Thursday, 28 April 2016

David Lindsay 2020

At This Moment

I had to pull out of standing for Parliament in 2010, following repeated hospitalisations.

I am still not well. I never will be. And anyway, we got Pat Glass.

But, Pat or no Pat (that's politics), I will stand for the seat into which the boundary changes had placed Lanchester in 2020, no matter what, if the lackeys of Goldman Sachs and the House of Saud had removed Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party and replaced him with some Hillary Clinton in drag.

And, in that event, I will be the first past the post.

The campaign itself starts the moment that Corbyn falls.

The planning for it starts at this moment.

Power to the People

Sadiq Khan has joined the coup against Corbyn.

It is now imperative that he be elected only on the second preference votes of George Galloway, of which there need not be very many at all for that purpose.

And it is imperative that Galloway then win the Tooting by-election, which he has already been contesting for a month, and the vacancy has not even arisen yet.

Nervous of the Strength

Do we think that John Mann has ever read Mein Kampf? He puts the "lower" into "lower middle class".

Like most of those who are openly attempting to stage a coup against Jeremy Corbyn in order to save their own seats from, horror of horrors, members of the Labour Party who are neither extremely few in number nor extremely advanced in age.

I write this as someone who thinks that Ken Livingstone went off the boil a long time ago, while Naz Shah, who has never been a Corbyn supporter, ought never to have been allowed in public life in the first place.

But is Livingstone really one of Corbyn's oldest and closest friends and allies?

During one of Livingstone's two failed attempts to get onto the ballot for Leader, he announced Corbyn as his running mate for Deputy Leader without even having asked him first.

Whereas, at his own only attempt, Corbyn not only made it onto the ballot, but won the election itself by a mile, and has now suspended from very party membership the man who once thought of him as his office boy.

Watch your backs. And I mean that as compliment to man wielding the dagger.

The Sun Is Going Down

First Hillsborough, and now phone hacking.

There will be no Sun by the time of the 2020 General Election. It will be long gone by then.

How very foolish the Corbyn Coup Plotters will look then. Replace Corbyn with a Leader acceptable to whom or what, exactly? And why, exactly?

Not The Chosen People

I can spot only one Jew (in an almost honorary position) among the members of the present Cabinet, plus one more who attends.

That's it.

This is the least Jewish Cabinet in several decades.

But then, how many Jews have ever been members of the Bullingdon Club?

What would be the reaction of the lovely Sam Cam if one of the children expressed the intention to marry a Jew?

Justice With Courage, Indeed

And so, South Yorkshire Police limps, or possibly hurtles, towards disbandment.

By the Tories.

Notice that neither Theresa May nor anyone else has disputed Andy Burnham's almost casual observation that this was as much about Orgreave as it was about Hillsborough.

That point has been conceded in silence.

By the Tories.

For His Own Safety

If David Duckenfield is still alive and still in this country, then he will not be at liberty for much longer.

Not only, although certainly, because his removal from circulation will very soon become essential to the maintenance of public order in at least one major city.

He will then be an awful lot safer than he is now.

But what of Kelvin MacKenzie? He is now effectively walking around with a target on his back.

They must be able to come up with some offence with which to charge him, in order to extend to him the protection of incarceration.

It is for his own good.

Without A True Anti-War Candidate

Trevor Timm writes: 

Now that it’s increasingly likely that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the two major candidates for president in the general election, voters are once again left without a true anti-war candidate, or even a decisive break from the last decade and a half of disastrous foreign policy. 

We already know there’s barely ever been a military engagement that Clinton didn’t like.

And Trump confirmed on Wednesday in his “big” foreign policy speech that he will be a chaotic and unpredictable aggressor whose opinion changes with the wind.

When Bernie Sanders leaves the race, there will no longer be a credible voice saying that more bombing is not necessarily the answer to solving all the problems in the Middle East, many of which were caused by bombing in the first place. 

Trump started off his speech on Wednesday by reading from a teleprompter in a rambling and incoherent manner, declaring that Obama has “depleted” our military (false), the Iran deal was the “worst agreement” (why?) and that we don’t support Israel, “a force for justice and peace” (absurd) – hallmark Republican conventional wisdom talking points. 

He then did say some things that suggested he would not look to immediately start new wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, but it’s hard to take anything he says on the subject seriously. 

He swung wildly from one position to its opposite on multiple occasions, contradicting himself at various times from comments he made years to mere minutes prior.

For example, he said that bombing Libya was “a disaster”, but he then questioned why we aren’t still bombing Libya right now. 

He claimed that “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.” 

Yet he’s bragged in the recent past about wanting to bring back waterboarding, or “much worse”, killing terrorists’ entire families, and would not be opposed to using nuclear bombs, even in Europe

He remarked that there’s “too much destruction out there – too many destructive weapons,” but just five minutes earlier in the speech, he said the US’s nuclear arsenal was in dire need of “renewal”. 

While Trump’s foreign policy seems random and unpredictable (he actually bragged about this), it’s hard to see how Clinton’s approach to war is much better. 

Clinton has run on a more hawkish foreign policy than most Democrats and Republicans. As many have pointed out, her positions are often more militaristic than anyone else in the race. 

She is in favor of a no-fly zone in Syria – a euphemism for declaring war on the Assad regime on one side, while also bombing Isis on the other. 

She was for the Iraq war, the 2011 Libyan war and the Afghanistan surge. 

She also counts among her friends unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger, and she has neocons already lining up behind her rather than supporting Trump. 

