Tuesday, 17 December 2019

We may well have Doomed Ourselves and our Children

Four days on from the general election result, the wounds are still tender, and with the depression and anxiety and shock, people are feeling disbelief at what we've lost. The stakes could not have been higher - we are facing an extinction threat.

One party - The Tories - chose to ignore the threat, to jeopardise future generations in favour of profit for the energy industry. The other party - Labour - was going to treat the threat with the urgency it deserved, invest in the green sector, install solar panels across the country, build wind farms, switch to electric buses, make homes carbon neutral, and create millions of jobs in the process. Not only could Britain have been world leaders in the green revolution, we could have given a huge boost to our economy. Instead, we sided with corporate greed. It defies belief, but here we are.

Let's look at things on a more personal level. Many people, both Labour activists and supporters, are telling me of struggles with mental health, and more concerningly of feeling suicidal. We're not talking about snowflakes feeling self-pity for not getting their own way here. We're talking about vulnerable people with disabilities, mental health issues, or serious illnesses who genuinely fear being left destitute, who tell me the Tory government is making life impossible, who felt Labour was their last hope of living a dignified life.

But it's not just the most vulnerable who are suffering, it's ordinary workers who are finding life impossible. My own family, like many this year, can only afford the most basic Christmas. My wife and I are struggling to keep up with needed repairs or replace broken appliances, let alone live what the privileged would call a normal life. We're skilled and experienced workers. My wife has a master's degree, yet we're both earning not much above minimum wage. In our local economy, any job above minimum wage is hard to find. Opportunities are few and far between, and God knows things never used to be so bad. High streets are closing up and down the country. Skilled jobs are vanishing in place of zero hours contracts. People have a choice between exploitation and subsistence living - or destitution and starvation. The situation is dire.

What's scary is my wife and I are likely among the higher earners in our area. We're both working full time - that in itself elevates us above many. The fact we haven't had to visit a foodbank (we've been close) means we're among the lucky ones. It's depressing to say that. It really is.

If Labour won the general election, their £10 minimum wage policy would have increased our earnings by £480 a month. That would have taken us from struggling to fairly comfortable - and that's all any of us would ask for. It's hardly unreasonable.

We have an economic system that favours billionaires who extract huge sums from our public services, and even more in tax payer subsidies, yet add nothing of value. National assets like our beloved NHS are being sold off, piece by piece. US pharmaceutical companies are set to increase drug prices in a post-Brexit trade deal. There is nothing in the Tory economy that is not for sale. Nothing that is free from exploitation. Everything has a price, including human beings.

We could have changed this. Britain could have built a society where we measure value in human terms, rather than monetary terms, yet we chose exploitation and inequality. And for what purpose? Was the nation's decision based on careful analysis of policy proposals? Of course not. People voted based on the lies of Tory Brexit and the largest and most grotesque smear campaign we've seen in this country.

Repeatedly we were told "Get Brexit done", the deal is "oven-ready", and the Tories will protect our rights and safety standards. Four days into the new government and the oven-ready Brexit deal which was the key reason for many to vote Tory has been shown to be a lie. They're already looking at No Deal Brexit and talking of sacrificing our rights and safety standards. It's galling that anyone believed a Prime Minister who is known to be a pathological liar.

So why did people abandon their critical faculties on the Brexit issue? Well, it might be something to do with the other obvious problem at the general election - the media hate campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. Billionaire press barons didn't fancy Corbyn's tax plans so they became propagandists for the Tory government and told outrageous lies about the most decent person ever to run for Prime Minister. This is not democracy.

Most unforgivable is how every week, the BBC made editorial "mistakes" which favoured the Tories and made Labour look bad. Whenever they were called out, they refused to take concerns seriously and poured scorn on their critics. That's appalling contempt for the public who pay their wages.

When organisations like the United Nations and British Medical Journal are accusing your government of human rights abuses and your media fail to adequately report this, you have a problem. We have children with pneumonia lying on hospital floors and destitute disabled people starving to death, for fuck's sake.

If the mainstream media highlighted the true situation in the UK, public opinion would have been different. But instead they claimed the leader of the opposition likes terrorists because he favours diplomacy over war. They mocked him up against the Kremlin and Photoshopped his hat to make it look Russian. They suggested a man who has fought racism his entire life is racist. The truth didn't matter as long as they got the intended result. We mock other countries for this level of "journalism", but BBC propaganda has gone to a level beyond anything you'll see on Al Jazeera or Russia Today.

The British public made a self-defeating voting decision, but it certainly wasn't an informed one. Indeed, the media and the Conservative Party did everything they could to eliminate the possibility of informed consent. The public were duped so the Tories could continue a theft which has seen £1 trillion vanish from the public purse in 9 years. And while I'm certain a time will come when people won't tolerate such outrage, we may well have no NHS left and no climate to save.

We may well have doomed ourselves and our children.

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Saturday, 14 December 2019

What went Wrong for Labour?

In all honesty, no one expected the 2019 general election result. Even the most optimistic of Tories believed they had a fight on their hands, however much they may now claim otherwise. We saw a huge voter turnout, record numbers of young people voting. The official figures don't seem to add up, but while we can cry foul, some things certainly did go wrong for Labour. Things for which we only have ourselves to blame.

Our biggest obstacle was Brexit - and it was our biggest error. We didn't know if we were a leave or remain party because in truth, we were both. This means that while we initially campaigned for remain, we didn't get the pro-immigration argument out. We let the Tories drive a narrative that immigrants and the EU were responsible for the terrible problems they caused.

Many people were so willing to believe this lie because in their minds, they should get preferential treatment over anyone they perceive as an outsider. They don't like to see a person of a different colour or religion or ethnicity using the NHS or being housed by the council, regardless of circumstances. Yes, I'm calling them out on their racism.

Labour, whatever the press write about us, whatever our views on Brexit, are a passionately anti-racist party. We can never win by being Tory-lite on immigration because we'll repulse our own side. There can be no middle-ground on bigotry. The rules should be fair, yes, but discriminatory? Never.

Our only option is to passionately make the case for fair and sensible immigration rules, and fight the white supremacist mindset that would happily let my immigrant wife go without NHS treatment, or even be deported, given half the chance. (Let me tell you, the Spouse Visa process caused us absolute hell.)

Labour should have proudly fought the case for immigration from the beginning, rather than falling silent. By doing so, we simply became a punchbag. We were the party that was weak on immigration, and the Tories were going to keep us safe from those terrible immigrants. Indeed, if we'd argued our case, we might never have had the Brexit problem in the first place.

