At the end of Week 4, we saw a few things come to a head.
- EU negotiations, and it came out yesterday that Corbyn is going to talk with the main EU negotiator Michel Barnier. I imagine Barnier will get considerably more sense out of the Labour leader than from the Conservative B*exit team! The latter, with their hard B*exit (very different to Labour‘s approach) is looking shakier by the day and hardliners are already casting round for ‘scapegoats’.
- The fallout of the DUP deal with the Conservatives, the collapse of devolved government, the dilemma of ‘Irishness’ and the chances of a united Ireland. Yet alongside this is the rise of tension due to marching and bonfire season, particularly between a number of bonfire organisers and Belfast City Council increased last night (07/07/17) after the council obtained a High Court injunction preventing any further material being brought to four sites on its land.
- the possibility of new leaders for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems; and the Thanet electoral fraud by the Conservatives reaches court stages. Craig MacKinlay (the MP) is being hung out to dry here, as his seat was by no means the only one to be ‘irregular’ in their spending.
- the possibility of having a slew of new rulings in the Labour party,
- reducing the chances of MPs having sinecures and giving CLPs and BLPs more of a voice in how their constituencies are run-
- and in the voting meetings, a majority of more left leaning Labour reps being approved to go to Conference in September to ensure these new rules do come in without Progress interference.
- And MPs that were still broadcasting anti-Unity messages being brought to heel.
- The NEC were also reined in as under the Data Protection Act they should never have trawled social media looking for excuses to remove party members from Labour lists.
- Claudia Webbe, at the Labour‘s NEC Sub Committee meeting in Birmingham this week, both pushed and voted for better party democracy. This would overturn what she called an ‘unfair July 2015 freeze’ to give new members since that date the franchise. In a social democratic party the very fact that some members do not have full voting rights on policy and procedure shows the NEC were prepared to make a mockery of the entire party’s ethos to ‘block’ possible Corbyn supporters.
- Some ‘moderate’ Labour MPs, according to the Times anyway, are considering stepping down to force by-elections, with a view to do…what? It’s hard to see what this is, if true, beyond dummy throwing. Sources are vague: ‘a party insider’, and no MPs are actually named. If they do leave, there are plenty who would stand. Most seats post-election have better majorities now than 2015, so how likely would it be that those seats would be lost? Well, often a vote share decreases with a new MP, and by-elections are usually less well attended than general elections, but we are talking ideology here. Any candidate that is more left leaning would be likely to keep that majority. And Luciana Berger, MP for Wavertree, mentioned in the Times’ article says quite bluntly “This is nonsense. Please remove my picture from your tweet. I’m not going anywhere.”
Two sad but not surprising facts
- the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire where we learned, but were not surprised, that the tower went up like a candle due to Council negligence and cost and corner cutting.
- The same lack of surprise from many ensued when the MSM blared that Saudi Arabia are confirmed to have links to Wahhabists that are destabilising the Middle East with terrorist acts. Caroline Lucas, the Green Party co-leader, demanded answers and suddenly, Mackinley was not the only Conservative to be hung out to dry. Whitehall lay the blame at the delay on announcing the report on extremism right at the door of the prime minister:
The review into the funding of Islamist extremism in the UK was commissioned by the former Prime Minister and reported to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister in 2016. The review has improved the Government’s understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK. Publication of the review is a decision for the Prime Minister.
Holding the Conservatives to account
Corbyn has reiterated his motions (EDMs) of many years, and demands once more the suspension of sales of arms to Saudi. And Plaid Cymru and Labour also want to extend that to surveillance tech being sold, as it violates laws of exports restrictions. The PM seems to be cracking under the pressure as at PMQs last week she lost it:
Yet just five days after this declaration above, this happens:
May’s position as PM is deemed by most of the MSM as ‘precarious’ now and has announced she will move to an unprecedented invitation to Labour and the other ‘progressive parties’ to help het- but “contribute not just criticise” (which is frankly typical of her high handed attitude)– to create policies for a ‘post-B*exit Britain’ as she attempts to quell a Conservative plot to replace her, possibly by means of an orchestrated set of ‘resignations’. (Does that sound familiar?) There are rumours that she might even ‘quit’ by the summer! She made it clear she was drawing a line under a ‘disastrous’ election result that saw her government lose its majority. Her speech, on the anniversary of being in Number 10 for a year, will then make an plea for cross-party working, challenging MPs across the spectrum to “come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country”. Though on the face of it, a sensible course of action, it will only lead
- to her losing face politically, so toxic is the Conservative system and the way in which the MSM reports on politics.
- to the mandate bought with £1billion with the DUP becoming actually meaningless,-and is already being contested under the Bribery Act by an Irish Green Party campaigner- because the way government currently works is that one party needs a majority and that majority is in charge of ‘difficult’ processes like B*exit. Coalition governments are alien to British politics and are seen as signs of weakness.
