Starmer? Really?

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Labour leadership contests are obviously vital as a guide to the future direction of the party which is why it’s vital we make the right decision. At the moment Keir Starmer seems to be favorite and he is definitely picking up a head of steam. I understand that to a degree, we have just had a catastrophic defeat in the General Election and to some Starmer seems to be the safe option. Some of the talk I’ve seen in his favour is he looks the part apparently and he can talk well.  That’s he’s clever and is the only credible option. The one that’s really has confused me is that he is media friendly .

So let’s just go through these.

Safe? Well who to is my question to that. I suppose this is connected to the media friendly one as well After the mauling that Jeremy Corbyn has had the last 4 and half years I can understand why it’s appealing to have a leader that would get a better press. But we are deluding ourselves if we think any Labour Leader is going to get one. Tony Blair is the only leader who has had a good press and that was only because he did a dodgy deal with Rupert Murdoch and that only lasted temporarily. Normal order was restored after a few years. So yes Corbyn had a particular time at the hands of the press because the establishment recognised he was a threat to them.

This brings something else up to me.  At the moment Starmer is talking quite left at times trying to attract Corbyn supporters to vote for him. But if he wins and he carries on doing that the press will really put the boot in and I really don’t trust him not to capitulate and backtrack to appear yes more safe. What I’m saying is any Labour Leader worth their salt will want to be a threat to the establishment and you have to set your stall out from the start. Does anyone really think if he capitulates on one thing he wouldn’t on another? The press would love that and would carry on putting the pressure on for more backtracking more watering down because at the end of the day it’s not Jeremy Corbyn the media actually hated but what he stood for and our policies.

You see we have been here before. Back in the 80’s when Neil Kinnock became leader he believed in Public Ownership, he believed in unilateral disarmament he had principles or so we thought but by the time his 2nd General Election came in 1992 he had long jettisoned them and we all know what happened we still lost. Personally at this stage I have less faith in Starmer than I did when Kinnock became leader in 1983. You see it all comes down to who appears more electable.

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Yes electable is the magic word and funnily enough we were told that about Kinnock when he was elected leader in 1983. But of course who appears electable is very subjective. In my view Starmer doesn’t seem electable at all because with his anti brexit views I don’t think he has a hope in hell of winning back our heartlands. It was Starmer who was at the heart of our Brexit volte-face between 17 and 19 which I believe was the biggest reason we lost 2 and half million votes. That’s one big reason I believe he isn’t the answer and would be a disaster. He’s done nothing to own this calamity of the highest order and doesn’t seem to be able to accept his huge role in it. If he can’t see the problem how on earth can he try to put it right?

While Starmer himself is probably more from the centre of the party than being an out and out Blairite just look who he appointed in his campaign team Matt Pound from Labour First a right wing faction. He’s trying to tack left to gain votes but there’s nothing in his history to prove he’s on the left of the party. In the 2015 Leadership election he supported Andy Burnham and more importantly in 2016 he endorsed Owen Smith.  Which brings me to another reason I couldn’t vote for him as leader. Some people say he’s been loyal to Corbyn but that’s not true he was part of the Chicken Coup in 2016.

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Another thing that’s important to me and that was the position Starmer took on the Tory Welfare Bill in 2015. He abstained and didn’t vote against it like Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Rebecca Long-Bailey for example. This was an important litmus test and he failed it.

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There’s something else about Keir that isn’t a very nice thing to say but I think it’s a very important point as well. A leader should be someone who inspires and excites people. They should be charismatic in some way especially now in the modern age. Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Blair both were in their own ways and agree or disagree with them they excited and inspired people to vote Labour.  I’m afraid I can’t see Keir doing that at all, to me he comes across as a very old fashioned type of politician which is me being kind for saying he is very boring. I really don’t like being personal like that but ignoring this won’t help us. I suppose this goes back to him being safe. Some might find that comforting but politics isn’t about being safe. At this critical time in not only the parties history but the world’s where we are staring Climate Change in the face I really don’t think safe is what we need.

Now I’m sure Keir Starmer is a nice enough guy but I really don’t see him as the person to take the Labour Party forward my view is it would be a massive backward step. The bottom line is I just don’t believe he would be a keeper of the torch that Corbyn has lit. I really don’t see him as an answer to our electoral problems but rather just a desperate reaction to them. I’m convinced over time he would begin watering down our policies.  So to anyone who voted for Corbyn in previous leadership elections I’m asking please think carefully about who to vote for. As I said at the beginning it’s so vital we don’t make the wrong choice.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Still Labour for a Socialist Future.

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I know we are all fed up but I just wanted to say this because I’ve seen on social media some have said they are thinking about leaving Labour or have left already. I get that, we have been fighting for what we think is right for a long time and it’s been hard work. Now Jeremy Corbyn is standing down and we are all weary.  Sometimes all we need to do is step back and have a recharge. I’ve done that a few times and it can work wonders. But  I wanted to share my perspective on why I think leaving would be a huge mistake.
The idea of leaving Labour to start another party might seem appealing especially at times like this. But the reality is it puts you straight into the fringes and nowhere land. There have been countless attempts to start another party left of Labour and they have all failed and failed dismally. There’s plenty of left parties out there already and they have never set the world alight. Recently there’s been Left Unity and Respect. Bit further back to the 90’s the Socialist Labour Party. Recently there have been a couple of alliances the Socialist Alliance and TUSC both with various left parties. None of them have made any headway. The only major success has been George Galloway’s two Elections wins as an Respect Mp and that had at least something to do with him being a ‘name’.  If you go further back when the ILP disaffiliated from Labour in the 1930’s they had a big membership but soon faded into obscurity and the fringes eventually of course coming back to Labour in the 1970’s.

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Even if you look at it the other way the right wing split off the SDP  formed in 1981 after some initial success and some backing from the right wing press had to eventually merge with the Liberals or risk obscurity.
I also speak from a little personal experience. A long time ago I was in Militant in Coventry in the Dave Nellist era and when I first come back into politics in 2012 I went to a couple of Socialist Party (as they are now) meetings. I quickly came to the conclusion that it was only going to be through the Labour Party that we could achieve mass Socialist change. Think back to what the Labour Party was like in 2012 and it will give you a glimpse of how hopeless being on the fringes felt to me. But joining Labour then still felt like a massive thing with Blair and Iraq in my recent memory. But I was encouraged by what I was seeing on Facebook in those days and I felt some change was in the air at last. Although many on the left scoffed at the idea then I began to think that Labour wasn’t a lost cause for Socialism. So it was in the winter of 2012/13 that I decided to  join Labour and the rest is history so to speak.

This little history lesson shows the Labour Party for all it’s many faults is the only game in town as far as left political parties that can get into Government. Many have tried to make a breakthrough but the odds are stacked so far against them. We would be fooling ourselves to believe otherwise.

A major thing we have to grapple with as Socialists is how pure can we be to get into power balanced with how much we have to compromise? I have always thought that many times in the past we have compromised too much.  But also I realise if we are too pure it can be self defeating as well because we can back ourselves into a corner that keeps getting smaller. I have always put it like this. We all have to compromise in life and that is what a political party is all about. But if we go too far down this watering down compromising route we actually lose the essence of what we are and what we want to achieve.
My point is we are so much stronger than we were back in 2012-2015. Yes things have gone wrong but I truly believe Socialist change is only going to come through the Labour Party in the UK. I thought that then and we are so much stronger now than before Corbyn became leader. In some ways when we elected JC we did it the wrong way round.

