Friday, 18 September 2020

Beyond the Smears: The Truth About Jeremy Corbyn


It's fair to say no British politician in living memory has been criticised to the extent Jeremy Corbyn has, and none has been so unfairly treated. It seems every week another shitty journalist is writing a newspaper column or releasing a book, offering the "truth" about the former Labour leader. It's been going on for five years, and so much of what's been written about this decent man is either completely false or hugely distorted. But tragically, this smear campaign was successful in bringing him down and for some reason is still continuing. 

Corbyn was defeated, at least in part by lies, by the establishment closing ranks - the media, the corporations, the Labour centrists, all other political parties acting so disingenuously to preserve the status quo and prevent meaningful change.
It's so galling that we complain about the status quo and then take the word of those who would preserve the status quo as gospel, but that's what happened. It's what always happens.

If you could legitimately criticise Corbyn for one thing, it's that he's too nice, too soft, and while on one level, his gentle and sincere nature could be considered his greatest strength, it was ultimately his downfall. Corbyn could, and indeed should have pushed back so much harder when he (and others) were being unfairly smeared, but frustratingly, he allowed himself to become a punchbag. It may seem strange that I'm starting a defence of Corbyn with a criticism, but I think it's a necessary criticism and something I'm still upset with him about because when he allowed himself to become a punchbag, he allowed his supporters to become punchbags too.

Corbyn always knew the smears were coming. He and John McDonnell spoke from the beginning of his leadership about how no socialist will be given an easy ride by the mainstream media. But he should've understood that socialism can never take hold in the UK without a coherent strategy to tackle the inevitable misinformation. Instead, Corbyn seemed to count on enough of the public seeing through the lies and respecting the fact he rose above the dirty games to focus on the issues that mattered. He thought his anti-establishment credentials and pleasant nature would be enough to counter the attacks. This was a huge mistake, as was Corbyn's determination to unite the Labour Party by appeasing his detractors.

In politics you must be prepared to swing back, but Corbyn wanted to befriend everyone, even the most vile of school yard bullies. His ethos that talking to people, rather than fighting them, is a noble one with so much merit, but Corbyn somehow forgot one of the golden rules of politics that appeasement never works.

You can't treat party politics in the same manner you treat international diplomatic relations because your party rivals don't want to be appeased by you. Their only goal is to destroy you and take your place by any means necessary, and that's exactly what the Starmerists did. But as frustrated as I am with Corbyn for effectively allowing his political assassination to take place by not adequately defending himself, I would, perhaps one final time, like to set the record straight and remind the world he is a fundamentally decent man with inspiring ideals, a man from who we could've learned so much, if only we had listened to reason, instead of listening to Rupert Murdoch.

Let's take a look at Corbyn's career and examine some of the key reasons he's been praised or vilified to see if we can draw an accurate picture of the politician many say is always on the right side of history:

In 1984 Jeremy Corbyn was arrested protesting apartheid

During the 1980s, protests outside the South African Embassy in London were common and coincided with intensified resistance to apartheid in South Africa. Officials of the South African government wielded strong influence over the British government at the time and pressured the Foreign Office to quell the anti-apartheid movement. One could easily draw parallels to the Tory government's attitude towards Israeli apartheid today and how Corbyn is vilified for speaking up for the Palestinians. It would seem history has a way of repeating itself.

In June 1984, protests outside the South African Embassy were banned and the Metropolitan Police took the decision to arrest those who would defy that ban. But the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group were not so easily deterred. Many citizens and several politicians were arrested in a noble protest which had become about more than apartheid, but also the right to free assembly. Among those arrested was the current MP for Islington North and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who was led away in handcuffs, wearing a sign which read: 
"Defend the right to demonstrate against apartheid."
This courageous act of civil disobedience by Corbyn and others ultimately led to the ban on protests being overturned. The protests could continue in a place where they had maximum visibility and South African officials could not simply ignore them. We would do well to remember this achievement the next time centrists sneer at the "politics of protest".

Today everyone, Tories included, claims to have supported Nelson Mandela and the ANC's struggle for freedom, but back in the 1980s, the Conservative government were supporters of the apartheid regime who called the ANC terrorists and vilified anyone who expressed support for them, criminalising protesters in the process. While other "progressives" shied away from the fight, Jeremy Corbyn stood on the front-line, jeopardising his safety, freedom and political career to fight for justice.

Corbyn was on the right side of history.

Jeremy Corbyn has been a long-time supporter of gay rights

Since his days as a London councillor in the 1970s, Jeremy Corbyn has fought for the LGBT community, championing causes such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). His record shows he has voted 25 times in favour of gay rights and 0 times against.

In 1998, Corbyn was the only Labour MP to back a Liberal Democrat amendment to a bill which would outlaw discrimination based on sexual preference. Years later, as Labour leader, he promised to extend same sex marriage to Northern Ireland and put LGBT history on the school curriculum if he were to become Prime Minister. He threatened "economic and diplomatic consequences" on regimes which did not support LGBT rights.

