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.