This is not to say Trump and Clinton are the same when it comes to foreign policy – there is plenty of legitimate disagreement. Trump’s xenophobic call for a ban on Muslim immigrants and open calls for torture come to mind.

But on a lot of issues, like the Isis war, praise for dictators and trillions of dollars in military spending, voters are left with a similar choice on foreign policy as they had in 2012. 

(Remember: for all Mitt Romney’s bluster and slimy rhetoric, he and Obama basically had the same approach to foreign policy as well.)

Now the only question is which candidate will be elected to continue expanding the $2tn, never-ending war on terror that has already spread across the Middle East.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Nearly 10 years ago, possibly even that long, I did some market research work in Ushaw Moor

I saw a peacock walking down the street.

It was accepted by the residents as the most normal thing in the world.

Robust: We Must

Justice For George Bell

Sign here.

They Will Not Be Trumped

If the Republicans nominated someone other than Trump, then Clinton would be indicted over her emails.

But if the Republicans nominated Trump, then expect the fraud case against his "university" to step up several gears.

Although only if the Democrats had nominated Clinton.

Add To Cart?

Is it wrong that Ted Cruz's naming of Carly Fiorina as his running mate makes me think "The cart before the horse"?

Is it?

Is it really?

Bradford Brass Neck

How many Jews have ever been members of the Bullingdon Club? I mean that as an entirely serious question.

If anything, so long as they came from old princely families in Arabia or on the Subcontinent, then Muslims would be far more likely to get in.

Pretty much by definition, rich Jews are "trade". And we all know what the likes of David Cameron think of that.

Naz Shah's own party is not alone in having questions to answer about her. For example, Louise Mensch jetted in especially to support her.

The right-wing press and blogosphere, of all parties, howled in support of Shah because of who she was not, and they went bananas with joy when she won.

What do they have to say for themselves now?

Share The Load

When the latest Dubs Amendment comes back to the Commons, then will the Government dare to vote it down?

There are a lot of bad things that could be said about Yvette Cooper. But she is spot on this time.

Of course it is not a criticism of our neighbours that their relevant institutions and resources are simply overwhelmed by all these unaccompanied children. As Britain's would be.

Britain would seek to share the load, and they are doing nothing other than the same.

We had the means and the will to bomb these children's countries. Supported by Yvette Cooper; see, I told you.

Therefore, we can find the means and the will to take them in, proportionally, in co-operation and co-ordination with our neighbours.

We can. We must. And we may now dare to hope that we will.

Dangerous Duckenfield

Not a murmur of dissent from the Conservative benches when Andy Burnham listed Orgreave alongside Hillsborough and Rotherham. Even they now admit it. Watch that space.

Meanwhile, if David Duckenfield is still alive and still in this country, then he is far and away the most dangerous man in Britain today.

There is not even anyone in prison who has been found criminally culpable of the deaths of ninety-six people.

And yes, even though it is not in itself a conviction, that is what the verdict of unlawful killing means.

It would be beneath the dignity of Ian Brady to have to share a cell with him.

But if he has in fact committed suicide, then who could blame him?

You could not write a novel or a play about the man who ended up as the sole defendant in the trial of everything that had been done to the North of England during the Thatcher years, of everything bad that had been done to the working class and its ancestors in England since 1066, of everything bad that had ever been done to Liverpool, behind that of everything bad that had ever been done to the Irish, and of everything that anyone who happened to be a Police Officer had ever done to annoy anyone who happened not to be.

I mean it. Try it. Try writing that novel or that play. Try pitching it to Radio Four.

Yet, if Duckenfield is still with us, then we are going to see that very trial. Not in the courtroom, of course. Or not much. But in the jury room. And in every pub. At every bus stop. Everywhere.

A Whipping Post

Can you be a candidate for Leader of the Conservative Party while not in receipt of its Whip? Would you stand any chance of winning?

If David Cameron really cares tuppence about Hillsborough, then he will withdraw the Whip from Boris Johnson.

What would follow from that, would follow from that. Ho, hum.

As for the withdrawal of the Whip from Naz Shah, this is Jeremy Corbyn's opportunity to stamp his authority on those who were so desperate to remove, among other things, the pre-eminent pro-Palestinian politician in the Western world, that they were prepared to put up pretty much anyone at all against him, without anything so tiresome as vetting.

Shah comes across a racist and sexist stereotype. Is this woman of Pakistani extraction a doctor, as many of them are?

No, she is barely literate. But she has been chosen because she has a (highly contested) history as a victim of forced marriage and of domestic violence.

It is within the power of the House of Commons to expel a member, and the Conservatives have the majority with which to do it. But they will not use that majority.

They can do without yet another failure to capture what was one of their target seats a mere six years ago. They can do without the election of a pro-Corbyn Labour MP. Alternatively, they can do without the election of a Respect MP.

And, quite apart of the question of what many of them really think of Jews, it suits them down to the ground that the most prominent British Pakistani woman in Parliament should be barely literate and a professional, if even a genuine, victim, whose daft Internet comments prove that she has never been active in the Palestinian cause in her life, and who then apologises for them to the wrong people.

Than Divides

A very large number of the supporters of Bernie Sanders would not vote for Hillary Clinton.

They are not partisan Democrats. They do not even like the Democratic Party, about which there is no shortage of things to dislike.

They are in it only in order to nominate Sanders. He himself joined it for the first time only last year, in his seventies.

If he were not on the ballot, then they simply would not vote.

They have no political reason to vote for Clinton, who is against everything that they stand for on the economic and foreign policy issues that move them.