Throughout his political career, Corbyn has championed LGBT rights when so many MPs in both Labour and the Conservatives did not. It's easy for some to forget how publicly accepted homophobia was well into the 1990s. Younger readers may not know Margaret Thatcher's notorious "Section 28" banned the discussion of homosexuality in schools, and homophobia was not just a right-wing problem either: plenty in the Labour movement either held homophobic views or did not feel strongly enough to speak out. Corbyn was an exception, and this is yet another example of him taking an initially unpopular position based on principle.

Corbyn was on the right side of history.

Jeremy Corbyn held peace talks with Republicans and Loyalists

We've all heard the accusations that Jeremy Corbyn was an IRA sympathiser due to his meetings with Sinn Féin leaders and his support for the republican movement, but as is so often the case when people criticise Corbyn, key details are omitted, most importantly that Corbyn spoke to both sides.

Corbyn has maintained throughout his political career, the way to make progress and achieve peace is by meeting with, and talking to, people you may disagree with. As a result, Corbyn has travelled the world, often visiting dangerous places to discuss how progress can be made on the most difficult of matters. Often, he has been the first British politician to make such a move, as would be the case with the Northern Ireland troubles.

While Margaret Thatcher was using inflammatory rhetoric and choosing force over diplomacy, essentially worsening the Northern Ireland troubles and costing lives, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell decided to find a better way. They met with loyalist and republican leaders (not "terrorists" as is so often claimed, but politicians) and they discussed peace, years before Tony Blair was lauded for doing the same. 

Such was the progress they made that Sinn Féin expressed a willingness to negotiate with the UK government, but alas, the suggestion was rejected by Thatcher, Corbyn and McDonnell were ridiculed, and the peace process never got started. Many more people died before Blair's Labour finally decided diplomacy was the way forward, a move which resulted in the historic Good Friday Agreement. If Thatcher had pursued the same path as Corbyn such an agreement could have been reached 10 years earlier.

The wife of the late Reverend Ian Paisley, Eileen, said her husband spoke fondly of Jeremy Corbyn and described him as a decent and honest man. She explained her husband did not "approve of [Corbyn] meeting Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin people while the IRA campaign was still going on, but he always found him very courteous and polite. He was a gentleman."

Anyone who would accuse Corbyn of befriending terrorists would do well to remember Paisley ended up befriending sworn enemy Martin McGuiness later in life. Strangely, no one calls the late reverend an IRA sympathiser and nor should they call Jeremy Corbyn an IRA sympathiser. He is simply a man who respected both sides in a conflict, but abhorred the violence and wanted peace.

Jeremy Corbyn has always condemned violence in the strongest possible terms and has signed Parliamentary motions condemning IRA terrorism, but when questioned on the matter, he always points out the loyalist violence was just as unacceptable as the republican violence. Absurdly, the media have used this equivalence to portray Corbyn as the bad guy, as though condemning loyalist terrorism is a bad thing!

In November 1994, Corbyn signed an early day motion commemorating the victims of a terrorist attack in 1974 in Birmingham and condemning IRA violence.

"This House notes that it is 20 years since the mass killings of 21 people in Birmingham as a result of terrorist violence; deplores that such an atrocity occurred and again extends its deepest sympathy to the relatives of those murdered and also to all those injured. ... 

"... And strongly hopes that the present cessation of violence by the paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland will be permanent and thus ensure that such an atrocity as took place in Birmingham as well as the killings in many other places both in Northern Ireland itself and Great Britain will never occur again."

Corbyn was criticised for attending an event in which he reportedly spoke in support of those who died fighting for a united Ireland; the claim being this was expressing support for terrorism. What is rarely mentioned is that Corbyn was actually speaking at a memorial service, remembering the victims of a terrorist attack and that he called for an end to violence. He was not supporting terrorism, but rather the victims of terrorism. 

Many people in the republican movement were fighting peacefully for a united Ireland, just like many loyalists were fighting peacefully to preserve the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It must be emphasised Corbyn was on the side of those pursuing a path of peace, not violence.

If you accuse Corbyn of IRA sympathy because he shared the same goal as republicans, then surely you as a unionist must be guilty of supporting UVF and UDA terrorism by the same logic. And let's not forget, the Tory government actually went into coalition with the DUP - the loyalist equivalent of Sinn Féin. Where was the outrage then?

Jeremy Corbyn may have met with Gerry Adams but so too did Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, and many other political figures! It's rarely mentioned that MI5 files show there was "no doubt" Adams was sincere in his desire for peace so why wouldn't political figures talk to him as the Republican representative?

The fact Jeremy Corbyn had the foresight to pursue peace talks in Northern Ireland over a decade before the Blair government, at a time when Thatcher was only interested in a military solution, again risking both his personal safety and his political career to do the right thing, is yet another example of Corbyn taking a courageous stance.

Corbyn was on the right side of history.

