Sunday, 17 December 2017

Belt And Brace Ourselves

Longstanding readers will recall a note of scepticism about David Cameron. But he will do until someone better is in a position to further the absolutely vital integration of all four parts of the United Kingdom, of all four English regions, of each and of the British Overseas Territories, and of each and all of the Crown Dependencies, into the Belt and Road Initiative. Make it happen.

Back of the Net

Having announced Prince Harry's engagement so as to upstage the Industrial Strategy, the Royal Family has arranged his wedding so as to upstage the FA Cup Final, which even the President of the FA, Prince William, will not now attend.

Nor will the Prime Minister. Nor will the Leader of the Opposition. Nor will the latter's glittering young mates who are also mates with the younger Royals. The Court Party is well and truly in power.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Not In The Public Interest

So, no charges against the mounted policeman who lashed out at Hillsborough, nor against his mate, a farrier, who falsely claimed that the fans had been burning the policeman's horse with cigarettes. "Not in the public interest," according to the dear old Crown Prosecution Service that has managed to have my own trial, on no evidence whatever, delayed by yet another four months.

If there has not been been a General Election by April, then expect a further delay, and so on until there has been, even if that is not until July 2022. But as soon as there has been a General Election, then expect them to drag everyone along so that they can drop the charge on the day. You are paying for this.

I Tried To Tell You

I tried to tell you that the plan was to turn the United Kingdom into a colony of the European Union, bound forever by its laws while having no further say in their content. No one doubts that now. Brexit will only happen when the majority of the House of Commons has been elected on an economic programme that would simply be impossible to implement without leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. That means the Labour Left. It actually cannot mean anyone else. But in the meantime, what? Five points of primary legislation are now necessary.

First, the restoration of the supremacy of United Kingdom over European Union law, using that provision to repatriate industrial and regional policy as Labour has advocated for some time, using it to repatriate agricultural policy (farm subsidies go back to the War, 30 years before we joined the EU, and they are a good idea in themselves, whereas the Common Agricultural Policy most certainly is not), and using it to restore the United Kingdom's historic fishing rights of 200 miles or to the median line.

Secondly, the requirement that all EU legislation, in order to have any effect in this country, be enacted by both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or the other of them. Thirdly, the requirement that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard.

Fourthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament. That would also deal with whatever the problem was supposed to be with the Human Rights Act.

And fifthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs who had been certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons. Thus, we should no longer be subject to the legislative will of Stalinists and Trotskyists, of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis (such as have now entered government in Austria on condition that there be no British-style referendum on EU membership), of members of Eastern Europe's kleptomaniac nomenklatura, of people who believed the Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, and of Dutch ultra-Calvinists who would not have women candidates.

Or would we? There is now at least one MP who would certify the political acceptability of every Far Left and ultra-Left faction. There is a reason why that MP has not been made so much as a Parliamentary Private Secretary, even under Jeremy Corbyn. Such will never be the lot of, in a crowded field, the most left-wing person ever elected to the House of Commons.

And, again, I tried to tell you that the single biggest internal security threat came from the Far Right. Again, no one doubts that now. Thomas Mair, the murderer of Jo Cox one year ago today, 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 last year.

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".

If it is not 15 years, then it is not far off, since the Ku Klux Klan went to the trouble of emailing every member of the then Derwentside District Council, from the United States, promising to stand a candidate against me if I tried to secure this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. A few years later, the BNP's then poster boy, Mark Collett, made the same threat. The first intervention, at least, was in support of the man who regularly, if under a pseudonym, posted comments on here calling me a "mulatto". He is now the Regional Director of the London Labour Party. I tried to tell you.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Bring Down The Towering Hypocrisy

Four years ago, we were all called mad conspiracy theorists, fake news peddlers and Kremlin trolls for saying that, via the Syrian "rebels", the CIA was arming the so-called Islamic State. Now, though, everyone admits it as if it were nothing.

Truly, we are back in the Cold War, when the world made sense to the likes of Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who is reduced to suggesting that Russia might cut our undersea Internet cables for no apparent reason. Such types have spent a generation claiming that any and everywhere was the biggest threat since the fall of the Soviet Union, and having exhausted all other options, they are back where they began.

