Monday, May 31, 2010

Israeli forces ‘kill up to 19 people’ in raid on Gaza aid ship


Interesting to see how the numerous Israel-firsters in the US, British and Australian media try to spin this latest illegal act of barbarism from their favourite Middle Eastern country.
Will they:(a) completely ignore it (b) claim that the people on the aid ships were ‘supporting terrorism’, or (c)say that the Israeli forces were acting in ‘self-defence’?

Place your bets now.

Meanwhile, Stop the War have organised an emergency demonstration in London today to protest against Israel's action (there's also a demo organised in Scotland by the Scottish PSC- details here).

Stop the War write:

Approximately 700 civilians are on board the seven ships, of whom
28 are British citizens.

An emergency demonstration has been called for Monday 31 May,
2.00pm, at Downing Street, demanding that the British government
protest against Israel's violation of international law.

Well, I don’t think we should expect too much in the way of ‘protest’ from the current British government, while we have people like William Hague as Foreign Secretary.

But can you imagine Hague and co's response if Iran had violently stormed ships in international waters on which there were 28 British civilians?

UPDATE: You can read my comment piece on the Israeli action from today's Daily Mail here.

Meanwhile, around 40 British nationals are believed to have been detained by Israeli authorities. Once again, can you imagine the British government's response if Iran had done this?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A very left-wing coup? Quite the opposite

This article of mine appears in the Morning Star.

Pop the champagne corks! Light those Havanas! Put that old LP of the Alexandrov Red Army Choir on the turntable! For the years of struggle against the dark, dehumanising forces of international capitalism dear reader, have come to an end. Britain has just experienced a left-wing coup!

There we were thinking that David Cameron, the pro-war, pro-privatisation, old Etonian multimillionaire leader of the Conservative Party was a reactionary right-wing figure, when all the time he was really the 21st century British reincarnation of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!

So goes the story according to the neocon newspaper columnist and ubiquitous tv and radio pundit Melanie Phillips, who penned an article for the Daily Mail last week entitled "David Cameron's Left Wing Coup." Phillips's line- that the new Tory-dominated British government is "left-wing" has been echoed by other conservative commentators. According to Peter Hitchens "there is nothing but Left-wing government ahead of us, stretching out till the crack of doom." While the Daily Telegraph's Simon Heffer has accused David Cameron of mouthing the "'slogans of social democracy," having earlier accused the new Chancellor of the Exchequer and Bullingdon Boy George Osborne of acting like "some member of the Socialist Workers Party."

The view that the new government is left-wing is not only held by those on the right, but by many on the liberal left too, who maintain that measures such as the scrapping of the planned third runway at Heathrow, the binning of the ID cards scheme and the announcement of a referendum on electoral reform show that we're now led by some really groovy progressives.

If only it was true. Unfortunately what we experienced earlier this month in Britain was not a left-wing coup, but the opposite - an anti-democratic coup by the most reactionary force in the world- international capital.

For most of its period in office new Labour served the money men well. They carried on with the Tory policy of privatisation, allowed hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial speculators to operate freely, and fought the imperialistic wars that capital had wanted.

While the economy was booming, and their beloved warmonger Tony B Liar was at Number 10 Downing Street, opening up new markets for them from Belgrade to Baghdad, capital was happy to leave Labour in control. But with Blair's resignation and the global economic crisis, things changed. Labour, because of its links with public sector unions, was unlikely to make the drastic cuts in spending that capital urgently required.

Moreover, after 13 years of Labour government, the money men- the men who really rule Britain- knew it was time for a "regime change" to maintain the pretence that Britain was a functioning democracy. Gordon Brown, the man hailed as "The Iron Chancellor" a decade earlier, quickly became a hate figure. But despite the relentless anti-Brown campaign, the general election did not deliver the knock-out blow to the Labour leader that capital had hoped for.

Capital had wanted a majority Tory government. The markets, we were repeatedly told, did not want the "uncertainty" of a hung parliament. But having failed to achieve an outright Tory victory, the money men then pushed for the next best thing - the speedy formation of a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition to start cutting public spending without further delay.

When Brown stayed on as Prime Minister on May 7, as he was perfectly entitled to, the anti-Labour campaign went into overdrive. "In the space of five tumultuous days, Britain has gone from democracy as we know it to the brink of dictatorship," cried The Sun. The former Sun columnist Richard Littlejohn said that Gordon Brown's refusal to quit Number 10 represented "nothing less than an attempted coup."