Corbyn did not lay a wreath at the grave of the Munich terrorists

In September 2014, Jeremy Corbyn attended an event in Tunis with US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Conservative Peer Lord Sheikh and Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips to commemorate victims of the 1985 Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters. This bombing was universally condemned as a terrorist attack, even by the reluctant Reagan administration who adopted this position three weeks after the international community, having initially defended Israel.

One of the main aims of the event was to reconcile differences between the Palestinian political groups Hamas and Fatah - in other words diplomacy. The event had no connection with the Black September bombers who are actually buried in another country, and while it's been claimed two other people buried in the cemetery may have had links to Black September, this remains unproven, and Corbyn did not visit their graves or even know of their presence. Strangely, no one is accusing General Clark, Lord Sheikh or Lord Phillips of supporting the Black September bombers, only Jeremy Corbyn. There is simply no substance to this story.

This was an unfounded smear against Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn is not an Antisemite

Jeremy Corbyn has worked closely with Jewish groups throughout his political career, and once famously saved a Jewish cemetery in his constituency from demolition. He has repeatedly condemned antisemitism in the clearest and strongest terms, including the below quote ahead of the 2019 general election:

"I made it very clear antisemitism is completely wrong within our society. Our party did make it clear when I was elected leader and after that, that antisemitism is unacceptable in any form in our party or our society, and did indeed offer sympathies and apologies to those that had suffered."

Many prominent Jewish figures such as John Bercow, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, and Andrew Feinstein have stated they don't believe Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite. While most of these figures are on the left of the political spectrum, former House Speaker John Bercow is a Conservative who has known Corbyn for over 20 years. If any Jew would have something to say about antisemitic behaviour from Corbyn, it would surely be Bercow, and yet he is adamant Corbyn does not have an antisemitic bone in his body.

Bercow stated:

"I myself have never experienced antisemitism from a member of the Labour Party – point one. And point two – though there is a big issue, and it has to be addressed, I do not myself believe Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic. That is my honest view."

Skwawkbox and Jewish Voice for Labour published a fantastic article (written by Skwawkbox) citing 50 occasions when Jeremy Corbyn has stood in solidarity with Jews, and you can read it here and here.

Some have suggested that Corbyn's criticisms of the Israeli government and his support for the Palestinian struggle are somehow antisemitic, but the Home Affairs Committee points out:

"It is not antisemitic to criticise the Israeli government without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent
or to hold Israel:
"to the same standards as other liberal democracies or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government's policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent."

Another common attack against Corbyn is that he once shared a platform with a person, or maybe stood in the same room as someone, perhaps shook their hands, only for it to transpire that person has made an antisemitic comment at some point, and therefore Corbyn must support them and their antisemitism. In other words: guilt by association. 

All I'm going to say in response to that is Jeremy Corbyn has shared a platform with Boris Johnson so by the same logic, he must support the Tory PM and his racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and general bigotry. See how completely stupid that argument sounds? Jeremy Corbyn has never uttered an antisemitic thought in his life and has always condemned antisemitism.

This was an unfounded smear against Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn is not a Communist Spy

Where do I even begin with this one, other than to say it's fucking batshit crazy? I'm not even going to bother with an in-depth analysis on such a baseless claim, I'm simply going to point out Corbyn was a member of the privy council, meaning he was as thoroughly vetted as anyone in the country, and if there was a shred of evidence to suggest he was a foreign agent, he would not have been given security clearance. It really is that simple.

This was an unfounded smear against Corbyn.

Conclusion

The simple reason for so many unfounded attacks on such a decent man as Jeremy Corbyn is that he posed an existential threat to the establishment and inspired the marginalised. He wanted to democratise our society, shifting wealth and power from the top to the bottom, and his detractors would stop at nothing to stop him and the working class from rising up. 

There were so many ridiculous smears I did not have room to discuss, but you know what they are: Corbyn wore the wrong kind of coat, did not bow low enough, must hate our troops because he does not want them to die in war, etc.

I could've gone into depth about Corbyn's alleged support for Hamas and Hezbollah, but really it would've read much the same as the section discussing his alleged support for the IRA: Corbyn likes to talk to people and is determined to pursue peace and as a diplomat, his only crime is being a little too nice to people.

The truth of the matter is no UK politician has taken such principled stands throughout their career, nor been on the right side of history so often, nor been so unfairly vilified as a result. So often, we complain about why so few politicians actually represent us, and yet the answer is simple: the mainstream media crucify the few good ones and half of the public are duped into playing along against our interests; Jeremy Corbyn being a case in point.

Not only was Corbyn on the right side of history with the examples given above, but he's also on the right side of history when he says we must take on a status quo which favours corporations, billionaires and media moguls. He's on the right side of history when he says our public services must be nationalised so the people are put before profit. He's on the right side of history when he says we so desperately need a green industrial revolution. He's on the right side of history when he says we must democratise our media outlets and our workplaces. He's on the right side of history when he says we should stop vilifying the poor, minorities and refugees, and turn our attention to the real villains - the elite. 

