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Alternative Models of Ownership: Cleaning the Augustan Stables of Public Services.

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“Democratically owned and managed public services” at heart of Labour Policy.

It is hard for those who backed Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their terms of office to come to grips with the legacy of a “what works” policy that favoured private business involvement in public services and did not challenge the Conservative dismantling and sell offs of the nationalised industries.

During the Blair years, before and as Prime Minister, and under Gordon Brown’s term of office, there were however critics on the left who pointed criticised the outsourcing and privatisation policies they continued.

David Osler wrote in Labour Party PLC (2002),

Tony Blair transformed the relationship between Labour and the private sector to the point where Labour now claims to be the natural party of business. This new friendship has been cemented through a series of huge donations to Labour, from top business people and leading companies. Corporate supporters—including multinationals with questionable track records on union recognition, human rights, and the environment—have reaped the rewards of lucrative privatisation contracts.

Owen Jones observed in this context ten years later that (Independent 2012) ,

“Blair failed to establish a new political consensus. He accepted the fundamentals of the Thatcher settlement: low taxes on the wealthy, weak trade unions, the dominance of the market over all. His great departure from Thatcherism was a desperately needed boost to spending on public services.”

“Labour’s current opposition to what the Coalition is doing is hobbled by the fact that Blair laid the foundation for so much of it.”

Take the privatisation of the NHS. Under Blair, private sector involvement began to flourish and a commercial directorate was set up in the Department of Health. Gove is now expanding Blair’s Academy schools programme, and free schools are a logical extension of them. The Coalition trebled the tuition fees that Blair introduced. Across public services, Blair expanded the role of the private sector – though not as fast as he would have liked, thanks to internal party opposition. But Cameron is taking this “reform” (the Blairite and Tory code word for “privatisation”) ever further. “Public sector reform” has come up in the many conversations Blair has apparently had with Cameron, and I’m sure the ex-PM has had much advice to offer.

It seems as if a new approach, grounded on thought-out alternatives, is now being developed to the “private firms work best” policy.

Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today at the Alternative Models of Ownership Conference.

Labour List.

It is a pleasure to close today’s conference, which has shown once again that it is our Party that is coming up with big ideas.

And we’re not talking about ideas and policies dreamed up by corporate lobbyists and think tanks or the wonks of Westminster, but plans and policies rooted in the experience and understanding of our members and our movement; drawing on the ingenuity of each individual working together as part of a collective endeavour with a common goal.

Each of you here today is helping to develop the ideas and the policies that will define not just the next Labour Government but a whole new political era of real change.  An era that will be as John said earlier radically fairer, more equal and more democratic.

The questions of ownership and control that we’ve been discussing today go right to the heart of what is needed to create that different kind of society.

Because it cannot be right, economically effective, or socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.

We know that those services will be better run when they are directly accountable to the public in the hands of the workforce responsible for their front line delivery and of the people who use and rely on them.  It is those people not share price speculators who are the real experts.

That’s why, at last year’s general election, under the stewardship of Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Transport Secretary Andy McDonald and Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Labour pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run.

This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalisation but a catapult into 21st century public ownership.

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

We need to put Britain at the forefront of the wave of international change in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has said that the plan of the Labour party to bring services including energy, rail, and water under public ownership would be free of cost.

Report: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF OWNERSHIP.

Finance Co.uk

At a conference that was held in London on “alternative models of ownership,” he told the audience that Carillion’s collapse attested that privatisation had failed.

McDonnell stated that taking essential infrastructure assets out of private ownership is “an economic necessity,” and could be achieved while not bring additional costs to the taxpayers.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonnell stated: “It would be cost-free. You borrow to buy an asset, and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.”

In his speech, McDonnell also said: “The next Labour government will put democratically owned and managed public services irreversibly in the hands of workers, and of those who rely on their work.

“We will do this not only because it’s right, not only because it’s the most efficient way of running them, but also because the most important protection of our public services for the long term is for everyone to have and feel ownership of them.”

The Conservatives have since denounced the said plan, saying that it will cost billions of pounds and result to worse services. Meanwhile, the CBI, a business group, said that the cries for nationalisation “continue to miss the point.”

Neil Carberry of the CBI stated: “At a time when the UK must be seen more than ever as a great place to invest and create jobs, these proposals would simply wind the clock back on our economy.

