Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Carillion attempts to rewrite history on 'blacklisting'!

We are publishing below a recent briefing from the Blacklist Support Group:
"1. Messages of support:

Early Day Motion in Westminster Parliament on Blacklisting High Court victory - submitted 
 by Chris Stephens MP 
"That this House welcomes the recent public apology and admission of wrongdoing made by eight major construction firms in the High Court, and the settlement reached between the construction workers, Unite the Union, GMB and UCATT trade unions, the Blacklist Support Group and their legal teams with those construction firms that will mean that 771 blacklisted workers will share an estimated £50 million in compensation; praises the work of the Blacklist Support Group, the justice campaign and support network for those caught up in the UK construction industry blacklisting scandal; notes that trade unionists, safety campaigners, journalists, academics and environmental activists were all blacklisted by big business; further notes that blacklisting was exposed in 2009 after a raid on the offices of the Consulting Association that operated the blacklist on behalf of the major companies, and that trade union members were denied work over many years due to their trade union activity on previous building sites, raising concerns over asbestos, poor working conditions and unpaid wages; notes the investigation on this subject carried out by the Scottish Affairs Committee in the last Parliament; notes with concern media reports that senior police officers attended meetings of the blacklisting organisation; and calls on the Government to conduct a full public inquiry into the scandal of blacklisting".

"To the Comrades at the Blacklist Support Group: 
Congratulations on your struggle and on the fact that through your struggle you have prevailed. From the CFMEU Australia"
David Noonan - National Secretary Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union

"Whilst we must get the directors and companies in the dock - I have to say a huge well done to you all. The campaign has been a real inspiration to all class justice campaigners. In recent weeks we have witnessed a sea change with the Hillsborough verdict inspiring the Orgreave and Scottish Miners' justice campaigns and your case encouraging the campaign for a Pitchford style inquiry in Scotland. Please pass on my ongoing support to all comrades - I am very proud to have supported your campaign".

Scottish Parliament - Motion Number: S5M-00002 - Lodged By: Neil Findlay MSP
Title: Blacklisting Compensation Payout
"That the Parliament welcomes the settlement reached between the construction workers and Unite the Union that will mean that 256 blacklisted workers, including workers from across the Lothians, will share more than £10 million in compensation; notes that this follows a £5.4 million settlement between the GMB and the same companies; believes that justice will only be served when the directors of the companies that were organising the blacklist are tried in court, and calls on the Scottish Government, councils, public bodies and the UK Government to end the issuing of contracts to the companies responsible until they have proven that they have self-cleansed."

2. High Court media coverage 
This was just a small selection with blacklisted workers appearing on TV, radio & print media - well done to all those who represented.  

3. Undercover Police spying on activists 
Spycops conference - video footage of speeches about undercover police spying from Doreen Lawrence, John McDonnell, Helen Steel, Jenny Jones, Dave Smith, Michael Mansfield and many many more. 
Forget the BBC Undercover drama - these are the true stories of undercover police https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/

Scottish Parliament Motion Number: S5M-00003 - Lodged By: Neil Findlay MSP
Title: Scotland, Pitchford and Undercover Policing
That the Parliament believes that a growing number of Scottish citizens have been identified as being involved in undercover policing scandals involving the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad of the Metropolitan Police, either as victims or as officers working on cases; considers that these units operated in Scotland keeping political, environmental, trade union and other activists under surveillance using unethical and often illegal methods; understands that the Pitchford inquiry, established by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to look into undercover policing since the 1960s, does not cover Scotland in its remit; further understands that the Scottish Government has written to the UK Government asking for the inquiry to be extended to cover Scotland, and notes the view that, should this request be refused, the Scottish Government should set up its own inquiry so that all UK citizens, including those in Lothian who have been affected by what it considers this scandal can have the opportunity to get to the truth.

4. One struggle for justice:
Scottish Parliament Motion Number: S5M-00001 Lodged By: Neil Findlay
Title: Lessons from Hillsborough:
That the Parliament welcomes the verdict of the Hillsborough inquests, which determined that the 96 Liverpool football fans who died were unlawfully killed; congratulates the outstanding commitment and campaigning of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign; notes the behaviour and conduct of South Yorkshire Police throughout the whole Hillsborough story and believes that the findings of the inquest are such that many further questions arise in relation to other major events involving the police at that time; notes calls for an inquiry into events at Orgreave during the 1984-85 miners’ strike, and further notes the call by journalists at the Sunday Mail and the Scotland on Sunday for an inquiry into the policing of the strike in Scotland and a review of the convictions of those arrested, including many miners from across the Lothians.

