Saturday, 28 October 2017
Friday afternoon's edition of 'Feedback' on BBC Radio 4 aired details of an interesting corporate reaction to complaints that had been submitted by listeners following a landmark interview with Climate Change denier Lord Lawson on the 'Today' program back in August. The feature was broadcast just six days after mass protests in Lisbon over the Portuguese government's failure to deal with the devastating forest fires that have ravaged much of the country throughout the Summer. A phenomenon that is being attributed to rising global temperatures on news websites elsewhere in Europe.
For those interested in listening to the program, it is available for download, and is in many ways a turning point, for environmental campaigners at least, in that it exposes the level to which Public Sector Broadcasting has sunk under the present and Coalition governments; especially when it comes to key issues directly related to the continued over use and over exploitation of Fossil Fuels. Time was when BBC presenters would challenge government ministers, civil servants and the like in the interests of public scrutiny. However, as the recent general election coverage of Jeremy Corbyn in particular has demonstrated fully, the BBC has developed what the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) have referred to as a 'clear and consistent bias' in a number of key areas; of which Climate Change is just one. A fact which some of their own presenters have since been forced to acknowledge.
Roger Bolton's coverage of an edition of Radio 4's prime time early morning news and current affairs program, in which former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, denied that there had been any growing increase in extreme weather events, clearly demonstrated that the organization had breached its own guidelines. Indeed, as Mr. Bolton's dialogue with listener Matt Watson revealed in depth, the BBC Complaints Unit's judgement that 'controversial and inaccurate' comments had been left unchallenged by BBC presenter Justin Webb, showed conclusively that the Corporation had failed to comply with its own guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.
Yesterday's broadcast follows hot on the heels of some earlier coverage of the BBC's apology to its listeners, in the Guardian in particular, in which it was revealed that the Corporation had been taking its lead from the 'current US administration', when it had earlier defended its position in connection with what it saw as 'an important aspect of impartiality.' Interestingly enough, at the very time that the BBC was attempting to defend itself on this matter, the role of US Secretary of State Tillerson, in what amounts to wholesale Climate Science suppression by the Fossil Fuel Multinational ExxonMobil, a corporation with which he had previously enjoyed a career spanning more than forty years, was itself coming under scrutiny thanks to a still on going investigation by the Office of the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Taking these facts into consideration, it is perhaps of interest that one of the most vitriolic attacks on the BBC ruling has not come from Global Warming Policy Foundation, who were forced to admit that the data that Lord Lawson had been referring to was 'erroneous' to say the least, but from the Pro-Trump, Pro-Brexit 'Libertarian' on-line magazine 'Spiked', which formerly published under the title 'Living Marxism'. An imprint which its critics might well describe as a former 'loony left' publication that has taken a sharp turn to the 'loony Alt-Right'. Facts which appear to reflect the complete lack of scientific basis inherent in any of the denialist arguments currently being put forward by many media outlets in the US when it comes to Climate Change.
However, thanks to a situation in the United States in which Global Warming is very much the 'Elephant in the Room' when it comes to attributing recent Extreme Weather events in North America directly to Climate Change, in spite of the wholesale devastation wrought upon the East Coast and the Caribbean by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, politicians such as Scott Pruitt have been able to evade questions relating to the possible role of Global Warming in the Hurricane Harvey Disaster in particular. The blame for much of this problem has been firmly laid at the door of the powerful Koch Brothers by the independent news website TRNN, which has also looked into the role of Climate Change in what have been described as the 'deadliest wildfires in California's history', which were to claim forty two lives, and lead to the displacement of some 75,000 people between June and October.
On this side of the Atlantic, the investigative media outlet DeSmog UK, which prides itself on being 'dedicated to cutting through the spin clouding the debate on energy and environment in Britain', has made similar allegations about the elusive Barclay Brothers; ever since it was first launched in September 2014. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that coverage of the recent Forest Fires in Portugal received comparatively little attention in the Mainstream Media here in the UK. Indeed, what little coverage there was ended up being largely obscured by the arrival along the West Coast of Ireland of Storm Ophelia. Taking all this into consideration, last week's judgement by the BBC Complaints Unit was a landmark decision indeed, and the fact that it led to some interesting satirical comment in the Guardian, in which it was declared that 'The BBC needs to accept that Nigel Lawson doesn’t exist', makes it an all the more remarkable event.
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Tuesday 4th July 2017 was a landmark day for Social Media and Facebook in particular, as the entire internet was set ablaze by what started out as a beer fueled prank but ended with threats of death, and a young Pennsylvania woman being forced into hiding; as fears for her safety began to escalate. It all started when a lady known to the media as Emily Lance decided to urinate on the Stars and Stripes as the usual 4th July Festivities reached their inevitable drunken, jingoistic bacchanalian crescendo. This wasn't something that was planned, neither was it something that was properly thought through. And, whatever people might think, it certainly wasn't done for attention seeking reasons or personal aggrandizement.