“If Labour turns its back on good collaboration between the government and the private sector, public services, infrastructure and taxpayers will ultimately pay the price.”

John McDonnell also revealed the creation of a working group that is tasked to study how cooperatives and organisations that are owned and run by their members could be developed.

It continues,

Later in the said conference, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that nationalising energy companies was essential in order to avoid a “climate catastrophe.”

Corbyn stated: “People have been queueing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands, we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system.

“To go green, we must take control of our energy.”

However, the Centre for Policy Studies said that the suggestion of Corbyn that nationalisation was essential to encourage small-scale renewable energy “suggests that Labour will have to borrow billions more to pay for the necessary infrastructure, or else pass the cost on to consumers via their fuel bills.”

The director of the Centre for Policy Studies, Robert Colville, stated: “The shadow chancellor claims that nationalisation would be cost-free because the state would be acquiring an asset – repeatedly using the analogy of taking out a mortgage on a house. Yet who would buy a house without knowing its price?

“McDonnell dismissed our £86bn estimate of the cost of nationalising the water industry as ‘laughable’ – even when the Social Market Foundation came out with a near-identical estimate. Yet neither he nor any Labour figure has disputed the detail of a single one of our estimates.”

The Left is  now debating these important and, very welcome, policy changes.

Chartist Magazine.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hard-right Millionaire Arron Banks Donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU.

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Arron Banks: Donated to ‘left-wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

George Galloway’s article this week on the far-right Westmonster site ranting about ‘Zurich Gnome’ Soros has stimulated interest in other activities of the would-be British Breitbart’s joint owner (with far right outrider,  Michael Heaver) , Arron Banks.

This is not limited to relations with ‘left wing’ figures who have also written for his propaganda vehicle, such as Paul Embery (FBU).

At the end of last year it was revealed that Banks had generously donated to Trade Unionists against the European Union.

The Morning Star gives a lot of publicity to this group and its advice on pursuing Brexit….the latest occasion being on February the 6th.

A certain Enrico Tortolano  Campaign Director for Trade Unionists against the EU (TUAEU), expressed the view in 2016 that,

As a trade unionist, this is why Britain must vote to Leave.

A vote to leave would be very radical because it would express our confidence that a new alternative world is really possible. A resounding No to continued membership of the EU should be coming from the working-class socialist movement.

That’s why no doubt the campaign attracted Aaron Bank…..

Thanks John Rogan.

The Independent reported in November:

Key Brexit funder Arron Banks is being investigated over allegations that the former Ukip donor breached finance rules during the EU referendum campaign.

The Electoral Commission announced it had opened an inquiry into whether Nigel Farage’s close ally “committed offences, in relation to donations and/or loans made to campaigners”.

It said it would probe whether Better for the Country Limited – his campaign firm – “was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent”.

Better for the Country donated around £2.4m, including to the Grassroots Out campaign group, which was supported by some Tory MPs, including Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Donations were also made, between March and June 2016, to Trade Unionists Against the EU,Veterans for Britain, WAGTV Limited and Ukip, led at the time by Mr Farage.

Mr Banks – who no longer donates to Ukip – also lent £6m to the Leave.EU campaign, fronted by Mr Farage, to avoid inheritance tax he later claimed. That loan is due to be repaid at the end of this year, and is believed to be still outstanding.

There is a plenty of background here:  How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?  ALASTAIR SLOAN and IAIN CAMPBELL 19 October 2017

The self-styled ‘bad boy’ who bankrolled the Leave campaign appears to have exaggerated his wealth. So how did he pay for his Brexit spree?

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Over the past four months, openDemocracy has conducted an in-depth review of Bank’s business dealings since he first started out in business in the early 2000s. As well as his own public statements about the sources of his wealth, we have spoken to his former employers, and obtained and reviewed court documents. There are of course a number of perfectly innocent ways that Banks could have obtained the extra funds, but given Banks’ significance to British politics, what we have found so far is extremely troubling.

….

The following outlines the Banks ‘operation’ from which he helped fund the ‘left wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

One of his most lavish donations was some £2 million to Grassroots Out via Better for the Country Ltd, which was categorised to the Electoral Commission as “non-cash” – a designation usually reserved for the provision of office space or in-kind services to political parties. In reality, even this “non-cash” donation cost Banks significant amounts of hard cash. In a letter to openDemocracy, Banks’ lawyers say Better for the Country bought “merchandise, leaflets, billboards, pens, badges and other paraphernalia,” before donating all of this to Grassroots Out.

