The trouble with liberals is…..

Justin Trudeau, bless him. This is a man who built a whole brand on identity politics, changing laws in Canada to fit his political agenda. This is a leader who is happy to continue former PM Stephen Harper’s work, destroying Alberta in order to pursue only the dirtiest of methods to produce oil. In contrast Trudeau has constructed a government that is morally outraged if an individual is caught using the wrong pronouns regarding someone’s identity. This type of “faux pas” potentially can land you in big trouble under Bill C-16! So forgive me if I take some time out of my day to ridicule this man.

If you are going take the path of the identarian righteous, be sure to have no skeletons in your cupboard/closet or ensure that you’ve deleted any trace of being a fallible human being. It’s a little like “original sin” only Social Justice Warriors usually offer no form of redemption. I’d like to think that the SJW brigade will be as hard on him as they would be on any other cis gendered, white man, who transgresses across their puritanical boundaries, but alas, I suspect equal handedness is not an identarians strong point.

For those who have been living in a cave, or quite rightly have better things to do, you may have missed that Mr Social Justice dressed up as a genie nearly 20 years ago, complete with brownface. Some of you will be instinctively outraged and consider this as deeply racist. While the more pragmatic among us are probably thinking “well that wasn’t a smart thing to do, if you’re going to pursue a career in public office built entirely on identity politics”. Just for reference, you’ll find me in group two.

Do I think what he did was racist? Nah, it has to be put into context, but context appears illusive in this era of instant outrage. Under normal circumstances identarians both in the media and among the activists would devour him, but I guess Super Justin will get a pass. He’s already rocked up to the cameras while giving his best little boy lost impersonation and he may well cop a little flack, but in the end I’m sure he’ll live to fight another day.

This, however, is not an article on the exploits of Teflon Trudeau, but more about the hypocrisy of liberals and centrists in general. Firstly I acknowledge that the term liberal is as wide as the political chasm between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. It has quite specific meanings dependent on the country involved. In the US it can range from centre right often known as classical liberalism through to the centre left sometimes called modern liberalism, which includes social liberalism.

It’s a political stance that could be used to describe Tony Blair, Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton, Jo Swinson (Lib Dems UK), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP UK) and Joe Biden (US ex Vice President) among countless others. In short, a centrist makes an appeal to the public based on competency. The idea is to appear slick, media savvy and professional, a political insider if you will. This of course can backfire spectacularly if confronted with a populist or outsider such as Trump, as seen in the case of Hillary Clinton.

HRC smug

Many people have suggested that centrist politics in our current polarised political climate are dead, but not so quick with the obituary. Firstly, I’m going to propose a simple definition to make thinks easier when separating liberals from the left. My view goes as follows; if you embrace capitalism and promote it as the best way for society to proceed and flourish, then you are not on the left. To clarify, you could be stuck in a capitalist society working towards substantial change through democratic means, such as Corbyn, for me that’s fine. But, to not search or strive for a better system outside of capitalism is a departure from the left, in my opinion.

In recent times centrists, liberals, 3rd wayers or whatever you want to call them generally promote shades of a similar viewpoint. It goes roughly like this, they support capitalism, some more fervently than others and they routinely use social justice as a tool of control. The whole “liberal” thing can be baffling, from the Democrats in the US, the Liberals Democrats in the UK, the Liberal Party in Canada and even the confusingly named Australian Liberal Party, which describe themselves as centre-right. Simplistically, what all of these parties have in common is they have nothing to do with the left.

Of course there are a small group of politicians who are part of the Democrats and who proclaim to be on the left, however, the driving force is still very much from the liberal centrists or corporate Democrats. This was never more obvious, than when Bernie Sanders ran in the 2016 primaries and how biased the DNC were in favour of Hillary Clinton. In global terms many of Bernie’s proposals would be seen no more than common sense centrist ideas, hardly an extremist. Although, in the socialist phobic US he is laughably considered in some political circles as the reincarnation of Lenin.

In many ways I have more of a problem with liberals/centrists than I do with the Republicans (US), Conservatives (UK) and the National Party (NZ). With right-wingers you know where you stand, unless of course you are politically illiterate or simply uninterested. Take Boris Johnson, he is an upper class Conservative Prime Minister, who is a direct descendant from George II and a distant cousin of the present Queen. His full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, he was educated at Eton School and attended Oxford University. It doesn’t take a genius to work out he probably isn’t a man of the people or not people you and I know.