Ultimately Corbyn's on the right side of history because he's not out for himself, he never was. This is a politician who gives up his Christmases to help the homeless and shuns chauffeur-driven limousines to ride the bus with ordinary people. He's always on the right side of history because he's fighting for you and wants to create a better world for everyone. And mark my words, the next time a party leader comes along who wants the same, who threatens the status quo, they too will be vilified by the media. When are we going to wake up?

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Please click the button to donate
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

BREAKING: Northeast Under Lockdown From Friday

 
Health Minister Nadine Dorries has met with 22 MPs from the northeast of England to discuss lockdown in the region which has faced its largest rate of Covid-19 infections since May. It is understood that lockdown measures will be announced on Thursday and imposed on Friday in Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham, and Northumberland.

The planned measures include:

  • 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants & other licensed venues
  • A ban on socialising with anyone from another household
  • Public transport & car sharing discouraged at peak times
  • Only essential visitors allowed into care homes
  • No holidaying with people from other households
  • No attending sports games

So all in all, another set of measures which will have about as much effect as the pointless rule of six. Of course, when infection rates continue to rise from the government's failure to properly lockdown, they're going to say it's our fault again for not following the new rules. Marvellous.

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Tory MPs Vote to Break the Law & the PM Seems at Death's Door

Last night 340 Tory MPs voted to break international law by backing the shambolic Internal Markets Bill which would throw the Prime Minister's "oven-ready" Brexit deal in the bin. That would be the Brexit deal Johnson forced his MPs to vote for in December, sacking rebels in the process, before changing his mind when reality hit home. What a complete joke.

The Prime Minister was savaged by Ed Miliband who demonstrated he's far better at leading the opposition than Mr Brylcreem, Sir Keir Starmer, and given how poorly Miliband performed in 2015, this does not bode well for Labour, but that's another story.

Johnson, clearly in the grip of "long Covid", ravaged and disoriented by post-viral fatigue, was only only able to gawp like a drooling, barely-sentient zombie of a PM whose vocabulary does not extend beyond flatulence, grunts, and hysterical soundbites as Ed Miliband pointed out: "Either he wasn't straight with the country about the deal in the first place or he didn't understand it."

In all fairness, Johnson probably never read his oven-ready Brexit deal - he just wanted to play Prime Minister and be Brexit hero, maybe even get his pale, clammy, flustered face on a bank note. Brexit was supposed to be his Churchillian moment, but however this transpires, the history books will remember a shambles of leadership through not one, but several national crises, a man who really should've been on his sick bed and would've been out of his depth even in good health, let alone when he looked ready to keel over.

Twenty years from now, Boris Johnson will not only be reviled for the chaos that he is imposing on our nation, but he will be a running joke and people will be aghast we could ever have voted such a man into power. Indeed many of us already are aghast, but we're known as "cranks".

"For the first time in his life it's time for him to take responsibility," Miliband insisted. The mothers of Johnson's many children would advise us not to hold our breath. 

The problem here is that although Miliband's impressive parliamentary performance was an embarrassment for the government, that's all it really was, and it will likely make no difference. The Tories will most probably get their way and court action now offers the most realistic hope of stopping them. Nicola Sturgeon is understood to be looking very closely at this option, but ultimately her goal is a clean break from this joke of a union - and who can blame her? If I was Scottish, I'd want to be well shot too.

A Threat to an Already Flawed Democracy

The Internal Markets Bill would give ministers the power to change aspects of the legally-binding EU Withdrawal Agreement whenever they want, in other words ignoring rules already enshrined in law. Combine this with their efforts to criminalise protest and move towards mass surveillance and we are looking at serious threats to an already flawed democracy, although not necessarily Johnson dictatorship. I'm not sure the PM can be bothered and will probably hand the reins over to human-worm hybrid Michael Gove at some point, if Gove doesn't knife him in the back first.

Only a fool or someone who has never read a history book would discount the possibility of Tory dictatorship, or at the very least, a severely compromised form of democracy. Indeed, some might argue we are living in an oligarchy right now in which the public only have a vague influence on the future direction of our country. Britain certainly falls short of being a full democracy, which is why we have a woman in Buckingham Palace who does nothing for a living and wears a £4 million hat.

The right wing always grab as much power as they can, usually in the name of "national security" or the "will of the people" and right now, they are probing our flawed democracy for weak spots at every opportunity, but sadly, the leader of the opposition is much too polite to point this out. It is, of course, much more important for the leader of a socialist party to stop the rise of socialism - and Sir Keir is doing an admirable job in that regard - he really is earning his knighthood.

Only two Tory MPs - Sir Roger Gale and Andrew Percy - voted against the Internal Markets Bill, but I refuse to heap praise on the pair for even a microsecond. They are Tories, after all, and call me cynical, but whatever their motivations, I seriously doubt the national interest was among them. Tories always look out for themselves, so no, Gale and Percy are not heroes, not in my view. They're just two Tories who happen to be on the right side of a vote for a change.

