Sunday, 30 July 2017

PCC – who needs them?

In a piece in the Times a few days ago Jawad Iqbal, a former BBC executive wrote' Police and crime commissioners, your time is up'. It struck me that it's taken the mainstream media a long time to realise that PCC's really never had time, it was an ill-conceived, dumb beyond belief, idea whose time had never come.

Of course we know what was behind the concept it was an idea that originated in the United States where they elect police chiefs, local dog catchers, and even dangerous and mediocre TV celebrities as President. The whole notion was designed to centralise political power over a public service into the hands of one person, which of course means that he or she is easily manipulated and will do what central government wants him to. PCC's are a shameless political appointment designed for greater central control and of course to allegedly save money.

The whole experience has been a disaster during the first round of elections the average turnout was 15%, during the second batch of elections the percentage went up to an average of 26%, because of course it was held on the same day as the county council elections.

We in Northamptonshire had probably the most inept and useless PCC in the short history of PCC's. His name was Adam Simmons, and his experience such as it was, he had been the political assistant a.k.a. gopher for the leader of the council, to the Tory group on the county council. Added to which it would appear now that he actually lived in Leicestershire, so much for being the local police and crime Commissioner.

Nationally PCC's control a policing budget of £12.5 billion and they have the final say in appointing a chief constable. They can also appoint their own staff and in Northampton shire's case that meant for instance one of the deputy PCC's just happened to be the Tory election agent for Simmonds election. You may have noticed by the way that Neil the PCC's deputy had any actual experience of policing, or indeed any experience of running a large complex organisation, but no matter they were loyal party placemen and women. Simmonds made a number of appointments to his staff which resulted for instance in him having the largest public relations department of any PCC in the country and indeed larger than any previous police authority.

He also had grandiose plans, to recruit hundreds, maybe even thousands of special constables, to create a policing college at Northampton University, to target crime and to bring down the crime statistics, to create a faith commission under his auspices and to pretend that he was the reincarnation of President John F. Kennedy and I understand he even installed a rocking chair in his office as well as a photograph of the late president and he called his office the West Wing.

And of course he decided to sell off the police headquarters, build a new one outside Northampton and indeed many miles away from the M1 motorway. Of course he wasn't simply moving the headquarters which by the way include a training suite, a training ground for practising riot control, a firing range and dog kenneling and motor vehicle repair shops. All of those as well as communication centre were to be spread all over the county and staff moved accordingly. Of course he wasn't going simply to close the headquarters he was going to convert the building into a free school based on religious principles (he being a passionate Evangelist) in an area where there is actually no need for extra school places. The fact that he got the county council(remember who you work for) to build a roundabout outside the putative school at a cost understood to be around a quarter of million pounds.

I suppose the creation of a super high powered mock presidential crime Commissioner might have been worth having had he not managed at the same time to reduce the number of full-time police officers, to demoralise those who still worked for Northamptonshire and all this while crime figures went up. The simple reality is that there are fewer police officers on the beat, and those that are are working larger areas with fewer officers.

Northampton-shire's experience is not unique, in Iqbal's piece he points out that crime figures in England and Wales show the biggest annual rise in a decade, with rising levels of the most serious and violent offences:
"All the more reason for precious funds to go into front-line policing – not into a discredited vanity exercise that flatters the egos of compromised busybodies and failed MPs".

Of course there has always been an argument to democratise policing in this country, in a county like Northamptonshire it is possible to organise a directly elected police authority with each district having one or two elected members who by the way could be elected on the same day as  county council elections and that way the entire county could have representation without maintaining the farce of a police commissioner that at best was a lousy experiment. We now understand that the PCC is going to take over the fire service – such a proposal is the way of madness. I hope that the next Labour government will move to a directly elected police authority and this tragic wasteful experiment will be ended for ever.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

A fable for our times

Once upon a time there was a garden with potting shed at the end of it, that was where the man who worked in the garden kept his tools. It was also where the other tools lived, and they were commonly known as the Cabinet.

Outside the potting shed there was a number of strange -looking orange pots, and in the middle of the strange -looking orange pots there was a little weed, she was commonly called a Mayflower, but the naughty boys and girls  who lived across from the potting shed and sat on rows of green leather toadstools will forever ragging the little Mayflower, who many regarded as a weed and every time she got up to speak to warn the naughty children across from her that she was strong and stable they just laughed.