That's not to say I'm a cheer leader for the EU. I recognise the problems with the EU and its draconian competition rules. But once Brexit happened, we should have chosen a position and stuck with it. If we wanted to fight for PV, fine, but we needed to come out swinging from the beginning, strongly and passionately.

If we weren't going to have a PV, and instead honour the referendum result, we could and should have stuck to our guns. We should have said loud and clear that Brexit is absolutely happening and the remainers (such as myself) needed to accept that.

For most of the general election campaign, our Brexit message was weak, apologetic, nervous. But I reject the notion our PV message was unclear - it was perfectly clear, it just wasn't delivered with enough conviction.

In the final week, I noticed a sudden confidence in our PV message, but it was too little, too late. We'd allowed the Lib Dems to convince many we were pro-Brexit & we'd allowed the Tories/Brexit Party to convince the other side we were going to steal their Brexit.

Our timidness on the Brexit issue meant we were hurt from both sides. If we'd stood strongly by one position, we would have lost votes the other way, but we wouldn't have lost votes from both sides.

In Labour heartlands, there was an almost perfect correlation between Brexit Party gains and Labour losses. In some metropolitan remain seats, we lost votes to the Lib Dems. In pro-EU Scotland, our perceived weakness on Brexit was the final nail in our coffin.

It's also worth mentioning that in 2017 when we stuck by our message to honour the referendum result, we performed much better in the general election that year.

Make no mistake, Brexit was the key reason for Labour's defeat, but not the only reason. There was a huge generational divide, driven by two factors - the first was news sources. The older generation, who mostly read newspapers and watch TV news are overwhelmingly opposed to Labour. The younger generation who mostly rely on social media and the internet are overwhelmingly behind Labour. If only under-50s voted, Labour would've won by a landslide. But the over-50s do vote, of course, and they vote in much higher numbers than the young.

A left-wing Labour is never going to have the backing of the mainstream media, but as people keep pointing out, the mainstream media is slowly dying. Newspaper sales are falling through the floor. TV news is an irrelevance to young people. And there's no reason why their news habits should change as they grow older.

This suggests the future might actually be bright for Labour. As the older generations pass on, and the mainstream media's influence shrinks, and Brexit is no longer an issue, you would expect Labour to bounce back. Not least because the Tory Brexit and coming trade deal with Trump are going to devastate the working class.

I firmly believe the bulk of our message was on point. It was powerful, it was passionate, and it offered the right solutions for our country and our planet. I also believe we had the best possible leader in Jeremy Corbyn to make those arguments, but circumstances meant our message was drowned out. And those circumstances were driven by a centrist remain element of Labour who played tug of war on the Brexit issue. These people will use our failures as justification to return to their brand of politics, but they own our failures - and their brand of politics pulled in far fewer votes in three general elections prior to Corbynism.

We have a tough few years ahead, and we face genuine threats to our democracy. In the general election, we saw flagrant violations of electoral law - from Laura Kuenssberg declaring postal ballots looked grim for Labour, to Tory buses parking outside polling stations - we've seen that the Tories and the establishment have contempt for democracy.

Already, there is talk of gerrymandering, of seeking revenge against the Supreme Court for the prorogation ruling, of John Mann declaring war on left-wing media like The Canary, but despite these threats to our democracy, we are not powerless. We can mobilise, we can take to the streets, we can lead the fight back.

Expect a resurgence from the Labour Party as the public get lied to, as our NHS and public services are sold piece by piece, as our workers' rights, consumer protections and health and safety laws are slashed. Soon, enough people will be directly affected to become angry and demand change. And once we reach that tipping point, there will be no going back.

Labour will rise again, but only if it remembers its roots. Only if it fights for the working class. Only if it refuses to return to the days of Blairite middle-class politics, because that kind of politics is never going to appeal to the vulnerable in our society. It's had its day.

The choice of the future is socialism or conservatism. And conservatism won't be allowed to hurt people forever.

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Thursday, 19 September 2019

NHS Cuts, the Boris Johnson Confrontation & the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg

In 2017, my then 5 year old son began wheezing. He was panicky and teary, saying he couldn't breathe. I rushed him into the car and drove to the nearest hospital where I explained the situation, expecting a rapid response.

"But we don't have a children's ward anymore," I was told by the receptionist as though that had any relevance. I didn't know why my son was struggling to breathe - he had no history of breathing difficulties - but it sounded like his throat was closing up. This could have been an allergic reaction, in which case every second counts, so I could be forgiven for not giving a flying fuck about the fact the Tories closed down our children's ward. My son needed treatment.

An angry exchange later and I was told an ambulance would take my son to another hospital eight miles away for treatment. I didn't know at this point if he'd still be breathing upon arrival. You can imagine how terrifying this was.

Before we departed, a doctor quickly examined my son. She had none of the proper equipment and simply shone her mobile phone torch into his throat, then said she can't see an obstruction. That was it. We set off in the ambulance.

We arrived at the other hospital at midnight and the children's ward was packed like you wouldn't believe. Everyone was sitting squashed together on the floor. I've never seen a hospital so crowded - it was horrendous. We were told the only children's doctor was away on an emergency and there was no one to treat my son. The staff didn't know when the doctor would be available.

I sat squashed on the cold, hard, and crowded floor for hours, hoping with each passing second my son was still breathing. He was worryingly quiet for a long time, but gradually perked up, and the croakiness in his voice cleared. He told me he could breathe better.

Another half an hour passed. We were exhausted. We were told the doctor could still be hours. Not a single person had been seen. The hospital was becoming further crowded. I decided to take my son home.

My son did not receive treatment in what could have been a life or death situation. I took him to another hospital in the morning for a checkup. Thankfully, everything was fine, and we still don't know what caused his breathing difficulties.

My son's life was jeopardised by Tory cuts. Locally and nationally, the government have closed children's wards and maternity wards, leaving one hospital doing the job of three. It's horrific and this experience is the kind of thing that drives people to activism. It's also the kind of thing that kills.

Yet, I learned yesterday that being a political activist means you're not allowed to raise such concerns, that if you do, you're simply engaging in a politically-motivated PR stunt. At least, that's the impression the BBC and their political correspondent gave me when reporting on the case of Omar Salem.

Omar's seven day old baby almost died due to hospital understaffing - and our prime minister Boris Johnson decided to visit the hospital for a photo opportunity. Omar, still clearly distressed by his experience with his daughter, confronted the prime minister and broke down how Tory cuts are jeopardising lives. He explained about shocking understaffing at the hospital and raised displeasure at the fact Johnson had come for a press opportunity. Johnson, while looking into a camera, said "Well, there are no press here." A bizarre lie and a grotesque dismissal of Omar's concerns.

