Monday, 24 April 2017

A Coalition of Chaos, Indeed

Farewell, then, to Hayden Allan, Special Advsier to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
 
He joins Number 10 Downing Street’s Director of Communications, Katie Perrior, and Theresa May’s Press Secretary, Lizzie Loudon, in having resigned since the General Election was called.
 
What a complete and utter shambles.

Tactical Error

At this moment, Tony Blair is not a member of the Labour Party.

Nor, without special dispensation from the National Executive Committee, can he become one again until 2022.

The rules are perfectly clear.

Unless, that is, they do not apply to him?

Bring Back Student Grants?

Why? And paid for by whom? By their contemporaries who got up at five or six o'clock in the morning, so that students did not have to go to bed, or at least not sleep, until scarcely, if at all, earlier than that?

Ah, happy days, happy nights, and I am not apologising for a single second of them.

But we either fund Higher Education all the way up to doctoral level, and there are countries that do, thereby recognising what it is and, more importantly, what it is not, which is anything to do with "what business wants" and such like.

Or we make students pay all the way through, even if by deferral in some or all cases.

More important than any of this, however, is the need to establish the principle that whatever privileges were enjoyed by students in Further and Higher Education ought also to be enjoyed by their peers who were apprentices or trainees, and vice versa.

With publicly owned enterprises, national and municipal, setting the vocational training standards for the private sector to match.

Droning On

How much good has all this drone striking, and all the rest of it, done us so far?

And since when was this what General Elections were about, anyway? This kind of chest-beating in relation to what are essentially science-fictional scenarios such as nuclear wars?

Yet that is where we are. It is apparently barking mad to advocate free school meals for all primary pupils, but perfectly sane to refuse to rule out a nuclear strike.

For so we are informed by the man who presided over the misfiring of a Trident missile at Florida, the man who wants to abolish the Royal Marines, the comedy star of this Election, the Pompous Tory Voice's Pompous Tory Voice, Sir Michael "An Energy Freeze Is Not An Energy Cap" Fallon.

Facing The Issue

I really do not think that women in the West ought to wear the niqab.

But I would not ban them from doing so.

Headscarves, on the other hand, come in and out of fashion among Western women on a fairly regular basis.

Look out for them again soon enough.

En Marche?

I am not being older than the President of France. I simply refuse.

In all seriousness, whoever else got through to the second round was always going to beat Le Pen.

That was why it should not have been Macron. But it is.

This obscure member of an atrocious government, this apparently satirical representation of a globalist technocrat, is going to win, because the alternative would be completely and utterly horrific.

That is just a fact.

"Corbyn Would Dismantle Defence"?

The Conservatives say that they like competition.

Clearly, though, they want to keep their monopoly on dismantling defence.

Furthermore, there would be no point in any defence review that did not extend to far and away the biggest item of military spending.

Such absurd exercises have been held in the past, and the results have been catastrophic.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Crowdfunding My Parliamentary Candidacy

Happy Saint George's Day

Since I shall be cheerfully offline tomorrow, which ought to be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom. As should Saint Andrew's Day, Saint David's Day and Saint Patrick's Day. Away with pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday.

It is amazing how many people assume that because there is a legend about Saint George, then he himself must be a purely legendary figure. He is not. Although the Tomb of Saint George at his birthplace, which is now known as Lod and which is the location of Israel's principal airport, has become a shadow of its former self.

It was once a major focus of unity between Christians and Muslims in devotion to the Patron Saint of Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt before, and as much as, the Patron Saint of England. But three quarters of those who practised that devotion were violently expelled in 1948. On what remains, see here.

The Sound of Flushes Busting

No one of my generation recants our Labour vote in 1997. We grew up under the Major Government, and we took the chance to kick it out. We would have done so no matter who had been Leader of the Labour Party, and we would have been right.

But that was 20 years ago, and what a very eventful 20 years they have been.

Which of the four people whom Jeremy Corbyn has at various times beaten for the Leadership of the Labour Party would now be sweeping the country? Yet at least one, Yvette Cooper, is openly campaigning for his job, ably assisted by the BBC.

Cooper has supported every catastrophic British military intervention since she entered Parliament in 1997. Her views on civil liberties are horrific. She was the Cabinet Minister who abolished Income Support and who gave a grateful nation the Work Capability Assessment. Her disqualification is absolute.

Meanwhile, someone called David Miliband, never having heard of whom would not be a bad qualification for being a Member of Parliament these days, has been telephoning elderly people who have proved themselves able to cope with the House of Commons for a lot longer than he ever did, seeking to persuade them to relinquish their seats in his favour.

Should a nomination be secured by that torturer, who was big before social media were but who would be a joke figure these days, then a local candidate ought to be put up against him, and ought to be elected. The same applies in Cooper's seat. Keep him out, and get her out.

"They Have Nowhere Else To Go"

Conservative manifestos at General Elections used to promise to cut taxes. Yes, really. Now, though, that party will not even promise not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT. It is well to the left of where Tony Blair was on all three occasions.

Meanwhile, the 0.7 per cent overseas aid target remains. The immigration target is the same one as last time and the time before, and which they have already spectacularly failed to meet, mostly while Theresa May was Home Secretary. The only nod to the Right is the electorally toxic failure to guarantee the Triple Lock that they themselves brought in.

UKIP is over. Nigel Farage has withdrawn from active politics. Paul Nuttall has yet to announce in which, if any, seat he will be standing. If May were to win, then she could sack whoever she liked, restoring the old Foreign Secretaryship and giving it to one of her own supporters.

With George Osborne out of Parliament, even the other, newer Left of her own party has at least gone into exile. Along with the odd Blairite mate, it now does the commentary, but not the playing of the game itself.

But, whereas the Labour Left and the allies to its left are leading, the Conservative Right and the forces to its right are no longer even following. Politically, they have ceased to exist. And that definition of the Right is not a particularly exacting one. It means anyone who wants a General Election manifesto commitment not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT.

Merely to hold that view is now to be as confined to the Loony Corner as it was when the young Theresa Brasier first joined the Conservative Party, which was before Margaret Thatcher became its Leader. Now, as then, "They have nowhere else to go." And this time, it is perfectly possible that they never will have.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Burning Rage

The National Grid is exultant that today is "this country's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution". But not half as exultant as they are in every oil-producing nightmare state on the planet.

Places in which we do not need to take the slightest interest, because we continue to stand on vast reserves of coal. We were once the world leaders in its responsible extraction and incineration.

