Thursday, 20 May 2021

Ceasefire Agreed Between Israel and Hamas


The Israeli Security Cabinet has voted in favour of a ceasefire with Hamas to begin at 2am Palestinian time (midnight UK time). Israel, however, is still dropping bombs on Gaza at the time of this article's publication. Hamas had demanded an end to forced evictions in Sheik Jarrah and access to the Al Aqsa mosque. It claims Israel has agreed to these demands, but a spokesman for the Israeli government insisted the ceasefire is "unconditional".

Israel had ominously stated their 11-day invasion would not end until there was complete calm, but it appears the international outcry has forced a change of plans. The unexpectedly large quantity of weapons Hamas has stockpiled may have also influenced the decision. Clearly, this was not going to be the easy fight Netanyahu had expected.

Egypt, Qatar and the UN had acted as mediators and called for Israel to end aggression which has killed at least 256 civilians and 69 children, according to the UN. The invasion has resulted in the destruction of a school, hospital, media offices, houses and apartment buildings across Gaza. Horrifyingly, a Gazan refugee camp was bombed, and vital infrastructure, including electricity and water supplies, was damaged or destroyed.

While the Israeli government had the support of British, German and American leaders, they have clearly lost control of the narrative on social media. Palestinians are winning hearts and minds at a rate we have not seen before, certainly in recent years.

We've seen politicians and celebrities speaking out against the ethnic cleansing and we have seen video footage from Palestinians on social media, painting a very different picture to that of the mainstream media. It seems that solidarity may have just saved lives.

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Friday, 14 May 2021

What the Media Doesn't Tell You About Palestine

Imagine, for a moment, you're putting your children to bed in your room tonight because you know none of you might wake up in the morning, and that at the very least, you wish to die together. That is what many Palestinian parents are doing tonight in Gaza. An Israeli invasion is coming and they are trapped, they are not allowed to flee, not allowed to become refugees, because they are contained within the world's largest open air prison with over two million other innocent people.

Just imagine that for a second. Imagine you're a regular Palestinian civilian, you've never done a thing wrong in your whole life, but you're trapped inside an open air prison, knowing that bullets or bombs could end your life at any second. This is real life for two million people.

Whatever you think of the alleged crimes of Palestinian "militants," Palestine is a country with no military, no airports, no control of its borders, limited access to clean water and only a few hours of electricity a day. Almost every aspect of Palestinian life is controlled by the occupying force of Israel. And international law states you are allowed to defend yourselves from an occupying force.

Most Palestinians don't defend themselves, of course, but they're still punished for the actions of those who do. And how do these people defend themselves exactly? By firing rockets over a concrete border wall, 99.9% of which are either intercepted by Israel's iron dome or land in the desert. 

The pictures you see on TV are usually no more than a fireworks display, but on those rare occasions an Israeli is hurt or killed by a rocket attack, my heart truly bleeds for them. My instinct is to say all violence is wrong, and I hate to see any human being suffer, but then I see Palestinians defending themselves the only way they can. It's an impossible moral dilemma.

Let's not forget that in the UK, our last resort is a Trident missile system that could literally cause a nuclear apocalypse. Israel's last resort is much the same. The next time you applaud a British politician saying they would be prepared to drop a nuke in defence of our country, consider Palestinians are currently using their last resort. And it's a fireworks display that rarely results in casualties.

I must emphasise that all casualties are tragic and peace must always be the goal, but context is important.

Whatever you think about the founding of Israel, that is not something I am going to get into now. What I am going to say is that since the original borders between Israel and Palestine were established in 1967, Israel has stolen more Palestinian land, year on year. It has either demolished Palestinian homes or simply taken them over. It has taken water supplies and farm land and other resources. And it has taken away Palestinian statehood in order to deny Palestine its legally defined right to self-defence.

Most people in the UK have no idea about most of this, of course, because we've been so heavily propagandised into a simplistic idea of Palestine being inhabited by Muslim terrorists and savages. The Palestinian people have been dehumanised to a shocking degree and the world has looked the other way as a genocide has taken place.

The greatest lie we are told is that to call this ethnic cleansing is antisemitic, that it somehow means discriminating against all Jews, but this logic would mean not only condemning Palestinian supporters like the late Nelson Mandela, not only condemning international organisations like the United Nations, but also condemning many Jews around the world who say the occupation must end. Jews like Noam Chomsky or Andrew Feinstein (who tragically lost 39 family members in the holocaust).

So that is the background of what is happening today, and it is a context the media deliberately leaves out when it propagandises you with footage of a fireworks display of rockets intercepted by the iron dome.