Most of those naughty boys and girls were roses of one sort or another, and mix with them were a bunch of very jaggy Thistle's also jeered at the little weed and her strange orange pots that lurked in the shade of the potting shed where all her other little friends were hiding and plotting to chop the little weed down. They were almost no probably more naughty than the roses and thistles who sat on the green toadstools opposite. They her friends in the potting shed believed that she, poor little weed had betrayed them and had promised to be strong and stable and had turned out to be a heap of meaningless manure stop

The little weed could do nothing right, well that's not exactly true everything he wanted to do was right, indeed almost as right as her almost friend Nigel the poisoned fruit bat(sorry fruit tree) but Nigel was not in the garden, not even in the potting shed and in fact he had cleared off to be with his friend across the water Trump the termite(who thought by the way he was in fact the terminator but of course he couldn't spell that when he tweeted and so he settled for being a termite)

When the weed had decided that she was going to show all those naughty boys and girls who were bullying her and laughing at her shoes and making rude remarks about her expensive leather trousers and she decided that the best way to do that, the most austere way to do that was in fact to call all the naughty boys and girls bold the ones across from her on the green toadstools and the raggedy arsed mugwumps back in the darkness of the potting shed, to impose on all of them a day of reckoning, which she decided would be 8 June.

However things did not go quite to plan, and all those millions who lived outside the garden decided it was time to rain on her garden and instead of planting hundreds of new austerity plants and harvesting even more helpless, hopeless, homeless, unemployed, poor, useless mugwumps who would do their duty and lie down for the weed, the buggers listened to the bearded rose grower sitting opposite and they, the great unwashed mugwumps turned their back on little weed.

All the things she wanted to do like punish the young mugwumps and punish the old mugwumps and punish the sick mugwumps and of course build a big tower out of Lego to stand proud in the garden which you called a Brexit tree.

Four weeks she had been telling all the mugwumps that there was no such thing as a money tree, but there were hungry trees, poverty trees, austerity trees, coffin -shaped trees for the old mugwumps but certainly no money trees – zero, nada, absolutely zilch.

As her dreams fell apart like her friends in the Cabinet in the potting shed, she had even less friends than when she started, so she looked around the garden and saw standing grimly in their bowler hats and unusual orange sashes 10 likely looking new friends. And so while the garden fell into chaos and disorder she asked her strange pot -shaped new friends if they would like to play with her in the garden.

"Surely wee weed, we'll come and play in your garden,but ye ken we'll want to see your lovely money tree first. And we will need to shake that money tree a wee bit"



"Of course strange barrel-shaped orange coloured fellows and fellowess(by the way I view related to my orange friend across the sea?) What would you like from my lovely newly discovered money tree? A free ride in one of the Queen's aeroplanes? Would you like that my new orange friends?"

"Away to F**k, as our revered Master Dr Paisley would have said, we don't want much just a wee bit to get by on, so wee weed we'll settle for a nice round figure, give your money tree a good shake and we'll depart with a nice round billion poonds!".

And they did and nobody lived happily ever after in that garden until the weed was sprayed weed killer and the strange bowler hatted orange coloured men and women were returned to their box.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Even Peter Hitchens can be right sometimes.

The events in Manchester tragic though they are her produced a welter of handwringing and piety, everyone in the dog has had to get into the act and of course in the middle of an election campaign it has seemed as manna for the political opportunists that inhabit just about everywhere.

Reading the Mail on Sunday I got much of what I expected, the prattling of Amber Rudd and the usual bellicose pronouncements of those who believe you can somehow have a war on terror, which in reality means war against small groups often one or two men, not an army, not an identified force simply mavericks who have a distorted and perverted view of the world. You cannot legislate against such insanity, the best preparation can only be within the community.

Oddly enough the person in the Mail who seemed to understand the nature of what is happening appears to be Peter Hitchens, the right-wing libertarian irritant but on this occasion he appears to have it absolutely right. He argued in his column but the presence on the streets of Britain by armed squaddies carrying an array of weapons and dressed in jungle fatigues would somehow make things better, a show of military force would somehow subdue the individuals who threaten such atrocities and their presence in uniform would somehow replicate a war zone.

Of course that is a nonsensical idea and is Hitchens quite correctly pointed out it is but the first step towards a state that accepts willingly the sight of armed troops on the streets, in the stations, in the shopping malls, and even on the beaches. What the young soldiers are going to be able to do in a crowded town centre is anybody's guess, it might frighten the jihadists but it terrifies me.

Hitchens argues quite correctly that the best thing we can do is to ensure there are many more community policeman in our neighbourhoods who know what to look out for and who to look out for, for instance a local lad with a beard and a wild eyed look with siting verses from some religious tract loudly might well draw attention and a community beat officer would be aware that it was something unusual.

We can never eradicate the problem of the young man who for a variety of reasons be it a mental condition or a problem connected with for instance drugs or alcohol or even simply completely alienated from the community around them.

For years we had what used to be called community policing and it worked, local beat officers stayed in the areas they policed four years and got to know and were trusted by the people they were charged with policing. Knowing your local community is the only real and genuine prevent strategy, not people swaggering around with machine guns or driving fast cars with sirens blazing.

That is why Jeremy Corbyn is actually giving a strategy that can assist and prevent the problem that we see today. Let me make it clear that the notion of a war against terrorism is absolutely barmy and an unsustainable strategy for a government to pursue.

Which brings me on to the other sensible piece of writing I have read this weekend in the Observer Kenan Malik asked the question of why so many young people see radical Islam as being the root for changing society

.