4. Blacklisted by Skanska?
a journalist from Sweden is visiting London next week and would like to discuss with any workers blacklisted by Skanska - please email back if you would lie to meet up. 

5. Art Against Blacklisting
Coming Soon: World renowned blues artist Sean Taylor has recorded a track 'Blacklist Number One' which will be released as a campaign single by the Blacklist Support Group. Video and remixes are currently in production. This is the kind of thing to expect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLgBMusgD1U 

The play 'Any Means Necessary' by Kefi Chadwick about undercover police spies is having a read through in London on 15th June - this is invitation only but blacklisted workers and people spied on by the police can get guest list by contacting BSG. 

Film producer Tom Wood is in the final stages of his documentary about the blacklisting scandal - watch this space for more details

Artists film maker Lucy Parker Blacklist project http://www.cityprojects.org/

6. Watch this space:
Places to look out for blacklisted workers in the near future: GMB Conference, Glastonbury Festival, UNITE conference, Durham Miners Gala, Hazards campaign conference, Marxism Festival, Orgeave Justice Conference - if you see us wearing our Blacklisted t-shirts, come and say 'hello'
After nearly 18 months on bail, Dave Smith is finally facing trial at the City of London Magistrates Court on 9th-10th June following his arrest while protesting against blacklisting on Crossrail. 

7. UCATT conference votes to merge with UNITE

8. Donations to good causes
There have been a number of people asking if they can make donations to support the campaign. There are many organisations that have stood shoulder to shoulder with blacklisted workers over the years but the organisations we are going to suggest are:

BSG / Rank & File (the rank and file of our movement is what gives us strength - the absolute bedrock of the blacklisting campaign)
Account Name: Joint Sites Committee 
Account Number: 30525480
Sort Code: 20-80-57

Reel News (you've all seen the videos - they don't make themselves) 
Account Name:REEL NEWS
Account Number:65265026
Sort Code: 08-92-99

Hazards (the safety magazine & campaign that have been with us from the very start and who run the excellent blacklist blog) www.hazards.org/blacklistblog
Account Name: Hazards
Account Number: 00688074 
Sort Code: 309751
http://www.hazards.org/subscribehazards.htm - to subscribe or donate to Hazards magazine 

Undercover Research Group (specialize in exposing undercover police officers spying on activists)

9. And finally
An updated edition of 'Blacklisted' book is currently being written by Phil Chamberlain and Dave Smith. You will be pleased to hear that there is likely to be a break from BSG updates for the next few weeks. "

Fracking in North Yorkshire

Today 7 out of 11 North Yorkshire County Councillors voted to approve Third Energy’s fracking application in Ryedale, ignoring the objection of Ryedale District Council, thousands of local residents and businesses.

But the fight isn’t over - despite this decision, residents of Yorkhire have vowed to carry on the fight against fracking.

Will you support them?

Together we’ve kept the UK free from fracking for 5 years now.

Let’s stand with the people of Yorkshire and make sure Britain stays frack free.

We know the tide is turning against fracking – public support is dropping. It has been suspended in Wales, Scotland and in countries across Europe as the unacceptable risks to people’s health and the environment become clearer.

Communities in Yorkshire are calling on you to stand with them by to adding your name to their People’s Declaration against fracking.

Together we can make it clear to decision makers. This decision was not made in the name of local communities and that we will continue to fight to keep Ryedale, Yorkshire, and the UK.

Thank you for your support so far. This isn’t the end. It’s now more important than ever that we join together to stop fracking once and for all.

With hope and solidarity,

Anna and the fracking team

Monday, 23 May 2016

British house prices could fall by as much as 25% following a Brexit vote!

We are publishing below extracts from the 'Monday Briefing' by Ian Stewart, Chief Economist, at Deloiite UK:

* Last week's opinion polls and bookmakers' odds show a much diminished likelihood of a UK exit from the European Union.

* The average of the last six opinion polls show that, excluding Don't Knows, Remain is on 55% and Leave on 45%. That is the biggest lead for Remain in three months. The bookmakers' odds have moved even further. At the end of last week they were pricing in just a 22% chance of Brexit, the lowest reading in a year.

* The betting odds are widely seen as offering a better guide to the final outcome than opinion polls. The polls are an attempt to create a representative snapshot of how people feel today; the odds are the product of people staking money on the outcome of a future event. In theory, those odds should incorporate all available information, not just the latest polls. 

* Then there is the problem of which poll to believe. Even polls carried out on the same day, by the same pollster, can show wildly different results on the Brexit question depending on whether it was carried out on-line or by telephone.