The media seem reluctant to discuss the forced evictions that have taken place recently and the shocking attacks on the Al Aqsa mosque and other places. They seem to play down the fact that among recent Palestinian casualties are nine children. And they never tell you that when reporting injuries to Israeli children, they apparently include "anxiety" as an injury. That is the double-standard we are seeing.

If anxiety is truly an injury, then every person in Palestine has been injured. Theirs is a constant state of anxiety tinged with a very real fear of death. Israeli soldiers are a constant sight, Palestinian infrastructure is largely in ruins, bullet-riddled buildings are everywhere, and no matter what the Palestinians do, Israel never stops taking their land.

Palestinians peacefully protest and they get shot dead by snipers.

Palestinians report what is happening and their media offices are blown up.

Palestinians try to flee for sanctuary and they are told they can't.

Palestinians try to raise awareness on social media and they get censored.

Palestinians defend themselves and they get called terrorists.

The land grabbing continues. The forced evictions continue. The murders and imprisonments continue. And those imprisonments include children as young as four. Yes, really. So the next time you are being propagandised by the media, please put yourself in the Palestinians' position and ask yourself what you would do in their shoes. You will quickly find there are no answers.

Ask yourself what you would do when soldiers arrive at your home which your family has lived in for generations, demanding you move out at gunpoint because an Israeli family is taking your house now. You and your children are expected to be destitute.

Ask yourself what you would do when Israeli soldiers arrive at a primary school to arrest your child without your knowledge. Ask yourself what you would do when journalists and aid workers are shot dead, simply for trying to ease the plight of your people.

Ask yourself what you would do when a rocket is flying through the sky and you're trying to flee in your wheelchair among a crowd of kids and you are all blown to pieces. Because this actually happened. This all happens and it keeps on happening. And the silence of world leaders is deafening.

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Priti Patel's Humiliating Day of Failed Fascism


Yesterday, Boris Johnson's fascist-in-chief Priti Patel decided it would be a lovely idea to round up refugees in a largely Muslim neighbourhood during Eid al-Fitr to deport them. She decided to do this in Nicola Sturgeon's back yard in what was clearly a provocative, and some would say, racist move. But this move massively backfired because Glasgow wasn't having any of Patel's nonsense.


About 200 protesters caught wind of what was happening and surrounded a van containing two refugees, resulting in a tense 8-hour stand-off, which included one hero crawling under the vehicle. The protesters repeatedly chanted: "These are our neighbours, let them go!" and held up signs reading: "Muslims and refugees welcome here."
Patel must have been seething at this show of solidarity.
From what I understand, police were forced to intervene and release the men on health and safety grounds, due to concerns about high levels of the "Indian variant" of Covid-19 being found in the area. 

NOTE: The police were not involved in the deportation process, and were simply present to oversee the demonstration, but it is certainly nice to see them handling a protest in a way which promotes public safety for a change.

The incident has clearly displeased Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who is urgently meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss the matter. The SNP has repeatedly demanded Scotland takes control of its own immigration policy, rather than leave it in the hands of Westminster, and as the husband of an immigrant who has endured the torment of our draconian system for years, I would fully support this move.

Our family came this close to being torn apart by ridiculous earnings requirements which would have meant my youngest kids never being born and me becoming a "Skype Dad" to my eldest son. I can categorically tell you the immigration process is designed to be as cruel, difficult and long-winded as possible to cause maximum stress and anxiety. And it is not fit for purpose in any civilised country.

This is a system which gave us the Windrush scandal, for goodness sake, a system which has deported many people to their deaths, and honestly, if I had my way, every single Tory minister would spend the rest of their days in a detention facility on Ascension Island. We should not be ridding this country of desperate refugees, we should be rising up against fascism.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Democracy Under Threat: The Tories Are Suppressing Voter Rights

The Queen announced in her speech today that photographic identification will be required at all future general elections. Anyone who fails to provide photographic identification will not be allowed to vote. 

My whole life I've been told the Queen is here to protect our "democracy" from authoritarianism, and yet here she is, announcing an attack on our "democracy" from an authoritarian government, leaving me to ask what exactly is the point of the Queen?

Now I didn't watch her actual speech (because who would?), but unless I've missed something, no plan was announced to provide free identity cards, which would be problematic in itself, and if photo ID is not provided free of charge, it makes matters significantly worse. It means poor people have to pay money and follow a bureaucratic process just to have the right to vote. 

Now when I pointed this out on social media, Tory apologists were quick to insist voter IDs will obviously be provided free of charge, in which case they would effectively be mandatory IDs, unless someone is willing to accept disenfranchisement. 