"The institutions that shaped what are now called  'Muslim Communities' were not mosques,but secular and political organisations such as the Indian Workers Association and the Asian Youth Movements.The struggles of Asian communities were intimately bound up with wider working class struggles."
Malik makes the point very clearly that often in spite of reactionary right wing forces in many trade unions it was the unity of working people that brought together al workers in a common struggle.He cites  the Grunwick strike of 1976 when Asian working women took a year long action against a rapacious boss which then alerted the broader movement to the injustices those workers were faced with,and a solidarity movement grew from there.
It wasn't Imams or clerics or any religious impulse that created that solidarity, it was old fashioned working class unity in action.
it seems to me that despite what the yellow dog press bark about,and the dog whistle politics of the nasty party, the last few days have revealed more that just the resilience of the people of manchester but the dawning recognition that more and bigger guns on the street is not the solution, or indeed the fatuous suggestion from a UKIP member that we should re-introduce capital punishment for suicide bombers (!)
It is possible that come June 8th many more people will have seen through the no-solution solution of May and we will be once again a country of the Enlightenment-for all!

"

Monday, 15 May 2017

The phenomenon of the working class Tory

Theresa May is trying to pretend that she is trying to entice a new creature  called a 'patriotic working class tory' to break their historic links with the Labour Party and throw in their lot with the proletarian party of Sir Robert Peel, Benjamin Disraeli,Churchill,Thatcher and all the other monstrous creatures of wealth and privilege.
I'll let you in toa secret-there have always been such snivelling patriots crawling about,always willing to believe that their lords and masters care about them, and value their hard-working contribution to the nation,as long as they work hard,keep their mouth shut and are grateful for what little they are given.
Oscar Wilde knew well all about 'the deserving poor' who accepted their lot without question,did what their masters told them and never questioned anything.Wilde admired those who rebelled, who refused too acquiesce in their own subjugation and always seek to find someone worse off than themselves so they could give them a good kicking.
That is of course the root of all racism, if your at the bottom of the pile,don't ever question those at the top with their boot firmly on your neck, find someone that you can plant your depressing little trotter on-it'll make you feel that wee bit more superior and allow yourself to puff out your patriotic hest a wee bit more.

What do these working class tories really think when they wrap the Union Jack round their 'patriotic carcasses and sing 'God save the Queen' and talk about the superiority of the 'British way of life' in some sort of ritualistic religious fervour ?
Do they really think that the Royal house of Saxe-Coberg-Gotha  really gives a toss for those loyal working class toilers who wave their pathetic wee flags whenever a royal personage deins to nod in their direction?
Do they really think they have a special connection with a monarchy so remote from real life that a TV series that portrays them as cartoon characters in a make believe world is worth being connected to?
Do they really believe that when asked to go and risk their life in a foreign state thousands of miles away they are really doing it for their queen and their country ?

In case any working class tory gets round to reading this here blog let me make it clear.I am very patriotic- but my patriotism is not the superficial toadying to the rich and powerful who will lie and cheat working people out of their rights,the things they have fought for over generations, their aspirations and their hopes for a fairer and more equitable country in which to live.
When they burble on about the virtues of Brexir and taking back control of their country they are deluding themselves.Working people have never had control of this country although they, we are capable of doing so.
I am a patriot, but my patriotism starts and ends with my class, and my understanding starts and ends with working people all over the world.I have a common interest with teachers,woking or retired,in America or Sri Lanka or Croatia or anywhere than I have with Donald Trump,Theresa May or even Lord Mandelson.
To put it as simply as I can,so that even the dimmest working class patriotic tory can understand my definition of patriotism is solidarity-end of story.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Whatever else he is at least Trump is consistent

You sense what ever Trump is then at least he follows a clear and obvious trajectory, that is the one consistency of the Trump is the fact that he is inconsistent. His current act of irrationality in bombing and airbase in Syria and provoking not merely their regime there but also the Russians and probably the Chinese.

The explanation that he has given for the attack was that he watched on Fox television the chemical weapons attack and he was upset at the sight of Syrian children dying as a result of the attack. Strange therefore that this is the man who really didn't give a monkeys about Syrian children who were drowning on refugee boats in the Mediterranean and wants to close the borders of America to refugees from places like Syria the they men women beautiful children!

But then over the last 10 weeks we have seen nothing from this man other than hypocrisy, irrationality and absurd decisions.

This is the man who boasts that he has never read a book although he claims to have written 17 books, I wonder how difficult it is to write a colouring book? To put it bluntly the man is a dangerous illiterate and when experts say that the world over the last 48 hours has got closer to a dangerous war situation we need to think carefully about what happens next.

The fact that no one knows what is likely to happen and what this dreadful man is capable of I think we need to be very afraid, in my column in the Chronicle and Echo a couple of weeks ago I argued that the world needs the American people to impeach the bastard very quickly.