The anti-Brown witch-hunt was reminiscent of the campaign to force the incumbent Slobodan Milosevic to step down after the first round of voting in the presidential elections in Yugoslavia in 2000. Like Brown, Milosevic was acting perfectly legally by staying in office - like Brown, there were some very powerful people who wanted him out. As in Yugoslavia in 2000, international capital got their man, and a Labour-led coalition, which "the markets" made it very clear that they did not want, was strangled at birth.

Instead it's full steam ahead for the final chapter of a project that has been planned since the late 1940s and which started in Britain in 1979, namely the destruction of the post-war mixed economy welfare state.

Those who believe the Liberal Democrats, or even David Cameron's Conservatives to be somehow "left-wing" ought to have studied the parties manifestos a little closer.
For the litmus test which tells us whether a party really is progressive, is not whether or not it supports a third runway at Heathrow, or its position on ID cards, but its stance on public ownership.

Whereas the Lib Dems supported railway renationalisation in 2005, in 2010 the policy was dropped. Today's Orange Book Lib Dems advocate further privatisation: of the state-owned bookmaker the Tote and the Royal Mail. Nick Clegg, the public school educated banker's son, who once worked for the neoliberal EU trade commissioner Leon Brittan in the 1990s, made his reactionary, anti-collectivist views clear in an interview he gave to the Spectator magazine earlier this year, when he praised Margaret Thatcher's victory over the trade unions as an "immensely important visceral battle for how Britain is governed."

If there really had been a "left-wing coup" in Britain this month, as conservative commentators claim, then the new government would not now be menacing Iran, but announcing plans to pull British troops out of Afghanistan. It would not be cutting corporation tax, but raising it - and launching a major programme of re-nationalisation. It would not be appointing bellicose neoconservative supporters of the Iraq war as Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary, but putting on trial all those who planned and propagandised for the illegal wars of the past 13 years. It would not be trying to appease the City, but clamping down on the financial spivs, profiteers and speculators who have made their vast fortunes at the expense of the majority. And instead of calling for more "competition" and for the state to "back off" as the faux-progressive Nick Clegg has done, it would be ditching neoliberal capitalism and replacing it with a humane economic system in which people always came before profits.

Don't worry Ms Phillips - I can assure you that you'll recognise a real "left-wing" government when it finally does arrive. And that day can't come soon enough.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Britain's Great Train Robbery set to continue under the 'progressive' Coalition

Around 70% of the public want to see our railways renationalised- so what does our 'progressive' and oh so 'democratic' coalition advocate? Longer franchises for the profiteering train companies. And for Britain’s long suffering rail commuters, there’s more hardship to come. We already have by far the highest train fares in Europe (mmm, I wonder why that is?), and they’re set to go even higher.

Not only that but the Coalition wants to part-privatise the Royal Mail, in state hands since the 16th century, and allow private businesses to bid for and run state schools.

Nick Clegg talks about empowering the people, but the only thing this neo-liberal government is empowering is capital. New politics? It’s just more of the same old neo-liberalism we’ve had to endure over the past thirty years.

Reaction to the Coalition’s Thatcherite programme here and here.

Come along and join the anti-neoliberal resistance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nick Clegg is a bore- and he's wrong about the state

This piece of mine appears in today’s First Post.

Neil Clark: Clegg is a perfect example of homo politicus - earnest and deadly dull.

Nick Clegg is the man of the moment, the politician who has risen from nowhere to lead the Liberal Democrats into power for the first time in the modern era. What a pity he has turned into such a crashing bore.

Yesterday, our earnest and humourless deputy prime minister outlined his plans to "transform our politics". He was not, he assured us, talking about "the odd gimmick or gesture here or there" to make us feel involved, but "the most significant programme of empowerment by a British government since the great reforms of the 19th century". Wow!

Are you excited? No, me neither.

Part of the problem was the subject matter - constitutional reform is a sleep-inducing topic at the best of times. But a large part is Clegg himself. Firstly, there's the big-headedness. Other politicians have introduced significant reforms in the past - but did any of them make such a song and dance about it as Clegg did yesterday?

Clegg's style is horribly didactic. In effect he is saying, "Listen to me and I will tell you why what I'm proposing is going to be good for you".

Then there's the dreadful earnestness. People are never so silly as when they take themselves too seriously and the Lib Dem leader is a case in point. Apart from a feeble line about wearing a purple tie, yesterday's speech was devoid of humour. Constitutional reform is a very serious matter. Repeat after me.

The problem with Clegg is that the more we see of him the more we realise he is not like the rest of us. Can anyone imagine having a pint with Nick, discussing the FA Cup Final? Clegg is the perfect example of 21st century British homo politicus: earnest, hard-working but deadly, deadly dull.

