Friday, 19 January 2018

Finely Balanced

The Conservatives are supposed to be good on law and order. I cannot remember when, exactly, they ever have been. But they are supposed to be.

With no fewer than three bad stories for them on that front today (the prisons, John Worboys, and Oliver Mears), they are in serious trouble. Mears, in particular, raises the question of what, exactly, it would take for Alison Saunders to have to resign as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Perhaps if she had been found to have spent a year, and heaven only knows how much public money, prosecuting someone against whom there was absolutely no evidence whatever, but whom she and her co-conspirators had wished to prevent from winning a municipal election and from contesting a parliamentary one?

Of course, she and her co-conspirators can spare themselves that fate. They know what they have to do.

Prison Break

The crisis in the prisons is proving the making of Richard Burgon. Although they are currently held by the same person, and although they could be so again, the office of Leader of the Left is charismatic and prophetic, whereas that of Leader of the Labour Party is institutional and sacerdotal. In the former, the eventual successor to Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn is increasingly obvious.

Not Our Enemies

"Conservative voters are not our enemies. They're our neighbours, they're our friends, and we need to be convincing them." So says my old university drinking companion, Jon Ashworth.

He was always highly ambitious, and he was therefore obliged to be a bit Blairy 20 years ago. But he was never as right-wing as we purer souls, who never laboured under the heavy burden of feeling called to be Prime Minister, used to like to half-joke that he was. No resignation to try and bring down Jeremy Corbyn for him.

Rather like Neil Fleming, whom even I have started to miss a bit around here. An erstwhile Chairman of Lanchester Parish Council would have exercised a moderating influence. "Conservative voters are not our enemies. They're our neighbours, they're our friends, and we need to be convincing them."

No Hereford Bull

As usual, 2017 saw Hereford and South Herefordshire deliver a Conservative majority that was larger than the Labour vote.

Yet even there, the audience took it as read that the Government was setting up the NHS to fail, in order to privatise it. There was outrage that Margot James dared to question anything so self-evident.

Run with this one, and, while there will be seats that Labour does not win, there will none that it cannot win. Unlike New Labour, Corbyn's Labour need have no no-go areas.

A Bridge Too Far?

The Boris Bridge sounds as if it is beyond satire. But as a project, the bridge itself is not a bad idea. Just so long as Boris Johnson is allowed nowhere near it. And just so long as there is no PFI.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Lanchester Review: Questions To Laura Pidcock MP

This purely journalistic piece by me was sent on Monday as a letter to the Northern Echo, to the Morning Star and to The Guardian. I have not had sight of the Star this week, due to a combination of the snow and waiting for the gasman. But it has certainly appeared in neither of the others. So here it is. The Lanchester Review offers Laura Pidcock MP the right of reply.

Rerun The County Council Election In Lanchester

I like the two County Councillors for Lanchester, and I have known one of them for 35 years, so I have always resisted the many suggestions that I call for the election to be rerun. Yes, their party, not them but their party, openly cheated by manufacturing a criminal charge against me. And yes, even after that, the declared result was pretty much impossible. To echo the most common refrain, I got more votes than that in Burnhope alone.

But if you grew up in the land of Durham County Council, then you take in your stride a level of municipal corruption that would be litigated to Kingdom Come anywhere else in Britain, and which would provoke riots in the streets in much of the rest of Europe. No, I said, think of the cost of a by-election.

The cost of a by-election. In this ward, Labour factored that in by fielding the candidates that it did, and the voters did so by electing them. No one has ever seriously suggested that they were both going to be in office until the spring of 2021. For one reason or another, there was always going to be at least one by-election here in the course of this term.

The Labour Party openly cheated by manufacturing a criminal charge against me. And even after that, the declared result was pretty much impossible. I got more votes than that in Burnhope alone. As was always going to happen at some point during this term, the County Council election in the Lanchester Ward needs to be rerun. The two sitting Councillors need to have the decency to resign and make that happen, as it was always going to happen one way or another. No one has ever seriously suggested that they were both going to be in office until the spring of 2021.