Last night, Johnson could easily have been mistaken for heavily-inebriated, rather than stupefied by panic and ill-health, and the unmistakable look of terror in his eyes, like a rabbit in the headlights as Miliband's truth bombs raced towards him, suggested part of him wants to be gently put out his misery, rather than see his reputation splattered on the tarmac by reality.

Johnson knows he's out of his depth, but alas, the Prime Minister has dug himself into a hole even the ever-supportive Rupert Murdoch would struggle to dig him out of. He will haemorrhage support after this, and a further power grab may well be the only way he can hold onto power, if he truly wants to keep it. But I suspect he'd far rather jet off to Mustique with his latest mistress and let Cummings do the work, and this may well be the plan actually.

There is a decent chance Johnson will not be in charge for the 2024 general election, but don't doubt for one second the Tories will somehow replace him with worse - after all, they are on a decade-long roll. Following the incompetent Cameron and emotionless Maybot, they somehow managed to find even worse in cuddly Boris and they will certainly find worse again, even though we appear to have the worst possible representative out of 66.65 million people. 

I'm unsure even Michael Gove could surpass Boris Johnson's awfulness, but unless he's up to that job, his party will quickly look elsewhere for their next calamity. Fuck, I'm half-expecting them to drag Thatcher from her throne room in hell and put her shambling corpse in charge of the post-Brexit, super-pandemic apocalypse. I look forward to her deregulating the rat meat industry and privatising breathable air.

If Johnson passes his disastrous Internal Markets Bill (and he probably will), then he will shatter our international reputation, but he knows his "oven-ready" Brexit deal was a threat to the union and completely unworkable, being so foul, rancid and chlorine-drenched that not even a government as undignified and immoral as this one could continue to pretend otherwise. 

Johnson could easily be remembered as the prime minister who ended peace in Northern Ireland or broke up the United Kingdom, and could plausibly be remembered as both, but on the plus side, he may well cement his party's grip on little England and keep the Tories in power indefinitely. It's just there won't be much left that's worth ruling over and he probably won't stick around to clean up his mess. Britain is now an undeveloping country.

The PM's only other option (apart from resignation) is to admit the only workable Brexit is the one proposed by Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 which he pretended would be so terrible. That would be the same Brexit the Starmerists and Lib Dems ensured did not happen because they did not want Corbyn to become interim PM. Of course, centrists would now jump at the chance to pass that bill, but they felt the peace-loving jam maker posed more of a threat to the nation than Tory dictatorship. The centrists own this mess too. 

Only the First Hurdle

It's barely worth mentioning, 30 other Tory MPs (or as I call them, cowards) abstained on last night's vote. They lacked the courage of their convictions and sat back as the Prime Minister's buffoonery began shredding what remains of our international reputation. However, it's worth pointing out this was just the first hurdle for the bill and Parliament will look at it again, next Tuesday, meaning there is the tiny possibility of abstainers finding their backbone and either forcing amendments or voting against the bill. I'm not holding my breath that they'll make the slightest difference though, especially given MPs voted against a Labour amendment to reject the bill entirely. Clearly they want this one to pass more or less as it stands. 

If I can grudgingly give credit to the woeful Boris Johnson (or more likely Dominic Cummings) for one thing, it's that he takes no nonsense. He reminds his MPs they are supposed to be soulless, bloodsucking parasites whose sole purpose of existence is to asset strip the nation, and if they hesitate, not to save their people but their own political reputations, he simply sacks them, just like he sacked Winston Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames, last December. Of course, he welcomes them back with their tails between their legs if they agree to toe the line in future. He still needs their support for now.

In some regards, the Johnson-Cummings monstrosity makes an effective dictatorial double-act, and I'd be lying if I denied wishing Corbyn had shown the same ruthlessness towards Labour rebels back in 2019. If he had, we might not be sliding into neo-fascism; our Tory masters aided and abetted by forensic non-opposition from a knight of the realm. Wouldn't that be nice?

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Friday, 11 September 2020

BREAKING: Britain's R Number Now Officially at 1.7 - Second Wave in Full Swing

It has been announced that Britain's R number is now at 1.7 and infections are doubling once every 8 days. It's fair to say the second wave of Covid-19 is now in full swing to the surprise of absolutely no-one.

356 schools saw outbreaks of Covid in the first week of reopening with pupils being sent home just days after their return. Doctors have been unable to work because they can't access tests, and farcically, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has blamed the lack of tests on too many people using them! The whole situation is a shambles and the government really needs to admit it got schools reopening wrong and U-turn, otherwise many more people are going to die.

In the most recent study, 150,000 people were randomly tested and of those, 136 came back positive, meaning 9.1 out of every 10,000 people (around 50-60,000 in total) are currently infected and unaware. I understand these tests were done on people who mostly had no idea they were infected and therefore spreading the illness around public places.

Researchers point out all age groups are showing rises in infections, not just the young as the government has suggested. Winter is always the worst time of year for respiratory infections so those numbers are surely set to climb further without immediate action. And that action must surely be more convincing than banning visits from Grandma or blaming youths for not following your guidelines after you drove to Barnard Castle. 

