May the force be with you.

Disaster capitalism strikes back! Theresa May has been catapulted into number 10 Downing Street, following the aftermath of Brexit. This calamitous few weeks have enabled the Tory government to shift even further to the right, with a more calculated unempathic Prime Minister than the previous one. At least David Cameron pretended (rather unconvincingly) to care at times. Theresa May I would expect, will not even waste her time with such trivialities. I expect her to continue to spout, baseless, soulless rhetoric as displayed in her opening address. Both are economically on the same wavelength, however, May is more socially conservative than Cameron, with a particular dislike for immigrants, human rights and any form of social welfare.

It never ceases to amaze me how the neoliberals grasp every opportunity to push their ideology more radically following any kind of political or social breakdown. This is what Naomi Klein quite rightly describes in her book ‘The Shock Doctrine’ as disaster capitalism. The list of incidences whereby the right have used catastrophic events to their advantage is practically endless. These methods can be as diverse as; financial pressure, a manufactured political shift or as we’ve seen for over a decade in the Middle East, threats of military action. Activating events which facilitate the implementation of neoliberalism can be anything from a financial collapse, a coup (military or political) or a full blown military campaign.

The recent debacle known as Brexit and it’s fallout only served to send the country into disarray including the two main political party’s. I would go as far as to say the EU referendum was a sham and served to distract the voters from the real issues whilst splintering any remaining solidarity left amongst the working people of Britain. The masses are clearly unhappy but are currently deeply divided on how to display this. Some have moved over to the left, supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s politics of hope, whilst others have been brainwashed by political elements such as UKIP. This so called political party have spouted ceaseless anti-immigration rhetoric whilst promising to return Britain to the good old days, whenever they were. Looking generally at the right wing’s role in all this, the whole thing felt like a ruse the moment Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farrage ran like bulls in Pamplona once the withdrawal was assured. What followed was an array of confusing statements about how long it would take to leave the EU and how it would affect the UK. In fact most comments drifting from the right indicated that not much would change following this so-called momentous decision. Which kind of left me thinking, why? What is clear, is that all the Tories believe in strong neoliberal principles, to the detriment of working people. What they didn’t agree on with regards to Brexit and the EU, was how to best construct a extreme capitalist superstate in the UK. It is therefore, no surprise whatsoever that the Conservatives have managed to pull themselves together much quicker than the deeply divided Labour Party. What binds them together (neoliberalism) is much stronger than any lingering remains of repulsive forces left over from Brexit.

This cohesion theory of mine has been played out by the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. Even though Theresa May was supposedly in the remain camp she duly became Prime Minister and Boris Johnson who allegedly was in the opposing corner, picked up the post of a senior minister. At this point those on the left should meditate a little on The Who’s awesome rock anthem, ‘We won’t get fooled again’. I strongly suggest this, because we cannot afford to be continually duped by right wing ideologists, who regularly protect their fellow establishment cronies to the detriment of us peasants. Those of us who lean towards socialism, in football parlance have been ‘played off the park’. We need to ditch our naiveté and fight our way back into this, before it’s too late. This is why we need to support Jeremy Corbyn with every ounce of our being, because if the Corbyn flame gets snuffed out, we will remain in the political dark for quite some time.

So let us appraise our anti-immigration, anti-benefits, anti- human rights, pro war leader, to get an idea of what she has in store for the nation. The Conservatives’ have ridiculed the Labour Party recently, stating that they have had 2 female PM’s to Labour’s none. However, I always prefer quality over quantity and Theresa May would appear to be Thatcher 2.0. It only requires a brief look at her voting record to realise that her initial speech (see video below) was either a set of blatant lies or she is suffering from cognitive dissonance. In this section I will review the obvious problems that will impact the country the most. I’m sure many of you out there could suggest a plethora of issues that are close to your heart, but here I will highlight some of the most glaring problematic topics.

