Archive for the ‘Ipswich’ Category
Rugby Tackle by Tony Blair Not Guaranteed!
The apocalyptic mood that seems to have seized the right-wing of the Labour Party and their Eustonite friends reached a frenzy this morning:
Tony Blair: Even if you hate me, please don’t take Labour over the cliff edge.
The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes “disunity”. It is a moment for a rugby tackle if that were possible.
Even more so today, they do not think their challenges can be met by old-fashioned state control as the way to personal or social empowerment; they do not think breaking up Nato unilaterally is sensible; and they realise that a party without a serious deficit-reduction plan is not in these times a serious contender to govern them.
If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation. If he wins the leadership, the public will at first be amused, bemused and even intrigued. But as the years roll on, as Tory policies bite and the need for an effective opposition mounts – and oppositions are only effective if they stand a hope of winning – the public mood will turn to anger. They will seek to punish us. They will see themselves as victims not only of the Tory government but of our self-indulgence.
Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t offer anything new. This is literally the most laughable of all the propositions advanced by his camp. Those of us who lived through the turmoil of the 80s know every line of this script. These are policies from the past that were rejected not because they were too principled, but because a majority of the British people thought they didn’t work. And by the way, they were rejected by electorates round the world for the same reasons.
I also recall the 1980s – if you were there you would remember it.
The expression “old fashioned” was around then too.
It was used against those who wanted public influence and – yes – ownership (you can’t control what you don’t own – democratic socialist axiom), back in the ….1950s.
But at least the leading “revisionist” of that time, Tony Crossland, aimed for “social equality” and sought means to that goal ( The Future of Socialism. 1956).
In the 1980s faced with Thatcher there was a profound re-thinking on the left.
A high-point came with the Socialist Conferences (also known as the Chesterfield Conferences after the founding one) in the latter part of the decade.
They involved the left Labour Campaign group, notably Tony Benn, union and Labour Party activists, the Socialist Society (a ‘new Left’ group), left and pressure groups of all hues.
Over 2,000 people attended each of these events.
They debated topics, Hilary Wainwright noted (in a reply to the SWP’s dismissal of the Labour left) such as, Left perspectives on winning the next election or Campaigning for the leadership: prospects and possibilities, the papers and workshops were on Democracy and state power, International finance, The fight for local government, The politics of race, The working class and socialism. Other events discussed feminism and socialism, green politics and constitutional reform (including Proportional Representation).
Documents emerged that offered a radical green democratic socialism based on participation and expanded rights.
Apart from that mouthful they put forward some clear ideas about workers’ rights, feminism, welfare, and constitutional change.
All this, as things boiled down in the 1990s – not forgetting the Fall of Official Communism – to a choice between Blair and an effort to stand by the gains of social democratic public control, union rights, and welfare.
There is also nothing new about our opponents’ rhetoric: all of this was shouted down as the foibles of the ‘hard left’ dinosaurs.
It seemed that a “multiplicity of democratic forces” in the ‘New Times’ would best be served through bolting down to the new free-market environment, and hope to add a little reform through the ‘Third Way’ (one idea that’s now so past its sell-by date that even its authors have forgotten about it).
The “modernisers” of the Labour Party, Blair and then Brown’s Cabinets, were even more electorally focused: they proposed a strategy based on an appeal the “aspirational ” middle and working class that was indifferent to anything but their own personal interests and conservative (small and big ‘C’) values, what happened to them?
For the left the principal point about these Labour governments was that they opened up the remains of the social democratic state to new markets (the NHS’ internal market) financing by PFI and turned over the unemployed to private profiteers, ‘providers’ of the various schemes like the New Deal.
Some of the Blair and Brown crew, and many of their immediate followers, went in for pretty old fashioned personal benefit.
One only has to look at those now benefiting in outsourcing companies like Capita to get a glimpse of that picture.
They did not bolster the position of unions – the grass-roots participatory foundation of many social rights.
On welfare they did not expand rights, or protect the “safe home” of the welfare state, but tried to reform the personal behaviour of the poor, the “socially excluded.”
They did not up for the public goods that are needed for social equality, the universal services, the cash we have to have pumped into welfare run on a democratic basis , or freed the state from the grip of private exploiters – outsourcers – living off the general purse.
The money they pumped into public services went as quickly as it had appeared, at the first signs of an economic crisis.
What have they done since?
In a sentence: they have not fought austerity.
Corbyn, by starting from this position opens up the possibility of re-opening the left’s imagination for those debates of the 1980s – ones which, it’s easy to see, have a great deal of present-day relevance, in new and changed forms.
One big idea that’s come back is public ownership of public provision.
This needs a pan-European approach, as developed by the Party of the European Left.
In the meantime…..