Shameless plug alert! In my Skye City novels, which I started writing in 2010, all Citizens are required to have citizenship cards (or Citicards), and anyone who refuses is considered a non-Citizen (or bottom-leveller) who is cut off from society. Yet some people intentionally choose to be bottom-levellers, rather than live under the authoritarian control of the Aspiration System imposed by the San Terian regime.

A little over a decade later, much of what I wrote about is potentially around the corner, and if this doesn't concern you, it really should. Let's break this down:

Democracies don't impose ID cards, dictatorships do.

Identity cards were a key part of the apparatus for controlling civilian populations in places like East Germany throughout the 20th century. Now we don't know if ID cards are coming to the UK, but Tory voters are insisting they are, and anyone who wants to vote will be forced to have one, if they can't afford an alternative.

It would be unacceptable for voter ID cards to be imposed onto the poor, but the risks extend beyond voting rights.

Please don't think for one second that identity cards, if they were to be introduced in the UK, would forever be limited to voting. We would sooner or later be told it makes sense for your identity card to function as your bank card, your passport, your driver's license, and anything else the government could think of. 

Identity cards could eventually be used for everything, and with a simple microchip, they could contain all of your personal information like your address history and credit reference data.

Before you know it, your landlord, creditors and employer would be demanding access to your identity card, and you would be totally disenfranchised if you refused, or did not have one. 

And you can imagine a situation where anyone who was a bit "foreign-looking" was stopped by police and asked to produce an identity card. If they didn't have one in their possession, they could be whisked away to an immigration detention centre until their status could be verified. Please don't tell me any of this is hyperbole in a country that had the Windrush scandal.

I'm not suggesting all this would happen overnight, of course, just that creeping authoritarianism is a very real threat which is happening before our eyes. Identity cards are a slippery slope and our government clearly has an authoritarian direction of travel that should concern all reasonable people. You either care about civil liberties for all, or you don't care about them at all.

In free societies, you don't have to justify your existence, but in societies with mandatory IDs, you do. In such societies, you would be expected to show people who you are, and face negative consequences if you fail to do so. 

Now you can argue all day that such ID cards wouldn't be mandatory, but if the alternative is that you can't vote, then that is not a reasonable democratic alternative. In a system where ID cards are optional, those who already have ID, already have the right to vote, and those who do not already have ID, do not already have the right to vote. 

Obviously, there should be no barrier to voting rights and no negative consequences for exercising your voting rights. 

Democracy should not be hidden behind a pay wall.

The cost of a provisional driving license is £43 and the cost of a passport is £85.50. I was in my late twenties when I was finally able to afford a passport (yes, really), and let's not forget many people can't even have a driving license for medical reasons. 

Where I'm from, £85.50 is a huge outlay, and applying for a passport is a complete pain in the arse that  requires a signature from a professional (I had to pay my doctor £25), and when you include the cost of  photos, bus fares, and the passport checking service (if you use it), that suddenly means a cost of £130-plus.

ID is expensive when you're poor, but an optional free ID card would still be problematic. 

First of all, a person has to take time out of their day, presumably pay for the photo, and pay for their bus fare, etc., just to go through the application process. A "free" ID card is still going to cost people time and money, and when you're talking about the poorest members of society, you're often talking about people who are stressed, exhausted and overworked. 

Maybe people will just forget to apply because they're so worried about paying their electricity bill and trying to make their food last the month and they're always short on sleep and their kids aren't giving them a moment to breathe. Or maybe they'll just be so exhausted and disillusioned, they will not bother to take the time out of their day, even if they could find the time. Either way, the poorest members of society would be less likely to vote, and therefore politicians would have less incentive to represent them.

And let's not forget a free ID card would not be free. 

A "free" ID card service would be paid for by the tax payer at a cost of millions and a Tory donor would no doubt get that contract. 

Also, would free ID cards last indefinitely, or would people be expected to renew them once every few years, creating an additional cost to the tax payer and additional barrier to the voter? 

And who is to say free ID cards would be provided free of charge forever? 

This is the Tory Party we're talking about. They love to apply a price to everything and their supporters would probably whinge about "scroungers" getting cards for free. I could easily foresee a situation where ID cards were free for the first 12 months or so to shut up us moaning lefties, and then a small charge got introduced when the furore had died down. And then before we knew it, the charge was getting increased year on year.

Let's not forget the Electoral Commission says voter fraud is a non-existent problem.

In recent trials in the UK, 750 people were prevented from voting due to lack of photo ID. To put that into perspective, only six examples of voter fraud were found at the last general election.

