Category Archives: UK Labour Party

Is Britain’s Green Party About to take a Significant Step Towards Revolution?

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) is currently undertaking a huge holistic review as to how the Party works. As it already has a superb set of highly radical policies encompassing not only its well-known concerns for saving the environment but also proposals for revolutionary reforms of the economy, British foreign policy, and our so-called constitution, the holistic review has the potential to be either a step towards a major peaceful revolution, or a damp squib.

Since the Greens were first established in Britain decision-making has been undertaken at annual conferences, where any Party member attending the conference may be involved. This has worked reasonably well, but obviously excludes all those members who are unable to attend conferences. The holistic review may possibly modernise this system.

About a hundred years ago Emma Goldman was one of the first to observe that if voting could really change anything it would be made illegal. It’s not absolutely true, of course, but her point, that most of our so-called democracies are not fit for purpose, was right on the money.

Democracy is a relatively new feature of human society. Given the incredible technical advances that humans have achieved over the last couple of thousand years, it’s not exactly impressive that it’s only just a hundred years or so since women were deemed to be sufficiently human to be entrusted with the right to vote once in a while.

The main reason why we have not yet evolved a system of government where all human beings are able to exercise well-informed decisions is not only because the technology has not been up to providing such a marvel until very recent times, it’s also because the tiny minority of super-rich beings that have always ruled the world have always fought tooth and claw to resist any efforts at weakening the vice-like grip they have always held on political power.

The GPEW has fine policies intended to try to advance the cause of real democracy. Inevitably it’s very hard work to effect those changes. Not only is there the huge problem of the existing global power structure which, like its predecessors, still fights to resist change, there’s also the problem of mass ignorance – the fact that the vast majority of the population has been conditioned to meekly conform to the wishes of our rulers and their lackeys in the mainstream media, or are too apathetic to even care.

However, the Greens holistic review must eventually lead to a major leap forward for real democracy. The Party recently tried to host a couple of online workshops as part of the review. It was the first time it tried to do something like this on a Party-wide scale. Whilst I have some reservations about how this initial effort was made, the fact the effort was made at all has to be greatly applauded. Few things work perfectly at the first attempt, so it’s no surprise that this online exercise had some problems.

Although I signed up to take part in three of the workshops it turned out that I was unable to do so because I do not have the requisite camera and microphone attachments for my computer. If those technical requirements had been stipulated in the original message from the holistic review team I obviously would not have booked a place, thus preventing someone else from taking part – as there was limited availability for participation. So this is the first little glitch – the fact that it was assumed that all GP members are computer literate and have instant access to the required technology. I know of GP members who do not use computers at all, so their voices are obviously excluded from the start. Given that equality and diversity are supposedly important to Greens, the fact that this limitation was not even considered is not impressive. Whilst I accept that it’s reasonable to assume that most people are computer literate, and will continue to be even more so, it should at least have been stated that this problem was recognised, and suitable apologies voiced in the name of tolerance for floundering baby steps towards the brave new world of real democracy.

On the day of the first workshop I received an e-mail from the organisers: “Message to attendees at conference”. There was very little information about how the process would work, but one point was made clear: “If you’re a man, and there have been lots of men speaking, I’ll prioritise a woman even if she had her hand up after you.” Why was this about the only rule the organisers mentioned? It’s significant that the reverse situation was not stated – we were not told that if lots of women had been speaking a man would be prioritised even if he put his hand up after women. The rule suggests discrimination against men, not a good look, but also not the first time I’ve come across it in the Green Party.

The last part of the “Message to attendees” was something of an agenda – some bullet points of subjects to be discussed. Obviously you need agendas, but at no point was I invited to contribute towards it, and this is very important: whoever controls agenda content controls the debate. Everyone taking part in any group discussion should be able to contribute to deciding what subjects will be discussed, and in what order – no matter their gender, race, physical condition, and so on.

One of the workshops I wanted to attend was about “Equality and diversity in the Green Party”. The first part of the “Message to attendees” of this workshop was similar to the previous message, with its identical discriminatory condition about men – quite ironic given the subject matter. This message also had an agenda, towards which, like its predecessor, I had also not been invited to contribute.

However, the given agenda looked quite interesting. The most interesting issue, to me, was the fourth item: “How do we avoid the infighting which has affected the Labour party about discrimination, especially anti-Semitism and transphobia?”

This is a very important topic. I was in the Labour Party for just over a year, and an active supporter of Momentum. Whilst there is indeed considerable dissent in Labour, I saw little evidence that it is any more or less discriminatory than the Greens. Labour’s infighting has almost nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with the fact that it has no core ideology, no equivalent of our Policies for a Sustainable Society.

All the same, the point is interesting. Labour’s alleged anti-Semitism is mostly created and routinely exploited by the mainstream media to smear Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of opposition to Zionism. It’s just another fake news scam. Labour is no more anti-Semitic than the Greens are, and the London-based Jewish Socialists’ Group, for example, is very supportive of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. But the very expression “anti-Semitism” has been corrupted by the mainstream media, possibly influenced by the powerful Zionist lobby.

The literal definition of Semitism originally referred to anyone with an ethnic origin stretching from North Africa to Iraq. The etymology of the word derives from ‘descendants of Shem’, a son of Noah, from whom the Phoenicians are believed to have come – the people who colonised much of the Mediterranean. Hence Arabic is routinely identified as a Semitic language, and unsurprisingly has similarities to Hebrew. But the way Semitism is being interpreted today is almost as a synonym for Zionism, suggesting that anyone who criticises Israel’s Zionist government is being anti-Semitic. But Zionism is a repulsive political ideology not dissimilar in practice to apartheid, and has nothing to do with Semitism – and many of its supporters are not even Semites. It’s a clever tactic designed to confuse understanding of the horrendous situation in Occupied Palestine and eliminate criticism of the vicious junta that rules it – something Jeremy Corbyn has always rightly done, as have the Greens, to some extent, with their support for the BDS campaign against Israel. Given Corbyn’s longstanding support for the terrible plight of Palestinians – a Semitic people – how could anyone rightly accuse him of anti-Semitism? So this is indeed a good and legitimate subject to include in the subject of “avoiding infighting” – but perhaps not quite as the workshop organisers intended.

Avoiding infighting is a vitally important concept, but it’s also a deeply loaded expression which can lead to totalitarianism. Enemies of the Greens will always seek to exploit any potential divisions as a means of destroying the party – the old “divide and rule” tactic. The widely-used traditional method for dealing with dissenting voices in large organisations is simply to eliminate them, one way or another. This is not an option for an organisation that’s striving to reform democracy. The most effective way to do this, for Greens, is through proper open debate and Party-wide decision-making. When dissenting opinion occurs, as it always will, provide a proper debate where voices for and against that opinion can be widely heard and then allow the whole membership to decide the result. The dissatisfied losers of such debates are free to leave the Party if they choose, but should not be pushed. Real progress can only be made in an environment of truly free expression and open debate, never through repression. So “avoiding infighting” should be managed through a process of open debate and decision-making, never through some form of secret policing. The very important need for widespread debate over the horrors being perpetrated in Occupied Palestine, for example, is being silenced everywhere by the simple device of labelling it “anti-Semitic”.

As I was unable to attend the workshops I have no idea how successful they were. But the fact that they were done at all is a huge advance, a giant leap forward towards creating a system where essential Party-wide debates and decision-making can be created. The key to improving the model is through increasing membership involvement at all stages, not limiting it. Those individuals tasked with administering the process must have less ability to control it. Their role must be simply to properly administer, not decide. A way must be found where any Party member may be included in deciding what issues to discuss, and in what order. Another way must be found where Proper Information is provided for each and every issue being discussed, both for and against, in an environment of real free expression. The provision of Proper Information is an essential component of real democracy. The spirit of Voltaire (who is alleged to have said, “I may disagree with all you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it”) must be the guiding principle (whether he actually said it or not – because the principle is a fine one). And a way must be found where any Party member can vote to decide the outcome of any debate. An honest, transparent, inclusive, trustworthy, voting system is another essential component of real democracy. There is no plausible excuse for not doing any of this. We have the technology. It must be used.