That all had to go, however, because Margaret Thatcher could not forgive the miners for their role in creating her wholly improbable rise to the Leadership of the Conservative Party, a position that would otherwise have passed seamlessly, so to speak, from Ted Heath to Michael Heseltine.

She ought to have been grateful. Yet she was not. At least, in vengefully closing the pits that she had kept open because they had worked through the Strike, Heseltine's finishing of the job had a certain spiteful logic to it. Her approach had none whatever.

Drive

John Redwood is being mocked for advocating the purchase of supposedly nonexistent British cars.

But some of us are already working with trade unions, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents, to bring the whole of the Volkswagen Group’s production for the British market to County Durham after Brexit.

That would include Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Škoda. What a contrast with a Labour Leadership that, for 32 years and counting, has merely managed other people’s poverty.

One of the most important steps towards bringing Volkswagen here, and towards very many other things besides, has been taken this afternoon, with the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite the Union.

The 2017 Revolution is beginning. The British Spring has begun. Next up, the removal of the Labour Party from Durham County Council on 4th May. And then, on 8th June, the election of a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn.

Buttressed by George Galloway at Manchester Gorton, by me at North West Durham if we can raise the cash, and by several other new MPs who know who they are.

Asking For It

What an oaf Adam Johnson is. But it is very high time for Parliament to tidy up the shambolic laws on sexual offences.

First, the age of consent should effectively be raised to 18, by making it a criminal offence for anyone to commit any sexual act with or upon any person under that age who was more than two years younger than herself, or to incite any such person to commit any such act with or upon her or any third party anywhere in the world. 

The maximum sentence would be twice the difference in age, to the month where that was less than three years, or a life sentence where that difference was at least five years. No different rules for “positions of trust”, which are being used against male, but not female, 18-year-olds looking after female, but not male, Sixth Formers visiting universities. 

And no provision, as at present, for boys to be prosecuted at any age, even if they are younger than the girls involved, whereas girls have to be 16. The law on indecent images is also enforced in totally different ways in relation to boys and girls of the same age, and even to boys who are younger than the girls. That must end. 

Children under the age of consent can have abortion or contraception without parental permission (thank you, Margaret Thatcher). That is an argument for banning children under the age of consent from having abortion or contraception without parental permission. Unless they decided as adults to seek to make contact with their children, then the financial liability of male victims for pregnancies resulting from their sexual abuse ought also to be ruled out. Talk about victim-blaming.

Secondly, it ought to be made a criminal offence for anyone aged 21 or over to buy or sell sex, with equal sentencing on both sides. No persecution of girls and very young women whose lives had already been so bad that they had become prostitutes. No witch-hunting of boys and very young men who were desperate to lose their virginities. But the treatment of women and men as moral, intellectual and legal equals.

Thirdly, the offences of rape, serious sexual assault, and sexual assault, ought to be replaced with aggravating circumstances to the general categories of offences against the person, enabling the sentences to be doubled. The sex of either party would be immaterial. There must be no anonymity either for adult accusers or for adult complainants. Either we have an open system of justice, or we do not. 

In this or any other area, there must be no suggestion of any reversal of the burden of proof. That reversal has largely been brought to you already, by the people who in the same year brought you the Iraq War. The Parliament that was supine before Tony Blair was also supine before Harriet Harman.

Adults who made false allegations ought to be prosecuted automatically. Moreover, how can anyone be convicted of non-consensual sex, who could not lawfully have engaged in consensual sex? If there is an age of consent, then anyone below it can be an assailant. But a sexual assailant? How? 

Similarly, if driving while intoxicated is a criminal offence, then how can intoxication, in itself, be a bar to sexual consent? The law needs to specify that it was, only to such an extent as would constitute a bar to driving.

And fourthly, obscenity ought to be defined as material depicting acts that were themselves illegal, or which was reasonably likely to incite or encourage such acts. Sentencing would be the same as for the illegal act in question in each case. 

American-style legislation for internally administered “balance of probabilities” or “preponderance of evidence” tests to sexual assault allegations at universities or elsewhere must be banned by Statute. 

It is incompatible with the Rule of Law to punish someone for a criminal offence of which she has not been convicted. It must be made impossible for anyone to be extradited to face charges that fell short of these standards, or for such convictions to have any legal standing in this country. 

As for teaching things in schools, how is that curriculum time currently being filled? Apply the Eton Test. Would this be taught in a school that assumed its pupils to be future Prime Ministers or Nobel Laureates? If not, then instead fill the hours with something that was. Teach Latin. Someone will. 

Convictions under laws predating these changes ought to be annulled along with those of men whose homosexual acts would not be criminal offences today. Labour should vote against that unless it also annulled, not only all convictions in the above categories, but also all convictions and other adverse court decisions arising out of Clay Cross, Shrewsbury, Wapping, and the three Miners’ Strikes since 1970. 

This would set the pattern for all future feminist and LGBT legislation. Without a working-class quid pro quo, then Labour would vote against any such legislation. Alongside the DUP, the Conservative Right, David Lindsay MP, or whoever. It is not Blair’s Labour Party now. And it will certainly never be Blair’s David Lindsay MP.

Development Target, Indeed

The way to save the absolutely vital 0.7 per cent overseas aid target is to police where the money goes. 

We give aid to China, which has landed a rocket on the Moon. We also fund India’s foreign aid budget precisely. As a result, India has the money for a mission to Mars. That’s right, Mars. We are paying towards Nigeria’s active aspiration to launch a rocket into space by 2028. 

The Statute Law should specify that the United Kingdom’s aid to any given country be reduced by the exact cost of any space programme, or of any nuclear weapons programme, or of any nuclear submarine programme, or of any foreign aid budget of that country’s own.

The money thus saved would, however, have to remain within the budget of the Department for International Development. With her Nigerian background, the highly capable Kate Osamor is ideally placed to make the case for this change.

A New Campaign Patron

No local say at all in the choice of Labour candidate here. That choice will be made entirely by a committee in London. Nor can I see how all-women shortlists are still possible, now that anyone may declare himself a woman for the purpose, reserving a lady's right to change her mind later on. But can I defeat some girl out of the typing pool, and the London typing pool at that? Yes, of course I can. All that I need are the readies. Do get in touch: davidaslindsay@hotmail.com.

Furthermore, I am delighted to announce that Councillor Alex Watson OBE, who served for 18 years as the Executive Leader of the former Derwentside District Council, has been joined among my Campaign Patrons by the former Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead (1987-1997), for Glasgow Kelvin (1997-2005), for Bethnal Green and Bow (2005-2010), and for Bradford West (2012-2015), and now the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Manchester Gorton, George Galloway.

