Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Renationalise English water



This article of mine appears over at The Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: The obscene commodification of a natural resource has gone on long enough, ripping off ordinary people




Here we go again. In the past 12 months, we've had significant hikes in our gas and electricity bills (not reversed by recent cuts due to a fall in wholesale prices) and above-inflation increases in train fares – which are already the highest in Europe. Now it's time for the water companies to put the boot in.


Ofwat has announced that average household water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are to increase by an average of 5.7% from April. As in the case with the rail fares, we're told that the reason that prices are rising is to enable more "investment" by the water companies. But a closer inspection is highly revealing.



You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Agenda: Should Cameron scrap the UK's nuclear weapons?




Above you can watch me debating the issue on Press TV’s The Agenda programme, along with Bruce Kent, Vice-President of CND and Neil O’Shea.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Belarus regrets the EU's economic sanctions against Iran


At least there's one country in Europe not kow-towing to the US and the pro-Israel lobby on Iran. 

The Republic of Belarus regrets the introduction by the European Union of large-scale economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, says a statement of the press service of the Foreign Ministry of Belarus, BelTA has learnt.



The Foreign Ministry noted that the introduction of unilateral sanctions against Iran can escalate the situation in the strategic region of the Middle East and lead to unpredictable consequences for the entire world.

The economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran have nothing to do with nuclear non-proliferation, but will only deliver a blow to the national economy and ordinary people,” the Foreign Ministry emphasized.

More here.


It’s a bit of a no brainer to work out why the neocons and ‘Israel-firsters’ hate Belarus so much and pump out so much negative propaganda about the country. The great crime of President Lukashenko is not that he’s a "dictator''- he’s not- but that he doesn’t have the ‘right’ foreign policy, particularly in relation to Iran.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hands off Syria and Iran!: Support Stop the War's emergency protest



2 - 4pm, Saturday 28th January, US Embassy
Grosvenor Square
London W1K 2


If you’re able to get to London on Saturday do try and take part in this important event, which has been called by the Stop the War coalition and is supported by UNITE the Union, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention on Iran, Friends of
Al-Aqsa, Goldsmiths Student Union and SOAS Student Union.


And anti-war readers based in other countries, please let us know of any similar events taking place in your towns and cities.

Stop the War's Press release says:

The growing threats against Iran in recent weeks have been backed up with increased sanctions. As we know from Iraq, these are a prelude to war, not an alternative to it. There are signs of covert intervention already in Iran, as there are in Syria. Stop the War opposes all military intervention from the west in the region, for which there is absolutely no justification.


Monday, January 23, 2012

A new uprising in Libya?: Anti-government rebels take Bani Walid


 From the Guardian:

Reports say at least four people killed in clashes between besieged NTC forces and well-organised pro-Gaddafi fighters........

Bani Walid, a former regime stronghold 110 miles south-east of Tripoli, was one of the last to succumb to pro-government forces after the capital fell in August. The latest clashes mark the most significant loyalist attack since Libya was officially "liberated" on 23 October. It appears further evidence of the NTC's weakness, incapacity and internal divisions ahead of supposed national elections later this year.

More on the story over at Russia Today.

The question is: will William Hague, our oh so ‘tough’ neocon Foreign Secretary who’s currently threatening Iran, and the little gang of  ‘something must be done’ 'muscular liberals'  be calling for NATO intervention to help the anti-government Libyan rebels?

I’m only asking……

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ofcom removes Press TV’s licence: A black day for press freedom on Britain


Well, the neocons finally got their way. No Press TV in Britain. In this great ‘liberal democracy’ we can’t have people watching tv stations which put forward an alternative view of Middle East events can we- or which challenge the ‘dominant narrative’ that Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme is a ‘grave threat’ to the west.


I wonder what the hilariously mis-named ‘Index on Censorship’ will say about this blatant form of political Censorship. Don’t hold your breath for those highly selective advocates of 'free speech' to denounce it.


Meanwhile you can stick two fingers up at the Britain’s illiberal liberals by watching Press TV here.

More details on how to watch Press TV can be found here here.
Remember, Britain‘s neocons - those bellicose champions of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ really don’t want you to watch Press TV. All the more reason, I think for watching it. I’ll be tuning in on a daily basis from now on.


Update: George Galloway, the anti-war politician and Press TV presenter, writes:
 
Champions of liberty the British govt have now taken Press TV off Sky. Follow us at www.presstv.ir and other platforms.
 
We'll do just that George.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The EU demanded austerity in Romania - now there are riots


This piece of mine appears in The Week/The First Post

Neil Clark:  Thousands are demonstrating across Romania – is this the start of a European Spring?