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So yes I get people are demoralised, depressed, frustrated, hurt, angry and upset. I am too. The last 4  and half years are starting to look like they have been a waste of time. But they haven’t been because we the left are still in the ascendancy. But just think about this if many of us do leave they will have been for nothing and it will play into the Blairites hands. Two of our Socialist heroes Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner did what I’m going to do. They stayed in the party through the battles of the 80’s, the take over of the Blairites in the 90’s and fought and kept the left wing beacon burning. That’s what Jeremy Corbyn did too. Being a Socialist in the Labour isn’t easy but I still believe it offers the best path open to transform our country.

Yes the Labour Party will need a push from the outside too but it needs the mass left membership we have now to drive it. We have lots of battles ahead and it’s going to be very tough. So if you’re thinking of walking away I totally get it. But please think carefully. We need all of us.

A Return To Blairism? No Thanks

Item of the Month – June 2014 – People's History Museum _ Manchester Museums
I know there are many on the political right & some on the right of our Labour Party who are celebrating the end of Corbynism. Who think the Corbyn ‘project’ is over, that the last 4 & half years have been just a blip & now normal service can be resumed.
Well I’ve got some important news for you if that’s what you’re hoping for.
Well think again.
Us Socialists aren’t going anywhere.
You see all the talk I’ve seen of it being the ‘cult of Corbyn’ has been a load of rubbish. Yes we all admire Jeremy Corbyn but it’s never been about one person. Ever.
It’s been about Democratic Socialism & completely changing the narrative from the Blair days. That’s what we’ve done with 2 exciting manifestos.  So before some start rubbing their hands thinking we need the return of Blairism to win again we need to evaluate why we lost.

As I’ve said before I think our Brexit position was the biggest reason where in our leave heartlands we were well beat. Winning Putney & keeping Canterbury was no substitute for losing our red wall. Labour leave voters felt betrayed by our position. I’m not denying either that Corbyn polarised opinion. Some love him some hate him. But there’s an elephant in the room here that’s absolutely vital not to forget. We have been losing votes in our heartlands since 2001. We were wiped out in Scotland in 2015. These things weren’t Corbyn’s fault as he wasn’t leader then but rather a rejection of the Blair New Labour era & people losing trust in us. They lost trust because they felt we took their votes for granted & hadn’t done anywhere near enough for them in all the years we were in power not to mention Iraq of course. I’m denying that our 97-10 Governments didn’t do some good things. But we could and should have done more for ordinary people and the sense of frustration by the early noughties was palpable.

 

If we don’t remember this and learn from it we still won’t get elected. So blaming Corbyn and the left might suit their narrative but the facts don’t stack up. In 2017 we got our most votes since 2001 and the 9.6% swing to us was the highest since 1945 even higher than the 8.8% we got in 1997. We gained seats for the the first time since 1997. This wasn’t by luck but because people were genuinely excited by our Socialist Policies. We were seen as an anti establishment party and most importantly we pledged to honour  the referendum result. As soon as we changed that we were in trouble. It’s important to note too that we still got a higher share of the vote than we did in 2010 and 2015. Also that while we won in 2005 it was with the lowest share of the vote in an Election since the Second World War just 35.2%. This is still an uncomfortable truth for fans of Tony Blair and we should have been learning the lessons then but we didn’t. This is something we need to remember in the forthcoming period.
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So yes we lost and lost badly but if you think a return to the 1990’s is the answer it’s not. That boat has sailed & sunk. The times are very different and there’s no appetite for some 3rd way that let so many down.  This isn’t the death of Socialism either. There must be no big retreat on policies. We need it more than ever and I refuse to believe it’s not popular or we can’t win a General Election with a Socialist Manifesto. It’s Brexit that has sunk us now not Democratic Socialism.  So we carry on and fight on for Socialism because not only does the Country need it, the whole world does if we are to have a future.

Don’t Give Up

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Well another year is nearly over so I thought I should get some of these thoughts down that are floating around my head and that are too long for a Tweet.

It’s been an extremely tough year both personally and of course politically. I’m not going to get into the personal stuff today just the political. This is the time for reflection after such a disastrous defeat. It’s also the time to think where to we go now?

I just knew that the timing of the Election was wrong for us especially with the Brexit position we took. Many of us said that our position would be looked on as a betrayal in our leave heartlands and sadly we were proven correct. It felt at times like a slow car crash that you knew was going to happen but you were helpless to stop it. This was one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever gone through but I don’t want to keep saying I told you this would happen. The last thing I want to do is sound patronising. But somehow we have to move forward from this and carry on.

Which brings me to this vital point. Please don’t give up. We are all battered, hurt, upset, tired, deflated and angry. I am too. We lost a fantastic opportunity to actually get a Socialist Government. I completely get if you feel you’ve had enough. I’ve felt like that before many times too. Sometimes I think I can’t keep doing this myself. If you need a little break have a break. We all need breaks. But if all us Socialists gave up where would we be?

Well the answer to that is simple in the crap. We all know that really. So I’m asking every Labour member who supported Corbyn if you’re thinking of leaving the party please don’t. If you’re thinking of going off Social Media permanently please don’t. Or if you’re thinking of never going to go to a meeting again please reconsider.

So we are down yes but not out. The right wing in the party and out the party would love it if we gave up. I do what I do not to make friends although that’s a bonus but because I feel I have to. I’m driven because I want to help to make a better world for my daughter’s, the less fortunate and basically the many not just the few. I know we all feel the same.

But I’m not prepared to let the last 4 and half years be for nothing. All of us have done so much it can’t be. When I think back to 2014 when I was invited to get involved with Red Labour we have come so far as Socialists in the Labour Party. It’s been a journey that I’ve been proud to have been a small part of. Helping Jeremy Corbyn get on the ballot paper and then winning the first and second leadership Elections is something I will never forget. I think it’s good to remember our victories because it gives us strength to fight the battles ahead.

Since the General Election on the December 12th I don’t mind admitting it’s been very tough. But two quotes from the late great Tony Benn keep coming into my head that I think are especially pertinent at this time.

“There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle, to be fought over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”

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Which is what I’ve been saying. Even if we had won on December 12th that would have been just the beginning of another battle. These battles will never end even when we are winning. But these battles have always gone on. Which made me think of another famous Tony Benn quote.

“From the beginning of time there have been two flames burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope you can build a better world. And my job is to go round fanning both flames.”

It’s quotes like this which help to give me strength to keep going in the hardest of times like now. I feel that’s my job too to keep fanning those flames in whatever small way I can.  And I won’t give up because there’s simply to much at stake. There’s still a world to win for Socialism. So we dust ourselves down and start building again. See you next year on the other side.

 

 

 

 

Election Reflections

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I’m trying to get my thoughts together on the General Election result. We are all devastated not just because we lost but because we know that for the next 5 years life is going to be hell for so many. I don’t want this to sound bitter or like sour grapes either. So many of us tried our best and we are all hurting now. But what we have to do is dust ourselves down and fight again. We may need a break I know I do but we can’t give up because there’s so much at stake.
So what went wrong?