Before we go any further I feel that I should point out that although I support Emily, I don't support her action. Not because I love the American Flag and I'm a shoot 'em up gungho Navy Seal wannabe, but first and foremost because I am perhaps one of her few friends who constantly urges her to be more restrained in what she says and does. Not just in this matter, but in connection with a whole variety of issues that are beyond the bounds of this short blog piece. Judging from the reactions that she received in the aftermath of what was little more than a bit of spirited high jinx on her part, it looks as if, more than two years on from when I first started telling her to be careful, I have now sadly been proven right.
Unlike most of the people who have written about all of this, I have known Emily Lance personally for several years. It's certainly true that people who count themselves among her supporters have expressed opinions about what she did from the basic knowledge that they have gained about her from her Facebook posts. But, most of them don't actually realize why she did what she did on 4th July; or that what sparked off last Tuesday's episode is rooted in something a whole lot deeper that can be traced back a good few years now. Death does strange things to people and affects people in vastly different ways. Suffice to say that one day in April some little time ago Emily lost a Mother, a big sister and a best friend all at the same time. The personal repercussions were devastating, and the wound still hasn't properly healed.
Grief does equally funny things to people. The reactions range from deep melancholia to blind rage. For those of us that know Emily well, this wide spectrum of emotions manifests itself around her in real life and on social media on a regular basis. In Emily's case much of this energy is channeled positively. The healthcare industry that poisoned her Mother with Chemotherapy is now poisoning an entire generation of young people with a completely avoidable Opioid Epidemic that is claiming the lives of thousands of persons under fifty a month. Emily's reaction to this wasn't to urinate on the Stars and Stripes. Instead, she and a friend signed up for government sponsored Narcan Training in an endeavour to provide emergency help for addicts at street level.
It should also be understood that Emily is basically a peaceful person. Although described as an 'Anarchist' both by herself and her critics, she is completely non violent, a pacifist, doesn't carry a gun and has campaigned tirelessly for an end to US military involvement in Syria and Iraq. And, although she hasn't said this, it is probably what is happening in Syria right now that sparked all this off. In the early hours of Saturday 10th June Emily posted the first images of White Phosporous being dropped by US planes on civilian areas of Raqqa, that had come directly from a photographer on the ground, on her now vanished Facebook timeline. It would be some hours before either the Alt Media or the mainstream would publish anything on this story.
For those of you who don't know her, Emily's main interests include cats, small children and old ladies. Much of her time is spent looking after all three. When she posted these pictures on the internet she wasn't thinking about emptying her bladder on the American Flag. She was thinking about the cats, small children and old ladies under that barrage. Last year, as the civil war continued to rage in Syria, Emily followed the story of the Cat Man of Aleppo on the internet; as the last stages of the siege of one of the oldest inhabited cities on the planet gradually drew to its inevitable conclusion. As Assad's forces bombarded the rebel held areas of the city with heavy ordnance, Emily's preoccupation was with the fate of the city's cats, and the man who had organized an internationally coordinated effort to feed them; whilst simultaneously driving an ambulance for a local medical charity.
On normal days Emily can turn off the internet and go and do something productive in the garden if things are too upsetting for her. This year's 4th July Celebrations extended right the way through the weekend and into the working week. As the sound of exploding fireworks and the staccato of gunshots from automatic weapons rolled out across the entire country, many cats and dogs were reduced to nervous wrecks by the noise. Unfortunately, events like the 4th July can't be opted out of or switched off in the United States. They are here to stay and in your face wherever you are. By day four of the extended celebrations Emily would have had enough. Enough of the noise, enough of the mindless drunkenness and enough of the symbol that she associates more than any other with the White Phosphorus that rained down like Unholy Fire from the Heavens over Raqqa on that fateful night in June. The rest is history.
This blog piece isn't for her friends and supporters. It's for her haters. For the idiots that think she should be murdered and dismembered like some unfortunate victim in a third rate straight to dvd low budget action movie. The woman you know as Emily Lance doesn't need to be murdered or summarily executed. She needs some sort of bereavement counselling and help with anger management issues. She could also do with some therapy, preferably involving holding, stroking or being with cats. For those of you who glorify America's military prowess, think of the innocent victims of your foreign wars before you pass judgement on Emily Lance.
Sunday, 30 April 2017
Last Friday the Independent newspaper published an article in its on-line 'indy100' supplement in which it claimed that 'The British public believe media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn has been deliberately biased against him.' Among the numerous attacks that the Tories and opponents from within his own Party have mounted on his leadership and potential leadership qualities, both of the Labour Party itself as well as in relation to his bid to become Prime Minister, has been with regard to his principled stance on nuclear weapons. Indeed, the chain of events that led ultimately to the Labour loss of Copeland in Cumbria were all ultimately linked to the toxic legacy of Britain's Nuclear options.
Here in the United Kingdom the Civil and Military Nuclear Industries have a longstanding association with one another, based on the fact that Britain's Civil Nuclear Industry evolved out of the decision, by the former Ministry of Supply, to adapt the one time site of the Sellafield Royal Ordnance Factory for the production of weapons grade Plutonium. The links between the Unions at Sellafield and the Labour Movement in general, combined with Jeremy Corbyn's longstanding commitment to peace and nuclear disarmament, were to put him on a collision course from the outset with those elements within his own Party who are committed to maintaining Britain's Nuclear Deterrent, as well his Tory opponents. Indeed, both Theresa May and Michael Fallon have both attacked Corbyn vociferously in recent weeks with regard to his stance on Nuclear Weapons.