In contrast liberals may sound like they care, they’ll talk endlessly about reducing gender wage gaps, and racial inequality. They may even look and appear empathic, but underneath the façade they are deeply committed to corporate capitalism. Former President, Barack Obama was the poster boy of centristism, known for his shapeshifting style of politics, consisting of all spin and no substance. Incidentally, he left the White House with the military still bombing 8 countries, more than George W, while stealing from the US treasury to enrich the corporate elite.

Obama didn’t invent identity politics, but he did manage to force it upon the mainstream’s consciousness. In brief, it is the notion that an individual’s varying identities shape their political views and is the primary method for which most parties now rally support. In many nations within the ‘anglosphere’ the idea of “one nation” or the notion of being “colour blind” or “group blind” is considered oudated and racist. However, this approach was born not out of ignorance for other people’s struggles, rather out of unity to fight against the tiny cabal of the ruling elite that continue to pull the strings even today.

Now, competing groups repeatedly fight for airtime, desperate to be recognised as more oppressed than the other. This moves away from inclusion and universalism towards a society punctuated by deep division. What transpires is exclusivity and a hierarchy regarding who can or cannot speak on certain matters based on their identity. As the game continues, groups split further, in their quest for the title of the least privileged. In general, when groups feel threatened and ignored they retreat into tribalism closing ranks, while becoming more authoritarian and punitive towards outsiders. This is occurring all over the political map and is quite clearly not a galvanising force.

In the US one of the major factors that separates the left from the right is identity politics. Even most political commentators will declare someone on the left or indeed the far left completely dependent on their views around social justice. In the US there is no coherent or forceful economic argument critiquing capitalism while envisioning an alternative path forward. All roads inevitably lead to identity politics, but this is a cul de sac offering no unified vision for a movement that could benefit the most amount of people.

Liberals and centrists are marinated in hypocrisy. They talk about equality, but only in the narrow corridor of identity be it; race, gender or sexuality. This conveniently ignores something that affects more people on a daily basis than any other factor. An issue that can cause premature death, an escalation in crime, poorer education, an increase in wars, a demise in social cohesion, destruction of our planet and an erosion of our wellbeing. This my friends is the gap in social economic status, both through relative poverty and general poverty. It has a profound effect on the quality of life and the cause is capitalism.

Returning to Trudeau and his liberal ‘credentials’. In 2018 Trudeau proposed to nationalise the Kinder Morgan pipeline running from the tar sands in Alberta to British Columbia. Trudeau stated to a room full of oil executives back in 2017, “which country would leave 173bn barrels in the ground”. My answer would be, a government and Prime Minister who truly cares about the planet including its inhabitants. This is a typical centrist strategy which they like to refer to as pragmatism. In truth Trudeau is playing politics, to not go ahead with his pro-oil stance could result in a damaging backlash in Alberta, thus jeopardising any future re-election hopes.

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Trudeau virtue signalling

Where Trudeau excels, is playing the equity card and his carefully crafted persona. He calls himself a feminist and was quick to assemble a gender-balanced cabinet, while appointing a significant number of people of colour to cabinet positions. Despite his posturing as a purveyor of all things social justice, Captain Fantastic is still happy to sell weapons to some of the most vicious and misogynistic countries in the world; Saudi Arabia and Columbia to name a couple. Trudeau is pro Trans Pacific Partnership and his main idea regarding reducing economic inequality as stated in Davos recently was to hire more women. He is the master of liberal deception, saying one thing but doing another.

People in the UK have seen first hand the empty rhetoric of a centrist in the form of Tony Blair, the master of spin, treachery and deceit. Like Obama, Blair managed to convince the working class after years of Thatcherism and then John Major that he could offer something different for the people. What Blair did do was market his product better than the Tories, while putting the financialisation of the country on steroids.

To his credit Tony Blair introduced to the UK Sure Start and the minimum wage, but he also ushered in university tuition fees and the “Academy Scheme”, consisting of schools that were publicly financed while privately administrated. In health he created an internal market within the NHS and used the Public Finance Initiative to fund reforms. This was a private-public partnership that has proved more expensive than any publicly funded solution would have been. Blair also deregulated the finance sector, while declaring the Bank of England independent. Most of these ideas were purposefully ripped straight out of the Milton Friedman playbook for a neoliberal economy.

Blair also made a point of switching his target voters from the working class to the middle class, losing hundreds and thousands of core Labour Party members across traditional Labour heartlands. Millions of people in the North, the Midlands and areas such as South Wales felt marginalised or excluded from any economic prosperity. Despite all of this his worst decision undoubtedly, was taking Britain to war in Iraq on a lie centred around the illusive “weapons of mass destruction”. No politician’s reputation should remain intact after such a catastrophic move.