His inconsistency is revealed in his attitude to events in Syria. Just two years ago in his inimitable literary style he tweeted that Obama must not cross the red line and commit American troops to any further action in Syria. The whole premise of his America first policy is predicated on non-intervention anywhere in the world, he even wants to build a wall to keep either Mexicans out of America or Americans out of anywhere else that looks vaguely like Mexico.

He also argued that Obama shouldn't do anything without congressional approval and what he did do on Thursday why he launched 92 Tomahawk missiles without congressional approval. Once again Donald a hypocrite the man with the colouring book and blunt pencils has achieved the rare distinction of changing his mind and putting not just his bloody golf causes at risk but the whole world

The perception among commentators is that he is doing this to show that he really isn't a bosom buddy of Vladimir Putin, that way he can deflect the criticism that the Russians using cyber attacks help him win the presidency. As the evidence piles up then that is in fact a plausible explanation for his behaviour, distraction is the best way to draw the world's attention away from his insanity.

However I think he is not simply aware of the need to distract the people of the world from his criminal behaviour I think he needs to distract the people of America from the fact that his promises during election were nothing but flimflam

The most interesting thing I have read this week has been a well researched article in Time magazine, Much was made in his campaign about saving the American coal industry, how he was going to reverse the Obama policies on fossil fuel and climate change. He was going to make American coal great again

He won in states like West Virginia with promises of rebuilding the mining industry, it is possible he was aware that the Obama legislation would make the difference to the future of mining in West Virginia, it was already clear that mining was in serious decline and that the move towards natural gas obtained by the process of fracking was taking over.

West Virginia produces 60% of the coal it did a decade ago and employs about 12,000 people as coalminers down from more than 64,000 in the 1970s. Apart from the market forces that are changing the power industry in America there is the simple fact that after 150 years the coal supplies are running out, what coal remains is far deeper and far more expensive to extract.

When Trump was making his promises last year he must have known the truth of the situation after all he is supposed not only to be a famous writer but also extremely astute businessman. He must have known when he went on the stump trying to win votes in those desperate states that he was not only being economically with the truth but in fact was lying to the people

Everything he does appears to be carefully crafted lies and he is on a daily basis being found out even his passionate supporters in this country like Nigel Farage are realising publicly that the man will say anything and do anything to win power. He accuses people like Assad are being a demagogue and a dictator

I suppose it takes one to know one.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

I suppose I should mention Brexit

I have to admit that I'm already extremely bored by the whole European debate.

Many years ago when I was young and innocent I supported the campaign to keep Britain out of the European Economic Community, or as we on the left called it the European Employers Confederation.
I should have realised right from the start that the anti-Common Market group in Northampton was a weird bunch right from the outset, as well as those of us from the left of the Labour party and the Communist Party (well both of them really) there was a smattering of small business people,a few strange patriotic nationalist/royalist types and some people who were really just lonely and wanted company-small group mentality I suppose.

Way back in 1975 it did appear to me that the EEC was really only another way to market monopoly capitalism, to dress up the greed and avarice of the ruling class in a more presentable manifestation-"Look you dumb workers' we're in te business of keeping peace in Europe-hooray for us"
Just as a passing thought, if you consider the events over Europe in the last 40-50 years, that great vision ain't been a resounding success,well I suppose Germany and France haven;t torn great chunks out of each other-but the fate of former Yugoslavia has been nothing to write home about.
And of course the thought that somehow the resurgence of fascism would never happen again
has on a daily basis proved to be a hollow aspiration.
However on balance I voted in last years referendum to remain. I voted on the grounds that it was the least bad option and as the leave campaign was based on nothing more than racism,bigotry,phoney patriotism and peopled by the sort of people I'd cross the road to avoid voting remain was a no-brainer.
But I have to admit I voted reluctantly with no great enthusiasm,and I still find it hard to have any sympathy for the 'European project' especially after the brutal treatment meted out the people of Greece-after the European banks had assisted the Greek banks to collapse their economy.

But we are where we are.We have over the last decades suffered from the retreat from socialism by the Labour Party leadership and the feebleness of the Trade Union movement.
The Labour Party effectively capitulated to the SDP.It may be argued that the SDP failed, it took few MP's with it, won very little electoral success and collapsed into the Liberal Party.But it's influence within the higher levels of the Labour Party remained and indeed strengthened under Blair.

Blairism was  all about managing capitalism,and of course  that is at the heart of Europe,even today the core of Blairite thinking is how far can we compromise with those who Mandelson was so relaxed about-'the filthy rich'

Look how close the Blair cabal were close to the founders of the SDP, and indeed how many former SDP apparatchiks crawled into positions within  New Labour !