ONE YEAR AGO this week, President Ben Ali of Tunisia became the first casualty of the 2011 Arab Spring. Could we now be witnessing in Romania the first shoots of a European Spring?



Over the last few days, the republic in south-eastern Europe – a member of the EU for the past five years - has witnessed large-scale public protests against the government‘s harsh austerity programme.

You can read the whole article here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Iran's nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered"



On the morning of 11 January Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the deputy head of Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, was in his car on his way to work when he was blown up by a magnetic bomb attached to his car door. He was 32 and married with a young son. He wasn't armed, or anywhere near a battlefield.



Since 2010, three other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in similar circumstances, including Darioush Rezaeinejad, a 35-year-old electronics expert shot dead outside his daughter's nursery in Tehran last July. But instead of outrage or condemnation, we have been treated to expressions of undisguised glee..........


western liberals who fall over one another to condemn the death penalty for murderers – who have, incidentally, had the benefit of lawyers, trials and appeals – as state-sponsored murder fall quiet as their states kill, with impunity, nuclear scientists, terror suspects and alleged militants in faraway lands…..


You can read the whole of Mehdi Hasan’s brilliant piece on the shocking murder of Iran’s nuclear scientists here. And shame on those who have cheered on- or tried to justify-the brutal murder of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rising joblessness in Europe: thanks for nothing, Brussels.


This piece of mine appears in The Week/The First Post.

Neil Clark: Collapse of SeaFrance and the ban on Iranian oil prove EU bigwigs are dangerously out of touch




YOU MIGHT think that with 23m people out of work in Europe, the EU and its organisations would be doing everything they could to preserve European jobs and help Europe's beleaguered economies. Think again.



This week there have been three examples of how the EU is working against economic recovery.

You can read the whole of the article here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Don't believe the myth that Thatcherism 'saved' Britain


With ‘The Iron Lady’ playing at cinemas up and down the country I think its timely to link to this piece of mine from 2009, on the neoliberal myth that Margaret Thatcher 'saved' Britain.

And in case you missed it, here’s Seumas Milne’s great piece on Thatcher’s legacy in last week’s Guardian.


Her government's savage deflation destroyed a fifth of Britain's industrial base in two years, hollowed out manufacturing, and delivered a "productivity miracle" that never was, and we're living with the consequences today.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Vaclav Havel and his legacy: A Czech perspective


 I  received this email from a reader who grew up in the former Czechoslovakia. They've very kindly given me permission to publish it in full here.

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to congratulate you on your article:


I grew up in what was then Czechoslovakia in the 1980s and eventually left Czech Republic in mid-90s with my father. I return regularly, and have seen some of the effects of free market capitalism on the country since then.

Although most of the population under Communism wanted a change, it was mainly a) to be able to govern themselves, and b) to have their individual freedoms - ability to travel abroad for example. These were not economic or social motives.

After the initial celebration following the Velvet Revolution, large sections of the society began to mourn the socio-economic value system under Communism, with the Communist party actually increasing its (now somewhat more genuine) support.

My own father, who left because he was very much a Havel follower in the 70s and 80s and an active anti-Communist now lives in the UK and has changed his outlook, now understanding that what was perceived as completely false propaganda about the west and inequality, poverty and wealth hoarding had a grain of truth in it.

I still respect what Havel has achieved in his pursuit of certain freedoms and rights, which were very much lacking under a Communist regime, however the other side of the story, as you have put it, is rarely told. I hope it will be explored more and I was disappointed to see so many ignorant comments responding to the article. I'm sure you have spoken to other Czech people who told a range of stories and I hope mine is in some way a helpful addition.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Help fight fare rises and push for railway renationalisation



This piece of mine on the shocking rise in Britain’s rail fares, appears on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: The latest price increases show Tory serial privatisers got it very wrong in the 90s. Join the protests to put things right



“Whichever way one looks at it, privatisation is a giant asset-stripping process. It is a very efficient way of taking money out of taxpayers' pockets". Gwyneth Dunwoody, the Labour MP who uttered those words during a debate in parliament on rail privatisation in February 1995, deserves some sort of posthumous New Year honour for calling it exactly right.



While Tory ministers claimed that selling-off the railways would bring "benefits to passengers and taxpayers", and scoffed at opposition concerns, the latest above-inflation price increases in Britain's rail fares – already by far and away the highest in Europe – shows once more that the serial privatisers of John Major's Conservative government got it very, very wrong.


You can read the whole of the article here.