Many of today’s political decision-makers will inevitably resist the creation of real democracy. That has been the story of democracy from its very earliest days: every new advance has been bitterly opposed by those who wield political power. From the days when British kings lost their “divine right” to rule, allowing rich land barons to share power, to the days when the voting franchise expanded to permit a whole 1% of the population to vote, the right to make political decisions has been ruthlessly restricted. Such was the situation for hundreds of years. It’s not even a hundred years since women were finally allowed to vote, as they were always deemed incapable of doing so – just as non-white people were forbidden to vote, and for the same reason, in most parts of the world, up to as recently as just twenty five years ago when apartheid ended in South Africa. Even today voting is still not a natural right for all citizens. Israel still practices apartheid, preventing many Arabs from voting in Israeli elections by the creation of Bantustans, where Arabs have no political rights outside their ghettoes, exactly as happened in South Africa.

Emma Goldman was mostly right when she made her observation about the uselessness of voting. Her words are still largely true even today, when so-called democracy is largely a cynical pantomime carefully stage-managed by the super-rich to create the illusion of democracy. But in recent years technology has provided the means to set us truly free. We now have the technical ability continually to provide good information to the entire population, and then to harvest the opinions and choices of the population. It’s only a question of time before that is routinely available to all citizens.

The GPEW is now leading the way in providing this inevitable innovation. A noble place in history awaits those who first deliver real democracy to the people. The Greens must surge ahead with this fine start they have made, and use its changes as a campaigning aid. We must create a model of real democracy within the Party to show citizens a working example of how a Green government could deliver real democracy to the whole country, and then the world. The Greens have long had a policy aim of Direct Democracy. We now have the opportunity to start providing it. The days of policy decision-making being restricted to the few people who are able to attend party conferences must end. Every Green Party member should be able to take part in all Party decision-making. If the holistic review does not include that, and propose steps to achieve it, it will be a largely pointless exercise.

What’s in a word?

Jeremy Corbyn is currently enduring yet another well-organised smear campaign based on his alleged support for “anti-Semitism”. Although the allegation is too ridiculous for words, the smear campaign is nevertheless enjoying some success for two main reasons, each of which is pretty serious – yet neither one has any rational foundation that’s capable of withstanding even basic critical examination.

  1. What’s in a word?

The first, and arguably most relevant reason, is the widespread misunderstanding of the expression “anti-Semitism”. Consider the most significant part of the expression – Semitism. This obviously derives from the word “Semite”. The 1993 edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defined “Semite” as follows:

A member of any of the peoples supposedly descended from Shem, son of Noah (Gen 10:21-31) including esp. the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Phoenicians.

So just twenty five years ago the expression anti-Semitism could have referred to the showing of prejudice against tens of millions of people stretching from North Africa to Iraq. Then something quite peculiar happened. According to Stephen Sedley, writing for the London Review of Books:

In May 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental body, adopted a ‘non-legally-binding working definition of anti-Semitism’: ‘Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

This definition, which has apparently being officially adopted by both the British government and Britain’s Labour Party, simply airbrushes out all of the other people originally included in the earlier rational definition of the word – and notably Arabs. It would appear that the new wording originated at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which also provides numerous examples how to interpret the definition. One such example reads:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.

Now it isn’t very difficult to spot the lack of intellectual quality in this. The concept of a country owned and controlled by the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people, is the basis of Zionism. Many people have become so conditioned to fear Zionist propaganda that they become blinded to the many obvious flaws in the rationale of the Zionists. They appear to think that questioning Zionism is tantamount to supporting holocaust denial, when the two things are obviously completely different. No matter the obvious contradictions between the fundamental concept of Zionism, and a concept of basic human rights where no one group is exceptional, and which most civilised countries try to live up to.

But the example provided by the IHRA goes to the heart of the current problem: we have travelled from a definition of anti-Semitism that originally included hundreds of millions of people originating in North Africa and the Middle East, of which the Jewish people were not exceptional, to one which totally excludes everyone who is not Jewish, and demands acceptance of a notion that Israel is not a racist endeavour – despite seventy years of history, and counting, that provides voluminous evidence to the contrary. Zionism is clearly a racist endeavour, and seventy years, and counting, of Palestinian suffering is undeniable, ongoing, blood-soaked proof of that fact.

Given that Jeremy Corbyn has spent much of his political life as a dedicated supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people – a Semitic people – it’s really quite ridiculous to suggest he supports anti-Semitism.

It would seem that much of the smear campaign that’s being carried out at the moment is a carefully orchestrated attack on someone who has long championed the terrible injustices perpetrated against Palestinians for the last seventy years, and counting. A key part of this smear campaign is the gradual corruption of the expression “anti-Semitism”, from its original interpretation to one where it’s now supposed to include anyone who questions the concept of Zionism – a very different meaning altogether.

Whilst it’s very easy to accuse non-Jews, such as Jeremy Corbyn, say, or Ken Livingstone, of anti-Semitism because of their support for Palestinians and opposition to Zionism, it’s a lot more difficult when Jewish people themselves say basically the same thing, as frequently happens.

Hasidim, the ultra-orthodox Jewish group, has long opposed the state of Israel, and Zionism, the ideological principle behind it. In a recent article by the BBC, a photograph shows a large demonstration by Hasidic Jews, many of whom are holding up placards which read “Judaism rejects Zionism, and the state of Israel”. This is not as strange as it may seem: Judaism has been around for about five thousand years, Zionism for a mere hundred and twenty years or so, but accusing Hasidim of anti-Semitism, which is implied by the IHRA’s words, would be beyond satire.

Nor is Zionism opposed only by ultra-orthodox Jews. The London-based Jewish Socialists’ Group, for example, wrote the following:

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews. [My emphasis]

Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy out of bounds.

Opposition to, or prejudice and discrimination against people just because they’re Jewish is totally inexcusable. Opposition to Zionism, however, is not only a completely different thing, it’s absolutely right. Zionism is the modern equivalent of apartheid (both of which, curiously, started flexing their muscles at about the same time). It practices exceptionalism, proclaiming one group of people superior to all others, justifying a vile and ruthless discrimination which, in the case of the Zionists, has murdered tens of thousands of defenceless people and cruelly oppressed millions of others. Therefore it’s fairly clear to see that anyone who does not strongly and actively oppose Zionism must obviously be supporting instead a regime whose institutionalised heartless cruelty has no other equivalent in the modern world.

  1. On a wing and a prayer

The second reason for the relative success of the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn which, when critically examined, quickly crumbles to dust is the very ideological premise for Zionism: that Jewish people have some sort of exceptional claim to the land around Jerusalem – because their god said so.

The hard unchallengeable facts about this claim are:

  1. The Old Testament, which contains the scriptures which supposedly validate the Zionist claim, was written by human beings – mostly Jewish human beings – not god.
  2. There is no verifiable empirical evidence that god exists.

At least two thirds of the human population are brainwashed into believing some kind of religion, and the existence of some sort of supernatural being, or beings, whose wisdom in all things is both beyond question and reproach. Coupled to this, and an integral part of the brainwashing, is the “carrot and stick principle”: if we wholeheartedly accept the religion we will live happily ever after in some sort of “heaven”; if we do not accept it we will live forever in some sort of “hell”. So even though many people do not regularly practice the religions in which they’re indoctrinated, the conditioning is still there inside them, which is why they invariably observe religious services for the events that matter to them: births, deaths and marriages.

So religion is a powerful controlling device for most people – no matter that the core principle of most religions – belief in some sort of supernatural being – cannot be proven. Therefore when Zionists say there are biblical scriptures to verify their claim to land around Jerusalem, scriptures purporting to be the very word of god, many people balk at the prospect of disputing the claim, vaguely recalling distant thoughts of eternal hellfire.

But the existence of this god cannot be proven, and the quoted scriptures were written by ordinary human beings with vested interests in the claims they made.

Some would no doubt argue that even though the religious basis of Zionism is flimsy, to say the least, that people are still entitled to believe whatever they want to believe, and that real libertarians should respect that. True, up to a point. People should indeed believe whatever they like, but there’s a very important caveat: that the practice of that belief should not be at the cost of the rights of others to practice their beliefs too; and the practice of that belief should very definitely not cause harm to others. When some new cult emerges claiming the necessity for human sacrifices, as happens from time to time, we don’t meekly nod in agreement and say, well, that’s O.K. if that’s what your religion says, we quite rightly throw the murderers into prison for substantial periods of time. But that’s not what’s happened with the Zionist cult. The Zionists have used their religion to not only justify stealing vast lands away from Palestinians who owned it for centuries, but also to justify the murdering of tens of thousands of Palestinians too, and ruining the lives of millions of others.

Therefore it’s very easy to see that the ideological claim of the Zionists has no substance.

