hang the lot of them from the lampposts on Whitehall.

That means that honest men and women can no long be the left wing of this monstrosity. If you want a hearing and you want to organise for ordinary working people, you need to break with the whole rotten New Labour edifice.