Sunday, 27 December 2015

The world turned upside down-reprise!

Another year approaching and another feeding frenzy.Without doubt the next few months will be concerned about only two things,the bloody EU Referendum and the feverish plotting in the Parliamentary Labour Party to get rid of the leader elected with the biggest popular mandate in British political history.
What does that tell us about the state of the political realm at the moment.
First the EU referendum, I'm totally bored by it already,it would appear to be already decided anyway and even if it isn't it doesn't much matter anyway.
In or out,the multi-nationals will win, Cameron will come back waving a bit of paper and proclaiming 'peace in our time'-sorry, 'Victory is ours' and that bloke who looks like a frog and didn't win Thanet last may will jump up and down a bit,then go on drawing his fat cat salary in the European parliament.
I actually hope we all forget about the whole thing,and the turnout is lower than the one that got Police and Crime Commissioners elected (Remember them ? about 60k a year for doing bugger all squared!
Now the other issue is the continued harrying of Jeremy Corbyn by the assorted disloyal deadbeats that make up about one third of the Parliamentary Labour Party or to put it simpler about 00000.1% of the Party membership.
Mind you there is a vigorous rear guard action going on to resuscitate the memory of T.Blair. 
In last Sunday's Observer there was a two page spread rehabilitating the man who almost destroyed the Labour Party,who lost thousands of members,who saw local parties contract,ward organisation disappear and affiliated membership collapse.
The piece was written by one Peter Hyman who strangely enough was TB's chief speech-writer (did he I wonder write that immortal almost line 'I'm just a straight sort of guy' or some such tosh) 
Hyman's big argument was that:
"This is an existential moment in Labour's history.It may not survive.And it may never win again."
In order to demonstrate the dreadfulness of Labour's future he outlined the success of new Labour's past.He gave three examples.
1.The National Minimum Wage 
2.The Good Friday Peace settlement
3.Civil Partnerships.  
Now I'm willing to give a cheer for the national minimum wage (shows how fair minded I am) but of course a national living wage might have been more sensible.
And of course the Northern Ireland peace accord was a good bit of work, but I seem to remember it was the bravery and stubbornness of the late Mo Mowlam who had more to do with facing out paisley than ever Blair did.
Civil Partnerships were also a good thing-but changing the course of history ? naw I don't think so.
Hyman also went on to extol the great achievements in Education, health and local government. Well if saddling schools with more ways to weight a pig was an achievement, if dumping on the NHS dozens of costly PFI schemes and introducing cabinet government to creaking local authorities can all be measured as achievements-I suppose Hyman has a point-of sorts.
But on the biggest landmark and abiding feature of the Blair presidency we had this;

"The Iraq war,and the knock-on effect on the region,has for many tarnished the entire record ofv the Labour government."
Tarnished the fucking record-no it trashed the record for all time and virtually destroyed the party as a left of centre force.Even the bloody Lib-Dems had more sense and voted against the invasion of Iraq.
If those clones of Blairism think that there is an appetite for more wars,more weaponry,more aggression then they are as dim as Donald Trump on a clear day.Has no-one on the Blairite wing noticed what happened in Scotland ? One Labour MP left in Scotland.
And they expect Jeremy Corbyn to work a miracle there this year!If you want to know what went wrong in Scotland how about two wee names-Dougie Alexander and Jim Murphy is all that you need to know.
So far this has been a pessimistic piece and I don't mean it to be.At last I believe there is hope emerging within the Labour Party, as there is all over Europe.The old machine politics will take a long time dying, just look at the PLP if you want to see its death throes, but there is something quite exciting happening and contrary to the commentators it is not going back in time.There is an optimism ,but it needs nurturing and building.
What the labour Party needs to go back to is what it was once good at,building support in communities,street by street and in workplaces (where they exist) and it needs to do it not with the dinosaurs of New Labour but rather with the young,inside and outside the party.What we need is not a party but a movement that embraces those in existing parties like the Greens,SNP,Plaid and SF, but also in the broader groups fighting austerity and inequality, fighting for tolerance and for a socialist island.
I believe Momentum needs momentum to move forward,with activists from all over the left,because we have one hell of a war to fight,not simply with the numpties of Blairism but with the awful spectre of the far right, that is rising in many guises,from the crackpot little Englanders of UKIP to dar more sinisterforces of the far right.
It's time for a Very New Labour Party. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sometimes things get nasty.