Let us start with human rights, here is an example of Theresa May’s hypocrisy. In April 2016, May stated that she would urge Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, despite at the time purporting to be a ‘Remain’ campaigner for the EU referendum. This made no sense as it is a necessity to be a member of the ECHR to be eligible to remain in the EU. What is clear, is most of the Tory Party agree that the ECHR should be replaced by some sort of watered down ‘British bill of rights’. By withdrawing from this 68 year old commitment to the ECHR, this would damage the UK’s international standing, as it is described as an important pillar of foreign policy. It can also be argued that there has to be another body outside of the government to rule on what in fact constitutes as a human right and when they are considered to be breached. Theresa May has consistently opposed laws to promote equality and human rights. In defence of her position May stated in April 2016 “The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals – and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights”. This blanket statement, however, would appear to be skipping over what the ECHR provides for us little people. For a quick summary of why the ECHR is so important, here is Patrick Stewart to explain in this wonderful skit.

Regarding foreign policy it is abundantly obvious by perusing her voting record that the UK’s leader has been consistently pro-war, a case in point being the Iraq War, which she supported. May has also always voted for the replacement of Trident; this is an obsolete relic of the cold war era at an estimated cost of £205 billion. At a time when UK public services have been decimated by austerity, MP’s have recently overwhelmingly voted in favour of renewing Trident. May’s unwavering support of nuclear weapons under the guise of a deterrent and other military interventions gives us a clear indication that she would not be shy of using and escalating military force to solve our foreign policy problems. I am sure this stance goes a long way to reassure the US, preserving the US/UK ‘special relationship’. Recently May acknowledged that she would be willing to authorise a nuclear strike capable of killing a 100,000 people or more, which never struck me as the most sensible of strategies. I always thought that a retaliatory nuclear strike, hence, matching the death of possibly millions of people, with the murder of few more million human beings was outright lunacy. These points outlined make the prospect of a President Clinton and a Prime Minister Theresa May UK/US alliance, given their penchant for war a deeply disturbing prospect. It appears both premiers would be happy to send young, often poor people to die to support a failed foreign policy. An ideology that has nothing remotely to do with peace, but would conveniently line the pockets of the shareholders who have a significant stake in the companies involved with the arms industry. Recently Theresa May sent a message that she is more than comfortable denying any responsibility for the catastrophic US led western foreign policy by scrapping the ‘Minister for Syrian Refugees’. This at a time when western nations should be coordinating efforts to ensure the safety and humane treatment of refugees fleeing from an impossible situation, that US led foreign policy has helped to create.

For those who have kept an eye on Theresa May’s shenanigans this deletion of the Syrian refugees minister shouldn’t come as much of a shock. As Home Secretary, Theresa May made it crystal clear that she took an unashamedly anti-immigration stance. This is exemplified in both her voting record and her actions whilst in this post. In 2015 Theresa May addressed the Tory faithful stating that immigration threatened Britain’s cohesion. While in 2012 May as Home Secretary proposed that migrant workers from outside the EU who wish to settle in the UK must earn at least £35,000, this is in contrast to the average wage in the UK which sits at around £26,500, after a series of hiccups, this policy is set to be in place by 2016. The new Prime Minister also pushed through a series of blocks, making it much harder for foreign-born students to settle in the UK on graduating from their respective courses. Her main reason at the time was simple; in her view “the net economic and fiscal benefits are close to zero”. Interesting enough she offered a similar reason for leaving the ECHR, when she stated “ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity”. As previously mentioned May’s voting record reinforces her convictions; voting for a stricter asylum system and stronger enforcement of immigration rules.