And is what he is proposing - in his oh so significant reforms - actually such a big deal?

You can read the whole of the piece here:

Meanwhile, you can read here what that nice 'moderate' Vince Cable has in store for the Royal Mail.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

John McDonnell for Labour leader

This press release from the RMT says it all:

TRANSPORT UNION RMT today issued a call for trade unionists and socialists to unite behind John McDonnell’s bid to secure enough nominations to stand in the Labour Party leadership contest and to use his campaign as an opportunity to begin the fightback against the ConDem government’s all-out assault on public services and living standards.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said today:
“John McDonnell leads the RMT group in parliament and no MP has done more to fight against attacks on jobs, public services and workers rights. John is a tireless worker on behalf of trade unionists and the communities that will be there in the front line of the ConDem attack and he is the perfect alternative to the assorted candidates from Continuity New Labour.

“John McDonnell has a reservoir of support that extends way beyond the ranks of the Labour Party membership, it would be an absolute travesty if he was kept out of the race for the leadership and would send out a signal that the Labour Party machine has learnt absolutely nothing.

“On the big issues; defending public services, opposing privatisation, repealing the anti-trade union laws, bringing our troops home and supporting workers rights, John stands shoulder to shoulder with RMT and the trade union and socialist movement. He deserves our full support.”

Oh Dear. How Sad. Never Mind. ‘Osborne in EU hedge fund defeat'

The DT reports:

George Osborne is to admit defeat on new European Union rules to regulate Britain’s multi-billion pound hedge fund and private equity industry and allow finance ministers to pass a new directive which could badly damage the sector.

Mr Osborne told Ms Selgado of the UK’s fears about the directive but it was clear, according to sources, that the vast majority of European states supported the new regulations. The UK is only supported by the Czech Republic and because the vote is under qualified majority voting, the UK is set to lose.

British hedge fund managers say the new directive will cost UK funds millions of pounds in new regulation fees and could lead to an exodus of City leaders to Switzerland and the Middle East.

An exodus of ‘City leaders’ to Switzerland and the Middle East? Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

I’ll be at Heathrow Airport to wave them goodbye. And to make sure that they’re really going.

More on this wonderful news here.

And good to see the Germans cracking down on the speculators too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Western warmongers left red-faced by Iran/Turkey uranium swap

What terrible news for the 'Bomb Iran' brigade:

From The Hindu:

Tehran: Iran on Monday agreed to swap a major part of its low enriched uranium stocks on Turkish soil for an equivalent amount of uranium enriched to 19.75 per cent, potentially ending a stand-off with the U.S. and Europe that threatened to spiral into sanctions.

Iran needs the higher grade enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, used by it to produce medical isotopes.

The deal was reached after 18 hours of negotiations ending 4 a.m. among Iran, Turkey and Brazil, leaving Washington and its allies red-faced. The U.S. and Europe are pressing for the punitive route and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had predicted last week that the Brazilian-Turkish attempt at mediation would fail.

And what is the response of Britain’s neocon Foreign Secretary to this news?
Reuters reports:

Britain said work on a new U.N. sanctions resolution must go on. Iran's move "may just be a delaying tactic," said Foreign Secretary William Hague.

How utterly predictable. And how utterly pathetic. Hague and co are itching to impose swingeing new sanctions on Tehran - and the nuclear issue is just a pretext.

Does Hague’s reaction remind you of anything? Think back to the period 2002-3, when no concession that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government made was ever enough for the neocon warmongers. The very same people who were gunning for Iraq then, are gunning for Iran now.

As Alan Hinnrichs says in his excellent letter in the Morning Star:

The UK anti-war movement needs to get off its knees and mobilise now for the possible eventuality of war with Iran. It will simply not be enough to do as the SWP would have us do and march from A to B then go home.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The 2010 F.A. Cup Final: Money Power wins yet again

As in 2009, so in 2010.

Yet another FA Cup Final won by one of the 'Big Four'. Today's 1-0 victory over Portsmouth was Chelsea's third F.A. Cup Final success in four years, and the sixth time the once so elusive League and FA Cup 'Double' has been achieved since the inception of the Premier League in 1992/3.

As I wrote after last year's Final:

Money Power doesn’t make life more exciting-it does exactly the opposite. It means that all our towns and cities look the same: a Starbucks, Pizza Express or Macdonalds on every corner. It means our leading political parties all have the same pro-capital policies. And the same teams win all the football trophies.