You do not have to agree with George about everything. Or with Alex, come to that, although I cannot remember when I last disagreed with him. You just need to recognise whatever it is that they each and both honour me by recognising in me. And you just need to be less than happy about the choice of the Labour candidate from an all-women shortlist by a committee in London, with no local participation whatever.

That's What You Get For Swanning Around

It comes as no surprise that the knives are out for my friend, Richard Burgon.
 
He is tub-thumping orator. He holds the legal qualifications that are lacked by the Lord Chancellor whom he Shadows. He comes from the Eurosceptical Bennite Left, whereas she has come up through the Lib Dems.
 
And his 11-16 comprehensive school sent him to a Sixth Form college that sent him on to Cambridge. Not only that, but the comp and the college were both in the North. Why, he has an accent, and everything. It does not seem to embarrass him in the slightest.
 
If you are now in your thirties, then you are allowed to be an MP, a Shadow Cabinet member and a potential Leader if you were utterly failed by the comprehensive education system.
 
Just so long as you do not expect anyone to mention, however often you yourself do, that it was the trade union movement that set you on the path to Parliament and to power.
 
That was always the unions' role in the days of the grammar schools that the working classes were expected to pay for but not to attend. That is sometimes still the unions' role in relation to those who slip through the net.
 
But if you are now in your thirties, then you are absolutely not allowed to be an MP, a Shadow Cabinet member or a potential Leader if your 11-16 comprehensive school sent you to a Sixth Form college that sent you on to Cambridge, from which you emerged with your accent intact and with no apparent shame about that fact.
 
Never make the stupid look stupid.

Terms and Conditions

"But I wouldn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister," announces someone called John Woodcock. Who died and made him Queen? Like Theresa May, who thinks that Opposition is unconstitutional, Woodcock has no idea how a parliamentary system works.

And why is he still a member of the Labour Party? How is he still a member of the Labour Party? Is he still a member of the Labour Party? If so, then just what, exactly, do you now have to do in order to be expelled from the Labour Party? That same question presents itself in the case of Tony "Vote Lib Dem Against Labour Brexiteers" Blair.

With whom, though, might Woodcock be replaced as a Labour candidate in the time available? Even May's own party is struggling to fill vacancies that it had thought, not least because she had repeatedly assured it, that it had three more years in which to fill.

The term itself ought to come down to four years, in line with everything else in this country. There is no reason why the elections to the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies could not be held on the same day as those to the House of Commons. But unless the Government lost the confidence of the House, then there ought to be no permissible deviation from the fixed term of Parliament.

That's A Bit Rich

If "between seventy and eighty thousand pounds per year" is not rich, then, at least based on their salaries alone, MPs are not rich.
 
Come on. Don't let them get away with this one.

Still Citizens of Somewhere

The EU may confer its citizenship on anyone it wishes. There is every reason to assume that it will continue to define all British citizens, even those yet unborn, as EU citizens in perpetuity.
 
Unless they specifically renounced it by filling in, with absolute precision, a mile-long form that was not available in English, or online, or from a postal address in this country, and by paying an exorbitant fee that would be accepted only in euros.
 
Hardly anyone would ever bother to do that. Indeed, most people with either the time or the money to do so would have voted Remain. For example, Theresa May.

She wants a second referendum, you know. Between her final terms, as approved by both Houses of Parliament (so forget about Hard Brexit), and simply staying in as if there had never been a first referendum.

Suspend Your Disbelief

Farewell to Nigel Farage. Farewell, therefore, to UKIP. A one-man band that has lost its one man has become no band at all.
 
Theresa May does not approve of Opposition, and she has well and truly seen it off on the Right, both within and beyond her own party. It is inconceivable that there will be any UKIP MPs after 8th June.
 
Even in the event of a Conservative overall majority, however, then there would still be about as many Labour MPs as there were now.
 
The return of the Conservatives to second place in diehard Labour seats, often including a numerically close second place, was in fact a mere reversion to the historical norm.
 
It did not, and it does not, make those seats winnable from the Conservatives' point of view.
 
Moreover, the Liberal Democrats are on course to take dozens of Conservative seats in the Remain heartlands of the South.
 
Those Conservative losses will be too numerous to be offset by the Conservative gains from the SNP, of which there will certainly be some, since the SNP heartlands are places that the Conservatives have to explain how they ever stopped winning.
 
They did not used to be Labour. The seats like that went Nationalist only as recently as two years ago.
 
And in the midst of all of this, certain online bookmakers have already suspended betting on a Labour overall majority, and on Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Why I Am Standing For Parliament

Did you want a General Election this year? No, neither did I. The official line is that Jeremy Corbyn would have been hammered at any time. In which case, why now?

Perhaps it is about that fraud case, but mostly it is because Theresa May does not understand how Parliament works, or is supposed to work. She thinks that it is supposed to be "united", which is a fluffy way of saying that she thinks that there ought to be no Opposition.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have been giving her grief, so she has called a General Election in order to crush them into silence, which in any case even the most abject defeat would not do. I am starting to wish that they had voted against her yesterday. That would have denied her the necessary two thirds majority.
 
But hey ho, here we are. Pat Glass is certainly retiring, and she will be missed. Therefore, I shall certainly be contesting North West Durham, funds permitting. That is a big caveat. But it is the only one.
 
Whether Mrs May is Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, then she will need to be held, not least against much or most of her own party, to her stated commitments to workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, to shareholders' control over executive pay, to restrictions on pay differentials within companies, to an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, to greatly increased housebuilding, to action against tax avoidance, to a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, to a cap on energy prices, to banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and to a ban on unpaid internships.

And whether Mr Corbyn is Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, then he will need to held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to all of the above, which he originated, and to protecting the Triple Lock up to 2025, to compensating the WASPI women, to protecting the pensions of British citizens living abroad, and to keeping the Winter Fuel Allowance and the free bus passes for pensioners.

He will need to be held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to cancelling the inheritance tax cut in order to spend the money on paying carers properly, to scrapping the VAT exemption on private school fees in order to spend the money on free school meals for all state primary pupils, and to introducing a minimum wage of £10 per hour for all, which is more than Durham County Council proposes to pay its Teaching Assistants.

And he will need to be held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to ending the public sector pay freeze, to renationalising the railways for free as each franchise came up for renewal, to banning late payments to small and medium-sized enterprises, to reversing the hike in Business Rates, to banning zero hours contracts for workers with regular hours, and to saving five billion pounds by renationalising the NHS in England, which is the only part of the United Kingdom where any such renationalisation is necessary.