Returning to the home front, Empress Theresa has repeatedly voted to reduce housing benefits. According to her record, she voted against raising welfare benefits whilst voting for a reduction of spending on the said benefits. May has been opposed to increasing benefits for the sick or people with disabilities and against public spending to increase jobs for young people. David+Cameron+Theresa+May+State+Visit+President+X5YTpU5G37mlTheresa May clearly believes in a ‘everyone for themselves’ type of society, that purports going out and getting a job, but at the same time not supporting any schemes that may promote employment. It would seem that the new PM has no interest at all in helping the most vulnerable in society gain ascendency. However, on the flip side, she has always tried to help her establishment buddies out, voting against tax rises on people who earn £150,000 and above, whilst voting to oppose a tax on bankers bonuses. Ms May has voted consistently against a mansion tax, as I presume this would upset her and her peers, who would be deeply affected. At the same time she has repeatedly stomped on workers rights by voting for more regulation on trade union activity. It is obvious that what Theresa May advocates looking at her record; this is a widening of inequality, by quashing benefits of any sort, while taking any remaining workers rights that currently exist. Counter to this she is delighted for the rich and therefore herself to pay less tax. It is in no doubt that when a decision needs to be made, we can be assured that Theresa May will always vote in favour of the 1% and her own interests. Theresa May’s crowning glory (note the sarcasm) was the proposal of the, Investigatory Power Bill, or otherwise known as the ‘snoopers charter’. This intrusive set of new laws have passed through the House of Commons and is now heading on to the House of Lords to be voted upon. The Investigatory Powers Bill is a new law that will give the UK police and security agencies massive powers to collect, analyse and look at our private communications and internet use. Here are some of the worrying bits;

  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be forced to create a record of the websites you visit and the apps you use and can keep this data for a year. This information can be analysed without a warrant. The police only need to get internal sign off to look at this data. Government departments, like the Department of Work and Pensions, can look at this data too.
  • Your communications can be easily obtained by the security services. Tapping undersea fibre-optic cables, GCHQ can record and keep all passing internet traffic for several days, and metadata for six months.
  • The police and intelligence agencies can hack into your phone or computer. You don’t have to be suspected of a crime for this to happen.
  • The security services can easily access any public or private database – whether it’s held by DVLA or Tesco. They have admitted that the vast majority of this data will be about people who are not suspected of any crimes.

All this will be pushed through under the guise of national security, but this is a gross erosion of our civil liberties. The bill is expected to pass through both houses by the end of 2016, at which point, ‘Big Sister’ will be watching you!

With regards to real problems such as climate change; Theresa May hasn’t been shy about showing her disdain for it, within a week of her tenure in number 10 she scrapped the Department for Energy and Climate Change. While adding insult to injury for environmentalists, Andrea Leadsom the lady who had no idea about climate change was given the post of Environment Secretary. The PM has consistently voted against climate change prevention measures and tighter regulation on fracking, whilst also being in favour of the sale of state owned forests. Her blatant dismissal regarding the importance of climate change is severely worrying, as she seems quite prepared to support big business at the expense of our planet. Her ideology is simply incompatible with the severity of the problem and the tough measures we are going to have to employ particularly against the fossil fuel industry. It is now imperative to limit the damage that has already been estimated to occur due to international governing bodies repeated laxidasicle responses to the crisis. On this issue alone I would declare her unfit for office, as she is contributing amongst other inept leaders to put the planet in severe danger.

So there you have it. While the Tories celebrate that she is indeed a woman, the UK need to be reminded that she is a human rights denying, elitist, war mongering, unempathic, narcissistic, despicable, global danger. Oh, but it’s OK didn’t I tell you…..she’s a woman.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn: Changing the face of British politics.

If you are genuinely wanting change, someone who will support the people and a Prime Minister who truly cares, then he has been staring at you in the face since his Labour leadership win in September 2015. What Mr Corbyn offers on the surface doesn’t particularly sound threatening. However, you would be mistaken for believing he was the anti-christ the way he has been hounded not only by the Tories as expected but by his own party. MSC_2014_Blair_Mueller_MSC2014_(cropped)The truth is most of the noise permeating within his own ranks have come from the direction of the Parliamentary Labour Party. A group of MP’s still adhering to the New Labour, Blairite philosophy, which espouses a neoliberal doctrine not profoundly different from the other bunch sat across from them in ‘the house’. It is deeply disconcerting when the PLP have more in common with exceptionally right-wing Tories than they have with their socialist leader. This is also a Parliamentary Labour Party that has increasingly lost touch with grassroots Labour voters, the majority of whom are screaming out for real change. Not only that, but it is a PLP that has nothing to offer future voters. It is just the same old corporate driven, establishment riddled crap that a lot of people up and down the UK are sick of. So the question has to be, why? Why is the right flank of the Labour Party clinging on to the broken branch of capitalism. Particularly when there is a clear opening to attack the Tories with both barrels from an anti-austerity and failed policy perspective, that would clearly define battle lines of parliamentary debate.