* Since the Prime Minister announced the date of the referendum on 20th February on-line polls have on average shown Remain and Leave neck and neck. Over the same period telephone polls show Remain ahead by eight percentage points.

* One theory is that Eurosceptic opinion may be over-represented in on-line polls, as voters with strong views are more likely to sign up for on-line survey panels. Another is that by asking people to choose between Remain and Leave telephone polls confront people with the choice they will face in the polling booth, avoiding the escape clause of "Don't know" widely offered by on-line polls. Including a Don't Know option seems to siphon support from Remain and, on this theory, provides a misleadingly strong showing for Leave.

* History suggests that faced with uncertainty and complexity voters tend, as they did during the Scottish referendum in 2014, to stick with what they know. In the last month the Don't Knows have accounted for between 5 and 25% of those polled, more than enough to shift the result in either direction.

* The supposed superiority of telephone polls over on-line polls and of bookies odds over all polls point to a commanding lead for Remain. A spokesman for Ladbrokes told the Financial Times that 90% of the money it has received is for the UK staying in the EU and punters see Remain as, "a rock solid bet".

* Yet while Remain is the clear front runner this is still a two-horse race.

* The punters are often, but not always, right. In the run up to last year's UK General Election the bookies were offering odds of 7/1 on a Conservative majority, an implied probability of just over 12%. This enabled a Glasgow pensioner to pocket £210,000 on a bet placed ten days before the vote. More recently the bookies got it wrong over Donald Trump's success in the Republican primaries and Leicester City's Premiership triumph.

* Undecided voters may tend to favour the status quo, but the evidence of referendums on similar issues suggest the size of the swing from Don't Know to Remain may not be large. Don't Knows are also less likely to turn out to vote on June 23rd.

* Then there are also uncertainties about turnout. According to the Financial Times only 200,000 out of several million UK expats have registered to vote. The change from household to individual registration has resulted in the loss of one million people from the voter register, many of them likely to be younger, more pro-EU voters.

* My hunch is that the bookies odds, at 22%, are underestimating the probability of Brexit.

* But I would be the first to concede that such off the cuff prognostications are no more reliable than the polls or the punters. In March of last year, the London School of Economics asked eleven academic forecasting teams to predict the outcome of last year's UK General Election. Not one predicted the actual outcome, a majority Conservative government.

Brexit and European politics
* The "What the UK Thinks: EU Poll of Polls", based on the average share of the vote for 'Leave' and 'Remain' in the six most recent polls carried out between 11th May and 17th May shows Remain with a growing lead, on 55%, compared to 45% for Leave (adjusting for the removal of "don't knows")
* According to the latest political betting odds cited by PaddyPower, there is currently just a 22% implied probability of a Brexit vote – down sharply from last week's 31%
* Sterling registered its largest daily gain against the euro so far this year, following a number of opinion polls showing a growing lead for Remain ahead of the EU referendum vote
* In a worrying sign for the Remain camp, who are hoping for a large turnout of younger more pro-EU voters, a poll of more than 2,000 students by Universities UK showed 63% of students were not able to name the date of the EU referendum, with 54% unable to say in which month it was taking place
* Only around 200,000 British expats have registered to vote in the EU referendum, according to data from the Electoral Commission, meaning this group of likely pro-EU voters will make up just 1% of all eligible voters on June 23rd 
* The number of EU nationals working in the UK has risen to a new record of 2.1m – now accounting for 6.8% of the workforce – further fuelling the debate on immigration just weeks ahead of the referendum
* A ComRes poll for the Daily Mail showed how opinions on EU membership are split down party lines, with Labour voters split 80:20 for Remain and Conservative voters split 51:49 
* In a potentially unwelcome intervention for the Remain camp, the president of the European Commission warned British voters ahead of the EU referendum that "deserters will not be welcomed back with open arms"
* British house prices could fall by as much as 25% following a Brexit vote, according to analysis by ratings agency Fitch, who also warn that continued rising migration could stoke social tensions if Britain stays in the bloc
* The IMF warned that a vote to leave the EU would lead to a protracted negotiation process over the terms of the UK's exit, "weighing heavily on investment and economic sentiment during the interim and depressing output"
* The Times reports that The Bank of England is having "daily conversations" with banks to ensure they could cope with any market turmoil in the event of a Brexit vote
* Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, said in a letter to the FT that the EU would be highly unlikely to offer a post-Brexit UK a relationship akin to the one Switzerland currently has with the bloc, "since it regards the Swiss model as broken"
* John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said in a speech that only Labour can "rescue" the EU referendum debate "from the negativity and 'Project Fear' coming from all sides of the Tory party"
* In a letter to the Sajid Javid, the UK's Business Secretary, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales warned that the British government is "losing sight of the economy" and using the EU referendum as an excuse for policy inaction
* The Confederation for British Industry drew strong criticism from the Leave camp after suggesting "responsible business leaders should give their employees the choice to hear what impact a Brexit would have on company growth, their jobs and their local community"
* Boris Johnson claimed that leaving the EU would help ease the UK's "scandalous" NHS waiting times
* Former Chancellor Ed Balls and former business minister Vince Cable joined forces with Chancellor George Osborne to warn that a vote to leave the EU is a "one way ticket to a poorer Britain"
* A Guardian survey of Britain's so-called 'unicorns' – private tech companies with a valuation above $1bn – shows none of the 14 companies contacted by the newspaper were prepared to say they support Britain leaving the EU
* The former head of Britain's intelligence agency M16, Sir Richard Dearlove, warned of a "populist uprising" in Europe unless leaders can show that they have control over the migration crisis
* More than 300 business figures signed a letter published in the Daily Telegraph calling for Britain to leave the EU, arguing that membership of the bloc undermines the country's competitiveness 
* The heads of GE, Cisco, Mars and Airbus, signed a plea by leading multinational companies for Britain to stay in the EU, claiming that "If there is one thing we as investors do not like, it is economic uncertainty"