The story here is that government spending cuts are jeopardising lives, yet the prime minister sees hospitals as photo opportunities and lies to a father with a sick baby. Yet that's not how the BBC framed it. No, they framed it as the father who challenged Boris Johnson is a Labour activist. This was tweeted by both the BBC and Laura Kuenssberg and was reported on the BBC News at Ten. The implication was Omar's motives were political, rather than born from concern from his daughter, and his concerns about the NHS can simply be dismissed, or at the very least, doubted. That's certainly the impression I and many others got.

But it gets worse.

Laura Kuenssberg quote-tweeted, "This is him here", outing Omar to her 1.1 million followers, which inevitably triggered a pile-on. Omar was left to deal with accusations that his daughter might not be sick and he might have made the whole thing up.

I think back to my experience with the NHS when my son couldn't breathe and I think how horrendous such a pile-on would have been during an emotional time. I suffer from anxiety. This would have triggered a panic attack at the very least. Online bullying can and does tip people over the edge.

Now the BBC assure us there was nothing sinister in Laura Kuenssberg's motives. I'm certainly glad to hear it. But whether intentional or not, she triggered a pile-on for a father who was going through a difficult period and who had done nothing wrong. She behaved irresponsibly and inappropriately, and at the time of writing, I am unaware of any apology from Kuenssberg or the BBC. Indeed, the BBC's statement suggested criticisms of Kuenssberg are absurd.

All inappropriate tweets should be removed, an apology should be made, and the BBC should reach out to Omar. Instead, we're told told our concerns are absurd, and even worse, Labour centrists are jumping on the bandwagon on Twitter, attacking those who've criticised Kuenssberg for her behaviour.

And let's consider Kuenssberg has been met with such fury because she has form. She was previously found guilty of a misleading report on Jeremy Corbyn about his stance on the government's shoot-to-kill policy - an error which many feel should have cost Kuenssberg her job.

And remember when Corbyn first became Labour leader and Kuenssberg and her colleagues would, in a sneering manner, refer to Corbyn as "the left winger" as though being left wing was something sinister? But they would never refer to any Conservative MP as "the right winger", even though the Tories were imposing brutal austerity cuts. Indeed, they reserved such language for far-right loons like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. This seemed absolutely intentional - frame the Labour Party and its leader as extremists equivalent to the far right.

There has been a pattern of bias with Kuenssberg and the BBC for a long time - and when we see them treating a father with a sick child with such insensitivity, they are of course going to provoke a reaction. I and many others feel Kuenssberg has gone too far and it's time for her to leave her job as BBC political editor.

What do you think?

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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Violet Swinson - The Spoilt Child of UK Politics

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has been compared to Violet Beauregarde - the spoilt brat who wanted more and more until greed turned her into a giant purple balloon - and Violet Elizabeth Bott - "I'll scream and I'll scream until I'm sick!" Perhaps, we should rename her Violet Swinson!

Violet Swinson is like the teacher's pet turned school prefect with ideas way above her station and an unbearably conceited nature - from her wide-eyed, I shall repeatedly nod as though I'm honestly listening and not-at-all patronising you - to her coarse voice which turns shouty the moment she gets rattled as her eyes switch from innocent child to power-hungry megalomaniac - it's clear everything about Violet Swinson is a performance and not a convincing one. She's more first year drama student than accomplished political leader. More the youngster in the work place who landed a position way above her skill level and experience, and now manages to rub everyone up the wrong way.

The only impressive trait of Violet Swinson is her spectacular delusion of grandeur as she laughably claims she will be prime minister - she's only 303 MPs short of a majority - and given one third of her MPs are Labour and Tory squatters, it seems possible she will lose seats at the next general election. Even her own East Dunbartonshire seat is vulnerable. Wouldn't it be amusing to see the aspiring prime minister lose her seat? There's every chance that will happen, and Violet knows it, which is why her behaviour is becoming increasingly irrational and opportunistic.

Violet Swinson is supposed to lead a liberal party, yet she welcomes the most illiberal racist and homophobic MPs to get the numbers up. What clearer indication that the Illiberal Democrats in their current iteration are driven by power rather than principle? What would the late Charles Kennedy think? Indeed, what is the point of power if you sacrifice everything you're supposed to believe in, in order to accomplish that power?

Violet Swinson's current strategy is to pitch herself as progressive and just say whatever Labour isn't saying. When Labour's official policy was to push for an EU trade deal, the Illiberal Democrats' official policy was to push for a people's vote. When Labour's official policy was to push for a people's vote, the Illiberal Democrats suddenly didn't want one. They wanted to abandon the policy, ignore the last referendum result, and simply cancel Brexit - Illiberal Un-Democrats.

But does Violet Swinson give a damn about Brexit? It really is hard to tell. Certainly, she seems determined to split the remain vote which would only accomplish one thing - a Tory government and a Trump deal Brexit - the opposite of what she claims to want. But then again Violet did serve as a minister in David Cameron's government and she did vote with the Tory whip more times than Cameron himself.

It's no secret the Illiberal Un-Democrats have been discussing the possibility of another Tory coalition. They might try to pass themselves off as a remainer Tory-lite party, but another coalition would not give us remain. It would however give us austerity on steroids - music to Violet's ears, given she's recently declared austerity did not go far enough. I can think 130,000 dead people who would beg to differ, if only they could, but they're just collateral damage in Violet Swinson's maniacal quest for power.

How can Lib Dem voters possibly trust a party which promised to scrap tuition fees and then tripled them? Brexit will be the same thing all over again, only the consequences will be much graver. Remember Nick Clegg saying "Sorry" and that he should never have made that promise. That will be Violet Swinson in a couple of years, saying "Sorry" and that she never should've pledged to remain.

Will Lib Dem voters forgive and offer Violet a scapegoat? Oh well, she was in coalition so her hands were tied? She could choose to ally herself with Labour and pretty much guarantee the public get a people's vote on Brexit. She won't. This means the one viable remain option - Labour - must now defeat the Tories, Brexit Party and the Lib Dems who should be our allies. The Illiberal Un-Democrats are not a force for remain - they're a force for Brexit.

The only question in my mind is: Does Violet Swinson secretly want Brexit? Or is she so blinded by hatred of Corbyn that she will scream and scream until she makes herself sick? So deluded in her quest for power that she will chew gum until she turns into a giant purple balloon? The truth is, no one knows what Violet Swinson is thinking - not even her own ramshackle party of homophobes and racists.

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Lib Dems keep taking out Labour's Trash!

