Saturday, 30 May 2020

Why Socialism?

I was a child of the Thatcher years, raised by a single mother on benefits in the northeast of England where there were few jobs and the jobs available paid badly. It was rough. Drugs were everywhere. Fighting was part of life. Encounters with the police were frequent and many of my peers were destined for prison. I lost a close friend - a good lad who tragically took the wrong path. So much of the poverty and pain was needless.

We had nothing and Thatcher seemed determined to give us even less. I distinctly remember having three parks within walking distance as a kid which I loved to visit until all three were torn down. We played on the building sites which replaced them, kicking down brick walls while the cement was still wet, later swinging from the rafters. That was our playground.

Our area was deprived, crime rose, and the thing I heard again and again was there's nothing for the kids. We had been left to rot. And even back then as a child it was plain as day, our Prime Minister could not give a damn.

"There's Maggie Thatcher, throw her up and catch her! Squish-squash, squish-squash, there's Maggie Thatcher!" we'd sing.

Thatcher believed in the glorious free market - capitalism was her God. And if capitalism said jobs and investment must go to London, cuts must be made elsewhere, whole regions must be written off, so be it. All that mattered was corporations were performing well and the tax burden on the wealthy was reduced. If stock markets were flourishing, we could pretend the country was performing. No concern was shown to the human cost of this approach. If you could not survive in the shark-infested waters of capitalism that was down to you, and if you were an innocent child, too bad.

Tony Blair arrived and the relief was palpable - the establishment had allowed Labour back into power. Of course, I had no idea at the time New Labour was not Labour. We were being deceived. For every Sure Start centre Labour boasted of building, another key industry was sold to private capital, another national asset stripped, and all the while Britain was moving away from manufacturing and building an economy on the fresh air of the financial sector.

Neoliberal centrists to this day seem unwilling or unable to grasp the role they played in the 2010 recession. This was not some unfortunate international phenomenon, it was the neoliberal economic orthodoxy crashing down because it lacked foundation - and even after a decade of the austerity which made the poor pay for the crimes of the rich, which was embraced by the "moderates" who love to pretend they're left wing, those sensible centrist Dads claim more neoliberalism is the solution to our problems!

Neoliberalism, let's not forget, is exactly what we are doing now under the Tories, but under new New Labour it would be masked by a nice social program or two. They would build a few Sure Start centres - wonderful! But what will they do for people like me? Someone who was homeless and unemployed during the Blair years? Absolutely nothing of course. The neoliberal social order is dependent on an underclass for many reasons, but especially because they need the middle class to be fearful of what might befall them if they don't stay on the grind.

Don't dare slack in the capitalist game. Don't dare get sick or tired. Don't dare find yourself redundant. Don't dare struggle to find another job. Or else they will take your home and your property. Ironic they accuse socialists of wanting to do exactly what they are guilty of. Destitution is capitalism's ultimate threat.

New New Labour won't end poverty and homelessness, but they might give us a moderate Prime Minister who is ever-so-slightly gentler than Johnson. Maybe new New Labour will raise benefits by a couple of pounds a month. Fantastic! But will they address real inequality? Change the structures of power? Take on the elite? Of course not. They are the elite and their only goal is to convince you they're on your side while doing the bare minimum they can to help.

Once you become aware of that, it's very difficult to give a damn about concepts like "the economy" because it's not your economy, it's their economy. But hang on, this is just loony-lefty talk, right? It's laziness, wanting free stuff, wanting to shirk. This kind of thinking will lead to catastrophe, surely.

Except the countries which shift left outperform the countries that shift right on every level. Look at northern Europe, New Zealand, Portugal, and even Latin America. Yes, Latin America. 

Would you believe the Latin American nations with the best records on tackling poverty are the terrible socialist nations the media warn you about? Would you believe the high tax Scandinavian nations are rated among the best countries to do business? Would you believe countries with shorter working weeks have more productive work forces? Would you believe countries with nationalised public services offer higher standards than those which privatised? Would you believe higher minimum wages create more jobs? 

I could go on asking these questions, but the point is many people are not aware because our corporate media pretends the opposite is true. My challenge to you is to challenge the status quo, question the narrative, fact check, because I promise if you do, you will learn you've been manipulated.

I say this not to mock you. I once fell for the same nonsense, but once I went to credible sources and read the data for myself, I saw a very different picture.