Independent Wins Austrian Presidential Election

THE Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen (supported by the Green Party) has beaten far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in a close run election to become Austria's next president in a tightly fought contest decided by mail-in votes.

His victory Monday prevented Hofer, of Austria's Freedom Party, from becoming the European Union's first far-right head of state.

Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka announced the results Monday in Vienna, revealing that Van der Bellen had won 50.3% of the ballot (2,254,484 votes) to Hofer's 49.7% (2,223,458 votes).

Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old economist, ran as an independent, although the Green Party, of which he was a former leader, financially backed his campaign.

Hofer had held a narrow lead in the neck-and-neck race on Sunday evening, with 51.9% of the vote to Van der Bellen's 48.1%, according to Austria's Interior Ministry.

In the end, the race was decided by more than 700,000 mail-in votes, accounting for 14% of eligible voters.

Van der Bellen, who fared better with urban voters, had been expected to secure more of the mail-in votes than his 45-year-old rival, a trained aeronautical engineer, who drew strong support in rural areas. Hofer had won 35% in the first round of voting last month to Van der Bellen's 21%.

Media Lens: 'Hitlergate' & antisemitism

17 May 2016
sent by Trevor Hoyle: 
The recent furore surrounding a supposed 'Labour antisemitism crisis' is a classic propaganda blitz of the kind described in Part 1 of this alert.
Dramatic New Evidence
As with so many propaganda blitzes, intense media coverage was triggered by 'dramatic new evidence'; namely, the discovery of a graphic posted by Naz Shah two years ago, before she became a Labour MP. The graphic shows a map of the United States with Israel superimposed in the middle, suggesting that a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict would be to relocate Israel to the US.
Shah's post was highlighted by right-wing political blogger Paul Staines who writes as Guido Fawkes:
'Naz Shah... shared a highly inflammatory graphic arguing in favour of the chilling "transportation" policy two years ago, adding the words "problem solved".'
Jonathan Freedland, comment editor at the Guardian, argued that leftists view Israel as 'a special case, uniquely deserving of hatred', and that this hatred 'lay behind' Shah's call 'for the "transportation" [of Israel to America] - a word with a chilling resonance for Jews'.
In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley claimed that Shah believed 'that Israelis should be put on "transportation" to America, with all the chilling echoes that has for Jews'.
Guardian assistant editor Michael White reported that Shah had been suspended from the Labour party 'while the context of her antisemitic comments... are thoroughly investigated'. Clearly then, the jury was in - the comments were 'anti-semitic'.
By contrast, Israel-based former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook, who was given a Martha Gellhorn special award for his work on the Middle East, argued that the map 'was clearly intended to be humorous rather than anti-semitic. I would make a further point. It is also obvious that the true target of the post is the US, not Jews or even Israel – making the anti-semitism claim even more ridiculous'.
Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of 'The Holocaust Industry' and the son of Holocaust survivors, commented that he had originally posted the graphic on his website in 2014:
'An email correspondent must have sent it. It was, and still is, funny. Were it not for the current political context, nobody would have noticed Shah's reposting of it either. Otherwise, you'd have to be humourless. These sorts of jokes are a commonplace in the U.S. So, we have this joke: Why doesn't Israel become the 51st state? Answer: Because then, it would only have two senators.  As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour.  It's inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map.'
Finkelstein responded powerfully to the idea that Shah's posting of the image was an endorsement of a 'chilling "transportation" policy':
'Frankly, I find that obscene.  It's doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them.  I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp.  They were herded into railroad cars.  My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child.  And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother.  She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going.  That's what it meant to be deported.  To compare that to someone posting a light-hearted, innocuous cartoon making a little joke about how Israel is in thrall to the U.S., or vice versa... it's sick.  What are they doing?  Don't they have any respect for the dead?  All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position.  Have they no shame?'