- Michel Barnier’s reply to Boris Johnson in regard to his “EU can go whistle comments in Parliament over the EU ‘divorce bill’ is telling – “I can’t hear any whistling, just the clock ticking.” Johnson’s bombast is no more welcome than May’s hypocrisy of wanting cross-party support but dictating terms before they say yes or no! The EU Council are refusing to accept those types of conditions which is why the Conservatives are in the mess they are. The definition of insanity is to keep repeating an action with the expectation of a different outcome…
Unsurprisingly, this political cartoon was published in the Evening Standard today (10/07/17.)
Could this also have had anything to do with Corbyn’s meeting with Barnier? 🤔 I’m sure some have an idea- how about another election? Standing down would do no good now, as she’d only be replaced by one Conservative in a backstabbing queue in the wings, and none of them are any better. Labour appear to have refused this backhanded plea for help, on the grounds that it proves the Conservative government is not fit for purpose; that May was ‘coming clean’ about her failures and was effectively accepting in public that she was unable to run the country. Corbyn responded thusly:
If she needs help, we’ll be happy to send her Labour’s General Election manifesto. It contains some great stuff on how a real government, with the genuine best interests of the country and its people at heart, will negotiate Brexit.
As many of her colleagues already seem to want to use it as a reference-guide for proper government anyway, we’ll be happy to present her with her own copy.
We’re sure she’ll appreciate it.
He has also released photos of him sending the manifesto to May!
Labour and the Conservatives‘ approach to B*exit are very different– despite all the accusations from online trolls and right leaning MSM that they are identical- so any cross party co-operation would fail before it started. Tomorrow (11/07/17) is the start of debates on the Great Repeal Bill, something to which the Labour party is opposed. Conservative ex-Culture minister Ed Vaizey yesterday wrote an article with Labour MP Rachel Reeves calling for compromise over the role of the court in this and allowing the UK to continue participating in the Euratom treaty, governing nuclear co-operation. While this is in my view not as important as
- securing workers’ rights
- EU citizens’ rights,
- sharing police intelligence,
- and EU based environmental protections
as a given that should not be repealed at any point, this is a ‘start’. Vince Cable of the Lib Dems cast doubt on whether B*exit was going to happen at all recently- and while that opinion of course is biased, more information is coming out day by day showing the Conservatives‘ approach is bullheaded, misguided and doomed to failure.
Hard B*exit should be stopped right now.
The tainted blood procedures
- The campaign; led by Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston Upon Hull North; to get redress for those who died due to contaminated blood during the years when HIV, Hep C and AIDS took the lives of at least 2,400 people in the 1970s and 80s; and when proper checks were never carried out on the blood the NHS had in banks or the blood they took is gathering pace- and look at the people who have signed it! May and the Conservatives are being put under great pressure from all the other parties to take some action on this matter. And today (11/07/17) just hours before the Conservatives faced possible defeat in a vote on a cross party emergency motion about the need for a full inquiry (suggesting many of her MPs would have voted against this!), May has finally ordered one.
The drive for ‘Torynet’ seems to be continuing but Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd is under fire for her potential policy here. Her plans to force smart phone apps such as WhatsApp to hand over encrypted messages, and have Governmental means to ‘break into’ them if companies do not comply are considered unworkable and dangerous by Robert Hannigan, the former head of GCHQ.
“Encryption is an overwhelmingly good thing – it keeps us all safe and secure.
Building in back doors is a threat to everybody and it’s not a good idea to weaken security for everybody to tackle a minority.” [my italics]
Her proposed measure is in direct response to the Westminster attack that saw five people die– the attacker had sent WhatsApp messages just minutes earlier. Rudd had this to say:
“It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide.
We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.”
We have to have a situation where we can have our security services get into the terrorists’ communications. That’s absolutely the case.”
How about not cutting funds to security services instead, so that they can do their job, not spying on thousands of people, Rudd?
And who is going to pay for those extra staff hours that would be needed?
This is completely unworkable and typical of Conservative bombast with neither substance nor foundation.
The Middle East
- Iraq declared Isis’ power centre has been neutralised after a huge symbolic victory in Mosul last week too. The devastation in the area is horrific.
- The High Court today ruled that arms sales to Saudi are legal (maybe so, but not ethical) despite the fact we know they are using those arms to destabilise the Middle East for their own ends. An HoC report tends to suggest they skirt the edges of illegality at best. And Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas has rightly put forward the reply that if this action is within the law, perhaps it is the law that should be changed.