Okay, that headline is perhaps a bit crass. No one is trash, not in human terms, but in political terms, well, to put it politely, MPs can be surplus to requirements - and those who have left Labour certainly were that.

Surely that sounds counterproductive. Surely a political party wants as many MPs as possible on its side, doesn't it? Well, yes, all political parties want that, but no one wants a player who is deliberately scoring own goals, who is sabotaging your side's chance of winning. That was precisely what the Tinge UK defectors (and others) were doing to Labour, and it is why they won't be missed.

When I first heard of splits in the Labour camp, they caught me off-guard. I'd naively assumed any Labour MP, regardless of internal political differences, was fully behind the Labour project, first and foremost, and would do whatever it takes to get Labour into government. I'd assumed both sides were being petty, and all that was needed was a little bridge building. I was not prepared for the complete lack of sincerity from the right wing (mostly Blairites) of the Labour Party. Their aim was quite clear: destroy Corbyn, even if it meant destroying Labour's election chances, under the assumption they could pick up the pieces, and once again rebuild the party in Blair's image.

Of course, they failed to take into account that Labour is a more democratic party now, with the membership involved in much decision making - and the membership's views are completely at odds with the right wing of the party. Indeed, the Labour centrists might have some left wing social views, but their economics are definitely Tory-lite, free market, deregulate and privatise. Precisely the kind of economics which widened inequality and led to worldwide recession. Even the IMF is rejecting such thinking in favour of Scandinavian social-democratic principles.

Pushing left would appear to be the way forward, yet this is resisted by those in the Labour Party who would be more at home in the Liberal Democrats. And that's precisely where Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and others have found themselves, via a slight detour through the ill-fated centrist party - Change UK - which had the backing of Tony Blair, who is somehow still a Labour member, despite hating everything the current party stands for and stating he would struggle to vote Labour.

It would be much easier to respect these centrist MPs, if only they'd been honest from the start, but they weren't - they engaged in smears and dirty tricks. Look at Luciana Berger, for example, who is pushing the line she was hounded out by Labour antisemites. She fails to mention a recent court case shows the four men convicted of racially harassing her, were far right and had absolutely no links to Labour whatsoever. I, and many others, in Labour would absolutely stand in solidarity with Luciana against these awful antisemitic loons, but instead she plays a slight of hand to imply we and them are one and the same. This is unacceptable.

What's worse is this kind of smearing is pushed by Labour MPs like Jess Phillips, who recently on Twitter called ordinary Labour supporters "idiots the lot". The reason? We challenged Jess on her reluctance to push for a Labour government in 2019. I, and others, asked Jess repeatedly if she was behind the fight for a Labour government in 2019 and she failed to answer. She then proceeded to launch four pile-ons against me, accusing me of sexism. My crime? I lost patience at one point and took the piss out of her using the suffix Esq - an idea she got from her mate Jacob Rees-Mogg. That's the Tory pillock she was drinking champagne with at Rupert Murdoch's mansion. Labour is supposed to be past the days of cosying up to Tories and media moguls. Jess isn't. With Jess, it's all about me-me-me.

And yet, I do not have anything personal against Jess, or any of the other Labour centrists. So often, we are accused of ideological purity, of wanting to drive out those who do not perfectly align with our views. Nothing could be further from the truth. We welcome those with a range of views, as long as they're fighting for a Labour government and not scoring own goals. Our is not an unreasonable position. But what are we getting from the centrist mob? Well, when they're not yelling "Broad church!" at us with no sense of irony, they're smearing decent Labour members, calling us "dogs" and trying to purge us from the party.

Remember when Corbyn first took over and his supporters were being thrown out for sins as petty as swearing on social media? Ironically, Jess Phillips is free to swear on Twitter without objection, but I understand Kerry-Anne Mendoza was expelled simply for liking a post from the Green Party. Yes, thought crime. This is especially galling when you consider the Green Revolution is a central Labour manifesto pledge.

And of course, it gets even more sinister than purging decent people from the party - they go all out to smear the leadership and the party itself - creating the impression Labour is rife with antisemites, and showing utter contempt for our socialist beliefs in the process. Take Margaret Hodge who called Corbyn a "fucking antisemite and racist" and introduced over 300 antisemitism complaints to Labour, 90% of which had nothing to do with the party. Or consider how former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair now scoffs at the Labour manifesto, calling it an unaffordable wishlist, and suggesting the British public aren't idiots, which in turn suggests ordinary Labour voters are idiots.

Blair fails to mention the manifesto was backed by 50 of the world's leading economists, including Nobel Laureates, who wrote an open letter to the British public, endorsing Corbynomics. (A more recent letter published in the Financial Times was signed by 80 economists.)

One thing becomes abundantly clear - this gulf is not about ideological purity or spiteful Corbynistas - it is about an unbridgeable ideological gap.

When ordinary Labour members and supporters say they want the likes of Tom Watson, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, and Margaret Hodge to leave Labour, it's because they want to drive us out. When we call them infiltrators, it's because they're neoliberals who infiltrated a socialist party and then had the audacity to smear socialists as infiltrators.

And when I joke the Lib Dems are taking our trash, I again, of course, only mean this in political terms. The Lib Dems are taking out those MPs who are hurting our party from within, and as such, they are doing us a huge favour.

I would therefore implore Jo Swinson to take the remaining Labour centrists with her, into their natural home in the Lib Dems, a place they should have been all along. They infiltrated a popular party in a cynical attempt to mop up the liberal and socialist vote while completely marginalising socialists in a socialist party.

As for those who now call themselves politically homeless, simply because the Lib Dems aren't popular enough for their liking, cry me a river. Socialists were politically homeless for a long time because the establishment stole our voice. Well, now we've taken it back.

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What is it with Tories giving Labour Great PR?

In the last couple of days, we've seen the Tory Party mock up Jeremy Corbyn as both a chicken and as Colonel Sanders. The reasoning being that Corbyn is a "chicken" because he is afraid of a general election. This playground prank, rumoured to be the work of James Cleverly, has backfired spectacularly due to some obvious problems.

Firstly, as many have pointed out, how can Corbyn be both the chicken and Colonel Sanders? That simply doesn't make sense. Secondly, Jeremy Corbyn has strongly signalled his intention for a November 2019 general election. Why would he let his political rivals choose a date more suitable to them? Corbyn holds the cards, right now, and he quite rightly does not want a general election to be a second EU referendum - he recognises the two things are distinct and should remain that way. Thirdly, the Colonel Sanders mock up made Corbyn look cool, and Labour supporters simply adopted this, renaming "JFC" - Jezza for Change. Indeed, many were thanking the Tories for a great new logo and campaign slogan. Fourthly, a photographer has suggested the Tories stole an image from him for their chicken mock up, insisting he hasn't sold a single copy of that particular image.