Emotional Tone And Intensity – Demonising Dissent

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, a 'long-time ally' of Jeremy Corbyn but not an MP, defended Shah from the accusation of anti-semitism. He said:
'When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.'
This was met with the kind of cross-'spectrum' moral outrage that is so characteristic of a propaganda blitz. Again, everyone knew – or did they? - that Livingstone's comments were outrageous, monstrous, rabidly anti-semitic.
John Mann MP confronted Livingstone, calling him a 'a disgusting racist', 'a fucking disgrace' and 'a Nazi apologist'.  The lengthy tirade was broadcast widely, with Mann thoughtfully checking to ensure the camera was catching the action. His denunciation was more 'dramatic new evidence' of a scandal, ideal ammunition for a propaganda blitz.
Few TV viewers will have been aware that Mann is 'one of Corbyn's strongest critics'.  Last July, after Corbyn had become frontrunner in the leadership election race, Mann called for the Labour party to suspend the contest 'over fears of an "infiltration" by hard-left activists'.  Mann said:
'It is pretty clear that what is happening amounts to infiltration of the Labour party.'
Mann's concern at the time was not anti-semitism but 'the Militant Tendency-types coming back in'.
The website TheyWorkForYou records that Mann 'Generally voted for use of UK military forces in operations overseas', 'Consistently voted for the [2003] Iraq war' and 'Consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war.' He voted for war on Libya in 2011, and again for war on Iraq in 2014. If any journalist highlighted the ironic location of the moral 'high ground' from which Mann was so volubly preaching at Livingstone, we missed it.
The Jewish Chronicle certainly agreed on Livingstone:
'Labour now seems to be a party that attracts antisemites like flies to a cesspit. Barely a week goes by without the identification of a racist party member or allegations of racist behaviour by those involved in the party.'
Under the title, 'Labour's Sickness', a Times leader presumably written by Blairite neocon Oliver Kamm denounced the 'grotesque analogies' offered by Livingstone, a 'trivial ignoramus'. The leader concluded:
'The tropes of antisemitism are... a stain on British public life. A great political party is harbouring a sickness and has a moral obligation to purge itself.' (Leader, 'Labour's Sickness,' The Times, April 28, 2016)
Under the headline, 'Labour's anti-semites put the party in peril,' the Daily Mail commented:
'Mr Corbyn gave not the faintest sign of understanding how monstrously and deliberately offensive it was of his long-term ally Ken Livingstone to make the absurd claim that Hitler was a Zionist.'
Richard Littlejohn wrote in the Mail under the title, 'The fascists at the poisoned heart of Labour':
'Naz [Shah] by name, Nazi by nature, was revealed to have backed the transportation of Jews in Israel to the United States. Red Ken rallied to her defence by claiming, absurdly, that Hitler was a Zionist.'
In the Mirror, the commentator Fleet Street Fox damned 'Ken Livingstone's ridiculous assertion that Hitler and the Jews were on the same side.'
A Guardian leader commented that the Labour party 'finds itself charged with being contaminated by antisemitism. And with singular crassness, instead of clearing the air on Thursday, Mr Livingstone encouraged the accusation'.
Jonathan Freedland wrote in the paper of Livingstone's comments:
'His version of history was garbled and insulting, suggesting that the Hitler who had already written Mein Kampf had not yet gone "mad" and was "supporting Zionism" - as if there is any moral comparison between wishing to inflict mass expulsion on a minority and the desire to build a thriving society where that minority might live.'
In fact, it is hardly in doubt that Livingstone intended to suggest that Hitler had become more insane when he committed genocide. This is not the same as arguing that he had previously been sane. Livingstone later commented of Hitler:
'He was a monster from start to finish but it's simply the historical fact. His policy was originally to send all of Germany's Jews to Israel [sic] and there were private meetings between the Zionist movement and Hitler's government which were kept confidential, they only became apparent after the war, when they were having a dialogue to do this.'
The late historian Howard Zinn supported the assertion of a Nazi descent into more extreme madness and also the claim that the Nazis initially planned to expel the Jews:
'Not only did waging war against Hitler fail to save the Jews, it may be that the war itself brought on the Final Solution of genocide. This is not to remove the responsibility from Hitler and the Nazis, but there is much evidence that Germany's anti-Semitic actions, cruel as they were, would not have turned to mass murder were it not for the psychic distortions of war, acting on already distorted minds. Hitler's early aim was forced emigration, not extermination, but the frenzy of it created an atmosphere in which the policy turned to genocide. This is the view of Princeton historian Arno Mayer, in his book Why Did the Heavens Not Darken, and it is supported by the chronology - that not until Germany was at war was the Final Solution adopted.
'[Raul] Hilberg, in his classic work on the Holocaust, says, "From 1938 to 1940, Hitler made extraordinary and unusual attempts to bring about a vast emigration scheme... The Jews were not killed before the emigration policy was literally exhausted." The Nazis found that the Western powers were not anxious to cooperate in emigration and that no one wanted the Jews.'
Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust, also discusses 'The Transfer Agreement'.
Jonathan Cook wrote:
'Livingstone's mistake was both to express himself slackly in the heat of the moment and to refer to a history that was supposed to have been disappeared down the memory hole. But what he is saying is, in essence, true.'
Finkelstein commented:
'The Nazis considered many "resettlement" schemes – the Jews wouldn't have physically survived most of them in the long run – before they embarked on an outright exterminatory process. Livingstone is more or less accurate about this – or, as accurate as might be expected from a politician speaking off the cuff.'
Manufacturing Consensus
As so often, the propaganda coup de grace was supplied by a Guardian leftist; this time, Owen Jones, who tweeted:
'John McDonnell [Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer] was right to swiftly force Naz Shah's resignation - but now the party has to suspend her.'
One day later, Jones issued a further decree:
'Ken Livingstone has to be suspended from the Labour Party. Preferably before I pass out from punching myself in the face.'
Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, commented:
'Didn't always agree with Ken Livingstone but he's been an anti-racist fighter & took on Thatcher before @OwenJones84 was born. Sad to watch.'
Abunimah added:
'To watch @OwenJones84 throw Ken Livingstone under the bus to appease a bunch of hard-right racists is a truly pitiful sight.'
Jones' tragicomic McCarthyist stance in all but ordering the suspension of Shah and Livingstone for supposed anti-semitism strongly reminds us of the way the Guardian's George Monbiot supported a nugatory smear of progressives promoted by his notoriously non-credible interlocutor, Oliver Kamm. Monbiot wrote that Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger and Media Lens were part of a 'malign intellectual subculture' that sought 'to excuse savagery by denying the facts' of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. Monbiot even wrote an article titled, 'Media Cleanse'. As recently as March 25, Monbiot tweeted:
'Still waiting for Hume, Herman, Pilger, Media Lens etc to acknowl[edge] their terrible mistakes on Srebrenica'
Timing and Strange Coincidences
George Eaton, fiercely anti-Corbyn political editor of the hard-right 'centre-left' New Statesman, tried and failed to coin the term 'Hitlergate' to describe the scandal that had engulfed Livingstone (the Nexis media database finds no other mentions of the term). Eaton cited an anonymous MP arguing 'it firmly pins responsibility for next week's [local election] results on the hard-left antics'. This at least gave a good idea of the motivation behind the propaganda blitz.
Norman Finkelstein was again far beyond the corporate 'mainstream' in asking some obvious questions:
'The question you have to ask yourself is, why? Why has this issue been resurrected with a vengeance, so soon after its previous outing was disposed of as a farce?... The only plausible answer is, it's political. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the factual situation; instead, a few suspect cases of antisemitism – some real, some contrived – are being exploited for an ulterior political motive. As one senior Labour MP said the other day, it's transparently a smear campaign.'
He added:
'You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card. He's combined these two hobbies to attack Corbyn.'
Israeli historian Ilan Pappé noted how the young electorate supporting Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in the US have a 'desire for cleaner, more moral politics that dare to challenge the neoliberal set up of economy and politics in the West'. The result being that 'Members of the political elites and establishment, in very senior positons, voice clear, unashamed support for Palestine.
'This is the background for the current vicious attack on the Labour Party and Corbyn. Whatever the Zionists in Britain point to, as an expression of anti-Semitism, which in the main are legitimate criticism of Israel, have been said before in the last 50 years. The pro-Zionist lobby in Britain, under direct guidance from Israel, picks them up because the clear anti-Zionist stance of BDS has reached the upper echelons. They are genuinely terrified by this development. Well done the BDS movement!'
Jonathan Cook summed it up:
'Corbyn and his supporters want to revive Labour as a party of social justice... This is nothing more than a class war to pave the way for a return of the Blairites to lead Labour.'
Chomsky has discussed the long-standing efforts to associate anti-semitism with anti-Zionism for political ends. In 1973, leading Israeli diplomat Abba Eban said that 'one of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all'. Critics of Israel were to be branded 'anti-semites', while Jewish critics like Chomsky were guilty of 'self-hatred'.
Asa Winstanley, investigative journalist at the Electronic Intifada, puts the supposed 'crisis of antisemitism' in context:
'A 2015 survey by Pew found that seven percent of the UK public held "unfavorable" views of Jews. By contrast, about a fifth held negative views of Muslims and almost two-fifths viewed Roma people unfavorably.
'There's no evidence to suggest that such views are any more prevalent in the Labour Party – and the tiny number of anti-Semitism complaints suggests they may well be less so in a movement many of whose activists have been in the frontline of anti-racist struggles.'

