The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party is the beginning of Starmer’s purge of the left in the party, and I predict that the result will be a very much diminished and shrunken husk, where members are only valued for what they can do on the doorstep during election campaigns, rather than anything they may have to say. This is their role which newly appointed general secretary David Evans exults in. I knew him from my time working for the party, and now his dictates to constituency parties that they mustn’t breathe a whisper about any of the current controversy merely enhances my view that a mild form of totalitarianism has found its grip. Treating the membership as mere working bees—no ants—is just one of the things that will return Labour to being an uninspiring cohort of capitalist managerial careerists. In today’s world of politics members are a bit of a nuisance, demanding democracy and all that. There’ll be absolutely no talk any more of building a mass membership. That only brings problems. If the Tories can win elections with just 160,000 members (allegedly) why bother with any more?
This is just one sense in which Bilderberger Starmer is returning the pattern of British politics to ‘normal’ - despite the abnormal circumstances we live in. The Bilderberg Nexus, which has nothing to do with ridiculous and groundless ‘Jewish conspiracy’ theories but a lot to do with preserving the status quo (aka wealth inequality) prefers as members only those from the ‘left’ who are primarily Atlanticist and accepting of the somewhat debunked worldview which saw the triumph of capitalism over ‘communism’ as the ‘end of history.’ The Labour Party has always been conflicted about its role as managers of capitalism (more caring Third Wayism, for example, or Clintonesque triangulation) but now, clearly the recent errant turn under Corbyn is being corrected and will shortly be erased altogether. I predict one consequence of this will be the wholesale abandonment of any plans touted by Starmer in his leadership election bid to stick with, e.g. re-nationalisation plans for water, energy and the Royal Mail, etc. This battle has been waged before (remember Ed Miliband’s mild critique of capitalism?) but now I think it has been joined in earnest by the Bilderberg mindset clique that I assume surrounds Starmer. We need to know who these people are—and how they got to where they are. That sounds a bit conspiratorial doesn’t it? I wonder if it’s an offence worthy of excommunication merely to suggest it’s worth asking? It’s not as if dear old Jeremy was beyond such inquisitions.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have kindly sent me a copy of their report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They presumably did so after I launched an FOI request earlier this year asking about their approach to dealing with complaints of racism in the Conservative Party (answer: they’re not doing anything). In their covering email, the EHRC said
Politicians on all sides have a responsibility to set standards for our public life and to lead the way in challenging racism in all its forms. There have been recent examples of behaviour, from politicians of various parties that fall well below the standards we would expect.
Who could disagree with that? So why hasn’t the EHRC launched an inquiry into the Tory Party’s Islamaphobia, of which former party chair (for example) Baroness Warsi has often complained of? I wonder if the EHRC needs reform.
As regards the seriousness of the problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, the EHRC reviewed 70 complaints out of 220 sent to them, and found sufficient evidence in the cases of precisely two. But we are forbidden to say that the whole business was blown out of proportion, nor are we permitted to consider any theories as to why that might have been the case.
The EHRC recommend that the Labour Party should have an independent complaints procedure for dealing with anti-Semitic complaints. This would de facto establish anti-Semitism as a special form of racism. If we are to have an independent process, let it deal with all forms of discrimination. And, since the logic of ’independence’ seems so favourable, why not apply it to all political parties? (And why just political parties?)
Given that most of the 70 complaints reviewed by the EHRC related to posts on social media (there is no comment in the report as to whether these were posts by actual party members or not—the ambiguous term ‘insufficient evidence’ glosses over that possibility) it is surprising that the EHRC had nothing to say about the nature of ‘social’ media itself. The EHRC seems to be blind to the wider world we live in, and how a culture of victimisation spreads far beyond one form of expression of it. Surely the EHRC could have told us about what it had learnt about that?
It surprised me too (only kidding) that the EHRC, after name checking Jewish Voice for Labour, never again referred to JVL's submission to its inquiry, an omission which speaks volumes about the EHRC's 'impartiality.'
In the Guardian this morning there was nothing about this report, since it was only published this morning. But buried in a news report about the disproportionate targeting of black men for stop and search by the police, I read this (relating to the case of two black men's complaint of stop and search) "We approached the EHRC for help in bringing a case. They refused." The EHRC said "In isolation this case did not identify misconduct or evidence of racial profiling. However, looking at this in conjunction with other investigations has identified broader concerns . . " But no inquiry, merely an EHRC letter to London's police commissioner with some helpful hints. Since the Met 'denied bias affects stop and search' we'll probably hear no more about it from the EHRC.