But this JFC farce is not the only time a PR stunt has backfired on the Tories. Dominic Cummings has recently tried to reframe Boris Johnson as an anti-establishment #PeoplesPrimeMinister. This prompted Twitter users to draw obvious comparisons between Johnson and Corbyn's records.

Johnson proudly boasted in a live TV debate: "Can you think of anyone who stuck up for the bankers as much as I did?" Indeed, his Chancellor Sajid Javid is an ex-city banker, and Johnson's first promise as prime minister was tax cuts for the rich. Not exactly a people's prime minister so much as a banker's prime minister.

Contrast this with Corbyn, who says of bankers: "When they say we're a threat, they're right..." Corbyn warned of the dangers of banking deregulation and was ultimately proven right with the 2008 crash. Today, he promises to take on the bankers, and in the process, create a Green Revolution - and far from being pie in the sky, his plans were recently backed by 80 leading economists in the Financial Times.

Johnson's claim to being the People's Prime Minister is one Orwellian step too far. We all know who the real people's Prime Minister is, and the establishment is running scared.

There have, of course, been other moments when Tories have tried to discredit Labour, only for this to backfire. Earlier this year, Tom Bower released a book on Corbyn, entitled: Dangerous Hero, which contained many factual inaccuracies but got one thing very right - the title. Corbynistas up and down the country were saying "You know what? Corbyn is a Dangerous Hero and so are we!" Cue thousands of users adding the hashtag to their Twitter names.

Another slur that caught on was the cool sounding "Corbyn outriders" which again quickly appeared in names of Twitter users. Yet another example was the charming "Magical Grandpa". And how about the edgy sounding "Semi-Marxist cabal"? If you're going to pitch yourself as a People's Prime Minister, Mr Johnson, you might want to avoid language which emphasises the anti-establishment credentials of your opponents...

Anyways, that's all I can think of for now. Can you think of any others I have missed? If so, let me know in the comments!

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Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Fight for the NHS

Imagine for a moment, you’re sat in a doctor’s office and you receive that nightmare diagnosis. Cancer. And, in that moment of terror, as questions are spinning around your mind – Is it treatable? What are my chances? How long have I got? – you face additional questions which add to your misery – Will my insurance cover this? Will I have to pay an excess? What if my claim is rejected?

This is the reality faced by Americans. And it could soon be the reality faced by the British. That’s not scaremongering. It’s not cheap political point scoring. It’s actually one of the main reasons we fight so passionately for a Labour government. Our beloved NHS, which saves so many lives, which has probably saved your uncle or your mother or your colleague or someone else you love, is not to be taken for granted.

It could be taken from us.

Boris Johnson has in a 2003 book – The Essential Boris Johnson – stated his eagerness to charge the public for NHS services, and he has enthusiastically backed every move to carve up and privatise the NHS. Indeed, former Conservative Prime Minister John Major had this to say about him:

“The NHS is about as safe with them [Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Ian Duncan Smith] as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”

To repeat, these are the words of a former Conservative Prime Minister.

Now there’s not a person in Britain unaware of the Trump administration’s desire for the NHS to be part of a post-Brexit trade deal. And the Americans have the upper-hand.

Brexit Britain is desperate for trade. We are about to become a small fish in a big pond, and if the US wants something from us, there’s every chance they will get it. And one of the first points of discussion will be higher drug prices.

Americans pay up to ten times as much as the UK for drugs like insulin, and Big Pharma has such influence over congress, Americans are not allowed to import cheaper drugs from abroad. Trump has stated his resentment that Britain is, in his opinion, underpaying for drugs. And let’s not forget, the US is a place where diabetics die because they can’t pay for treatment.

Most American Go Fund Me pages are set up to pay for medical costs, and most fail to raise the needed sums. Just imagine being deemed surplus to requirements by your society for a medical condition you were born with. That is the brutal reality of free market capitalism.

A general election in 2019 seems highly likely, and this will not just be a battle for which party gets to lead the country – it will be a battle for the NHS.

Labour will put the NHS back into public hands and end the funding crisis which took almost every NHS trust from a budget surplus into a deficit under Tory rule.

The Conservatives will further privatise services, handing over pieces of our NHS to US corporations who are circling like vultures, until soon we reach a point where we have surrendered full control, and are left scratching our heads, wondering how we ended up with a US-style insurance-based model.

The Tories will, of course, tell you this was the only way, that nationalised healthcare, which we’ve had for over 70 years, which every developed country other than the US has, suddenly became unaffordable and full privatisation was the only solution. In fact, they will probably find a way to blame Labour. They always do. But Labour is the party that gave us the NHS and it is their greatest achievement.

You probably know someone who was saved by the NHS, maybe someone who had cancer treatment and was given a new lease of life at no charge. Under a US-style model, there’s every chance that person, be it your uncle, brother, sister, cousin, best mate – would be bankrupt or dead.

Just think about that. And then think about the 50/50 chance you could one day get that horrible diagnosis. Would you be able to pay?

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History of the Monarchy

Following the Queen’s decision to allow the government to prorogue parliament and force No Deal Brexit, many are asking whether the monarchy should be abolished. In the interests of fairness, it’s worth pointing out there is debate over whether the Queen could or should have said no to Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Personally, I would’ve liked Elizabeth to defy him, but then again, as a republican, I could be seen as hypocritical if I argued she should interfere in our democratic process. One thing I will say is Elizabeth’s role seems to be purely ceremonial, in which case, I must ask what is the point? I would also like to challenge her legal right to the throne. Here is a brief history of the House of Windsor, laying out why…

Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, the Catholic King James II was overthrown and sent into exile by English Protestants led by Dutchman William of Orange who then became William III. Towards the end of William’s life, there were no Protestant heirs to the throne so the Act of Settlement 1701 decreed all Catholic heirs would be bypassed until a Protestant could be found. Our monarchy was then handed over to the German House of Hanover, and all monarchs since are descended from Sophia of Hanover.

Due to anti-German sentiment during World War I, the monarchy changed its name to the more palatable House of Windsor, but the fact remained a family of German heritage controlled the monarchy based purely on the outcome of 17th century religious conflict.

Foreigners were handed the throne simply because powerful British people approved of their religion. I would therefore suggest there is no legitimacy to the Windsors’ claim, based on the right of accession – a right which is absurd in itself.