According to a recently published article in 'The Sun' Fallon referred to the Labour leader directly as 'a national security risk', before confirming that his Party had 'made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.' Elsewhere in the same article a spokesman for Theresa May was likewise quoted as saying that there was 'no reason to disagree'. Fallon's insistence that the Conservatives 'had the guts to press the button', whilst simultaneously confirming that Corbyn was too weak to contemplate such a scenario, only goes to show just what little grasp both Fallon himself and the Conservative Party's supporters in the tabloid press have of the true gravity of the situation when it comes to nuclear weapons.
'The Sun's' article originally appeared on Tuesday 25th April, just two days after Jeremy Corbyn had appeared on the Andrew Marr Show, where he was interviewed in a very robust fashion by someone who doesn't actually seem to have a great deal of understanding of the international nuclear question either. During the course of the discussion Marr attempted to browbeat Mr. Corbyn in such a way as to sideline such key issues as Britain's adherence to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, of which the United Kingdom is a key signatory. This commits us first and foremost to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; along with the two other core principles of nuclear disarmament and the peaceful non-military use of nuclear energy.
Mr. Corbyn then had to struggle to stop himself being interrupted as he set out another of his key priorities. That of using the Six Party Talks on North Korea's Nuclear Program as a way of de-escalating nuclear tensions in the Asia Pacific Region. Interesting then that on 24th April, the day after Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on the Andrew Marr Show, the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a photograph of an ‘underwater test-fire' of a 'strategic submarine ballistic missile’ which the country's navy had just conducted at 'an undisclosed location' according to the UK Guardian. So who, exactly, has got a better command of the overall situation right now? Andrew Marr of the BBC, an institution responsible for the great Jimmy Savile Cover Up, or Jeremy Corbyn? Interesting point.
Meanwhile, on the very same day as North Korea had released images of its apparently unsuccessful nuclear test, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon dropped a bombshell of his own by claiming on BBC Radio 4's 'Today Program' that, even if Britain was not actually under attack, the Conservatives would not rule out a 'First Strike' option. In an article posted on the website of the Russian news service RT, which included embedded video of the interview he had just given, Fallon told listeners that “In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.” The Russian response to the interview, which appeared on the UK Independent website shortly afterwards, was that Britain would be 'literally erased from the face of the earth' according to Russian Senator and retired Army Colonel Franz Klintsevich.
What Mr. Fallon failed to grasp is that to use nuclear weapons as part of a 'First Strike' option is actually in breach of international law. So, both he and Theresa May have committed themselves to a course of action that could well result in them being found guilty of war crimes at some point in the future. Assuming that is that the pair of them hadn't been evaporated in a retaliatory nuclear strike. Of course, it would be impossible for most Sun readers, or Sun journalists for that matter, to actually understand the full ramifications of such a course of action to begin with. However, for those interested in some of the legal issues surrounding Nuclear War in general, I would refer my readers to David M. Corwin's 1987 work on 'The Legality of Nuclear Arms Under International Law', published in Volume 5 of the 'Penn State International Law Review'; and Professor John H.E. Fried's 'INTERNATIONAL LAW PROHIBITS THE FIRST USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS'; both of which are freely available for download.
Then of course there is the still unresolved question as to whether or not anyone could get our so called 'Nuclear Deterrent' to actually work in the first place. In February of this year I wrote an article for the on-line American magazine 'Distract the Media', under the heading 'Trident Missile Test Cover Up Worse Than You Think'. In it I exposed the fact that a high profile story published in the 'Sunday Times' on January 22nd this year, under banner headlines proclaiming how ‘No 10 covered up Trident missile fiasco’, was only the tip of the iceberg as there were also extensive engineering failures on the Submarine that is supposedly going to fire the missile itself.
‘The Sunday Times’ report on the UK government cover up over the failed Trident missile test at the centre of the article, however, also implicated the British Prime Minister herself in an apparent attempt to conceal the truth. The abortive missile launch, which had taken place in June 2016, had come at a critical time for Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent, when discussions over the exact nature of its future were entering an important phase in Parliament and elsewhere. Interesting then that Andrew Marr never sought to solicit Mr. Corbyn's opinion with regard to this aspect of a very shady story indeed. Choosing instead to concentrate on a particular line of questioning that was intended to portray Mr. Corbyn as weak, to distract viewers from the fact that the present Tory administration may have criminal intentions when it comes to the use and deployment of our soon to be upgraded 'Nuclear Deterrent'.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Indeed, the embedded sound recording which currently adorns the Guardian website suggests that it is little more than an attempt to ensure that when Jeremy Corbyn eventually steps down as leader of the Opposition, members of the Labour Party are able to engage in a fair and democratic election, in which candidates who 'have enormous support among the membership can get onto the ballot paper', so that their grass roots supporters can actually vote for them. During the course of the recording, Jon Lansman, who is the present focus of the Guardian's latest attack on the Corbyn leadership, stresses throughout that the entire plan is about winning votes on crucial motions to ensure that the rank and file of ordinary Party members have their views properly represented. Hardly a plot or an 'Entryist' Coup by any reasonable standard one would have thought. But then again, we are dealing with the Guardian here, where things do not always appear to be as they seem.