But in a way all that was to be expected,the hollowing out of socialism within the Labour party was no surprise, what however has proved to be a far bigger crisis has been the acquiescence of the Trade Unions.When people talk about the good things the EU has brought us they tend to talk about improvements in workers rights,benefits,improved standards of equality and so on.
That may be all true, but I was brought up to believe that bosses never willingly give better conditions to workers,they have to be fought for and won.We know only too well that New Labour made no effort to repeal Thatchers' anti-trade union legislation  and we know too that timidity by the TU leaders has been a result of the hollowing out of trade union strength and the regular failure to demonstrate practical solidarity with workers in struggle because of the failure to repeal anti-trade union laws by New Labour and the reluctance by many union leaders to fight for change in case their members became too militant.!
Back in 1975 our romantic vision was for a United Socialist Europe-that would have been something,but perhaps better than that would have been a Trade Union movement that was Europe wide.Just as capital knows no national boundaries and capital can be switched from one place to another at the click of a switch-a factory goes here,a plant is closed there...
Just imagine how things could be,teachers in Italy are fired,and teachers all over Europe strike or lorry drivers in Malta are victimised and the roads across Europe are empty !
The slogan used to be Workers of the World Unite- right now I'd settle for Workers of Europe Unite !    

 





Saturday, 25 March 2017

Trump couldn't deal a hand of pontoon

In my column in the Chronicle and Echo a week or two ago I argued that the best thing the American people could do would be to impeach the dreadful Trump.

I got a response in the letters column this week from, surprise surprise the local voice of UKIP(interestingly enough my gadget that enables me to dictate this blog thought that UKIP was actually Phucket-not far wrong there) In her defence of Trump Mrs Gibben, for it was she, bemoan the fact that I had an occasional column and she didn't.

Despite the fact that the little bunch of local kippers seem to get letters printed every week she still pursued the argument that the far right are badly treated by the media, instead of impeaching Trump she thought that Blair(I think this machine has a mind of its own for instead of Blair it substituted the word millionaire!) should be impeached. She obviously has never read any of my earlier columns or blogs where you would have found that I argued that our former Prime Minister should along with George Bush face a war crimes tribunal.

And strangely enough in her love letter to Trump Mrs Gibben forgot to mention that she had been the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Northampton South. Obviously it had slipped her mind and obviously it could never be considered fake news or an attempt to hide who this innocent soul was from an unsuspecting public.

Yet the love of her life the unprepossessing president in the White House was not and is not the great dealmaker and political highflyer that he pretends and her party adore.

The fact that his big promise during the presidential election was that he would end within the first 100 days Obamacare fell at the first hurdle. With the largest Republican majority in Congress since the 1920s he was unable to secure a majority vote. His frequent boast of being a great dealmaker collapsed before it even got off the ground. He couldn't persuade over 30 of his own Republican congressmen to support him over his flagship policy.

The reason is quite simple his congressmen realised that to cut medical care from 24 million Americans might just damage them at the next mid-term elections. Turkeys rarely vote for Christmas.

However that is not strictly true, not so long ago a large number well over 50% of the British people or more precisely English and Welsh people voted like turkeys for Christmas. They believed the nonsense of cheap and shoddy populism that promised everything all the time to all people provided they left the European Union, the only surprise is that the populists didn't promise to rebuild Hadrian's Wall, thus emulating the knob head in the White House.

The only political thought in the empty heads ofUKIP and the Trumpists is to blame the foreigners, especially those with brown skins and a particular religion. It must have come as an enormous shock when Farage found out that the man who committed the killings in Westminster was like him born in Kent(incidentally my machine went off again and called Farage- Fawaz-I'm growing to love this machine)

At the risk of once again upsetting our local Trump lover I hope the sensible people of America get their act together and begin impeachment procedures against the brute, otherwise as well as punishing the minorities in his country, as well as intimidating people from other religions, building an ugly wall across the American Mexican border, as well as trampling over the historic rights of the Native American people I fear that the Bozo will probably declare war on North Korea, China and anywhere else he sticks a pin in his child's atlas.



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Whatever Jeremy does is wrong

We live in an age of instant comment, when even the president of the United States tells us his thoughts before he's even had them. So it's hardly surprising that the leader of the Labour Party's is more often susceptible to having words and thoughts put into his utterances before they are even altered

Then of course they are deliberately misinterpreted by those in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere who wish to cause mischief and undermine Jeremy Corbyn's position. There has been no clearer example than today in the commentary about what Jeremy said about the possibility of another Scottish referendum.

There can be no doubt that if the Scottish people and the Scottish government request a rerun of the last referendum in the light of the Brexit vote then that is surely the right of the people of Scotland regardless of what Westminster, Prime Minister, the Daily Mail or even Nigel Farage(it's amusing by the way that my Bluetooth dictation software interpreted Nigel's name as barrage- quite appropriate really)

All Jeremy said was in fact echoing leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, if the people north of the border determine that there will be another referendum then no one in England or anywhere else has the right to interfere with that decision.