This is the work of probably a small, but certainly a dedicated, band of MPs, such as George Galloway at Manchester Gorton, and, if you will have me, such as David Lindsay at North West Durham. I can think of others whom I very much hope will give it a go.

For what it is worth, I feel that they ought to do as I shall be doing, and eschew even the word "Independent", since we are members of numerous overlapping networks of political interdependence and accountability, once such network being each other. That network is defined by very clear principles.

We hold that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. That identity issues must be located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. And that the leading role in the defence of universal public services belongs to those (the working class, and not least the almost universally ignored rural working class) who would otherwise lack basic amenities, while the leading role in the promotion of peace belongs those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars (the workers again, and also the youth, who were right about the First World War, right about the Vietnam War, and right about the Iraq War).

We understand that the decision of the EU referendum by people and places that ordinarily vote Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru means that the concerns of those poeple and places ought now to be the focus of attention. We have been opposed from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, we have always been opposed to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to the United Kingdom's immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, to military alliance with Turkey, and to the demonisation of Russia.

We reject any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. We seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And we refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

I want to be among the MPs who were constant in bearing witness to these principles, regardless of who was or was not the Leader of any given party at any given time. Therefore, I shall certainly be contesting North West Durham, funds permitting. That is a big caveat. But it is the only one.

My Own Man, And Yours

On Thursday 4th May

Vote David Lindsay

 His own man, and yours

Knows his own mind, and not afraid to speak it. Working only for the people of this community.

Lived in Lanchester since 1990, went to school here from 1985

Parish Councillor from 1999 to 2013, EP School Governor from 1999 to 2007, St Bede’s Governor from 2000 to 2008, former Willow Burn volunteer, now Governor of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

 
The Lib Dem candidates live in Blackhill and Dipton

The Conservative candidate lives all the way over in Barnard Castle

 
#VoteDavidLindsay

Published and promoted by, and on behalf of, David Lindsay, 13 Foxhills Crescent, Lanchester, Durham, DH7 0PW.

Vote David Lindsay, Vote For The Teaching Assistants


Vote David Lindsay

Vote For The Teaching Assistants

I have supported them from the very start

I secured them the support of several national trade union leaders in August 2016

I secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn

I secured the signature of Angela Rayner on their petition

I secured the support for them that George Galloway regularly expresses on his radio programme and to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter

Their champion, Councillor Alex Watson OBE of Consett North, is the Patron of my Campaign

Thursday 4th May

Vote For The Teaching Assistants

#VoteDavidLindsay

Published and promoted by, and on behalf of, David Lindsay, 13 Foxhills Crescent, Lanchester, Durham, DH7 0PW.

“Like My Father, I Will NEVER Forget About Burnhope”

You have eight candidates for County Councillor
 
Only David Lindsay has ever lived in Burnhope
 
Son of the late Canon Richard Lindsay
 
“Everyone else has forgotten about Burnhope. But, like my father, I will NEVER forget about Burnhope.”
 
Thursday 4th May
#VoteDavidLindsay
 
Published and promoted by, and on behalf of, David Lindsay, 13 Foxhills Crescent, Lanchester, Durham, DH7 0PW.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Then You Haven't Been Concentrating

A concentration camp for gay men in Chechnya? Weren't we supposed to approve of Chechnya?

Then again, we are also supposed to approve of Turkey. And of Saudi Arabia.

We need a Prime Minister who has never done so. We need Jeremy Corbyn.

On The Money

Theresa May knows that there is a recession coming, and she wants the General Election out of the way before it hits.

There have been seven recessions in the United Kingdom since the Second World War. Five of them have been under Conservative Governments.

That party has also presided over all four separate periods of Quarter on Quarter fall in growth during the 2010s. By contrast, there was no recession on the day of the 2010 General Election.

And now, the Conservatives have more than doubled the National Debt. The Major Government also doubled the National Debt.

Yet the Conservatives’ undeserved reputation for economic competence endures. They are subjected to absolutely no scrutiny by the fake news detractors of their opponents.

Until now.

Not Up For Debate

Theresa May has absolutely ruled out head-to-head debates, due to her having no policies. Or at least, as we shall see, no policies of her own.

As to Jeremy Corbyn's, domestically, are they unpopular?

Protecting the Triple Lock up to 2025? Compensating the WASPI women? Protecting the pensions of British citizens living abroad? Keeping the Winter Fuel Allowance and the free bus passes for pensioners?

Cancelling the inheritance tax cut, in order to spend the money on paying carers properly? Scrapping the VAT exemption for private school fees, in order to spend the money on free school meals for all state primary pupils?

No wonder she won't debate them.

She is, however, in favour of workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, of shareholders' control over executive pay, of restrictions on pay differentials within companies, of an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, of greatly increased housebuilding, of action against tax avoidance, of a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, of a cap on energy prices, of banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and of a ban on unpaid internships.

Two years ago, the only politicians advocating all but one of those were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, while the energy price cap, proposed by Ed Miliband, was being screamed down by the people who wish that they themselves were still running the Labour Party, something that they have not now done for as long as Tony Blair was ever Prime Minister.

These days, though, such are the policies even of the person who can be elected unopposed as Leader of the Conservative Party.

Poll Position

Since the General Election was called this morning, over a thousand people have joined the Labour Party.

This will be the sixth General Election in which I shall have voted, but the first of those to have been worth holding on the basis of any policy difference between the parties.

The biggest issues in the world today are in the field of foreign policy.

There, Jeremy Corbyn has been consistently right, while Theresa May has been consistently either wrong or, which is perhaps even worse, uninterested.

Will I be standing? I will if people want me to, although I had really been looking at the new seat after Pat Glass had retired.

Who is the Labour candidate going to be? I won't stand against Pat.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Once In Each Generation

In 1999, they made me a governor of a school (another one followed in 2000).

In 2017, they have made me a governor of a hospital trust.

Presumably, in 2035, they are going to make me a governor of a nursing home.

Pension Plan

Protect the Triple Lock up to 2025?

Compensate the WASPI women?

Protect the pensions of British citizens living abroad?

Keep the Winter Fuel Allowance and the free bus passes for pensioners?

Damn Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and their unaffordable, unelectable Loony Leftism!

Come on Theresa May, match these four pledges, or you are nothing but an empty vessel.

And come on, anti-Corbyn Labour MPs, explain exactly what is wrong with any of them.