Well from my point of view it was our Brexit position. Of course there were other factors too we and particularly that Jeremy Corbyn has been demonised and smeared like no other Labour leader. Yes no Labour leader has had good press except Blair at certain times. Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock were both treated particularly bad. It goes with the terrain of radically trying to change Society and is a badge of honour in a way. But Corbyn has been accused of being numerous things he’s not with make no mistake the sole purpose of damaging him and Labour electorally. And to some extent it has worked. How much it’s really difficult to say but I don’t think at the moment it’s the main thing to focus on. Because since 2017 we have lost 2 and half million votes. Those people were prepared to vote for us then after 2 years of lies and smears about Corbyn then so what’s changed?

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Well that brings me back to Brexit and I think it’s undeniable that it was the major factor in our devastating defeat. It’s so frustrating because we were warned about this earlier in the year with the rise of the Brexit party. Their huge success in the Euro Elections should have been a warning shot across the bow. But too many in the party thought it was just a protest vote and that most would come back to us. They didn’t get how deep the feeling was in parts of the Midlands and North and it was ignored that 70% of our seats voted leave. Well a lot haven’t come back to us and we have a lot of work to do to win them back. I have to say this but some London centric lefties really don’t seem to get it. Some seem to think that working class people who voted Brexit have not only got it wrong but imply they are stupid or racist. So many already felt that they weren’t being listened to and when the referendum came they voted against staying in the EU as a rejection of the neo liberal establishment elite. But 3 and half years later Brexit has stalled and to put it bluntly we have took the blame and we are the ones who have been punished. People who voted Brexit really want it done and some leavers think we have betrayed them. They didn’t want a second referendum they wanted the result of the first carried out.

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Before anyone thinks I’m a ardent leaver I voted remain in 2016. But the major difference between the Election 2 years ago and now is that then we said we would honour the result of the referendum, now we were offering a another one. Like it or not people who voted leave didn’t like that, so much so many were even prepared to vote Tory who of course were saying they were going to get Brexit done. So no matter how many great policies we have it was always going to be a major uphill battle to win people over when as they see it they had won the referendum result and we had helped to block it in parliament. Many of us on the left warned about this happening but we lost the battle.

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I have to say again as well that certain figures on the London left in their bubble didn’t help with their sneering patronising attitude. And the constant manoeuvring by some to not accept the result of the democratic referendum result has cost us dear. We may have not liked the result in 2016 but we should have accepted the democratic mandate after all that’s what democracy is. This attitude that some show that we know best really doesn’t go down well.

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Let’s be honest in some of our heartlands our vote has been going down for a long time way before Corbyn became leader. This has just been the final straw. It was always going to be difficult for us because opinion varies so much around the country. We tried to unite leave and remain but to many our policy was a fudge. I admit I wanted us to adopt this policy at conference myself but only because the other option of us being a full remain party would have been an even bigger disaster for us I believe. That would have been unforgivable to many at least now we have a fighting chance of winning these people back to us. We have had the massive misfortune of having to deal with the Brexit issue at this particular time in history, things could have been so different without it but it’s proven to be such a divisive issue. Hopefully by the next Election it won’t be the issue it is now.
I think Jeremy is right to not rush into going as leader, we have to choose our next leader carefully. It would also be a mistake in my view to back track on our policies or water them down. We have to offer a radical alternative and next time we will be better placed after 5 years of Tory rule hopefully. These are the times for radical Socialist policies because the problems we face as a country and indeed in the world as they are the best solutions to the crisis we face. As I have said before time is running out but we mustn’t give up because of this gigantic setback. We have to learn from this and learn fast. We are all hurting now but the fight goes on. Who’s up for it?

Running Out of Time

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We are in the middle of another General Election and Jeremy Corbyn has said this is an once in a generation chance to change things and I agree. Because this Election isn’t just about Brexit. It’s about the future direction of travel about everything facing us and that is a hell of a lot.

Everything the Tories want to do is about doing things short term and looking after their own and friends vested interests. It’s what they do and they haven’t got the vision or inclination to do what’s needed.
To put it bluntly we are running out of time. I don’t say that to just gain your attention I’m simply stating a fact. Last year the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brought out a report stating that we had only 12 years left to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The Tories so called plans to limit Climate Change do nowhere near enough. Because as always they put big business first not the people or the planet. They can’t really conceive of the enormity of the task ahead because they are quite happy with how things are and deep down don’t want to change much at all. Now it’s 11 years the clock is ticking and what have the Tories done? Nothing

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They say the NHS is safe with them but it’s a lie. The Tories have been running it down and opening it up to the market the last 9 years. President Trump and his big pharma cronies are waiting in the wings for the post Brexit trade deal where they will want to carve up the most profitable bits of the NHS. This isn’t scaremongering but something that is increasingly believed by many. The brutal truth is the NHS won’t be able to survive another 5 years of Conservative Government. It’s running out of time.
The same with Education. The Tories have pushed their Academy policy which is wrecking Schools by making them more like a businesses instead of putting children first. For example my eldest daughter’s School became a Academy while she was there. The trust reduced the Special Educational Needs Department to one person who had to teach part time. The well being of our Children is being hit as well as their Education.

There are plenty of other things that worry me about the future under the Tories like Obscene Inequality and their consciously cruel policies on the poorest and most vulnerable in society for example. The Tories have done all this deliberately. They are short sighted, have a narrow vision and are only interested in benefiting things for their rich mates. The country has gone backwards in recent years with them in Government.

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In the last few years though politics has changed. For far too long we had been told that nothing can change that we have to accept that the wealth will trickle down to benefit us. This has proven to be rubbish. The wealthy are getting even more obscenely rich while the rest of us are struggling ever more.
Only 2 parties can form a Government and you have to ask yourself what future do you want for you and your family. I would argue that a vote for the Tories is a vote for no future because everything will get worse for ordinary people if they win the election. More Food banks, more poverty the destruction of the NHS it’s a depressing thought. But a better future is within reach and is entirely possible. I predict there will be lots of smears and scare stories the next couple of weeks. The official CONservative Party are already doctoring videos and pedaling fake news. Ignore them because they will be biased rubbish that has the sole objective of lessening the chances of Corbyn’s Labour being elected. The establishment are running scared and that’s good news for you and me.
In case you haven’t noticed the Labour Party has changed the last few years. No longer can the main parties be accused of being nearly the same. Now the Labour Party has a vision of a better fairer future for all and what’s more it’s got the will to make it happen. We will implement a Green New Deal giving us a better chance of a green future and will lobby for it worldwide. We will save the NHS by making it a completely public service again, by in its future and stopping any grubby deal with Trump’s big pharma mates. Most important we will put the c and s back into Government. C is for caring and S is for socialism, they actually go together because creating a fairer, greener more equal society is what it’s all about. As Barry Gardiner said it’s Labour who will transform the country and make life better for the majority of people.
I said earlier we are running out of time and it’s likely it will be another 5 years until the next Election. All Elections are important of course but I’m not exaggerating to say this one is absolutely vital to the future of the country and indeed the world. That’s why I’m asking everyone to vote and to make sure you vote for Labour. Because only Labour can and will make the changes we need to rebalance society and combat Climate Change. Did I mention we are running out of time?