It’s a shame the Labour Party hasn’t got the courage to strongly support its leader against the latest smear campaign. The spectacle of MPs from Jeremy Corbyn’s own party attacking him in support of the smearing against him is sickening beyond belief. Labour should stand up for justice for Palestine, not crumple up like a wet paper bag. Discrimination against Jewish people is utterly reprehensible and inexcusable, but Zionism is the modern equivalent of apartheid. As the Jewish Socialists say, “Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology“. Fighting it is totally justifiable, and right. Labour MPs who support the Zionists, against their own leader, are obviously also supporting one of the greatest human rights violations of modern times. There are no words adequate to the job of properly describing these people.

The Rising of Britain’s “New Politics”

As the Tories plot to get rid of Prime Minister Theresa May, John Pilger analyses the alternative Labour Party, specifically its foreign policy, which may not be what it seems.

*****

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance.  The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is led today by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different from Blair’s and is rare in British establishment politics.

Addressing the Labour conference, the campaigner Naomi Klein described the rise of Corbyn as “part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.”

In fact, at the end of the US primary elections last year, Sanders led his followers into the arms of Hillary Clinton, a liberal warmonger from a long tradition in the Democratic Party.

As President Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton presided over the invasion of Libya in 2011, which led to a stampede of refugees to Europe. She gloated notoriously at the gruesome murder of Libya’s president. Two years earlier, she signed off on a coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras. That she has been invited to Wales on 14 October to be given an honorary doctorate by the University of Swansea because she is “synonymous with human rights” is unfathomable.

Like Clinton, Sanders is a cold-warrior and an “anti-communist” obsessive with a proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He supported Bill Clinton’s and Tony Blair’s illegal assault on Yugoslavia in 1998 and the invasions of Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, as well as Barack Obama’s campaign of terrorism by drone. He backs the provocation of Russia and agrees that the whistleblower Edward Snowden should stand trial. He has called the late Hugo Chavez – a social democrat who won multiple elections – “a dead communist dictator”.

While Sanders is a familiar liberal politician, Corbyn may well be a phenomenon, with his indefatigable support for the victims of American and British imperial adventures and for popular resistance movements.

For example, in the 1960s and 70s, the Chagos islanders were expelled from their homeland, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, by a Labour government. An entire population was kidnapped. The aim was to make way for a US military base on the main island of Diego Garcia: a secret deal for which the British were “compensated” with a discount of $14 million off the price of a Polaris nuclear submarine.

I have had much to do with the Chagos islanders and have filmed them in exile in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they suffered and grieved and some of them “died from sadness”, as I was told. They found a political champion in a Labour Member of Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn.

So did the Palestinians. So did Iraqis terrorised by a Labour prime minister’s invasion of their country in 2003. So did others struggling to break free from the designs of western power. Corbyn supported the likes of Hugo Chavez, who brought more than hope to societies subverted by the US behemoth.

And yet, now that Corbyn is closer to power than he might have ever imagined, his foreign policy remains a secret.

By secret, I mean there has been rhetoric and little else. “We must put our values at the heart of our foreign policy,” said Corbyn at the Labour conference.  But what are these “values”?

Since 1945, like the Tories, British Labour has been an imperial party, obsequious to Washington and with a record exemplified by the crime in the Chagos islands.

What has changed? Is Jeremy Corbyn saying Labour will uncouple itself from the US war machine, and the US spying apparatus and US economic blockades that scar humanity?

His shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, says a Corbyn government “will put human rights back at the heart of Britain’s foreign policy”. But human rights have never been at the heart of British foreign policy — only “interests”, as Lord Palmerston declared in the 19th century: the interests of those at the apex of British society.

Thornberry quoted the late Robin Cook who, as Tony Blair’s first Foreign Secretary in 1997, pledged an “ethical foreign policy” that would “make Britain once again a force for good in the world”.

History is not kind to imperial nostalgia. The recently commemorated division of India by a Labour government in 1947 – with a border hurriedly drawn up by a London barrister, Gordon Radcliffe, who had never been to India and never returned – led to blood-letting on a genocidal scale.

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

— W.H. Auden, ‘Partition’.

It was the same Labour government (1945–51), led by Prime Minister Clement Attlee – “radical” by today’s standards — that dispatched General Douglas Gracey’s British imperial army to Saigon with orders to re-arm the defeated Japanese in order to prevent Vietnamese nationalists from liberating their own country. Thus, the longest war of the century was ignited.

It was a Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, whose policy of “mutuality” and “partnership” with some of the world’s most vicious despots, especially in the Middle East, forged relationships that endure today, often sidelining and crushing the human rights of whole communities and societies. The cause was British “interests” – oil, power, wealth.

In the “radical” 1960s, Labour’s Defence Secretary, Denis Healey, set up the Defence Sales Organisation (DSO) specifically to boost the arms trade and make money from selling lethal weapons to the world. Healey told Parliament, “While we attach the highest importance to making progress in the field of arms control and disarmament, we must also take what practical steps we can to ensure that this country does not fail to secure its rightful share of this valuable market.”

The double-think was quintessentially Labour.

When I later asked Healey about this “valuable market”, he claimed his decision made no difference to the volume of military exports. In fact, it led to an almost doubling of Britain’s share of the arms market. Today, Britain is the second biggest arms dealer on earth, selling arms and fighter planes, machine guns and “riot control” vehicles, to 22 of the 30 countries on the British Government’s own list of human rights violators.

Will this cease under a Corbyn government? The preferred model – Robin Cook’s “ethical foreign policy” – is revealing. Like Jeremy Corbyn, Cook made his name as a backbencher and critic of the arms trade. “Wherever weapons are sold,” wrote Cook, “there is a tacit conspiracy to conceal the reality of war” and “it is a truism that every war for the past two decades has been fought by poor countries with weapons supplied by rich countries”.

Cook singled out the sale of British Hawk fighters to Indonesia as “particularly disturbing”. Indonesia “is not only repressive but actually at war on two fronts: in East Timor, where perhaps a sixth of the population has been slaughtered … and in West Papua, where it confronts an indigenous liberation movement”.

As Foreign Secretary, Cook promised “a thorough review of arms sales”. The then Nobel Peace Laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor, appealed directly to Cook: “Please, I beg you, do not sustain any longer a conflict which without these arms sales could never have been pursued in the first place and not for so very long.” He was referring to Indonesia’s bombing of East Timor with British Hawks and the slaughter of his people with British machine guns. He received no reply.

The following week Cook called journalists to the Foreign Office to announce his “mission statement” for “human rights in a new century”. This PR event included the usual private briefings for selected journalists, including the BBC, in which Foreign Office officials lied that there was “no evidence” that British Hawk aircraft were deployed in East Timor.

A few days later, the Foreign Office issued the results of Cook’s “thorough review” of arms sales policy. “It was not realistic or practical,” wrote Cook, “to revoke licences which were valid and in force at the time of Labour’s election victory”. Suharto’s Minister for Defence, Edi Sudradjat, said that talks were already under way with Britain for the purchase of 18 more Hawk fighters. “The political change in Britain will not affect our negotiations,” he said. He was right.

Today, replace Indonesia with Saudi Arabia and East Timor with Yemen. British military aircraft – sold with the approval of both Tory and Labour governments and built by the firm whose promotional video had pride of place at the Labour Party conference – are bombing the life out of Yemen, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, where half the children are malnourished and there is the greatest cholera epidemic in modern times.

Hospitals and schools, weddings and funerals have been attacked. In Ryadh, British military personnel are reported to be training the Saudis in selecting targets.

In Labour’s 2017 manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn and his party colleagues promised that “Labour will demand a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations … in Yemen, including air strikes on civilians by the Saudi-led coalition. We will immediately suspend any further arms sales for use in the conflict until that investigation is concluded.”

But the evidence of Saudi Arabia’s crimes in Yemen is already documented by Amnesty and others, notably by the courageous reporting of the British journalist Iona Craig. The dossier is voluminous.

Labour does not promise to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia. It does not say Britain will withdraw its support for governments responsible for the export of Islamist jihadism. There is no commitment to dismantle the arms trade.

The manifesto describes a “special relationship [with the US] based on shared values … When the current Trump administration chooses to ignore them … we will not be afraid to disagree”.

As Jeremy Corbyn knows, dealing with the US is not about merely “disagreeing”. The US is a rapacious, rogue power that ought not to be regarded as a natural ally of any state championing human rights, irrespective of whether Trump or anyone else is President.

When Emily Thornberry linked Venezuela with the Philippines as “increasingly autocratic regimes” – slogans bereft of contextual truth and ignoring the subversive US role in Venezuela — she was consciously playing to the enemy: a tactic with which Jeremy Corbyn will be familiar.