The fact that Jon Lansman has been given no opportunity whatsoever to explain himself in this matter is deeply worrying, when one considers that the person who has been given an open platform to attack him is a proven associate of Max Mosley: from whom he has received a very large sum in personal donations. This last point is particularly relevant when one considers that, as I pointed out in a previous post, Max Mosley was a key player in the Bernie Ecclestone Affair. The first major scandal to taint the Blair Administration. More worrying still is the additional fact that Max Mosley is the son of the Wartime British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley. He is also on record as having had extensive political involvements with his Father's little known Post-War Party, the Union Movement or 'UM', which sought a Post War unification of Europe which its critics on the Left believe would have been modelled along lines similarly envisaged by Hitler's Nazis.
And, as if that wasn't enough, the previous evening Nick Cohen had penned an absolutely vitriolic piece, which appeared on the Guardian's website just after Midnight on Sunday morning under the heading 'Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn', in which he actually resorted to the use of the 'F' word. In view of the number of comments that are regularly deleted from the discussion threads on the Guardian website for alleged breach of the paper's 'community standards', I for one am completely astounded that this piece wasn't more thoroughly sub-edited before it went to press. The piece, which its author inferred was an attempt to address supporters of Jeremy Corbyn directly, was more the sort of attempted smear that one would expect to find in the pages of Breitbart, where right wing commentators find common ground with supporters of Radical Zionism, than on the website of a paper that was, until comparatively recently, a beacon of journalistic integrity.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that the mainstream media have accused Momentum and its supporters of being involved in conspiracies. Perhaps the best example of the kind of smears that have been generated around what is, to all intents and purposes, a grass roots movement, that has no involvements whatsoever with the mainstream media hacks who spew vitriolic attacks against Corbyn out of almost every on-line publication imaginable on a near daily basis, was the so called 'Brick Gate Affair'. An attempt to attribute an incident involving the throwing of an alleged ‘brick’ through the alleged ‘window’ of Labour MP Angela Eagle’s Wallasey constituency office to pro-Corbyn "thugs". As the exclusively on-line publication, the Canary, have since pointed out, however, 'no such damage was reported to the police'.
The source of the Canary's facts in relation to this matter appears to have been an FOI request submitted by the little known on-line blog 'Wirral In It Together', which appears to have been informed by the Information Commissioner's Office that the Police employee who logged the incident had reported to their superiors that ‘just one big window in the hallway’ had been targeted, before adding that the ‘person reporting the damage is likely to have known if any damage had been caused to the constituency office window, but no such damage was reported to the police’; according to the Canary's report. Since the FOI request was made the Canary also appears to have established a number of other key facts which appear to have been completely ignored by the mainstream media.
In addition to establishing the fact that, first and foremost, the window was not actually in her office, but a communal stairwell, the publication has also presented so far uncontested claims that the entire locality is a black spot for what the Canary has described as 'non-political vandalism'. It would also appear that just two days previous to the 'Brickgate' incident, 'Fathers 4 Justice' had occupied the roof of the building as part of one of their numerous and well documented demonstrations. The Canary have also discovered that not only had Wirral Council classed the entire locality as a “hot spot” for anti-social behaviour, but Eagle’s office building in particular appears to have been a specific focus for such low level criminal activities. Add all this to the previously established facts that the Police and the ICO had confirmed there was no concrete evidence a brick had actually broken the window in the first place, and that no one has ever been charged over the incident, it is easy to see just how far the mainstream media have been getting it wrong.
Sunday, 5 March 2017
The Chattering Classes were at it again this weekend. Putting the boot in on Jeremy Corbyn. The same vitriolic personal attacks from the same caustic mainstream media publications who have been out to get him from day one. Indeed, John McDonnell hit the nail on the head when he told the Independent that the 'whole media establishment' is out to destroy Jeremy Corbyn', having previously announced, in the immediate aftermath of the Copeland byelection result, that a 'second Labour coup' had already begun.
Interestingly enough, just as the Shadow Chancellor was being quoted by the Independent as saying that mainstream media attacks on the current leadership should be attributed to 'oligarchs protecting their power base', one of the Blairites in his own party was claiming in the pages of the same newspaper that Mr. Corbyn was 'the one issue on the doorstep' at Copeland the previous week'; and that anyone who suggested otherwise was 'lying'. The Blairite in question, Ben Bradshaw, had then gone on to repeat his claim that 'the only issue was Jeremy Corbyn,' before continuing in praise of the 'incredible and very important' contributions that Tony Blair and John Major had made to the Brexit debate.