In early 2016, he used Better for the Country to make cash donations to Trade Unionists Against the European Union, and another pro-Brexit group called Veterans for Britain. Banks also provided £100,000 to Martin Durkin, a climate change sceptic and producer of “Brexit: The Movie,” a controversial online documentary produced to support the campaign. The sum was equivalent to a third of the documentary’s reported budget.

This is, without irony, from the Trade Unionists Against the EU‘s, view of itself:

The working peoples of Europe are clearly not happy with the direction the EU is taking. The failure of the mainstream parties to represent this feeling has led to a political vacuum.

We want to see a Europe of democratic states that value public services and does not offer them to profiteers; a Europe that guarantees the rights of workers and does not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe this is not possible within the EU.

We say…

  • Yes to workers’ rights
  • No to TTIP
  • Exit the EU on the basis of socialist policies

(More via above link).

We note that a strange nationalist organisation called TRADES UNION CONGRESS FOR ENGLAND also publishes this statement.

 

George Galloway Writes about ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Soros in Far-Right Westmonster.

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George Soros: ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Says Galloway.

GALLOWAY: GEORGE SOROS’ MEDDLING IS A TRANSPARENT FOREIGN ATTACK ON BREXIT

Westmonster.

He thinks any pro-EU group that received Soros’ money must give it back.

Galloway is clear is he is, oh no, not at all, anti-Semitic, not one little bit. not an ounce, or a smidgen, or a wisp.

George Soros is not despised by all right-thinking people because of his origins or his faith (except by the legion of far-right anti-Semites in the east and central zones of the European Union).

Not he just hates Gnomes, not all gnomes, just ones from Zurich.

Or even because he has bled billions out of other peoples’ economic woes as a “Gnome of Zurich”. There are plenty of such people, indeed they love the EU so much precisely because it has allowed him and them to flourish mightily.

Galloway stands up for Russians, dead and now….live ones,

Soros’s unwillingness to sit counting his money in favour of using it to interfere in other countries political affairs is what is unacceptable. But you know what, my ire about the £700,000 he has put into the wreck Brexit campaign is as nothing compared to my contempt for his enablers in Britain.

The hypocrites who have raised hell over “Russian interference” in Brexit but trigger the foul charge of anti-Semitism when American-Hungarian interference in Brexit is brazenly declared.

The liars who stand up in parliament and have a “Kremlin-diplomat” removed from the public gallery only to find the poor man was American not Russian and not a diplomat but a tourist.

He hates subversion,

What is different about the Soros money is not just the quantum – the largest foreign donation by far and if I’m any judge a fraction of what he will spend in the next weeks and months – but that this is not an attempt to sway the vote before it is cast. This is a transparent foreign attack on a decision we have ALREADY TAKEN. That’s subversion in any democracy.

He hates ex-Communist “satraps”.

How much more has there been, will there be? And what price do we put on our national dignity? Are we to be bought and sold by Soros gold like some ramshackle ex-Communist satrapy?

And, above all, people who are rude to Galloway,

And lastly: for the first time since the referendum I have personally been under 24 hour a day incessant Twitter attack by accounts (robots or no, how could one tell?). Starting this week I have had to mute hundreds of EU-fanatic propaganda accounts all attacking with the same message. That we are not fit to be an independent country. Its time we showed them that we are, and we will be again.

Poor old todger fighting ’em off ..alone…

Not so !

Galloway, has a friend, if not in Jesus at least Westmonster and businessmen, one Aaron Banks.

 

Westmonster: News website supporting Brexit, Farage and Trump set up by political donor Aaron Banks.

Westmonster describes itself as: “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.” January 2017.

It said: “In an age of transformative political change that has been spearheaded by groups like Leave.EU, the media landscape is quickly changing too. And so here we are.

“Westmonster is part of the growing movement in the UK and right across the world that wants to see radical political change.”

Banks gave £7m to the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

He told the BBC: “The internet and social media has changed the world and the mainstream media is lagging a long way behind in the way it communicates. We want to shake things up a bit.”

The site is co-owned by Michael Heaver, former press secretary for Nigel Farage.