We are supporting the extraordinarily lavish lifestyles of this family for no reason, other than misguided sentiment. Royalists will tell you they generate huge sums of money for the economy. The fact is, they are using the Crown Estate – a publicly-owned property portfolio – to further enrich themselves. The monarchy is antithetical to the principle of meritocracy and a symbol of our colonial past and today’s grotesque inequality.

Last year, we funded a hugely expensive wedding while the homeless of Windsor were brushed to one side because, heaven forbid, we could not have the royals laying eyes on the peasants.

So many in this country are struggling to get by, eating from food-banks, and making extraordinary sacrifices, and we are told, rather perversely, to be grateful for the indulgences of a rich German family who stole our country.

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Disputing the Anti-Immigration Meme

I’ve seen many idiots recently, family included, sharing or citing memes about how illegal immigrants receive £30,000 a year, and even a free house or car, when they come to the UK, and they seem convinced this is the root of their problems.

If this applies to you, let me help you out here: If an illegal immigrant comes to the UK and tries to apply for benefits, housing, or even attempts to receive NHS treatment, they will be deported. (The clue’s in the word ‘illegal’).

Illegals actually work when they come here, often in awful conditions for below minimum wage. You may not like the fact they are here, but there’s no sensible way you can say their presence impacts you, unless it was your lifelong dream to pick fruit.

Legal immigrants are not allowed to claim benefits either. My wife is an immigrant. Her Visa clearly states no recourse to public funds. Not only do legal immigrants work, they are significant contributors to the economy, and our services, such as the NHS, could not function without them.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work until their application is processed. They are given £3,000 a year to live off, even if they are a couple (this would work out at £30 a week per person.) Only about 6% of immigrants claim asylum and if their application is rejected, they are deported.

If you have a problem with the UK accepting legitimate refugees, I don’t know what to say to you, other than stop reading The Sun, The Daily Mail, etc., and stop filling your head with hatred. The real cause of your problems is politicians and the rich people who own them. It is they who led us into war and created refugees in the first place. And it is they who led us into recession and imposed austerity upon us.

People all over the world are being shit on by the elite and if you stop scapegoating for a second, you’ll realise you have far more in common with immigrants than with your leaders.

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Why I will be Voting Labour

I remember the dark old days of 1980s Britain when the northeast of England was forgotten by the Tory government. Unemployment was sky high. The few available jobs paid badly. Crime soared, poverty soared, services were terrible, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Wealthy southerners can’t grasp how horrified us northerners are by the creeping return of those dark days. My people deserve better than this. All decent people do.

When I was growing up, we had nothing. It was a genuine struggle to know where the next meal was coming from. We couldn’t go to nice places – and nice things were for wealthy people in other parts of the country. I remember when I left school and couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a home, despite being one of the most gifted kids in my school. And I remember how Blair was prime minister at this point, and things were getting better for some in my area, but not for single young men like me.

One of the many reasons people called Blair a red Tory was that although he helped some, he did not represent everyone – and I was cast aside.

Now I see a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who genuinely would represent the working class and give the underclass a fair shot. And even though my situation is not as dire now, this matters so much to me. I don’t want our kids to go though what I went through. And nor should you.

Our kids deserve their free school meals (just like they deserved the milk Thatcher stole) and their schools should not be sold to the highest bidder. They should not amass huge debts for a higher education or see aspiration as unrealistic.

Our workers deserve a living wage and a full time contract. They deserve four extra bank holidays and rights at work. They deserve the right to sue for mistreatment or wrongful dismissal, regardless of the length of their employment.

Our pensioners deserve their winter fuel allowance. They deserve social care. They deserve to keep their house. They deserve dignity in old age. These people fought for our country and many of their peers died for our freedom.

The disabled deserve better than humiliating ATOS assessments, the bedroom tax, loss of benefits, loss of support, loss of life. Yes, loss of life. An estimated 130,000 vulnerable people have died due to Tory cuts, according to academic studies, and many more were left destitute, including wheelchair users and the mentally ill.

Parents deserve better than stagnating wages, cuts to tax credits and child benefit. They deserve better than unaffordable rent and unattainable mortgages. They deserve better than skipping meals to ensure their kids don’t go hungry.

Britain deserves better than food banks, shoddy services, and exploitation from the elite. We deserve better than the destruction of the NHS, a police force unequipped to deal with terrorism, a fire service unequipped to prevent avoidable deaths which have increased 21%.

At present, many of our public services (like rail and energy) are run by foreign governments who are profiteering from our shoddy services and pumping the profits into their own services. It’s time we put a stop to this. It’s time we prioritised high quality service and kept the profit for ourselves. Ask yourself, why can’t our government run our services, when other governments run their own services and our services? Is nationalisation really such a crazy idea?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has given every indication he is more right-wing than May or Thatcher, his agenda even more extreme. But in Jeremy Corbyn we see someone who is the opposite in every way, who is passionate and sincere, who has been on the right side of history throughout his career, who gives us hope.

Corbyn was arrested for protesting apartheid when the Tories were calling Mandela a terrorist. He was campaigning for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so. He brought republicans and loyalists to the negotiating table during the IRA conflict, and he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2013. Corbyn warned us that deregulation of the financial sector would lead to economic recession. He warned us the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would destabilise the middle east. He warned us that police cuts would leave us vulnerable to terrorism. He was right. Every. Single. Time.

Almost everyone agrees the establishment is corrupt, that ordinary people are not being represented. Well, finally we have a chance to take another direction, to take on the bankers and the media moguls, to create a system that works for everyone. Take a look at the countries with the world’s best living standards, best public services, highest social mobility, best records on human rights, lowest levels of corruption – they are the left-wing democracies. The Labour Party is offering a system proven to work – and considered normal throughout northern Europe and beyond. When the press tell you otherwise, whose interests do you think they’re representing: Yours or the billionaire press barons’?

The UK is currently charging corporation tax at 19% which is lower than most G20 countries. Could this be why the media are so keen to keep the Tories in power? I would suggest this is what corruption looks like. The number of Tory tax dodgers is simply unacceptable, including, allegedly, the Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson who is reluctant to disclose his finances.

The Tories are handing out sweetheart deals to their corporate mates left, right, and centre. Labour would put a stop to this. They’d crack down on tax dodging and make the elite pay their way. If you think such steps are unnecessary or impractical, consider this: The Tories have borrowed more than every Labour government combined because they otherwise could not pay their bills, due to sharp tax cuts. While the public is undergoing austerity, the rich are getting richer, and our debts are mounting. Wages fell by 10.4% in real terms for ordinary people under Tory rule. What happened to ‘We’re all in this together’?