Meanwhile, on the Guardian's website, news had broken that a controversial new report had been leaked which was suggestive of the Labour Party having lost 'nearly 26,000 members since mid-2016' and that 'most of those leaving had joined the party after' the '2015 general election, with 7,000 quitting after Corbyn told MPs to back' the 'Brexit bill'. Unfortunately, due to the fact that none of those whose membership had lapsed were actually questioned by Labour, or interviewed in the Guardian, with regard to why they had left the Party, or no longer appeared on the stats, their exact reasons for leaving remain obscure. So, as John Harris quipped from another page on the same website that although 'Twitter parodies won’t worry Corbyn', '....his supporters deserting him should', the entire basis for the overall content of his column for this week was speculative to say the least.
In view of this, it should be remembered first and foremost that large numbers of people had paid good money to join the Labour Party after the 2015 General Election, on the understanding that they would be able to participate in the Labour leadership election; only to be told that this was not the case. Besides the three thousand or so members who were prevented from active participation for non compliance with the ‘aims and values’ of the Labour Party, and other related issues, some 40,000 of the 183,000 people who joined in the immediate run up to the vote appear to have been disqualified by the Party, with a further 10,000 being given a referral to the scrutiny committee. And this, according to the very same website that is now trying to insinuate that this supposed mass exodus is all down to Corbyn or Brexit. Even the Russian news service RT could only offer more speculative conjecture on the matter, cobbled together from the Twittersphere.
So what are the true facts regarding the Copeland byelection? Last week, whilst engaging in some of the debate on the Guardian discussion threads on the 'comment is free' section of the paper's website, I chanced upon some interesting observations from a gentleman named Martin Snell. Unlike most, if not all, of the media pundits who seemed to be trying to put the blame for it all on Corbyn, Mr. Snell seemed to exhibit a detailed local knowledge of geography, social demographics and politics, which had led him to draw everyone's attention to some interesting and hitherto overlooked facts that the mainstream media appeared to be completely unaware of. 'There are different kinds of opinion, informed, unbiased and their alternatives, for instance,' Mr. Snell began, without pointing the finger at anyone in particular.
'Bearing that in mind it is difficult not to wonder why the assertion that 'this constituency' has been in Labour control for over 80 years, repeated ad nauseum in the last 24 hours has gone unchallenged', he then continued, before pointing out that in fact 'this constituency' has only existed in its current state since the boundary changes of 2010, which saw the incorporation of (amongst others) the town of Keswick which, according to the latest census, has a population of over 5,000, over 80% of whom self-identify as 'Professional, Management, or Skilled Technical '.
Anyone commenting on the 'historic' nature of Labour's defeat in Copeland would do well to research the history and changing demographics of the constituency before allowing themselves the luxury of considering their opinion to be either unbiased or, for that matter, informed.
Such a person might do well to read an editorial piece penned in April 2010 (in local paper The News and Star) entitled 'Have boundary changes made Copeland a marginal seat?'
They might also do well to consider that, even before changes to both the boundaries and regional demographics, a previous incumbent, Dr Jack Cunningham, saw his own majority slashed to less than 5000 in 2001, from more than 12000 four years earlier, a majority that had remained virtually unchanged for thirty years. (A loss, incidentally, of 7000 votes, compared to the 4000 lost this time).
By 2015, Cunningham's successor, Jamie Reid, had seen that majority halved again to just over 2500.
History can be read as a series of precipitous events, or it can be viewed as the result of long-standing trajectories.
A less biased commentator than I might view Labour's defeat as a culmination, a slow-motion train crash, that began with the breaking of trust between the Blair/Brown Labour Party, and the working classes they were elected to represent.'
These are the true facts that the mainstream media, and the Guardian and the Independent in particular, have chosen to ignore. For those who are interested as to why this should be, one of the prime movers in the campaign to unseat Jeremy Corbyn, with particular reference to the Copeland byelection, has been Tom Watson. Last week I conjectured, in a previous blog post, that Mr. Watson's universally declared financial links to Max Mosley, a key player in the Bernie Eccleston Affair that scandalized the Blair Administration during its first term of office, may have had something to do with the Deputy Leader's present stance on Mr. Corbyn.
In view of this, I would be interested to see if Ben Bradshaw would go so far as to refer to Mr, Snell as a liar. I would also be interested to know exactly who the Guardian's main sponsors presently are, and what, exactly, their openly declared political leanings are: if they have any. The answers are out there, truly out there!
Sunday, 26 February 2017
As the chattering classes spewed out their predictably characteristic response to the Copeland byelection result, little attention was paid to the real political and environmental issues that should have been under discussion. Indeed, as 'The Usual Suspects' launched yet another attack on the Labour leader in what looks like a clear and unrepentant attempt to oust him once and for all, the same stale stories appeared to be being rewritten again and again, as if none of us can remember ever having read them at all in the first place. Whilst Toby Helm and Ewen MacAskill gave Tom Watson an open platform for his attempt to make Jeremy Corbyn shoulder full responsibility for a result that had far more to do with future energy and environment policy in Post Brexit Britain than simple Party Politics, Andrew Rawnsley and Jonathan Freedland, two veteran BBC broadcast journalists, launched vitriolic attacks on the Labour leader void of a single word about the real issue that should have been under discussion in the wake of this landmark byelection result: that of Nuclear Power.
