Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Noam Chomsky on the Labour Party

by Brian Bamford
LAST Sunday, Trevor Hoyle wrote a comment on the 'McCluskey states the obvious' post on this N.V. Blog in which he claimed:
'Not clear what your position is Brian. "McCluskey states the obvious" -- well it is obvious because it's true that the vast majority of the mainstream corporate media are, and always have been, against Corbyn. ANY leader, no matter who, with such a sustained campaign of vitriol waged against him, including the so-called left-of-centre Guardian, would have struggled to overcome such a negative media image. '
Earlier this month dealing with the relative unpopularity of the British Labour Party, Noam Chomsky admitted to an interviewer:
'... that the current polling position suggested Labour was not yet gaining popular support for the policy positions that he supported.' 
Only last Saturday, Joshua Chaffin, in the Financial Times said that the polls 'suggest Mrs May is cruising toward a big victory on June 8.'
But by yesterday, with news that the 'dementia tax' was hitting the conserative party hard on the doorstep, Mrs May rewrote a major item in her election manifesto - social care reform - after four days of pressure; leaving her open to the accusations of show bad political judgement and being weak when the heat is on.
Meanwhile, over the weekend the polls showed that Labour under Corbyn, was closing the gap on the Tories.  Yet, still the Corbyn approach lacks charisma.
Professor Chomsky described to The Guardian what he thought was wrong:
' "If I were a voter in Britain, I would vote for him,” said Chomsky, who admitted that the current polling position suggested Labour was not yet gaining popular support for the policy positions that he supported.'
Pro. Chomsky then added:
'There are various reasons for that – partly an extremely hostile media, partly his own personal style which I happen to like but perhaps that doesn’t fit with the current mood of the electorate,'  he said. 'He’s quiet, reserved, serious, he’s not a performer.  The parliamentary Labour party has been strongly opposed to him.  It has been an uphill battle.'
Trevor Hoyle in his comment complains:
'I don't think Corbyn or McDonnell are dull at all.  They state their case and explain their policies in adult, measured tones.  To expect them to go all showbiz and join the media frenzy is to support exactly what is wrong with the political climate in this country.'
It might well be that a serious tone is preferable to those who read The Guardian like Trevor Hoyle, or The New York Times like me, but most of the people in the towns and cities in the North of England where the working-class target voters reside don't read these papers, and these people judging from what we are hearing prefer what Cyril Smith used to call Razzamataz than the kind of sombre socialism we might fancy.
When asked what motivation he thought newspapers had to oppose Corbyn, Chomsky said the Labour leader had, like Bernie Sanders in the US, broken out of the 'elite, liberal consensus' that he claimed was 'pretty conservative'.
Chomsky told Anushka Asthana, The Guardian Political Editor on Wednesday on 10 May 2017, that 'Labour needed to "reconstruct itself" in the interests of working people, with concerns about human and civil rights at its core, arguing that such a programme could appeal to the majority of people.'
Chomsky talks of the need for socio-economic programmes and the way the key defence against the existential threats of climate change and the nuclear age were being radically weakened, and then goes on to describe what he wants is the defence as a 'functioning democratic society with engaged, informed citizens deliberating and reaching measures to deal with and overcome the threats'.
This is all well and good, but the circles I move in among my neighbours  and other working people, I don't find much genuine concern about the kind of things that might concern Chomsky, Trevor Hoyle and me, like 'human rights'; 'civil rights'; or even the environment generally.
The great academic, Noam Chomsky who often describes himself as 'a kind of anarchist', and who is in Britain to deliver a lecture at the University of Reading on what he believes is the deteriorating state of western democracy, claimed that voters had turned to the Conservatives in recent years because of  'an absence of anything else'.
What the good professor ought to understand is that the left in this country since the Chartists, has rarely had a program or a strategy for social change which in any way will convince or inspire ordinary people, instead it continues to react to an aganda set by the establishment and the State.  Marching, protesting and demonstrating against cuts; Trade Union Acts; privatisation and the erosion of the NHS is all that the left reacts to.  There is very little vison on the British left, and that is why the right in this country these days always tends to have the initiative.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Free Speech & Humbug at Cocka Doodle Moo

by Brian Bamford
SIMON Danczuk earlier today threatened to pull out of a hustings event at a venue in Rochdale should any BuzzFeed reporter attend, following the publication over the weekend by BuzzFeed of a story about his election paperwork.
The hustings event, due to take place on Tuesday at Cocka Doodle Moo in the centre of Rochdale, is to be hosted by a local business networking group called #RochdaleHour.
The organiser of the event Damien Maddock initially withdrew his personal invitation to the #RochdaleHour business lunch, claiming 'his hand had been forced' after Danczuk said he would not attend if any journalist from the BuzzFeed organisation showed up, but reversed his decision after facing a backlash from the other candidates and local media outlets.
Mr Maddock was condemned for this by all the main participants to the event including Andy Kelly the Liberal Democrat, who told BuzzFeed News:  'I don't think it should be up to any one candidate to say which journalists should be at the event, and if the organisers want to let them do so I'm not interested in going' and 'I don't know if that will help me in the long run, but it's the right decision, a principled decision,' he added.
Rochdale Online editor Pauline Journeaux sternly said:  'Rochdale Online was attending but has now taken the decision not to do so in light of the ban on BuzzFeed. A stand has to be taken against this sort of anti-democratic behaviour.'
A Labour Party spokesperson told Rochdale Online'It is deeply concerning for a candidate to be allowed to prevent a well respected, bonafide news organisation from attending.'
Conservative candidate Jane Howard told BuzzFeed News it was 'unfortunate' that Danczuk had been allowed to dictate which media organisations could and could not attend.
She said:  'Any registered media outlet should be able to attend, and I'm disappointed that you're not able to do so.'
Robert Sharp, spokesperson for English PEN, said:  'These reports are very worrying. Political events should be open to all journalists, not just those who file positive stories about a candidate.  It is odd that this should be happening during a general election, when the political parties are surely seeking to broadcast their message to as many people as possible.  Candidates for political office need to reassure voters that they are open to scrutiny. Selectively refusing journalists access to events is not the way to build public trust.'
He added:  'If a politician thinks they have been unfairly treated by one outlet, then a better response would be to invite a greater range of journalists to cover future events.'
These are all noble sentiments by the parties concerned, and it is something Northern Voices would fully support given that we were politely escorted from a book reading by Mrs Karen Danczuk for questioning her then husband Simon too rigorously.
Yet still there is a whiff of hypocrisy about this outbreak of righteous indignation about democracy and free speech by the Rochdale political establishment.
In April 2015, at another husting for the 2015 general election at St Chads, all the parties fell silent as the National Front candidate Kevin Bryan was thrown out of the Parrish Church because the Church leaders felt that the far right party’s presence ‘may increase the likelihood of a breach of the peace’
On that occasion Northern Voices said:   'In doing this the Vicar of Rochdale defied the core ideas of the enlightenment and Voltaire, not to mention everyday democracy, by not giving the National Front an opportunity to present their views at an open forum in the Rochdale Parish Church.' www.northernvoicesmag.blogspot.com/2015/.../church-leaders-mr-bryan-noam-chomsky.h.  