Especially, although not exclusively, once Mrs May has matched them.

Late Surge, Indeed

If the de facto endorsement of François Hollande is not the kiss of death for Emmanuel Macron, then ... well, there is no "then".

The de facto endorsement of François Hollande is the kiss of death for Emmanuel Macron.

I told you. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the man.

Any second round with a Le Pen on the ballot would be, as it has been once in the past, a referendum on the Front National and on everything behind it.

The other candidate would be bound to win. That has happened in the past.

Why, then, should that candidate not be Mélenchon?

Whoever is the second round candidate against Marine Le Pen will be guaranteed to beat her.

Therefore, it is possible, and thus morally obligatory, to insist on the right candidate.

Set In Motion

As soon as Parliament returns after Easter, then there needs to be a Commons motion, with a division, condemning the Government's support for the American bombing of Syria.

Watch out for any Labour votes against that motion. Watch out for a large number of Labour abstentions.

Then compare those with the list of Labour MPs who failed to support a condemnation of continuing British arms sales to Saudi Arabia while the war in Yemen raged on, as it still does today.

As for Conservative votes against the Government, they would be unlikely to reach double figures.

None whatever voted against the war in Kosovo, admittedly a symbolic vote.

Although Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and George Galloway all supported Tony Benn and Tam Dalyell in doing so.

In fact, every MP who voted against the Government on that occasion was at that moment a member of the Labour Party, although at least two of them no longer are.

Both of those are still alive, and one of them is on course to re-enter the House of Commons next month.

There was no vote of any kind on Afghanistan, but 139 Labour MPs voted against the Iraq War, whereas only 16 Conservatives did so.

A former Foreign Secretary was among the anti-war MPs to resign from the Government front bench. There were no resignations from the Opposition front bench.

The Conservative-supporting press spent several subsequent years literally accusing opponents and critics of the Iraq War of treason, as well as of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

It did so on a daily basis. For years.

Some of us still occasionally get that kind of abuse to this day. There are those who are still subjected to it on a very regular basis.

One of the most outspoken of those voices belonged to a man who has since served as Education Secretary, as Chief Whip and as Lord Chancellor, and who remains a Conservative MP.

Such views are also held by, for example, the current Secretary of State for International Trade.

Now as then, he considers criticism of the American Administration, the Israeli Government or the Saudi Royal House to be treasonable in and against the United Kingdom.

That is mainstream thinking on the British Right.

Indeed, it is pretty much definitive of the British Right, including the Blairite Right of the Labour Party as well as almost all Conservatives.

Anything else, harking back to a Toryism of old, is altogether eccentric, and it is as rare as hen's teeth in the Commons.

Thus, precisely one Conservative, as against 11 Labourites (again including Corbyn and McDonnell, as well as Barry Gardiner), voted against the war in Libya, which has turned out to have been the most catastrophic of the lot, at least so far.

Thus, only 30 Conservatives joined the whole of the Labour Party in voting against war in Syria in 2013.

And thus, when, for all the hype, fewer than one third of Labour MPs voted to bomb Syria in 2015, a mere seven Conservatives voted against doing so.

Would there even be that many this time?

As soon as Parliament returns after Easter, then there needs to be a Commons motion, with a division, condemning the Government's support for the American bombing of Syria.

Zeroing In

"Real pay growth ground to a halt in February, the latest official statistics confirm.

"In its labour market report on Wednesday the Office for National Statistics reported that average nominal total annual pay growth in the three months to February was 2.3 per cent.

"Putting this together with the February inflation data of 2.3 per cent means that real terms average pay was zero in the month."

Take Back The Power

As EDF increases its bills for the second time this year, remind me what is so wonderful about privatisation.

But once the whole of the acquis communautaire, which absolutely forbids the renationalisation of anything once it has been privatised, has been declared to be the law of the United Kingdom, then it will be just as impossible as it is now to do anything about this.

So much for David Davis, who is also silent on the Government's support for Donald Trump's bombing of Syria.

Never mind, though. At least we'll have blue passports. And at least pounds of mince will not be labelled using a fiddly metric equivalent. And at least the threepenny bit is back, at pretty much its original spending power but at 80 times its original face value.

So who cares?

Don't Korea Off

Either North Korea is the country that satellite photographs show to have almost no electricity. Or it has nuclear weapons.

It cannot be both of those things. We know for a fact that it is at least one of them. Therefore, we know for a fact that it is not the other.

As for spending money on giant vanity weapons systems while allowing people to starve to death, imagine living in a country like that.

The intense loyalty exhibited when, for example, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il died, is neither fake nor forced.

The participants' point of reference is not South Korea, about which they know nothing beyond what they have been told by people whom it is more than reasonable to assume believe exactly what they are saying.

Rather, North Koreans' point of reference is Korea as it existed before and, heaven help them, during the Second World War.

From the day-to-day, bread-and-butter perspective of most people, and especially of those who are now living in Pyongyang, the DPRK really is an almost indescribable improvement on that.

The conquerors were not welcomed as liberators on the streets of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And that was an almost incomparably more open and outward-looking society than North Korea is.

But an invasion of North Korea would be the second this century of a state precisely because it had nuclear weapons, whether or not it really did have them once anyone bothered to check.

Not much deterrence going on there.

Ballot Box Poison

There are few laughs to be had in a Parish Council election.

But the absence of what we were once expected to view as the power couple of Neil Fleming and Brynnen Ririe, not only as candidates, but as even so much as signatories to nomination papers, has tickled me even more than did the announcement of an all-women shortlist to succeed Hilary Armstrong on the day after Fleming had had the local press report him as the candidate.

Fleming was made Chairman of Lanchester Parish Council after he had not only failed to hold a Labour seat on the old District Council in 2003, but had taken a distinguished Labour Councillor down with him. In 2007, he very nearly lost his own Parish Council seat. He did not complete the term, since he moved out of the Parish and in with the Ririe.

However, he and the Ririe are back now. Although they are not permitted to make the voters aware of even so much as their existence. Alas, therefore, I fear that I shall forever be denied the opportunity to beat Fleming in an election to a principal authority. That I would certainly do so is why that is the case.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Save The Date

Twenty-eight days have now passed since, in the words of George Galloway et al., a "shameful and shameless political hit job" that "recalls the darkest days of Northern Ireland or the American Deep South, with no dividing line between the Police, a massively dominant local political party, and a secret society bound by oaths."

I refer to my arrest, without having been given the opportunity to accompany the Police voluntarily, on the "grounds" that a single word on this site corresponded to one in a threatening letter that had allegedly been sent to Labour members of Durham County Council.