A Corbyn government will allow the Chagos islanders the right of return. But Labour says nothing about renegotiating the 50-year renewal agreement that Britain has just signed with the US allowing it to use the base on Diego Garcia from which it has bombed Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Corbyn government will “immediately recognise the state of Palestine”. But it is silent on whether Britain will continue to arm Israel, continue to acquiesce in the illegal trade in Israel’s illegal “settlements” and continue to treat Israel merely as a warring party, rather than as an historic oppressor given immunity by Washington and London.

On Britain’s support for Nato’s current war preparations, Labour boasts that the “last Labour government spent above the benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP” on Nato. It says, “Conservative spending cuts have put Britain’s security at risk” and promises to boost Britain’s military “obligations”.

In fact, most of the £40 billion Britain currently spends on the military is not for territorial defence of the UK but for offensive purposes to enhance British “interests” as defined by those who have tried to smear Jeremy Corbyn as unpatriotic.

If the polls are reliable, most Britons are well ahead of their politicians, Tory and Labour. They would accept higher taxes to pay for public services; they want the National Health Service restored to full health. They want decent jobs and wages and housing and schools; they do not hate foreigners but resent exploitative labour. They have no fond memory of an empire on which the sun never set.

They oppose the invasion of other countries and regard Blair as a liar.  The rise of Donald Trump has reminded them what a menace the United States can be, especially with their own country in tow.

The Labour Party is the beneficiary of this mood, but many of its pledges – certainly in foreign policy – are qualified and compromised, suggesting, for many Britons, more of the same.

Jeremy Corbyn is widely and properly recognised for his integrity; he opposes the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons; the Labour Party supports it. But he has given shadow cabinet positions to pro-war MPs who support Blairism, and tried to get rid of him and abused him as “unelectable”.

“We are the political mainstream now,” says Corbyn.  Yes, but at what price?

Corbyn’s Labour Party Will Deliver a Fairer, More Compassionate Britain

The ferocious beast of the so called free-market capitalism needs to be on a leash before it devours all around it, including our planet. Britain’s Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn has now emphatically signalled that they will do just that. Actually, free-market is a misnomer; a more accurate name would be crony capitalism, where corporate profits are privatised and losses are socialised.

The country now has a choice between two distinct visions. On the one side we have free-market economics espoused by the Tories where the market is king and can do no wrong. On the other we have Labour saying we don’t agree, the market is not working fairly for the majority of our citizens and we will take action to correct that. Whatever one’s political allegiances, this is good for democracy.

The mantra of the Labour Party “for the many, not the few” is resonating with an increasing number of our citizens in spite of most mainstream media going into overdrive to smear Jeremy Corbyn and frighten the people. The electorate have seen free-market economics acting as a giant vacuum cleaner sucking the wealth of the nation upwards to the top 1% and impoverishing the rest.

Here is Jeremy Corbyn in his excellent Labour Party conference speech of how Labour will transform Britain:

And ten years after the global financial crash the Tories still believe in the same dogmatic mantra – Deregulate, privatise cut taxes for the wealthy, weaken rights at work, delivering profits for a few, and debt for the many. Nothing has changed. It’s as if we’re stuck in a political and economic time-warp…Now is the time that government took a more active role in restructuring our economy. Now is the time that corporate boardrooms were held accountable for their actions, And now is the time that we developed a new model of economic management to replace the failed dogmas of neo-liberalism … That is why Labour is looking not just to repair the damage done by austerity but to transform our economy with a new and dynamic role for the public sector particularly where the private sector has evidently failed. Take the water industry. Of the nine water companies in England six are now owned by private equity or foreign sovereign wealth funds. Their profits are handed out in dividends to shareholders while the infrastructure crumbles the companies pay little or nothing in tax and executive pay has soared as the service deteriorates.That is why we are committed to take back our utilities into public ownership to put them at the service of our people and our economy and stop the public being ripped off. Our National Investment Bank… and the Transformation Fund will be harnessed to mobilise public investment to create wealth and good jobs.

I am a member of the Green Party; I find the direction of travel of Corbyn’s Labour party and its policies music to my ears. I would have liked to see more emphasis on environmental protection; we need to protect our environment as well as our workers. Greater commitment to renewable energy to combat climate change would also enhance Labour’s progressive policies.

Additionally, Jeremy Corbyn has made the Labour party more democratic – now he needs to take the next step to make the country’s electoral system more representative of the nation’s views. Our first past the post electoral system is not fit for purpose and it’s time we moved to some form of proportional representation.

I hope Labour, who are considering the issue, will endorse some form of PR with the caveat “of maintaining the constituency link” as Jeremy Corbyn puts it. And until that happens why not embrace a progressive alliance to ensure that a dogma-driven Tory party will not govern Britain in the future.

The country has had enough of the Tories’ free-market economics and it is looking forward to a fairer, more caring Britain led by Corbyn’s Labour Party, supported by the country’s progressives.

Beware the Poisoned Chalice

Unsurprisingly, Jeremy Corbyn is walking around with a permanent grin on his face. He is rightly delighted with the achievement of the Labour Party in Britain’s recent general election. Given the two years of relentless abuse and ridicule that’s been heaped upon him by the mainstream media, together with the appalling treachery of most of his fellow Labour MPs who tried, but failed miserably, to oust him as leader, the result of the June 8 ballot was a ringing endorsement and validation of his remarkable accomplishment.

The victory of the Conservative Party over Labour was so marginal that they are compelled to make a deal with the devil, in the guise of the fanatical Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, in order to have any control at all of the British parliament. It’s a deal that is already looking precarious as it likely contravenes the Good Friday Peace Agreement, and therefore might be illegal. Prime Minister Theresa May, whose pompous hubris provoked the totally unnecessary general election is, to quote one of her own supposed colleagues, George Osborne, “a dead woman walking”. The only thing that might be keeping her in office is that no one in their right mind could possibly want the job.

It’s been widely reported that Jeremy Corbyn is already talking about another imminent general election, as a result of the Tories’ fragile condition, and appears to be relishing the chance of forming a Labour government, possibly within a year. But he should be very wary, and think very carefully about whether or not that’s actually a good idea.

The Poisoned Chalice

Britain is in a wretched condition. Four decades of unrelenting capitalistic economic policies by mainly Tory governments, but also the treacherous Blair/Brown Labour governments, have taken Britain to the brink of permanent destitution. Nearly all of the country’s manufacturing base has been either shut down or off-shored to various Third World sweatshops. All of the once publicly-owned utilities such as gas and electricity, water and communications, have been flogged at fire-sale prices to trans-national corporations. Public transport and postal services are now mostly owned by foreign corporations, and just about any public service than can be asset-stripped and looted already has been.

Add to that situation the recent catastrophic decision to split with Europe, Britain’s biggest trading partner. We’re talking about a country that has few natural resources, and almost no heavy industrial capability any more. It has nothing anyone wants, and can’t make anything that can’t be bought cheaper somewhere else, and quite possibly better made. About the only thing that provides some apparent respectability to its economy is a total reliance on its basically criminal financial services – and even these are now leaving the sinking ship, thanks to Brexit. Britain is supposed to be the fifth richest country on the planet, but homelessness is rife and some people are so dependent on charity food banks that they risk starving to death without them.

If all that were not enough, we can also add to the mix the fact that for at least two decades Britain has shamefully involved itself as willing stooge to the US’ illegal military adventures throughout the Arab world. This resulted in the unnecessary deaths of at least a million people (most of whom were defenceless civilians), and ruin and destitution for tens of millions more, causing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two. Unsurprisingly these despicable actions have resulted in terrorist outrages in the streets of Britain, inspiring the government to introduce ever more restrictions on our rapidly disappearing freedom. Secret courts and press censorship have been routine in Britain for some years, and now there are calls from senior police and military officials to open “internment camps” where literally thousands of people could be locked up without charge or trial.

This is Britain today. Who in their right mind would want to be Prime Minister of such a place?

Corbyn’s Choices

The fact of this largely Tory-made catastrophe will not be lost on the very people who created it. Many Tories chose the “Remain” camp in the recent referendum to split from Europe, including the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne. These people knew what a disaster it would be for Britain to quite the EEC. Now the disaster is imminent they must surely be thinking this is a pretty good time not to be in government.