In truth, there is not a truly socialist democracy out there. But there are many democracies which have socialised their economies to a far greater extent than Britain and America, and in these countries we are not seeing uprisings and mass poverty and widespread homelessness. Hell, in Finland they literally ended homelessness by giving people houses. They found this actually saved money. Many social programs do.

It's one of the greatest lies of conservatism that spending cuts save the public money. In ten years of Tory rule, Britain accumulated more debt than under every Labour government combined and we got nothing in return.

Socialism just means putting people first and getting something back from our tax money, rather than funding endless wars and tax cuts for the rich.

We absolutely can afford to socialise our economy, not least because we will get a huge return on our investment in terms of job creation, and more importantly because our planet is depending on this. Our climate cannot cope with another century of capitalism.

And the climate crisis perfectly illustrates the problem with the free market - for most companies there is no profit to be found in reducing carbon emissions and so no incentive. On one level, I cannot blame corporations for not pursuing greener policies - they would lose money.

So what if we create incentives for them? Well, that would be government intervention, a shift left, and this is precisely the point: whenever we intervene to meet human or environmental needs, that's socialism in action. And not only is socialism the right thing to do, it's the practical thing. If we have a green industrial revolution, we will create so many jobs, clean our air, reduce our energy bills. Everyone apart from the wealthy will gain.

When old rich people warn you away from socialism, whose needs are they looking out for - yours or theirs? Remember most of those old Tories won't be around long enough to deal with the consequences of their greed, but a refusal to shift towards socialism will mean catastrophe for our grandkids. And for that reason we have a duty to pressure Starmer's Labour, to steer them away from New Labour ideals and make them realise they must earn our vote.

It really is socialism or barbarism.

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.


Michael Gove "Accidentally" likes Porn Image on Twitter!

Here is the image (with the rude part censored) which was showing in Michael Gove's Liked Posts tab. It was later removed, but was up long enough to confirm Gove is the w@nker we all knew him to be!

To be fair, I don't think there is anything wrong with a person enjoying porn, but this is the puritanical and extremely hypocritical government minister who as education secretary banned teachers for life for drug abuse, even though he himself has taken cocaine.

He would be the first to call this kind of behaviour unacceptable if it came from a Labour MP and for that reason, I think it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at him!

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.


George Floyd Uprising - The Establishment had it Coming

The uprising in the US sparked by the grotesque murder of George Floyd by very typical American cops has been raging for four days. Inevitably much of the mainstream media is directing its outrage at the protesters, rather than the murderers, portraying the situation as violent thugs wanting an excuse to loot, rather than frightened, enraged and disenfranchised civilians finally reaching breaking point and demanding meaningful change.

Fair and equal countries do not experience uprisings.

What we are seeing now is the disease of capitalism, which has been showing its symptoms for so long, finally going all out against its host and potentially killing it from within. The entire US establishment is under threat - and they know it.

This is why we are seeing black reporters arrested for covering the protests before we are seeing white cops arrested for murder. It is why we are seeing paid instigators throwing rocks and sparking violence at peaceful protests. The police force needs an excuse to implement martial law. It needs an excuse to open fire on protesters and we are now hearing reports even of journalists being shot.

When the people raise their voice, the fascist state shows its true self, and this is what we are now seeing - fascism in action. The corporate oligarchy, which decided the black community were surplus to the requirements of their economic model, which vilified their fellow human beings and created and maintained a mostly black underclass to keep the white working class afraid and punching down is now fearful its oppressive social order is coming to an end.

As many well know, there are two Americas - and the cosy white suburban America is so detached from the neoliberal inner-city hellhole so many are trapped in, that it has been more comforting for Karens and Bobs to deny the problem in one breath and say the victims have it coming in the next, rather than face the reality their comfort is built on someone else's oppression.

It's the very existence of middle America that necessitates the tyranny experienced by black communities. The unthinkable alternative is a society where the comfortable contribute a little more to end the poverty of the third world country which exists within the richest nation on Earth.

But now there seems to be a change in the air, as though the tide is turning, as though more of the white working class are realising the black working class are natural allies, as though more of the middle class are seeing the outrage of their privilege being built upon the suffering of a mostly black underclass.

Even social media giant Twitter is making a stand, censoring the US President for his outrageous glorification of violence:

The protests we are seeing are pricking the conscience of the better half of America. Will it be enough to produce meaningful change? Will we see concessions from the current administration? Or will we see the alternative? Because the alternative would be a collapse into full-on neo-fascism with all the potential horrors that go with it.

It sounds terrifying, and it is, yet many I've spoken to across the Atlantic are feeling hopeful that meaningful change is in the air. It's just a shame that potential change, as always, must be born from violence and instability.