As I pointed out towards the end of last year, when the Guardian covered Jamie Reed's high profile resignation from his former seat, thus triggering the byelection that we have just had, what most of these so called 'experts' appear to have conveniently forgotten, if they ever knew it in the first place, is that we are dealing with the toxic legacy of 'Nuclear Jack' Cunningham: whose Father was jailed along with T. Dan Smith for his part in the Poulson Affair. As I also pointed out at the time in my comments in the Guardian discussion threads, there was, at the precise moment of writing, an interesting picture of Reed with Cunningham, whose Father Andrew was a senior union official before his subsequent fall and incarceration, on the www.whitehaven.org.uk website. Interesting because, prior to his high profile resignation as Shadow Health Minister, on 12 September 2015, 'one minute into Jeremy Corbyn's acceptance speech as leader of the Labour Party' according to his own Wikipedia entry, Reed had previously held the position of Shadow Environment Minister in what had up until then been the old 'Tory Lite' Miliband Shadow Cabinet that had lost his Party the 2015 General Election.
The fact that in the aftermath of the Fukushima Disaster on 11 March 2011 Miliband saw fit to continue to allow a vociferous proponent of nuclear power to sit on his front bench as a Shadow Spokesman on the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, a position Reed held between October 2010 and October 2011 whilst the international outcry over the disaster reached a crescendo, says something indeed about how the Tory Lite version of New Labour has made the Party so infinitely unelectable; whilst simultaneously offering up Jeremy Corbyn as a scapegoat for their own abysmal failings. Of further interest perhaps is the fact that Reed was not the first Pro-Nuclear Front Bench Environment Spokesman to have been appointed to the post at a time when the Party's leadership was busy making itself completely unelectable. In view of this then, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the person who held that very position at a very similar point in time, politically speaking at least, was none other than Jamie Reed's predecessor in his former constituency, Jack Cunningham; who held the equivalent post during Neil Kinnock's disastrous stint as Party Leader back in the nineteen eighties; as Thatcher was still riding high on her post Falkland's War crest of a wave.
In yesterday's diatribe against Corbyn, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland claimed that since the second Labour leadership election the mainstream media has 'barely bothered' with him, before adding that blaming the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Mainstream Media 'doesn’t quite bite the way it used to.' Interesting then that directly after Theresa May's 'Brexit Bill' passed through Parliament, and on to the Upper House, the publication that he writes for had launched another of its scathing attacks on Corbyn under the heading 'Real fight starts now': Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit tweet prompts bruising response'. More interesting still perhaps is the fact that one of the principal human agencies responsible for the attacks on Corbyn is Peter Mandelson, who makes no secret of the fact that he spends every single day trying to cause problems for Jeremy Corbyn. A statement that has received its fair share of coverage in the Guardian. Meanwhile, attempts by anyone, myself included, to challenge the Guardian's constant sniping at Corbyn are met with the usual barrage of right wing trolling that readers of the on-line version of the publication have become accustomed to seeing on a regular basis for quite some time now.
Interestingly enough, Mandelson's former involvement with the very EU institutions that stand most to lose if, in the wake of Brexit, other countries such as Holland choose to follow suit, was the ultimate cause of his second political demise. As I myself was swift to point out, in an earlier posting on this blog, during his time as a European Commissioner Lord Mandelson became involved in a scandal over his links to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose United Company RusAl had benefited considerably from the former Minister Without Portfolio's two decisions to cut aluminium tariffs.
So, in view of the fact that the Guardian chose to use the Copeland by election result to give Tom Watson a soap box from which to launch yet more attacks on the Labour leadership, it is perhaps of relevance that Mr. Watson has himself been linked in the press to a series of financial transactions which many Labour members see as totally inappropriate. The payments in question, which have amounted to some £500,000 in total if the Telegraph website is in any way to be believed, came from Max Mosley, son of the Wartime British Union of Facists leader Sir Oswald Mosley, who was himself implicated in the first major New Labour Sleaze Scandal generally referred to as the Bernie Eccleston Affair.
Another equally interesting anecdote is that Jamie Reed, who is the person who should be being blamed for the situation at Copeland instead of Jeremy Corbyn, is the grandson of the late well known union boss, Thompson Reed, who, having moved from the Communist Party to Labour, then gravitated to the SNP in 2005; just a short while before the picture of Reed in the company of 'Nuclear Jack Cunningham' referred to in paragraph two was taken. Given his family's longstanding tendency towards political shape shifting then, I can envisage a time when Mr. Reed rejoins the political fray once again. This time as a Pro Nuclear Conservative.