In the UK today still exists what is generally known as Britain’s 3rd party, the Liberal Democrats, a self proclaimed centrist group, currently led by Jo Swinson. The Lib Dem’s recent history is patchy at best, being complicit with the Conservatives throughout David Cameron’s austerity offensive during the time of the Con/Lib Dem coalition government. This saw their MP numbers reduce from 57 MP’s to 8, now however, they seem to be on the ascendancy thanks to their use of Brexit and splits within the two main parties.

New defecting MP’s such as Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger are prototypical centrists, careerist MP’s who fitted in well with New Labour, but not so snug in Jeremy Corbyn’s democratic socialist idea of the Labour Party. Supposedly pragmatic, they are slick, polished and completely driven by identity politics. Spending the best part of the last two years trying to oust Corbyn on fabricated and unfounded anti-Semitic allegations.

Head honcho Jo Swinson has aligned the Lib Dems as the primary remain party, the ultimate safe space for the middle class, bourgeoisie pious brigade. A group who insists on telling any ‘leave’ voter who will listen (or not) how wrong, racist and stupid they are. Without even considering the individual’s personal reasons for choosing Brexit, which incidentally was primarily a kickback against the neoliberal establishment, for which centrists are so wedded to. It’s important to note that during the coalition government, Swinson regularly presided over austerity and tax cuts for the rich. Just to clarify, here’s a portion of Jo Swinson’s voting record.

jo swinson voting record

I’ve written this article with the hope of reminding people that an enemy to the people doesn’t automatically possess diametrically opposing views. Sometimes they are parasitic politicians or parties awaiting a chance to latch on so they can benefit from a volatile situation, such as Brexit. Chameleon’s who will say one thing and do the opposite (Obama) or who will champion the requirements of the wealthy to the detriment of the poorest in society while furthering their own careers (Hillary Clinton).

In summary, centrists are made up of professional politicians who will meticulously groom their image and mould themselves accordingly in order to obtain the highest office. These are people who will never reveal what they truly believe, all we are provided with is the hollow shell of a purposefully manufactured, careerist politician. But sometimes, just occasionally like Justin Trudeau they get caught out. Which frankly makes me smile from ear to ear. Just don’t expect too much to come from it.

Homelessness; why are we failing as a society?

Last month I walked down Victoria Street West and Queen Street, one of the main drags heading towards the Britomart in Auckland on a Friday night. It had the usual array of students, tourists and young revellers out sampling what the downtown area has to offer. The vast majority of these people seemed generally oblivious to another section of our society. In fact their behaviour towards them was symbolic of how this group are often treated, which is ignored. The population I refer to is the homeless. During my walk I passed approximately 20 homeless people, mostly men and about half with some form of rough sleeping arrangement. It is disheartening, as you can’t give money to everyone and in reality the money feels relatively symbolic in its paucity. The real problem is, we live in a system that encourages massive inequality and a ‘winner takes all’ mentality. So my point is this; while we still have people who live in these perilous conditions, as relatively well off people step over or dodge around without even looking at them, we have no right to call ourselves a first world nation. This does not only apply to New Zealand but all over the so called advanced nations in the western world.

Homelessness is exceptionally difficult to quantify in the UK as there are varying definitions, such as, statutory homelessness, this is deemed when an individual has satisfied a criteria set by the government. At which point the local council has an obligation to provide housing related support. There is also non-statutory homelessness, where a person does lack a home, but does not qualify as suffering statutory homelessness, for these people there is a lesser obligation required from the council. Also there is hidden homelessness, which are people who do not show up on official figures for example, due to finding a temporary solution with friends or family. Finally the group that we generally relate to as homeless and the group I witnessed during my walk in town, rough sleepers. This is the group I will focus on for many of the statistics. It is estimated in the UK that 4,751 people sleep rough each night, this figure has almost doubled in 5 years.  In New Zealand in 2014 it was thought that 147 people were sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, this was a 116% increase from 2013. But in June 2016 Auckland City Mission announced that the total had topped 200 and was steadily getting worse. It is clear to me that society needs to change dramatically for the prevalence of homelessness to decrease. This has to be spearheaded by a society that does not accept a system that treats the rich like royalty and the poor like crap. We need to start with education designed to tackle people’s misconceptions about the homeless.