In the present case once BuzzFeed News was allowed back into the event, the Rochdale Online editor Pauline Journeaux said she would also send a reporter to cover the hustings, and Andy Kelly said he would also attend the husting 'do', due to take place tomorrow at the Cocka Doodle Moo in the centre of Rochdale, is to be hosted by a local business networking group called #RochdaleHour.
At 7.30pm tonight, Rochdale Online reported:
'The hustings organisers have posted that Simon Danczuk has now confirmed he will be attending - so his initial threat not to do so if a Buzzfeed reporter was allowed to do so was an empty threat clearly intended to put unfair pressure on the event organisers.'

Petition in favour of 'Three Girls' campaigner

MORE than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling for the sexual health worker who advocated for the victims of grooming in Rochdale to be recognised for her work.
The petition asks for acknowledgment of the work of Sara Rowbotham, the sexual health worker played by Maxine Peake in the BBC drama Three Girls, which aired last week and depicted the abuse of girls in Rochdale and their struggle to be taken seriously by authorities.

Rowbotham was the coordinator of Rochdale’s crisis intervention team from 2003 to 2014 and worked with many of the girls who were victims of the Rochdale grooming scandal. She repeatedly raised concerns about vulnerable girls in the community to police and other authorities, which were dismissed.
She worked for a specialist sexual health service in the city and wrote in the Guardian earlier this month that if that service had not been available 'half the evidence that led to mass convictions would never have come to light'.  She added:  'The girls didn’t trust police or social services to help them and I quickly found out why they felt this way, as no one wanted to listen to them.'

For more:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/21/petition-calls-for-recognition-of-rochdale-sexual-health-

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Celebrations at Boot & Flogger Premature!

PRIVATE EYE (5th, May) reporting on the victory of Len McCluskey in his bid to hold the top job in Unite said that '...celebrations were premature.  The far left saw its majority slashed on the Unite executive council last week.'
It seems that after his win McCluskey, other Unite officers, and Corbyn's head of strategy and communications, Seimas Milne, 'decanted to the Boot and Flogger wine bar near London Bridge to celebrate their victory', where they enjoyed 'bottle after bottle of champaigne (the chepest of which costs £47 a pop, according to the wine list).'  The Eye claims:
'Handily for McCluskey, the Boot and Flogger is just a short stagger from the Borough Market flat Unite decided its members should buy for McCluskey with £400,000 of their hard earned money.'
Before the election, the left-wing group had around 80% of the ruling body's 63 seats.  But that has now been reduced to 54%, with 39 new members representing United Left, and 32 independents.
The result is significant because any changes to Unite's rules must be backed by 75% of Executive Council members.
Now according to the PoliticsHome website a Unite source has said:  'United Left have lost a lot of seats and they have a shaky majority. It means Len McCluskey has lost the ability to change rules, which he had before. He no longer has a pliable EC.'
Electoral Reform Services report into the Unite Executive Council elections shows that turnout for the EC section of the ballot was less than 10% across the country.  For the general secretary election, a total of 1,062,049 ballot papers were sent out to union members, but only 130,071 were returned - a turnout of 12.2%.
Labour MP, John Spellar has already referred branch nominations to the trade union certification officer.  More challenges under trade union election law could be in the pipeline.

Len McCluskey states the obvious about Labour

Media Bias & Public Taste
by Brian Bamford
Len McCluskey Hits the Deck! (photo - Daily Telegraph)

THE leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, in a telephone interview with POLITICO magazine*, was merely stating the obvious when he says that it would be 'extraordinary' if Labour won, and went on to say that it was the Labour party leader's problem of his public image that was to blame, and for this he accused the media of 'media bias'.

He blamed all this on the media's 'constant attack' on Corbyn, internal party divisions, and on the consequences of the public support for the Prime Minister Theresa May when she was 'jumping on the bandwagon of hard Brexit.'

He said he was not holding out much hope for an upset victory despite the popularity of many of Labour’s left-wing policies, unveiled at the party’s manifesto launch in Bradford, West Yorkshire, today.

McCluskey claimed the working class voters who say they are going to vote Tory for the first time are doing so 'because their mind is being turned by the constant attack of the media on Jeremy Corbyn and the image that they’ve pinned on Jeremy.'

For McCluskey it is the same old story, as it is for most of the left, blame the media when things go wrong.  How can they be so surprised about media bias?

Meanwhile, today in the New York Times the novelist Joan Smith writes about the sexualisation of British politics in which 'Mrs May lounged on a sofa in a pair of leather trousers for an interview at the end of a momentous year that saw her move to No.10 Downing Street.'

Joan Smith, a feminist, justifiably suggests;  'The public probably knows more about what she wears than it does about what she wears than it does about her policies, confirming just about every sexist stereotype'.

Only a mediocre Marxist mind or a feeble-minded feminist, would expect that the public would find politics more fascinating than fashion and leather pants and especially 'eye-catching footwear'.

Ms. Smith writes:  'Isn't it demeaning, not to say sexist, to focus on how she dresses?'

In summing up Ms. Smith writes:  'This is all the more disappointing at a moment when the Conservative Party has overturned the traditional order of British politics by fielding a competent, personable woman against a male opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who looks and sounds like a throwback to the 1970s.'

Are the media to blame for focusing on what they believe the public like?  Or are the British public to blame for preferring fashion and the sexy style of Mrs. May to the dreariness of Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell?

* Overnight Mr. McCluskey underwent a change of mind on this matter, and on the BBC this morning he said that 'following the launch of Labour's manifesto, which he said had been warmly welcomed by his union's members'.  This only suggests a kind of collective catastrophic psychological condition in which Labour supporters, like McCluskey, don't know whether they are coming or going.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Baffling Ballot Box Probe


In Rochdale, a lack of curiosity at the top?

Written up by Les May based on research by Carl Faulkner and Brian Bamford

THERESA May’s ostensible reason for calling a General Election is that her slender majority of 12 was an obstacle to passing the legislation needed to cope with the fallout from the UK leaving the EU.  The cynical amongst you might wonder if it was not also an opportunity to distract attention from the fact that criminal charges are being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) against at least 30 individuals in the Conservative party.  Some have been MPs in the 2015 parliament and contributing to Theresa’s slim majority, some will be candidates in this election and could be re-elected.   Electoral fraud isn’t just something that happens in other countries it happens here too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud 

It’s not just the Tories who have played fast and loose with the rules on election expenditure.  In recent years Labour and the LibDems have both been fined by the Electoral Commission for breaking election expense rules.  What makes the Tory case different is that the CPS is investigating whether there is evidence that candidates and their agents may be guilty of filing false spending returns. If they are both could be charged with fraud.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/alexandra-runswick/election-expenses_b_16146174.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-election-fraud-prosecutions-cps-election-campaign-result-overturn-battle-bus-a7689801.html

This type of fraud is easy to detect once you are alerted to what is happening.   There’s always a ‘paper trail’.  In fact a year ago as part of its ‘Check a Tory’ campaign the Daily Mirror put the election expenses of Tory MPs on line and invited readers to scrutinise them.  What’s much harder to detect is when a small group, with or without the tacit agreement of local party bosses, exploit weaknesses in the system to rig the ballot.  Having a system which ‘on paper’ is foolproof, is fallible if the people who are supposed to implement it fall down on the job.