Not that there ever was a military threat from the Soviet Union. It was many things, but it was never that. It had nothing remotely approaching either the means or the will to invade Western Europe, never mind the United States. We all know that now. Everyone who knew anything knew it then, and some of them, such as Enoch Powell, said so.

In the meantime, we have had, and we continue to have, "The War on Terror", which was recently taken apart on Newsnight by Sir Richard Dearlove. People with MI6 backgrounds have been publicly sceptical from the start. Where are all these terrorist attacks? That they are invariably so newsworthy is because they are vanishingly rare. But the policy response to them, which never has anything much to do with them, is frighteningly effective at creating and exacerbating very real threats indeed.

For example, in Syria, where everyone now admits that, via the "rebels", the CIA is arming the so-called Islamic State, just as we are arming the "Free Syrian Police", a branch of the "Free Syrian Army" about which some of us were screamed down for daring to warn you. And then there are the White Helmets. People always trust the first responders most, so setting up your own is always a good way in. We fund the White Helmets up to the hilt, while cutting our own emergency services to the bone.

We need to take the money from the "Free Syrian Police" and the White Helmets, and use it to ensure that those who were first on the scene at Grenfell Tower and at Westminster Bridge can once again afford to live anywhere near the places where they carry out their literally vital work. Make it happen.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

To Build Public Trust In The Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Please sign here.

Richard Burgon explains why.

Putin It Out There

Vladimir Putin has just given his end-of-year press conference. Five hours, to an international press corps, with no script, no vetting, nothing. Imagine that here. You can't, can you? And that is the point.

The Moguls Versus The Raj?

I just don't get this extreme hostility, either to Rupert Murdoch, or to RT and Sputnik. In either case, compared to what? The BBC?

A Meaningful Vote?

I am not terribly concerned about that vote last night. None of the Labour Brexiteers who have, in the case of Dennis Skinner, voted against every Treaty even including that of Accession, voted with the Government. It was symbolically important as a defeat. But it did not add up to much.

Our Own Mickey Mouse Deal

Disney may be paying £39 billion for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, including its stake in Sky. But we are paying £39 billion to the EU just so that it will negotiate a trade deal with us. We have our own Mickey Mouse Deal.

Points of Interest

Just like that, we are told that there will, or will not, be any change in interest rates. It was not ever thus. This is the Original Sin of New Labour.

In redemption, we need the reassertion of democratic political control over the Bank of England, including that the approval of the House of Commons be required for changes to interest rates. And we need the assertion of democratic political control over the City of London, with a Glass-Steagall style of division between investment banking and retail banking, with the extension of that principle to crack down on loan sharks throughout society, and with a criminal investigation into the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Together with the closure of all tax havens under British jurisdiction unless they opted for independence instead, leading to the incorporation of all four parts of the United Kingdom, of all nine English regions, of all of the Crown Dependencies, and of all of the British Overseas Territories, into the Belt and Road Initiative.

In order to bring about these changes, we need to secure the election to the City of London Corporation, the election to the States of Jersey, the election to the States of Guernsey, the election to Tynwald, the election to the legislatures of the British Overseas Territories, and the appointment to the House of Lords while it exists, of supporters of economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends.

And we need to effect the transfer of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, including Royal Assent, to six or seven out of nine Co-Presidents elected nationally by each of us voting for one candidate so that the top nine would be elected.

Alongside a new second chamber elected by the 99 lieutenancy areas, with each of us voting for one candidate so that the top six would be elected. And alongside the 50 Commons seats that would otherwise be abolished by the boundary changes, filled by a national election, with each of us voting for one candidate so that the top 50 would be elected.

Make it happen.

Reach For The Sky

Rupert Murdoch is a proper old newsman, second generation, from a world that has very nearly passed away. Even in 2017, he has chosen print over broadcasting and streaming. What now for Sky News? Well, be on the bus, or be under it. If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu.

There are positions that the BBC simply ignores. The workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, as the key swing voters. Identity issues located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. The leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars.

The decision of the EU referendum by areas that voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru. Opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, opposition 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 Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

Rejection of 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. Rescue of issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And refusal to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. 