The Culture Wars of well-heeled Baby Boomers mean nothing to them, and the War Wars of well-heeled Baby Boomers are positively abhorrent to them.

Service Issue

I might go into hospital today.

People pay a fortune to be guaranteed to be seen by a consultant.

Today, as yesterday, we can all get it for free.

Trump v Clinton

Each is the only candidate that the other could beat.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Setting Sun, The Southern Sun

Neither The Sun nor The Times may consider Hillsborough worth mentioning, but The Guardian, for all its many and increasing faults, finds the room for David Conn's brilliant, devastating essay.

For reasons too numerous to list, I have never understood why anyone in or from the North read The Sun. Its sensibility is entirely Southern. It is not that everyone from the South is like that. But everyone like that is from the South.

Union Dues, Union Cards

Understandably, the Hillsborough verdict and the junior doctors' strike have dominated the news.

But the Government's climb-downs on trade union e-voting and on the allegedly sacrosanct requirement to opt in to union political funds, rather than to opt out of them, are pretty significant.

What is left in the Trade Union Bill? This supposedly flagship piece of legislation is dropping to bits before our very eyes.

Struck Off?

Any reported deaths? Well, there you are, then.

In 2010, Jeremy Hunt had to apologise for calling the Hillsborough victims "hooligans".

But he has met his match this time. People are always going to trust a doctor, never mind thousands of them, over a politician.

Kelvin Can't Hack It

A journalist doesn't get to blame a source, because he is supposed to check for himself.

Clearly, Kelvin MacKenzie isn't one.


It serves Naz Shah right.

Her comically unqualified, Jeremy Kyle-style candidacy was aggressively supported from Tel Aviv to the Manhattan of Louise Mensch, who flew in especially to support it.

Mensch has never been able to work out which party she was supposed to be in at any given time. Apart, that is, from Likud.

So, what says she today?

What says Jess Phillips, who, like Mensch, can cope with brown women if they know their place, but draws the line at black ones?

Notice that Israel is the only country in the world criticism of which is politically lethal in Britain. But Shah ought to have known that.

Sadiq Khan's bizarre "Festival of Tel Aviv" will be nothing but a focus for enormous anti-Israeli demonstrations. Is that what he wants?

Never mind relocation, to which Palestinians are no strangers.

At every level of the Conservative Party, and as the irreducible core principle of New Labour in international affairs, it is held that the Palestinians do not exist at all, that there are no such people.

The only figure who is allowed to exist in British public life while persistently challenging that assertion is the man whom Shah removed from Parliament with considerable overseas assistance and the active co-operation of members of the Conservative Party.

But even he used to be referred to by name, instead of as an Honourable Member, by the Prime Minister on the floor of the House.

Before that, the BBC and The Guardian had spent an entire Parliament treating as a major national figure the wealthy and well-connected, but otherwise unremarkable, person whose former seat he had won.

Oh, well, he will be back for Tooting soon enough. Like Bradford West, Tooting was a Conservative target in 2010.

George Galloway seems to be touring the places that illustrate the inability of the Conservative Party to win anywhere outside the suburbs and shires of the South East, at least without massive criminality that it does not even seek to deny.

That inability is not unrelated to practices such as murdering 96 of one's class and regional enemies in a single afternoon.

People really have been convicted of genocide for less than that. Including people who were merely part of the propaganda machine.

Bernard Ingham and Kelvin MacKenzie, convicted génocidaires? Now, there's a thought.

The Bloodsoaked Broadcasting Corporation

The BBC was filming the match at Hillsborough. So how did the lies ever take hold?

But remember, we must protect the BBC from any and all criticism, and especially from the proposed changes to its structure, both managerial and editorial.

Heaven forfend that we might instead propose permanent representation for the Left, including the working-class and ethnic minority Left, in return for permanent Tory representation even under a Corbyn Government.

What have the Liberal Establishment and its broadcaster ever done for us? They have spent 27 years not broadcasting the footage that proved the unlawful killing of 96 of what were, at least broadly, our people.

In so doing, they spent 24 of those years, until her death, protecting our greatest enemy in living memory from the criminal prosecution that ought to have been her due.

I want there to be a BBC. But I am sure as hell not going to die in a ditch for this one.

Our Nation Did This To Its Own People

This is about a thousand years of class, from the Norman Conquest, as it crescendoed in Thatcherism after the brief and only partial interlude between 1945 and 1979.

Her treatment of the working classes, of the North, of Liverpool in particular (with the whole Irish thing behind that): when Duckenfield stands in the dock at least for perjury and for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and quite conceivably on 96 counts of manslaughter as well, then all of that will be on trial.

I cannot think of another case like this, ever.

Neil Atkinson writes:

It is important on days like today to remember that we can't expect one correct response from the thousands of people touched by the national disgrace which is the Hillsborough Disaster but can only hope for many human ones.

Since the 15th April 1989 so many people have responded differently to what the events of that day set in motion.

The most we can ask of ourselves is to be human and to allow others to be human in their own way.

This process has been so long running and has involved so many different aspects of society that all human life is here. Even now there are no neat endings. Even now the process is on going.

All we can say is there just needs to be humanity.

Yet even in this inquest, it was in short supply from some, for example the South Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service who fought tooth and nail to avoid adverse findings from the jury.

Unlike them all we can attempt to do is be gentle and accept there are few right answers, just people doing their best.

For instance, it is important to remember that a very small number of the families aren't even represented at the inquest.

A number of the survivors would just wish to put it behind them. They just wanted to get on with their lives after the cataclysmic event.