In August 2015, the government put out a press release announcing that, ‘Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion’, was to review the question of electoral fraud.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-eric-pickles-to-examine-electoral-fraud

A year later it was published.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-eric-pickles-publishes-report-into-tackling-electoral-fraud

So far so good.  But as I noted above any system is only as good as the people who implement it. This is what the Electoral Commission have to say about those people:

‘Local Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) manage elections, and are uniquely placed to detect and prevent electoral fraud.  They should have robust plans in place to identify any suspicious behaviour and should work with the police to investigate any potential electoral fraud.’  (my emphasis)

But what actually happens when something ‘suspicious’ does occur.   Just how easy is it to get anyone to take notice?  Things seem to have changed in Rochdale since 2011 when ex-council leader Colin Lambert was outspoken about what needed to be done.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-13192008 

A few weeks ago Northern Voices was sent the extremely well documented correspondence between a candidate in the Spotland and Falinge ward at last years Rochdale Council elections, and the various bodies which are supposed to deal with questions of electoral fraud.  It runs to some 22 pages.

At that election a 'marked register' went missing.   It should have been handed to the Returning Officer at the point at which the ballot box and other official documents were delivered by the Presiding Officer at the close of poll. It was either accidentally lost or deliberately stolen.  There can be no reason why one of these alternative explanations should be favoured over the other.   If we are to take the fight against electoral fraud seriously the ‘precautionary principle’ suggests that in the absence of evidence to the contrary it should be assumed that it was stolen, the police should be informed to that effect and a full investigation launched.   It did not happen.

What is clear from this correspondence is that, in spite of Pickles bluster in The Telegraph:
'We should never be frightened to look under the rock when what is crawling underneath threatens us all. It is time to take action to take on the electoral crooks and defend Britain’s free and fair elections', when a complaint is made, no one wants to shoulder the responsibility for making sure that a proper investigation is launched.  It seems that Pickles was right about one thing, ‘the authorities are in a “state of denial” and are “turning a blind eye” to election fraud.’

Equally worrying is that the complainant, Carl Faulkner, who stood as an independent candidate, claims that he was not informed of the loss of the missing register as he should have been and that he was told ‘all candidates were informed about the missing register'Northern Voices made an effort to contact the other candidates to find out if and when they were told about the missing register.

Mick Coates, the Green candidate, was quite clear that he had not been officially informed that the mark register was missing.

Enquires with the Lib-Dems suggested that this was also the case with their candidate Matthew Allen, and Ian Duckworth, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, was unable to confirm that their candidate, Steven Scholes, had been informed either.

Wendy Cox the Labour candidate did not answer the question directly but said:  
'Thank you for your email. I have passed this to the electoral officer.'  

Quite why she felt she had to ask the electoral officer whether she had been informed, is unclear at this point.  A week later she was asked if there had been any response and replied suggesting that NV should contact the electoral officer directly.  On the 10th April the joint editor of NV wrote to the RMBC Chief Executive, Steve Rumbelow for clarification.

(His reply is printed below together with the response of the original complainant, Carl Faulkner. Copies of the full correspondence between the complainant and the various bodies which are supposed to deal with questions of electoral fraud can be made available by e-mail from Northern Voices. It shows clearly that it was the complainant who initiated the contact with the Cabinet Office, Electoral Commission and Police not RMBC.)

The possibility that the register was in fact stolen has been excluded from consideration a priori, even though at the time an exhaustive and unsuccessful search was made at the polling station, and even of people’s cars.   The consequence of deciding that a register was ‘definitely lost’ not ‘possibly stolen’ is that there is a convenient ‘fall guy’ in the form of whoever was in charge of that polling station. They are deemed to have ‘lost’ it and their reputation must suffer as a consequence.

In all this the one thing that is very clear is that whoever told the complainant that ‘all candidates were informed about the missing register' was telling a porky pie. And these are the people we have to trust when it comes to combating electoral fraud.  Robust plans to identify potential electoral fraud?   I think not.

Dear Mr Bamford
Thank you for your recent enquiry.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in response.
To clarify, the marked register is the copy of the electoral register used in polling stations. It serves as the record of who has voted in the election, and it is kept for a year after the election. The marked register does not indicate who electors voted for, nor does it contain ballot paper numbers. 

Legislation provides that a variety of parties are eligible to access copies of the marked register after an election. Anyone can inspect the marked register, but only certain people can purchase a copy. 

This includes individual candidates and political party representatives.  Usually, copies are requested by and provided to party representatives who would then disseminate the information to their colleagues, including candidates. 

All those who requested copies of the marked registers were informed that a register had not been returned following the close of poll and the steps that had been taken in an attempt to locate it, both immediately after the close of poll and in the days following the election. 

In addition, the Council has been in contact with the Cabinet Office, Electoral Commission and Police on the matter who were satisfied with the steps that had been taken and the measures put in place to prevent any future issues of a similar nature. 

Yours Sincerely
Steve Rumbelow

And here are Mr Faulkner’s observations:
1) Without him actually stating it, it is clear that people were only going to be informed if and when a copy of the register was requested. That is not the same as informing all candidates as a matter of course. It reiterates my position that there was a concerted attempt to conceal the incident by keeping quiet about it.

2) I feel he is attempting to downplay the importance of the marked register, by portraying it as nothing more than a post-election tool for political parties /candidates / interested persons.  This is not the case - it’s primary purpose is as an anti-fraud document - but one which can be utilised by political parties etc.

3) All contact with the police, Cabinet Office and Electoral Commission was initiated by me. They contacted RMBC - not the other way round as his response could be taken to mean.

4) What are the ‘steps’ put in place that did not exist before? The issue is not about how, who, why or exactly when the register went missing but that no candidates nor the police were informed at the time or during the following 21 days.

Police Interview Simon Danczuk

SIMON Danczuk  has now been interviewed at Holborn Police Station in London following an allegation that he raped a young woman in Westminster last year.
Danczuk denies the allegation, and he was not arrested or charged. The police have confirmed that their investigations are ongoing.
It seems that Zed Jameson, a photographer at FameFlynet Pictures, was posted outside the police station with his camera at the time Danczuk arrived.
It is not clear if  Danczuk was interviewed under a police caution, and he did not respond to an invitation to comment.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Query Over Danczuk's Election Papers?

TODAY, ROCHDALE ONLINE has drawn attention to the former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk's election nomination papers.  In these he submitted his ex-wife Karen Danczuk's home address in a bungalow on Lonsdale Avenue, Kingsway, as his home address.

The online website claims Karen Danczuk has confirmed that he does not live at that address.