I don’t want five more years of austerity, police cuts, fire service cuts, NHS cuts. I don’t want the remains of our public services to be sold to the highest bidder. And the left-wing are not exaggerating or scaremongering when we say the future of the NHS is at risk. Prominent Tories have stated their desire for full privatisation for many years and Alexander Johnson is keen to charge for access to the service. Every chance they get, the Tories sell off another piece of our most prized institution.

Even former Conservative Prime Minister John Major said the NHS is under threat because of the ‘pythons’ Michael Gove, Alexander Johnson, and Ian Duncan-Smith. Doctors and nurses are hugely concerned, and I think we should take their concerns seriously. I do not want my children to grow up in a country where the poor get sick and die like they do in some countries.

And it is not just doctors who are concerned. Prominent police officers continuously warned the government that budget cuts left the country at increased risk of terrorism. The previous Prime Minister Theresa May accused them of scaremongering and crying wolf. Recent events have shown their concerns were justified. And it is heart-breaking to think children have lost their lives because of her arrogance.

I find it horrifying many would consider voting for a party that could be so reckless with our safety. A party so inhumane it wants to bring back fox hunting, scrap free school meals, scrap the winter fuel allowance, even take grandma’s house. Prior to 2010, I really thought Britain was better than this, that we were moving onto a more compassionate kind of politics. I sincerely hope we soon will.

The Tories are promising to take us down the same old path. Labour is offering a different direction, and I’m not na├»ve enough to believe they will work miracles or be perfect. Of course they won’t, but at least they will sincerely try to improve things, and are offering a strong plan. The Tories didn’t bother to cost their last manifesto, let alone offer anything resembling hope. It is galling that many still back them, but people can change their minds.

A general election is surely coming in 2019 and all we have to do is vote for our best interests.

Vote for investment in our services. Vote for people before profit. Vote for free school meals. Vote for free higher education. Vote for a £10 an hour minimum wage. Vote for one million new houses. Vote for four new bank holidays. Vote for the police. Vote for the fire service. Vote for the NHS. Vote for hope.

Vote Labour.

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Is Jeremy Corbyn too Left Wing?

One accusation continuously levelled at Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party is their policies are too left wing, and therefore unworkable, but does this claim stand up to scrutiny? Certainly, you will find few in the mainstream media willing to tackle those policies head-on. They simply regurgitate empty platitudes and then cite 1970s Britain as an example of why Corbyn is out of touch, but there are several key points they omit. In this article I will discuss a few:

a) The most successful government in our country’s history was Clement Attlee’s Labour government, and it was also the most left wing.

At a time when Britain was in ruins, following World War II, and struggling with a deficit of 250% of GDP, Labour invested in infrastructure, gave us the NHS and public housing, achieved full employment and turned that huge deficit into a budget surplus.

But how was this possible? Doesn’t socialist ideology always lead to mass unemployment and a bigger deficit? Well, actually, no. History clearly demonstrates otherwise. The further left we push, the better we perform, and the same pattern can be seen in democracies around the world.

Added to this the fact under Tory rule, public services suffer, wages stagnate, and wealth gets shifted upwards to the 1%, it is a wonder the Tories get any votes at all. But then they do have the mainstream media on their side (including tragically the BBC).

A handful of billionaires control 90% of the “news” we receive and inevitably support the PM candidate who sucks up to them, who offers whatever tax loophole they ask for. Just look at how Tony Blair and David Cameron befriended Rupert Murdoch, the man whose newspapers have backed the winning candidate in every recent general election. This is no coincidence.

Times may be changing and the mainstream media’s influence may be waning, but that influence is certainly still felt. The public may not be stupid, but human psychology is a strange thing, and otherwise smart people can be manipulated. The key is to generate fear and anger, create common enemies, and then repeat the same tropes over and over. The more a person hears something, the more likely they are to believe it is true. And the more emotionally affected they are likely to become.

In recent years, we have been told our woes come from the EU, Muslims, and immigrants. We’re constantly fed negative stories about these groups, and although some stories may have an element of truth, context is almost always lacking, meaning the consequences are exaggerated and the positives are minimised. We are then told the Tory party will save us from these enemies and that other parties would surrender, that they are weak, ineffective, treacherous even.

We’re rarely told immigration provides a net economic benefit, that immigrants contribute more to the system than they take from it, that they’re significantly less likely to claim benefits or commit crimes, that they keep many of our services running, that you’re more likely to win the lottery than be the victim of terrorism, that Muslims up and down the country, and worldwide, are working to tackle extremism, that Muslims themselves are the biggest victims of terrorism, that EU membership has greatly improved workers’ rights, environmental protections, etc., and that Europe has actually done a much better job of tackling elitism than Britain, with significantly lower levels of inequality, less corruption, and better public services. The EU is far from perfect, but it is our approach that is the main problem, not theirs.

We are allowing the elite to drive down wages, despite the fact Britain is wealthier than ever before. Since the recession began, all new money that has come into the country has gone to the richest 1%, making them three times richer than they already were.

Britain has seen the second largest collapse of wages in the developed world, just behind the basket case economy of Greece. In most developed countries, wages are increasing. Our public services are being sold to foreign companies and governments who are profiteering while allowing the quality of services to suffer.

In short, we are being shafted, but we allow ourselves to be distracted into believing we’re tackling the ‘real enemies’ – the EU, Muslims, and immigrants. And if the Tories win, this strategy will, of course, not lead us into prosperity because it was never meant to. They will simply find other groups to demonise and we will allow ourselves to be distracted all over again.

b) The nations leading the world on human development tend to be more left wing than Britain.

Arguably, the most socially and economically left wing democracies are in Scandinavia, and they operate similarly to how Britain would under Labour with extensive social programs. It is no secret Scandinavian countries regularly top the UN Index of Human Development and The World Happiness Report. The next time someone cites Venezuela as an example of why democratic socialism cannot work, mention this, and then remind them such a straw-man argument is no different from citing Somalia as an example of free market capitalism.

c) All of Labour’s policies have proven successful elsewhere.

Here I will discuss arguably the five most noteworthy:

£10 an hour minimum wage
The Tories would have you believe a high minimum wage is a job killer. Try telling that to Denmark, Switzerland or Australia who have the highest minimum wages in the world, but low unemployment. Also, look at the US where minimum wages vary by state. The states with the highest minimum wages perform better. Why? Simple economics.

Economies function properly when the working class have money in their pockets. It gets them away from state dependency and enables them to spend, which puts money into the economy, in turn creating jobs and helping small businesses grow. The only losers in this scenario are the billionaires who have to cut their own disgustingly high bonuses in order to pay their workers a fair wage.