Given the current extreme vulnerability of the Tory party, it might, in normal circumstances, be a perfect time for political opponents to strike. But these are not normal circumstances, and Jeremy Corbyn would be far better advised to wait, keep his powder dry, bide his time and concentrate on far more important priorities than prematurely rushing to take charge of a government that is almost beyond salvation. He would be better advised to take the view that because this is a wholly Tory-made catastrophe, let Tories take responsibility for fixing it. The next five years of British government will almost certainly produce one calamity after another – no matter who’s in charge. Much better, surely, to be in opposition where you can throw stones, rather than be responsible for the calamities and have stones thrown at you. The next five years could possibly destroy whichever political party is at the helm, so Labour should be very wary about being that party.

So what exactly should Labour’s leadership do?

Fixing the PLP

The first and most urgent problem that needs fixing is for the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to unite. It has been terribly divided for the last two years, with a tiny group of Corbyn supporters fighting off the often vitriolic attacks of their own supposed-colleagues who, for the most part, are Blairites – right-wingers scarcely distinguishable from the Tories they’re supposed to be opposing. However, a week can be a long time in politics, and when Jeremy Corbyn entered parliament for the first time since the general election he was greeted with a standing ovation from most of the Labour MPs.

So although perhaps the PLP is finally healing its wounds, more work needs to be done to ensure more widespread unity within the Labour Party. The PLP needs to be re-educated to the fact that it is supposed to be a left-wing organisation. Corbyn is not getting any younger, so more youthful Labour MPs with natural left-wing leanings need to be groomed to take over the helm when Corbyn and the equally important Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell decide to take up well-earned retirements.

Re-education

With immediate effect the Labour Party needs to begin to re-educate the wider population. British people have endured whole lifetimes of right-wing capitalist propaganda. Most are now well and truly indoctrinated capitalists, conditioned to think greed is good, look after number one, and fear and distrust socialism. This vast population of natural conservatives needs to be turned around, to understand how they’ve been tricked to think and act against their own best interests.

Alternative news

To this end, the Labour Party should create an alternative media platform. This should be designed with the long-term aim of replacing the BBC, which has, since its very beginnings, been a tool of the 1%. Initially the Labour Party obviously couldn’t create such an organisation, but it could make a start, design websites and social media platforms whose purpose is keep the population properly informed about the events that shape their lives; something which one day, when properly resourced, could deliver accurate information – from a humane position rather than the monstrous self-serving capitalist media of today, of whom the BBC is the leading representative.

From the very first days of his leadership of the Labour Party Corbyn did a very clever thing. Knowing full well that Britain’s right-wing media cannot be trusted to give him any help, he simply by-passed them and reached out directly to the people. Appealing initially to ordinary Labour Party members – his natural power base – via the party website, he invited questions to be put directly to the Prime Minister during the weekly parliamentary ritual of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). For the first time in history, these sessions were made up of questions composed by ordinary people. And Corbyn never stopped his inspired tactic of sticking like glue directly to his real power base – the British electorate.

For two years Jeremy Corbyn has travelled up and down the country talking directly with the people – bypassing the poisonous mainstream media altogether. This direct contact with the public is primarily responsible for Corbyn’s growing rock-star status. But he hasn’t just been making social calls, he’s been re-educating, giving people an alternative narrative to the one that’s been peddled by the Tories and the complicit mainstream media for many decades.

This reaching out and re-educating that Corbyn has already been doing to the best of his ability needs to be institutionalised by the Labour Party. The people need to be taught that contrary to Thatcher’s infamous lie that “there is no alternative”, there are, in fact, alternatives, and very good ones at that.

Socialism

Arguably the single most important new alternative for people to learn about is an alternative economy. As well-conditioned capitalists, most British people automatically reject the alternative world that’s possible with socialist economics. The knee-jerk responses are automatically wheeled out: it failed in Russia; it’s anti-democratic totalitarianism; socialist “sums don’t add up”… and so on. These are all the inevitable results of the misinformation and outright lies churned out by a capitalist-controlled world. Anyone with just a modest understanding of socialism could easily refute them all. The Labour Party could and should begin re-educating the people to the very real benefits of socialist economics.

Pacifism

During his recent election campaign Jeremy Corbyn was grilled several times over his pacifist leanings. He was often challenged about his position over nuclear disarmament, his opposition to Trident nuclear weapons, claims that he would not “press the button”, and his previous apparent support for the IRA and other supposed “terrorist” organisations. This was clearly a political weak spot for Corbyn, not because there’s anything wrong with his views on these subjects, but because of the public perception that it would be dangerous for a Prime Minister to hold such views.

Like the economy, what’s mainly needed here is re-education of the public. Like many other things, Corbyn isn’t wrong in his opinions about British foreign policy, the British public are wrong in theirs. Conversion of public opinion is seldom a very difficult task, as just about every major war has shown in the past, where previously pacifist or at least indifferent public opinion has been quickly transformed into fanatical war-mongering. Of course, this has invariably been achieved through cynical manipulation of the media, but it suggests that if at least some of the media were managed in a pacifist, humane way the necessary change of public perception could be achieved. Corbyn’s belief that nuclear weapons should be banned, and that British foreign policy is primarily responsible for the terrorism that Britain experienced from both the Irish and now the Islamic world, should become mainstream public opinion – not viewed as the deluded ravings of some isolated deranged geriatric.

The benefits of opposition

Although I’m delighted that Jeremy Corbyn did so well in the general election, and I’m proud of the fact that my vote helped secure his success, I truly hope this is the pinnacle of his success for at least five years. I would not like to see a Labour government for at least that period of time. To understand this position one only needs to think about what would probably happen if another general election was called, within two years say, and a Labour government was returned to power.

First and most crucially, the catastrophic fallout of Brexit would have to be dealt with. Given Britain’s extreme economic weakness, with only a corrupt and largely criminal financial services community providing a fig leaf of respectability to economic data – a community that may have mostly disappeared in two years‘ time – Britain would be in the worst economic shape it’s been in since the end of WW2. That’s not necessarily terminal, but for a socialist Labour government it could well be. Because the very last thing the US government wants to see is a successful pacifist, socialist government anywhere at all, but least of all where it’s most reliable capitalist ally used to be. So if we add a hostile US position together with a crippled economy we get the perfect storm, and a disaster that would ruin the Labour Party, and socialist hopes, forever.

If Jeremy Corbyn was to become Prime Minister, he could not possibly maintain his pacifist socialist ideals and stay friends with the US. The only real hope Britain has for surviving the calamity of Brexit is to establish even closer trading, military, and diplomatic ties to the US. On the face of it there doesn’t seem much in it for Washington – which is not well known for doing anything that doesn’t produce a profit for its corporations. But Britain does have one thing that’s almost priceless to the US – its geography.

Britain is a good sized island that’s only swimming distance from the European mainland. It already provides homes for various US military bases and spy stations. Furthermore, Britain has remained a staunch ally of US imperialism when many other European countries have ranged from barely lukewarm to downright frosty in their attitude towards Washington. A Tory government will almost certainly capitalise on these factors to help survive the aftermath of Brexit. As Japan is the main US proxy to Asia, Britain would likely become the main US proxy to Europe. But how could Corbyn maintain his pacifist socialist credentials, and serve as US lackey to Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn has a golden opportunity at his fingertips. The British public are not yet well enough informed to see the huge benefits of the socialist reforms he would like to implement. They have to be deprogrammed and re-educated. They have to learn about and understand the horrors that have been inflicted by centuries of Tory misrule, so that it’s not socialism they fear, but capitalism. Such a reversal in thinking requires a nationwide effort by the Labour Party. Failure to do this would mean that as soon as things got a little bumpy under a new socialist government it would be easy for the mainstream media to steer the people back towards their capitalist programming, and dispose of socialism, possibly once and for all.

Corbyn should remain in opposition, and avoid Downing Street for at least five years. The people are not yet educated enough to implement the changes he would love to make. So he should use this time to prepare them, and to prepare individual MPs too for the enormous reforms they will need to make throughout government, reforms that could very well become reality in five years, but not in two.

Britain’s Real Terror Apologists

Despite a vicious smear campaign to denigrate Britain’s Labour leader as a “terrorist sympathizer,” Jeremy Corbyn still pulled off an amazing achievement in the general election.

Hardly has a politician in any Western state been so vilified with character assassination, and yet he has proven to be most popular Labour leader in Britain since the Second World War.

After weeks of trailing his Conservative rival Theresa May in the polls, Corbyn’s socialist manifesto appealed to a record number of voters – closing the gap between the parties to only two percentage points behind the Tories.