Last Wednesday (17 May), Karen confirmed to a BuzzFeed reporter who called at the bungalow that Danczuk does not live there, despite Danczuk continuing to insist he is legally resident at the address.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahalothman/simon-danczuks-election-paperwork

It is believed that Dnaczuk has been living at an address on Farm Walk, Littleborough for over a year when not at his London residence.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Tweet by Simon Danczuk

LAST Sunday, Simon Danczuk on his Twitter account posted the following tweet about Rochdale's Labour councillors: 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Palestinian leader on hunger strike


Addameer's attorney Farah Bayadsi visited hunger-striking political leader and Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Sa'adat today, 14 May 2017, in Ohli Kedar prison.  Addameer's attorney was previously denied visitation, but received approval following a High Court petition submitted on 10 May 2017. Since the beginning of the strike, 17 April 2017, Addameer requested several visits from Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to visit hunger-striking prisoners and detainees, but the IPS either did not respond or rejected the requests.
Mr. Sa'adat joined the hunger strike, along with several significant Palestinian political leaders on 3 May 2017 including, Nael Barghouthi, Hassan Salameh, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Abbas al-Sayed, Ziad Bseiso, Basem al-Khandakji, Mohammed al-Malah, Tamim Salem, Mahmoud Issa, and Said al-Tubasi.
Mr. Sada'at was transferred, along with 38 hunger-striking prisoners and detainees, from isolation in Ashkelon prison to isolation in Ohli Kedar prison on Thursday, 11 May 2017. Mr. Sada'at informed Addameer's attorney that the prisoners are subjected to two violent search raids daily, during which prisoners are forced to leave their room, which is physically exhausting for prisoners due to their hunger strikes. He also added that 10 prisoners are held in one tight cell with one sink and one toilet and no fan or air conditioning (with high-temperature weather), and each prisoner is given 3 blankets.    
Bayadsi noted that Mr. Sa'adat's health condition is deteriorating and that he appears frail, walks and speaks very slowly and has lost significant weight. Additionally, his face appears pale and he is only consuming water. Mr. Sa'adat added that the medical examinations carried out by the IPS are not sufficient, as only blood pressure and weight of the hunger strikers were examined. Despite his deteriorating health condition, Bayadsi reported that Mr. Sa'adat is in high spirits and intends to continue on hunger strike until the prisoners' demands are met.
Mr. Sa'adat further added that the IPS imposed restrictions on hunger-striking prisoners including a disciplinary fine of 200 NIS; ban of family visits for two months; denial of access to the “canteen” (prison store); and seizure of salt and all clothes except one set of clothing per prisoner.
More troubling, the IPS has made it exceedingly difficult for independent doctors to visit the hunger striking prisoners and has provided prisoners with plastic cups in order to drink from the tap rather than the usually provided drinking water.
Addameer strongly condemns such treatment, which violates the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which underlines the need for appropriate medical care inside detention. Furthermore, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that "Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits" (37). 
As the hunger strike enters its 28th day, Addameer Prisoner Support urges supporters of justice around the world to take action to support the Palestinian prisoners whose bodies and lives are on the line for freedom and dignity. Addameer urges all people to organize events in solidarity with the struggle of hunger-striking prisoners and detainees. Addameer further calls on the diplomatic community to pressure Israel to immediately allow for hunger striking prisoners to have access to necessary healthcare and legal advisement.
Addameer further urges all political parties, institutions, organizations and solidarity groups working in the field of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad to support the prisoners in their hunger strike and demand that their legitimate demands be granted. Addameer will continue to closely follow the prisoner’s strike and provide regular updates on the situation as it develops.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

P. O. Box: 17338, Jerusalem
3 Edward Said Street
Sebat Bldg.
1st Floor, Suite 2
Ramallah, Palestine
Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0446 / 297 0136
Fax: +972 (0)2 296 0447

Email: info@addameer.ps
Website: www.addameer.org
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Cambridgeshire Spy Cop - Cops Out!

Undercover Spy-cop Andy Coles (photo - The Guardian)

ANDY Coles, deputy police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has stepped down three days after his past as an undercover officer infiltrating political groups was revealed.
Today, The Guardian disclosed that the woman, known only as 'Jessica', is taking legal action against the police, alleging that Coles groomed and manipulated her.
Last Friday, he was accused of grooming a 19-year-old activist into having a sexual relationship with him while he was working undercoverin the 1990s.
Mr. Coles has said:  'There have been news reports over the weekend about which I am unable to comment.  This coverage is significantly impacting on my ability to carry out my duties as deputy police and crime commissioner.
'I have therefore today tendered my resignation with immediate effect, which [the] police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, has accepted.'
He disclosed that the allegations have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to be investigated.
Jessica, who had called for his resignation, said  today:
'I am relieved. He has done the right thing.
'This is just the start of what is going to be a long legal process to try and get some answers from both him and his superiors.'

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Early Syndicalism discussed in Wakefield

YESTERDAY, the Wakefield Socialist History Group debated syndicalism at the start of the last century.   The speakers included Robin Stocks who has written 'The Hidden Heroes of Easter Week'; the Huddersfield historian Alan Brooks; and Robin Stocks who spoke about the South Wales' miner and syndicalist, Noah Ablett.
The title of the meeting at the Red Shed was 'SYNDICALISM & the GREAT UNREST'.
Alan Stewart, the convenor of the event, drew our attention to Bob Holton's book 'British Syndicalism' (1979), which described the developments before and after World War I asRobin Stocks,  a form of proto-syndicalism. 
In the introduction for the meeting  it was stated:
'The early years of British syndicalism saw, Holton (1976) suggests. a "slow and unspectacular advance."  He says there were three "currents of revolutionary  industrial feeling" at this stage.
The first, centred around the writings of Daniel de Leon, the American socialist.  Though sometimes marred by a certain "sectarian rigidity" his works -brought back to Britain by seamen and other workers- were lively and accessible (Challinor 1977).
'His ideas were welcomed in particular by dissidents in the Social Democratic Federation who felt the SDF had lost momentum and was neglecting industrial struggles.  In 1903 a GS Yates of Leith led a de Leonist breakaway.  The Socialist Labour Party was formed. It in turn spawned the British Advocates of Industrial Unionism (1906).
'Now de Leon had been involved in the establishment of the American IWW (Wobblies) in 1905.  Yet Holton (1976) notes that there were problems with applying the "dual unionism" strategy to British conditions.'
There did not appear to be much reference to or attempt to discuss the founding conference of the 'Leeds Soviet'  a hundred years ago this month, which was considered in detail by Chris Draper on this Blog in January this year:
'HISTORY's most remarkable social experiment began one hundred years ago. As the Russian war effort disintegrated, autocratic Czarism was abolished and a revolutionary SOVIET system substituted.  Soviets were collectives of workers and soldiers organised to end the war and radically democratise Russia.  In March 1917 (February in the old Russian calendar) the PETROGRAD SOVIET led the revolution and despatched a four-man delegation to England to encourage British workers to follow their lead.  On 3 June 1917, over a thousand workers’ representatives met at LEEDS COLISEUM, Cookridge Street to emulate their Russian comrades and organise a British network of ”extra-parliamentary Soviets with sovereign powers”. 
www.northernvoicesmag.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-leeds-soviet-1917.html 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Review of 'How Will Capitalism End?'