For just one moment, imagine we are all at a party, the DJ has finished playing music, the bar has closed, the lights have come back on after the last dance and most people are standing outside waiting for their taxi to take them home after a good night. You notice in the corner of the room a small but boisterous group, hugely intoxicated, yelling at the DJ to carry on playing the music, “the night is young, oh go on, we’ve just started”. Even though the DJ is packing away his stuff, getting in his car and the bar stopped serving drinks an hour ago, this delusional, greedy minority insists that everybody else should carry on, because they haven’t had enough. Now transport yourself back to the present day and this is what we are facing in the political arena. Most people are aware either consciously or possibly in the deepest recesses of their mind that something isn’t right and that the world for whatever reason seems a troubled place. 220px-Rupert_Murdoch_-_Flickr_-_Eva_Rinaldi_Celebrity_and_Live_Music_PhotographerA large section of the population realises that capitalism isn’t really working any more, if indeed it ever did. The establishment which consists of politicians, CEO’s, journalists and all the other appendages of a bloated defunct system, such as think tanks and advocacy groups just can’t let it go. Their propaganda is peddled by influential media magnets such as Rupert Murdoch who dictate the political narrative for the masses. This system of neoliberalism that has been created in many western societies doesn’t and cannot work to solve our biggest challenges we have ahead. Yet there is a tiny percentage of the UK who simply cannot throw the towel in, who push to keep it alive no matter what the outcome and for no other reason than they gain exponentially from this damaging status quo. To return to the original metaphor, they blatantly refuse to drink up, step into a taxi and call it a night.

With all this in mind, Jeremy Corbyn is an unmitigated disaster for the establishment, an honest, caring, compassionate leader. Who, with a growing support that share in his values could be a serious roadblock to the neoliberal juggernaut that has swept the globe over the past 40 years. But wait, hang on, maybe the people are gravely mistaken, just maybe the ruling elite are the ones who know better, as they appear to insist. So lets examine some of Jeremy Corbyn’s political core beliefs, to see where he may be going wrong.

  • the NHS should remain a public service and not be privatised
  • the welfare must be there to protect us in times of need
  • the withdrawal from wars on foreign soil
  • social housing should be available for everyone
  • nationalisation of the railways

Well they all seem to make a lot of sense from a moral point of view; it appears he wants to look after the poor, provide affordable services and use the armed forces to protect our shoreline. It all sounds fine, however, predictably at about this point people of a right-wing persuasion are possibly yelling at the screen demanding to know how Jeremy proposes to pay for these crazy policies. So let us have a look at what neoliberals believe and then we will refer back to the above list. We can then attempt to make sense of these differing views from both a moral and financial perspective.

Firstly, it may be useful to backtrack a little and clarify what is meant by neoliberalism. It must be noted that this is a doctrine currently subscribed to by the ruling Tory party and approximately 172 PLP members. Neoliberalism is primarily an economic system, the goal of which is to eliminate government regulations, trade barriers and trade tariffs. It’s ideological views also include shrinking government, therefore, reducing its input, whilst privatising as many facets of society as possible. In the fantastic book ‘The Shock Doctrine’ Naomi Klein highlighted 3 important tenets to this system.

  1. Privatisation – this includes handing over health, education, public transport, utilities amongst others over to private control.
  2. Government deregulation – such as removing environmental protections, decreasing workers’ rights and the deregulation of the financial sector.
  3. Deep cuts to social spending – for instance healthcare, welfare and public services.

With all this in mind the neoliberal argument would generally suggest that privatising services would decrease government spending. They would opine that by selling state owned services to private ownership, quality would improve due to competition, therefore, the companies involved and people using the services would benefit. So firstly, lets look at government spending, the quality of services in relation to privatisation and explore if this claim really holds any water.