This was in spite of a concerted media campaign to destroy Corbyn in the eyes of the British public as a “terrorist stooge.” The irony here is that the Conservative party is forming a governing coalition with a little-known Northern Ireland party whose history is steeped in British state terrorism. (More on that in a moment.)

For Corbyn, the election outcome was a stunning moral victory. For Prime Minister May it was a humiliating defeat. The Conservatives lost their overall majority in the British parliament and now they have to rely on this reactionary fringe party from Northern Ireland to form a government.

May called the snap election because she thought her party would increase its majority and also because she calculated that Corbyn’s socialist direction of Labour would be wiped out. Many Blairite naysayers in his own party thought so too.

The opposite happened. The British public largely rejected May and her neoliberal capitalist, pro-austerity, pro-NATO policies. They instead rallied behind Corbyn. Granted, the Tories still won the election – only narrowly – but the surge in support for Labour under Corbyn means that he has galvanized a party that stands a strong chance of winning if another election is called. And that could be soon, perhaps in the coming months owing May’s shaky ad hoc government collapsing.

Another riveting factor in all this is that Corbyn’s success came amid a torrential Tory and right-wing media campaign to denigrate him as a terrorist sympathizer. The propaganda onslaught was conducted for months since May called the election back in April. And it grew to a frenzy as election day approached last Thursday, especially when the opinion polls showed Labour steadily whittling away the earlier Conservative support.

The day before the public went to the polling booths, the Daily Mail ran the front page headline: “Apologist for terror,” with Jeremy Corbyn’s photo below. It looked like a “wanted poster” from the Wild West. The only thing missing was the subhead with the words: “Wanted dead or alive.”

The scurrilous allegation pounded over and over by the largely pro-Conservative British media that Corbyn is “soft on terrorism” stems from his otherwise principled history of campaigning on international justice and peace.

Over his 35 years as an MP, he has voiced consistent support for Palestinian rights under illegal Zionist occupation; he has supported Hezbollah resistance against Israeli and American aggression; and during the conflict in Northern Ireland, Corbyn gave a voice to Irish Republicans who were being assailed by British military violence.

Many other international causes could be mentioned, such as Corbyn opposing British government weapons dealing with the despotic Saudi regime which is propagating terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

He has also campaigned to abandon nuclear weapons and is critical of NATO’s reckless expansion in Europe, which have earned him the jingoistic pillorying by the British establishment of “being soft on Russia.”

Corbyn has never condoned terrorism. Rather he has always sought to properly put it in a wider context of other parties also, unaccountably, using terrorism and thus fueling conflict.

This brings us to so-called Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland whose 10 MPs Theresa May’s Tories are now relying on to form a government. This party was formed in the early 1970s by the firebrand Protestant preacher Ian Paisley. While Paisley mellowed in later years before his death in 2014, he spent most of his career preaching vile hatred against Catholics and Irish Republicans, whom he saw as a threat to the political union between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain. In British-run Northern Ireland, it wasn’t acceptable to have a democratic aspiration for an independent Ireland. You were either a pro-British unionist or a “threat.” So much for British democracy.

Senior members of Paisley’s pro-British party played a crucial role in smuggling massive caches of weapons into Northern Ireland during the 1980s to illegally arm unionist paramilitaries. These paramilitaries went on to murder hundreds of innocent people simply because they were Catholics, who tended to be Republican. A favored tactic of these paramilitaries was to storm into pubs and homes and indiscriminately mow people down with assault rifles.

One notorious pro-British killer was Gusty Spence who belonged to the Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary. He later expressed remorse and deplored Ian Paisley, the DUP founder, as the person who incited him to murder innocent Catholics due to his sectarian hate speech.

The paramilitary murder gangs were not just supported covertly by members of the DUP. The British government of Margaret Thatcher – Theresa May’s predecessor and political heroine – orchestrated these same death squads in a covert policy of “dirty war.”

British military intelligence colluded with the pro-unionist militants to assassinate Republican politicians and ordinary Catholics alike in a covert policy of state-sponsored terrorism. The objective was to terrorize people in submitting to British rule over Northern Ireland, rather than allowing the island country to become united and independent.

The British government provided intelligence and cover for the death squads and the unionist politicians had helped supply the AK-47 assault rifles and Browning handguns smuggled from Apartheid South Africa.

This secret dirty war policy of the British government and their unionist proxies in Northern Ireland has been uncovered by investigative journalists such as Paul Larkin (see his groundbreaking book “A Very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy and Cover-up in Northern Ireland”); as well as human rights campaign groups like Belfast-based Relatives for Justice and Pat Finucane Centre.

Not even the present government of Theresa May can deny this murderous legacy in Ireland, although there is a determined silence now as she fights for her political survival in the wake of the British election disaster.

It is a proven fact that May’s Conservative party and the unionist politicians whom she is now partnering with to govern Britain were complicit in terrorism.

Northern Ireland has since gained a peace settlement in which unionist and republican politicians have been able to work together to form a local governing administration. The Irish peace process was possible partly because of the courageous and principled intervention by British politicians like Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn has never apologized for terrorism. He has sought to overcome it by making politics work. The same cannot be said for Theresa May’s Conservative party. It was an accomplice and an apologist for a covert policy of state-sponsored terrorism during Northern Ireland’s recent 30-year conflict.

The very party whom she is now allied with for governing Britain – the DUP – were also apologists for paramilitaries who routinely smashed their way into family homes and slaughtered victims in cold blood in front of their loved ones.

The ongoing muted policy of May’s government and her unionist proxies about their murderous legacy in Ireland is a testimony to who the real apologists for terror are.

• This article was first published by Sputnik

Corbyn Teaches To Embrace Change We Need

The shocking election result in the United Kingdom – the Conservatives losing their majority and the creation of a hung Parliament; and Jeremy Corbyn being more successful than any recent Labor candidate – cutting a 20 point Theresa May lead down to a near tie – gives hope to many that the global shift to the right, fueled by the failures of governments to meet the basic needs of their population and growing economic insecurity, may be ending.

Corbyn is a lifelong activist whose message and actions have been consistent. He presented a platform directed at ending austerity and the wealth divide and was openly anti-war. There are a lot of lessons for the Labor Party in the UK from this election but there are also lessons for people in the United States. We review what happened and consider the possibilities for creating transformative change in the United States.

The Corbyn Campaign Results

The Corbyn campaign showed that a political leader urging a radical progressive transformative agenda can succeed. Many in his own party, the neo-liberal pro-war Blairites, claimed Corbyn could not win, tried to remove him from leadership, and sabotaged and refused to assist his campaign.

Corbyn showed he could win the leadership of the UK in the future, maybe sooner than later. While Theresa May is in the process of forming a minority government with a small radical conservative party from Northern Ireland, there has already been a backlashmass petitions and protests against it and UK history has shown in similar circumstances that the second place finisher, may, in the end form the government. Corbyn is taking bold and radical actions. He is preparing to present a Queen’s speech in which he will say that he and his party are “ready to serve” and will continue to push his program through Parliament. He is calling on other parties to defeat the government in Parliament.

Corbyn did better than any recent Labor leader. Jonathan Cook, a British political commentator, writes in “The Facts Proving Corbyn’s Election Triumph” that Corbyn received 41 percent of the vote against May’s 44 percent. This was a big improvement in Labor’s share of seats, the largest increase since 1945. Cook points out that Corbyn won more votes than “Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party.” Even Tony Blair does not look all that good compared to Corbyn, Cook recounts:

Here are the figures for Blair’s three wins. He got a 36 per cent share of the vote in 2005 – much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 per cent of the vote – about the same as Corbyn – in 2001. And Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 per cent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.

In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.

Bhaskar Sunkara, the founding editor of Jacobin, writes that Corbyn was not only campaigning against the Tories and Theresa May, but battling his own party – yet he still “won”:

This is the first election Labour has won seats in since 1997, and the party got its largest share of the vote since 2005 — all while closing a twenty-four point deficit. Since Corbyn assumed leadership in late 2015, he has survived attack after attack from his own party, culminating in a failed coup attempt against him. As Labour leader he was unable to rely on his parliamentary colleagues or his party staff. The small team around him was bombarded with hostile internal leaks and misinformation, and an unprecedented media smear campaign.

Every elite interest in the United Kingdom tried to knock down Jeremy Corbyn, but still he stands.

The Blairites were taught a lesson by Corbyn. Many of his harshest critics are now changing their tune and embracing Corbyn. Hopefully they will join in creating a party in Corbyn’s image – a party for the many, not the few. Corbyn has rebuilt the mass base of Labor. The party is now the largest in Europe with half a million members. It is time for the “leaders” of Labor to follow the lead of the people and of Jeremy Corbyn.