Observing people on the street can give us a sharp reminder of reality, that many of us are only a couple of paycheques from the same predicament and this can evoke fear. On the contrary if you are a rich right winger and consider that everything is associated to personal choice, then in you’re own mind you are off the hook. This kind of thinking prevails as you believe that the homeless are on the street through no fault but their own, therefore, compassion is not required. So lets investigate what people think of the homeless. In a study by Shelter Scotland in response to the statement; “most homeless people have just been unlucky in their lives”, 48% agreed, 28% disagreed, while 22% neither agreed or disagreed. A further statement suggested; “most homeless people could find somewhere to live if they really tried”, for this one 45% agreed while 33% disagreed. The article concluded that the public could hold a view of sympathy for example the first statement, while retaining a judgmental view as noted in statement two. Certain groups were found more likely to be critical of the homeless, this included men where 51% agreed with the second statement as opposed to 41% of women. Furthermore, people with lower education were found to be less compassionate. Regarding the response to the second statement 33% of higher education participants agreed with this statement, in contrast 58% of people with no qualifications. Finally it was surmised that people with an authoritarian outlook socially or politically were more disparaging regarding their views towards the homeless. These social and political views were attained by asking about their attitudes towards areas such as; the law, freedom of expression, discipline and tradition. A simple conclusion drawn could be, don’t expect a thick, authoritarian, male to throw some money into a hat of a homeless person on the other side of the street.

It could be argued that our attitude towards homeless people is a product of our misconceptions, due to either a lack of knowledge or a narrative often perpetuated by the media. The first area that many people don’t appear to understand, are the causes of homelessness. The two general groups of factors at play here are individual and structural. It’s the interplay between these two that tend to cause problems.

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The mass of bubbles above indicates the individual factors in red and the structural factors in orange. What is immediately evident is that this is a complex process and each individual will have their own unique mix of factors. People often state the main reason for their loss of accommodation is due to friends or family being no longer able to provide support or a breakdown of a relationship. The Salvation Army suggests that this particular justification accounts for around 43% of all homelessness. It is noted, however, that this could be their final destination after a long chain of events. This is in stark contrast with public opinion which suggests the main reason for homelessness is drug or alcohol addiction. In truth this particular factor is a long way down the list and only accounts for 10% of people who are homeless. Importantly, it is the interplay between a series of individual and structural contributors that drives this process. An example of the interconnection between the two main groups could be; individual issues could arise from structural disadvantages such as poverty or poor education. Or personal issues such as the family could be put under pressure through structural issues, such as a lack of a job, leading to poverty. What is important to be aware of is homelessness is a complex mix of events that has led someone to this predicament and it is never just one thing.

If we look at system driven factors of both nation’s predominantly in the 80’s, massive changes occurred, as there was a shift from social democratic ideas to neoliberalism. The switch in ideology was presented in the form of business friendly policies, whilst being incredibly punitive to people struggling to get by. This practice continues unabated today, although many people in NZ hope to see some changes with the new Labour government. However, from 2016’s figures New Zealand spent less than the OECD average (21%) for public social spending at 19.7% of GDP, while the UK spent 21.5% of GDP. Both these figures are substantially lower than the countries considered with the best social provisions in place; primarily the Scandinavian countries, plus France, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Over the last three decades the UK and NZ have made it incredibly difficult to obtain assistance for those in need. There is often an array of hoops to jump through and a growing number of sanctions or punishments imposed if these tasks are not achieved. It’s quite clear that both countries are becoming more unforgiving by the minute. Another system driven dilemma is securing a home, either to buy or rent, it is not an easy proposition. In many nations in the west, house prices are astronomical, making purchasing unobtainable for many. In this current housing climate the only people benefiting from this are the rich. Without a shadow of a doubt the rentier class is back with a vengeance. From 1991 to 2013 private renting in New Zealand increased from 60% to 83%. This is thought to be due to a huge decrease in state housing stock, as many state houses were sold to community housing providers. In the UK Margaret Thatcher led the great ‘right to buy‘ scandal selling many of the countries council houses at well under market prices, while offering guaranteed 100% mortgages. This strategy was used again by Cameron from 2012. These recent sales have been snapped up by profiteers who buy-to-let, thus reducing the numbers of affordable homes for people that really need them.