We start by investigating the UK’s railways. A report in 2013 written by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change at the University of Manchester stated that private train companies were ‘heavily dependent upon the public purse’ to enable them to run services. The report also highlighted that the top 5 private rail companies received £3 billion in government subsidies between 2007-2011, this allowed these companies during this period to make £504 million in profit, of which £466 million were paid out to their shareholders. The report also indicated that the average train fares in the UK have increased by three times the rate of average wages between 2008 and 2012. As Owen Jones mentions in his fantastic resource ‘The Establishment’, the French rail system is almost entirely publicly funded with virtually the same amount of funding as the UK pay in subsidies and yet French rail tickets prices are much lower than in Britain. The final point I’d like to make on the railways is; in 2013 the East Coast mainline was the most efficient rail company in the UK. In that year just 1% of the profits the company made were from subsidies, compared to an average of 36% from the other rail franchises. What is more staggering is that the East Coast mainline during this period was publicly owned. This information is contrary to what neoliberal enthusiasts would have you believe, regarding efficiency, value and cost of the private sector. Call me Mr Picky, but it would appear that the state subsidies only function is to provide these private entities with a profit. I’ve got a radical plan, let’s do away with the private companies and put the money we use for subsidies directly towards a national rail system. Just saying.

Next up, lets look at a permanently hot topic in the UK, the NHS. I will be blunt, the NHS has been slowly privatised by stealth since at least 2006 whilst under the control of Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’. As a former member of the NHS, I can also bare witness to the use of private ‘bank staff’ because of an unwillingness of NHS trusts to employ permanent staff members. Even though the ‘bank staff’ were paid colossal amounts of money to do what was often an inferior job. Nationally in 2014 it was estimated that £6.5bn was spent on the private sector in an effort to get them to see patients, this works out as 6.1% of the total NHS budget. It is also known that this figure has increased dramatically since 2014, possibly as much as 500%. It is quite evident that the general plan from the Conservative Party is to underfund the NHS, which will result in declining services. At which point the government will declare that the only way to deal with this problem is by further privatising the NHS, the details of this plan is highlighted in an article written in 2015. The question is, would wholly privatising the NHS be more efficient? I realise there are many factors when comparing expenditures between countries, however, looking at the graph below, it would appear that privatisation would not be ideal, for the general public that is.

US_spends_much_more_on_health_than_what_might_be_expected_1_slideshow

Which ever way you look at the figures, the UK pays substantially less than the US per capita for healthcare. The US is a private health insurance scheme and although it has been revised in recent times, it is still predominantly a private system. I also conclude that, a lot of the Conservative Party’s attempts to privatise the NHS is no more than an ideological decision. In 2005 the current Secretary of State for Health co-authored a piece of literature called ‘Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party’ in which it called for the NHS to be replaced with an American style insurance scheme. I can only surmise that other people would benefit from this action and this I assume would not be the patients or the taxpayer.

I have provided two examples; the rail system and the NHS as evidence of how privatisation fails in providing an improved and efficient system as the neoliberals would like you to believe. The same issues of spiraling costs and inadequate services, due to the use of private companies can be seen all over, including the department of work and pensions, education, and the prison service. The reason is quite simple, private companies are there to chase profits and will cut back on quality as much as they can provided they retain their contracts.

So lets us return to our initial hero Jeremy Corbyn; this is a man determined to put the masses and those in need first, not corporations, profit or a tiny elite. This type of politics of genuinely serving the people, hasn’t been prevalent in a very long time. TCM8z1eqXAAAstnkhis absence of compassionate politics could quite conceivably cause some people to be skeptical, either because they don’t trust its sincerity or they may feel it wouldn’t work. However, Mr Corbyn has been found on the right side history repeatedly. He has spent his entire political career fighting for people all over the world; whether that was for the anti-apartheid movement, his stand against the Iraq War or more recently in opposition to the bombing of Syria. It’s my opinion that Jeremy Corbyn’s role is to encourage the UK towards a different kind of politics and to show the public that MP’s can maintain integrity and honesty, whilst delivering policies that help the 99%. The masses need to be enlightened to alternative solutions regarding our problems rather than neoliberalism. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has to become a strong, effective opposition, with distinct values from the right wing, austerity obsessed Conservative Party.