If only Kevin-Prince Boateng had scored for Pompey from the penalty spot. Then we might have had a different ending. But once again in the neoliberal era, the underdog has lost the Cup Final.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vote Clegg and get Cameron!

The return of Tory Britain....brought to you courtesy of those ‘progressive’ Lib Dems. I have been in the habit of putting the word ‘progressive’ in inverted commas when writing about the Lib Dems, and I think I’ve been vindicated by yesterday’s events.

Throughout the campaign the Tory party and the media warned voters 'Vote Clegg, get Brown’. In fact it turned out to be 'Vote Clegg, Get Cameron'. Not that we should be all that surprised by two very posh Oxbridge graduates from wealthy elite backgrounds deciding to go into government with each other.

The writing was on the wall a long way back- I think it was our old friend Charlie Marks who first coined the term ‘David Cleggeron’ , back in December 2007.
(Charlie, take a bow, and please, please, return to blogging!)

One last thing- I bet the distinguished 'progressive' signatories to this letter feel like right wallies now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Farewell, Gordon Brown. You weren't that bad

This piece of mine appears in The First Post

Neil Clark: Brown should have strung the bankers up from the lamp-posts – it’s what the public wanted

He's been called the worst Prime Minister ever - and that was by a politician from his own party. But was Gordon Brown, who announced that he was stepping down as Labour leader yesterday, really that bad?

The biggest charge made against Brown is that he has left Britain with a record budget deficit, expected to rise to 12 per cent of GDP later this year - the highest in the EU.

But his refusal to make swingeing cuts in public spending during the worst global recession since the Wall Street Crash meant that for millions of ordinary Britons the slump was nowhere near as painful as the recessions in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, when the Conservatives were running the country.

Despite dire predictions when Britain first went into recession, mortgage repossessions never hit the level of 1992, when 75,000 people lost their homes and interest rates hit 15 per cent. Part of that was due to the Prime Minister's refusal to let 'market forces' destroy people's lives. It has been estimated that around 330,000 families have benefited from the various initiatives that Brown introduced to help struggling home-owners.

The Prime Minister's policy - of waiting for economic recovery before wielding the axe on public spending - may have been slated by the opposition and the Tory media, but it undoubtedly has helped save jobs and kept a roof over many people's heads.

Under his premiership, Brown moved his party, ever so slightly, to a more social democratic position. The top rate of income tax was raised to 50 per cent - a significant move away from Blairism. Northern Rock and leading banks were nationalised. His foreign policy tone was softer than his predecessor's: contrast Brown's calls for an immediate ceasefire when Israel invaded Gaza with his predecessor's dismissals of such calls when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006.

These moves were enough to make Rupert Murdoch's neo-conservative, Tony Blair-adoring media empire turn against him, but not enough to entice former Labour voters, who had grown disillusioned with the rightwards shift of the party under Tony Blair, back into the fold.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

The plot to make Banana Man PM

Confused about what's going on in British politics?

Perhaps this article and this one can shed some light on the situation.
Richard Littlejohn accuses the much maligned Gordon Brown of engineering ‘a cynical coup attempt’.

I think he’s got the wrong man.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Countries unite for Russia's Victory Day over fascism

The Morning Star reports:

US, French and British troops have marched across Moscow's Red Square for the first time in a Victory Day parade to commemorate the defeat of nazi Germany. The day was marked both by an impressive display of Russia's military might and an emphasis on international co-operation.
More than 26 million Soviet citizens are estimated to have died to secure that victory, including more than 8.5m Red Army soldiers.

26 million. It’s a figure that blows your mind away. Yet the Soviet victims of WW2 get very little mention nowadays in the west.

There’s an insidious neo-con inspired campaign to equate the crimes committed under communism with the crimes of Nazism (Seumas Milne has written about it here and here) and to airbrush from history the enormous human sacrificies made by the Russians- and also the Serbs (another people that neocons hate with a vengeance) in the Second World War.

But as Seumas says: “The fashionable attempt to equate communism and Nazism is in reality a moral and historical nonsense. Despite the cruelties of the Stalin terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka or Sobibor, no extermination camps built to murder millions. Nor did the Soviet Union launch the most devastating war in history at a cost of more than 50 million lives - in fact it played the decisive role in the defeat of the German war machine”

Sixty five years on from the defeat of fascism in Europe, let’s remember the role that the USSR, the UK, the USA, the Serbs and their allies in the various European Resistance movements played in that gallant endeavour.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Election Night 2010: The Best and the Worst

OK. Here we go.

The best:

1. The fact that we don’t have a majority (Neo)Conservative government, and the truly frightening prospect of fanatical neocon warmonger Dr Liam Fox as Defence Secretary may still be avoided.