What can we learn regarding US politics?

Sunkara argues Corbyn demonstrated that a winning campaign strategy is “to offer hopes and dreams to people, not just fear and diminished expectations.” In current US terms that means it is insufficient just to oppose Trump, a positive vision for the future that shows what a candidate and party stand for is needed; e.g., it is not just enough to defend the failing Affordable Care Act and oppose the Republican’s American Health Care Act, you must stand for something positive: National Improved Medicare for All. This is one example of many.

Sunkara provides more detail:

Labour’s surge confirms what the Left has long argued: people like an honest defense of public goods. Labour’s manifesto was sweeping — its most socialist in decades. It was a straightforward document, calling for nationalization of key utilities, access to education, housing, and health services for all, and measures to redistribute income from corporations and the rich to ordinary people.

£6.3 billion into primary schools, the protection of pensions, free tuition, public housing construction — it was clear what Labour would do for British workers. The plan was attacked in the press for its old-fashioned simplicity — “for the many, not the few” — but it resonated with popular desires, with a view of fairness that seemed elementary to millions.

The Labour left remembered that you don’t win by tacking to an imaginary center — you win by letting people know you feel their anger and giving them a constructive end to channel it towards. ‘We demand the full fruits of our labor,’ the party’s election video said it all

Corbyn showed how important it is to have the correct analysis on foreign policy. Twice during the campaign, the UK was hit by a terrorist attack. Corbyn responded by telling the truth: part of the reason for terrorism is the UK foreign policy, especially in Libya. He also opposed the use of nuclear weapons. The Conservatives thought these anti-war positions would hurt Corbyn, instead they helped.

This is even more true in the United States with the never ending wars the country is fighting. But, the unspeakable in the United States, as Paul Street calls it, is acknowledging that terrorism is conducted by the US. This taboo subject makes it hard for people to understand that the US is constantly committing acts of terrorism around the world, which lead to predictable blow back from US militarism, regime change and war. No elected official will tell these obvious truths, which the people of the United States would instinctively understand if they were voiced.

Although the U.S. is often portrayed as a ‘center-right’ nation and progressives are called extremists, the reality is that there is majority support for a progressive agenda. There is a developing national consensus in the United States for transformational change, and Bernie Sanders articulated some of that consensus, at least on domestic issues, in his run for president, but the problem is that U.S. elections are manipulated by the elites in power who make sure that their interests are represented by the winner

Sunkara ends his article on Corbyn saying “Also, Bernie Sanders would have won.” We do not know what would have happened in a Trump-Sanders election. The closest example may be McGovern’s 1972 campaign against Nixon which he lost in a landslide. In that campaign, the Democrats deserted their candidate, even the AFL-CIO and big unions did not support McGovern and Nixon demonized him in the media. Would Clinton-Democrats have stood with Sanders or would they have sabotaged him like the party did to McGovern?

A key to Corbyn’s success was retail politics.  The population of the UK is 65 million, compared to the US population of 321 million. Retail politics can work in the UK, while in the US paid media advertising drives the campaign, which means money often determines the outcome. This gives great power to big business interests, and while it can be overcome, it is a steep hill to climb.

Despite their significant losses, the Democrats are still controlled by Clinton-Obama Wall Street and war neo-liberals as we saw in the recent DNC chair election where Clinton protégé, Tom Perez, was elected. We are not optimistic that the US can apply the Corbyn model within the Democratic Party because it has been a party representing the oligarchs from its origins as the party of plantation slave-owners.

The duopoly parties that represent Wall Street, war and empire will not allow voices that represent “the many, not the few” to participate in US elections. They shut them out whether they run as an insurgent inside a party, as people learned from the mistreatment of Bernie Sanders by the DNC, or if they run outside of the two parties. The bi-partisans make independent party runs nearly impossible with unfair ballot access laws, barriers to voter registration, secret vote counting on unverifiable election machines, exclusion from the debates and exclusion by the corporate media, who are in cahoots with the bi-partisans.

It Comes Down to Building An Independent Mass Political Movement

We live in a mirage democracy with managed elections, as we describe in the article “Fighting for A Legitimate Democracy By and For the People,” on the long history of wealth dominating politics in the U.S.

Historically, transformations have occurred because of mass social movements demanding change and participating in elections through independent parties that have grown out of a movement with candidates from the movement (Corbyn has been involved in every anti-war movement, anti-apartheid, anti-austerity, pro-peace and human rights movements among others). Showing mass electoral support, even without winning, has resulted in significant changes – union rights, women’s voting rights, the eight-hour workday – indeed the New Deal came out of third party platforms. It is important to resist the duopoly parties in order to get to the root of the problems we face; as Patrick Walker explains, the “grassroots resistance must oppose Democrats as well as Trump.”

A broad and diverse social movement whose demands are articulated by an independent party platform has forced one of the two parties to capitulate to the movement or disappear. That still seems to be the most likely path to real change for the US.

Corbyn teaches that we should embrace the radical transformational change that is needed, whether in elections or as a movement, to inspire people to take action and shift the realm of the possible. The people thirst for change as their economic situation becomes more insecure. There needs to be a movement that addresses that insecurity through a human rights lens, or else the insecurity will be channeled towards hatred and violence.

The key first step is to show the many, we are with them; that we are listening and acting consistent with their beliefs. Taking this correct first step, lights the path ahead of us.

The Facts proving Corbyn’s Election Triumph

Watching the BBC’s coverage of the election, you could be excused for taking away two main impressions of last night’s results. First, that Theresa May had a terrible, self-sabotaging campaign; and second that, while Jeremy Corbyn may be celebrating, he decisively lost the election.

Those are the conclusions we would expect a pundit class to draw that has spent two years slandering Corbyn, calling him “unelectable”, warning that he appealed to little more than a niche group of radical leftists, and claiming that Labour was about to face the worst electoral defeat in living memory – if not ever. Corbyn’s social justice message was supposedly alienating the heartlands of the UK.

So let’s stand back, look at the voting figures and see how a Corbyn-led Labour party actually did.

Corbyn received 41 per cent of the vote, against May’s 44 per cent. Given the UK’s inherently flawed, first-past-the-post electoral system, he won some 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives, but that was still a big improvement on Labour’s share of seats in the last election, under Ed Miliband. There is now a hung parliament, and to survive May will need to depend on the MPs of a small group of Northern Irish extremist Loyalists, creating a deeply unstable government.

But how did Corbyn do in terms of the Labour vote compared to his recent predecessors? He won many more votes than Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party.

They lost their elections. But what about Corbyn’s share of the vote compared to Tony Blair, his most high-profile critic, whose many allies in the parliamentary Labour party sought relentlessly to subvert Corbyn’s leadership over the past two years and tried to bring him down, including by staging a leadership challenge last year?

Here are the figures for Blair’s three wins. He got a 36 per cent share of the vote in 2005 – much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 per cent of the vote – about the same as Corbyn – in 2001. And Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 per cent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.

In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. But let’s recall the price Blair paid for that very small margin of improvement over Corbyn’s vote. Behind the scenes, he sold Labour’s soul to the City, the corporations and their lobbyists. That Faustian pact secured Blair the backing of most of the media, including Rupert Murdoch’s stable of papers and TV channel. The corporations mobilised their entire propaganda machine to get Blair into power. And yet he managed it with only 2 percentage points more than Corbyn, who had that same propaganda machine railing against him.

Also, unlike Corbyn, Blair did not have to endure a large section of his own party trying to destroy him from within.

That is the true mark of Corbyn’s achievement.

Another point. Blair’s 1997 landslide was the peak of his success. As Labour members realised what he had done to achieve victory, support ebbed away relentlessly until he was forced to step down and hand over a profoundly damaged party to Gordon Brown.

With Corbyn, the election campaign proved that there is a huge appetite for his honesty, his passion, his commitment to social justice – at least when audiences got a chance to hear from him directly, rather than having his policies and personality mediated and distorted by a biased and self-serving corporate media. Unlike Blair, who destroyed Labour to turn it into a Thatcher-lite party, Corbyn is rebuilding Labour into a social movement for progressive politics.

Here is a graph that offers another measure of the extent of Corbyn’s achievement last night.

It shows that he has just won the largest increase in the share of the Labour vote over the party’s previous general election performance since Clement Attlee in 1945. In short, he’s turned around the electoral fortunes of the Labour party more than any other party leader in 70 years.