It goes with the territory, politics can sometimes be nasty,brutish and short!It is always possible that someone will not agree with you (heavens forbear!) and they will disagree with you, they might even shout at you, and if you were Spencer Percival they might even shoot you dead!
Fortunately the killing of politicians is a relatively rare  occurance. In.In some parts of the world it is an operational hazard and assassins do operate,but even so it's still rare.
however what is far less rare is innocent civilians being killed by fanatics,the criminally insane,or high level bombardment from the air.
We are likely to see in the next few weeks and months many examples in Syria of what the American's euphemistically call 'collateral damage', it is likely that the odd school,hospital,old peoples home will be hit by a stray bomb that was aimed at a terrorist.
I'm afraid I take with a huge pinch of salt the notion that there exist such precision weapons that they can pinpoint with devastating accuracy the individual target.
"Wfo are we looking for Buddy ?"
"A guy with a beard and a dark skin"
"Hey, there's one know, he's going into that door!"
"That's the guy-go go go!"
"Gotcha- oh shit, there's another guy with a beard and dark skin..."
This whole bombing campaign is not going to work, and when we understand that each missile costs £30,000 a pop and they have already spent a seven figure sum in the last 48 hours,the cost the exercise is not worth the candle.
Indeed it would appear that most of the military expers and indeed military intelligence (surely a contradiction in terms!) agree that without the 70,000 fantasy army on the ground to in fact fight on a street by street basis the whole exercise is doomed to failure.Even Fallon the indefensible minister admits that the campaign will take years.
How many times does it have to be said, that this is not war as we knew it-it is not fucking Agincourt, with neat lines of men that stopped when it got dark, nor is it WW1 with neat lines of trenches where each inch cost hundreds of lives, nor is it WW2 where set battles were fought.
And it is certainly not a guerilla war like Vietnam ,where although the tactcs were different the NLF were a recognisable army with brilliant military tactics.
This time, despite what they say about Syria and Iraq it is a messy jigsaw of hundreds of competing armies,bands,a few mates, whatever, some on one side,some on the other,some on both.
And above all it is a 'war' against individuals.Even the worst examples of terror involve a tiny handful of crazies-some may have an ideology of some vague religious affinity (dreaming of thousands of celestial virgins ) some may be impressed by a 'religious cult' leader,some may be doped up to the yeballs and of course some may be keen to get their hands on a wad of Saudi Arabian dosh.

You fight these sort of people in two ways, firstly in Syria and Iraq by supporting the workers organisations that have patiently and systematically being fighting both the autocracies and theocracies for decades.When the kurdish people were crying out for support,what was the west doing ? Oh, I remember, helping their mates in Turkey suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Kurdish people for self determination.
At the same time, an economic embargo on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and an international embargo on arms sales to the despotic regimes would swiftly screw the power oof Isis, as indeed would an embargo on the oil companies who trade with them.
As to the 'terrorists' in Europe, effective policing coupled with a crack down on Islamaphobia might just work in our favour.It wasn't so long ago in this country that Irish people were victimised and discriminated against.
Finally the position of Her Majesties opposition.
I object in the strongest possible terms to Hilary Benn's assertion that bombing Syria is just like fighting fascism in the 1930's and especially his historically illiterate comparison between the bombing campaign and the men and women of the International Brigades who went to Spain.
The volunteers who went to Spain had a clear political understanding of the nature of fascism and what was needed to stop it, and they gave their lives in many cases for that cause. and of course,even though the Red airforce assisted the Republic with a small number of fighter planes, the only air war fought over Spain was that initiated by Germany and Italy which bombed cities towns and villages and killed thousands of civilians.
Or has been never seen the painting of Guernica!  
Of course people are going to be bloody angry with Labour MP's who in a cavalier fashion belittle and riducule the growing number of citizens who say 'this war is not in my name',of course they will get angry responses, and some might even be construed as threats, but calling Danzuk a tosser or even suggesting that he would better serve humanity if he was missing the odd bit of his anatomy in no way compares to what he and his Tory and Lib-Dem mates have unleashed on innocent civilians.If there is a huge flood of desperate refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean  in flimsy boats-who will take the responsibility.
Over the years I have taken a lot of political flack, a lot of personal criticism and quite a bit of threats from far right groups and others,why we've even had burning paper stuffed through our letterbox.
It is unpleasant and even a bit scary,but every action creates a reaction.
I'm sure many left MP's and Trade Union leaders have put up with offensive and vile behaviour ,even death treats.
If the threats to these MP's are credible,they have a remedy-they can call for Police protection.
The people of Raqqa have no such remedy.