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Time to ditch the labels and unite

13 Jun

Since last Friday morning we’ve seen many of the MPs who failed to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader and so called columnists of the left who wrote him off come back to the fold eating various degrees of humble pie. The likes of Polly Toynbee and Nick Cohen have admitted they were wrong and many Labour MPs have declared that Jeremy Corbyn now has a mandate to lead. Many of us knew it all along and it would be so easy to say “I told you do” but this is not the time.

First of all it’s important to remember that we’re all part of the same movement. We may say that those we deem to the right of the party had moved too far to the right and they have said that we’ve moved too far to the left. They’re wrong, but we need them to keep us honest.

What is important is to convince those who haven’t believed that what they’re seeing isn’t a blip. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and co have been seen by the public, who are sick of austerity, to be genuine. They’ve presented a well costed, although not perfect, manifesto people can get behind. Remember, the reason they didn’t believe in Jeremy is that they didn’t believe the party could sell this manifesto to the public. They’ve believed since Blair’s “Third Way” that you have to find a compromise that you can sell to the public, or more correctly, to Rupert Murdoch. Times have changed.

Thanks to the power of social media, the ability to talk directly to the electorate, rather than through the medium of Uncle Rupert’s office, means that we’re able to present an authentic voice and persuade the electorate of the merits of a Democratic Socialist agenda rather than just pander to the usual right-wing agenda. We’ve seen how effective that’s been even without the assistance of a large portion of the Parliamentary Party. Now we need to amplify that voice.

We are now at a crucial stage. I’ve seen all over social media those members who’ve been fighting by Jeremy’s side for two years deriding the “Blairites”, “Right wingers” and “Traitors” while those who withheld their support apologising with reservations to the “Corbynistas”. This has to stop. The labels have to stop. They’re not “Blairites”, they’re not “Right Wingers” and they’re certainly not “Traitors” and the rest of us are not “Corbynistas”. We’re Labour. We’re part of the Labour Movement. All of us. We’re Comrades fighting against the Tory privileged class.

Yes I know that I have been one of those to use these labels, indeed my party membership was suspended for some rather nasty things I said during the failed coup last year. Rightly so.  I apologise unreservedly to any of my comrades I insulted at that time. Passions ran high in the wake of the EU Referendum and many of us on both sides got seriously carried away. Let’s put it behind us and please, I beg of you, can we put the words “Blairite”, “Brownite”,  “Red Tory” and “Corbynista” behind us.

The people, united, will never be defeated.

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Suppresion of Legitimate Protest and it’s Inevitable Results

26 Feb

This week I finally got around to watching Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. I was particularly pleased that this was not presented as a “Saint Nelson” movie but the raw unadulterated, if abbreviated, truth. Warts and all. They didn’t leave out that he was a poor husband or that he could be violent, indeed, after peaceful protest was met with violence peaking with the Sharpeville Massacre, it became the main policy of the ANC to meet violence with violence. That is what inevitably is the result of uniformed state thugs beating and shooting peaceful protestors.

Every struggle for civil rights that has been met with violence has eventually had violence returned in equal measure. The Trade Union actions that lead to the Dublin Lockout in 1913 inevitably led to the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence. The Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland of the 1960’s reached it’s tipping point at the Battle of The Bogside and Bloody Sunday finally precipitated The Troubles. Across history this same mistake has been made by brutal totalitarian regimes  and as we’ve recently seen across the Middle East and the Ukraine, it leads to the same outcome.

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Photo: Father Edward Daly leads a group of people carrying the mortally wounded Jackie Duddy, waving a white handkerchief (Stanley Matchett)

Collaborators and Informants

Common to every struggle against oppression are collaborators and informants and in most armed struggles these are harshly treated. Something that Long Walk To Freedom didn’t shy away from. Winnie Mandela organised a group of paramilitaries under the guise of a football team to lead reprisal attacks against known collaborator. For these people the punishments have generally been severe from Mrs Mandela’s group burning collaborators alive to head shavings and executions across Europe after World War 2. Michael Collins made it a particular part of the resistance against Britain to assassinate  informers and collaborators as did the IRA during The Troubles.

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Polish Nazi Collaborators  hanged in Kraków after World War 2

So what is the relevance of this? Well all over the UK we see examples of collaboration, from the staff at the DWP to the “health care professionals” who’ve continued to work for ATOS to the Police forces up and down the country ignoring the Constable’s Oath to act as paid security for private companies who, without public consent, are pumping radioactive water into the ground to pump gas out of it. These people should consider history because it will most certainly consider them in the fullness of time and they’d better hope that something gives to prevent an armed uprising because considering the collusion between the Media, the Political classes, the Police and the Corporations, it’s all but inevitable and citizens need only look overseas to see that those who take arms against a totalitarian state will eventually overthrow simply it, because there will always be more of us than there are of them.

It’s All Labour’s Fault says George

26 Feb

So yesterday our downgraded Chancellor tried to insist that everything’s on track and we’re only in this situation because of Labour’s failure. Really.