So what is the impact of homelessness? Firstly the individual; looking at UK figures, the feeling of homelessness, furthermore, the isolation, increases the chances of physical (56%) and mental health problems (72%). The plight of being without a home suggests you are more likely to take drugs, with 26% being users, compared to 8% of the general population. It is noted that the longer you are in this predicament, the more difficult it is to get on your feet. It is offered that this is mainly because the problem becomes increasingly complex over time, involving multiple services such as health and criminal justice systems. The impacts are also felt on the community. It is suggested that a person who is homeless has; a 77% chance of sleeping rough, 53% chance of an involvement in street drinking, 32% of begging and a 10% chance of becoming involved in prostitution. All this affects society and the tax payer. Immediate and long term cost of homelessness is substantial. Using a strategy that prevents homelessness, while helping people quickly, will keep costs down for society, benefit the community and would undoubtedly help the individual who finds themselves in this terrible situation.

impact of homelessness

Over three decades of neoliberalism championing business at all cost, while looking at narrow parameters such as GDP, inflation and government debt, has relegated the needs of people to a distant last place. The current Tory government in the UK under either Cameron or May has been punctuated by austerity, an ideologically driven doctrine, purely designed to benefit the rich. While New Zealand under National until recently embarked on a similar adventure, ruthlessly underfunding health and education. Benefits for workers and the poor have become increasingly scarce, while difficult to attain, in contrast the rich have relished tax cuts, as GST in NZ has increased, which is effectively a regressive tax. These constant handouts for the rich on top of their already considerable advantage has produced a narrative that suggests what they have is achieved by merit. This despite their often superior education, previous inheritance, social connections and of course luck, which is the main requirement. This narrative pushed from every conceivable angle has given rise to uncompassionate MP’s, councillors, business leaders and punitive members of the public. In recent times fining homeless people seems to be gaining traction in many places in the UK; Exeter, Nottinghamshire and Hackney have all been guilty of this abhorrent, cruel behaviour and it appears to be on the rise. Of course that seems fair, lets penalise the most vulnerable group we can find, that sounds like a great idea. All the while we’ll let off the billionaires from paying tax, because after all they’ve got good accountants, that sounds like a plan. In New Zealand property investor and former politician Sir Bob Jones stated beggars were “fat Māori’s” and a “bloody disgrace to the human race”. This outburst from an uncompassionate, vile, excuse for a human being wouldn’t normally be a problem, if it wasn’t for 72% of a 40,000 person survey declaring begging should be outlawed in NZ.

This accepted orthodoxy of neoliberalism spans the entire spectrum of politics. A few individuals can see through the embedded selfishness of capitalism particularly in the UK under Corbyn. Sadly New Zealand doesn’t seem quite as ready for radical change. Our present PM although a huge relief from the dreary Bill English and National is more Helen Clark than Jeremy Corbyn. Unless we turn away from neoliberalism and it’s love affair with individualism, brutal competition and free market voodoo, in favour of our fellow human beings, change will be minimal. On huge issues like this I tend to look towards ‘utilitarianism’ in particularly Jeremy Bentham. Like all philosophies utilitarianism is not without it’s issues, however, Bentham stated, “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong“. Maybe we can start to aim for this by encouraging compassion, empathy and an ability to look outside of our own world, while realising that blame has no positive outcome for anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn; is this Britain’s most dangerous man?

I know looks are deceiving, but judging by the pressure exerted by some Parliamentary Labour Party members, the right wing and any other opportunists it would appear Jeremy Corbyn is enemy number one. Mr Corbyn has made it quite clear that if he became Prime Minister of the UK he would oversee some huge changes, that would have a profound effect on it’s citizens. This is terrifying for the status quo who view their positions at the upper end of society as a right never to challenged. So after a brief respite following the 2017 election the charade to unseat Corbyn continues, this time under the guise of anti-Semitism, again.

The current catalyst for outrage centres around a mural that was painted by an American artist 6 years ago on the wall of a London house. It depicts a group of crusty, white, old presumably businessmen around a monopoly board. The board is held up by seemingly slave like humans, with an illuminati symbol behind. Despite the artists protestations, this has been labelled as anti-Semitic by the establishment, suggesting that this is a anti-Semitic trope. The artist insisted that this was anti-corporatist and has nothing to do with Jewish people, but obviously individuals who had nothing to with the artistic process clearly know best. Enter Corbyn.

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On hearing that the mural was going to be destroyed Corbyn replied to the artist Mear One; “Why?, You are in good company. Rockefeller destroyed Diego Viera’s because it includes a picture of Lenin”. Apparently this exchange confirmed to all and sundry that Jeremy Corbyn knew this was anti-Semitic and secondly he supported it. All I can imagine is, it’s like a Black Sabbath song, if you play it backwards, it suddenly means something completely different.