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People Power and the Democratic Deficit

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I first wrote this last year but I didn’t really do anything with it. Recently I have been reminded of it and have given it a dust down so here it is the longest piece I’ve written.

 

People can change things, yes you read that right. Perhaps that is stating the obvious but in actual fact there’s plenty who don’t believe it. All too often I’ve heard in my life whats the point? You/we can’t change anything things will always be the same. It can be a compelling argument. Sometimes things don’t change at all for a long time indeed very often in the last 30-40 years things have got worse for ordinary people, not just in the UK but around the world.

The narrative that we can’t do anything is spin put out by to put it bluntly the ones that don’t want anything to change. It can also appeal to the negative side of us. But this isn’t some crazy conspiracy theory. The 1% with the most money and power want the Status Quo or things to stay the same. But this isn’t going to be a rant about that. I want to talk positively about what we can do to make Society a better fairer place.

When you look through history it’s the people who have changed things. And make no mistake it’s usually a struggle. Whether that’s been the French or Russian Revolutions​ or the Suffragette movement here it’s been ordinary people coming together and organising to change things that have done it. Change hasn’t just happened, the powers that be haven’t just rolled over and said ok. It’s took concerted action and years of struggle.

The same goes for Trade Unions and the struggle for workers rights. Every gain the worker has ever gained has been through collective action. That could be the struggle for the 8 hour day or more pay or more holiday. It’s unity and collective action that has won it. Now I’m not writing this for the seasoned campaigner but rather the newcomers who have come into​ politics looking for alternatives. And the people who don’t dare believe, who think change is impossible.

The key to this is not to give up although at times it’s easy to be despondent. Occasionally it can seem change can happen overnight but it’s never as easy as that. There’s usually long standing grievances and discontentment that’s been building up for a long time. Take the case of the Labour Party and the Election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. No one gave him a chance at the start. In fact he wasn’t one of the original candidates. But the original candidates had seemed very uninspiring to a layer of the membership who feared we were going to get more of the same Blairite type leader.

Two ordinary members of the party Michelle Ryan and Rebecca Barnes decided to start a petition asking for a ‘left’ candidate to stand. This petition ended up getting over 5000 signatures an amazing amount for something like that and Corbyn decided to stand. Things happened quickly and by the skin of his teeth Corbyn got on the ballot paper. Now things snowballed and Corbyn was soon a hit on the hustings circuit. From being a no hoper he became a contender.

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Everywhere Corbyn went to speak brought ever bigger crowds and a movement was born. The parties establishment couldn’t believe it, it literally was their worst nightmare. They couldn’t understand what was happening. And that was their problem. The point is although the Corbyn movement seemingly came from nowhere it had been bubbling in the background for a few years. Lots of people and party members wanted change in the party and had become fed up during the Blair years. Not only had the Blair New Labour Government blew a historic chance of radically changing the country for the better by being economically Conservative it had took us to a foreign war in Iraq that the majority of people didn’t want. They completely disregarded the biggest march in British history to be the lapdog of President Bush.

On top of this in the Labour Party itself Blair closed down the parties Democratic structures and marginised the left in the party to a large degree. The party machine took over and party conference changed from being a debating arena to a stage managed convention. Lots of members gave up and left me included.

What this did was help to create a Democratic deficit not only in the party but the country as a whole. Members and in the wider sphere the general public felt not listened to, took for granted. Some people began to feel there was no difference between the parties anymore that Labour wasn’t​ talking for its traditional support as it use to do. This was where the stirrings of a movement against the Labour Leadership started but it was very slow to begin with. These things usually are.

It started slowly when Ed Miliband  was elected leader in2010. That was a shock result but he had promised the end of New Labour which appealed to many. But his leadership while a improvement in some ways on Blair and Brown was very frustrating as he seemed unwilling or unable to break the Blairite grip on the machinery of the party. The party still had a top down down do as we say ethic.

This was some of the background to Corbyn gaining in popularity when he was standing for the leadership. He was promising members more say, promising to apologise for the Iraq war (something he had always been against) most of all he was a complete refreshing change from what came before and what else was on offer. So when he was elected as leader with 59.5% of the vote it caused a Political earthquake. No one not even his supporters at the beginning expected that.

Now this goes back to what I said at the beginning people can change things. Anyone can be a catalyst for change. Of course what I was just talking about is a Political party and not wider society but again it was proved in the 2017 General Election that people can be inspired to change things. Labour were 20% behind in the opinion polls when the Election was called and were completely written off. And yet we came within in 2 and half % of the Conservatives in the vote. How did we do this?
Well by offering people hope was a big factor something that had been in short supply for many years. By inspiring people to think that change was possible.

There’s 2 important things that I haven’t mentioned yet. Democracy and Social Media. Democracy is what frightens the establishment. They may pass it lip service but they don’t really want to extend it. Why? It’s quite simple it’s gives more power to the people. Put simply the establishment, the elite, the ruling class or whatever else we want to call them don’t want to extend democracy because they are scared of losing their levers of power that go on behind the scenes. I believe in extending democracy as much as possible. That’s for Elections where I believe PR would be a more Democratic way of doing them. Now I’m the compete opposite of a UKIP Supporter but in the 2015 Election they got 3.9 million votes but only 1 seat. The Greens also got over a million votes but only 1 seat. This causes a resentment from voters who quite rightly don’t think they have been listened to and aren’t being represented like they should be.

Voting needs to be extended to the over 16’s as well. Sixteen-seventeen year olds are often treated in a patronising way. There has always been a element from older voters that the young don’t know anything, aren’t mature enough and us oldies know best. This is another Democratic Deficit in this country. There are over 1 and half million being denied the vote. Well I say that but in some Scottish and Welsh Elections they are now been given the right to vote. That’s fantastic but when you think about it that is making the voting system two tiered. So it’s yet another reason to extend voting to all over sixteens. It’s time has most definitely come. But there is one thing though that I can’t help feeling. That the Conservatives will never extend voting because they know far far more will vote Labour than anything else. So we have got to pile the pressure on this like so many other things.IMG_20170607_200601

The House of Lords as a 2nd chamber is also outdated and undemocratic. It’s a collection of hereditary peers and appointed peers, in other words none are elected by the people. This is something that needs to be near the top of the list in the modernising of our democracy. We need a elected 2nd house with a form of PR as the method to elect. These would be some ways to improve democracy and a good place to start but there would still be far more to do. What we need to do is lessen people’s alienation and hopelessness​. As I said at the beginning people can effect change. Another example of that is the EU referendum result. Many didn’t think leave could win but they did. The turnout was high and people felt engaged and energised by the experience of participating in democracy. I write as a reluctant remainder. Of course if then the vote isn’t carried out though it will cause ill feeling and resentment and lead to a crisis in democracy. Huge amounts of people will feel they haven’t been listened to or took notice of and it would create big problems in our future democracy.