It is clear that there are many in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere who find it difficult to recognise that the loss of Scotland was not as a result of Jeremy Corbyn but rather the result of decades of neglect and arrogance by those who led the Labour Party previously. The crisis that the Labour Party currently faces is the loss of confidence by traditional supporters in working class areas that have been taken for granted by elitists and those who felt they could be parachuted into traditional Labour seats because they thought it was their right, their God-given right shop

The message that Corbyn has been giving out since his election as leader is similar to the one that Bernie Saunders is giving to the American left. The reason evil Trump won in traditional industrial states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio was because too many ordinary people have been taken for granted for too long stop

It is important that the Labour Party learns that lesson, with half 1 million members throughout the country it should be possible to rebuild a political base where it matters, right in the heart of those communities that have been betrayed and forgotten for so long stop

People elected Labour councillors and Labour MPs in the same way that they use to join trade unions and recognise all have is our solidarity and our capacity to work together, not to be in this together not to be just about managing but to take control of our lives and win our struggles at the lowest level as well as at higher and more meaningful levels. Labour lost Scotland because it was complacent, in order to build or rather rebuild its base in Scotland then it needs to listen not to the siren voices in Westminster but rather to the people of Scotland want something different.

There is of course a solution to what has happened, it's not simply about winning back parliamentary seats in Scotland it's about a whole new settlement. And of course it's not simply in Scotland alone any more, the elections last week in Northern Ireland has shown that the old ways are now history there is a nationalist and republican majority in the province, that cannot be ignored or wished away.

The solution of course and one that the Labour Party must embrace is a creation of the Federation of Independent countries within what we know as the British Isles. I would like that to be a Federation of republics owing no allegiance to a feudal monarchy and a system of government that is at least 300 years out of its time.

Each nation of the British Isles must have an independent and autonomous parliament and instead of the present system the second chamber, the nonelected House of Lords must be replaced with an elected Federal chamber that represents the independent nations but can cooperate on those issues like economic infrastructure, foreign policy and I even concede national defence or rather I'll concede that there should be some sort of civic defence force that can assist in times of emergency and that doesn't need bloody Trident!

.

There is of course the question of the Republic of Ireland, but it would be possible for a united Ireland to be part of a Federation of the British Isles, indeed that would make a great deal of sense. This piece has travelled a long way from the puerile attacks on Jeremy Corbyn over his recognition that Scotland has changed and can no longer just be a handful of northern seats in Westminster and simply voting fodder for the London elite.

Labour may not win many seats back in Scotland, but with local MPs representing their communities and working with the grain of the people of Scotland then it will be possible I believe to build a new social democratic alliance and who knows maybe even a socialist one.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

What happens after Copeland?

The recriminations have been going on the last three days what happened in Copeland is everybody's fault but mostly Jeremy Corbyn. Or so say everybody who hates the Labour Party who hates leadership of the party who hates the possibility that there might be a socialist party in Britain trying to break out of the inertia of the last two decades.

What is most depressing is the endless criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and the endless blame game that so many in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere seek to put on Corbyn. What is odd is that all those who call for a new leader are reluctant to name that new leader he appears to be the leader whose name we dare not speak of. It is a safe there is a spectre haunting the Labour Party and that is the one that we dare not speak its name but we imply that he is some sort of Prince over the water or some businessman/property owner/world leader in exile whose name inspires fear and loathing throughout the country.

It is time to make it clear that what happened at Copeland was nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the changes that are taking place in the Labour Party. What happened Copeland is as everyone seems to agree a result of the alienation of working people from what was once the People's party. How did that happen everyone is asking but come up with only one explanation "it must be that dangerous Islington radical with a beard and a history of standing up for such causes as international justice, defending the health service, fighting racism, opposing monopoly capitalism and representing ordinary working people.

Copeland was once a seat of one Jack Cunningham, he was the son of a huge power broker who was a leading figure in the GMB union and by way of remembering a friend of T Dan Smith once big cheese in Newcastle. The fact that Jack the Lad was parachuted into Copeland of course was merely a coincidence. If you want an explanation of what went wrong in Copeland there is only one word that can explain it and that is Scotland. Jeremy Corbyn was not responsible for the loss of over 50 seats in Scotland, what happened there was the people of Scotland were fed up with being treated simply as voting fodder for a Labour government and the Labour Party that took them for granted and gave nothing in return.

Until the Labour Party nationally and locally understand what Jeremy Corbyn means when he argues that the party needs to be built up once again from the bottom, from the local communities organising, agitating and educating then the Labour Party is doomed to be irrelevant to most people's lives. It is interesting how badly UKIP did in Stoke a place where they were expected to do well

There is no doubt that there were many people in Stoke who believed in the right-wing ideology of UKIP, after all not so long ago that Stoke had a bunch of BNP councillors and indeed it had the highest brexit vote in the country. But the reason that Stoke did not go far right is probably because UKIP chose as their candidate someone not from the town but rather parachuted in because he was the party leader. The people Stoke had already had that experience of someone being parachuted in, Tristan Hunt, who decamped to the Victoria and Albert Museum a job approved by the Tory government was like so many others of late in the Labour Party. He was the chosen candidate of Lord Mandelson and the Blairite clique. I suspect the folk of Stoke new what sort of candidate Nuttall would be, they are ready had that experience.