The whole thing was dutifully leaked to The Times, where a senior position is held by a man who has been conducting a vendetta against me for almost the whole of the present century.

The only purpose of any of this, including the incomprehensible fact that I remain on (albeit unconditional) bail, was and is to intimidate me out of contesting the local elections on 4th May.

But I am contesting the local elections on 4th May. In its own terms, then, this "racist, sectarian and partisan hit job" has failed.

My bail ought to be cancelled, and the items seized on 14th March, not all of which were mine, ought to be returned forthwith.

One of the Officers who took those items complained that they were not new enough. Clearly, he had expensive tastes in other people's property.

If I were indeed to be made to answer bail on 31st May, then George Galloway and others have called on the Teaching Assistants, the Durham Miners' Association, Durham Unite Community, and all their supporters from around the country and beyond, to join them in marching behind me from the Miners' Hall to Durham City Police Station, and then in marching back again for a rally.

Save the date.

As to whether the David Lindsay March and Rally ought to become an annual event, well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

May The Fourth Be With You

Following the very welcome news from the G7, Manchester Gorton is the most important British parliamentary by-election since the nineteenth century.

Against a candidate of the pro-war Lib Dems, and against an anti-Corbyn Labour candidate, the return of George Galloway to the House of Commons would be heard in the White House and the Kremlin, in Ankara and Damascus, in Riyadh and Tehran.

It may be enough to keep Britain out of a catastrophic intervention in the Syrian Civil War. It would certainly make a significant contribution to that cause.

A cause led, as ever, by the Left. Right-wing anti-interventionism is tolerated as an eccentricity among newspaper columnists. But it is not even that among politicians, where in any case it almost never occurs.

Drop in daily at 12 noon to 16 Albert Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3PJ. Or email GG4GORTON@gmail.com.

A Healthy Development

We are now a Governor of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, thank you very much.

Representing Derwentside, so feel free to get in touch about anything relevant.

Warding Off

The times of the election counts given on Durham County Council's website differ markedly from those which have been sent out to candidates.

According to the latter, the Parish counts will begin at the customary 10pm on Thursday 4th May, half (including Lanchester) at the Louisa Centre in Stanley, and half at the Leisure Centre in Spennymoor.

The Parishes of Cornsay and Haswell, each of which is comprised of two wards, are cut in half for this purpose.

But it gets better.

The County count, at the old Council Offices in Spennymoor, will begin at 9am on Saturday 6th May, 35 hours after the Close of Poll.

Welcome to Poulson County, where it is permanently the 1960s, but without the full employment.

Not Too Little, Not Too Late

Jeremy Corbyn is going after the big corporations that consistently pay late, to the detriment of their small and medium-sized suppliers.

Come on, Theresa May.

Match this, or stop pretending to be anything other than just another corporate fetcher and carrier.

Vastly Superior

Kevin Maguire writes:

Jeremy Corbyn’s record on foreign wars is vastly superior to that of Theresa May, who repeatedly made bad international decisions – with deadly consequences – as a Tory MP, Home Secretary and then Prime Minister.

May’s predictable endorsement of an irrational US President’s impulsive missile strike contrasted sharply with Corbyn’s more thoughtful call for a renewed drive to secure peace and a United Nations investigation into the sarin gas war crime.

Antagonistic Labour MPs, who are training their guns on a party leader most want toppled, piled in behind the Conservative Prime Minister and an unhinged Republican President.

Reasoned argument was drowned out in the din of fratricide. 

And, because former colonial powers such as Britain and the US dropped explosives, the cycle of violence was perpetuated. 

You might remember that May voted for and Corbyn against an invasion of Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 456 British service personnel. 

The same is true of a disastrous Iraq adventure which cost another 179 armed forces’ lives and those of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocents in the devastated country. 

She backed, and he was against, the bombing of Libya which transformed the North African state into killing fields for jihadis and unleashed waves of boat migrants prepared to risk drowning in the Mediterranean. 

May would have deployed the RAF four years ago as an Islamic State air force had the likes of Corbyn, Ed Miliband and a platoon of Tory rebels not put up a resistance which was right in 2013 and remains right in 2017.

And ignoring civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq by a US/UK-led coalition currently targeting the Islamist medieval barbarians is disdainful double-standards when Assad’s violent ally, Russia, is ­justifiably blasted.

Assad is a monster and I don’t offer an easy answer but nor do armed politicians when they’ve failed time after time. 

Viewing the Trump-May reflex through rose-coloured spectacles, before dismissing Corbyn’s judgment with green bilious glasses, is to ignore damning evidence.

Remember that Corbyn opposed the regime during the Blair era in 2002, when Assad was invited for tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace – just as he opposed Saddam during the Thatcher years when Britain backed a dictator slaughtering Iraqis and Iranians.

It is to Jeremy Corbyn’s credit that he has consistently championed human rights and peace.

Surely he deserves a fair hearing.

Bad Korea Move

So much for Donald Trump.

And so much for the deterrent value of nuclear weapons.

In 2003, we invaded a country precisely because it had nuclear weapons.

It didn't really have them, just as it is not proven that North Korea has them, either.

But the insistence that it possessed previously unknown ones that could be deployed within 45 minutes, and which could hit New York from Mesopotamia, was the one and only argument made for the invasion of Iraq.

That invasion went ahead.

Without Parallel

The derivation of the word "Easter" from the name of a pagan goddess is peculiar to English and German (which got it from Anglo-Saxon missionaries), and those were hardly the first languages in which the Paschal Mystery was ever celebrated. Likewise, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is entirely without parallel in mere mythology.

The example usually cited is the early Egyptian cult of Isis and Osiris. Osiris is murdered by his brother Seth, who then sinks his coffin in the Nile. Isis, wife of Osiris and most powerful of goddesses, discovers her husband's body and returns it to Egypt. Seth, however, regains the body, cuts it into fourteen pieces, and scatters it abroad. Isis counters by recovering the pieces. How does this resemble the Resurrection Narratives in the slightest? Some much later commentators refer to this as an anastasis, but the fact that they were writing in Greek rather illustrates how far removed they were.

In all the mystery cults, no early texts refer to any resurrection of Attis, nor of Adonis, nor, as we have seen, of Osiris. Indeed, according to Plutarch, it was the pious desire of devotees to be buried in the same ground where the body of Osiris was held still to be lying. Of Mithra, popular among Roman soldiers and often invoked at this point, it is not in dispute that stories of death and resurrection were devised specifically in order to counter the appeal of Christianity.