Democracy needs to be the lifeblood running through all parts of society. That way people can be held accountable and it’s also a fairer way to do things. Another way to do that would be to have democracy in the workplace. When I say this I don’t just mean electing your Union rep although that is good of course. No I mean ordinary workers actually being involved in the boardroom being elected helping to run and help decide the future direction of who they work for. Sound radical? Well yes but it’s not a new idea it’s been around a long long time. And there’s a reason it hasn’t happened because there is huge resistance to it from companies. Most people who work in a sizable workplace have had at times a questionnaire come round asking for suggestions etc. We all know as well that very often they end up in the bin. Now in principle it’s a good idea but there’s a very good reason they end up in the bin. It’s because employees tend to think it’s just a paper excise and they won’t be listened to anyway. And they are probably right. But if workers got proper representatives to help with the running of their companies that would help in the not only democratising the workplace but it would help improve the mood, confidence and increase the sense of ownership. A happier workforce is a more productive workforce but Capitalist bosses fear losing any sort of control.

Something else I wanted to talk about was Social Media. This is at times a double edged sword and it can be used as something negative. But what I want to do is talk about is the positive force it can be and how it can help us organise and get the truth out to the public. The good news is lots of people now get the news from Twitter, Facebook etc and there are lots of alternative news outlets such as Evolve Politics, Novara Media and the Skwawkbox for example. This considerably weakened the power and influence of the right wing press. So Social Media can be a fantastic tool to find things and help to organise as well. 20 years ago this wasn’t available. So the Revolution of change can actually start online. In fact it already has in many ways. The Corbyn surge both to become leader (both times) and Labour’s unexpectedly ( to the establishment Political pundits and old guard) better result in last year’s General Election was helped massively online. The same happened with the Bernie Sanders campaign in the USA and elsewhere I’m sure. We now have at our fingertips the tools to help us meet like minded people, to set up online groups and forums and talk to each other like we could only dream about in the past. This really is something to celebrate but more than that it’s an opportunity we mustn’t squander.

Well you’re probably wondering where am I going with this. Like I just said the Revolution has already started what we have to do is start linking the dots. There are many things we have to do but the bad news is we are running out of time. I say that because it’s become increasingly clear that Climate Change is real and it’s getting worse . This is something that has been Public knowledge since the mid 1980’s but it’s been known about by big oil and science circles for at least 20 years earlier. So let that sink in. Yes it’s been known about for over 50 years and in that time nowhere near enough has been done to try and slow it down. Why? It’s a obvious question and it’s what makes me and many others very angry.

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Basically it’s because big oil ( the massive oil companies) have a conflict of interest with the rest of us. They are more interested in carrying on making their big fat profits than the future of the planet. Now you’re probably thinking that doesn’t make sense and you would be right it doesn’t. You would think early on these companies would have started to look at alternatives ways to fuel things. And they did, for a while. But what they also did was employ scientists of their own to put out their own work saying there was no such thing as Climate Change, that other scientists were wrong. This has been going on for years and still is today. They have been spreading lies and half truths all this time. Of course this has had a effect. For a long time big business would rather listen to Big Oil telling them that Climate Change was fake or greatly exaggerated than face up to the truth. And now we have a Climate denier as President of the USA. Dangerously for the rest of us he just doesn’t get it at all. He’s burying his head in the sand while the rest of us are burning.
Something I’ve made saying for a long time and others as well is even if there was a doubt about parts of the Science in how Climate Change was going to effect us it would still be the prudent thing to start trying to cut emissions anyway. We all know it effects air quality anyway so there’s very good reason to. But the sad fact is nowhere near enough has been done in the last 30 years. In the late 80s there was another big environmental problem looming the hole in the Ozone layer which had been caused by something called CFC’s in aerosols. That problem was relatively easy to solve just by using a different chemicals. Unfortunately Climate Change is bit different because it’s extremely difficult to use less oil and petrol in a modern society.
What is the matter with us? Do we want to destroy ourselves? Are the big companies making massive profits more important than the future of the planet? There’s something else to consider as the climate gets worse in the future the super rich will be able to protect themselves a whole lot more than the rest of us. Make no mistake it’s the poorest that as usual are going to be hit the hardest. Something’s very wrong with Society.

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Now I’m no genius but I know what’s wrong with it. It’s our economic system that is the problem. Capitalism. It undoubtedly was a massive advance on what had gone on before. But it’s time is coming to an end. It is failing and in crisis and it is incapable of getting us out the mess it has helped create with Climate Change. The world’s financial system puts money first above everything else. Profit rules. Now I’ve heard it said many times that Capitalism is innovative and it has been at times in the past. But if it was now surely it would have come up with solutions to the problems we face?

The truth is no matter what brilliant ideas there are out there Capitalism’s number 1 drive is too increase profits and​ expand markets. The Capitalists also say we are free but that only goes so far for ordinary people like us. But the more money, power and influence you have the more freedom you have because massive Corporations can do pretty much what they want and so can the richest individuals. People realise this and it’s another deficit in our democracy and cause of bad feeling. So in my view Capitalism is heading us into disaster because it can’t change. If it had changed the big oil companies would have done more than just lip service to green issues. But they can’t change because they know the biggest profits lie in oil. And therein lies all our problems.

This is why it’s time to link all the dots together because like I’ve said times running out. All the social movements have got to link together. All the different groups need closer ties than ever before. Because it’s not just Climate Change that Capitalism can’t solve there’s many other problems it’s can’t solve like Economic inequality as well. It feeds on it. Capitalists exploits poor countries and they exploit poor people. So while we supposed to be an advanced and advancing world the reality is we are going backwards and it’s only the super rich that have advanced. So while the super rich have never had it so good things have gotten worse for the rest of us. That’s Capitalism at work in particular it’s worst variety Neo Liberalism.

To briefly explain Neo Liberalism is what we have had to endure for nearly 40 years now in the UK and most of the rest of the world as well. It is a particularly callous form of Capitalism that encourages greed and selfishness and believes the free market can do no wrong. Neoliberals believe in a shrunken state meaning that the state should be involved in as little as possible. According to them the great wealth that is made will trickle down to benefit not just the rich but everyone in society. It is plainly obvious to more and more that this hasn’t happened. If it was working after nearly 40 years I think the evidence would be there. It’s not. We are now told there’s no money. That Communities have to suffer cutback after cutback because we can’t afford anything anymore.

The truth is there is shed loads of money out there. The world is awash with it. But it’s not in ordinary people’s hands and our share of the cake has progressively been getting smaller. This is another of our Democratic deficits because people have been feeling​ powerless.
So back to what can we do? I’ve always been optimistic that us the human race isn’t so stupid that we would destroy ourselves. That we aren’t that dumb. The trouble is it appears some of us are and we cannot carry on for the next 30-40 years like we have the last. We face the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced. Burying our heads in the sand isn’t an option anymore.

 

What we need is a fundamental rethink of how we organise society, not only in the UK but globally. And we cannot tackle Climate Change, Economic Inequality, the Democratic Deficit and all the other problems we have effectively through Capitalism. But another world is not only possible but essential. And let’s not kid ourselves it will be easy because it will be anything but. It’s going to be a huge massive gigantic struggle. But like I said earlier change always is.