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, had this to say:
And Stewart Wood, Chair of the UNA-UK (the United Nations Association – UK) made this statement yesterday (10/07/17):
******What else is happening this week?******
Huge protests in the UK, and yesterday (07/07/17), extensive and angry protests in Germany at the G20 summit meeting. Looting, fires and violent clashes broke out all over Hamburg as what started out angrily but peacefully was infiltrated by balaclava clad young white men with a somewhat different agenda. However, a spokesman from the real protesters had this to say:
“We cannot wait until change happens from the world’s most powerful, we have to show political and social responsibility — all of us — now!” a 1,000 Gestalten spokesman said in a statement.
“Our campaign is a further symbol for the fact that many people do not want to put up with the destructive impact of capitalism any longer,” the statement continued. “What will save us in the end is not our account balance but someone who will offer their holding hand.”
- That the ONS have shown that economic growth has been sluggish at best, and is now beginning to decline worse than any other economy on the planet. As ‘growth’ is one of the alleged reasons for austerity in the first place, this type of politics is looking less credible by the day, finally. Yet May is still refusing to budge on this damaging and toxic practice.
They also have bleak proof of real wages falling. This is an implosion in the making, with the economy slowing and inflation rising.
To add to this, there’s a growing push for Tony Blair to be properly tried over his role in the Iraq War; a process that has now reached the High Court; and increasing protest even among Conservatives over the fate of the WASPI women. We heard SNP MP Mhairi Black relate the awful story of a lady affected by the increase in pension age kill herself as she saw no way out of her situation under the Conservatives.
On a more local level, there are a stack of Council by-elections coming up in the next few weeks, that could make a difference to which parties end up controlling those Councils. And some Councillors are not helping in this area: leading to by-elections that should not be necessary.
One by-election, (and these cost £50,000 to stage) happening on 7th September in North Lanarkshire (Scotland) is because a Conservative councillor refused to take up his post. It would appear he was a ‘paper candidate‘ who had no expectation of being elected. Thornton won 13.3% of the vote but did not even attend the election count. This is not appropriate behaviour and needs to be stopped. It’s obvious ‘we’ do not and never have lived in a democracy but such spending, when a Councillor that actually wanted to do the job could have won the seat, just makes a mockery of political process. And while it did not mean the Council changed from NOC (No Overall Control) as the SNP have 33, Labour 32, the Conservatives 10, and Independents down 15 to just 2, it is lackadaisical at best.
Another Council that seems to be taking the p*** is Wandsworth. London Mayor Sadiq Khan considers they “waved through” a developer’s request to reduce affordable housing at the proposed building project to be done on the site of the old Battersea Power Station in south London. The council came under criticism last month when it ‘rubber-stamped’ a move by the developer driving the £9billion revamp of the historic site that cut the number of affordable flats to 386, a 40% reduction from original plans. In the light of Grenfell and social housing crises and shortages, this seems especially untimely and venal. And like Kensington and Chelsea Council, who are responsible for the Grenfell fire, Wandsworth too is Conservative controlled (41-19 Labour), and has been since 1978.
Gloucestershire Council, or at least, one of their Councillors is also under scrutiny. Labour Councillor Lesley Williams (Stonehouse) submitted the official complaint about Conservative Councillor Lynden Stowe, former leader of Cotswold District Council, Councillor now for Campden Vale, and Cabinet member for economy, skills and growth, yesterday, after Stowe drew parallels between Jeremy Corbyn and Adolf Hitler.
“What he [Corbyn] is trying to do with some of the younger people – it’s not dissimilar to Hitler Youth.”
He made the comments in a social media post in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at Glastonbury. This is a very dangerous accusation to make, and such ill-thought out posts are not isolated incidents by Conservative councillors.
Conservative Councillor for Pendle Borough Council in Lancashire, who was the area’s mayor until last month, Rosemary Carroll suggested in a social media post as ‘joke’ that benefits would be dished out to a dog who is “brown, stinks and has never worked a day in his life”. She has been suspended for this. Whether her own joke, or a repost-as Carroll alleges- this is not the sort of public declaration we should be seeing from Councillors.
- May still wants her statue to Thatcher despite the objections against it. Reported to have a potential cost of £300,000 this gesture is simply yet more of one rule for the rich and another for the poor. You could employ 11 nurses for a year for that money, and that would be money far better spent!
- a concession for men not to wear ties has been granted, as new MP Jared O’Hara is unable to wear one due to his disability. some commenters have viewed this development with horror, and while they are entitled to their opinion, I disagree with them.
The new House of Commons now includes five disabled MPs, an increase of three on the last term. Two new Labour MPs are part of the increase. Marsha de Cordova, who defeated Jane Ellison in Battersea, is registered blind and spoke about disabled rights in her victory speech. Jared O’Mara, who has cerebral palsy, won Sheffield Hallam from the former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd, who is deaf, returns after losing his seat in 2015. Conservative MPs Robert Halfon, who has cerebal palsy and osteoarthritis, and Paul Maynard, who also has cerebal palsy, were re-elected.