The new owners of Sky News ought to identify and include representatives of the traditions that those and other marginalised views express in practice. We stand ready to serve.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Just The Job?

Fewer people are in employment. Well, of course they are. As some of us tried to tell you, the low unemployment figures are just fewer people on JSA. Using that logic, if it can be so described, you could abolish JSA altogether, thereby declaring full employment.

If Theresa May wants to bang on about the last Labour Government, seven years after she herself became a Cabinet Minister, then she needs to be asked which of the measures in question she opposed, and which Jeremy Corbyn did.

The Power of Three?

Whip This Out

Contempt of Parliament. Again. And I am a Brexit supporter. But that is because I am a good Bennite believer in parliamentary sovereignty and in parliamentary democracy.

Here's The Rub

Labour will not make a decision until January, at the earliest, about Kelvin Hopkins. He may or may not have done something that he should not have done. But he did at least two things that he should have done.

He was the first MP to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for Leader of the Labour Party. And he campaigned for Leave, on all the good Old Labour grounds that, based on the map, did in fact carry the day. Hence the fuss over him, but not over, for example, Keith Vaz.

Or is Hopkins accused of something worse than betraying his wife with rent boys for whom he had offered to buy cocaine?

Sweet Home Alabama

Even way down in Dixie, the Democrats now do not need to moderate or modify themselves in the slightest in order to beat the Republicans under Donald Trump. That is what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party.

I am sorry that Roy Moore had to be beaten by an Establishment liberal. He could have been, and therefore he should have been, beaten by a Sanders supporter, perhaps even more comprehensively than he was.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Show Racism The Red Card, Indeed

Aged only 60, Anne Marie N. Morris, to whom the Conservative Whip has just been restored, used an expression that had not been current in 50 or 60 years.

But more to the point, she used a word that would have been career-ending in the American South. Roy Moore could not get away with it, and he probably would not want to.

Morris ought to be expelled from the House of Commons. That is an extremely rare censure, but this is a mercifully rare case. Forget the anti-racist credentials of any MP who failed to support that censure in this case.

"The Alternative Would Be Runaway Inflation"

Imagine that.

If you do not want this, then you need Modern Monetary Theory.

The Smell of Cannabis

We need a single category of illegal drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on.

Most certainly including cannabis, which is linked to violent psychosis, and any medicinal properties of which are no more applied by smoking a spliff than those of opium would be by injecting heroin, or than those of aspirin would be by ingesting bark.

Make it happen.

Lost In The Post

On this Postal Workers' Day, the reason why the Royal Mail cannot be made to issue a stamp commemorating British withdrawal from the EU, apart from the fact that it has not yet happened, is that the Royal Mail has been privatised. On the orders of the EU. But with the enthusiastic support of those who are now demanding a Brexit stamp.

Give and Take

I overestimated the number of Brexiteers on the Conservative benches. I suggested that they might approach the two dozen or so Conservatives who opposed Maastricht, and include some of the same individuals.

But it turns out that there is precisely one, Philip Davies, who did not enter Parliament until 2005, since, almost unbelievably, he is only five years older than I am. The likes of Iain Duncan Smith queued up to agree with Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry.

There are half a dozen times that many Brexiteers on the Labour benches, just as there were three times as many anti-Maastricht Labour MPs as anti-Maastricht Conservatives. In any case, all Labour MPs will vote against "Canada Plus Plus Plus".

By contrast, even the DUP is now signed up to a deal that is even worse than staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union would have been. But then, had the old man been dead a couple more years, then the DUP would have campaigned for Remain.

The entire Tory and Murdoch press has also rallied behind the white flag of Theresa May and David Davis. With The Guardian about to axe Giles Fraser's column, Leavers are left with only the Morning Star. And The Word, of course. This could be the making of that. I very much hope that large numbers of Leavers will become regular readers of both.

They might then realise that the election of a Corbyn Government was the only way to keep the economic and foreign policy debates open, whether or not you agreed with Corbyn in any way on economic policy, in particular. Unless you want a return to "the centre ground" of the 20 years BC, Before Corbyn, then you must vote Labour at the next General Election, no matter what.

Happy Holidays?