There is no suggestion that any pagan deity was ever held to have risen from the dead never to die again, nor to have appeared in the flesh several times thereafter (and soon thereafter, at that), nor to have been recounted doing so by eyewitnesses, nor even to have lived and died, never mind risen from the dead, at a specific, and quite recent, point in investigable history.

You might deny or dispute this in investigable historical terms, although good luck, because you'll need it. The historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth can be very hotly denied on the Internet by people who have that particular bee in their bonnets, but it is subject to no scholarly dispute whatever. But the present point is that, uniquely, any such investigable claim is made at all.

It is also contended that Attis is supposed to have come back to life four days after his death. There is one account of Osiris being reanimated two or three days after his death, though only one, not four. And it is even suggested that Adonis may have been "resurrected" three days after his death. In the case of all three, there is no evidence for any such belief earlier than the second century AD. It is quite clear which way the borrowing went.

There is, furthermore, no evidence whatever that the mystery religions had any influence in Palestine in the first century. And there is all the difference that there could possibly be between the mythological experience of these nebulous figures and the Crucifixion "under Pontius Pilate".

Hellenism and the Roman Empire did not view the Christian message as merely another legend of a cultic hero, just as neither the philosophical Greeks nor the pragmatic Romans dismissed it as either harmless or ridiculous. Just look at how they did react to it.

As Rousseau said, men who could invent such a story would be greater and more astonishing than its central figure.

Monday, 10 April 2017

"Russia Is Responsible For Every Death In Syria"?

If that is the case, Sir Michael Fallon, then Britain is responsible for every death in Yemen.

The Real Thing

"A country that works for everyone," says the Prime Minister.

Jeremy Corbyn's and John McDonnell's Real Living Wage of ten pounds per hour is the challenge to her to prove that she means it.

At least rhetorically, she has copied plenty of their policies in the past.

All For None, And None For All

It is perfectly obvious that Theresa May regards Boris Johnson as unfit to be Foreign Secretary.

Of course, she is quite right.

We had all assumed that David Davis would be the first of the Three Brexiteers to fall, resigning on a point of principle.

Then scandal would engulf Liam Fox, as is his wont.

And then Johnson would become just too Boris Johnson, leading to his demise.

Now, however, it is possible that this sequence will be reversed.

Although in either event, the result will be the same.

The old Foreign Secretaryship will be revived, and it will be given to a supporter of the whole of the Prime Minister's programme.

That is to say, it will be given to a die-in-the-last-ditch Remainer.

Right At Home

Whatever is the position of the Leader of the Conservative Party at the given time, then that is the outer right flank of British politics. 

UKIP, the Conservative Right and the Blairite Labour Right are all in crisis because they fail to understand this basic fact.

Douglas Carswell, however, clearly does understand it, while Mark Reckless not only understands it, but has acted on it.

Reckless is now a member of the party that positively prides itself that it is going to declare the entire acquis communautaire to be the law of this land even though there is to be no further British role in determining its content.

Forget the idea that it will be "only up to 2019". That cannot be made to work. The ridiculously misnamed Great Repeal Bill will turn the United Kingdom into a colony of the European Union.

With the acquis communautaire as the law of the United Kingdom, several of the good things that the triumph of the Old Tory Left might have made possible, especially the renationalisation of the railways, will remain out of the question.

But not workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, shareholders' control over executive pay, restrictions on pay differentials within companies, an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, greatly increased housebuilding, action against tax avoidance, a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, a cap on energy prices, banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and a ban on unpaid internships.

Two years ago, the only politicians advocating all but one of those were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, while the energy price cap, proposed by Ed Miliband, was being screamed down by the people who wish that they themselves were still running the Labour Party, something that they have not now done for as long as Tony Blair was ever Prime Minister.

These days, though, such are the policies even of the person who can be elected unopposed as Leader of the Conservative Party. So there really is no point in trying to oppose them.

Indeed, the Conservative Party has not had a Leadership Election in 12 years, and that was when David Cameron beat David Davis by more than two to one. A large proportion of Davis's then supporters will since have died.

In the meantime, that party has won an overall majority specifically on the back of having introduced same-sex marriage, which gave the Tory-begotten section of an entire generation a sense of permission to vote Conservative rather than, most probably, Liberal Democrat.

Its Leader, the Prime Minister, has also affirmed in recent days that the United Kingdom's singularly liberal application of the principle of free movement is going to remain in effect, come what may.

Back to that party has Reckless gone, giving it the Official Opposition status at Cardiff Bay that it already enjoyed at Holyrood under the most popular politician in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, who is her party's present position made flesh.

And back to that party will Carswell go in due season, perhaps once he has lost his seat to it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Mancunian Candidate

Ten thousand congratulations to George Galloway and Gayatri on the birth of their daughter this morning in Manchester.

Two of George's sons already live there.

And Betfair is now offering even odds on his winning the Manchester Gorton by-election.

In the present circumstances, his return to Parliament is a matter of the utmost urgency.

Get yourself out on the campaign trail.

Drop in daily at 12 noon to 16 Albert Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3PJ.

Rape Alarm

"Bastard Tories, eh?"

In fact, the rape form has New Labour written all over it.

It is exactly the kind of thing that New Labour used to do.

There would have been no objection to it from the frontbench of any of the four candidates whom Jeremy Corbyn has at some point beaten for Leader of the Labour Party.

All At Sea

Take a bow, 20 Labour MPs.

Or at least, 20 MPs who are members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which they think is terribly important no matter how many elections it loses to David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.

They have signed a call for a Syrian no-fly zone enforced by the Royal Navy, with strikes against planes that were dropping illegal weapons.

But the Royal Navy currently has no fixed-wing aircraft, and it currently has no aircraft carriers, either.

Ponder that state of affairs when Michael Fallon, a 64-year-old who has never had a job outside politics, is next pompously boring on. He very often is these days.

And I almost hope that there is indeed another Labour Leadership Election this summer. How hard could it be to beat this complete and utter shower?

Hail To The Chief?

So there you have it.

All that anyone, anyone at all, has to do in order to become "Presidential" in the eyes of the media is to bomb somewhere.

That Nobel Peace Prize must be well on its way.

In which vein, remember that no one can be taken seriously as a leading opponent of Donald Trump's who did not also oppose Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama, or who would not also have opposed Hillary Clinton.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Hackneyed

During and since last night's Question Time, Diane Abbott has been mocked on Twitter by the same trash that thought it the height of wit to jeer drunkenly at Jeremy Corbyn in the Westminster Kitchen.  