The lesson of Copeland that needs to be learnt is that the party will only succeed when it selects Parliamentary candidates and indeed local council candidates who actually represent the people they claim to. They need to come from the communities that they wish to serve, they need to know the real issues that confront real people daily and not what the press office and spin doctors of the party tell them.

Much of the criticism that has been levelled at the current leadership has been prefixed by the notion that the leadership is out of touch. But if you live and work in the community then you know what the issues are that concern people and if you live in a working-class district then those problems are there on your doorstep every day.

That is not an ideological position it is old-fashioned common sense, it is the sort of common sense that socialism was born out of, when Keir Hardie was elected in a Welsh mining constituency it was because he knew about the lives of miners, after all he had been a miner himself.

When you look at the grandees of the Labour Party or rather new Labour Party what you see is indeed a political elite. The fact that many working people have seen through the contempt with which the Mandelson's and the Blairs and all like them hold working people in, then the rise of populism of the right cannot be ignored. But you do not defeat such populism by appeasing it but rather challenge it and remind people that we still live in a class ridden society and the only people who can resolve the problems of working people are people themselves

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The world has gone mad or so it seems

This is an experimental blog, I am not writing it I am in fact dictating it to a machine that is called Dragon, and so far so good.

Talking to a machine seems more sensible at the moment than watching the news or even reading a newspaper everything seems to be going to hell in a hand cart. It's hard to believe that the United States, the place where people fled to escape tyranny, intolerance, hatred and all that could be found in the old world. Who could believe that the country that called for the huddled masses to seek sanctuary could end up with a bizarre president like Donald Trump. Of course America has a dreadful history it massacred the indigenous people set about creating unfettered capitalism and it destroyed everything in its way.

America, has been a contradiction since the founding fathers laid the basis of a nation that was in many ways a product of the Enlightenment. Of course even founding fathers were not perfect, even Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and my favourite president John Adams was not above a bit of political chicanery but compared to what we have now he was indeed a shining light in mankind's history.

It's hard to believe that the country that has so many different peoples, but has a history of almost tolerance- you have of course to remember Phil  Ochs memorable song "Mississippi find some other country to be part of". America cannot forget or ignore the tragedy that was and in some ways still is slavery. But for a few years it seemed that the American people understood that dreadful history and was prepared to make changes to ensure that Afro-Americans, that Latinos, that Native Americans would eventually be treated with equality and justice.

As someone who hated the American hegemony who objected most strongly to American imperialism who objected to the exploitation of other people's by the US military it did all seem to be changing. There was a time when after the Vietnam War there was a dawning in popular consciousness that America was no longer the world's policeman, why it could even elect an Afro American as president, there was a moment in history quite recently that things seemed to be getting better.

But all that fell apart last November when the political establishment of the Democratic party elected as its candidate another waste of space. There was a time when it would have been possible to have welcomed Hillary Clinton as a real change but that time came and went and we were left with just another opportunistic mediocrity. Had the Democrats listened to the mood of the people and perhaps given Bernie Saunders, the Vermont Senator the chance to bring a new political vision to the jaded elite and enthuse the millions of young people who are believed that Obama was merely the start of a new process of political involvement then who knows what could have happened.

However we all know what happened we know that a cynical manipulation of public opinion a juxtaposition of the notion that a billionaire property developer somehow could speak for unemployed factory workers and the urban dispossessed is frankly absurd.
Horror of horrors, as I was reaching the end of this near perfect blog, no spell checks nothing going wrong the phone rang as i was reaching my conclusion, and the dictation process ended.So you may never know how far I think the world has gone mad!

Monday, 6 February 2017

How much bleaker can it get?