 Conclusion - 'Emotionally Potent Oversimplifications'

The fact that completely false, or highly questionable, claims are repeatedly being affirmed by an instant, outraged 'consensus' across the media 'spectrum' is powerful evidence for the existence of a propaganda system undermining democracy.
Journalists may plead ignorance, but elites have openly advocated the 'manufacture of consent' in exactly this way for decades. In 1932, highly influential US foreign policy adviser Reinhold Niebuhr wrote of the need for 'emotionally potent oversimplifications' and 'necessary illusion' to overcome the threat to elite control posed by 'the stupidity of the average man'.
Vested interests are well aware that public opinion can be manipulated by 'emotionally potent' declarations of certainty, on the one hand, and by nurturing doubt on the other. Indeed, the flip side of the propaganda coin promoting false certainty was described by Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on corporate public relations:
'People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt. The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action. Accordingly, means are needed to get balancing information into the stream from sources that the public will find credible... Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary.' (Lesly, 'Coping with Opposition Groups', Public Relations Review 18, 1992, p.331)
The logic is crude but effective. When elites want to prevent action, for example in response to climate change, they work hard to encourage public doubts. When they want to attack Iraq, Libya or Syria, or Julian Assange, or Jeremy Corbyn - when it is vital that the situation be presented as clear cut - 'balancing infomation' must be ridiculed, damned and dismissed. These are the tasks of a propaganda blitz.

Support for 'Hard Working' Rochdale MP

IN January, at a full meeting of Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, the leader of the Council, said:
'MR. Danczuk (the MP for Rochdale) has a lot on his plate at the moment!' and 'I support any member of Parliament who works hard for this Borough.  I remember working with Geoffery Dickens (a former local Tory MP for Littleborough & Saddleworth)...  Simon Danczuk trounced Councillor Kelly... (at the General Election'.
He  was answering a question from Councillor Andy Kelly, Liberal Democrat, about his own support for the member of Parliament and dismissing Councillor Kelly's question as 'irrelevant'.  At that time the notorious Mr. Danczuk MP had just been suspended by the Labour Party for sexting a 17-year-old girl.
Hard working indeed; yesterday the Zelo-Street Blog reported on Mr Danczuk's recent conduct: 
'Take the issue of MP surgeries, a vital part of any Parliamentarian’s work, and one where Danczuk’s priorities have suddenly slipped. Last week, constituents who expected their MP to hold his surgery on the usual day - Friday - were disappointed to see him Tweeting “Busy weekly surgery today with @elsiewraighte: immigration; tenancy issues; housing benefit; Crown Prosecution Service decision; & more”, but on Thursday.

'Why would he hold his weekly surgery a day early? We had to wait until Saturday for the answer, when he again took to Twitter to tell “Really enjoyed watching @englandcricket yesterday & well done to @jbairstow21 & @jimmy9”.  Yes, when his constituents might have expected Simon Danczuk to be in Rochdale, listening to their problems and addressing their concerns, he was at Headingley watching the cricket.'
That's what you call flexible working conditions, a bit different from Zero Hours contracts. 

The Left & Brexit: Is Corbyn Trying?

by Les May
LAST Saturday's edition of the 'i' newspaper had a column by Andrew Grice, headed 'Corbyn could decide the EU vote – so why isn't he trying?' 
Now both the 'i' and Grice 'have form' in being negative about Corbyn and this piece was no exception.  So it was hinted that Corbyn is making a half-hearted attempt to persuade Labour voters to back 'Remain' and that he is an instinctive 'Outer' who voted to leave in 1975, and only 'went with the flow' of his party when he became leader.