One of Britain's top scientific advisers stated our response in the next 6-8 weeks will be crucial in what kind of winter we have. The problem is if the Prime Minister U-turns now, he will come under huge pressure to resign and Johnson is not one for facing up to responsibility (just ask his kids), but the longer he delays, the worse things will get. Johnson will not be able to use the excuse from the start of the pandemic of this being an unexpected crisis because we've had 6 months to learn and we know what must be done.

Germany has extended its furlough scheme until the end of 2021, but ours is set to end in just six weeks. It really is no exaggeration to say Britain is on the brink of disaster, and if you doubt that for one second, just imagine what will happen when we throw No Deal into the mix.

We need to look at full lockdown for the next 6 weeks to get this situation back under control. Last time we entered lockdown too late and it gave us the worst first wave in Europe. Do we really want to be the country that also has the worst second wave?

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Should Boris Johnson Resign for Breaching the Ministerial Code?

Boris Johnson's Internal Markets bill which would modify Britain's Brexit plan is illegal under international law, as admitted by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in Parliament. 

There is a small problem here: breaking the law or calling for a breaking of the law is a breach of the Ministerial Code, and any minister guilty of such a breach is obligated to resign.

Here is what the Ministerial Code says:

1.3 The Ministerial Code should be read against the background of the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law and to protect the integrity of public life. 

There is however one flaw with the enforcement of the Ministerial Code which is as follows:

1.4 It is not the role of the Cabinet Secretary or other officials to enforce the Code. If there is an allegation about a breach of the Code, and the Prime Minister, having consulted the Cabinet Secretary, feels that it warrants further investigation, he may ask the Cabinet Office to investigate the facts of the case and/or refer the matter to the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests. 

It is the role of the Prime Minister to refer himself and other ministers for investigation, and somehow I can't see the man who has treated the law with contempt since the day he tried to overrule sovereignty of Parliament to force through No Deal holding himself to account. This would be yet another example of how our democratic processes can be farcical and open to abuse from would-be dictators. 

Here's the thing: there is no need for an investigation from the Cabinet Office. Boris Johnson and his Ministers are openly calling for a breaking of the law which would devastate the UK's international reputation, and if they had any integrity, they would resign. 

You would think this shitshow would provide the perfect opportunity for the leader of the opposition to demand heads, and yet Sir Keir's words on the matter have been less scathing than those of Theresa May and John Major! Indeed, it seems the beige one only said anything at all to save himself the embarrassment of being overshadowed by the former Tory Prime Ministers in his role of actually opposing.

You would also think remainers would be apoplectic with rage that Remain's saviour, Mr Meaningful Opposition is so limply watching the government lead us into the worst kind of Brexit. A worst of all worlds scenario. A complete and utter mess. And yet most of the people who decided Jeremy Corbyn wasn't remainy enough seem almost indifferent!

Britain is sleep-walking into neo-fascism, into an era where the law doesn't apply and human rights can be trampled over and Britain's international reputation is shattered, and centrists are going to be utterly complicit, as they've always been throughout history. 

If the so-called opposition won't call for the Prime Minister's resignation, we surely must for the sake of all our futures.

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support

email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Johnson's Illegal Brexit Modifications will give Britain Two Disasters at Once

Boris Johnson has defended his Internal Markets Bill which would modify the Brexit deal he signed with the EU in January, effectively breaking international law. Again.

The EU withdrawal agreement made clear Northern Ireland is still in the UK, but must follow elements of EU customs. The Internal Markets Bill explicitly states proposals within the bill should apply, even if they are incompatible with international law. Even if they are illegal.

Either the Tories have no idea how the law works, or more likely, they simply don't care. The law is not something you can choose to obey or disobey whenever you feel like it. Rule of law is never optional, not even for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Britain's mini-Trump does not have the authority to overrule the law because he is not a dictator, no matter how much he wants to be. Try explaining this to the idiot-in-charge who would give ministers the power to modify rules governing the movement of goods if they cannot agree a trade deal. In other words, allowing ministers to make it up as they go along and to hell with the consequences.

Johnson said his illegal bill would ensure the integrity of the UK internal market, hand power to Scotland and Wales, and protect the Northern Ireland peace process. He was promptly mauled from every angle, including from former Tory Prime Ministers John Major and Theresa May who reminded the beige Sir Keir how to do opposition, explaining the move would seriously damage Britain's international standing.

Major said: "For generations, Britain's word - solemnly given - has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct. ... If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained."