Only one thing is certain - the status quo is unsustainable.

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.


Friday, 29 May 2020

George Floyd's Sickening Murder by US cops Sparks Mass Protests

Black American George Floyd was pinned to the ground by a white police officer who knelt on his neck in full view of the public. The police officer, Dereck Chauvin, knew a camera was filming as his victim screamed he couldn't breathe for minutes on end, meaning the police officer thought his behaviour was acceptable. He thought the law would protect him. He thought causing a restrained man (who was clearly posing no threat) to die from his injuries was justifiable. The only reasonable conclusion is that Chauvin believed he was justified because his victim was black and his role was to play the oppressor. Horrifying.

Now I might live on the other side of the Atlantic, but I am trained in restraining techniques and licensed by the Security Industry Authority. If I restrained a person in such a manner, even if my actions did not result in death, my SIA license would be immediately suspended and I would be up in court for excessive use of force.

If my actions did result in death, this could lead to manslaughter or murder charges. Yet police officers, particularly in the US so rarely face prosecution for excessive force, let alone conviction, and if the victim turns out to be black, as is usually the case, it seems the establishment is not only willing to turn a blind eye, but quite happy for the situation to continue. It seems fear and violence is a tool of the establishment. But of course it is.

If this kind of behaviour, this murder, was simply the action of rogue cops, we would in every circumstance see suspensions and prosecutions leading to jail sentences. Instead we see officials rushing to find the most absurd of defences for the murderers and we see the media dig into the past of the victims. If you, at any point in your life, have been guilty of a minor indiscretion, and God knows we all have, then in their eyes you had it coming. But only if you are black of course.

Just think about that for a moment. 

Imagine myself, as a teenager. I got suspended from school for swearing at the IT technician and I also got into a few fights. If I was a black American murdered by cops, they would dig that up and say I had a track record of bad behaviour, that I was a troublemaker, rather than some kid who made a few mistakes. They would say I deserved to be the victim of excessive force, deserved to be dead because my past behaviour was imperfect. This literally happens.

Like I said above everyone of any race has done something, has some stain on their character, but if you're a black man in America the police have (in their minds) justification to murder you any time they feel like. Doesn't matter if you've committed a crime or if you're perfectly innocent and complying with instructions. Doesn't matter if there are eye witnesses with cameras because the establishment is on the murderer's side. 

Imagine living under such a dark cloud in a hostile state where establishment forces see you as an enemy and potential victim. Imagine knowing you could draw the short straw, even if you are a model citizen, but, of course, even if you are not a model citizen, you deserve better than summary execution.

The establishment wants to keep people afraid, keep people impoverished, keep society divided. This is not just an American thing, it happens in Britain too, but in ultra-capitalist America it has gone to the ultimate extreme. I just wish more people would understand race is only one dividing line they create - there are others such as sexual orientation, religion, employment status. It's any method to make it about us and them, turning natural allies into enemies and blinding us to the real enemy. It's ultimately about consolidating power, keeping the elite at the top and keeping everyone else punching down and turning on each other.

When I see white working class Americans waving the Confederate flag and defending rogue cops, I just want to scream "you're playing their game!" 

The white working class (which I myself am part of)  has far more in common with the black community and other minorities, with immigrants and refugees, with every marginalised group than they do with the elite. If you as a white person have ever felt marginalised (and I myself have, being formerly homeless), you need to understand the cause of this is not other marginalised people. I cannot believe I have to type this out because it seems so obvious. 

You too are a victim of the people who are oppressing and killing black communities. You should be on the same side as black communities, but you've been duped into siding with your own oppressors and kicking down on the people half a step beneath you on the ladder. Meanwhile the people above you are cutting out the rungs so you can never stand alongside them. Yours is a position of not only subservience, but complicity in the horrors committed by the state.

And now, no wonder we are seeing mass protests in the US. Rioting and looting committed by violent thugs, the media says, as though destruction of property is equivalent to (or actually worse than) state-sponsored murder. No one, certainly not the protesters wanted to see it come to this, but when society ignores cries for help since the founding of your country - the so-called land of the free which was built on stolen land by slaves - and when you ignore those cries even when mobile phone cameras prove the reality faced by black Americans, you are saying the status quo is something you are happy to preserve. When those police officers don't face prosecution, you are saying you are content with their freedom to murder with impunity. When you gaslight black communities, you are telling the marginalised to remain silent and afraid.