Today’s Guardian attack on Corbyn carries all the moral and principled authority that Blair can draw upon:
John Stevens 22 January 2015.
Tony Blair has amassed a personal fortune since standing down as prime minister – often acting as an adviser to controversial businesses and regimes.
But yesterday the hefty fees he charges to act as a go-between were revealed.
A previously secret contract with a Saudi oil company headed by a member of the country’s royal family has been leaked showing Mr Blair charging £41,000 a month and 2 per cent commission on any of the multi-million-pound deals he helped broker.
The emergence of the Saudi deal led to new criticism of Mr Blair’s role as a Middle East envoy, but he strongly denied there is a conflict of interest.
The contract between Tony Blair Associates (TBA) and PetroSaudi signed in November 2010, said Mr Blair would personally arrange introductions to his contacts in China, such as senior politicians.
He had already attracted scathing criticism after it emerged that he had given Kazakhstan’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, advice on how to manage his image after the slaughter of 14 unarmed civilians.
Mr Blair has said claims that he is worth £100million are ‘greatly exaggerated’. But the Saudi contract shows how much he has been able to charge for his services.
Since leaving Downing Street in 2007, he has amassed a fortune including a property portfolio of 31 homes worth at least £25million.
He is one of the world’s best paid speakers – earning up to £150,000 a speech – and has secured advisory roles with US investment bank JP Morgan and Swiss insurer Zurich International.
The Saudi contract stated that TBA would help find potential sources of new investment and added that Mr Blair would make ‘introductions to the senior political leadership, industrial policymakers, corporate entities and other persons in China identified and deemed by us and you to be relevant to PetroSaudi’s international strategy’.
The firm agreed it would not divulge his role without permission.
Meanwhile we learn that Ipswich Top Tory Kevin Algar has joined the Eustonite attack on Corbyn:
The backbencher – who looks set to be voted Labour leader next month – signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in 2004 called ‘Pigeon Bombs’ that criticised the way the birds were treated by, er, British spies
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn once declared his support for an asteroid killing every human on the planet – because of PIGEONS.
The backbencher – who looks set to be voted Labour leader next month – signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in 2004 called ‘Pigeon Bombs’ that criticised the way the birds were treated by, er, British spies.
Adding his name to the motion alongside fellow Labour MPs John McDonnell and Tony Banks, Corbyn felt it was right to highlight the issue – and wanted an asteroid to obliterate every human on the planet for being “cruel and uncivilised”.
Latest Recruit to Corbyn Campaign: Giles’s Grandmother.
As Trotskyist infiltrators swarm to tonight’s Jeremy Corbyn meeting in Norwich Ipswich saw a new supporter of the Labour leadership candidate: The Grandma statue, based on the character in Carl Giles’s cartoons.
She is a merry soul these days.
Weekly Worker Editorial Board Deciding Corbyn’s Strategy.
Senior Labour MPs are plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn if he is elected party leader, amid growing fears that the leadership contest has been hijacked by far-Left infiltrators.
Shadow cabinet sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn would never be allowed to remain in the job long enough to fight the 2020 general election, if he is elected on September 12.
A coup could be launched within days of the result, which would plunge the party into even deeper crisis and division, but would be necessary to prevent an electoral “disaster” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, senior figures said.
However, a growing number of Labour MPs believe Mr Corbyn’s campaign is being boosted by tens of thousands of radical Left-wing socialists who have paid £3 to sign up as an “affiliated supporter” in order to vote in the election.
There are reports that Unite, the country’s biggest trade union, which is backing Mr Corbyn, has been telephoning 1,000 people a day urging them to register with Labour and back their preferred candidate.
One shadow cabinet minister told The Telegraph a coup would be inevitable if Mr Corbyn is successful.
Reports the Telegraph.
On the 6th of May Seamus Milne announced:
The Tories are plotting a coup in the name of legitimacy.
Fleet-footed the People’s Assembly acted (7th of May):
Stop the ‘Tory Coup’.
Ipswich followed the lead.
Cde Milne swiftly replied:
We beat off that coup!
Our troops, after recruiting thousands of new Labour Party supporters, are ready again!
Ipswich Workers’ Militia in Training.
End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report.
Around 80,000 people (the Tendance’s estimate) marched in London on Saturday. They protested against the newly elected Conservative government’s plans to continue, and deepen, austerity.
It’s unnecessary to list the faults of these policies. It’s enough to see the people begging in the streets, a few hundred metres from the office of Ipswich Tory M.P. Benedict Gummer. Without the response of the People’s Assembly, the unions, the diverse groups and parties on the demonstration, and the wider public, Cameron and Osborne will have free rein to create a mean-spirited free-market Britain.