‘How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System’ by Wolfgang Streeck
(Verso, 2016) – book reviewed by Andrew Wallace,
Capitalism and Entropy
This is an intriguingly titled volume of essays, only the first of which is however devoted to the subject of the book’s title, namely a discussion concerning various scenarios in which we might contemplate the mortality of an ‘improbable social formation, full of conflicts and contradictions,...  unstable and influx and highly conditional on historically contingent and precarious supportive and well as constraining events and institutions’.
Streek takes his cue from what he considers a seminal text co-authored 3 years earlier by 5 distinctive thinkers.  Streek’s titular essay then is very much a dialogue and assimilation of this work:-
Does Capitalism Have a Future? (2013) – Wallerstein, Collins, Mann, Derluguian, Calhoun.
The crisis scenarios under discussion are a distillation of Marxist, Keynesian and heterodox economists who remain critical of the key axioms of the so called free market, especially in the wake of the Great Recession (2008). The old spectres of market disequilibrium by overproduction or underconsumption are of course very much in contention, as is Marxist crises of profitability and the problems of modernity by obsolesce and the finite limits of land and labour. Weber and Schumpeter also introduced wider socio-economic themes inherent with bureaucratic sclerosis.
Streek suggests that various crisis scenarios from these 5 writers could be ‘aggregated into a diagnosis of multi-morbidity in which different disorders coexist and, more often than not, reinforce each other.’
No revolutionary alternative is required
A nice little irony at the centre of Streek’s thinking unfolds here. With capitalism in its contemporaneous super-turbo charged  'neoliberal' platform, having so successfully vanquished all would be alternatives (which have typically rescued the system in revitalised form at various critical points in our past history) via its bleak credo of there is no alternative ‘capital realism’easier to imagine the end of the world than capitalism, now at the zenith of its apparent impenetrable hegemony, because it has exhausted the possibilities of renewal from reformist quarters, it now be forced kicking and screaming into a prolonged period of entropy.
We are hearing from many thinkers how automation, information technology and electronicisation will have profound implications for the middle classes in much the same way in which mechanisation did for the manual working class.  With alarming implications for unemployment and ongoing secular stagnation or dramatic declines, this will add to the ongoing crisis of underconsumption and demand gap.
Streek has a nice line in irony as he notes our divided identities, located within our consumerist lifestyles, as voracious consumers of cheap clothes and electronic gadgets and household goods, we also put direct pressure on ourselves as producers, ‘accelerating the move of production abroad and thereby undermining (our) own wages, working conditions and employment.’
Neoliberalism has overextended itself, having cannibalised a lot of the soft underbelly, social capital and infrastructure vital to maintaining confidence and stability in the normative capitalist context.
Useful contribution to our Post-Liberal era
The other essays in the book discuss the nature in the shift of post war Keynesian democracy to the post democratic ordoliberalism of thinkers like Hayek, given the move to depoliticisation in many domestic spheres and of course international governance from the EU.
This is an interesting short volume of essays although some of the later offerings may come across as a little dry and technical.  Streek is certainly making a very interesting contribution to ongoing discussions concerning the distinct post-liberal phase we seem to be entering with the marked rise of anti-globalisation sentiments.  And whilst the political atrophy of the left continues, it is important to note that wider structural shifts in the nature of capitalism may mean that other practicalities apart from mere politics may force the hand of history.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Waste Disposal in Manchester

THIS week, it was reported that waste handling in Greater Manchester is to be taken back into public ownership.    The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) has told Viridor, and its joint venture partner John Laing, that it is terminating the region’s long-term waste contract.
On the 4th, May, Robin Latchem, the editor of 'Material Recycling World' [MRW], wrote:
'It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the sector that the GMWDA and Viridor-Laing partnership was on the rocks.'
Back in February, the Greater Manchester Authority raised concerns with Viridor Laing over the progress being made on these works, including 'significant rusting issues' in the mechanical and biological treatment plant tanks and the in-vessel composting facilities.
The authority’s relations with Viridor Laing over the 25-year, £3.8bn private finance initiative deal became even more frayed in recent months, as Costain continued with repairs to some of the 42 facilities.
At that time, in February, it was reported that a trading update from parent company Pennon showed that the construction contractor Costain was making modifications at some facilities servicing the 25-year, £3.8bn private finance initiative (PFI) contract with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA).
The Greater Manchester Authority approved the termination of the contract at a meeting last week. This comes several months after the waste authority revealed that it was ‘not satisfied’ with the status of the contract, and had been seeking ‘significant savings’ through the deal (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Pennon Group – the parent company of Viridor – has noted that there are provisions in the PFI contract for compensation to be paid to Viridor and John Laing on termination.  And, in a statement issued on the 2nd, May, Pennon claimed that the Authority’s exit from the contract is due to ‘financial challenges’ caused by prolonged austerity.

These concerns prompted the authority to decided to exit the PFI deal.
The company has stated:  'Discussions and negotiations are now expected to progress over the coming weeks as we work with GMWDA to ascertain the implications. There are provisions in the PFI Contract for compensation to be paid to Viridor and John Laing on termination.'

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Elections, Pitchford Inquiry & Vain Expectations?

 WE are publishing the newsletter below from the
Blacklist Support Group.  We publish it as we
always do, but without any great expectations
or hopes with regard to any kind of plebian victory 
resulting from the General Election.  While we may 
agree with Ludwig Wittgenstein that William the Conquer
got himself a good bargain in 1066, generally we side with
Orwell who said:  'The corruption that happens in England 
is seldom of that kind [overt].  Nearly always it is more in the 
nature of self-deception, of the right hand not knowing what 
the left hand doeth.  And being unconcious it is limited.'
(See The Lion & the Unicorn').  That is why, in the final
analysis, Northern Voices cannot fully embrace the optimism
of the Blacklist Support Group either with regard to the
Pitchford Inquiry or indeed in their expectations from a
Labour Government.  We wish the blacklist campaigners
well, but we cannot stomach the necessary self-deception
involved in promoting the Labour Party.
******
EVERY political party in the General Election is claiming to be the voice of the workers. Blacklisted construction workers know the score:

1. Labour pledges a public inquiry into blacklisting: That gets our vote!
This pledge was announced by John McDonnell in St.George's Hall, Liverpool last week in front of the huge Blacklist Support Group banner.  

2. Article in today's Morning Star exposing the failure of the ECGR and British courts to protect blacklisted workers and challenging political parties to grant basic employment rights to all workers in the UK.   If workers rights cannot be protected by judges in the UK or the European Court of Human Rights, then it is time to change statutory legislation. 

3. In the same week as the ECHR ruling above, blacklisted electrician Frank Morris, is sacked again. This time on an NHS hospital. Let's hear candidates queue up to call for Frank Morris to be reinstated.  

4. Spycops
New 59 page ruling from the undercover police public inquiry. Releasing the cover names of undercover police officers who spied on activists is a 'priority' but Lord Justice Pitchford allows Met Police another 12 months extension to carry out 'risk assessments' in preparation for more anonymity applications.  But the police are not engaged in 'delaying tactics', oh no.
Victims boycott Scottish police internal investigation
Scottish activist spied on by police seeks judicial review to win a Scottish inquiry
Other than John McDonnell and Jenny Jones, most politicians have been surprisingly quiet about the spycops scandal. 

5. May Day greetings from the Blacklist Support Group to all sisters, brothers & comrades fighting for their rights around the globe.