Let’s look at George’s claims, first of all he insists it’s all ok because they were expecting the downgrade. He repeated the tried and tested party line that it’s down to the “difficult decisions they were taking because of the mess they inherited from Labour”.  Well it’s George who insisted he be judged by whether we managed to keep the triple A rating, not Labour so it’s only right that Labour hang him with it now but let’s look at where the “mess” came from.

It’s too simplistic to just say “The banks created this mess with their casino practises” as so many like to bandy about. The Investment Banks gambled on lending more and more money to people who could not afford to pay the money back. They then decided to sell the risk on these loans to third parties who sold them on again. You will hear phrases like derivatives and credit swaps and many others if you research a little more, I won’t cover that here, that’s a story in itself. If you want to know the full story I suggest you watch the excellent documentary Capitalism  – A Love Story by Michael Moore.

In the 1970’s successive Governments, Ted Heath’s Conservatives and Jim Callaghan‘s Labour party, were brought down by the Unions. Strike after strike, the three days week, the Winter of Discontent, all these created a situation where Governments were running scared of Union power and rightly so. The Trade Unions had amassed immense power and taken Britain by the throat. Margaret Thatcher had a solution.

The reason that people went on strike so easily at this time was because there wasn’t that much to lose. Few families among the working class owned their homes, the majority lived in Council houses or Privately rented homes. You could only get a mortgage from a building society, banks were not allowed to sell mortgages and in order to qualify for a mortgage, most building societies required that you save with them for at least two years before they would lend you the money for a mortgage, you would have to have a sizeable deposit, sacrifice a goat and present your first-born child. Well the last two I made up but you get the idea. Quite responsible really wasn’t it? If you couldn’t prove you could afford to pay a mortgage by saving while also paying rent and your bills they wouldn’t lend you the money.

Margaret Thatcher decided this was far too complicated and arcane, if she was to beat the unions she would first of all have to give union members something to lose. Most houses for sale were out of the reach of the working classes so she came up with the idea of selling them their council houses and create a middle class aspiration within the working classes. So first Margaret toddles off to Parliament and gets them to loosen the restrictions on banks selling mortgages and gets them to allow people to apply straight away, she even encourages 100% mortgages, mostly through back door price manipulation of “5% deposit paid”  then she legislates to allow people to buy their council houses. We start to hear the “renting is dead money” rhetoric and people duly go off and start getting mortgages.

So now we have a working class with something to lose, of course that’s not enough, she also encourages banks to start giving people credit cards and loans and makes car finance and hp easier to obtain. For the first time we have the concept of the “Credit Slave”. In order to solidify this, next we see a boom in construction due to re-mortgaging becoming easier so people start to have extensions put on their homes and are encouraged to invest in their properties, house prices go through the roof and along comes a recession in the late 80’s/early 90’s and they drop through the floor again. People lose their jobs and their houses and now we have “Boom and bust“. Through all of this, nothing is done to replenish the housing stock of the council houses that have been sold, pushing those who’ve lost their homes into the private sector. Rents remain high and the housing benefit bill goes through the roof.

Labour come to power in 1997 and suddenly there’s hope, Gordon Brown promises “No return to Boom and Bust” then promptly returns to Boom and Bust. Nothing is done to curb the wanton borrowing created under the Thatcher government and the City suggest the Labour would be ill-advised to rock the boat. Labour court the City to try to shake off the old image of Labour being City-averse and everything’s fine. Labour are bewitched and things continue along the same path but something has to break, people can’t keep borrowing beyond their means and in the early to mid 2000’s hard selling banking practises are exposed where people are literally being forced into borrowing beyond their means and this time Labour act. Crackdowns are initiated and the hard selling is supposed to stop, it doesn’t completely but there is a reduction.

The problem is though, through all this people are being encouraged to borrow money and where there’s an increased risk, the interest rates are astronomical which increases the risk and creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. The 1980’s deregulation chickens come home to roost. While Labour made mistakes, their biggest was continuing Conservative party policy. The people at the bottom of the ladder are the one’s neck-deep in water while those at the top hardly notice any difference in their own circumstances. They are quite literally untouched and as they and the banks get off scot-free, we suffer for their predatory behaviour, particularly where hard selling tactics are concerned. So how do we combat this in the future, what would prevent this kind of thing happening again? I have some suggestions:

  1. Create a legal maximum interest rate for each type of borrowing.
  2. If a Bank or Credit card company fails to do due diligence, make them responsible for every penny above what you can afford.
  3. Custodial sentences for CEO’s and Board members of Banks who are caught using predatory practises
  4. Implement the Robin Hood Tax in full
  5. Build more social housing
  6. Bring back the savings period before being given a Mortgage
  7. Hold Bank CEO’s and City Trading Mangers personally to account for the failure of their banks, freezing their assets and making them pay for their mistakes

It seems all too easy to make the poorest in our society pay for the mistakes of the wealthy, it’s time that this was reversed before the poor decide to reverse it for themselves.