From Ipswich and Stowmarket 42 people piled in our coach – there were more travelling to London by train. Up to 70% were under the age of 40, with a large percentage in their teens and twenties. This was reflected amongst the marchers, with a strong presence of young people.
While assembling by the Bank of England we were addressed by various speakers. Those advertised included Kate Hudson (Chair, Left Unity, CND) and Diane Abbott (Labour MP and candidate to represent the party for the London Mayoral contest). They and others made good, rousing, contributions on the need to fight austerity.
Weyman Bennett (SWP/Unite Against Fascism) linked people being rude to women wearing the Islamic veil to the massacre at Charleston and the heart-rending plight of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. Lee Jasper (Respect Party), the ‘controversial’ former Director for Policing and Equalities under Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority Assembly continued in this vein.
Someone (one can imagine who) compared his peroration unfavourably to Ali G.(1) One Suffolk comrade remarked that on what she called the “shouting”.
It was to be regretted that there was nobody from the National Shop Stewards Network – a group which, whatever one’s political differences, represents a lot more than the former two users of the demo microphone – was not invited to speak.
The route of the protest, which began next to the City, took us from Ludgate Circus, down the Strand, past Trafalgar Square. This was the venue of a – poorly attended- commercial beano, a pop radio concert. It symbolised the use of public space for corporate gain.
Local People’s assembly groups (like Suffolk People’s Assembly) unions, Left Unity, anti-cuts organisations, disabeld rights groups,the SWP, the Socialist Party, and other (even) smaller left parties, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity , the Green Party …to Class War, were present.
In Parliament Square there were more speeches. Again there were solid well-argued arguments against the Cabinet’s plans, from Steve Turner (UNITE and the People’s Assembly) onwards. John Rees included a reference to the rights of atheists in a call for to defend the freedoms of different beliefs. His claim that the demonstrators were from all ethnic backgrounds was perhaps not fully substantiated by a glance at the overwhelmingly white crowd.
Charlotte Church made an exceptional contribution.
The Mirror called it an “incredible speech“.
The Conservatives’ intention was to create a society around their principles, of private profit and public loss.
Describing the idea that Britain needs austerity as “the big lie”, Charlotte said: “They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. When it’s done, it will he hard to reverse.
“One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package.
“I’m proud to be British because of the NHS and David Bowie, not because of the Union Jack.
“Be proud for the right reasons. We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from years of yuppie rule.
“If you are ashamed that you have to use a food bank, because this Government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall. You have the moral high ground.
“We are not afraid of national debt and we will not let our public services be attacked.”
She added: “What this country needs is economic stimulation – most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping.”
Earlier, she said: “I’m here today in a show of solidarity with everyone here – it is a massive turnout – everybody who thinks that austerity isn’t the only way and thinks it is essentially unethical, unfair and unnecessary.”
It was hard not to be moved by Charlotte’s clear and heart-felt words.
Her call for positive alternatives and hope will resonate across the country.
For many present, Jeremy Corbyn, standing for the Labour Party leadership, made a decisive call to make sure there is a strong left, anti-austerity, vote in this election.
End Austerity Now was a success.
Where we go from now is the subject of serious discussion.
One way forward can be seen in the multitude of protests against welfare reform: from the continued campaign against the Bedroom Tax, Benefit cuts, Workfare, to the – still not fully implemented – psychological treatment of some claimants.
It is to be regretted that some parties see groups like the People’s Assembly as a recruiting ground.
In Suffolk the Green Party does not appear to publicise this:
Suffolk’s best-known Green Party politician has pulled out of the battle to become Ipswich MP in next May’s general election – because he hasn’t “got the heart” to take on Tory Ben Gummer.
Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.
“Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.
“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.
The day was an achievement for the organisers.
It was, as they say, only a beginning.
(1) This is what Jasper said (Charlie Hebdo and Europe’s rampant racism. 17th of January) about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo (he doesn’t even mention the anti-Semitic murder at the Hyper-Casher):
“JeSuisCharlie in this context is nothing more than appeal from right wings white’s to be allowed to be racist without opposition in the name of free speech. It’s a sort of #WhiteLivesMatter statement particularly when viewed in the context of the tragic violence and world silence about the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram.
This privilege allows them to disregard the social environment and political context of such satire and its consequences. Writing in this flawed tradition is the perogative of white, middle class Libertarian anarchists. Charlie Hebdo is for me, a silly magazine and quintessentially an exercise in white privilege and arrogance.
Loved by all Progressive Humanity: hacked to Death by Islamists.
(CNN)Attacks on bloggers critical of Islam have taken on a disturbing regularity in Bangladesh, with yet another writer hacked to death Tuesday.
Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, was killed Tuesday morning as he left his home on his way to work at a bank, police in the northeastern Bangladeshi city of Sylhet said.