He said the site will be “speaking to people in a way they understand in language they understand”.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Nigel Farage and Spiked-on-Line Join in Campaign against “Secret Plot” George Soros.

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Soros and ‘Secret Plots’.

The Telegraph led this story today with a memorable headline,

George Soros, the man who ‘broke the Bank of England’, backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

The article has already got this reaction from the Jewish Chronicle,

Theresa May’s former aide accused of using antisemitic slur in Brexit article on George Soros.

The use of the phrase “secret plot” to describe the activities funded by Mr Soros has sparked claims of antisemitism, with critics accusing the authors of using a traditional trope of shadowy Jewish political influence.

It also dubbed the 87-year-old “the man who broke the Bank of England”, a reference to the role Mr Soros’ Quantum Fund played in the Black Wednesday run on the pound in 1992.

In recent years Mr Soros has been targeted by negative advertising campaigns by nationalist parties in Eastern Europe, many of which have been described as antisemitic.

 

Steve Bush in the New Statesman sums up further problems with this article by Nick Timothy, PM Teresa May’s former Joint Chief of Staff,

Why is Nick Timothy’s Telegraph column on anti-Brexit billionaire George Soros so disturbing?

Within its coverage, the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies about Soros.

Today’s Telegraph column from Nick Timothy carries an account of a meeting between George Soros, the billionaire and funder of various liberal causes, and Conservative donors, and the theme continues on the paper’s frontpage, where “Man who ‘broke the Bank of England’ backing secret plot to thwart Brexit” is the splash.

..

The reason that many find the Telegraph‘s treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey – and the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat those accusations in its write-up of the story. That Timothy was the author of that “citizens of nowhere” speech only adds to feeling among many that the original speech was a coded way of talking about “rootless cosmopolitans”; aka the Jewish people.

The controversy is making waves,

 

Leading Mr Secret Plot to claim,

Mr Timothy rebutted allegations of antisemitism, saying they are “as absurd as they are offensive”.

He tweeted: “Throughout my career I’ve campaigned against antisemitism, helped secure more funding for security at synagogues and Jewish schools, fought to lift the cap on faith schools, and supported Israel.”

There’s no hesitation from Farage from defending the original tall tale:

He’s got form, Farage has,

Arrest George Soros! Nigel Farage ORDERS the EU Parliament

Not much reticence from Spiked on Line either.

Amd their Guru.

 

Tariq Ramadan’s UK defenders cite, “rock solid faith that Ramadan is innocent of the accusations of rape.”

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Rape Charges a “stitch up” says 5Pillars interviewee. 

This has just appeared:

CAGE:  The trial by media of Professor Tariq Ramadan erodes the presumption of innocence

In all cases of serious sexual assault it is fundamental that the rights of all parties are protected. All efforts must be made to safeguard the interests of victims particularly when the perpetrator is a well know personality. However, the requirement for due process also enshrines the right to a fair hearing. These are basic universal principles that underline the work of CAGE.

 it is undermining to the interests of justice to use the case of Professor Ramadan as a tool to fan the flames of Islamophobia and play into the dog whistle politics of the far right.

Furthermore,

Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said:

“CAGE is deeply concerned about the role of those engaged in instigating and perpetuating anti-Muslim sentiments based on the political and religious views of Professor Ramadan in France and beyond.”

“It is important for the legal process to arrive at a fair and just conclusion for all concerned. However, recent and past history shows us that governments are capable of hijacking the very serious issue of sexual offence in order to further smear campaigns against individuals who they perceive to have influence on the public discourse, especially on matters pertaining to civil rights, political dissent, community empowerment, whistleblowing and resisting government overreach.”

Perhaps CAGE is arguing that Vanity Fair should not have published this harrowing account Tariq Ramadan : le récit de celle qui a fait basculer l’affaire (2.2.18)

Or that they simply should not be allowed to print these claims – something one can see desolating the rights of the accusers in another well-known case, of Harvey Weinstein.

Perhaps people should be prevented from drawing comparisons between Ramadan’s public role as an advocate for Islam and his positions, such as  director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), and these accusations.

Or compare the charges with his writings, such as this, in one of his favourite vehicles, the Guardian,

Islamic literature is full of injunctions about the centrality of an education based on ethics and proper ends. Individual responsibility, when it comes to communicating, learning and teaching is central to the Islamic message. Muslims are expected to be “witnesses to their message before people”, which means speaking in a decent way, preventing cheating and corruption, and respecting the environment. Integrity in politics and the rejection of usurious speculation in economics are principles that are pushing Muslim citizens and scholars to explore new avenues that bring public life and interpersonal ethics together.