I hear the Scottish government is considering legal action and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stated: "The Tories' proposed bill for a so-called UK internal market is an abomination. It is a naked power grab which would cripple devolution."
Don't worry though, it's only breaking the law in a very "limited and specific way", Brandon Lewis shamelessly said in Parliament. They really are just making this up as they go along, aren't they? 
The European Commission demanded an urgent meeting to discuss the ramifications for Brexit and Michael Gove will visit EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic to discuss his concerns. This hardly bodes well, considering the latest round of negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU are coming to a close. How can these people possibly trust a word we say? I certainly wouldn't and nor would EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who tweeted: 

"Very concerned about announcements from the British government on its intentions to breach the Withdrawal Agreement. This would break international law and undermines trust."
So much for oven-ready Brexit deal.
We really shouldn't be surprised by any of this Tory madness. We have a government that fails to respect the human rights of the disabled and ignores international treaties on refugees, led by a Prime Minister who admits to snorting cocaine and was recorded plotting to beat up a journalist. Laws don't apply to the Tories, but to be fair, they've never done anything truly terrible like that time Jeremy Corbyn wore the wrong kind of coat. Thankfully, they're not that monstrous, they just want to sell bits of your NHS to Trump while pretending it's not happening. Ignorance is strength and all that.

I doubt even the most ardent Tory critic (which would be me!) could've imagined their 2019 general election victory would be this ruinous. These maniacs look set to usher in an actual apocalypse.

This bunch of charlatans who gave us a decade of austerity hell, who are overseeing a Covid disaster, who ignore lockdown rules and blame the public for a rise in infections, are also overseeing Brexit and doing as bad a job as humanly possible. They are about to give the UK two disasters at once, and while on the face of things, it may seem they've no idea what they're doing, in many respects, it boils down to the fact they don't give a crap. The Tories will do whatever they want and you will suffer the consequences. Not content with giving us Europe's highest Covid death toll, they now want to devastate our economy and destroy our international standing. 

It might take Britain decades to recover from Boris Johnson, but at least Corbyn's not giving us free broadband...

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Tory Idiocy: Ban on Gatherings of more than 6, but Schools Remain Open

The government has announced gatherings of more than six people (indoors or outdoors) will be banned from Monday 14th September. Breaking this rule will result in fines from £100 up to £3,200, but how the rule is going to be enforced is anyone's guess.

Don't get me wrong, I fully support effective measures to protect the public from Covid-19. I am a sufferer of "long Covid", having experienced symptoms for over six months, including breathlessness and fatigue, therefore I understand the risks are not just to the elderly and disabled, but to everyone, and we must minimise the spread of this awful disease.

My issue is not that gatherings of more than six people are banned, it's the absurd hypocrisy, the dishonest motives, and the contradictions which render such a move ultimately pointless.

One tweet encapsulated this perfectly:

The Plan is not Remotely Logical

We can squeeze into crowded workplaces, visit churches and mosques, swarm through shopping centres, send our kids to packed schools, take them to heaving soft plays, eat at busy restaurants, and expose ourselves to hundreds, if not thousands of potential Covid carriers, but we can't invite friends or family members to our homes because that would be too dangerous? If you have three kids like I do, you can't even have a visit from both grandparents at the same time!

The government's justification for this policy is that public places must follow social hygiene rules - which simply means washing your hands and not touching each other. So why can't we just tell visitors to our homes to wash their hands and not touch us? 

And what if we do have people around? Are the police going to knock at our doors and start counting heads? What if we refuse to let them in? Will they return with a warrant? Do they have nothing better to do? Personally, I won't be having visitors, but the idea of fining people does not sit well with me when far larger gatherings are forced upon us.

An Idiot in Charge of a Disaster

Matt Hancock was asked about how his policy could prevent grandparents from helping with childcare, and he simply replied: "I'm not actively trying to do that." But that's the implication of his policy. The fact some consequences are unintentional does not make the government look any better. It makes them look worse. The Tories completely failed to consider the consequences of their actions and went ahead regardless. It would appear they're just winging it, driven not by public safety, but the desire to mislead.

You can now be fined for not sending your kids to a crowded school to keep them safe, and you can also be fined for asking the grandparents to look after the kids because that would be too dangerous.

Matt Hancock said he hopes this rule can be lifted by Christmas, but how can it have any meaningful impact? When we are forced into crowded situations daily, banning people from occasionally seeing the family will not stop the spread of the virus. The move is a ridiculous deflection, a way of pretending to act as Covid cases rise because of schools reopening, and then passing the blame onto the public.

357 schools have reportedly seen Covid outbreaks in the past week, but the Tories couldn't possibly admit they got the reopening wrong and U-turn, not least because they don't give a shit. Public pressure can occasionally sway them, but they've made far too many U-turns recently and one this big would make it hard even for the Murdoch press to spin. I doubt Dominic Cummings could find a dead cat big enough. 

So anyways, what happens after Christmas, Matt Hancock? Do we just pretend everything's okay and lift the rule, even though nothing will have been achieved? Do we drag the gathering ban out longer? Or do we take meaningful action now, closing schools and work places etc., until we've got the numbers under control again? 

I know the U-turn would be embarrassing, Matt, but you could always resign with your last shred of dignity intact. You do know what dignity is, don't you? It's that thing credible public servants are supposed to have.