There have been many dark times during my sojourn on this planet.Like so many others I thought the time of the Cuban Missile crisis in 1961 was a highpoint of grimness.If you remember it was a time when a new and inexperienced US president, advised by such halfwits as J Edgar Hoover and John Foster Dulles and even his younger brother-the US Attorney-General and onetime  assistant counsel to Sen. Joe. McCarthy.
The Russian leader N>S> Khrushchev seemed at the time to be a bit of an adventurer but in hindsight played a canny hand, and by removing some missiles from Cuba got a guarantee from the Americans not to invade Cuba,and that agreement seems to have held-until now!
That was then and now is now.
Nobody needs a rehearsal of the tragedy that has occurred in the US.The cleverest and most sinister election campaign has resulted in a 'President' that makes Nixon and Reagan seem moderate and reasonable and even gives George W Bush a patina of intelligence.
Things must be bad when billionaire Koch,principal funder of the tea party numpties has called together a bunch of fellow billionaire right wing donors to find ways of shutting down Trump.
Even the most reactionary free market zealots have spotted that protectionism,a trade war,closing borders and picking fights even with the right wing media is not healthy for the good old American capitalist system.
The red necks may well have rallied behind the demagogue and they may well believe that he will open all the mines in West Virginia and the steel  plants in Ohio but the masters of the universe know better and as a more savvy class of capitalist know that their favoured system of exploitation requires the international movement of both capital and labour.
Probably something a frequently bankrupt property developer was unaware of, but even he might have noticed that one of the auto companies he wants to talk to is called 'Fiat-Chrysler'-bit of a clue in the name Donald.
But then of course he shuns elites,preferring to hunker down with his red-neck buddies and those of his supporters in the white sheets and the pointy hoods!
Why I'm so depressed is not simply Trumpy, I have confidence that the American people will take care of him,sooner I hope than later -impeachment is one of my favourite words, and Tom Jefferson and John Adams put enough hurdles in the constitution to screw up any passing illiterate narcissist.
My worries are not simply   lodged in the White House,the contagion is far wider, the arrogance of the Brexiteers and the growing strength of the far right in Europe.
there is indeed a spectre haunting Europe right now and it 'aint socialism, it's national socialism.
What we are seeing step by step is not a revolt against elites, not a resistance to the haves from the have-nots it is pure unadulterated racism! and for the moment Trump and Farage and those like them have given respectability to Le Pen and the rest of the fascist rabble throughout Europe.
And in turn the pressure is on to give way at the edges- Labour politicians burbling about 'immigration' and 'controlling numbers' and the Tories sneaking in little bits of legislation to satisfy the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.
Curb health tourism today is the big idea, although they have to admit that it costs 1/1000 of the NHS budget, and will almost certainly cost more to administer as the BMA (hardly the natural base of the SWP) point out 'implementation will cause chaos in the health service'
I understand tat the former Archbishop of Canterbury,Lord Carey,thinks we should,nt be beastly to the Donald.
The dead parrot sketch lives and breathes after all!



 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Return from the dark side to another dark side

My last blog was October last year.I was then stricken by the palsy and but for a couple of brilliant paramedics, a whole bunch of doctors and a series of seriously talented nurses ,especially young Vlad I might have been putting this together of a celestial plane(or do I mean plain!)
However it turned I had a minor stroke and after a night in NGH I have been becalmed in Western View-not quite observing the sunrise but reading a huge biography of Rasputin( who by the way comes across as a paragon of sanity compared to Trump.As a matter of fact the people of America might have done better electing a long dead Russian monk of dubious morals than sa still breathing billionaire of dubious morals.
The only still remaining vestige of my strokette is frequent typing errors,infernal slowness and handwriting that now resembles a seven year old child.
My events in November just reinforced my belief in the NHS,well in fact the brilliant people who work in it not the parasitical Tory politicians who are trying to dstroy it, the greedy drug companies who are fleecing it on a daily basis and the monstrous privateers who are working hand in glove or more  precisely hand in pocket to dismantle our health service.
It is no coincidence of course that one of Trumps' most passionate ambitions is to destroy 'ObamaCare' as quickly as he can.
Lets not beat about the bush (which the world should have done to George Dubbaya) this shallow creature is firmy in the pockets of the big pharma companies and  insurance conglomerates.
It's also of course no coincidence that his big mate is that booby Farage,whose party is keen to dismantle the NHS too,whatever they say.
Of course we are hearing on a daily basis May and Hunt claiming the NHS is safe in their hands-and anyone who believes that really needs to see a mental health practitioner (if of course there are any left)
There are many reasons for the current problems in our health service,the major one of course being chronic long term underfunding.The Tory solution revolves around us all living longer-that pesky health service did its job too well and has kept too many of us proles breathing too long.They want to ration health care,to insist that we don't trouble hospitals until we're really on our last legs.
I wonder if 95 year old Phil the Greek will ever spend a few hours on a trolley in a corridor ?
But it's not just underfunding, the cunning plan is to kill off as many GP's as possible by imposing seven day working on them and expecting them to add loads of other things to what they already do, and on top of that spend no more than five minutes a patient.
then they wonder why nobody wants to be a GP these days,and as wll as losing existing doctors the numpties and to make sure that fewer trained doctors come over from mainland Europe.
You couldn't make it up.
Funding is indeed the major problem.but thee are others.
What clowns thought PFI would be a good way of financing the building of new facilities ? Borrow money from the private sector and end up in hock for dcades! (don't answer that question-just think it)
And of course the brilliant wheeze some years ago called 'Care in the Community'-remember it ? The notion was to close all those 'expensive' post operative hospitals like the one at Pitsford,sell the land off, and assume that post operative care would be dealt with the private nursing homes,local authority care homes and by families supported by visiting care workers paid for by local social services.
It all seems a different time...
It seems to me that the only thing that can change  this dreadfully depressing litany of horror is a Labour government based on an understanding of socialist values.That always reminds me of Ken Loachs' film 'Spirit of 45' when Clement Attlee spoke the the party conference and believe it or not used the's' word- you know the one that Jeremy Corbyn uses quite a lot.
I was born within a year of the founding of the NHS.So if you want to blame anyone for its problems, blame me-not that nice Mr Hunt(of whom it was reported today will acquire £16 million from the sale of shares in a company he owned)
Yup- blame me, it was all that free orange juice and cod liver oil that they doled out atthe childrens clinic