On the letters page was this:
'On Thursday I was privileged to be in a packed audience in Bristol to hear him (ed. Corbyn) make an impassioned and forceful case for Remain.  Not the modified Tory leadership race but a positive case for the good that has been done for the environment, the right of workers to fair treatment, and care and concern for the disadvantaged.' 
The writer went on to point out that there was no mention on the TV news and local BBC news had something low down in the running order.

So obsessed has the press become with the Tory infighting over the EU that the notion that there might be a distinctive case to be made from a left-wing perspective both for remaining in the EU and for leaving it, is never aired.  This reflects the fact that since the 1970s the whole locus of political debate in Britain has shifted so far to the right to such an extent that anything else is inconceivable.  Grice and the 'i' are manifestations of this phenomenon.

The Guardian's economics editor Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson the economics editor of the Mail on Sunday have been commissioned to write from a left of centre perspective a book on the Euro in the wake of last summer's crisis about the possibility that Greece would exit the single currency.  The book 'Europe isn't working' will be published by Yale University Press in the autumn, but Elliot gave us a flavour of the contents in last Friday's Guardian.

Elliot reports, seemingly with approval:
'Tony Benn's warning at the time of the 1975 referendum that Britain was signing up for something that was 'undemocratic, deflationary and run in the interests of big business' and 'I can think of no body of men outside of the Kremlin who have so much power without a shred of accountability for what they do'.

Is it surprising then that, like me, Corbyn and about one in three of the population voted against continued membership?

But having stated so well the left-of-centre case for leaving in 1975 Elliot weakens his case for leaving now by resorting to a 'catch all' argument when he goes on:
 'The left-of-centre case for divorces is that Europe doesn't work, is not remotely progressive and is heading for an existential crisis anyway.  Last year's crisis was Grexit.  This year's threat is Brexit.  Next years threat will be something else; Italy leaving the single currency, perhaps, or Marie Le Pen's tilt at the French presidency.'

If Elliott thinks this is a 'left-of-centre' case for Brexit he is fooling himself.  Anyone in the Brexit camp could have made it and probably has already.

But in fairness to Elliott he states the case for continued membership of the EU succinctly. 'One left-of-centre argument against Brexit is that it it would result in the break up of the Euro and set of a chain reaction that would lead to the next global crisis; a perfectly fair point.  Those who fear that another recession and even higher levels of joblessness would threaten a return to the totalitarian politics of the 1930s are right to highlight the risks.'

What Tony Benn said in 1975 still applies.  But in my judgement leaving now risks all the above and ignores the fact that we in Britain have our own pretty good record of governments letting the interests of big business override questions of accountability and avoiding democratic decision
making when it suits them.

Here are two recently reported examples.  Last Thursday speaking at a CBI bash Alastair Darling recounted how in May 2008 Fred, 'The Shred', Goodwin had phoned him to say:
'RBS is haemorrhaging money. We can only survive another two or three hours.  What are YOU going to do about it?'  I'll repeat that, 'What are YOU going to do about it?'

A month after Goodwin took early retirement RBS announced the largest corporate annual loss in UK history of £24.1 billion.  This didn't stop the pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph saying, 'his grasp of finance is in the Alpha class' and that he was 'unlikely to be in the growing queue of jobless bankers' for long'.

Had Darling let RBS go bust Goodwin would have been entitled to a pension of £28,000 a year at starting at age 65.  Because the state, (a.k.a. you and me), stepped in Goodwin was able to retire early with a tax free £2.7 million lump sum and now gets a 'reduced' annual pension of £342,500.  

At a conference on 'fracking' last week with reference to planning delays Francis Egan, the Chief Executive of Cuadrilla told energy minister Andrea Leadsom, 'the words are good, the intent is good but the delivery is not. Investors have patience but it's not limitless.'  He was complaining that the government had not yet implemented its promise last August to intervene if councils failed to meet the deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking applications.  Leadson replied 'The new measures we've introduced will help to make this happen.  We are addressing a problem that causes unnecessary delays.'

That's right four months to decide on something that could affect very large areas of the country for years to come and may bring about irreversible changes to ground water.

Incidentally Cuadrilla is privately owned which means very little about its activities will find its way into the public domain.  How's that for accountability?

Voting for Brexit won't change things like this.  But I'm sure it will make some people feel better.  I'd rather they felt angry that things like this are happening in our country.