6. Dates for the diary:
Friday 5th May - Blacklisted worker turned academic Dr Jack Fawbert speaking on Corporate Crime 7 Blacklisting at Anglia ruskin University in Cambridge 
22nd May - Last day to register to vote in General Election

7. And finally:
Congratulations to the blacklisted workers and rank & file activists elected to represent construction on the UNITE Executive Council Frank MorrisRoyston BenthamTony Seaman & Joseph Pisano

Blacklist Support Group

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Russian supreme court bans Jehovah's Witnesses and orders seizure of group's property!

Russian courtroom April 2017: Photograph - Ivan Sekretarev /AP

The Russian supreme court has banned the religious group the Jehovah's Witnesses from operating in Russia by ordering the closure of its HQ and 395 local chapters. The order also calls for the seizure of the group's property including its religious literature.

The ban came after the justice ministry denounced the Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist group. Svetlana Borisova, an attorney for the justice ministry, told the court that the Jehovah's Witnesses, "pose a threat to the rights of citizens, public order and public security." She also added that the group's opposition to blood transfusions violated Russian healthcare.

The Witnesses believe that the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church lies behind their persecution by the Russian authorities. The organisation claims to have around 170,000 adherents throughout Russia and they have said, that they will appeal against the ruling of the supreme court. If the ruling takes effect, Witnesses could face criminal prosecutions including fines and imprisonment.

Andrew Brown, a Guardian journalist, has pointed out that the persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses by the Russian authorities, has been going on since at least 2004. Using anti-terror legislation, the Witnesses, a virulently pacifist and non-violent group, have been treated as though they were a group of violent religious fundamentalists who plant bombs and sever heads. Their meeting places, kingdom Halls, have been raided and their members threatened with imprisonment for refusing military service. Unlike many Christians, the Witnesses adhere to the 6th Commandment - "thou shalt not kill" and this adherence to non-violence, has made them one of the most persecuted Christian sects of the 20th century.

Under Hitler, Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany, were incarcerated in the Nazi death camps and were executed for refusing to serve in the military. They refused to swear loyalty to Hitler or any worldly government. As they wouldn't say "Heil Hitler", the Gestapo ransacked their meetings, made them wear a purple triangle and took their children off them, so they could receive "a proper patriotic German education." In 1942, Wolfgang Kusserow, a German Jehovah's Witness, was beheaded in Brandenburg prison by the Nazis for refusing to fight - "You must not kill", he said at his trial. "Did our creator have all this written down for the trees?" By the end of the war, half of all witnesses in Germany were in concentration camps and a quarter of them had died. They were also imprisoned in both Britain and the U.S.

Earlier this year, the Russian police stormed a meeting of Witnesses in the small town of 'Birobidzhan' in Siberia. They later claimed to have discovered 'extremists' literature. However, eyewitnesses who were present at the meeting, say the police were seen planiting the literature under a chair. The authorities then ordered that the building be closed. Other congregations in Belgorod, Stary Oskol and Elista, have also been closed down.and the organization has been told to disclose information on all of its 2,277 Russian congregations.

In April 1951, Joe Stalin exiled more than 9,000 Jehovah's Witnesses to Birobidzhan, a mosquito infested swampland in Siberia. They were only allowed to take 150kg of possession with them and everthying else, was confiscated by the Russian state.

Religious persecution is not something that is new in Russia. Baptists, Catholics, Proteststant, Dukhobors (spirit wrestlers') and even members of the Russian Orthodox Church, have all been persecuted at one time or another. However, the latest crackdown on the Jehovah's Witnesses, is seen by some as evidence of the resurgent power of the Orthodox Church and the increasing authoritarianism, of the kleptocratic, mafia-style Putin regime, which is seen to be behind the murders of many of the regimes political opponents, including Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with polonium 210 in London in November 2006.

Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale and author of 'On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century', notes how many European nationalists are eager to overturn the widespread view of the 1930's as a period of shame. In particular, he refers to Vladimir Putin's, rehabilitation of the philosopher of Russian fascism, 'Ivan Ilyin', who was influential eighty-years ago. Although he spent the 1930's exiled from the Soviet Union and was buried in Switzerland, Putin had him dug up, and his remains moved to Russia, where he layed flowers on his grave. In his speeches, Putin frequently quotes the Russian nationalist and fascist.

Russia prosecutors claim that the Jehovah's Witnesses destroy families, foster hatred and threaten lives, which is entirely refuted by the Witnesses themselves. Human Rights Watch, has denounced the supreme court decision as an impediment to religious freedom and association in Russia.

Gold Rush For Rochdale Seat!

NEWS that Simon Danczuk MP, has at last been dumped as a candidate by the Labour Party, has led to  a band wagon effect in the local Labour Party as the leader of the Rochdale Labour Party, Councillor Richard Farnell, struggles to control the local membership.
Today, ROCHDALE ONLINE reports that 'at least three local Labour members, two of them councillors, are throwing their hats into the ring to be the party's candidate'.
In an email seen by Rochdale Online, Councillor Farnell said:
'I would ask that no one comments to the local/national media - referring them to the national Labour Party press office.  The decision on the selection of a candidate for Rochdale rests with the National Executive Committee.'
The three hopeful local Labour Party members wanting to stand in Danczuk's place are Councillor Chris Furlong; Castleton councillor Aasim Rashid and Former Lib Dem councillor Mark Birkett.
Backing Councillor Rashid is the Pakistani & Kashmiri Community Association. Spokesperson Mudassir Yasin said:  'We strongly recommend the idea of nominating a local person as the candidate for Rochdale who knows the issues and is keen enough to resolve them.'
An official decision will be announced after a meeting of NEC members on 3 May to approve candidates. The deadline for Labour’s candidate nominations is 5 May.

Liberal Democrat Welcomes Danczuk dumping

THIS morning The Independent reported that Simon Danczuk MP for Rochdale, having been dumped by the Labour Party, 'is now thought to be considering standing as an independent and may also launch a legal challenge'.  
Last night, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Rochdale, Councillor Andy Kelly, issued the following statement:
'If Simon Danczuk cannot stand for Labour - then that's good news for our Town. The Liberal Democrats are fighting hard to win in June. We have dozens of new members and activists ready to give Rochdale the fresh start it deserves.'
Andy Kelly further speculates saying:

 'We fully expect Danczuk to stand as an Independent to pocket close to a whopping £40,000 redundancy package. It would be interesting to see whether the local Labour Party back him as they have continued to do throughout the scandals that have dragged our town down.'

A Labour Party spokesperson confirmed the decision about Mr Danczuk:
'After considering the case of Simon Danczuk in detail and speaking to him in an interview, the Labour party’s NEC endorsement panel today unanimously recommended that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate. 
'He will not be able to stand as a Labour candidate in any constituency at the general election,' the spokesperson told the Guardian.
Danczuk, who has been involved in a series of scandals, was been suspended from the party in December 2015, when he sent sex messages to a 17-year-old girl who was seeking a job.
Mr Danczuk has not yet formally responded to the Labour Party decision.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Professional Politicians & Political Gravy Train

by Les May
A week or so ago a someone who has no liking for politicians rang me to say that he had come across a ‘tweet’ saying the Liz McInnes would no be standing as a candidate for the Heywood and Middleton seat at the general election.   The reason she gave was that she is not a ‘professional politician’.  But as my caller pointed out we need more MPs like that.  That is more MPs who are not ‘professional’ politicians.