Even if I stand on my head, while squinting out of one eye, I still can’t detect where the contents of this exchange with Mear One supports either, the supposed anti-Semitic theme or the mural itself. Yet this has been utilised by Blairites, Tories, the propaganda industry and all the other members of the ruling cabal to weaken a pesky lefty in the form of Jeremy Corbyn. What they conveniently and purposefully fail to acknowledge is Jeremy Corbyn has consistently fought against all forms of racism spanning over 40 years. It’s of public record that between 1990 and 2015, Mr Corbyn has stood up for British Jews and against anti-Semitism 10 times.

So what’s the problem? Well, if we look at Jeremy Corbyn’s political stance over his 35 years in parliament we may get an insight into the psyche of his detractors. Corbyn was strongly opposed to apartheid, a supporter of Nelson Mandela and was arrested outside the South African embassy 1984 for protesting. In contrast the PM at the time Thatcher was reluctant to outwardly oppose apartheid, nor was she seen to overtly support it, but she did undoubtedly receive support from the regime during the cold war.

Jeremy was also an opponent of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, who ran a brutal regime while implementing diabolical neoliberal policies. It must be noted that Pinochet was a close friend and ally of Margaret Thatcher. In the 80’s, Jeremy sided with the miners again against Thatcher and his own party line. Furthermore, when it comes to military intervention Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history every time. He campaigned or voted against military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, each one culminating in nothing less than a humanitarian catastrophe.

Corbyn has been equally tenacious fighting the ravages of neoliberalism. He disagreed with the Private Finance Initiative, where the taxpayer will eventually pay £300bn for assets that are worth £54.7bn. He firmly believes in public ownership of the railways. Not only has privatisation failed to reduce ticket costs, but the British public now pay £4bn a year in subsidies. Finally austerity, Corbyn is still vehemently fighting against austerity while reorienting the Labour Party as the anti-austerity alternative. It’s no secret that this disastrous experiment is nothing more than right-wing ideological wet dream and has even been discredited by the IMF, not known as the most socialist of organisations. Debt has increased since the advent of austerity from £1trn to £1.7trn, while real wages have fallen, funding for services have been dramatically reduced, plus over 1 million people are reliant on food banks.

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In our naiveté we may think Jeremy is just the right person for Prime Minister, he seems to be someone who is an individual of principle who get’s it right both home and abroad. A man that even before he entered parliament was apart of a group of marchers who opposed the National Front marchers in 1977. Unlike many who accuse people of racism, Jeremy Corbyn has consistently been a man of action. Unfortunately that is precisely the issue, he actively opposes needless wars, discrimination, corporate greed, while supporting everyday people. He is though, in the eyes of the establishment supporting the ‘wrong’ side and that will just never do.

The West are currently spoiling for a war with Russia. While this posturing has been going on for a while, with NATO putting more and more bases near the Russian border, recently the tempo has increased. The latest nerve agent attack has also been used to pillory Corbyn, even though there is a distinct lack of evidence confirming who the perpetrators were. This hasn’t stopped the Labour ‘moderates’ using this as a way to cause division, while the Tories also have gleefully joined in with their condemnation of the Labour leader. Jeremy Corbyn didn’t jump on the “Russia did it” bandwagon and rightly suggested to exercise caution pending the outcome of the investigation.

Unfortunately this sensible view does not adhere to the narrative Theresa May and her fellow Western warmongers are desperately trying to set. Alas there is still no evidence that a former spy of no consequence was killed by the Russian government. This alleged killing of a former double agent by Russia has caused apparent anger and yet the millions killed by the West in the 21st century barely seems to register on the outrage scale. Regardless of any facts Western governments continue playing their juvenile games expelling varying diplomats and people in the West are dutifully expected to dance to this merry tune. So why this recent push on Corbyn?

The obvious answer is, the longer he is around and the more people get to know him, his popularity appears to increase. A more specific reason also lies in Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, with their determination to create a fairer Britain all round. This includes going after tax evaders and avoiders while devising a tax system that won’t persecute working people. They are keen on implementing a type of ‘quantitative easing’ that will be used to improve infrastructure, fund ailing public services and return the railways to public control.

All of these ideas will squeeze the private sector of which have made a lot of money while provided often very little in return. It’s not surprising the establishment want him buried under the patio. Plotting against him has been a recurrent theme for the last two years and their methods have been varied. Firstly, generally Jeremy Corbyn receives a massive amount of criticism, often based on very little truth, but this bombardment comes from all across the media spectrum (including the Guardian, which is relatively centrist nowadays).