And this situation right now is not a result of corruption, it's a result of capitalism. It's a direct consequence of the measures necessary - the fear, poverty and brutalisation - to keep structures of power in place. And when victims finally rise up, the establishment is left with no choice but to further vilify, to call protesters rioters, looters, and violent thugs as pretext for crushing rebellion. 

People - victims of oppression - will be imprisoned or shot, protests will be quelled, and the middle class will return to their cosy bubble. Maybe they will elect white supremacist Joe Biden next and tell themselves they did a good thing because he won't kick black people quite as hard as the other white supremacist.

Or maybe, just maybe we have reached breaking point, late stage capitalism, the point where the elite have become too greedy, the police too cruel for the comfortable to turn a blind eye.

As the husband of a black woman, the father of black kids, a member of the white working class who has faced marginalisation my whole life, but more importantly as a human being, I hope we can reach that point where the middle class stand with the working class and especially with black communities and immigrant communities and all marginalised minority groups and put a stop to this madness - because ultimately this is about more, so much more than black on white. And I say that in no way to diminish the black experience but to stand in solidarity with black communities and end the unfairness and brutality. 

This is not about black on white. It's about the 99% versus the 1% and so many white people need to understand this.

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.


Thursday, 28 May 2020

Dominic Cummings is too Rich and Important to Face Prosecution

Durham Police have confirmed Dominic Cummings did break lockdown rules, but he won't face criminal action. How can this be justified?

Cummings made the trip to his parents' farm in County Durham and then to Barnard Castle during Easter with his wife and child while infected with Covid-19 when he should have been self-isolating for 14 days. He was defended by the Prime Minister and senior members of the cabinet, the judgement of who must now be called into question. Not only should Cummings go, but surely those who've taken his side must consider their own positions, including the Prime Minister himself. This was a judgement call Johnson got horrendously wrong which will jeopardise public safety.

Police across the UK have been patrolling beauty spots to issue fines and waiting outside supermarkets to check shopping bags, but the government's chief adviser, the man responsible for writing the lockdown rules, for preventing  people being with sick children or attending funerals, can break lockdown without consequence?

I am struggling to think of a more serious breach a person could commit than travelling across the country while sick and with possibly impaired vision, visiting beauty spots and jeopardising your own parents and niece. Would a regular person be let off without facing criminal action? I highly doubt it, so why should a man who has a public duty to lead by example, a man whose reckless behaviour has undermined his own guidelines and triggered droves of people to flock to parks and beaches, how can he possibly not be fined? How can his behaviour have been any more damaging? 

I struggle to see how, but then again Cummings advises a government who let Athletico Madrid fans flock to Anfield while their own city was under lockdown, a government who are itching to reopen schools and force everyone back to work before they have track and trace in place and while the infection rate is still dangerously high. 

The actions of Cummings and the Tory Party have so far led to 60,000 excess deaths during the pandemic, no doubt with many more to come. The breaches of lockdown which are arising as a direct response of the Prime Minister's Chief Adviser's behaviour will surely lead to avoidable deaths, and yet we are told no criminal action will be taken. We are told the Tories are above their own laws and we are encouraged to break those laws ourselves, even though we would be fined for doing so.

Can there be any doubt that herd immunity was the plan all along?

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.

Emily Maitlis removed from Newsnight

Emily Maitlis delivered a blistering monologue just a couple of nights ago, dropping devastating truth bombs about the Dominic Cummings scandal and tearing his defence to shreds. This was particularly surprising to see, not just because it was on the super Tory BBC, but because it was coming from Emily Maitlis, someone who so clearly struggles to hide her pro-government bias and openly balked at the idea of making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister last year.

Now even the right wing are getting pissed off at Boris Johnson's utter shitshower of a government because they are not just embarrassing themselves and the country, they are costing lives. Tens of thousands of lives. It's times like these when good people must put political leanings to one side and make a a stand.

Yet Maitlis' monologue came not long after BBC's Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg reported a ridiculous rebuttal on behalf of Dominic Cummings and the Tory Party without any journalistic scrutiny - a move you would expect from a PR person, not a journalist. That kind of bias from the BBC is totally fine of course, just like it was fine to mock Corbyn up against a red Kremlin background, just like it's fine for the BBC to completely misrepresent the left and continuously and unquestioningly tow the government line. 