If you scaled voter ID up to national levels, you would be looking at tens of thousands of people being prevented from voting. All to stop about six incidents of voter fraud...

Like Twitter user Guy Fawkes recently put it, this is not to stop some people voting twice, but to stop many people voting once. We know from voter ID laws in other countries that they disenfranchise the poor and racial minorities, but do little or nothing to prevent election fraud, because again, election fraud is a non-existent problem. 

Many poor people and racial minorities will be disenfranchised, and those who take up a hypothetical offer to use free ID cards would simply help Tory donors make a nice profit, as well as risk putting themselves further under authoritarian control.

Let's not forget, the Tories are looking to gerrymander our constituency boundaries and jail protesters they find annoying for up to ten years so don't even think of protesting the new rules! They're doing everything they can to silence people who disagree with their policies. At the same time, they're giving right-wing extremists the right to sue universities if they're prevented from speaking on their platform! 

Wealthy conservatives can demand a voice and yet the poor can't even have a voice.

Our democracy is being eroded piece by piece before our eyes.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

A Look at the Northern Independence Party's Policies


The upcoming Hartlepool by-election is the focus of the UK right now and there are two key reasons for this. The first is that pollsters are predicting a disastrous defeat for Labour in one of its safest seats (the kind of defeat which would put huge pressure on Sir Keir Starmer). The second reason is Hartlepool is the first seat to be contested by the fledgling Northern Independence Party.

Okay, technically the Hartlepool seat is being contested by independent candidate (and former Labour MP) Thelma Walker. But Thelma is a member of the NIP and the only reason she is officially registered as an independent is because the party's registration process is not yet complete.

For those who don't know Thelma Walker, she was an MP on the left of Labour who felt she could no longer stay, after the right-wing direction Sir Keir Starmer has chosen. She is also a former school head teacher, and anyone who has encountered her in real life or on social media will tell you she is a warm and approachable person. Thelma has the likeability factor as well as her extensive political experience. 

She is a credible candidate for the Northern Independence Party and she is currently polling at 6%, despite the by-election coming at short notice, during a period the NIP were still setting up. It seems entirely possible she could hold onto her £500 deposit, which electoral candidates must pay and is only returned if they get at least 5% of the vote. If she does this, it would be a remarkable achievement, and would suggest that when the NIP is properly up and running, it could become a credible threat to the Westminster parties, especially Labour.

So who are the Northern Independence Party and what do they stand for?

Well, they stand for northern independence obviously! But if you would like a little more detail than that, the NIP website states: "we seek independence for people from Cheshire all the way to the Scottish border." The party has confirmed that bordering counties in England could be offered local referenda on joining an independent Northumbria.

The NIP is fighting for an independent Northumbria with unapologetically left-wing social and economic positions. This is a socialist party and could fill a natural void in the political landscape for northerners like myself who feel left behind by near-identical Westminster parties whose policies have exacerbated the north/south divide for decades.

Philip Proudfoot breaks down his motivations in the foreword of the NIP manifesto:

"We do not live in a normal country. We live in the most unfairly centralised nation in the developed world, both economically and politically.

"The level of inequality between the North and the South is not too different from a country recovering from a civil war."

The "Our Values" page of the NIP manifesto explains:

"Northerners have been made poorer and less healthy, are given fewer educational opportunities, and live shorter lives than our southern counterparts. We recognise the 'United' Kingdom filters people, resources, and jobs to the South."

To anyone concerned this project could turn out to be insular and nationalistic, NIP makes it clear, theirs is a progressive, pro-refugee party which will not pander to far-right populism. To the NIP, human beings are human beings, no matter where they come from, and yes, that includes those from southern England(!) who would be given freedom of movement to and from an independent Northumbria. 

The NIP proudly confirms: "we welcome refugees who seek safety and security in the North." What a breath of fresh air to not have a party which blames desperate refugees for the failures of politicians!

Let's see where the NIP stands on the economy:

The Northern Independence Party plans to build local economies around the "Preston model." This means a focus on co-operative businesses, municipal ownership, small and medium-sized enterprise (as opposed to corporations) and an end to outsourcing of services. Also, the party plans to build mutual and community banks and credit unions. In short, NIP wants to empower the people to take control of their own destiny. 

NIP is clearly proud of its support for unions at a time when Starmer's Labour is doing everything it can to push them away. It pledges to bring an end to exploitative practices such as fire and rehire and would boost workers' rights. NIP believes in shorter and more flexible working hours and more stability for those in precarious work. It would not allow corporations to falsely class their workers as "independent contractors" to deprive them of rights. 