A national investment bank

It is no coincidence the countries which invest most in small businesses have the most thriving economies. This concept has proven particularly successful in Germany, which is the model I understand Corbyn is looking to emulate. Either we can have a country in which large corporations dominate and billionaires siphon our money into tax havens, or we can have a country where the ordinary guy can get ahead, and where everyone benefits.

Nationalised rail network

Firstly, this idea is not unaffordable, as some would have you believe, nor is the state inherently too inefficient to run a rail network. At present, almost all of our rail services are run by the Dutch, German, and French governments! We can renationalise rail companies, one by one, for free, as their licenses expire, and then we can put an end to poor services and sky high prices. All across Europe, you will find better rail services, and almost all are state owned and run. Some European countries are profiteering from our rail network and putting their own people first. Isn’t it time we put a stop to this?

Increasing free childcare

How many times have single mothers been demonised for claiming benefits? By increasing free childcare, we can make it easier for women to work, providing a boost to the economy, and reducing state dependency. At present, the free childcare we offer is much lower than in many other countries. The Swedes get extra tax credits to defray the cost of child-rearing, plus access to regulated, subsidised day care facilities which stay open from 6:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night. The Danes and French benefit from similar arrangements. We are the second most expensive country in Europe for childcare and this only provides an obstacle for working mothers. Let’s change this.

Progressive taxation

The Tories claim high taxes for high earners will drive businesses abroad, and yet the countries with the highest upper-tax rates are doing just fine. When Denmark set its upper-tax rate at 52%, it was ranked the best place in the world to do business. In the 1950s, the US and UK had an upper-tax rate of 90% and their economies thrived. While no-one is suggesting we go that high again, a few extra percentage points on the upper-tax rate would certainly ease the burden of those hit hardest by austerity.

After all, we’re in this together, aren’t we?

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Corbyn and Thatcher - The Apartheid Years

The sign of a true leader is foresight.

While other leaders act against public interest and then cry hindsight, the truly great are right from the very start. Jeremy Corbyn is one such man. A perfect example of his foresight, character and integrity would be his stance against South African apartheid and how this contrasts with Conservative hero Margaret Thatcher.

During the 1980s, protests outside the South African Embassy in London were common and coincided with intensified resistance to apartheid in South Africa. Officials of the South African government wielded strong influence over the British government at the time and pressured the Foreign Office to quell the anti-apartheid movement.

One could easily draw parallels to Israeli apartheid and attempts by the Netanyahu regime to silence pro-Palestinian voices. It would seem history has a way of repeating itself.

In June 1984, protests outside the South African Embassy were banned and the Metropolitan Police took the decision to arrest those who would defy that ban. But the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group were not so easily deterred. Many citizens and several politicians were arrested in a noble protest which had become about more than apartheid, but also the right to free assembly. Among those arrested was the MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn.

This act of civil disobedience ultimately led to the ban being overturned. The protests could continue in a place where they had maximum visibility and South African officials could not simply ignore them. Shame stared them in the face.

Jeremy Corbyn was prepared to jeopardise his own safety and personal freedom to help achieve the liberation of black South Africans. Perhaps we should listen when he calls for the liberation of Palestinians. Perhaps we should listen when he discusses any human rights issue. His record must earn our respect.

Let’s contrast the MP for Islington North with former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who said Nelson Mandela had a “rather closed mind”, following a telephone call with the ANC leader in July 1990, according to records at the UK National Archives. This call took place just five months after Mandela was released from prison, and while decent people around the world were celebrating his freedom, conservatives most certainly were not.

Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan viewed Mandela’s African National Congress as communists and placed them on terrorist watch lists while describing the South African government as cold war allies. They also suggested it was Mandela’s aim to turn South Africa into a communist state and spread communism throughout the world. Time has, of course, proven these claims to be absurd smears, used to justify continued oppression, yet the media so rarely hold conservatives to account. When we talk of the establishment, this is what we mean – rich and powerful people working together to control narratives and consolidate power.

“The South African government is under no obligation to negotiate the future of the country with any organisation that proclaims a goal of creating a communist state, and uses terrorist tactics and violence to achieve it,” Reagan said in a 1986 speech.

It would seem the right wing have a habit of demonising those who fight for social justice, portraying good guys as natural enemies. Something to consider as mouth-foaming conservatives scream “Antisemite!” at the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Chris Williamson in the UK, and Ilhan Omar and the Jewish Bernie Sanders in the US. Only a fool would fail to see the irony of a conservative labelling a socialist as racist.

Reagan and Thatcher opposed sanctioning the South African government, even though Mandela and the ANC called for this action to hasten the end to apartheid. Clearly Republicans and Conservatives were not allies in the fight against apartheid, they were supporters of it, regardless of their attempts to rewrite history.

In 1981, Reagan told Walter Cronkite South Africa was “a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.” Just think about how the US and UK governments uncritically praise the Netanyahu regime and vehemently oppose BDS of Israel. And let’s not forget the US still had Mandela and the ANC on a terrorist watch list as late as 2008.

Conservatives so often occupy the wrong side of history.

“A considerable number of the ANC leaders are communists … When the ANC says that they will target British companies, this shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is,” Thatcher said in a press conference, prior to Mandela’s release from prison.

Thatcher’s support for the South African government should come as no surprise, given her cosy relationship with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet – a man who Jeremy Corbyn campaigned to have brought to justice in yet another example of his foresight and moral character.

Corbyn also campaigned for gay rights during the Thatcher years and voted against the abominable Section 28 which banned the teaching of homosexuality in schools. Corbyn supported the miners’ strikes & fought tirelessly to save mine pits from closure. He campaigned against the UK arming Saddam in the 70s and 80s, and protested Saddam’s butchering of the Kurds. He campaigned for the Birmingham 6 & Guildford 4 whose convictions were eventually quashed.

Corbyn has built his life around taking principled, and often unpopular or even dangerous stands. Every step of the way, he has been opposed by conservatives and even “centrists” within his own party. But Corbyn has repeatedly been proven right.

Twenty years from now, when Palestinians are liberated and the world agrees their treatment at the hands of the Israeli government – the dropping of white phosphorous, the sniping of pregnant women and aid workers, the imprisonment of children, the cutting off water supplies, the continued land grabbing – was barbaric and illegal, Conservatives will surely try to again rewrite history and claim they fought the Palestinian cause all along.

But Jeremy Corbyn will, in his twilight years, be able to proudly say he took a principled stand, and once the smears had died down, he was again proven right.

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