You have only to look at McInnes’s Wikipedia page to see that she became an MP after nearly 35 years working in a quite different sphere of life.   And why she chose to stand for Labour.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liz_McInnes

If you want to see the consummate ‘professional’ politician in action look no further than the MP in the neighbouring constituency of Rochdale.  Ever since Danczuk was elected in 2010 he has ‘milked’ his position for all it’s worth.  It’s not just the pay-offs from the Daily Mail for his contribution to articles attacking Corbyn or the cash he has received for revelations about his private life which have appeared in The Sun which are part of this process.   His book about Cyril Smith is so full of fanciful assertions masquerading as ‘facts’, so repetitious, so full of ‘flowery flannel’, that it is unlikely that it would have found a publisher had he not been an MP.

http://northernvoicesmag.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/our-long-running-crique-of-smile-for.html

http://northernvoicesmag.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/nv-review-of-smile-for-camera.html 

Whilst his predecessor Cyril Smith was an apologist for the asbestos industry he does not seem to have taken ‘freebies’ such as Danczuk has taken from another killer industry, tobacco.   No one has ever suggested that Liz McInnes has ever behaved like that.

But finally Simon’s antics have caught up with him and he will not be a Labour candidate for Rochdale in the upcoming election. That doesn’t mean the ‘pay days’ are at an end of course but no one is going to be dishing out heaps of cash for his views on the Labour leadership. But it’s worth pointing out that contrary to the stories coming from some sources he has not been ‘banned’ from standing as a Labour candidate.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/general-election-latest-simon-danczuk-banned-labour-party-rochdale-karen-danczuk-a7712241.html

www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/01/labour-bans-rochdale-mp-simon-danczuk-from-standing-in-election

http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/exclusive-labour-expels-danczuk.html

What the NEC actually said is ‘After considering the case of Simon Danczuk in detail and speaking to him in an interview, the Labour party’s NEC endorsement panel today unanimously recommended that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate.’  This would seem to neatly get round the question of a ‘legal challenge’.  Natural justice would seem to have been served.  And if he does decide to stand as a candidate in opposition to Labour he will have sacked himself neatly resolving the question about whether his suspension from Labour should be lifted.

So it seems that there is only one bit of unfinished business yet to be resolved.  That’s the investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the little matter of the £11,000 Simon had to repay because he was not entitled to it.

Simon Danczuk Dumped! by Labour Party

 SIMON Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, has been rejected by the Labour Party National Executive Committee [NEC] as a candidate in the forthcoming general election. 
Today a Labour party spokesperson confirmed the decision to the Guardian saying:
'After considering the case of Simon Danczuk in detail and speaking to him in an interview, the Labour party’s NEC endorsement panel today unanimously recommended that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate.  He will not be able to stand as a Labour candidate in any constituency at the general election.'
Despite being banned as a candidate Danczuk has not been expelled from the party, the source said.
A friend of Danczuk said he was seeking advice over the decision.  He pointed out that Danczuk has previously been named as campaigner of the year in parliament and was commended for his work with constituents and over child abuse claims against the late MP Cyril Smith. This friend also said:  'Simon has made some silly mistakes and he’d be the first to admit that.  But let’s not forget it wasn’t long ago that he was forcing Tory ministers to stand up in the House of Commons and issue grovelling apologies, he was briefing Theresa May on why she needed to launch an independent child abuse inquiry and he was getting corrupt politicians jailed in Sri Lanka for killing his constituent.' 
The friend is no doubt refering to the seemingly endless expensive overarching public enquiry into child sex abuse, and which will not be published for donkey's years. 
The notorious MP was told by party officials that he would not be endorsed as a candidate for the Lancashire seat, which he has held since winning it from the Liberal Democrats in 2010.
Danczuk’s nearest rival at the 2015 election was a Ukip candidate who won about 8,500 votes, closely followed by a Conservative with about 7,700 votes.
NEC members are due to meet on 3 May to rubberstamp all the candidates selected for the 630 seats the party will contest across the UK, including sitting MPs.   Labour officials from party headquarters have told local Rochdale members that an official decision will be announced after the meeting on 3 May.
The deadline for Labour’s candidate nominations is 5 May.
His estranged wife Karen has also failed in her bid to be selected as a Labour candidate for Bury North in the upcoming election.

Professor Paul Preston: 'Holocaust Denier'?

Is Paul Preston a soft core 'holocaust denier'?

THE academic, Professor Paul Preston , described in his book ‘THE SPANISH HOLOCAUST’ as ‘the world’s foremost historian of twentieth-century Spain’; in 2012 published an account of what he called ‘inquisition and extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain’.  By the standards of today, as spelled out by the holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt this week, this comparison of the holocaust now amounts to what she calls 'soft core holocaust denial'. 

In view of recent developments with regard to the Trump administration’s skirmishes with the Jewish community’s claim to ownership of the term ‘Holocaust’, ought we now to be revisiting Pro. Preston’s employment of the word in the context of the Spanish Civil War? 

Deborah Lipstadt is Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, who wrote 'Denying the Holocaust’ (1993), this week in responding to the recent blunders of the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, she stated in The Alantic journal:
The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people. Jews did not have to do anything to be perceived as worthy of being murdered. Old people who had to be wheeled to the deportation trains and babies who had to be carried were all to be killed. The point was not, as in occupied countries, to get rid of people because they might mount a resistance to Nazism, but to get rid of Jews because they were Jews...’
What we have here from Deborah Lipstadt is a claim to Jewish exceptionalism, which specifically excludes claims like that of Prof. Preston about the Spanish tragedy in the 1930s. 

In the last century the linguistic philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, critising dictionary definitions, argued that the meaning of a word is in its use.  

Having seen the recent film 'Denial' portraying Deborah Lipstadt's defence in the defamation case brought against her by the historian David Irving, it would seem that Ms. Lipstad wants to control the meaning of certain words in a totalitarian manner, which would put the words like holocaust in a kind of sacred category which demands an iron law defence of the meaning 'holocaust' that would have offended Wittgenstein. 

Thus, Deborah Lipstadt told the New York Times this week:
The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial. Hardcore denial is the kind of thing I encountered in the courtroom. In an outright and forceful fashion, (David) Irving [another historian] denied the facts of the Holocaust.’

As a conversational analyst I would view this as an attempt by Ms. Lipstadt and others to seize control of certain words like 'holocaust' and to deny use of the use of words to other groups like the gypsies etc. and even to poor Professor Preston's depiction of 'The Spanish Holocaust', as a form of intellectual totalitarianism or bullying..