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We can’t turn the clock back either we have to face the problems of the 21st century. After Climate Change another gigantic problem we have is the size and massive power of Transnational Corporations. These companies have immense power and now make up their own rules and have little need to listen to National Parliaments. In fact the only organisations that these Corporations MAY listen to are for example the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and maybe the European Union. All of these organisations are undemocratic too (although the EU does at least pretend to have some essence of democracy with the European Parliament.) This is another reason for our democratic deficit and we have been cheerleaders for these Corporations and Organisations for far too long. These Corporate elite now effectivity rule the world not the United Nations or individual governments. Power has been transferred from the public and the state to private unaccountable and massive Corporations.

We seem to be walking straight into a dystopian future from a Sci-Fi film. Carrying on like this eventually there will one Transnational Corporation that rules us all. We are some way away from that but you can see it’s a possible outcome in the future. All these things I’ve spoken about are the reality of life in the 21st Century. Generations after the Second World War were promised that things would get better for everybody and they did but somewhere in the last 30-40 years with the rise of NeoLiberalism (that word again) we have gone into reverse. We have become more and more undemocratic business interests are deemed more important than anything else.

Society has to move to the next level to not only advance as humans but indeed survive. Perhaps that is the final spark, the jolt we need. Because we have to Stand up and be counted for our children and our children’s children. We have to dare and grab this opportunity. I believe that next level is Socialism a new way of organising our Society in a fairer way. You may say that’s​ old hat, that it doesn’t work. Yes it’s an old idea but it’s never been properly tried. There are and has been at times glimpses of it around the world. One of the best examples is our NHS. Put simply it’s a Healthcare Service that’s free at the point of use for everyone where people and their health are put before making a profit. Now the Tories are privatising at via the back door and the giant healthcare companies are circling around it like vultures. But I digress.

We have to work towards a new Socialism for the 21st Century and indeed the most important element of that is increasing Democracy at every level in Society. Democratic Socialism believes in people having more say that’s what it’s about giving more power to everyone. Then we can start to move towards a society that is based on sustainability that addresses real social needs rather than just the maximisation of profit. You don’t have to be an expert on Political theory or Economics to know something’s wrong with Society. By the same yardstick anyone can get get involved to change things. Life is a learning curve. The change has to come via social movements as well in conjunction with the Labour Party in the UK and left political parties in other countries to put the leverage and pressure on the Political establishment. Our vision has to be wide sweeping. Importantly we don’t have to agree about every little detail because getting the majority of the things that need to be done done is far better than falling out getting nowhere.

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The revolution has started in many ways but there is still so much to do. We need a wide united coalition of Social movements for change. It’s potential is vast and unlimiting. Community organisations, environmental and climate change activists, trade unions, human rights campaigners, students and the young, disabled campaigners, the pensioner’s movement, peace and arms trade campaigners and all the movements against global poverty and Third World debt. We are all linked by the inequality, injustice and greed of Neoliberal Capitalism. These alliances have to be built the dots that have to be joined.

The challenges that we face as a Global community cannot be solved easily. But we can all start building the movements in our own countries and with today’s technology link together like never before. And we can all start locally and nationally to fight for the Socialist solutions we desperately need more than ever. So that the will of the people is listened to above the endless search for ever bigger profits. I said at the beginning we could change things and I truly believe people power is unstoppable once we hit a tipping point. People power has and can change things. It’s a uncomfortable truth to the ones at the top.

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I’m going to finish with a quote from a hymn that one of my favourite politicians Tony Benn use to often say. When he was growing up his Dad use to say this to him

“Dare to be a Daniel!
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!”

Those few lines say so much. What the world needs now is hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions and yes billions of us to stand as Daniel’s. When we do that we cannot fail.

Some Calm and Logic Please on AntiSemitism

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I’ve been reluctant to say too much on Antisemitism in the past because I didn’t have the confidence too and for the fear of getting it wrong and being shot down. In these increasingly worrying times it’s sometimes so much easier to keep your head down. But it’s gotten to the point where I think I can’t stay silent anymore because it’s totally getting out of hand and I feel compelled to say something. So this feels a bit like jumping off the highest diving platform but here goes.
We all know there’s lots of things that have been used by the right wing to smear Jeremy Corbyn with. We’ve all heard it all before, Terrorist Sympathiser, Trot, Stalinist, Czech spy etc. Only one thing has gained any real traction the accusation he’s Anti-Semitic. I have never believed that for a second and indeed there’s no real evidence. In fact if I thought he was I wouldn’t support him. But this smear has been built up and undoubtedly has had an effect. Now in some some circles it’s perceived as fact that Corbyn is AS. He isn’t but it’s started to gain a life of its own and of course it’s relentlessly propagated by the right wing and people who desperately don’t want Corbyn as leader or Prime Minister.
Now recently things have taken an even darker turn and it’s troubling me greatly. But first of all I have to make something clear. I’ve always prided myself as being anti racist. I deplore hatred of people because of there race, religion etc. That I feel I have to say that now says everything about the current climate. Because a climate of fear has been building up amongst some on the left. Its getting to the point where people including me are getting scared to mention Israel and the crimes the Israeli Government commit with regularity against the Palestinians without fear of being labelled Anti- Semitic. This is wrong.
As I’ve said before I’m sure there’s AS in the Labour Party and that’s got to change. There’s no room for it in the party. But we now have accusations of AS being bandied about like confetti not just from Tories but from people in the party too. People’s social media accounts are being trawled through for historic AS posts for example. I think we need to be very careful about this. If someone has put an AS post in the past it doesn’t mean they are necessarily AS. I may have done it too in the past. We need to be better educated about it. But one of the massive problems is that some things aren’t clear cut and different people have different ideas on what constitutes AS in some areas. It’s a minefield.
So it bothers me greatly when we can be quick to judge people. Being labelled AS is a horrible thing and should never be done lightly which I worry it is sometimes. People should have the chance to defend themselves without a lynch mob after them. We have all made mistakes sometimes let’s be honest and be prepared to learn. Obviously if the AS persists they must be investigated under due process but I think it’s wrong to jump on a bandwagon and try and ruin people’s reputations. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Let’s remember as well that we don’t even know when people Tweet or post on Facebook if they are even members of the Labour Party. There are undoubtedly accounts that deliberately cause trouble and stir things up. This is very easy to do.It’s very clear to me that sometimes AS has been weaponised by some to cause the party and in particular cause Corbyn damage.

Now recently the CST report has smeared some innocent good activists who are now tarred with the awful implication that in someway they are AS. I know a lot of these people and I know to that to be completely wrong. No thought or consideration has been taken into account either how this is going to effect their mental health. It’s truly disgusting. Now I’m not going to sit by and let good people get thrown under the bus without defending them. We all know how mud sticks and that a lie or a smear then becomes fact for some people. It’s unacceptable that these people have had there reputations tarnished in this way. This isn’t an engine room of hate but people who want a better society for all. What we have in common is a desire to see Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.
The CST report claims to be a serious study into AS in the party. And yet they have used hashtags like #GTTO (Get the Tories Out!) as a criteria to brand people who have used it to be somehow a cog in the wheel of an AS engine of hate. As Shaun Lawson says “, the CST have come up with a new definition of antisemitism …The CST appear to be suggesting that you’re ‘antisemitic’ if you’ve:

1. Angrily criticised Rachel Riley …
2. Angrily criticised Tom Watson …
3. Used the hashtag GTTO (Get The Tories Out) …
4. Referred to what al-Jazeera exposed in their film, The Lobby …
5. Criticised Luciana Berger”.