NIP believes in higher corporation tax, a wealth tax for those with assets over £1 million, and other progressive tax reforms, as well as a clampdown on tax avoidance/evasion to address inequality. NIP would set the National Minimum Wage at £9.50 an hour and the National Living Wage at £12 an hour, increasing annually with inflation. 

The party backs a 15% wage increase for NHS staff at a time when Labour is shamefully committed to a measly 2.5%. Our heroic nurses and other staff have risked their lives during the pandemic and it's simply unacceptable for Westminster parties to leave them struggling in poverty. NHS staff should not be depending on foodbanks to survive.

Good news for WASPI women! NIP would reverse the increase in pension age for women born in the 1950s and 1960s. It believes the pension age should be 65 for all genders and no changes to pensions should leave anyone worse off.

NIP would pay council workers £12 an hour, trial a four day working week for the council and offer flexible working hours where practical. It would also trial a Universal Basic Income, although it has not yet provided specifics as to how this would be implemented. The party states that housing and access to healthy food are human rights.

Infrastructure

NIP commits to providing essential utilities like water and energy through public ownership or non-profit organisations to serve the public, rather than shareholders. The party has a detailed plan to improve public transport links across the north from east to west (and reduce fares) with a National Bus Strategy. It would nationalise rail, enable councils to bring bus services inhouse, and build shelters for those who have no place to store their bicycles. It would increase the number of public toilets, improve disability access, provide free internet access at council properties, and ban deeply flawed facial recognition technology from public spaces. It would also fund the removal of flammable cladding from all high rise buildings. NIP would make high quality broadband freely available to all, including those in rural areas, and it would ensure post offices, banks and GPs are available in rural areas.

Environment

NIP is keen to build a green economy with environmentally sustainable practices, eco-friendly buildings, more trees, allotments and urban green spaces, food waste recycling, and better flood defences. It talks of a Green Industrial Rebirth to reduce CO2 emissions and fix the economy with high-paid green jobs and a carefully planned transition for those working in high-carbon industries. In other words, workers would not be thrown under a bus like miners were during the Thatcher years.

Health and Education

NIP is placing a clear focus on investing in key services and reversing the damage caused by successive Labour and Tory governments. It would boost funding for mental health services and social care, reverse NHS privatisation and stop hospital closures. It would ensure GPs are available locally for those living in rural areas and invest in NHS infrastructure. 

NIP would scrap tuition fees, abolish student debt, reintroduce Education Maintenance Allowance, and provide free school meals for all pupils. It would support a ban on private schools and convert all existing private schools to comprehensives. It would scrap Ofsted, return assessment duties to local authorities and end punitive assessment practices.

Human rights

NIP is highly critical of the Police, Sentencing and Courts bill (anti-protest bill) and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill (spy cops bill) as well as many other recent bills which infringe on human rights. The party makes it clear it rejects the authoritarian direction of travel of the current UK government (and presumably the regular abstentions of the opposition leader.) 

This is a party which prioritises human rights and respects democratic norms at a time when Labour is shying away from the fight. With that in mind, NIP would reverse cuts to legal aid so everyone has access to justice, rather than just those who can afford to pay. NIP makes it clear it robustly supports unions (unlike the so-called Labour Party) and would vote against any moves to restrict rights to take industrial action. Clearly, it wants to return power to the ordinary person.

NIP pledges to reform the Department for Work and Pensions and bring an end to punitive practices. I would hope this means an end to work capability assessments for the disabled, because although nothing was specified, this would seem a logical step.

NIP would approve the use of medicinal cannabis and decriminalise drug possession and sex work. It would treat drug addiction as a public health issue and focus on harm reduction, recognising the war on drugs has failed and drug-related deaths are at an all-time high. Basically, the absurdity of criminalising people for making choices about their own bodies would come to an end.

NIP emphasises it is an LGBTQ+ party and will not tolerate racism/bigotry/homophobia/transphobia in society or parliament. It would reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify without medical diagnosis and it would ban gay conversion therapy outright. The party aims to robustly tackle antisemitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of racism, and it condemns the shocking failure of Westminster parties to do this.

NIP rejects the hostile environment for immigrants and condemns the outrageous treatment of the Windrush generation. It would end the minimum income requirement on family visas - a requirement my family endured for years, which left us at constant risk of being torn apart for no reason.

NIP would expand renters' rights, making all homes fit for human habitation and introducing controls so rents do not exceed 30% of local income. In other words, it would bring an end to rip-off landlords.