And unlike Blair, he’s done it without making back-room deals with big business to eviscerate his party’s economic and social programmes.

UPDATE:

A reader has made an excellent additional point. Blair was able to rely on a strong Scottish vote for Labour that no longer existed by the time Corbyn became leader. Most of that vote now goes to the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the issue of independence for Scotland. If one factors that in too, one can see quite how much more popular Corbyn is with voters than decades of his triangulating, neoliberal-friendly predecessors.

Guardian Staff come out of the Closet for Corbyn

Dear Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett,

Congratulations on coming out of the Guardian closet and admitting that you have been a secret Jeremy Corbyn admirer all along. Your column, “I used to be a shy Corbynite but I’m over that now”, was excellent.

Interestingly, I noticed Jonathan Freedland, the paper’s senior commentator and its Corbyn-denigrator-in-chief (he has some competition!) – and your boss, I suppose – wrote an oped a couple of days ago admitting he may have misjudged Corbyn. Maybe that was the moment you finally sparked up the courage to come clean about liking Corbyn.

I was very interested in what you had to say about why you remained silent for so long.

I had become so used to political commentators popping up every time I expressed admiration for Corbyn’s principles to call me naive or a narcissist or an Islington-dwelling champagne socialist or a loony lefty, as though we were in some pompous game of whack-a-mole, that I began to sort of believe it.

Are you talking about Freedland? But I suppose there were lots of other ideological bouncers out there in liberal-media pundit land. It must have been hard. As you say, “Stop treating us like fools!”

But I never did stop believing in the same things Corbyn does – in equality, social justice, social mobility and peace. Nor did I ever doubt that families such as my own would be much better off under a Labour government than a Tory one. Which is why I’m going to vote for him again.

Great, Rhiannon! Shame it took so long for you to pluck up the courage to speak out.

Why should anyone feel embarrassed to back an anti-austerity politician in this context? Why should anyone who cares passionately about the NHS remaining safe from being transferred into private ownership feel ashamed to support a politician who is committed to it? Why should any young person – most of whom seem to be voting for Corbyn – cringe at voting for a party that has committed itself to tackling generational injustice?

Good question. Why should anyone feel embarrassed, especially a well-paid, career-minded young journalist like yourself?

Here’s a guess. Maybe because your own paper worked relentlessly to make even leftists feel stupid for supporting Corbyn. The group-think got so bad, even at the Guardian, that Owen Jones, a friend of Corbyn’s, was too embarrassed to come out with anything more than grudging support for him in the paper’s pages. He spent his columns instead agonising over what to do about Corbyn.

Even George Monbiot, your in-house radical, sounded almost apologetic telling us recently that he supported Corbyn. No wonder you were too afraid to tell your bosses how you felt, or to pitch to them a pro-Corbyn commentary over the past two years. Safer to keep that information to yourself.

I worked at the Guardian myself for many years. I know the atmosphere in the newsroom only too well. I can imagine it was hard to contradict all those older, “wiser” heads further up the Guardian hierarchy. I wonder how many of the other young staff felt equally frightened to speak up over the past two years.

The narrative has shifted so much in the Tories’ favour, to the point where to announce you’re voting Labour feels subversive and threatening. … The frame has moved, but we still have the same brains, the same hearts, and the same guts. And my brain, my heart, and my gut are telling me that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t back Labour at this crucial time.

Yes, the narrative has shifted so much in the Tories’ favour. I suppose that was because there were no left-liberal journalists there to challenge it. If only we had a left-liberal newspaper that could support a social democratic candidate like Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister. Oh, but wait – isn’t your newspaper supposed to be left-liberal?

Anyway, well done, Rhiannon. I am glad you wrote this piece. Let’s hope, there are more like it to come. Maybe now it looks like Corbyn is in the running, and the Guardian editors have realised that they have egg on their face and that they have alienated large swaths of their readership, they will be more open to letting young journalists tell us about how they have been secretly longing to confess their passion for Corbyn and his politics.

Best wishes,

Jonathan Cook

The Labour Party has Regained Its Principles and Offers Hope to Millions

After 20-plus years of being lost in the muddy centre ground of British politics, the Labour party now stands tall again as the party of social democracy, rooted in values of social justice, participation and unity. Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is offering a positive message of hope at the coming UK election and presents a real alternative to the Conservatives.

Despite the unrelenting assault on Corbyn by the media and the Conservatives, Labour’s message for change is gaining traction. To his great credit Corbyn has not sunk to the level of exchanging insults, has shown great dignity when attacked and has focused on criticising policies not individuals.

The latest polls estimate Labour has reduced the Torie’s lead from 22% to 5% or even 3%, depending on which pollster one reads. If this is accurate and reflects the final vote, it would result in a hung parliament, which would be a tremendous achievement for Labour. A hung parliament describes a parliament in which no single party has an absolute majority of seats. Interestingly, such a state of affairs is also known as a balanced parliament.

The more people hear about Labour’s policies and see Corbyn, the more support for Labour grows. And why wouldn’t it: Labour has designed a set of rational proposals that, if made manifest, would transform Britain from a nation suffocating under a blanket of austerity and injustice, to a fairer country in which public services – including schools and hospitals – are properly funded and where everyone is valued. Conversely as more details emerge about Theresa May – who is by all accounts a narrow-minded control freak – the less appealing, she and her fanatical cohorts become.

The Labour manifesto is filled with light and energy. All areas of responsibility are dealt with from early years education and the environment to foreign policy, health care and, of course, the economy. It is a manifesto designed to repair the severe damage caused by a brutal Conservative government that is literally destroying the country piece by piece. It is a manifesto and a Labour leadership many of us have been waiting years for. The party and its policies are more or less in tune with the worldwide movement for change, and is a positive development, not just for Britain, but for the world.

“We will measure our economic success not by the number of billionaires, but by the ability of our people to live richer lives.” Income tax would increase for some, but “no rises in income tax for those earning below £80,000 a year and no increases in personal national insurance contributions or the rate of VAT.” Major investment in infrastructure and essential public services – decimated under the Conservative’s crushing and needless austerity programme. A National Transformation Fund, similar to Germany and the Nordic countries, would be set up to “invest £250 billion over 10 years in upgrading our economy.” Energy systems would be transformed with investment in “state-of-the-art low-carbon gas and renewable electricity production,” and, encouragingly, they plan to “ensure that 60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.” Fracking – the source of a major greenhouse gas – would be banned. Corbyn, a life-long peace activist and founding member of Stop The War, would appoint a Peace Minister.

Common-sense proposals include bringing private rail companies (many of which are owned by foreign governments) back into public ownership, renationalising Royal Mail and gradually forming a publicly owned decentralised energy system. University tuition fees, which have gone from £3,000 a year to £9,000 under the Conservatives, would be scrapped, a hand of friendship extended to refugees and migrant workers. A unified National Education Service (NES) for England would be set up, “to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use,” and “free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to up-skill or retrain at any point in life.” Unions would be welcomed back into the workplace, the minimum wage increased to £10 per hour, zero hours contracts and unpaid internships banned, and a maximum pay ratio between workers and Directors/CEO’s of 20-1 introduced (currently the gap can by ten times this or more).

The rental housing market, which is currently completely out of control, will be regulated so people have security in their home and rents they can afford. There are plans for a National Care Service, wide-ranging mental health provision, increased funding for the police and fire services (the Conservatives have cut 10,000 fire-fighter jobs and closed dozens of fire stations throughout the country), support for the NHS, changes to Legal Aid. No additional prisons will be privatised (it’s scandalous that any have been), 3,000 new prison officers will be recruited, art education in schools encouraged and funded, and a new national Culture Fund established.

Vitality and the language of optimism, cooperation and fairness, wash through every section. In the midst of the rise of right-wing politics, worldwide turmoil and uncertainty, the policies articulated offer real hope and stand out as a chance for renewal and social justice in a world where these democratic ideals are in short supply.

Apathy says ‘politicians are all the same, nothing ever changes’; well this is nonsense and always has been, it’s a weak excuse for democratic irresponsibility. In this upcoming election the differences between the Conservatives and Labour are defined and stark; its importance cannot be overstated, the magnitude of the choice is immense, the responsibility on us all, great. Everyone must vote, particularly those under 30 years of age, who routinely don’t bother. If, as the polls suggest, we end up with a hung parliament, Conservative extremism would be held in check, debate and cooperation encouraged. If, and it’s a big if, Labour takes it, the atmosphere and direction of the country would be changed immeasurably for the good, and the World would have taken a small, but enormously significant step in the right direction.