I would never call them Tories. Their lack of class is the reason why that party would never take them, and they know it.

Abbott is reviled for the school to which she sent her son.

But he will have had far more contact with the Left there than he would ever have had under the aegis of Hackney Borough Council.

While they ought of course to pay VAT as the businesses that they are, the ongoing resurgence of the Left in this country is due in no small measure to the independent schools.

Especially the fearless major public schools whose wealth and reputation enable them to do more or less as they like.

Left-wing speakers have no difficulty in gaining access to those institutions. They are invited on a very regular basis.

By contrast, as a speaker, even Corbyn himself would struggle to be allowed anywhere near a secondary school that was controlled by the municipal Labour Right. 

The state school system is the Labour Right's principal powerbase. Until Corbyn's first campaign for the Leadership, 50 per cent of Labour Party members were teachers. 

The ongoing resurgence of the Left in this country is also due in no small measure to the state secondary schools' ever-shorter days and ever-long holidays.

Although it is amazing the extent to which schools think that they own the evenings, the weekends and the holidays.

Finish at three o'clock, before facing two hours of homework? Why not be in school until five o'clock, then? That is hardly the middle of the night.

And reams of homework to be done over the quarter of the year when the school is locked up? What's that about?

Take note that the schools preferred by this country's governing party allow parents to take pupils on holiday whenever they please.

Yellow in Tooth and Claw

The Lib Dems have been anti-war once ever.

That was over Iraq. But only until it started.

Their position on Syria should come as no surprise to anyone. It certainly doesn't come as any surprise to me.

This Smells Wrong

First responders in Idlib professed to have been overpowered by the smell. Sarin is odourless.

They handled the dead with their bare hands. Sarin is absorbed through the skin.

There are many reasons why a man on the verge of winning a war by conventional means would not deploy chemical weapons.

One of those reasons would be that he did not have any chemical weapons.

Urge Restraint

Jeremy Corbyn, who has been ever so slightly proved right about these things in the past, has released the following statement via social media:
 
The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.
 
Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.
 
But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
 
What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
 
The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.
 
The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.

After Al-Shayrat, Get To Gorton

Qassim Afzal was the Lib Dem who came within six thousand votes of unseating Gerald Kaufman in 2005, and who was still within seven thousand votes of doing so in 2010.
 
He is campaigning actively in relation to the Manchester Gorton by-election.
 
Specifically, he is campaigning for George Galloway.
 
You don't have to agree with George about everything. Why should anyone agree with anyone else about everything?
 
You don't have to like George, although if you don't, then you've probably never met him.
 
But he has given the Durham Teaching Assistants more support than any other national politician apart from Grahame Morris, who is a County Durham MP.

And after last night, it is absolutely imperative that he be returned to Parliament at the opportunity that was presenting itself even before this catastrophe.
 
The Labour candidate, Afzhal Khan MEP, has already put his Brussels flat up for rent from next month.
 
In the meantime, if at all possible, get yourself to Gorton, and get yourself out on the campaign trail.

George responds particularly quickly on Twitter.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

As Reckless As He Is

Why has the Conservative Party taken back Mark Reckless?

Where's My Click Bait?

The furore continues around the kind of advertising that Google permits.

But consider that this site, and all others associated with me, have been banned from Google Ads completely, by order of Oliver Kamm, for 11 years this month, and counting.

He owes me an awful lot of lost earnings.

Burma Source?

He is about to be redeployed to Kiev, which I find rather exciting.

But the world is waking up to the truth of what my old friend Jonah Fisher, one of the better Editors of Palatinate over the years, has long been saying about Aung San Suu Kyi.

Yet on 14th March, I was arrested for having the word "Rohingya" on this site.

It was the only thing written by me that resembled anything in the weird letter allegedly sent to Labour members of Durham County Council.

That reference was considered so obscure that it supposedly proved that the letter, too, must have been written by me.

So I was arrested.

How the world turns? And how quickly?

School Daze No More

Note that it has taken Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader, and Angela Rayner as Shadow Education Secretary (although I think that Pat Glass would also have done this), to come up with something as basic as the removal the VAT exemption from private school fees in order to provide free school meals for all state primary pupils.

In 13 years, Labour never even did that. Nor did it do so in any of its previous periods in office.

Between this and her position on Ken Livingstone, Angela’s eventual Leadership campaign is off to a flying start, with left and right wings both fully operational.

Of course, one would have to see who the other candidates were. But Angela signed the Teaching Assistants’ petition at last year's Eve of Gala Rally, once I had persuaded them to approach her. She marched them at the Gala itself.

And now this. What next?

Well, in England, the commercial school sector inspects itself.

Therefore, let the condition of a commercial school’s continuing charitable status be its having been adjudged good or better by Ofsted, using the same criteria as for state schools, with the reports published, and with the value-added measure applied, thereby requiring those schools to have demonstrated how they had improved pupils’ abilities.

But know this.

As young Momentum and allied activists of my acquaintance are discovering, schools answerable to right-wing-if-anything local Labour councillors and municipal officers (and that culture has been widely carried over into the new arrangements) would never consider giving a platform to the left-wing figures who were routinely invited to speak at public schools.

Change the councillors, of course, and then have the new ones rein in the officers. But we are living in the meantime.

Still, the future belongs to us.

From the grandest public school of all, boys arranged to meet Vladimir Putin before Theresa May ever did.

Through those institutions, the bonds between the youth of the old English elite and the youth of the new Russian elite are strong, and getting stronger.

Between that and the rise of Corbynism, with certain touring speakers straddling the two (since the latter has the advantage of what are now state schools’ extremely short days as well as their ever-long holidays in which to do all sorts of other things), and with at least one television station linking the whole thing together, the future well and truly belongs to us.

Speaking of those extremely short days, why finish at three o’clock, to do two hours’ homework? Why not finish at five o’clock, then?

Why do several hours of homework per day during the three months that the schools are on holiday? Why not be in school for at least part of that time, then?

Meanwhile, schools are increasingly convinced that they own the evenings, the weekends and the holidays.

I greatly regret the ruling today that 90 per cent attendance is not legally acceptable after all, and I urge people to act as if it still were.

That would leave, say, every Friday afternoon, or every other Friday all day, in which to get an education instead.

Oh, and note that at least an hour of every week’s curriculum time is still given over to sport, as if the people who wished to play it had no other hours in the day, or days in the week, or weeks in the year.

Take yourself off during that, and read a book.

Or even write one.