Hanukkah is a strange one. After the emergence of Judaism, set out below, Hanukkah was historically a very minor festival until almost into living memory, and in much of the Jewish world it still is. But it does provide an opportunity to pre-empt this year’s round of lazy claims that Christmas is a taking over of some pagan winter festival. 

There is of course a universal need for winter festivals. But the dating of Christmas derives from Hanukkah, not from the pagan Saturnalia or anything else. No British or Irish Christmas custom derives from paganism. There is little, if any, fokloric pagan continuation in these islands, and little, if anything, is known about pre-Christian religion here. Most, if not all, allegations to the contrary derive from Protestant polemic against practices originating in the Middle Ages, and usually the Late Middle Ages at that. The modern religion known as Paganism is an invention from scratch, the very earliest roots of which are in the late nineteenth century. 

Furthermore, the dating of Christmas from that of Hanukkah raises serious questions for Protestants, who mistakenly exclude the two Books of Maccabees from the Canon because, along with various other works, they were allegedly not considered canonical at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. But in fact, the rabbis only excluded those books specifically because they were likely to lead people into Christianity, and they are repeatedly quoted or cited in the New Testament, as they were by Jewish writers up to their rabbinical exclusion. Even thereafter, a point is made by the continued celebration of Hanukkah, a celebration thanks to books to which Jews only really had access because Christians had preserved them, since the rabbis wanted them destroyed.

Indeed, far from being the mother-religion that it is often assumed to be, a very great deal of Judaism is actually a reaction against Christianity, although this is by no means the entirety of the relationship, with key aspects of kabbalah in fact deriving from Christianity, with numerous other examples set out in Rabbi Michael Hilton’s The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM Press, 1994), and so on.

Hanukkah bushes, and the giving and receiving of presents at Hanukkah, stand in a tradition of two-way interaction both as old as Christianity and about as old as anything that could reasonably be described as Judaism. As Rabbi Hilton puts it, “It is hardly surprising that Jewish communities living for centuries in Christian society should be influenced by the surrounding culture.” There are many, many, many other examples that could be cited.

These range from the Medieval adoption for Jewish funeral use of the Psalm numbered 23 in Jewish and Protestant editions; to the new centrality within Judaism that the rise of Christianity gave to Messianic expectations (the Sadducees, for example, had not believed in the Messiah at all) or to the purification of women after childbirth; to the identification in later parts of the Zohar of four senses of Scripture technically different from, but effectively very similar to, those of Catholicism; to Medieval rabbis’ explicit and unembarrassed use of Christian stories in their sermons.

Many a midrash – such as “to you the Sabbath is handed over, but you are not handed over to the Sabbath” – is easily late enough to be an example of the direct influence of Christianity, yet Jewish and Christian scholars alike tend to announce an unidentified common, usually Pharisaic, root, although they rarely go off on any wild goose chase to find that root. I think that we all know why not. 

But the real point is something far deeper, arising from the definition of the Jewish Canon in explicitly anti-Christian terms, and from the anti-Christian polemic in the Talmud. Judaism hardly uses the Hebrew Bible directly rather than its own, defining and anti-Christian, commentaries on it and on each other. Jews doubting this should ask themselves when they last heard of an animal sacrifice, or which of their relatives was a polygamist. 

Judaism, I say again, is not some sort of mother-religion. Rather, I say again that it is a reaction against Christianity, and specifically, like Islam, a Semitic reaction against the recapitulation in Christ and His Church of all three of the Old Israel, Hellenism and the Roman Empire; there are also, of course, culturally European reactions against that recapitulation by reference to Classical sources, as there always have been, although they are increasingly allied to Islam.

Thus constructed, Judaism became, and remains, an organising principle, again like Classically-based reactions, for all sorts of people discontented for whatever reason with the rise of Christianity in general and with the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in particular, including all the historical consequences of that up to the present day, without any realistic suggestion of a common ethnic background.

Above all, Judaism’s unresolved Messianic hope and expectation has issued in all sorts of earthly utopianisms: Freudian, Marxist (and then Trotskyist, and then Shachtmanite), monetarist, Zionist, Straussian, neoconservative by reference to all of these, and so forth. They are all expressions of Judaism’s repudiation of Original Sin, Christianity’s great bulwark against the rationally and empirically falsifiable notions of inevitable historical progress and of the perfectibility of human nature in this life alone and by human efforts alone.