For those who think that this is a far fetched statement to make, it should be pointed out that Reed is now Head of Development and Community Relations for Sellafield Ltd. The company that acts as the principal hub of nuclear industrial employment within Jack Cunningham's old constituency. For those who are still sceptical with regard to what I have just said, it is perhaps of further relevance that the Poulson Affair that saw Jack Cunningham's Father jailed brought together a wide range of vested and political interests that ranged right the way across the political spectrum. Just like the Eccleston Affair, which involved high profile former Tory donors ingratiating themselves with 'New Labour', by means of similar financial donations to those that they had previously been giving to the Tories. Indeed, Max Mosley is cited as having worked for the UK Conservative Party with a possible view to becoming a parliamentary candidate back in the nineteen eighties. Previous to this he had served as an election agent for his father's post-war fringe political party the 'UM', or Union Movement, which advocated a Far Right United Europe along similar lines to that espoused by Hitler and the Nazis.
But to return to the toxic legacy of Nuclear Jack, in 1972 the then Tory Home Secretary Reginald Maudling was forced from office as a direct result of the John Poulson Corruption Scandal. Maudling’s involvement with Poulson’s Leeds based firm of architects, at that time the largest international practice in Western Europe, was to lead to the jailing of former Chair of Durham County Council Andrew Cunningham: Jack Cunningham's Father. Others jailed as a result of the Police investigation that was to follow the winding up of Poulson’s company after the latter was declared bankrupt, and the firm’s books fell into the hands of the receivers, was Cunningham’s Newcastle City Council counterpart T. Dan Smith. In spite of the fact that Poulson’s company had clearly been involved in widespread corruption, throughout local government and a number of inter-connected departments, comparatively few people were actually jailed. Those who were imprisoned on the other hand appear, for the most part, to have had involvements with the Labour Party. Whilst those who were allowed to slip silently away into the shadows seem to have been affiliated to the Tories. The faction who had most to gain from this symbiotic relationship from the outset.
In view of the weekend's developments then it is perhaps of further relevance that Jamie Reeds's original reason for his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet, following Jeremy Corbyn's elevation to the Party Leadership, was wholly on the grounds of the latter's stance on Nuclear Energy, and in particular his stance on the country's Nuclear Deterrant. Indeed, in relation to this specific issue he has been quoted as describing Mr. Corbyn as 'reckless, juvenile and narcissistic'. Taking into consideration the recent high profile political scandal over a number of key issues linked to the cover up over a failed Trident missile test, coupled with the emergence of a controversial dossier detailing the consistent under reporting of dozens of nuclear alerts by the British MoD, it is by no means impossible that Mr. Reed's words may well end up turning into radioactive ashes in his own mouth at some point in the near future.
Saturday, 11 February 2017
As one would expect, the bitter recriminations that have followed the 'Brexit' vote have brought the issue of Scottish Independence back into the political limelight. And, due to the fact that both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union, in spite of the very narrow UK wide majority for the 'Leave' campaign, many 'Remainers' north of the Border see the possibility of a second Referendum on Independence as a very viable way of successfully overturning what was in many ways a largely English decision. A state of affairs that was to lead to Tuesday's rejection of Westminster's overwhelming vote in favour of the new government bill to trigger Article 50 by the Edinburgh Parliament.
This considered, it is perhaps of interest, and indeed relevance, that one of the real reasons why the Leave Campaign was so successful in the end was on account of the fact that large numbers of people outside of London and the Home Counties feel increasingly disenfranchised by a Westminster Parliament that caters almost exclusively for the whims of the Metropolitan Elite. In view of this then, the Scottish Nationalists would do well to remember that the principal reason for the overwhelming rejection of the Remain Campaign's manifesto by so many English voters was on account of the particular brand of corrupt paternalism that so many of its Parliamentary adherents appear to manifest.
Perhaps the finest example of the particular class of politician to whom I here refer is the one time Minister Without Portfolio in the Blair Administration, Peter Mandelson. Like his one time Parliamentary colleague, Keith Vaz, whose involvement in a series of high profile personal and political scandals that have made him the talk of the tabloids, Lord Mandelson was one of the principal casualties of the Hinduja Passport Affair: having previously been forced to resign due to certain 'irregularities' in his dealings with fellow Labour politician Geoffrey Robinson; whose own business affairs were at that time the subject of an investigation by Mandelson's own department. During his time as a European Commissioner Lord Mandelson became involved in another scandal over his links to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose United Company RusAl had benefited considerably from the former Minister Without Portfolio's two decisions to cut aluminium tariffs.
In view of all this, and in view of the fact that if the UK Economy collapses as a result of the Brexit decision, it is perhaps appropriate that I should offer any members of the Scottish Parliament intent on getting behind the largely SNP driven campaign, to try and remain in the EU, the same advice that I offered members of the SNP when I was approached by the former SNP Convener Anne Dana to write an article for the Party's in house magazine 'Snapshot' back in late 2001. Although the essay was never published, the advice could still be said to ring true, in that the article's original header warned of the dangers of compromising one's own political integrity by engaging in corrupt practice or pandering to the trappings of the kind of populist support presently enjoyed by Donald Trump.