This is very human and a perfectly understandable response.

For some of the families and survivors today's verdict is enough. It's the end of the road, the wrong righted, the times of death confirmed. It is time to move on and get beyond this.

This is very human and a perfectly understandable response. 

For many others of the families and survivors today's verdict is a step on the road.

The pressure will now come onto the IPCC, Operation Resolve and the CPS to see charges handed down, to see the process through to its conclusion in a courtroom.

This is very human and a perfectly understandable response. And for some, that event that will never be enough. 

Even that will never be enough for what happened twenty seven years ago and what went on to happen in the days, weeks and years that followed. 

For some there will be no respite from this, there will be no rest from the anger and the grief and the shame they were forced to feel. 

There will be no release. There will be no action which will ever bring peace, not after all the suppression and the sidelining of their truth, their truth which transpired to actually be The Truth.

There is no end to this. This is what miscarriages of justice do. 

This too is very human and a perfectly understandable response.

Today, two incontrovertible facts have been made clear again: 

Firstly, that the 96 people were unlawfully killed. Secondly, that the behaviour of the Liverpool supporters did not cause the disaster. 

Further, what has become crystal clear through the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report, through this inquest, and what will become even clearer with the IPCC and Operation Resolve report expected by the end of the year, is the extent to which all these very human people were aggressively, endlessly dehumanised.

Before, during and after the 15th April 1989.

The preparation of the semi-final and the response to the disaster – the immediate disaster, was inhumane. This is what the unlawful killing verdict means.

The response to the disaster – the days, weeks and years that followed the 15th April 1989, did nothing but dehumanise those who had suffered: dehumanised the families bereaved; dehumanised those in the Leppings Lane end who survived and saved others when those there to protect them wilfully failed to act; dehumanised a city trapped in collective grief. 

The dehumanising started and it simply didn't stop, not for years, decades. All this has become crystal clear. It was pretty crystal clear all along if we can be honest with each other.

But this is what dehumanising people does.

What dehumanising people does is obscure what should be crystal clear and instead say that it doesn't really matter, that they turned up late, that they turned up drunk. That they robbed the dead. 

And then that they have a chip on their shoulder. That they are a self-pity city. That they are always the victims. Always the victims. It is never their fault.

They weren't one of us. They were one of them.

Dehumanising people doesn't just happen over night – it isn't a cataclysmic event; it caused a cataclysmic event, it obscured a cataclysmic event but it isn't one itself. 

It is an erosion and a corrosion and it needs the circumstances to work. The Enemy Within. Managed decline. Orgreave. 

An attitude hammered home day after day after day for a decade and beyond towards working class people and football supporters and a city allowed the dehumanising to occur. 

There is this line around Hillsborough that is often uttered by those within Liverpool - “they picked on the wrong city”.

It's a good folk story to tell ourselves. Like many such lines it is both completely true and absolutely false. 

Liverpool can organise, yes. Liverpool will fight and this was a fight led by Liverpool's women, Liverpool's mothers who simply would not ever let the lies lie. They wouldn't stand for it. 

For those who have campaigned aggressively today is another day of vindication, another day where their tenacity and bravery has to be applauded. 

But they picked on the right city as well. The city was the softest target of a decade which had been set up to create and pick off soft targets. 

The dehumanisation happened and was allowed to happen to a city because those undertaking it knew so many nationwide would allow it to go on. 

To go on and on. This isn't just about a right wing government and a corrupt police force back then. The past isn't another country, let's not kid ourselves. 

The targets remain soft in this country – they are just less visible. 

Therefore let's take today as another opportunity to be crystal clear and let's keep being crystal clear: Hillsborough is a national disgrace. 

I've been asked to write this because I host a podcast around Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club, because I write about football. 

But Hillsborough isn't about football, it just so happens that football is the thing that linked those 96 disparate lives, the thing that linked the thousands on the terraces – this thing of ours. 

There are so many who should know better in this country, many who would subscribe then and now to a magazine such as this one, many who will have decided things can only get better in 1997, who will have presumed things must have gone wrong somewhere involving the supporters.

Who will have assumed Hillsborough is a football tragedy and can be left over there. Who stood by as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history took place.

Because, well, “football supporters.” “Liverpool.” “Something a bit fishy but you know.” You know. 

It wasn't about football in 1989, it isn't about football now.

It is about the fact that dehumanising doesn't just happen in moments, but can lead to deaths in seconds, can lead to lies for years, can ruin lives for lifetimes.

This is the essence of the national disgrace, of this verdict, of every single time Hillsborough comes clattering back into public view.

Our nation did this to its own people.

Not the odd bad apple of a police officer, not a rogue reporter or two, not individuals but instead institutionalised inhumanity.

Our nation.

Trials and Tribulations

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Incredible Disappearing David Duckenfield is still alive and still in this country, or possessed of the slightest intention ever to come back here, or so possessed even in relation to anywhere with a British extradition treaty.

Tony Blair is never going to stand trial for the Iraq War. So it is going to fall to those squaddies. At least as much as anything else, they will be tried as proxies for Blair. That is hardly going to help their defence.

Likewise, Margaret Thatcher cannot now stand trial for anything that happened while she was Prime Minister, and never could have done for much of it. So it looks as if Duckenfield is going to have to appear in the dock of an almost literal Trial of a Decade.

The Britain of the present decade is going to put the Britain of the 1980s on trial, and it is going to reach a recorded verdict, with a sentence in the event that that is a verdict of guilty. A man would then serve that sentence.