Islam’s role in an ethical society 

Few will have missed that there is no concern by CAGE in the above statement for the (alleged) victims,. who have to be placed under police protection after threats from Ramadan supporters.

This by contrast shows how he bullied and his friends continue to bully his accusers.

From the same camp  there is not even the hint of a qualm  about the  presumption of innocence from 5 Pillars in this piece.

Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha explains why she doesn’t believe the accusations of rape levelled against the prominent Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan.

It feels odd to write about Tariq Ramadan and his accusations of rape, mainly because I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of the Muslim academic.

I never adhered to his views on the need to structure a “European Islamic identity,” and I find his political stance naïve at best and above all his faith in “Western led human rights” in the light of the disasters in Iraq, Libya and of course Palestine.

That said, I write with the rock solid faith that Ramadan is innocent of the accusations of rape he now faces. I certainly don’t believe the man to be perfect or infallible, no mere human is, but I am all too familiar with France, French society and French racism so I recognise a stitch-up when I see one.

..

Attempts to silence the Swiss-born theologian had been made ever since he emerged as a fierce critic of both Israel and Neo-conservative Zionist politics in the Middle East.

Consistently referred to as at the “Muslim thinker” he once engaged a panel of prominent Jewish intellectuals on French TV who were staunch advocates of Bush’s war in Iraq. When he reciprocated to their “Muslim” remark by pointing to their Jewishness, France gasped in stupor and accusations of “antisemitism” duly ensued.

Of course the word “antisemitism” has now been emptied of all its meaning and is merely a political tool used by pro-Israel supporters to silence critics of the colonial entity. Nevertheless, that powerful word used in Britain as well to destroy political careers, is the one that puts all Palestine supporters on the slippery slope of destruction.

Tariq Ramadan did not help his case when he publically denounced the deeply offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. Asked to back down from his criticism after the editorial team of the controversial magazine was gunned down, Ramadan confronted his critics maintaining that there was no humour or honour in making crass drawings whose sole purpose was to offend and humiliate a community.

In this climate it’s difficult to imagine a prominent Muslim benefiting from a fair trial or even a fair investigation. We have come to recognise that the US legal system simply won’t deliever a fair verdict for a black person accused of crime, in France the same can be expected for a Muslim.

The far-right Islamist site also publishes this,

Tariq Ramadan charged with rape as supporters continue to back him

Meanwhile, more than 24,000 people have signed a letter to express their full support for Tariq Ramadan, who has a huge following among Muslims in the francophone and anglophone world especially.

The letter says: “Over and above the presumption of innocence to which Tariq Ramadan, like everyone else, is entitled, we support him because such a stance is dictated by our religious and/or ethical principles. It is unthinkable that we withdraw our esteem and our confidence following accusations that are highly questionable at best…

“We express our support for Professor Ramadan because we, like most people, have seen that the accusations leveled against him are now being treated by a section of the French political and media establishment as guilty verdicts.

“The same accusations are part of an ongoing campaign that has attempted to demonise him ever since the beginning of his involvement as an intellectual and an activist in the early 1990s.

“Professor Ramadan and his ideas have never left people indifferent. But instead of confronting him in open debate, his ideological and political opponents have unfailingly used the most underhanded methods to discredit him as a Muslim intellectual and to discredit his thought.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Victory for Environmental Protesters Against Notre-Dame-Des-Landes Aeroport.

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‘Zadiste’ (Zone à défendre), protest occupation against the  Airport Plan.

The projected creation of an Aeroport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has been resisted since the start. From its relaunch in 2000 opposition has become increasingly radical. Ecologists, alter-globalisers and radical leftists began protests. Public  interest has been heightened by the ‘Zadistes’ (Zone to Defend) have occupied the area to prevent any construction work, although there was widespread criticism and opposition to the plan.

Huts built in 2012 to block work on the site.

There have been numerous demonstrations, some violent.

The Green party (EELV) backed opposition to the plan and effectively brought it to a halt during the last Socialist government under François Hollande

The present Minister for the environment, Nicolas Hulot, has backed those against the plan.