But one time, just one time, a BBC presenter who is certainly right-leaning in her views, finds her spine, uses her moral compass and reflects the current public mood with facts, yes facts, and what happens? The BBC take Emily Maitliss off the air for bias. Here is the BBC's statement:

But of course the truth always has a left wing bias. We knew that. Cue a very predictable social media response. As Bonnie Greer pointed out:

Rachael Swindon posted her views on the absurd situation:

And Wolfie asked a question which many were also asking:

Last night, you would've been had pressed to finding a single person defending the BBC on this. The public mood is changing and those who've spent so long defending the indefensible actions of the Tory government are finding this increasingly difficult. The BBC however will continue defending the Tories, even if it means this wretched government takes them down with it. They are state propagandists who will fight to the death for their cause and perversely do so under the guise of "impartiality". They are utterly complicit in the absolute catastrophe this government's incompetence has created.

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

A Refund Request to Labour

After the first test of Sir Keir Starmer's leadership - the Labour leaks scandal - did not receive the urgent action I felt it required, I sent an email to the Labour Party and today I received a reply, both of which I have shared further down this article.

The reason I emailed Labour was to request a refund of all subs I had paid to the party because I, like so many others, felt Labour staff had acted against the party membership, undermined our election chances and possibly even acted in a racist and bullying manner. My fears were based on evidence which we have all seen and which if genuine is extremely damning.

My biggest concern however was not even the apparent horrific behaviour of the staff but the party's failure to convince me they were taking the matter seriously. I was hearing rumours of alleged saboteurs being promoted, I was being told some of those implicated (or supportive of those implicated) would be conducting the investigation, and I did not see any immediate suspensions.

We know Labour can and do issue immediate suspensions when the need to protect the reputation of the party arises. I therefore felt the leadership did not think such a need existed and that to me was damning in itself. I felt like I had been duped into paying for a cause which was not what it claimed to be, funding a party bureaucracy which did not share my socialist ideals and which did not even care to win elections, unless it could win on terms that were out of step with the party membership.

I therefore felt I was within my rights to request a refund of the subs I'd paid, subs which were often paid when I was struggling financially, but were paid gladly for a cause which appears to have amounted to a lie.
Here is a copy of my email and Labour's subsequent reply:

"Dear sir or madam,

I am utterly horrified by what I have read regarding the Labour leaks scandal and even more horrified by the party's response. There have been no immediate suspensions, despite evidence of racist bullying and throwing elections. I find this unacceptable.

I now feel like every subs payment I made to the Labour Party was obtained dishonestly by yourselves. I thought I was donating to a party which was sincerely trying to win the last 2 elections and I thought I was donating to an anti-racist party, but it appears I was wrong.

I would like a refund of every direct debit payment I have made since becoming a Labour member in 2017."

Labour's reply:

"As a non-profit, campaigning organisation the Labour Party immediately allocates funds received via membership subscriptions and donations, and therefore in the ordinary course of our activities we do not offer refunds. Furthermore, none of your membership fees or donations were procured as a result of any fraudulent activity or representations as you suggest. We are therefore not agreeing to your request.

In accordance with the Direct Debit Guarantee, the Party will refund any payment of membership fees made within the past 28 days. However, you should be aware that maintaining a subscription payment at the appropriate rate is a condition of membership of the Party. If you wish to request a refund under the Direct Debit Guarantee, please let us know in reply to this email.

The Party will vigorously defend any action you may bring against it, of the sort referred to in your email or otherwise. You should also be aware that we will vigorously contest any allegations of fraudulent activity or representations, or breaches of electoral law in any legal action. All of the Party’s rights remain reserved. 

If you require any further information, support, or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by return email."

As you can see, an extremely hostile reply. No acknowledgement of very genuine concerns, no attempt at an apology, no explanation of what steps are being taken regarding an investigation, just a "we will fight you, if you come after us". Also, note how they suggested I threatened legal action when I did no such thing.

I used to deal with complaints for a bank and part of my role was to coach our staff on how to write responses to the public - you're supposed to address concerns, acknowledge possible wrongdoing, explain processes and try to regain trust, not fight fire with fire. If I had adopted such an aggressive tone in a letter to a customer, I would have been out of a job.

The response I received tells me I'm seen by the Labour Party as an enemy. It confirms my fears, and this, along with the horrific recent appointment of David Evans as general secretary, means the Labour Party is now dead to me. 

Will I pursue them for my subs? Probably not. But the likelihood of me voting Labour with Starmer in charge is somewhere between nought and zero – and as a person who gave thousands of hours to the Labour cause, who campaigned with every ounce of strength I have, it pains me to say that. It really does.

Donations are hugely appreciated. 
Thank you for your support.