Lastly, you will be pleased to hear the NIP would protect food standards and not allow them to be watered down in any trade deals with the US or any other country. In other words, chlorinated chicken would be off the cards. Phew!

In summary

There are many fantastic policies within the NIP manifesto, so please don't consider the above list remotely comprehensive. I have significantly condensed it for those who don't have the time to read the manifesto in full, but I think I've provided a fair representation of the socialist direction of the party.

I have some minor criticisms, such as a lack of specifics in one or two areas and a lack of clarity over whether certain positions are ideals or specific pledges. (I am also disappointed to find no mention of the much anticipated National Whippet Races or mandatory flat caps, but I suppose we can't have everything.)

In fairness to the party, they emphasise this manifesto is still in its early stages and they have three years to expand upon it before the 2024 elections. There are definitely areas where I would have liked the party to go further, but on the other hand, no one can accuse them of publishing an unrealistic wish list. Nothing among their proposals strikes me as unaffordable and to the contrary, looks like perfect common sense.

As a person who feels abandoned by Starmer's Labour, the Northern Independence Party has come as a breath of fresh air. Imagine a party free of centrists and Tory infiltrators where everyone is broadly supportive of socialist goals and determined to break free of the shackles of Westminster. That's what the NIP represents, and the fact their candidate is currently polling at 6% is a hugely positive sign.

It remains to be seen whether NIP will remain as a left-wing protest party, putting pressure on the Westminster establishment or will grow into a credible force, similar to the Scottish National Party. In that regard, only time will tell, but for now, I'm just grateful to have a party which shares my political views.

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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Could May Spell the End of Starmer's Leadership?

If pollsters Survation are to be believed, Sir Keith Starmer, FBPE's knight in shining armour, could be set to lose Hartlepool for Labour for the first time in the seat's history in the coming by-election. Labour has won Hartlepool at every general election since the seat was created in 1974, yet two recent polls by Survation are suggesting grim news for Sir Keith. The first poll, earlier this month, had the Tories taking Hartlepool by 7%, and the most recent poll has the Tories taking the seat by a whopping 17%.

Now, to be fair, the polls had small sample sizes (502 and 517 respectively) and are obviously not fully reliable, but these are hardly positive signs. Especially when you consider the most recent poll showed Starmer's approval rating at just 22%, compared to Boris Johnson's 51%.

The Tories are in disarray, being up to their eyeballs in corruption, and the prime minister could plausibly be forced to resign soon. Labour should be battering them in the polls and yet the reverse is true. It's difficult to see how things could be worse for them, right now.

If Labour loses Hartlepool, that's one of its safest seats gone. How does the party come back from that?

Even a narrow victory for Labour would be a poor showing, never mind a crushing defeat. The Brexit Party is out the way, Brexit is no longer an issue, and the Tories are getting every major decision wrong. The conditions are perfect for a Labour resurgence, yet the polling suggests this resurgence is nowhere in sight.

I suspect this is actually part of the reason the mainstream media has suddenly turned against PM Boris Johnson. It's not that they want the Tories out, it's just they want centrist Labour (their B team) to be close enough to the Tories, there is no way back for the Labour left. But even their best propaganda efforts are failing to convince enough voters to stick with Labour. Younger voters are abandoning the party in droves and older voters are simply not coming in to replace them.

Keith basically cut off his left leg in the hope his right leg would grow back, and all he did was leave himself without a leg to stand on.

The recent polling has come as quite a shock to the FBPE crowd because in their minds Sir Keith Starmer has clearly done everything right! He's purged Labour of those toxic lefty activists who did all of Labour's campaigning, he's treated every Brexiter like they're too thick to know what's good for them, and he's shagged a flag every time a camera was close by. He's even worn Brylcreem and his favourite Hugo Boss suit, but those pesky northerners want a bit more than that. They want representation.

Obviously, this is all Jeremy Corbyn's fault - he set Starmer up for failure by winning the Hartlepool seat twice.

Amazingly, ex-Labour MP Thelma Walker is currently polling at 6% as an independent candidate! Her party - the Northern Independence Party - aren't officially registered yet and she's still taking 6% off Labour guy Saudi Paul, which would be enough to keep her deposit. In our outdated FPTP system that is a minor miracle. Just imagine the damage Walker can do when the NIP is in full swing... 

It looks like the electorate don't want "grownup politics" after all. Strange, because I always thought us northerners wanted just three things in life: football, beer, and patronising metropolitan lawyers ventriloquising us in Westminster. But apparently not...

Fear not though, the Starmerrhoids already have their attack line planned. Keith has explained that no one seriously thought Labour could rebuild in one year after suffering their worst election defeat since 1935. Only the centrists did think that actually - they told us repeatedly they'd be 20 points ahead! And the last defeat wasn't the worst since 1935 - Corbyn won more votes in 2019 than Miliband in 2015 and Brown in 2010. It's only because of Britain's weird electoral system and the divisive People's Vote policy that he picked up fewer seats.

PV was Starmer's brilliant plan to capture the Labour Party, but he didn't stop to think he was burning the house down while he was still inside and those toxic lefties are actually the fire brigade he needs to rescue him. Oops. 

Keith fans have a great cover for his coming failure though - their story is as follows: Labour only won Hartlepool in 2019 because the Brexit Party took votes from the Conservatives!

Please don't mention this claim is provably false because the Brexit Party actually took significantly more votes from Labour than from the Tories, and Corbyn still won the seat. Also, don't mention that by going with this line, they are actually suggesting the people of Hartlepool never wanted the People's Vote (this being the policy they said would win the 2019 GE). And finally, don't mention that according to their own logic, those voters should be rushing back to Labour in droves, but instead they're going to the Tories, NIP, and anywhere but Labour.

There seems to be a complete disconnect with wor Keith who is currently in the process of suicide by focus group. He fails to realise the reason Hartlepudlians voted for Brexit is the same reason they're rejecting Labour now: they are fed up with the establishment and desperate for change.

There is a reason Labour came so close to government in 2017 and won Hartlepool by a landslide - Corbyn offered a meaningful alternative which Evans and Starmer have ensured can never happen again by dismantling Labour's internal party democracy.

In perhaps the most tone deaf move ever, Keith is screaming from the rooftops that he's the pro-establishment guy, then he's parachuting in Saudi Paul without a democratic selection process and expecting the people of Hartlepool to accept whatever shit he dumps on their doorstep because they have nowhere else to go. Talk about taking your voter base for granted!

There are huge issues facing the north, with limited infrastructure, appalling public transport, and shocking lack of investment. Yet Keith is telling Hartlepudlians a status quo which filters all their money to the southeast is somehow best for them - they're just too thick to understand. But look, Keith can wear boxing gloves for the cameras and throw the kind of punch which suggests he's never had to deal with the rough and tumble of working class life!

Keith fans love to boast about his working class credentials, but he's never actually lived in the real world. His father was not a "tool maker," he was the owner of the tool factory. The boss. The capitalist. And his interests were totally incompatible with the interests of the working class. Clearly, Keith has carried his father's life experience into his politics. He is the kind of man workers need to be unionising against so it's absurd to expect unions and the working class to get behind him. 

Keith is not an ally, he is an enemy.

Starmer's Labour very deliberately left working class northerners with nowhere to go, failing to consider they were creating fertile ground for new parties to emerge. It's no surprise to me at all that the Northern Independence Party is on the rise. It's addressing the north/south divide which centrism simply has no answer for, because status quo politics by its very nature can't change what needs to be changed. And the people know it.

Even Labour's internal polling predicts defeat in Hartlepool, with only 40% of previous Labour voters saying they will definitely vote Labour this time around - and this from a sample of 10,000 voters. Labour fears it's also at risk of losing Sunderland and Durham councils for the first time in 50 years.

Therefore, I'm sticking my neck on the line and predicting Labour will lose Hartlepool, Saudi Paul will fade into obscurity, Starmer will remain in denial until his allies force him out, and Labour will go into catastrophic free fall. Why? Because even if Starmer goes, the neoliberal rot at the heart of the Labour Party will remain and working class voters simply don't want establishment politics. 

The "grownup moderates" are making Labour everyone's least favourite option because they stand for absolutely nothing. They've already lost Scotland to the SNP, trust for Labour in the north is at an all-time low, and no amount of flag shagging will ever turn the Tory south red. Labour is losing the youth vote, the BAME vote and the socialist vote. It has no red wall, no safe seats and no one to knock on doors, so where the hell are its votes coming from in 2024?

Labour is on a downward spiral, it's a dying party, and that's why it's time for the left to build something new. Even if Starmer manages to cling onto Hartlepool by the skin of his teeth, he is simply postponing the inevitable. Why waste another second of your energy fighting for a party which has contempt for your views and no future?

If you're a northerner, get behind the Northern Independence Party. If you're a southerner, take a look at the Breakthrough Party. And let's start winning over all those disenchanted voters who've been abandoned by Westminster. It's time for change and May's local and by-election results could be the awakening Britain so desperately needs.

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Sunday, 2 May 2021

Budgeting Advice to Help the Prime Minister Alleviate His Poverty

Britain's beloved and hard working prime minister, Boris Johnson, is reportedly living hand-to-mouth off his £161,866 salary (which is definitely below the living wage). Times are so hard for the prime minister who lives rent-free in the Downing Street palace and has a £30,000 a year decorating budget and expenses covered by the tax payer, that he's been forced to ask Tory donors to pay to redecorate his Downing Street flat and even cover his nanny costs. Just imagine paying childcare for 77 illegitimate children and you will know the difficulty our poor prime minister is facing.

You don't know poverty like Boris Johnson does. Nobody does.

Take a high earner like myself, for example, who has his income topped up by Universal Credit, and has a hole in his kitchen ceiling and no working lights upstairs. Please understand, I have things easy because I'm living off benefits while poor Johnson is struggling by with an annual income which is equivalent to what I would earn in about ten years.

I may not know poverty like Boris Johnson does, but from my wealthy and privileged position, I do have some useful budgeting advice for the prime minister. The kind of tips that would help him get by, if he truly is struggling to pay the bills. Here goes:

1. Buy out of date food from the supermarket clearance shelf. 

If you're poor, your kids simply don't have the right to eat fresh, healthy and nutritious food and should be grateful for anything they can get. If, for example, you see a packet of 50p noodles, remember, they can easily feed a family of 77 for three or four months. If you don't like the sound of that, you can always visit the local foodbank.

2. Work overtime. 

It's simply wrong to expect handouts from others. If you're not earning enough, it means you're not working hard enough, so please ensure you're working evenings and weekends and never actually see your family. Remember, they probably don't want to see you anyway.

3. Links to the above tip - no hiding in fridges. 

If I was your employer and I caught you hiding in a fridge, I wouldn't just dock your pay, I'd bloody well sack you, you skiver! On second thoughts, last time you tried to do your job, 150,000 innocent people died so get back in the fridge, please, for everyone's sake.

4. Ask family members to cover childcare.

I know Stanley is about 100 years old now, but he really should be expected to babysit all 77 of your kids, all day, everyday, completely free of charge. Other families go without a nanny so yours should too. Alternatively, you could ask your children to stop being layabouts and actually get a job. Have you considered bringing back chimney sweeping?

5. Walk the streets, looking for dropped change. 

I used to do this back when I was long-term unemployed. There were a few occasions when I was going over a week without food or money, so I would walk the streets looking for dropped change until I'd found enough to buy a Mars bar. I used to walk miles and my efforts typically worked out at less than 10p an hour (true story), but I didn't complain because I'm a real go-getter. You should be too.

6. Use Gum Tree. 

If you don't like your settee, you can find a bashed up old one that's been pissed on by pets and covered in animal hair for next to nothing. You'll probably have to arrange your own delivery though and that might be tricky if you're skint, but you could maybe ask a friend to help you carry it ten miles through the streets or something.

NOTE: Please ensure that you do not under any circumstances buy a second hand TV which has a "flat screen" because this automatically invalidates any claim to poverty.

7. Recycle everything. 

Those old curtains that have gone a bit mouldy would make a great outfit for little Wilfred. Just give them a good hand-wash, get out the scissors, needle and thread, and put your tailoring skills to the test. Alternatively, you could always ask Jacob Rees-Mogg for some of his old childhood outfits from 1862. Never be too proud to ask.

8. Don't send your kids to private schools. 

Crazy suggestion, I know, but the rest of us already have to do this. Now some careful parenting will be required to ensure little Wilf doesn't pick up swear words from the ruffians or start experimenting with drugs when he's four, but I'm sure you can manage that, even if you are working so many hours, you never actually see him.

9. Keep your dick in your pants. 

Now I would never judge anyone for having children - I have a fourth child on the way, after all - but do you really need to be shagging your secretary behind your wife's back when she has cancer? And do you not think 77 kids to 72 different women is maybe a bit much? I mean the last thing the world needs is mini-Boris Johnsons running around. Please consider a vasectomy and while you're at it, stop spending so much on your mistresses.

10. Stop using a cleaner. 

Now this might seem like sheer madness, but you could always roll your sleeves up, get down on your hands and knees and scrub the floorboards yourselves. You're not afraid of a little hard work, are you?

So these are my pro-tips to alleviate Prime Minister Boris Johnson's abject poverty and help him avoid applying for an IVA or bankruptcy. I'm sure you'll agree my tips have been extremely helpful because it's always good to be condescended by privileged people who are more intelligent than you!

Anyways, what would your tips be?

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