This country will never have seen the like, and it is possible that nor will the world. Not even the great American trials of race will ever have been quite like this.

Where might such a trial even be held? How could a jury be impanelled? Yet it is going to be.

Caused and Contributed

Unlawful killing. All 96. Prosecutions for manslaughter must now be inevitable. Has at least one arrest already been made? If not, why not?

The News of the World went down for far less than this. The 2020 Election with no Sun, which had been gone for four years by then? Imagine that.

But the fight goes on.

In Britain alone, and our concern is most certainly not Britain alone, we still have Orgreave, Shrewsbury, Clay Cross, Wapping, Farepak, Remploy, the Liverpool Dockers, and the blacklisted construction workers and other trade unionists.

To name but a very, very, very few.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Decadence Is Not Democracy

It is a mark of how decadent this Government is, that it put the Dubs Amendment to a vote at all. They truly do not care what anyone thinks.

Truly not caring what anyone thinks can be an admirable trait. But not in a democratic politician.

Still, this Government is undeniably doing a very good job of reuniting the Labour Movement.


I knew that this would happen. Knew it.

Tony Blair couldn't get the abolition of Local Education Authorities past a Labour Party that was full of councillors.

And David Cameron was never going to get the abolition of Local Education Authorities past a Conservative Party that was full of councillors.

The Westminster Village think tank teenagers need to get out more.

But I am not necessarily delighted to write this.

The third generation, sixth term, right-wing (if at all political) Labour machines in local government are no better than the Liberal Establishment in London and the universities, with its precious BBC.

The Left ought to have done a deal with the Tories on academies, without reference to those machines.

It still ought to do a deal with the Tories on the new BBC structure, without reference to that Establishment.

Churchill or Bust?

If Barack Obama did not remove a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office, then he certainly ought to have done so.

In the 1930s, there were two British threats to constitutionality and, via Britain’s role in the world, to international stability.

One came from an unreliable, opportunistic, highly affected and contrived, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, Eurofederalist demagogue who admired Mussolini, heaped praise on Hitler, had no need to work for a living, had an overwhelming sense of his own entitlement, profoundly hated democracy, and had a callous disregard for the lives of the lower orders and the lesser breeds.

So did the other one. Far more than background united Churchill and Mosley.

In Great Contemporaries, published in 1937, two years after he had called Hitler’s achievements “among the most remarkable in the whole history of the world”, Churchill wrote that:

“Those who have met Herr Hitler face to face in public business or on social terms have found a highly competent, cool, well-informed functionary with an agreeable manner, a disarming smile, and few have been unaffected by a subtle personal magnetism.” 

That passage was not removed from the book’s reprint in 1941.

In May 1940, Churchill had been all ready to give Gibraltar, Malta, Suez, Somaliland, Kenya and Uganda to Mussolini, whom he had called “the greatest living legislator”.

All sorts of things about Churchill are simply ignored. Gallipoli. The miners. The Suffragettes. The refusal to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz. His dishonest and self-serving memoirs.

The truth about the catastrophic humiliation at Dunkirk. The other one, at Singapore, for which Australians and New Zealanders have never forgiven Britain. The Lancastria. The men left behind in France. 

Both the fact and the sheer scale of his 1945 defeat while the War in the Far East was still going on, when Labour won half of his newly divided seat, and an Independent did very well in the other half after Labour and the Liberals had disgracefully refused to field candidates against him.

His deselection by his local Conservative Association just before he died. And not least, his carve-up of Eastern Europe with Stalin, so very reminiscent of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

He borrowed the phrase “the Iron Curtain” from Goebbels and used it to mean exactly what Goebbels had meant by it. Broken by the War, the Soviet Union had neither the means nor the will to invade Western Europe, still less to cross either the Atlantic or the Pacific.

But the electorate was under no illusions while he was still alive. His image was booed and hissed when it appeared on newsreels.

He led the Conservative Party into three General Elections, he lost the first two of them – the first, I say again, while the War was still going on – and he only returned to office on the third occasion with the support of the National Liberals, having lost the popular vote.

In the course of that Parliament, he had to be removed by his own party. It comfortably won the subsequent General Election.

And we have not forgotten the truth about him in the old mining areas.

Nor have they in the places that he signed away to Stalin, including the country for whose freedom the War was fought. It was Churchill who coined the nickname “Uncle Joe” for Stalin.

Churchill wanted to transport the Jews to Palestine, since he saw them as not really British. His views on race shocked his younger colleagues even in the Conservative Party of the 1950s.

The famous dipping of the cranes for his coffin occurred only because the London dockers, who despised him, had been paid to do it. The London dockers, who had been as heavily Blitzed as anyone, anywhere.

As for Churchill’s having “saved Britain”, it will be interesting to see whether anyone could continue to hold a serious academic or journalistic position in 10 years’ time and come out with that one. 

50 years after saying goodbye to him, we are finally saying goodbye to the cult of him. That cult seems to have begun only once he was dead, or at least so old as to have been politically as good as dead.

It never translated into votes.

Such Huge Repercussions

Ruby Stockham writes: 

Unfortunately, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is not very interesting.

Part of the reason that the super secretive trade deal has been able to dodge scrutiny so nimbly is that the nuance of the legislation hardly makes for great headlines.

Crucially, TTIP doesn’t have a face. But it will do. If the deal goes through, there will be no shortage of human stories about the harm it has caused.

Take, for example, the farmers who will see their income fall by 0.5 per cent (the EU’s own estimate) if the partnership is implemented. 