And O’Mara has made a public statement on being a disabled MP, though I am sure it affects all the MPs with similar conditions in government. He brings to our attention the fact that attending Commons debates is really problematic because he “has not been able to get a seat” and he cannot stand for longer than ten minutes. Why nobody is offering him a seat is one question and another is why on earth have no provisions been made? Finally, what is going to BE done about it?
The Citizens Advice Bureau criticise the roll-out of Universal Credit and their report’s (‘Delivering on Universal Credit’) conclusions state it should be paused until significant problems with it are fixed. They conclude that UC is forcing thousands into debt, not least due to the six weeks wait on average for initial payments, while a third of claimants are waiting more than two months – pushing three in five into the red cover their costs. The DWP have brushed off these concerns and the Conservatives show no sign of changing their stance, or the start date of, UC.
Perhaps the recent increase in Labour‘s support in polls (usual caveats apply) is not so unexpected.
The attitude towards minorities whether LBGT+, non white or disabled sometimes does ‘sneak out’ from Conservatives doesn’t it? Today (10/07/17), finally, the Conservative MP for Newton Abbott, Anne Marie Morris, has been suspended from the party for calling a problem during a panel discussion on the effects of B*exit on financial services ‘the n****r in the woodpile’ 😧😧😧 Good grief. She has apologised, but to even think in these terms shows someone stuck in the 70s, and out of touch with how to use language that is not utterly offensive nowadays. She is now standing, as is allowed under Parliamentary law, as an Independent. Her husband and election manager, Roger Kendrick, also made racist comments during the run up to the election, from which she ‘distanced’ herself. Not far enough then eh. Her voting record however is Conservative through and through- she has never rebelled against the whip since winning the seat in 2010. Whether she’ll stay as MP is another matter and the Conservatives have now lost one of their very slender majority (with the DUP). May took her sweet time to act as well. When Labour MPs mess up, they are suspended within 48 hours and an investigation starts. If May can’t even make a decision about something like this in a timely manner, how is she capable of being at the head of the country’s government?
More dodgy dealings
And HSBC are once more in the spotlight for yet more dodgy dealings. We talked of their suspect practices as part of the fraud blog a while ago, and now they look to have withheld due monies to their customers to the tune of millions of pounds.
At some point something has to give- and things are coming to a head.
Today (08/07/17) the Durham Miners’ Gala is better attended than ever; some sources say that over the weekend they are expecting 200,000 attendees. Corbyn and socialist film director Ken Loach are among the speakers. It is an annual event and, far from dying when the coalfield was destroyed, is thriving as one of the world’s the biggest and most colourful celebrations of trade union and community spirit. Few will have heard of it outside the north east till this year though, as the MSM are full of articles on it.
And of course, this is the weekend of many LGBT+ Pride events and marches.
******The nuclear vote******
This week saw something potentially huge happening at the UN too. The treaty, called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to make a step towards a nuclear-free world was endorsed by 122 countries (such as Austria, Cyprus, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland; the majority of African and Middle Eastern nations, most Latin American and some former Soviet countries) at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday after months of talks in the face of strong opposition from nuclear-armed states and their allies. Negotiators representing two-thirds of the 192-member United Nations finalised the 10-page treaty this week.
- Only the Netherlands, which took part in the discussion, despite having US nuclear weapons on its territory, voted against the treaty
- Singapore abstained
- Canada did not attend
- Most of the NATO countries (70 ish) also abstained or refused to have anything to do with the treaty, including Russia, China, Turkey and Israel
- None of the nine countries that have nuclear capability voted for it
- Unsurprisingly, the United States and its close Western ‘allies’, Britain and France, publicly rejected the entire effort, calling it “misguided and reckless”, particularly with North Korea developing their trans-continental nuclear capability. In a joint statement released after the treaty was adopted, the United States, Britain and France said, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”
- It will be open for signature by any member state starting on September 20th during the annual General Assembly and would enter into legal force 90 days after being ratified by 50 countries.
So this issue, about which Corbyn has been blasted in the MSM for years, is one step closer in coming to pass.
Disarmament groups and other proponents of the treaty said they had never expected that any nuclear-armed country would sign it — at least not at first. Rather, supporters hope, the treaty’s widespread acceptance elsewhere will eventually increase the public pressure and stigma of harbouring and threatening to use such weapons of unspeakable destruction, and make holdouts reconsider their positions. [my italics]
So while we can see that at present countries with nuclear capability are unlikely to vote for this, ratify it or obey UN directives, this treaty is part of an attempt to change the narrative on nuclear weapons. We could also see a change in the narrative on fossil fuels, which could also radically change the political landscape, if Elon Musk’s Tesla battery can get off the ground!
Since 2015 we have ‘risen’ to be the second biggest arms dealer on the planet according to the Independent. Most of those are sold to the Middle East. But most figures have ‘us’ as fourth or fifth.