It is Christianity that refers constantly to the Biblical text. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Temple, Jesus Christ, Who prophesied both the destruction of the Temple and its replacement in His own Person. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Priesthood. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Sacrifice, the Mass.

And it is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that is the religion of the Hebrew Scriptures. Including the two Books of Maccabees, the origin of Hanukkah. The true form of which, as of so much else, is Christmas.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Cheggemony

Apparently, Theresa May is giving some speech on Brexit, or she has been. But who cares? Keith Chegwin is dead. And that is the news. Well, of course it is.

Also today, Ed Sheeran, the biggest pop star in the world (for good or ill) and the darling of Middle England's youth, at least, surprises no one by coming out as a very strong Corbyn supporter.

His best mate is another huge star in Britain, but with a rather more working-class and ethnic minority audience, and is himself the link man between Jeremy Corbyn and Prince William. That's right. Prince William.

The dull-as-dishwater Tories just do not come into it. If this is the popular culture, then what can they get done even in the office that, if this is the popular culture, they cannot expect to hold for very much longer?

Even those of the Royals who have any real pull or clout these days prefer people who prefer Corbyn. This is what hegemony looks like.

The First Casualty

Nothing about Jeremy Corbyn's Séan MacBride Peace Prize, his second major international peace award. But the claim by The Times that Vladimir Putin has tried to use RT to stir up a class war in response to Grenfell Tower.

Neil Clark On Tour

Taking the fight to Oliver Kamm in 2018.

Gulf Strait Talking

We are all supposed to be terribly pleased that our self-appointed, thick-as-mince but nasty-as-hell Defence Secretary is selling 24 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Qatar, which is already a constitutionally Wahhabi state even before the backsliding rulers are overthrown. When those jets are turned on us, then you will see that the bleeding hearts were right all along. Getting out of both the Gulf and the arms trade is nothing other than good strategic sense.

Meanwhile, from across the Gulf, back comes Boris Johnson, having proved exactly as useful as he has ever been. With Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's trial having been delayed, there is ample time for someone capable of doing the job to fly to Tehran and simply refuse to leave without her. It does not much matter who, with a sufficiently high profile, does this. Foreign policy hawks who fail to do it, as they all will just as they all applaud the arming of Qatar (never mind Saudi Arabia) to the teeth, are particularly worthy of contempt. But Jeremy Corbyn, over to you.

Officially More Dangerous Than George Galloway

Next season's programme for the Gala Theatre, Durham arrives with a message from Ossie Johnson. Ossie needs to consider that the County Council's savage cuts to bus services, not least affecting his own ward (where a bus stop is named after his house), have largely excluded from cultural life many of us disabled people who used to participate in it.

Those responsible for that exclusion would have lost control of the Council if those with the power to deliver that result had listened to me, instead of listening to the political advice of a man who is now the Political Advisor to the Member of Parliament whose constituency contains Ossie's ward, where she now resides.

As a result of the fact that certain people took that advice instead of mine, 472 Teaching Assistants are still on course to lose 23 per cent of their pay. But then, can anyone name a specific austerity measure against which that MP, Laura Pidcock, ever voted during her time on Northumberland County Council?

That question might usefully be asked at a meeting of her Constituency Labour Party, which I am aghast to discover still exists, despite the ruling of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party that no one in North West Durham was capable of being a parliamentary candidate. Anyone not sharing that assessment might consider that there is a world elsewhere.

I do hope that George Galloway, who with Alex Watson remains one of my Campaign Patrons, is successful in his quest for readmission to the Labour Party. Unless I am very much mistaken, then that would leave me as the only person alive who remained subject to a lifetime ban. Being officially more dangerous than George Galloway would be too delicious for words.

But I intend to vote Labour at the next General Election. And I wish Laura no ill. I assert that the following is an accurate summary of her view: "It is blatantly obvious that David Lindsay is innocent, that there is absolutely no evidence against him, that the charge against him should be dropped, that the complaint against him should be withdrawn, and that any and all Police files on him should be closed." She is free to deny that that is an accurate summary of her view. Until that time, however, it stands as such. And why, therefore, would I stand against her?