Apart from countless media smears, we’ve witnessed a couple of anti-Semitism accusations, links with Russia, connections to a Czech spy during the cold war, accusations of being an IRA sympathiser and a supporter of Hamas. The last two accusations could be file under ‘D’ for dialogue. What he was trying to do was promote peace without picking sides or forcing an unsubstantiated narrative, how quaint. Finally Corbyn has received varying assaults on his leadership, including the inept coup attempt in 2016 when Owen Smith became the hapless fall-guy and Corbyn supporters in response joined Labour in their droves.

The question must be asked, despite all this pressure why does he still stand almost Zen like among the chaos. The truth is, these allegations, lies and attacks on his integrity are based on zero evidence. This often repeated tactic usually consists of a small inconsequential moment that the media latches onto, such as engaging with the IRA to foster dialogue between the factions. This is turned 180° and presented in a way to ignite faux outrage with Corbyn’s enemies, while placing doubt in the mind of those still sitting on the fence. This story is consistently supported by Corbyn’s detractors in parliament for example Labour’s right/centre wing and of course the Tories.

Make no mistake Corbyn’s political demise would be a triumph for the ruling elite who inhabit both sides of the house. Currently opposing them are a small group of principled Labour MP’s and a large amount of Corbyn supporters who believe a better life for the many is possible. So in summary, it’s OK to support a moral human being who has been on the correct side of history for 40 years. It makes sense to endorse someone who understands the complexities of the world and is not so quick to pick sides. Finally it’s courageous to back a man who is strong enough to continue fighting the status quo. We need to sustain our loyalty to a man who is somewhat an anomaly in the murky world of politics, a rare gem and a figure of integrity.

 

 

Brexit: The Great British con-job.

The world currently has some major problems; climate change with no strategies in sight, multiple devastating wars all over the planet, the rise of far-right parties across Europe, a recently elected narcissist in the US and increased tension between NATO and Russia. Focusing in on the UK’s issues; the NHS is in free-fall, inequality with all its associated problems is increasing exponentially, while the government adds to the woes of the populace, by spending less and privatising more. The ruling elite are a collection of people who are devoid of compassion and care little of the 99%. Remarkably people still state that they would rather vote for them in the 2020 election. How is this so? What magical strategy have these master tacticians conjured up? The simple answer is, ‘divide and conquer’, a method that has been serving tyrants well, all over the globe for thousands of years. More specifically, one of the ways the Tories have achieved this is through the EU referendum. Brexit as it is known is quite literally the scam of the decade and more importantly for the ruling elite it has worked to perfection.

Never has a country been so divided, not just regarding the EU but on every conceivable level; racially, geographically, financially and nationally (attempts at Scottish independence proves this) to name a few issues. The EU disagreements and deep division began months before the 23rd June 2016 and continues unabated to this day. I claim to be no expert on Brexit itself, in fact the whole process bores the pants off me, because I view it as an intentional distraction, clouding much bigger issues as previously mentioned. It’s fair to say, however, that it is presently the most talked about and emotive political subject in the UK. Each time I post a Brexit linked article on my Facebook page there is always much greater interest than anything else I could post. When discussing the EU referendum on varying pages I visit, political discussions quickly deteriorate between opposing factions. Rational debate between ‘Brexiteers’ and ‘Remainers’ could be at best considered illusive. There appears very little middle ground and every step of this painstaking process to leave the EU sparks less debate, but more anger and vitriol .

As a political junkie, my ambivalence towards Brexit is rooted in my belief that the main purpose of this charade, is to splinter the nation even further. The concept is cunning in as much as the battle-lines between the two camps regarding Brexit are not drawn simply between left and right on the political spectrum. The fissures already evident in society can be complicated further with this added contrived layer of complexity we call Brexit. The population can be divided in a myriad of ways such as; north/south, rich/poor, non-migrant/migrant, Labour/Tory/Lib Dem/UKIP, England/Scotland/ NI/Wales, remain/leave and so on. These varying groups can be manipulated for example by using referendums, inflammatory government policy or media propaganda to disrupt social cohesion. One of the prime levers used leading up to Brexit was immigration. Although the EU referendum wasn’t directly related to non-EU immigration, parties such as UKIP and to an extent the Tories, used the subject of immigration to evoke fear of a country being over-run. They repeatedly suggested that immigration was a primary reason for decreased public services, notably the NHS and an increase in crime. These scare tactics weren’t grounded in facts, nor were they required to be, their job was purely to scaremonger.