TTIP’s deregulatory approach will lower EU food and environmental safety standards to bring them in line with those of the US. 

This will lead to an increase in factory farming that will harm both the environment and the livelihoods of farmers in the UK and across Europe. 

And what about the animals themselves? 

The US has far fewer regulations on farm animal welfare than the EU does. 

It uses, for example, barren battery cages for hens, too small for a single animal to spread its wings in and yet employed to house three or four.  

You don’t have to be an animal lover to see that a deal which brings Europe down to this level is absolutely regressive. 

For farmers, this is that ‘race to the bottom’ so beloved of the Conservatives – they’ll have to choose between lowering their standards of welfare, and trying to stay upright in a sea of aggressive corporate competition. 

Then there’s the NHS. 

There is still a great deal of uncertainty around what TTIP will mean for the NHS, and the negotiators have a great aptitude for keeping the details murky.

The EU says that it will negotiate an exemption from the deal for publicly funded health services, and UK MEPs have scrambled to echo this.

But what constitutes a ‘health’ service? What about those parts of the NHS that are not directly related to patient care like catering, IT or administrative services?

Outsourcing these to private providers would still push up costs overall; perhaps more importantly, these privatised services would prioritise the rights of the corporations who own them over the patient in their care. 

For a complete picture of the suffering this changed NHS would cause in the UK, consider alongside it the power TTIP would give corporations like tobacco companies to sue governments for health campaigns detrimental to their profits.

In the most famous case, scary-sounding tobacco ‘giant’ Philip Morris sued Uruguay for its anti-smoking campaign. 

This is nothing short of a public health catastrophe. And it’s not just Europe that will be affected by this deal.

A lot depends on the wording of the final draft (currently due 2016) but in essence it would make it hard for non-TTIP countries to export processed goods. 

It could mean that a country like the Ivory Coast, which is the world’s largest cocoa producer, would only be able to export cocoa beans in their raw form. 

The country would begin to lose customers at the very moment international trade is helping to industrialise it.

This Saturday, thousands of campaigners will be taking part in a country-wide day of action, handing out leaflets and informing the public about this deal which will have such huge repercussions for this generation and the next.

You can find out about what’s going on in your area here.

There’s no denying that TTIP is kind of boring, and the reading matter is dry as dust.

But it’s important that we fight to know what’s happening as this deal murmurs on behind closed doors, because it is in the interests of some very powerful people to ensure that we do not.

TTIP: Bad for Britain

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will have "few or no benefits to the UK", according to the only official assessment of the deal commissioned by the UK Government. 

he warning was disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request by anti-TTIP campaigners Global Justice Now.

The group filed a request to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to ask what risk assessments had been made about the treaty.

The BIS said it had carried out only one such review in 2013, when the London School of Economics was commissioned to conduct a study. 

The study found TTIP would have limited political and economic benefits and may result in "meaningful economic costs in the UK". 

"All in all, it is doubtful UK investors will find additional protections from an EU-US investment protection treaty beyond those currently provided, and enforced, under US law," the study found. 

Supporters of TTIP say it could boost the European and US economies by hundreds of billions of dollars by making it easier for companies on either side of the Atlantic to trade with one another. 

Opponents say the deal could give corporations the power to sue governments when they pass regulation that could hit firms' profits through an international court called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). 

United Nations figures show US companies have made billions of dollars by suing other governments nearly 130 times in the past 15 years under similar free-trade agreements. 

Details of the cases are often secret, but notorious precedents include tobacco giant Philip Morris suing Australia and Uruguay for putting health warnings on cigarette packets. 

"Ultimately, we conclude that an EU-US investment treaty that does contain ISDS is likely to have few or no benefits to the UK, while having meaningful economic and political costs," the report said. 

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said the findings show the treaty could have harmful consequences for ordinary people. 

"Introducing a system of secret corporate courts under TTIP would be a fundamental shift in trade and legal policies, so it’s staggering that the government is pushing us into it with almost no assessment of what the risks are for our policy makers or the tax payer," he said. 

The revelations come as UK Prime Minister David Cameron travels to join US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss TTIP in Germany.  

Mr Obama's trip to Europe has been seen as an effort to drum up support for TTIP before the end of his time in the White House. 

He has been pushing for its completion since parties were scheduled to sign in 2014, promising the treaty would remove “regulatory and bureaucratic irritants and blockages to trade".

"If we don’t complete negotiations this year, then upcoming political transitions — in the United States and Europe — could mean this agreement won’t be finished for quite some time," he said. 

A BIS spokeswoman said the TTIP agreement was an opportunity to create the largest free trade area in the world with the potential to boost the UK economy by as much as £10 billion each year. 

"Since 2013, the investment protection provisions in TTIP have been significantly reformed," she said. 

"The government has engaged closely with stakeholders and the European Commission as negotiations have progressed." 

War on Want campaign director John Hilary told Morning Star that the Global Justice Now findings confirmed David Cameron had been misleading British citizens when talking up the benefits of TTIP.

"We have challenged the UK government time and again to show us any evidence that TTIP will be good for ordinary people," he said.

"Now we know why it has failed to provide that evidence — because they have none."

Blood in the Pursuit of Profits

Mike Phipps writes:

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has published a new report, A Shameful Relationship: UK Complicity in Saudi State Violence by David Wearing.

It exposes how the UK’s supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia for its devastating bombing of Yemen systematically violates international law.