What we are getting here from Professor Lipstadt and others in the 'holocaust industry', is a kind of tyranny of words, dictated and developed by an ideological group with political vested interests.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Election Expenses in Greater Manchester

ON the 17th March 2017, the MEN reported a probe into 2015 election expenses - with the police handing files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and involving three Greater Manchester MPs, according to the Manchester Evening News [MEN].
Detectives are now investigating whether three Conservative MPs breached strict spending limits at the last General Election.
It has recently been revealed a file has been handed to the CPS following an issue over spending on a ‘battle bus’ tour of marginal constituencies.
Complaints have been made that the costs - of the buses to transport activists and put them up in hotels - should have been recorded as counting towards individual candidates’ spending limits, rather than to the Conservatives’ national expenses return.
Bury North MP David Nuttall - who denies any wrongdoing - was initially confirmed to be involved in the GMP probe, with details of his election expenses handed to the CPS.  An additional problem for Mr. Nuttall and the constituents in Bury North, is that this week Karen Danczu told the Rochdale Observer that she fancied standing as the Labour candidate in Bury North.  Ms. Danczuk is the ex-wife of the disgraced Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, who has had expenses scandals of his own, and she was a undistinguished local councilor in Rochdale for a while.
The M.E.N. has now learned Hazel Grove MP William Wragg and Cheadle MP Mary Robinson have also been investigated - and that their cases will be reviewed by prosecutors.
Battle buses visited both constituencies in the run up to the election.
Former Stockport councillor Mr Wragg snatched Hazel Grove from the Lib Dems in 2015.
He told the M.E.N: 'I was assured, at the time and now, that the battle bus was a national expense and my election agent was instructed by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) to treat it as such.
'Accordingly it was not declared locally, but was left for the party to declare nationally.'

Friday, 28 April 2017

Taking Working Class Toryism seriously

by Andrew Wallace  (24/04/17)
 IN just a few weeks’ time the British working class will turn out in unprecedented numbers in order to support a right wing Conservative government, marking an apotheosis of trends in which working people of modest means have enthusiastically endorsed a party pursuing an historical agenda which would seem on the surface at least to be hostile to their interests.
However I would say that as a leftist because I have already accepted it as self-evident that a Conservative agenda is not commensurate with the interests of those at the bottom of our socio-economic hierarchy.  I have imbibed sufficient life experiences and also by way of exposure to arguments in books and articles over the years to convince me of the malevolence of their brand of free market fundamentalism.
So like many lefties I feel irked to say the least with that most heretical act of political deviancy, the perverse irrationalism of working class Toryism.  Social networks are presently going into overdrive as Corbynistas are confronted with the rude reality as many of their friends and family have the temerity to circulate a number of pugnacious right wing memes.  The echo chambers are being systemically punctured and we are being cumulatively disabused of the progressive habitats of alternative media.
And thereby hangs a dilemma for us to collectively confront, the left’s deep denial and impotence to comprehend, let alone combat, the reality of the great ‘heresy’.
‘Heresy’
Working class Toryism has a long standing history. Marx thought that the advent of universal suffrage equated with the ‘political supremacy of the working class’. 19th century parliamentarians fretted that the Reform Acts would destroy their dominance. This of course never happened and Conservatives like Disraeli were canny in cultivating blue collar Tories.
As maverick social thinkers like Michael Collins (labelled a bête noir of the liberal left’ for his ‘destructive nostalgia') have argued with increasing plausibility, the instincts and sentiments of certain traditional working class communities are often far removed from the left liberal worldview. His discussion of the costermongers of old delineates their Tory and royalist sympathies and their antipathy to anything that might constitute a bohemian socialist import.
Collins also breaks rank with liberal niceties when he talks of culture and the salience of race and the white working class. For Collins, multiculturalism has been used as a tool by a metropolitan elite to censor and marginalise the indigenous white left behind, inviting a backlash that further strengthens forces on the far right.
Powellism
Enoch Powell’s controversial Rivers of Blood speech from 1968 (described aptly by Stuart Hall’ essay as ‘A torpedo aimed at the boiler room of consensus’), was a powerful reminder of the traction and mass appeal of a right wing doyen.  Socialists of the day had no choice but to acknowledge Powell’s formidable appeal to many workers at this time, particularly when organised labour in the form of the dockers and building workers marched in his support.  As the International Socialists (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party) conceded: The ready response to his speech has revealed the prevalence of racialist ideas among workers, inculcated by centuries of capitalism and imperialism
From Ragged Trousered bankruptcy to Vanguardism
Robert Tressell’s famous novel, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, is essentially an extended Socratic dialogue in the form of a novel, as the main protagonist, Frank Owen, engages with the congenital working class conservatism of his work colleagues.  The novel is actually a useful reminder as to socialism’s problematic nature with its ostensible working class base.  Owen has to go to great lengths to proselytise for the superior virtues and rationalism of socialism.  Owen’s fellow workers are highly resistant to left wing ideas and generally happy to acquiesce in the status quo.  This is surely a salutary reminder that such ideas are far from having a privileged locus and position in working class communities, there is no spontaneity or easy populist reception for socialism.  
On the contrary, socialism is now seen as a didactic radical import.  Without the hoped for organic growth of working class left wing movements, this would have to be remedied by vanguardism, thereby negating one of the original premises of socialist thought, that working class emancipation had to be the work of the working class themselves. Unfortunately as the unfolding of history goes, that innovation didn’t work out particularly world.
Acknowledging the reality of a rightist working class
We urgently need to understand the limitations of conventional leftism and the elephant in the room – how the working classes have defected on mass to the right.  There will be lots of heads banging against walls come June 9th, but as I have argued here, this is not a new problem.   Each generation have to partake of this bitter fruit.  However we are still compounded by our collective delusions and failure to understand the reality on the ground.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Guido Fawkes & Jewish News gang-up on David Ward

David Ward and Baroness Jenny Tonge

 ON the 25th, April 2017, the Tory commentator Guido Fawkes wrote on his Blog:
'You’d have hoped David “The Jews” Ward’s career was over when he lost his seat at the last election. Alas not.  The LibDems, shamelessly even by their low standards, refused to boot him out of the party.  Knowing Ward’s views on ‘Zionists’ are popular among sections of the Bradford electorate, the LibDems – while criticising Labour over their anti-Semitism scandal – quietly appointed him as their parliamentary spokesman for the city.  Now they have selected him as their candidate there.  If Labour get completely creamed it is not impossible that Ward could make it back to parliament. Remember this the next time the LibDems ever take a stand on discrimination… '

On April 26th, 2017, the Jewish News publishesd the following story:
'Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has barred controversial former MP David Ward from running for his old seat in Bradford East, after he was selected as the local party’s candidate.'
It went on to trumpet:
'The dramatic move came just hours after a high-profile backlash from the prime minister, the Jewish community and senior figures within party, who were left appalled at the prospect of him once again becoming an MP.'

After his dismissal, David Ward said he believed he was being targeted because of his criticism of Israel.  'The antisemitic thing is a nonsense,' he said. 'It is just used, it’s a well-known tactic.  How do you avoid conversation or any criticism about Israel?  Just say people are antisemitic.  I am certainly not antisemitic.' 
  
Asked why he believed Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, had axed him, he said: 
'Just the pressure that they come under, all the party’s come under, and it works. The pressure works. It’s the fear of the electoral damage that can be done by being seen to oppose Israel.  It’s contaminating and infecting our own political system.'


Mr. Ward’s reselection appeared to take Lib Dem headquarters by surprise when news of it emerged on Tuesday night.  The party had selected the vast majority of its candidates over the past year in preparation for a snap election, but Bradford East was not among them.