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To my mind that seems to be a new definition of Anti semitism. So an organisation like CST which I had respected has tarred some activists who to me are clearly not Anti-Semitic. Their report has jumped onto the bandwagon that the majority of Corbyn supporters are somehow AS and are stoking the climate of fear which is growing on this subject. Which brings me to my point that everything is getting out of hand.
This is a very emotive and sensitive subject but we need to try and keep some calm and rationale in the discussion about it. This can’t go on like this and I’m worried that this issue is splitting the left. We must stand together as Socialists in denouncing AS whenever we see it and also standing united against the smears. Because if we don’t the winners will be the Tories. Theres so many desperate for a Labour Government who we mustn’t let down. We have got to be tolerant and understanding. So I stand in Solidarity with good Socialists and all victims of AS. Working towards a better society is never going be easy. Stay strong, unite and work together for the many. Solidarity
#EngineOfHope

Climate Emergency Countdown

103_shutterstock_88550854-740pxAt last Climate Change has been in the news recently thanks to Extinction Rebellion and their protests in London and around the country. For this alone they have my support because for far too long it’s an issue that given the chance by the establishment has been swept under the carpet. Also recently it’s been fantastic to see so many young people taking part in the School Climate Strikes around the world.

There are many issues out there that we have to sort if we are going to change society. But a fundamental one is Climate Change because we literally can’t go on in the direction we are traveling in because eventually it will kill the off the human race. And time is fast running out, the days when we could tinker around at the edges are long gone.

Don’t get me wrong we can all help. There are small steps we can all do. Use our cars less, travel by plane less, plant a tree in the garden for example. But the situation is so critical now it’s going to take more and Governments and big business have got to do a gigantic amount more and they have proven themselves incapable of doing it. Climate Change has been in the news for over 30 years now and nowhere near enough has been done about it. In fact Climate Scientists have suspected it for a lot longer indeed back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. The big Oil companies heard about it in that time but chose to ignore it and indeed spread misinformation about it. This for me is one of the most important points. Just think about this for a moment. The big Oil companies knew about the possibility of Climate Change from at least the 70’s and probably long before that but the only thing they did was try to convince that there was no truth to it. That is the failure of Capitalism in a nutshell because vested interests always come first even before the planet. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

I say this because it’s the unfettered unregulated Neoliberal Casino Capitalism we have had the last 40 years that has made the problem of Climate Change even worse and made it so difficult in fact  impossible to make the adequate changes we need to help combat it. The urgency of the problem hasn’t been met with the urgency it needs. Because we live in a society where greed and obscene profit are good and everything is looked on in the short term. So specifically the fossil fuel companies and generally Capitalism itself haven’t been able to do the sort of changes necessary because making profit is the number one priority that overrides anything else. The concept of Climate Change itself has been seen as a nuisance in the wheels of finance and big business where making money today is so much more important than what might happen in decades time.

And so unforgivably we have wasted too a large degree the last 30 years. Opportunities have not been took and now it’s obvious to most people there is a problem. And yet we still have Climate deniers and skeptics and they still appear on TV and Radio spouting their rubbish. The most famous of course is the current President of the USA Mr Trump himself but there are others. I liken them to modern day Nero’s because what they are doing is burying their heads in the sand. Of course there’s a very strong reason they chose to ignore the mounting evidence. Because any sort of measure to combat it would interfere with the present system of making vast profits from things that are killing the planet.

This is the crux of why nowhere near enough has been done in the last 30 years. The Climate deniers have spread their lies to delay anything being done so the big global Oil companies can just carry on with business as usual. These people have no conscience or are just so blind they can’t accept what is in front of them. Anything that threatens the current order is ignored and belittled. The Polar caps are melting, the weather around the world is getting more unpredictable and extreme, more floods, more heatwaves and more droughts all having an impact on food production. Not too mention our relentless destruction of the tropical rainforests which are the lungs of the planet and species being killed off every year.

And all for what? More vast profits and new markets and more growth. To me there’s not a greater argument for a different way of doing things, for a new system of living. What we need is Democratic Socialism where people and the planet are put first not excess profit for the few. Where everything is produced for need not profits and where we aren’t all bound by what the big oil companies want. This might all sound like a pipe dream to some but the truth is if we carry on like we are we will end up destroying ourselves. You can’t get more short term than this.
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I’ve always been optimistic that we wouldn’t destroy ourselves. The Human race is very adaptable and basically not self destructive. When people say it’s people who have done the damage I point out yes but it’s the system we are living under that drives the destruction. So now the 1% are so happy with how society works for them they aren’t just going to give it up just like that. That’s the problem we have got not just as a nation but the world and this is where Extinction Rebellion come in and the School Climate Strikes too. Because we are in a environmental crisis, a crisis of the Capitalists making not ordinary people and time is fast running out. That’s why I welcome what they are doing. Some people have been moaning about the disruption they are causing. Well we will get more and more disruption in the coming decades because of Climate Change if we carry on in the manner we are doing.

Now I’m no Scientist but I think when the United Nations warn we have 12 years left to limit Climate Change catastrophe as they did last year we need to take action. But still Governments and big business aren’t treating it as the emergency it is. And the truth is they can’t properly because they are hamstrung by the inherent flaws in Capitalism itself. It cannot raise to the gigantic challenge that is needed to try and limit the damage. The damage it has caused to a massive degree. They haven’t listened to Climate Scientists and they haven’t listened to the people. So we the people are going to have force the change required from below. This is the biggest challenge to face mankind.  And we are being held back by the system we live under not helped. Extinction rebellion and the School Climate Strikes can’t be the end of the protests. Because if we all are to have a future on the planet they have to be just the beginning.

The “Con” Party by Rick Evans

I first wrote this piece 2 years ago for the 2017 General Election. As it’s still very relevant and likely to be for a very long time I thought I would make it the first piece I would publish on my new blog.

The subject of this piece is the UK Conservative Party, or as I like to call them simply the “Con” Party, which I have always found very apt. I was prompted to write this when my eldest daughter asked me, “If they are as bad as you keep saying, why are they so successful and why do people vote for them?” They are big questions and I think as Socialists we need to try to understand why the political representatives of power and wealth do so well. If we use 1929 as a guide (because it’s from then that both men and women had the vote, the Tories have won 11 General Elections (including Tory led Coalitions) compared to Labour’s 10. In the age of universal suffrage, how has this happened?

To go back in history to the start of Parliament the 2 main Political Parties were the Whigs (who became the Liberals) and the Tories (who sometime in the 1830’s became the Conservative Party). Now both the Whigs and the Tories were undoubtedly parties of Class and privilege who didn’t have to appeal to ordinary people in any way because they didn’t have the vote. This changed slowly with Reform Bills in 1867 and 1884 giving ordinary men the vote for the first time and then later women over 30 from 1918. Now some people today would say well they may have started as a party of class and privilege but that’s not true today because now they are a Party for everyone. For everyone – really? Let’s look at the evidence.

Well first of all, let’s go through some of the most popular acts of Parliament since the 2nd World War. The creation of the NHS was done by the post war Labour Government but did the Conservatives support it? Did they heck, they voted against the formation of the NHS 21 times before the act was passed. Ancient history, you might say but there is no evidence to support they are now in favour of a NHS as it was originally set up. In fact what they are doing is systematically running it down deliberately so they can say it isn’t sustainable or effective, and then they will use that as an excuse to privatise some or even all of it. The NHS has always been hugely popular and the Tories soon realised they would never get elected if they said they were going to do away with it. So now in stealth mode they are trying to make out it’s unaffordable and it has to change. Sneaky? You bet, underhand? Most definitely, it’s what the Tories excel at.

Let’s move to the National Minimum Wage introduced by the Labour Government in 1998, did the Tories agree with this? No they voted against it again, saying that it would cost jobs, an argument which has been proved totally wrong. You might say as well that it’s the Tories who are now introducing the National Living Wage, but really all they are doing is what they do best – trying to con us by confusing the real Living Wage rate with the Minimum Wage.

The Tories have always been lukewarm at best about Comprehensive Education, Mrs Thatcher for one being a ferocious critic of it, and in their hearts they prefer elitist selective education. Likewise they were hardly enthusiastic about the setting up of the ‘Open University’ either; one leading Tory of the time Iain McLeod called it a “blithering nonsense”. I could go on and on but it would get boring. Of course the point I am making here is that all these things benefited ordinary people and the Tories were against, or lukewarm at best. The common thread as well is all these things were introduced by Labour Governments.

You might say, “Well they are just a few isolated things that Labour brought in, surely the Tories would have brought some stuff to benefit us all while in office?” Well let’s have look at some of the things they have done. Ok this is the party that wanted to bring in the poll tax – that unfair tax that said you would pay so much per adult in your house and ignore the value of your house. So in theory you could have 5 adults living in a Terraced House paying more poll tax than 3 adults living in a mansion. Very fair that one, and the public protests at the time brought down Thatcher…Here’s another one, the Bedroom Tax – so if you have a spare bedroom because your kids have moved you are now going to pay more. What the Tories do time and time again is hit the poor and vulnerable while giving the richest Tax breaks, it’s always been their modus operandi. They have completed mass privatisations in the name of efficiency and bringing prices/bills down, but the reality is that it’s just a cash cow for their friends in the city while prices/bills have gone up in real terms. What they are doing is looking after corporate interests but saying they are helping us. See why I call them the “Con” Party? Who can forget how Cameron fought against the European Union’s 100% cap on Bankers Bonuses just after putting a cap on benefits paid to ordinary people in 2012? All in it together? I think not, that is the Tory Party philosophy laid bare in one action.

Something else which lays the Tory Party philosophy in bare terms is their relentless attacks on Trade Unions. While they were in office from 1979-1997 they introduced 6 pieces of anti-union legislation. If that wasn’t enough they brought in the Trade Union Act in 2016 restricting the rights of organised workers even more. The Tories believe the Unions have too much power and want their corporate friends to hold all the cards. We have the most draconian Union laws in Europe. Now just ask yourself a simple question what do Trade Unions do? Their role in a nutshell is to look after their members interests by improving their pay and conditions. That’s ordinary people like me and you. So what are the Conservatives doing? They are looking after their own interests by improving profit margins for their corporate friends. The Tories don’t believe in ordinary workers being well paid, they’d have us on just enough to only survive to pay them their next rent instalment.

Now you might say if they are as bad as I am are saying they would never get elected. That is an excellent point, and there’s no simple answer to it but I will try to explain why they do so well. For one, they do give us ordinary folk some crumbs because if they did give us absolutely nothing even they would find that hard to put a spin on it. One classic example is the selling of Council Houses, a very damaging but from their perspective, clever policy. By giving huge reductions ordinary people were able to buy their own homes and this one policy alone must have given them countless votes at election time. It was indeed Thatcher’s flagship policy but let’s look at what has happened. Thatcher refused Councils the money to build replacement homes so over time the Council Housing stock has depleted greatly, leading in part to the Housing crisis we have now. Also we now have ex Council Houses being rented out at extortionate figures, another example of the Tory philosophy of transferring Public wealth to Private hands to increase Private Profit. This is classic Toryism only looking at the short term economic gains, and not the wider public interest.

It’s often said that the Tories are the party that can be trusted with the economy, that they make it strong by looking after all our interests. Well that’s not really the full story at all – what they are doing is looking after the interests of their rich friends, regardless of the effects on the rest of us. Take the last few years, we are in such an economic mess we need austerity they say. We all have to take this bad medicine if we are to recover as a country. Here you have to give it to them, they have played a blinder. We didn’t have to do all the cutbacks they have gleefully done but they have used the opportunity of the economic crash 2007-08 to pursue their ideological vision of an even more reduced public sector. Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity, but in selling this lie they have been immeasurably helped by their friends in the media. Let’s be honest, most Tories don’t want a Public Sector because they believe Private is best in pretty much all cases. They don’t really believe in good, well-run public services run for the benefit of us all because they believe only ruthless pursuit of the profit motive leads to positive outcomes in anything. It’s an ideological vision that they relentlessly pursue. As the late great Tony Benn said, the Conservatives know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
When Theresa May became PM she made a remarkable speech which included these lines:
“The mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting injustices. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”
What is remarkable about this is she doesn’t believe a word of it. But this leads me to something else – they lie. I say they use a cloaking device to disguise their real intentions. They have been doing it for years, and with millions spent on Public Relations, Marketing and private education, are brilliant at it. The great Nye Bevan, creator of the NHS, said this about the Tories:
“How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics in the twentieth century.”

This is still true in the 21st Century. So, although they would now claim to be the party of everyone, their actions prove they are still the party of Class, Privilege, Corporate Power and the Establishment. They will only ever feed us crumbs to keep getting elected. Of course, as I mentioned, they are helped tremendously by their friends in the media. Most of the so called “free press” is owned by a tiny handful of billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, for example. People like him have no interest in publishing objective political or social articles. They want to keep things as they are, with power and wealth for the tiny few maintained via a rigged economy and political system where money talks – a truly Conservative position. So let’s think about this again, most of the press is owned by a tiny number of insanely wealthy people who want to keep things as they are. Just think about what that means for your search for the truth.

So, when it’s said we have a free press, it pretty much means we have a Conservative press. Now the Tories are clever and slippery and can’t be trusted. We aren’t on a level playing field and things are stacked in the Conservatives’ favour. They have zero interest in creating a fairer society but will use whatever language it takes to get elected. They have the big money behind them and use it in a way to try and manipulate us all. They have been doing this very successfully for over 100 years. So, when at the start I said I called them the “Con” Party, can you see why? Their only interest in ordinary people is getting votes out of them, exploiting their labour for profit, and sending them off to die in wars fought for private gain. Fair, in their eyes, means more opportunities for them and their rich friends to make more money off the backs of the poor. I’m going to leave you with another quote from Labour Legend Nye Bevan, never a true word has been spoken.
“Honest politics and Tory Politics are contradictions in terms. Lying is a necessary part of a Tory’s political equipment, for it’s essential for him to conceal his real intentions from the people. This is partly the reason for his success in keeping power.”

– Rick Evans
First published in the Morning Star
28/05/17