UPDATE On the BBC—Keir Starmer’s response to the report, in part: ‘. . . anyone who was anti-Semitic "should be nowhere near this party".’ ‘And he said that those "who think there's no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that it's all exaggerated or a factional attack, then frankly, you are part of the problem too and you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either." Well I agree with the first statement wholeheartedly, and yes there is demonstrably a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (from whichever perspective you look at it) but I wonder if I’m to come unstuck on the bit about it being exaggerated? Should I expel myself or wait for the call? I don’t think I’ll expel myself anytime soon, since the belief, which I hold and is somewhat borne out by the EHRC report, is that the problem was exaggerated. That is a reasonable belief and my right to express it is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights—on the bit about freedom of expression. Sir Keir, in his urgency to please the anti-Corbynistas has made a rod for his own back. Is he really threatening mass expulsions? And if he doesn’t deliver on that, will the anti-Corbynistas leave him alone?
Much to the regret of the UK government (sic) it, along with others is inexorably heading towards another ‘lockdown.’ When it happens here, there’ll be an uprising of neo-libertarian disgust in Johnson’s backbench ranks and a glow of prescient self-satisfaction behind Kier Starmer, who called for a ‘circuit breaker’ a while back. The trouble with circuit breakers of course is that they don’t tell you exactly what the cause of the failure was in the first place. That requires a forensic investigation. But, listening to the news on the wireless, and reading the newspaper, I am coming to the conclusion, impossible as this may seem, that the political establishment has ‘lost it.’ This leaves us individuals, us mere specks in the cosmos facing existential choices. Clearly some people have already made their mind up and have no intention of following what many—quite rightly—consider to be idiotic, ill-thought rules. Here are the choices: a) follow government guidance and be as clueless as them—remember both Johnson and Trump (allegedly) contracted Covid 19; b) ignore the guidance and carry on as normal, in which case you stand a better chance of catching the wretched thing and eventually saving yourself if you’re under 65; c) become an alcoholic and control the way you choose to die. It has to be said that only the last option can be considered safe in the wider, societal sense, since so far as I am aware alcoholism is not contagious. And you’ll pay more tax and keep ICU beds on the go. I think it’s time people started making existential choices, then we could move on.
Confused of Scarborough has written to the Guardian today:
Your advice on Mask Hygene is of only moderate help. If our face masks, of whatever variety are to be treated with the same level of suspicion as we have for rats, where does that leave our clothes? Why doesn't anybody tell us to wash our clothes after every shopping trip?Would that be a step too far? And for the hirsute, like myself, why aren't we being told to shave our beards off, since we can't get a tight fit like the clean shaven? Perhaps one of your correspondents could provide some advice on that one.
A recent post on the Intercept’s website considers the options and probability of Trump facing prosecution once he leaves office. Whilst he is president, he has immunity from prosecution over federal offences, but given the nature of his business dealings there seems to be plenty to go at at a state level. I wonder if elected, whether Joe Biden would pardon him, as Gerald Ford did with Richard Nixon. It has been suggested that Trump could even pre-pardon himself, although such a move has never been tried before. The Intercept’s view is that the elite is at the end of the day more likely to look after its own. It would be a bad precedent for them for one of their own to go to jail.
One hopes that Benjamin Netanyahu will not face such lenience if he is found guilty on his corruption charges. One of his predecessors of course did go to jail—Ehud Olmert—on corruption charges. Another populist leader talking of going to jail is Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who is in the news for saying he would happily ‘serve his country in prison’ if found guilty of ordering or at least being in some way culpable in the deaths of thousands of alleged drug dealers (none of whom had the opportunity of proving their innocence of course). Populist leaders love to proclaim their law and order credentials, but as we’ve seen in the UK with the Cummings saga, what constitutes the law is flexible. Especially so when you get to appoint the judges, as clearly Johnson and his cronies would love to do here, or indeed as the Law and Justice Party has already done in Poland (not to mention Trump’s hundreds of judicial nominees).
It would be good if Trump, Netanyahu and Duterte could share a cell together somewhere. Their company would be made immeasurably more jovial if joker Johnson were to join them, but as things stand the only current investigation into his misdemeanours appears to be the London Assembly’s inquiries into his potentially corrupt relationship with American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who has now admitted that they had an affair. So far then, full marks to Israel for setting a precedent. Let’s hope they follow it up this time round, and provide an example other leaders may wish to dwell upon.
Accusations have been levelled by the Tories against Kier Starmer and Andy Burnham of late that they have been ‘playing politics’ over Covid. Which is a bit rich of course, particularly in the case of Starmer who has bent over backwards to appear as unpolitical as possible. The phrase ‘playing politics’ is one a failing government always dusts down to throw at the opposition, when the opposition attempts to do its job. It’s interesting to note how long it has taken this government to get round to using it. Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ‘I’m sure the willingness to put politics aside in the national interest, and in the interests of the people we serve will save lives and protect livelihoods.’ Put politics aside? What does that mean? That Hancock and the rest of his crew are no longer politicians, but have become dedicated professionals, like GPs and first responders? The irony is that the statement demeans the profession of politics, and that it is a profession is not in doubt. Look at all those who have started their political careers in Oxbridge. Why would any politician wish to be taken seriously when they themselves accuse their peers of ’playing politics.’ They give a very strong cue to the public to think the same. The statement is doubly ironic when one considers who or what the Prime Minister is. The more mendacious overtone of the statement is that there is only ever one breed (i.e. whoever is in government at the time) capable of running the country. This tautology is the basis for a great deal of arrogance, and the hubris which almost certainly as night follows day leads to the downfall of the ’serious’ politicians.’