UK-made aircraft, bombs and missiles have been used in the bombing and our Government continues to offer training and support to the Saudi regime. The report states:

One year into the intervention in the civil conflict in Yemen by a Saudi-led military coalition, 6,400 people have been killed, half of them civilians, including 900 children, and more than 30,000 people have been injured…. 

The large majority of these casualties have been caused by Coalition air strikes in a campaign where combat aircraft supplied by the United Kingdom have played a significant role.” 

Yet the British Government has downplayed the UK role, denying that it is directly involved in Saudi operations, despite UK military personnel being in the Coalition command room and having access to the list of targets.

Legally, direct participation could render UK forces jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by the Coalition,” the report argues. 

Leading humanitarian organisations have documented a huge number of violations of international law committed by the Saudi-led coalition with UK arms directly implicated in civilian deaths.

Within a month of the bombing campaign, the report states:

Amnesty International was calling for ‘urgent investigations’ into ‘the killing of hundreds of civilians, including scores of children’, by ‘relentless’ Coalition airstrikes that were forcing ‘millions of people… to live in a state of utter terror’.

On 19 April 2015, the Coalition bombed an Oxfam warehouse containing humanitarian aid. Unperturbed, the UK government approved a £1.7bn arms export licence for Saudi Arabia on 14 May 2015, covering combat aircraft and related components.”

Earlier this year, a report by a UN panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign confirmed a pattern of “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets, specifically documenting “119 coalition sorties relating to violations of international humanitarian law.”

These included “three alleged cases of civilians fleeing residential bombings and being chased and shot at by helicopters”. 

The report looks into the background of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

It’s an unedifying story of potential conflicts of interest as personnel move seamlessly from the UK diplomatic and military establishment into the arms industry in an endless revolving door.

The scope for corruption was exposed by a police investigation into allegations of bribery involving Saudi officials and arms company BAE. 

The investigation was abandoned in 2006 only after intense pressure from the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, himself under pressure from the Saudi regime. 

The decision to halt the investigation was successfully challenged by CAAT in the courts – but the result was overturned on appeal. The report argues:

The Saudi regime’s serial violations of international law in Yemen are the latest example of the cost of arming Saudi Arabia… 

Calls on the UK to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been made by the UN Secretary-General, Save the Children, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the House of Commons’ International Development Committee, the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party, and MPs from the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, and the SDLP. 

While an arms embargo is needed now, it was clear long before the intervention in Yemen that arms sales to the Saudi regime were dangerous and immoral.” 

CAAT are going back to the high court to challenge UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. As the report concludes: 

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are certainly immoral, and should be illegal. 

The government’s own export controls prohibit sales where the arms could be used in internal repression, would aggravate existing conflicts or could be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law. 

By any commonsense definition, UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia violate these criteria.” 

CAAT are also going to the BAE Systems AGM on 4 May to hold it to account.

Meanwhile the attacks on Yemen are unleashing a humanitarian crisis on the scale of Syria, yet it’s far less reported. It’s estimated that 28 more children are dying every day as a result of the conflict.

Writing recently in Labour Briefing, Glen Rangwala observed:

Yemen’s population is desperately poor, by far the poorest in the Middle East. The GDP per capita in Yemen is $3,800, compared to its Saudi neighbour at $52,000.

The air strikes have destroyed basic infrastructure, caused mass internal displacement and killed thousands of innocents.

Perhaps more cruelly, the sea blockade has prevented the import of food and fuel, which has resulted in an escalation of prices that leaves them unaffordable to all but the wealthiest. 

Yemen is on the verge of a large-scale humanitarian disaster, brought on entirely by this unremitting offensive.” 

Once again Britain is embroiled in another Middle Eastern calamity, with blood on its hands in the pursuit of profits.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Certain Sensitive Narrative Mattters

Kim Sengupta writes:

Twenty-eight secret pages of a report locked away in a room in the Capitol in Washington lie in the centre of a crisis between America and Saudi Arabia which threatens to have severe and widespread repercussions. 

The US Congress is considering legislation which would enable the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, presented by the West as its most valuable ally in the Middle East, over alleged links with al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington.

The issue had cast a long shadow over the recent visit of President Barack Obama to Riyadh, with the Saudis threatening to sell off $750bn of American assets they hold if the bill is passed by Congress.

The classified pages are in a file titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive Narrative Matters”, which have never been published from the findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the attacks which killed 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others. 

Former President George W Bush claimed the publication of this part of the report would damage America’s national security by revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the War on Terror”. 

But there is growing clamour for declassification of the pages along with allegations about attempts by the Saudis to keep their alleged role in the attacks hidden. 

The latest public figure to demand disclosure was Rudi Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time of the attacks. 

A Saudi prince, claimed Mr Giuliani, had given him a cheque for $10m (£7m) in an effort to persuade him to deflect attention away from the Kingdom. 

The former mayor said he returned the cheque after tearing it up. He declared: 

“His money he can keep and go burn it in hell. The American people need to know exactly what was the role of the Saudi Arabia government in the attacks: we are entitled to know who killed our loved ones and who almost killed us all.” 

It was reported on Sunday that White House House officials have said privately that at least some of the 28 pages will be made public. 

And former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, the former head of the Senate intelligence committee, reiterated his belief that Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks at the highest level. He said:

“The most important unanswered question of 9/11 is: did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported? So who was the most likely entity to have provided them that support? I think all the evidence points to Saudi Arabia. I think it covers a broad range, from the highest ranks of the Kingdom through these, what would be private entities.” 

Two Congressmen, both of whom have seen the secret document, are behind the bipartisan motion for declassification.

Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, held that the report offers evidence of links between “certain Saudi individuals” and the terrorists behind the 2001 attacks. 

Walter Jones, a Republican, said it also sheds light on why President Bush was so opposed to publication: “It’s about the Bush administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” 

The allegations of Saudi involvement in the attacks come against a backdrop of the ultra-conservative Kingdom’s funding violent Islamist groups, often with the encouragement and support of the West. 

This continues now with accusations that the Saudis have supplied money and arms to the most extreme of the rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. 

The current round of exporting hardline, obscurantist Sunni doctrine from Saudi Arabia is traced back to 1992 when the country’s senior Wahaabi clerics issued a Memorandum of Advice to the royal family effectively threatening a putsch unless they were allowed to play a central role of the policies of the Kingdom both home and abroad. 

The royal family felt unable to resist the demands and a key move in facilitating this was the creation of the Wahaabi dominated Ministry of Islamic Affairs, with representatives in Saudi embassies and consulates.

The alleged links of the Ministry’s officials to the September 11 plotters is a key claim in the projected lawsuit. 

Mr Giuliani’s charge of attempted bribery against the Saudi prince came a day after it was revealed that the flight certificate of an al-Qaeda bombmaker named Ghassan Al-Sharbi, who had taken flying lessons for the September 11 mission, was found in an envelope stashed away at the Saudi embassy in Washington. 

The certificate, along with other documents was found at the embassy during investigations after he was captured in 2002 in Pakistan, which has become a conduit for Wahaabi-funded terrorism. 

Al-Sharbi, who had not taken part in the September 11 attacks, has been held since at Guantanamo Bay. 

An official memo about the licence, called Document 17, written in 2003, was quietly declassified last year but did not come to public awareness until an activist, Brian McGlinchey, discovered and published it in his blog last week. 

There was also a connection, it has emerged, between the Kingdom’s legations in America to two Saudis, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mindhar, who had arrived in the US in 2000 as the part of the first wave of September 11 hijackers. 

The two men were set up in an apartment in San Diego by Omar al-Bayoumi, a fellow Saudi, who also helped them with social security paperwork and information about flying courses. 

There were reports that he also introduced them to an imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who later became known as the “Bin Laden of the internet” and was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen. 

Al-Bayoumi received Saudi government funding for his stay in the US through a Saudi aviation services company called Dallah Alco. 

He was listed in FBI files before the September 11 attacks as a Saudi agent (something the authorities in the Kingdom deny) and was a frequent visitor to the Kingdom’s Washington embassy and consulate in Los Angeles. 

Al-Bayoumi acknowledged to US investigators that he had an hour-long meeting with Fahad al-Thumairy, an official of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, who he described as his spiritual mentor at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, the same day that he had met al-Hamzi and al-Mindhar. 

Two years later al-Thumairy was stripped of his diplomatic immunity and deported from the US because of suspected terrorist links. 

Osama Basnan, another Saudi living in San Diego at the time, also spent time with the hijackers, al-Hamzi and al-Mihdhar.

Basnan received around $75,000 from Princess Haifa bin Sultan, the wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US. 

The money was said to be for medical treatment for Basnan’s wife. Some of it went to Al-Bayoumi. Basnan was arrested for visa fraud in August 2002 and deported two months later to Saudi Arabia. 

The lawsuit being brought over alleged Saudi culpability claims that some of Princess Haifa’s money was used in the upkeep of the two hijackers in San Diego. 

The FBI maintains it has no evidence of this and the 9/11 Commission stated it had found no link between the attacks and the royal family.

Al-Bayoumi moved to the UK in July 2001 and began a PhD course in business management at Aston University in Birmingham. 

He was arrested ten days after the September 11 attacks by British police at the request of the FBI. 

However, the US authorities subsequently said they had found no link between him and terrorism. He was released, continued his studies at Aston and later moved back to Saudi Arabia. 

Under Congressional pressure the FBI later reopened the case, but stood by its previous decision. In 2012 Prince Bandar was in the news over issues of terrorism. 

The Prince, by then the head of his country’s intelligence service, had been tasked by the Saudi King to organise the Syrian rebels. 

Bandar, at a meeting in Moscow, allegedly threatened Vladimir Putin that Chechen Islamists could be activated to carry out attacks on the upcoming Sochi Olympics unless the Russian president stopped his support for Assad. 

Bandar was rebuffed by a furious Putin who threatened retaliation. Details of the meeting were leaked by the Kremlin, and the Prince was relieved of his Syrian responsibilities soon afterwards by the King.

The bank used by Prince Bandar’s wife to send her money was to became mired in controversy and fined for breaching money laundering regulations.

It was found to have links with the CIA, with some of its officials having security clearance. 

The FBI discovered that a number of prominent Saudis holding accounts there with Prince Bandar a regular user.

Jonathan Bush, an uncle of George W Bush, was a senior executive at Riggs Bank. He helped bring in investors for George W Bush’s first oil venture, Arbusto. 

He was a major contributor and fundraiser to his nephew’s presidential campaign in 2000 and was named a “Bush Pioneer” for raising more than $100,000.

Jonathan Bush had been fined $30,000 in Massacheussets and a smaller sum in Connecticut in 1991 for violating registration laws on security sales in 1991.

He was banned from security brokerage with the public for a year.

In May 2004 Riggs Bank was fined $25m by US authorities for violation of money laundering laws, it also agreed to pay $9m to victims of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for illegally concealing and moving his funds out of the UK. 

In February 2005 PNC Financial Services acquired Riggs Bank and phased out the controversial embassy business.