The campaign has received scant notice in the English language media but has accumulated great real and symbolic importance, not just for the principle of defending the environment but for the self-managed ‘zones’ created by the Zadistes.

These protests could be compared to those against the building of a military camp in Larzac in the 1970s.

The Fight for the Larzac refers to a non-violent civil disobedience action by farmers resisting the extension of an existing military base on the Larzac plateau in South Western France. The action lasted from 1971 to 1981, and ended in victory for the resistance movement when the newly elected President François Mitterrand formally abandoned the project.”

France’s government said Wednesday it was shelving plans to build a new airport in the west of the country, ending a dispute that has prompted nearly a decade of sometimes violent protests.

 Reports France 24.

French government drops divisive airport plan after years of protests

In an avidly awaited announcement in France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the “stiff opposition” made it impossible to proceed with the proposed new airport near the bustling city of Nantes, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.”

Instead, Philippe said existing airports in Nantes and the Breton city of Rennes would be expanded to meet the growing demand for air transport in the region.

President Emmanuel Macron, who took office in May, promised a quick decision after years of indecision and political squabbles over the development. The issue has poisoned French politics and spawned a hardline protest movement.

Prior to the announcement, police deployed extra forces to the airport’s proposed site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes20 kilometres north of Nantes, where protesters have been camping out for years in a bid to halt the project.

Proponents of the airport have long argued that the region needs a larger hub to boost its economic prospects, while opponents say the airport is unnecessary and a symbol of exploitative globalisation.

Farmers trying to protect their land have joined forces with environmental activists and anarchists groups, who call themselves ZADists, based on the French acronym for “development zone.”

An initial attempt, in the autumn of 2012, to evict the squatters ended in violent clash between hundreds of riot police and activists hurling sticks, stones and gasoline bombs. Subsequent attempts also ended in failure.

More:  Notre-Dame-des-Landes : l’exécutif enterre l’aéroport. Libération.

This notes that the occupiers will not be made to leave until the Spring.

Supporters of the plan are not happy.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Emily Thornberry and Labour ‘Cautious Approach” to Defending Human Rights in Iran.

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Thornberry, Cautious Approach to defending Human Rights when it comes to Iran. 

The shadow foreign secretary said a ‘cautious approach’ to the protests was needed because it was difficult to determine the political forces behind them

Guardian.

Thornberry told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “Our approach now is one of extreme caution when it comes to Iran and a recognition that the society in Iran is an immensely complex one, and seemingly contradictory.

“For example, with these current riots, sometimes they are calling to reinstate the monarchy, sometimes they’re calling out against the [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for the price of eggs.

“It’s very difficult, in those circumstances, to actually come to a conclusion as to what political forces are behind the current disputes on the streets of Iran. So we take a cautious approach to Iran and we don’t want to leap to judgment and say: ‘Well, we don’t like the regime in Iran, these people are against it, they must be the guys with white hats.’ Because it doesn’t work like that. We’ve seen that in Syria, we’ve seen it in Libya, we see it time and time again.”

Some have commented that Thornbury seems to think Iran should be like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the goodies in the Scooby Gang fighting the First Evil before Labour will take a stand.

Meanwhile these have no hesitation in defending human rights.

Iranian human rights defenders: “We support the protests”

A group of Iranian human rights defenders have issued a statement in support of the popular protests launched in Iran and Rojhilat and demanded an immediate unconditional release of detained protesters.

Support for the popular protests launched by the peoples of Iran and Rojhilat (Eastern Kurdistan) against poverty and the oppressive policies of the regime continues to pour in. 6 human rights defenders who live outside the country issued a joint statement and announced that they stand by the demands of the people.

Most famous human rights defenders in Iran, Muhamed Ewliyayîferd, Mehmud Rehmanî Îsfahanî, political prisoners’ rights activist Nesrîn Studa, Muhamed Seyfzade, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Şirîn Ebadi and human rights defender Ebdulkerim Lahici issued a joint statement declaring that the right to protest is the most fundamental right.

Human rights defenders stated that they support the protests launched by the peoples of Iran and concluded their statement with the following: “Citizens on the streets are not pro-violence, but the regime forces do resort to violence. Many protesters have lost their lives to date. We offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and a swift recovery for the wounded. We demand an immediate unconditional release of the detained and arrested protesters.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm