Thursday, 26 March 2020

Thank You Jeremy Corbyn

I remember back in 2015 when Bernie Sanders was gaining attention in the US and the wider world, how excited I was by the message of this funny-talking and unpolished old American, how finally a politician seemed to get it, rejecting the establishment machinery in favour of ordinary people, understanding the damage caused by neoliberalism to younger generations and the very obvious need to create a kinder, more caring society.

Then Jeremy Corbyn entered the Labour leadership contest. At the time, I admittedly knew nothing about the man. I was a Labour supporter, but had felt unenthused by Ed Miliband, even more so by those who came before him. I was a homeless and jobless teen during the Blair years. I understood marginalisation firsthand. I understood poverty traps. And I understood Britain needed a Scandinavian-style direction to pull us away from unfairness and inequality. This was self-evident.

The problem in 2015 was few, even on the so-called left in the UK, seemed to understand this - or perhaps didn't care to. It was so disheartening. And then Corbyn made his proud and confident calls for re-nationalisation and higher wages and meaningful climate action and an end to war, and my God, I'd found the leader I'd been waiting for! Britain had its Bernie Sanders figure, but to be fair to Jeremy Corbyn, he is very much his own man!

Every time I saw Corbyn speak on TV with his compassion and wisdom and infectious enthusiasm, I was enthralled. When I looked at his track-record of fighting for civil rights, which mirrored my hero Bernie Sanders, I could not be more impressed. Here was a man arrested protesting apartheid while Thatcher called Mandela a terrorist. A man who campaigned for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so. A man who backed the miners during the strikes. A man who was on the right side of history, again and again. A true leader.

Jeremy Corbyn was clearly one of the very best among us, and the perfect choice to lead the Labour Party. Back in 2015, I had no idea the lengths today's establishment would go to, to bring down such a man - how shamelessly they would lie, and how easily, even decent people could be sucked in by such lies. Sure, I knew propaganda was a thing, but what came was next-level character assassination. It was McCarthyism.

Every allegation against Corbyn from the IRA sympathies to the working as a communist spy to the antisemitism to the laying a wreath at the grave of terrorists was an easily disprovable smear, but those smears certainly had an impact. If you repeat lies loudly enough and often enough, many will believe them, especially if you appeal to people's fear and prejudice. The smear campaign was cold, calculated, and expertly done, and most gallingly, some of Labour's own MPs joined in, taking the side of the billionaire press barons whose only goal was to maintain the status quo.

How dare those centrist MPs, parachuted into safe seats by Blair, despite holding views utterly at odds with our membership, do every everything they could to bring our twice-elected leader down. How dare they show such contempt for democracy.

To Corbyn's credit, he never stooped to their level. He never resorted to lies or smears or bullying. He maintained his class and dignity and was prepared to reach out, every step of the way. If he was guilty of one thing, it was being too soft with his opponents, too nice, trying to see them as friends, not pushing back hard enough against the lies and manipulation. History shows us appeasement never works.

I distinctly remember the "infighting" starting the day it was announced Labour had a poll lead over the Tories. It seems absurd one of the centrists' key lines of attack was Corbyn's "unelectability" when 1) we had a poll lead, and 2) Corbyn later came so close to power in 2017.

Here's the problem with the centrist position: the unelectability came from their constant sabotage and their disastrous People's Vote policy. They showed contempt for two Labour leadership election results, contempt for a manifesto decided democratically at party conference, and contempt for the EU referendum result. They showed themselves to be absolutely anti-democratic, and today, they're terrified of open selection because more democracy would end their careers.

None of these careerists are fit to lace Corbyn's boots. They lack his dignity, intelligence, proven track record and compassion for ordinary people. Their only goal was to destroy socialism, and in doing so, destroy hope for people like me - the 600,000 who joined Labour, mostly because of Corbyn, making us the largest political party in Europe.

Neoliberal centrism doesn't have answers for the bottom of society and has no intention of providing them. Labour is a socialist party and has been since its inception. Mass privatisation and liberal social policy is the Liberal Democrat way, not the Labour way. We are not supposed to fiddle with the knobs and dials. We are supposed to fundamentally restructure our broken society.

Jeremy Corbyn had the solutions, the policy ideas, the vision for a better world. He had a plan to quite literally save the planet. Is it any wonder he inspired such enthusiastic support from a younger generation who had seen their job market destroyed, their housing market destroyed, their rights destroyed, and their planet destroyed? Here was a generation expected to be burdened with debt to get an education, pay extortionate rents to corrupt landlords, and work zero-hours contracts, knowing they faced ecological disaster when the culprits were gone. The young were rebelling against the Thatcherites who climbed the socialist ladder and kicked it down, and Corbyn was our leader.

Let us make no mistake about it, Jeremy Corbyn would have made an outstanding Prime Minister. He was destroyed not by his shortcomings, but by fifth columnists and a corrupt media who have a strangle-hold over a majority of the older generation. But the younger generations, the children abused by Thatcherism, who are internet savvy and are not limited to one or two news-sources, we have broken free of the media hypnosis. And Corbyn had a huge role to play in that.

Jeremy Corbyn, along with Bernie Sanders across the pond, has created a new wave of socialists, and there is no going back from this - our ideals are embedded in our DNA and will be until the day we die. Our country and the wider world will inevitably embrace socialism in the coming years because neoliberalism cannot provide answers to the problems we face, not least the Covid 19 pandemic, and as more young people come of voting age, and demographics shift, we will be looking at a very socialist electorate. The under 50s want a Labour government. Overwhelmingly.

Jeremy Corbyn may not have become the socialist Prime Minister he deserved to be, the Prime Minister Britain very much needed, but he has absolutely paved the way for socialism. He has changed the conversation, made nationalisation mainstream, inspired the youth to challenge injustice, and demand action to save the world, all while inflicting more government defeats than any opposition leader in history and coming to within 2000 votes of electoral victory.

Let no-one rewrite history: Labour's 2019 failure was not Corbyn's failure, it was neoliberalism's failure, it was People's Vote's failure. Centrism is well and truly dead and the flame of socialism is burning brighter than ever.

A better Britain is possible, thanks to Jeremy Corbyn.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2020


As many of you already know, I am suffering from suspected Covid-19. I wanted to share a quick update which should alleviate some concerns but will no doubt exacerbate others.
Symptoms began late Friday night with a very mild cough. Immediately I suspected Covid-19 because it just felt different. But alas there is no testing available for those with mild symptoms. Those symptoms are a little worse today - my arm is aching as I type - but in all honesty I'm okay.

My symptoms are as follows:
  • Coughing
  • Slight fluid in lungs
  • Breathlessness
  • Hot flushes
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling & tension in upper-body
NOTE: Symptoms should last 5 days. If you are unwell on day 6, call 111 for advice.

My symptoms are not close to the point where my life is in danger, but it's surreal to think I could have such a dangerous virus inside me. I'm taking self-isolation very seriously. I have the kids off school, but I deliberately didn't separate myself away in a room for the following reasons:

1. It seems pointless as our house is small & this thing's so contagious
2. Symptoms are much less severe in kids
3. Best get this out the way before the hospitals are inundated
4. If we develop immunity, we help society

The kids have possible symptoms now, not that you would think so, at first glance. They are enjoying their time off school, jumping on the furniture and fighting over the Nintendo Switch! But we don't know if this is merely a chest infection. It could be. And this is problematic.
What if we develop another cough in a few weeks? Do we self-isolate again? This confusion will jeopardise lives. While many may self-isolate once, I doubt many will more than once. Not least because employers are pressuring people to work.
I've heard the public could be fined and jailed for refusing self-isolation. Will fines and jail apply to employers who don't allow self-isolation and threaten to sack them? If not, we have a problem.
Also, as many are pointing out, sick pay is not enough to live on, and not everyone's entitled to it. While we are certainly struggling, we do have supplies of basic and bland food - mostly tins and cereal. I'm not complaining. Others have it much worse. I couldn't imagine being homeless or hungry through this. We need to end homelessness and hunger now, no matter the cost.
Some have suggested a basic income paid by the government for all in self-isolation, or an increase of statutory sick pay. I would go a step further and trial a universal basic income. We'll surely have to do this one day. What better opportunity than during a crisis where people would otherwise starve, lose their homes, and die in huge numbers?
Of course, there are a range of alternatives, including suspending rent, mortgage, and utility bills. Our government's inaction, combined with their now withdrawn "herd immunity" strategy has been alarming. It seems their motivation is to protect capital, when other countries are protecting their citizens. And don't even get me started on our Houdini Prime Minister. His lack of leadership has been nothing short of breathtaking, so let me tell him how to do his job:
We need 100% testing on suspected Covid-19 cases now, and we need to trace those who've contacted the infected, as the World Health Organisation keeps telling us. We're not even testing the hugely at-risk and heroic NHS staff. Every Covid-19 case must self-isolate for two weeks minimum and we need to be ready for national lockdown for a sustained period.
Our know-nothing, do-nothing government is ignoring international consensus. I think we can be forgiven for not feeling reassured.
My aunty is a nurse. Her grandkids fall into the high-risk category. She can't even visit them for their own safety. What a nightmare.
And let's not forget, high-risk groups are why we are doing this. Self-isolation is not for you. It's for the elderly, frail, and disabled who are vulnerable in the extreme. We can't sacrifice them because we're feeling bored and fed up now.
NHS staff expect 300 severe cases for every hospital bed. They're going to be forced into unthinkable choices about who gets a ventilator - essentially who lives and dies. And viral pneumonia is not a pleasant way to go.
Without extreme action, we are looking at 250,000 to 500,000 deaths in the UK, and up to 100,000,000 deaths worldwide.
The world is at war with a virus. And we must pull together for each other.
This pandemic will bring out the best and worst in us.

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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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