The news that Labour will probably abstain again on the ‘Spycops’ bill—which would legalise illegal undercover activity by the state—is a sign of how far the party has sunk into a managerial abyss since Starmer took over. We shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, that such an establishment-approved leader is willing to knuckle under. But what is legal and what is not is something the opposition ought to get a handle on. It seems it’s wrong to agree with the government when it says it will pass laws breaking international treaties (such as its withdrawal agreement with the EU), it’s maybe right and maybe wrong to give immunity to the MoD against legal action from ‘lefty lawyers’ (and British servicemen and women) and now of course it’s maybe OK to let undercover state operatives commit crimes. Apparently, that’s partly because such activities could be scrutinised by the Intelligence and Security Committee (the same committee that covered itself in glory reporting on alleged Russian meddling with our precious bodily democracy). That all this is happening now can’t be a coincidence. The expanding totalitarianism of the Johnson/Cummings state includes delegitimising discussion of anti-capitalism in schools and the threat of defunding universities if they don’t sign up to the discredited IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. It’s what you might call a good Covid to bury bad news. And Starmer and his crew are more obsessed with poll ratings and distance-from-Corbyn than they are in opposing this calamitous government.
+I fear John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor may have upset the entire Christian community. He told Huffpost yesterday, speaking in favour of another full national lockdown, that ‘you can revive the economy over time, you can’t resurrect the dead.’ I can see he will need to clarify his remarks. What he meant was that Boris Johnson can’t resurrect the dead. So far as we know.
+The Guardian recently declared how it was going to become zero carbon, in a spurt of self-congratulatory leadership. Good luck with that. But good intentions cannot come at a cost, so there are still full page adverts for gaz guzzling SUVs. One that has particularly got up my nose shows a Range Rover ploughing up a river in the countryside. Exactly what section of the Guardian community shares the mentality that would find such an image attractive? Perhaps the Mad Men know something I don’t about G-readers.
+Catching up with climate change news, this headline caught my attention: Brain-Eating Amoeba Moving North Across America, and Climate Change May Be Why This rather disturbing sentence appeared in Newsweek where you can read all about it. I was searching for a link between the story and the current crisis in the White House. I suspect they're keeping it under wraps for now.
+Even as the plague stalks the land, there are reasons to be cheerful, and I can happily report that I am already in receipt of one of the benefits of Brexit. It’s making such a difference to my life. Yes, my new driving license now bears the Union flag! I could barely sleep last night as a glow of patriotic bliss flowed through my red, white and blue veins, oh happy morn joy to be alive! But what’s this? In its traditional place the EU flag is still there on my bit of plastic. Presumably if I’d left my renewal until the 1st of January it would have been removed, at the end of the transition period. Now I feel betrayed and distraught. My hopes shattered. So it’s back to Covid then.
+Or maybe not. A particularly annoying HM Government (an oxymoron if there ever was one) advertisement appeared in this morning’s paper headlined ‘Going to Europe next year?’ It says ’The rules around mobile roaming will change in 2021.’ In other words, mobile operators will be free to reintroduce charges and shake their customers down without any interference from the EU. The picture in the ad is one of those always, gormlessly happy thirty somethings who never seem to have anything more useful to do than appear in gormless ads like this. UK’S NEW START, the ad says, LET’S GET GOING. Check Change Go—its traffic lights signal. We’re being talked to as if we were six year olds at the start of an egg and spoon race, rather than the beginning of one of the biggest –self-con tricks of all time.
+I think there’s too much going on in the world today for me to find time to read the report of the inquiry into child abuse in the Church of England. Top lining the news tonight, it has garnered the usual wringing hands response from the C of E, but there’ll be no resignations, no accountability at the top. It rather begs the question of where is the top in the C of E? Surely that’s somewhere in the divine stratosphere, where everything comes down to God’s will. I suppose it does. I wonder how many child abusing clerics justified their actions to themselves with a reference to Abraham’s promise to God to fulfil His command to slaughter his son Isaac? The C of E rather answers the age old question about whether you need the divine to lead a moral life.
+It’s rare that I feel inclined to support Boris Johnson but his pledge to massively boost wind power should be supported. I know he’s probably over-promising again, and maybe doesn’t even expect it to happen, but he has stirred up some of his antediluvian backbenchers to protest. Not just them. Here’s Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner (according to the Daily Mail) ‘Labour also suggested the PM should be focusing on the pandemic, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying Mr Johnson should 'set out how he will get a grip and tackle the crisis at hand'. Open letter to Angela: Dear Angela, The climate crisis is a thousand times worse than Covid-19. You get a grip. Yours etc., CC.