'More than two centuries before Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister of the "United" Kingdom, the historian, moral philosopher and political scientist, Adam Ferguson, son of a Perthshire cleric who sheltered survivors of the Massacre of Glencoe from marauding Campbells, described in perfect prose the immorality of the "Thatcher Ideal":
"In the lowest state of commercial arts", he wrote, "the passions for wealth and for dominion, have exhibited scenes of oppression, or servility, which the most finished corruption of the arrogant, the cowardly, and the mercenary, founded on the desire of procuring, or the fear of losing, a fortune, could not exceed. In such cases the vices of men, unrestrained by forms, and unawed by police, are suffered to riot at large and produce their entire effects. Parties accordingly unite, or separate, on the maxims of a gang of robbers; they sacrifice to interest the tenderest affections of human nature. The parent supplies the market for slaves, even by the sale of his own children; the cottage ceases to be a sanctuary for the weak and the defenceless stranger; and rites of hospitality, often so sacred among nations in their primitive state, come to be violated, like every other tie of humanity, without fear or remorse."
This quotation, taken from Ferguson's 1767 "Essay on the History of Civil Society", a work read by such great European luminaries as Voltaire and Baron d'Holbach, with whom the author is known to have corresponded, could be said to be equally descriptive of the flagship of New Labour's present economic policy, Gordon Brown's "New Deal". With homelessness on the increase, lack of affordable housing a national scandal, and Labour "sleaze" an ever present phenomenon, both at Local Council and National Government levels, a party obsessed with "spin" and propping up useless and unwanted throw away "Millennium" architecture, whilst the homeless freeze to death in shop doorways, has no moral basis upon which to govern.
In view of this, it is perhaps ironic, that the American economists from whom Brown, John Major and Thatcher are all supposed to have drawn their inspiration, claim to espouse the writings of Ferguson's friend, and Scottish Enlightenment contemporary, Adam Smith. What all three of these individuals appear to have forgotten, if they ever knew it to begin with, however, is that Smith's first major work was not his "Wealth of Nations", but was his now almost entirely unknown "Theory of Moral Sentiments"; first published in 1759; some seven or so years after he had succeeded the incomparable Frances Hutcheson in the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University.
As a work of philosophy, and indeed as a blueprint for general morality and codes of economic or political practice of any kind, the ideas set out in the "T.M.S.", as the work is generally referred to by students and scholars of Enlightenment studies, could not be more at variance with those espoused by a whole array of Labour and Conservative politicians; who claim to derive their ideological framework from Smith's political and economic conceptualizations. Dealing with such human traits as the Voice of Conscience and the Sympathy Principal, it is not difficult to see how it was that Smith's best known work contains subtle attacks on the contemporary slave trade, written at a time when the entire Atlantic and Imperial economies of Britain were almost entirely dependent upon slavery and indentured labour.
Gordon Brown's "New Deal" could be described by many of those who have experienced abuse at the hands of their New Deal "Advisers" as being the Twenty First Century equivalent of Eighteenth Century practices of Indentured Servitude in the tobacco colonies of Virginia and Newport Rhode Island. Perhaps it is of little surprise then that Tessa Jowell, one of the Government Ministers responsible for implementing such policies, was implicated in the Bernie Ecclestone Affair.
The moral bankruptcy of Old Tory and New Labour economics could be compared to the degenerate decadence of the French "Ancien Regime", which perished in the flames of the Revolution. The Pre-Revolutionary aristocrats who devoured the works of both Voltaire and Rousseau, whilst simultaneously doing nothing to redress the balance of social inequality that they and their contemporaries, and Rousseau in particular denounced, were to bare their necks in the decades that followed astride Madame la Guillotine; a social development which had been inspired to a large degree by the celebrated Baron Montesquieu; himself a noted acquaintance of Ferguson's wife's family. Montesquieu's influence upon Smith, and upon the Scottish Enlightenment in general is outlined in Ian Simpson Ross's masterly 1995 biography of Smith; published at Oxford by the Clarendon Press.
Another great moralist of the Scottish Enlightenment, himself considerably more vociferous than Smith with respect to the Atlantic Slave Trade, a fact which was to earn him the respect of Wilberforce in the decades that followed, was William Robertson the historian; Principal of Edinburgh University. Robertson's tirades from the pulpit against such inhumanity to one's fellow beings would not have been out of place at Twentieth Century political rallies of opponents to the South African Apartheid Regime. This considered, it again comes as no surprise that like Smith and Ferguson too, Principal Robertson's own personal morality was firmly rooted in Christian Humanism.
For those students of political science, whether they be Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, or Scottish Nationalist, who are desirous to model their political thinking upon Smith's Enlightenment Principles, the following quotation from the "T.M.S." is well worth consideration:
"The man who acts according to the rules of perfect prudence, of strict justice, and of proper benevolence, may be said to be perfectly virtuous. But the most perfect knowledge of those rules will not enable him to act in this manner: his own passions are very apt to mislead him; sometimes to drive him and sometimes to seduce him to violate all the rules which he himself, in all his sober and cool hours, approves of. The most perfect knowledge, if it is not supported by the most perfect self-command, will not always enable him to do his duty......"
"T.M.S." pt.2, sect. iii. "Of Self-Command".