Four masked men attacked him, hacking him to death with cleavers and machetes, said Sylhet Metropolitan Police Commissioner Kamrul Ahsan.
The men then ran away. Because of the time of the morning when the attack happened, there were few witnesses. But police say they are following up on interviewing the few people who saw the incident.
“It’s one after another after another,” said Imran Sarker, who heads the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh. “It’s the same scenario again and again. It’s very troubling.”
Das’ death was at least the third this year of someone who was killed for online posts critical of Islam. In each case, the attacks were carried out publicly on city streets.
In March, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death by two men with knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in the capital, Dhaka.
In February, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, Avijit Roy, was similarly killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.
The three victims are hardly the only ones who have paid a steep price for their views.
In the last two years, several bloggers have died, either murdered or under mysterious circumstances.
Das was an atheist who contributed to Mukto Mona (“Free Thinkers”), the blog that Roy founded.
Mukto Mona contains sections titled “Science” and “Rationalism,” and most of the articles hold science up to religion as a litmus test, which it invariably fails.
While Das was critical of fundamentalism and the attacks on secular thinkers, he was mostly concerned with championing science, a fellow blogger said.
He was the editor of a local science magazine, Jukti (“Reason”), and wrote several books, including one work on Charles Darwin.
In 2006, the blog awarded Das its Rationalist Award for his “deep and courageous interest in spreading secular & humanist ideals and messages in a place which is not only remote, but doesn’t have even a handful of rationalists.”
“He was a voice of social resistance; he was an activist,” said Sarker. “And now, he too has been silenced.”
Taking to the streets
Soon after Das’ death, his Facebook wall was flooded with messages of shock and condolence. And hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Sylhet demanding that the government bring his killers to justice.
“We’ve heard from Ananta’s friends that some people threatened to kill him as he was critical of religion,” Das’ brother-in-law Somor Bijoy Shee Shekhor said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We are ashamed, brother Bijoy,” someone posted on Das’ Facebook page.
“Is a human life worth so little? Do we not have the right to live without fear?” wrote another.
One Good Piece of News at least.
The visit of Lewis the Eighteenth, April 1814.
“There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel, and immense applause; the mob crying out, ‘God bless your Majesty!” as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives.”
((Zechariah Coleman, a radical and dissenter) “who did not hooray, and did not even lift his hat when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps” is challenged by a drayman for not saluting the Bourbon King.
A full fight ensures.
Zechariah is rescued by Major Cartwright, “Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear.”
The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane. Mark Rutherford. 1887.
But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine,
Holy Willie’s Prayer. 1785. Robert Burns.
“Election 2015: Ed Miliband resignation imminent as Conservatives win stunning majority”
Today is not a good day.
Not a good day at all.
The People have dealt us a nasty lick.
The vote for common decency – the Labour Party – did not succeed in squaring up to the Right.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to step down later after his party’s disappointing general election showing, the BBC has learned.
Labour suffered heavy losses at the hands of the SNP, with the Tories forecast to achieve a majority.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Miliband was expected to address party staff, with two senior sources saying he would quit.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was among the party’s big-name casualties.
It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy.
In England the electorate of Eatanswill has returned, like a dog to its vomit, to David Cameron.
In Scotland, the alliance of Holy Willie and Oor Wullie has dealt a blow to more than the Labour Party – it’s hit socialism itself.
Those who imagine that the SNP’s politics of looking after their “ain folk” has managed to strike a blow against the British Imperial state, heralding a new politics of the ‘anti-austerity’ left, in association with Rupert Murdoch, will soon find that reading Tom Nairn is no substitute for the realities of the egoistic and narrow goals of the nationalists.
Farage looks on course to fail to win a seat for UKIP.
If we can draw some further (meager) comfort from the results this is it: George Galloway blames ‘racists and Zionists’ for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West.
There must be a lot of racists and Zionists in Bradford West as this was the vote, “The Respect party MP, lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.”
So much for the strategy of aligning with Islamism.
There was no breakthrough for the left of the Labour Party.
The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was, and remains, irrelevant.
Its votes were derisory.
In Ipswich we have this, much more depressing, news, “Election 2015: Ben Gummer increases his majority as he fights off David Ellesmere to hold Ipswich seat.”
Yesterday about 5 pm, as I was passing down Upper Brook Street, there was a street person on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and Ipswich ‘Rangers’. Walking round the corner, in Dog’s Head Street, one of another group, obviously buzzing on a mixture of illegal and legal highs, asked me for dosh. Back in the Street, entering Sainsbury’s a woman tried to reassure her tiny daughter, “You see things like this in London all the time”.
We’ll see a lot more of that with Cameron’s victory.
I am in the mood to make sure that we fight this every inch of the way.