Initiative, Representative

At anything up to 40 per cent, and in one case 70 per cent, more expensive than old-fashioned public sector methods, the Private Finance Initiative and its imitations were never about saving money. They were about breaking the public sector trade unions, a cause common to the post-Thatcher Conservatives and to New Labour. Neither the post-Thatcher Conservatives nor New Labour cared how much that cost. To them, it would have been well worth all the money in the world.

There have been rather a lot of Days New Labour Died. The Crash. Dropping below 30 per cent of the vote in 2010. The Conservative overall majority in 2015, obtained though that was by criminal means. The election of Jeremy Corbyn. The re-election of Jeremy Corbyn. And now, this. But on one thing, there is no dispute. New Labour is dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial has been signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.

Larry Elliott sets out, among much else, that only enormous companies are capable of taking on the kind of contracts that Carillion has, and that those companies then effectively subsidise and guarantee their private sector work out of the public purse. There are eight or 10 of these corporations, a state within the State, and each of them is supposed to have a Crown Representative, although it would seem that such positions are relatively rarely filled.

When there are any at all, then who are these Crown Representatives? Where do they come from? How, and by whom, are they appointed? How, and by whom, can they be removed? For all eight or 10 positions, I nominate Stella Creasy. Merging them all might not be such a bad idea. That would create a formidable figure.

Dr Creasy might also fill the position that has been vacated by Toby Young on the Board of the Office for Students. Or what is Pat Glass doing these days? In any event, someone is going to to have to take that place. Who is it going to be, and why?

Even after Carillion had issued its severe profit warning, the Government was still favouring it with public contracts. Was the Conservative Party also still taking donations from it? And is Toby Young still a member of that party? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then we are dealing with an enormous scandal.

And yet, not. We know that the Conservative Party was taking money from the hedge funds that were betting against Carillion, at the same time as the Conservative Government was awarding contracts to it. And we know that even after Young's resignation, Theresa May appointed a Party Vice-Chairman who wanted to sterilise the poor, who believed that nurses who were using foodbanks needed to stop whingeing and find other employment, who advocated "Police brutality", and who defended the unlawful killing of Ian Tomlinson. That Vice-Chairman remains in office.

The Brutal Truth

If the Conservative Party had thought that it was going to win Mansfield, then it would never have put up Ben Bradley as its candidate.

Hartz and Minds

A return to coalition with Angela Merkel would presage the electoral death of the SPD, and there would be precious little remaining reason to mourn that party for its own sake, while its demise would open the space for better alternatives. But such a coalition would, in the immediate term, leave the AfD as the only viable opposition.

Für Gott, Fürst und Vaterland

Who says that the National Anthem is out of date? It has the same tune as Liechtenstein’s.

The present heiress to the Stuart claim to the Thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland is married to the present Heir to the Throne of Liechtenstein, making their eldest son the next in line to both.

And they have an eldest son (plus two more, and a daughter). He was born in 1995. In London. The first Jacobite heir to have been born in the British Isles since 1688. Think on.

Persian Inertia

Remember those supposedly epoch-making demonstrations in Iran? They do this about once a decade. Then they get bored and go home.

Mashed To A Pulp

A second series of The Mash Report? Seriously, BBC? A second series of The Mash Report? But at least such of its target audience as might be allowed to stay up that late on a school night will be watching Derry Girls instead. Anything with a Nineties soundtrack is fundamentally a good thing, and something with plenty of the Cranberries will be a very good thing indeed this week.

Resolute Posture

The formal objection to a 10ft statue in Parliament Square of Margaret Thatcher in a "resolute posture looking towards Parliament with a stern gaze" has been lodged by Matt Hancock's Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, and by the Royal Parks Agency. Twin nests of Corbynism, I'm sure.

By George

Of course George Osborne does not want a peerage. After he has been Mayor of London, then he intends to return to the House of Commons in order to become Prime Minister. No doubt remaining Editor of the Evening Standard throughout it all. That is the plan.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Class Lessons

It is inconceivable that a centre of higher education with as many students as Carillion had apprentices would be allowed to go the wall, and damn the consequences for those students.

The Magic Seat Tree

After last year's billion pounds, this year sees the decision today that there should remain four parliamentary seats in Belfast after all. The DUP had been set to lose one. But it no longer is. That's nice.

Negative Charge

Poppi Worthington's father is not going to charged. But I have been. Even though they have had to give themselves until 11th April 2018 to find the single piece of "evidence" on the "strength" of which I was charged on 13th April 2017.

I ought to refuse to stand trial, at the very least until he did. I ought to take myself abroad. I am not going to. But I ought to. And I would not blame anyone else who did.

Piece of Mind

"There's no such thing as the Hard Left," its obvious candidate to succeed Jeremy Corbyn told me when I asked him whether he considered himself part of it. Of course, that is always the sign. But he has the wrong chromosomes, so the scramble is on for a "Stop Thornberry, Stop Rayner" candidate who has no such disqualification.

I still say that Angela Rayner is the candidate with the right appeal across the party, across the Movement and across the electorate. But if a candidate is to be fielded from her left, then it ought to be the one who had gone from an 11-16 comprehensive school (the more middle-class and selective ones are always 11-18), via a Sixth Form college, to Cambridge, qualification as a solicitor, election to Parliament, and rapid appointment to the Shadow Cabinet.

Richard Burgon is a success story of the state education system, and we need to hear a lot more of those, since there are a lot of them about.

This Emergency Is No Accident

The catastrophic crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers is now joined by the catastrophic crisis in recruiting and retaining nurses. Jeremy Hunt simply has to go. And without looking it up, can anyone even name the Secretary of State for Education?

There's Always The SDLP

In 2017, Sinn Féin did not take its seats at Westminster even to stop the DUP from entering the Government of the United Kingdom, and even to force a second General Election that might very well have made John McDonnell Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sinn Féin is never, ever, ever going to take its seats at Westminster, and that's just that. Meaning, in the present circumstances, that Sinn Féin is as much to blame as the DUP is for the fact that the present Government remains in office.

It is often asserted that, "The SDLP is nothing more than the Not Sinn Féin Party." For themselves and for everyone else, the voters of West Tyrone could do a lot worse than that.

Fatti Maschii Parole Femine

Under anything like normal circumstances, Chelsea Manning would be a hugely problematic candidate. But these are nothing like normal circumstances.

Ben Cardin is up to his eyes in the Russiagate gibberish. All paleoconservatives and libertarians in Maryland should join the entire Left there and register as Democrats in order to vote to nominate Manning.

Indeed, not only the 2.9 per cent who voted for Gary Johnson and the 1.3 per cent who voted for Jill Stein should do so. But all of the 33.9 per cent who voted for Donald Trump should also do so. 

Register as Democrats. Nominate Chelsea Manning. And elect Chelsea Manning.

Perchance To Dream?

If Sir Desmond Swayne was asleep during yesterday's Commons debate on Brexit, then he spoke for the nation. People who howl "What about Brexit?", usually from one side or the other against Jeremy Corbyn, are back in the corner of the pub where no one wants to go for fear of meeting them. We Nineties Boys feel right at home in such a hostelry, and this time no one asks us for ID.

Both main parties are fairly representative of the country on this issue. Each has hundreds of MPs, of whom a dozen are hardcore Remainers, half a dozen are hardcore Leavers, and that's it. The Conservative Party could find only an incidental Remainer whom its MPs considered capable of being Leader, and it will do so again to the benefit of Gavin Williamson. No one else will even have enough nominations to get onto the ballot paper.

Shift The Sands

After last night's second part of House of Saud: A Family at War, remember that the Conservative Party fought the last General Election on a manifesto commitment to abolish the Serious Fraud Office. As the next couple of weeks unfold, you will no longer need to go to Riyadh in order to see why.

Again I say that BAE Systems ought to be renationalised as the monopoly supplier to the British Armed Forces and to nobody else, with a total ban on the sale of arms abroad, and with a huge programme of diversification in order to maintain industrial skills.

There is nothing "bleeding heart" about any of this. Once the arms are out there, then we never know where they are going to end up, thence to be turned against us. Or, in the case of Saudi Arabia, we do.

Neither Due Nor Diligent

John Major was neither nice nor a ditherer. Margaret Thatcher was not iron. And anyone who had watched her long and chaotic tenure at the Home Office already knew that Theresa May was neither strong nor stable.

It comes as no surprise to us she exercised no due diligence before continuing to award contracts to Carillion even after it was obviously collapsing; her shrieks about Wales and Leeds are welcome rebukes to the anti-Corbyn Labour machines in the Welsh Assembly and in local government.

And it comes as no surprise to us that she exercised no due diligence before appointing a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party who wanted to sterilise the poor. Indeed, was there anyone available who did not hold that view? Mrs May had already exercised no due diligence in seeking to give control of the entire university sector to a close friend of several of her Cabinet who was a published eugenicist, and who in that capacity consorted with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and advocates of the rape of children who had been drugged for the purpose.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

After The Watershed

Unlike the people who were paid to provide an Opposition, two of whom are now the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were right all along about everything that has come to a crescendo in the collapse of Carillion.

Following the murder of Oliver Ivanović in the nightmare narco-state where they name their sons "Tonibler", consider that Corbyn and McDonnell were also among the mere 13 MPs (all Labour, although several right-wing journalists also did some heavy lifting on this) who either voted against the bombing of Kosovo, or acted as tellers in order to force that admittedly symbolic vote to be held at all.

Corbyn and McDonnell did not start being right over economic policy 10 years ago, when the Crash came. Nor did they start being right over foreign policy 15 years ago, over Iraq. Both on economic policy and on foreign policy, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been right all along. As, whether or not they care to admit it, everyone can now see.

Conference on Intelligence

"The Left! The Left! The Left!" Apparently, the "Cultural Marxists" run everything, even the Conservative Party, and certainly the universities. In which case, tell me which British university is teaching or publishing Lysenkoism, or Japheticism, or Kuznetsov's 1952 attempt to enforce "the total renunciation of Einstein’s conception, without compromise or half-measure". Tell me who, of the slightest importance, has been a participant, however passive, in that pseudo-science.

By contrast, one of our most prestigious seats of higher learning has been hosting the propagation of eugenics, attended by the man whom the Government had wanted to put in charge of the entire sector. No British university is giving houseroom to Holodomor Denial, which does the rounds. If any were, then we would never hear the end of it. Nor should we. Yet in this age of Toby Young, would you bet that none was providing a platform for Holocaust Denial, and that no one with a key policy role was turning up? If you would, then you are a fool, and you richly deserve to be parted from your money. 

As the latest developments in relation to National Action make clear, and as I have been trying to tell you for years, the single biggest internal security threat comes from the Far Right. A Far Right that is enormous, longstanding, very highly organised, armed to the teeth, and possessed of the closest possible ties both to the DUP and to Conservative Party. 

Sammy Wilson, who was then the DUP's Press Officer and who is now one of its MPs, chaired the founding rally of the Ulster Resistance, which has never disbanded or disarmed in any way. Ian Paisley (the Elder, so to speak), Peter Robinson and Ivan Foster all spoke at that rally. Emma Little-Pengelly, who is now the DUP MP for Belfast South, is the daughter of Noel Little of the Paris Three. She owed her election last year, for a somewhat improbable seat, to the concerted efforts of the local Loyalist paramilitary organisations, to whom she extended barely coded thanks in her acceptance speech. It is highly unusual for a married woman from her background to continue to use her maiden name, even in hyphenated form. But Noel Little's daughter does so.

Thomas Mair, the murderer of Jo Cox, described himself to the Police as "a political activist", and so he was. No Irish Republican organisation has murdered a Member of Parliament in the present century or in the preceding decade, and the people responsible are now such pillars of the British Establishment that they are entertained at Windsor Castle. No Islamist or Leftist organisation has ever murdered a Member of Parliament. But the Far Right has done so, only in 2016.

National Fronts come and BNPs go, EDLs come and Britain Firsts go, but certain institutional and organisational manifestations of the Far Right are perennial, hitherto even permanent. Mair's is the Springbok Club, which is run by the people who also run the London Swinton Circle. And that, in turn, was addressed by Liam Fox (born 1961) and by Owen Paterson (born 1956) as recently as 2014. Ah, those old 1980s Tory Boys, in their Hang Mandela T-shirts and all the rest of it. Wherever did they all end up?

In the Thatcher and, to a lesser extent, Major years, there were Ministers who were members of the Western Goals Institute or the Monday Club, which latter had played a key role in securing British accession to the EU. Those crossed over, via such things as the fiercely Eurofederalist League of Saint George, to overt neo-Nazism on the Continent, to the Ku Klux Klan, to apartheid South Africa, to Ian Smith's Rhodesia, to the juntas of Latin America, to Marcos and Suharto, to the Duvaliers, and so on. Nick Griffin's father, Edgar, was a Vice-President of Iain Duncan Smith's Leadership Campaign. He answered what was listed as one of its official telephone numbers (in his house) with the words "British National Party".

And now, Toby Young and the "London Conference on Intelligence". I tried to tell you. I was right about Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange. For pointing that one out, I am still banned from major websites such as The Spectator and Harry's Place. But I was right. I am right about this, too. 

Nor are they unconnected. It has all come out about Margaret Thatcher's friends. She knew about Cyril Smith when she arranged his knighthood. Jimmy Savile's knighthood was rejected four times by the relevant committee, until she absolutely insisted upon it for the man with whom she spent every New Year's Eve, and on whose programmes she was so obsessed with appearing that her staff had to ration those appearances. Her closest lieutenant was Peter Morrison. Unlike the Prince of Wales, she would have had sight of every file on Laurens van der Post.

What was so important about Smith, a highly eccentric and largely absentee MP for what was then a tiny minority party? He was a Thatcherite avant la lettre, who had left the Labour Party when he had started to see cars outside council houses. Thatcher's father was also a Liberal until all of that fell apart between the Wars, and he was never a member of the Conservative Party to his dying day. He, she and Smith were politically indistinguishable.

That the Radical Right put out pamphlets demanding the legalisation of paedophile activity was mentioned in Our Friends in the North, which was broadcast in 1996. Our Friends in the North is so integral to subsequent popular culture that one of its four stars is now James Bond, another was the first Doctor of this century's revival of Doctor Who, and neither of the others is exactly obscure. 

That Thatcherite MPs were likely to commit sexual violence against boys with the full knowledge of the party hierarchy formed quite a major subplot in To Play the King, the middle series of the original House of Cards trilogy. To Play the King was broadcast as long ago as 1993. No politician or commentator of the generation that is now in or approaching its pomp could possibly have seen anything less than every minute of that trilogy.

Moreover, anyone who came to political maturity in what were then the newly-former mining areas will have been made fully aware that the miners in the dock, all the way back in 1984 and 1985, routinely made reference to the proclivities of the Home Secretary of the day, Leon Brittan. Those proclivities were common knowledge from Fife and the Lothians, to County Durham and the southern part of Northumberland, to South Yorkshire, to South Wales, among other places. Nothing was carried in the papers or included in the court reports, but the pit villages never needed Twitter in order to circumvent that kind of censorship.

Notably about Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange, I have been here before: everyone called me a nutter for years, but I was right, I knew that I was right, so did they, and they now deny that they ever denied what I had been saying all along. Likewise, I have been trying for years to tell you about the Far Right in this country, about its links to the 1980s New Right by which we are now governed, and about the links between both of those and paedophile advocacy, activism and activity. There it all is, at UCL and at the very heart of government. Will you listen now?

Monday, 15 January 2018

The Lanchester Review: Why Senator Cardin Is A Fitting Opponent For Chelsea Manning

Greater Than Attlee

Chris Williamson has been ridiculed for suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn would be an even greater Prime Minister than Clement Attlee was. What, however, is wrong with that?

Attlee's wars tend to be ignored. But in fact they were rather squalid, and he made the first ever cuts to the Welfare State for the sake of the Warfare State. He was the best Labour Prime Minister so far, by a mile. But only so far.

The Broken Net

Who even remembered that there was a net migration target? It was a joke at the last two General Elections, insofar as it came up at all last year.

For more than half a decade, immigration was a huge issue. But then, quite suddenly, it just wasn't. How the world turns.

Momentum, Indeed

I cannot see how it is news that supporters of the twice-elected Leader of the Labour Party have been elected to its National Executive Committee. It would have been news if his opponents had been. But consider that each of the Momentum-backed candidates received over 60,000 votes. That is about as many as the entire membership of the Conservative Party.

If Constituency Labour Parties do not exist to select and reselect, or deselect, parliamentary candidates, then what, exactly, are they for? That question presents itself with particular starkness here in North West Durham, where the CLP was told last year that not only was no one in it capable of being a parliamentary candidate, but no one in it was even permitted to have any say in who that candidate was to be.

Daily Mail, Don't Be Derailed

Whether or not Virgin is now going to sell you anyway, it threatened not to do so. Run your excoriating exposé of its publicly funded profiteering, from the railways to NHS, as if it had followed through on that threat. Here on the Left, we would be right behind you.

Follow The Money

Carillion, which is chaired by Theresa May's adviser on corporate responsibility, is not really a private company at all. It exists almost entirely in order to profit from public contracts. In that, it is like Atos. It is like G4S. It is very much like Virgin. The rest of us need to start following the money. The money that does not find its way back to the Treasury. And the money that does find its way to either or both of the Conservative Party and the DUP.

This is the Conservative Party's public money laundering operation that is its client State. Dressed up as tax-avoiding private companies. Or dressed up as tax-exempt charities such as the New Schools Network, which derives 90 per cent of its income from the public purse, and which has done little or nothing for years, but which continues to pay £90,000 per annum to Toby Young.

For that matter, does anyone seriously suggest that the Ulster Institute for Social Research is not connected to the DUP? To which party, in that case, is that highly political Institute connected? When  it is based at the perfectly respectable University of Ulster, and when it and Young are holding their "London Conference on Intelligence" at the world class University College London, then what on God's green earth must be going on at less prestigious institutions?

I have been trying for years to tell you about the Far Right in this country, about its links to the 1980s New Right by which we are now governed, and about the links between both of those and paedophile advocacy, activism and activity. There it all is, at UCL and at the very heart of government. Will you listen now?

Time To Get Manning?

Chelsea Manning is many things. But Chelsea Manning is not Ben Cardin. So, why not Chelsea Manning for Senator? Seriously, why not? How would Cardin be better than Manning? How, exactly?

The Right Leaders?

In the future, will everyone will Leader of UKIP for 15 minutes? No, in the present, everyone is being Leader of UKIP for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, the next Leader of the Conservative Party is shaping up to be Gavin Williamson. Yes, he is a Remainer. Of course he is a Remainer. As determined by the party itself, that is the minimum qualification for the job.

Neither he nor his patroness, Theresa May, is any good at government. But look at how she became Prime Minister, and look at how he became Defence Secretary. She is not at bad politics, and nor is he.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Withdrawal Remarks

Of course Labour will vote against the EU Withdrawal Bill, an Executive power grab that Tony Benn would have opposed to his last breath.

And of course Labour wants to withdraw from the Single Market and the Customs Union. Jeremy Corbyn is more Eurosceptical than any member of the present Cabinet, and he has been so since before most of them were in public life at all.

The Heiress Presumptive

To ask what the political opinions of Laura Pidcock MP are, simply that, is apparently now to engage in "personal attacks". Truly, she is the Heiress Presumptive.

To placate what is still the profoundly unconvinced Constituency Labour Party that was never asked whether it wanted her, she has been appointed to Shadow a Ministry that does not exist. Over to that CLP.

By all accounts, it is an open secret in circles in favour Scottish independence that Laura Pidcock is one of theirs, placing her at variance with both of her new patrons, Owen Jones and George Galloway, as well as with Richard Leonard, whom she was already considered important enough to be invited to endorse.

But does she agree with Galloway, and probably also with Jones, that the Falkland Islands ought to be handed over to Argentina? My own view is that no one should be taken seriously who opposes that view but who does not also support the Chagos Islanders, that the amount of money and attention paid to the Falkland Islands is obscene compared to the neglect of the larger population on St Helena such as during the recent crisis over the airport, that the pointed absence of St Helenian and other brown faces whenever the Falklands are shown on British television can only be explained as a matter of policy, and that the Falkland Islanders are among the people who need to be reminded that the people of Great Britain also have a right of self-determination, which they have exercised in order to leave behind far larger populations in the past, including after wars that were far more recent. But none of those is the same thing. What, however, is the view of Laura Pidcock?

Yes, that does mean that I disagree with Galloway. Why would I not? I do on a number of matters, as I have done from time to time with my other Campaign Patron, Councillor Alex Watson OBE. For example, while I accept that public figures do all sorts of things for charity, Galloway's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother cost him his own seat, and Respect several more, in the hung Parliament of 2010. You could expect no comparable strategic error from me. But might you from Laura Pidcock?

Saturday, 13 January 2018

With Respect

"To my comrade David Lindsay, with respect, George Galloway." So reads the inscription in my copy of his book, I'm Not The Only One. I have enormous political respect and personal affection for George, who needs to face facts. He is not going to be a Minister in a Corbyn Government. He is never again going to be a Labour MP. He is never going to be let back into the Labour Party at all.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of his expulsion in 2003, he has since stood for Parliament against Labour five times, he has been successful on two occasions, he has taken seats from Labour on both of them, he has prevented the re-election of a Labour MP on one of them, he has actively supported several other parliamentary and numerous municipal candidates against Labour ones, he has stood for the European Parliament against Labour (I voted for Respect at those elections in 2004, albeit not in London, where he was the lead candidate), he has stood for the Scottish Parliament against Labour, he has stood twice for the London Assembly against Labour, he has literally allowed his name to appear in that of a London Assembly list against Labour on a third occasion, and he has stood for Mayor of London against Labour.

George most recently stood for Parliament against Labour a mere six months ago. When it comes to merely threatening to stand against Labour, the offence for which I was expelled because I had done it once, even he himself has probably lost count. Even now, he is dropping hints about Kensington and Chelsea Council. He has told me live on air that I ought to stand for Parliament, and he has told me face to face that I ought to stand for Parliament. He has not formally resigned as one of my Campaign Patrons.

George's name has appeared alongside mine on several published and unpublished round-robin letters, and it has also appeared, obviously without mine, on an unpublished letter attacking the abuse of the criminal justice system against me. I have avidly retweeted his material, and he has fairly regularly retweeted mine. I have publicised his radio programme, his television programme and his documentary film, all of which I shall continue to do, since they are excellent. He tapped me to be a weekly panellist on another RT programme that he was to have presented; it was never commissioned, but a pilot was made, and I was in it. He agreed to write a weekly column for my magazine, which remains a work in progress, whatever the George Wallace County Durham Labour Party and the Bull Connor Crown Prosecution Service might do to try and kill it.

I published an article in The Huffington Post making the case for George's London Mayoral candidacy, and The Lanchester Review carried an extensive expression of support for him. Other than those in County Durham which were not being defended by Grahame Morris, the Teaching Assistants' Champion, Manchester Gorton was the only constituency in Great Britain at which I did not advocate a Labour vote last year, calling instead for a vote for George. I maintain that he would have won it if it had been a by-election after all, having accurately predicted George's victory at Bradford West in 2012. Just as I accurately predicted a hung Parliament in 2010, Ed Miliband as Labour Leader, UKIP's defeat at every by-election where its candidate was not the incumbent MP, no UKIP gains in 2015, Jeremy Corbyn's runaway victory after his rivals' infamous abstention, Corbyn's increased mandate in 2016, and (uniquely, so far as I am aware) a hung Parliament in 2017.

Those who say that I am a false prophet either ignored George completely in 2012 or said that he was going to lose his deposit, predicted a Conservative overall majority in 2010, predicted that David Miliband would lead the Labour Party, predicted that UKIP would win every English by-election during that Parliament, predicted that it would return dozens of MPs in 2015 as it "replaced Labour in the North", predicted that Anyone But Corbyn would win the Labour Leadership, predicted that Owen Smith would either defeat him or massively reduce his margin of victory, and predicted a landslide for Theresa May. Had it not been for the electoral fraud to which the Conservative Party freely admits, but which the CPS can find "no public interest" in prosecuting, then Labour would indeed have won the 2015 General Election, as I predicted.

George's doomed desperation to be let back into the Labour Party has led him to set aside all of this in order to declare Laura Pidcock above criticism by a journalist and activist who is also her constituent and near neighbour. Laura has just been named a Shadow Minister for Labour even though, while there ought to be a Ministry of Labour, in point of fact there is not one.

Yet it is either certain or very highly likely that she disagrees with George, and with me, about Brexit, about the Teaching Assistants, about crossparty friendship and co-operation, about working for Murdoch-owned broadcasters, about writing for the Mail newspapers, about Scottish independence, about the relative importance of funding university students over their peers, about all-women shortlists, about being or not being a Marxist, about immigration, about the policy approach to climate change, about Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton, about the possibility of a State Visit by Trump, about fathers' rights, about abortion, and about assisted suicide.

Laura has been endorsed as a potential future Leader of the Labour Party, and thus as a potential future Prime Minister, by Owen Jones. Does she agree with him about drugs, about prostitution and pornography (including the lap-dancing clubs that have been an issue in this constituency in the past), and about gender as a matter of self-identification? Or does she agree, as I do, with George Galloway on those questions? And what is George's response to her answer?

Clashing Yellow

Red-Purple-Blue. Blue-Purple-Red. Either would work. Local people know what the purple is about. No, it is not UKIP. Well, not directly, anyway. Yellow would clash, wouldn't it?

Yet, with blue and yellow as the colours of the Teaching Assistants, it will be in there, indicating my intention to have Lib Dems on my constituency staff alongside Labourites, Independents and Conservatives.

And if possible to have one or two on my Westminster staff as well, at the national and international centre of developing and articulating the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy.

But on the latter front, the signs are not promising that they would have even have any desire to be there. Vince Cable has today declared his opposition to any nationalisation of Carillion. Well, of course he has. The roots of Thatcherism, like the roots of Thatcher, were Liberal, not Tory.

I voted for the sole and successful Lib Dem candidate for Lanchester Parish Council last year, while also voting for the sole and successful Conservative candidate, for all of the successful Independent candidates, for successful and unsuccessful Labour candidates, and for both of the unsuccessful candidates with No Description.

At the General Election, I voted for Owen Temple, the Teaching Assistants' Champion, whose victory would have delivered theirs as surely as would have done Labour's loss of overall control of Durham County Council.

But that Whig tradition is not mine.

Real Estate

In this country, nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Donald Trump is more important than the crisis in Carillion. Someone needs to tell the BBC that.

And that Boris Johnson is on record that he no longer visits New York for fear of running into Donald Trump. And that Nigel Farage is not a significant figure. And that there is in fact a bit of a story about him, which is not his call for a second referendum. And that Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan are entitled to the right of reply.

Don't Be A Seasonal Vegetable