Let's Do Something Meaningful

Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar of the government's scientific advisory committee, said "the next four to six weeks will be absolutely pivotal to the sort of autumn and winter we have". Surely, we should do something over the next four to six weeks because what we're doing right now is nothing while pretending we're doing something. And we're going to fine people if they fail to comply with the nothing. My head hurts.

In addition to this nonsense, we've seen Matt Hancock blame the public for the shortage of available tests because people are asking to be tested!

"Unfortunately, we have seen this quite sharp rise in the last couple of weeks of people without symptoms, who don't have a good reason, coming forward and getting a test."

How can you blame a shortage of tests on people being tested? How can you say we need a world-beating test and trace system before reopening schools and then not deliver one, but reopen schools anyway? 

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking we have a government of incompetents, but don't worry, the Tories plan to launch a campaign to remind people to wash their hands. Yes, really.

If anyone is totally lost and has no idea what the rules are (which let's face it, is all of us), here they are, courtesy of the BBC:

  • Social gatherings of more than six people in England will not be allowed in law from Monday 14th September
  • The ban applies to people in private homes, indoors and outdoors, and places such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and public outdoor spaces
  • The ban applies to all ages
  • The ban does not apply to schools and workplaces, or weddings, funerals and organised team sports
  • A full list of exemptions is due to be published before the law changes
  • People who ignore police could be fined £100 - doubling with each offence to a maximum of £3,200

This is exactly the type of meaningless policy you would expect from a government which boasts of breaking the law in parliament and endorses driving to castles to test your failing eyesight. The Tories are now a parody of a government, their leadership so farcical that if this was a movie script, you'd say the writers have gone too far. And this shambolic leadership is not something that's just arisen during the chaos and panic of a pandemic. It's been going on since day one and getting progressively worse with the majority support of the mainstream media.

Blaming the People

We now live in a topsy-turvy country where those who oppose the Tory madness are labelled extremists. Not in a hyperbolic off-the-cuff manner either, but officially. Any movement which challenges the government is being designated an extremist group. The police are actively monitoring people for crimes like attending Extinction Rebellion protests or standing with Black Lives Matter. Next, the police will be knocking at your door to fine you and your parents for defying Covid rules. The rising death toll will be your fault, just like the lack of available tests is your fault.

Meanwhile, we've got an inept opposition leader who demanded schools reopen and is only too happy to go along with the Tories' nonsense. Why? Because only the left are offering solutions and centrists are just as reluctant to hear those solutions as the far-right. They really are cut from the same cloth, it's just centrist politicians are less honest about who they really are. Less honest than Tories.

If you want to follow through on WHO recommendations or climate science or demand racial justice or believe we should take meaningful action to address poverty, you are "far-left", but if you pretend to care about these matters and sneer at meaningful action, you are "moderate". The far right love those moderates by the way - the kind who will sack Rebecca Long-Bailey for siding with unions on schools reopening and then pretend she's an antisemite to justify their betrayal.

Surely, public health and other serious matters should not remotely be considered left versus right. Surely, there should be agreement that we embrace science, logic, decency, compassion, and build our policies from there - policies which are ethical, coherent, and effective. Instead, we're banning family visits while opening restaurants and soft plays to protect private profit. We're reopening schools and then blaming the youth for the sudden spike in Covid infections. Those are the tactics now - blame and vilify.

We've had years of the left being vilified, and now as the public blindly nod along, accepting whatever smears are thrown our way, they're being picked off, one-by-one, and blamed for the failings of the government. It's the fault of the school kids, or the teachers and nurses who they clapped just a few weeks back, or the fault of care home staff or whoever else they can think of blaming. And when they've got no one to blame, they tell you about a non-existent migrant invasion. They tell you anything to keep you distracted from their shambolic policy-making and their eagerness to put profit before people. 

Don't Invite People into your Home, Do Go into the Office

They want you to stop working from home, not because you need to be in the office, but because the owners of the office spaces want their rent and because the owners of Pret A Manger want you to buy a needlessly expensive sandwich on the way to work. None of this is considering your safety and none of this enables you to work more effectively. Think about this. 

You must comply with the system, but if you meet your friends or family, you will be blamed for the failures of the system, for the spread of the disease. They want you to risk your life to prop up this artificial system which is dependent on such unnecessary behaviours. A system that is not in any way there to meet your needs. You going into that crowded workplace is not helping you earn money. It's not providing any tangible benefit to you or your employer. None whatsoever. But the Tories need to keep control over you to keep their money machine rolling. This is a landlord economy. A parasitical economy where the parasites are in charge and killing those who are not useful hosts.

Every person should minimise human contact and be sensible, hell, we should probably be under lockdown now, but make no mistake, the gatherings ban has nothing to do with keeping you safe and everything to do with blaming you.

If you appreciate what we do at Council Estate Voices, even the most modest of donations or subscriptions can help us massively and enable us to continue our work.

Donations are hugely appreciated
Thank you for your support
email: r.d.hale@outlook.com