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One of the upsides for the government regarding Brexit has been the lack of cohesion within the Labour Party. I hardly think right-wing think tanks would have thought the EU referendum would have such a calamitous effect on the main opposition, but sadly that has indeed been the case. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s overwhelming original leadership election in September 2015, right-wing elements in the Labour party have been desperate to make Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure a tricky one. Labour always describe themselves as a ‘broad church’, but I would offer that they behave more like a ‘dysfunctional family’, such as the Simpsons. There are sections of the party that are simply poles apart, for example, the left largely embraces democratic socialist ideas, while supporters on the other side of the party comically called ‘moderates‘ subscribe to a centre/right ideology. It was this political path also known as the ‘third way’ which Tony Blair and New Labour adhered to. Between them there is no common ground as such, hence the friction. We then added Brexit into the mix and this now gave the ‘moderates’ another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with.

Shortly after the EU referendum result there was a spate of tightly choreographed mass resignations of Shadow Cabinet members, this was jokingly named in left-wing circles the ‘chicken coup’. The reasons provided for these grandiose displays of displeasure generally revolved around accusations of a poor performance by Jeremy Corbyn in his role of persuading Labour supporters to vote remain. This, however, holds little water as 63% Labour party voters decided to tick remain at the ballot box.

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Regardless of the truth, the right wing of the party continued their assault on the elected leader Jeremy Corbyn. What transpired following this debacle was a protracted leadership contest, with the eventual challenger being little known sacrificial lamb Owen Smith. Despite a whole manner of dirty tricks leading up to the day of the vote, Jeremy Corbyn prevailed again by a huge margin. But in no way has this deterred the Blairites as they continue to ignore the members who largely support Corbyn in pursuit of a Labour leader who is willing to support neoliberalism and austerity.

Recently the Labour leader has declared his support for article 50, which will eventually start the Brexit process. Jeremy Corbyn’s decision is generally borne out of respect for democracy following the narrow vote to leave the EU in June 2016. This unsurprisingly has triggered more resignations and consternation within the party, followed by further calls by many ‘moderates’ for him to step down. It is clear to me that not only have the Tories and it’s many politically attached media outlets used Brexit to divide the country, Labour have used it in an attempt to depose of a socialist Labour leader. It would be deemed inconceivable for many of the MP’s to actually have to work with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. This is a man who is diametrically opposed to the Blairite corporatist way of doing things and looks towards a fairer Britain, not a Westminster driven country club for the privileged.

So how did Brexit affect the Conservatives? Well, after David Cameron resigned, they quickly installed Theresa May and life pretty much carried on as before. The fascinating thing was prior to the referendum, it was reported that the party was split and in a shambolic state. However, post Brexit they patched up their differences quickly and continued to destroy the country without missing a beat. borisTheresa May who was ‘a Remainer’ ended up as Prime Minister, while Boris Johnson who was one of the lead proponents of the leave campaign was given the role of Foreign Secretary. The present cabinet is now a mix of ‘Remainers’ and ‘Brexiteers’, so the suggestions of division within their ranks in hindsight seems rather exaggerated. In my opinion their disagreements were short lived because they all believe in one thing; unbridled capitalism aka neoliberalism. Their EU referendum argument would simply be; how could they best create a neoliberal paradise, in Europe or out of Europe? This is the glue that always binds the Conservatives together; a government by the 1% for the 1% and nothing gets in the way of the establishment juggernaut.

The damage Brexit has caused, particularly for the Labour Party will not disappear anytime soon. It is a powerful tool the ‘Blairites’ can use to rock the boat. Just as many from the ‘moderate’ side of the party have played the antisemitic card on several occasions in an attempt to weaken the current leadership. My view about Brexit is simple, in or out of the EU, which now appears out, the left need to push for an agenda that; cares for the most vulnerable, decreases inequality, changes our interventionist foreign policy and endeavours to look after our planet. I can confidently state that these 4 things wouldn’t have been achieved in the near future whether the UK was a member of the EU or not. This is why Brexit holds very little interest for me, Article 50 does not contain a blueprint of how to tackle our biggest issues. All we are doing is squabbling amongst ourselves and wasting time. I appreciate Labour is not in power, which obviously limits what the party can do. This period, therefore, offers 3 more years for the left to get a clear, simple coherent message across, because we cannot afford anymore neoliberalism anywhere on this planet.

This is a recent quote from Jeremy Corbyn referring to a UK outside of the EU.

“I say to everyone, unite around the important issues of jobs, security, economy, rights, justice, those issues, and we will frame that relationship with Europe in the future outside the EU.”