2. The likelihood that we’ll get a move to a more democratic voting system, which will lead to the break-up of our traditional parties and reinvigorate our political system, as I argued here.

3.The re-election of the solidly anti-war John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and some other genuinely leftist Labour MPs.

4. The conduct of Gordon Brown. As regular readers will know, I'm no fan of Brown's neoliberal policies, but I must admit to admiring the way he has conducted himself over the last 48 hours. His speech outside Number 10 yesterday was very measured, and politically, very astute. (on the subject of Brown, here is a very interesting piece on the Blairite plot to replace him with David Miliband in the event of a Lab/Lib coalition).

5. Er, that's it.

The worst.

1. The defeat of George Galloway in Poplar. The neocon warmongers, who are itching to either attack Iran or destroy the country through the imposition of swingeing new sanctions, will be gloating that their strongest critic in the UK won’t be in the next Parliament.

2. The way that the cult of celebrity has infected election night television coverage. Did you want to hear the views of Bruce Forsyth, David Baddiel and 'property guru' Kirsty Allsop on a hung parliament? No, me neither.

The BBC spent £30,000 of OUR money on a freebie junket for millionaire celebs and hangers-on, all of whom were perfectly capable of paying for their own wine and champagne. All at a time when we’re told that the state must drastically curb its spending. It's beyond parody.

3. The contestant from ‘The Apprentice‘- I didn’t catch her name- who seemed to imply that public sector workers should be disenfranchised because they don’t vote the way she wants them to.

4. The way that working-class voices are nowadays almost totally excluded from election night, and indeed during the election campaign. Solidly upper middle-class presenters, introduce solidly upper middle-class analysts and then interview solidly upper middle-class politicos. If you’re working class you can sod off- unless your name is Mrs Gillian Duffy, make comments about Eastern Europeans ‘flocking‘ here, and have a spat with Gordon Brown.

It hasn’t always been like this. I recently re-watched the BBC’s coverage of the 1979election night, the last election before the neo-liberal era. There were regular interviews with Trade Union leaders, and interviews with workers and ordinary people (including a cleaning lady), about how the result would affect them. Today all the talk is about how ’the markets’ will respond, and what ’The City’ thinks of the result. And what's the end result in this most upper middle-class of elections?: two upper-middle class public school Oxbridge-educated politicians from elite backgrounds discuss how they're going to form the next government. Welcome to the 'classless' Britain of 2010.

5. The election of the solidly middle-class Blairite carpet-bagger Luciana Berger, (a candidate who didn't even know who Bill Shankly was) , in the solidly working-class seat of Liverpool Wavertree. If only Ricky Tomlinson had stood against her. Let's hope he does in October.

Anyway, that's my 'best and worst'. How about yours?

(This piece also appears over at The New Statesman).

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Labour's great upset

This piece of mine appears over at the New Statesman.

It’s election time, and the front-runner thinks it has the edge –– just –– over its opponents. But then the unthinkable happens and the underdog comes tops. Could history repeat itself on Thursday?

 It's a World Cup year, and England's chances look good. Chelsea's all-star team have made it to the FA Cup final. And the members of the Labour government, having survived some tough economic times, are hoping that the improved economic situation will help them win another term in office.

No, I'm not referring to Britain in the spring of 2010, but exactly 40 years earlier, in 1970. Back then, in one of the biggest British political upsets of the 20th century, Labour lost an election it should, by all rights, have won. Forty years on, could the reverse be about to happen? Might the party win an unexpected victory in an election it really ought to lose?

The impressive economic record of the 1966-70 Wilson government is one of the great under-reported stories in British postwar history. The country's success had much to do with the intelligent policies pursued by Labour between 1968 and 1970, and in particular the skill of Roy Jenkins, arguably the most successful chancellor since the Second World War.

After the devaluation of the pound in November 1967, Jenkins dampened down domestic demand -- raising taxes by a record £923m in his first Budget -- and channelled resources to the export sector. The revenue raised by the government's innovative Selective Employment Tax, a levy on service-sector employment introduced in 1966, went to subsidise export industries.

The result of Labour's pro-manufacturing polices was that in 1969/70 Britain recorded a record balance of payments surplus of £550m: "one of the strongest in the world", by Jenkins's own estimation.

The public finances were also in rude health -- a borrowing requirement of £1.96bn in 1967/68 had been transformed into a surplus of £600m by the end of 1969. And, fuelled by the export boom, GNP grew by over 6 per cent between the middle of 1967 and the end of 1969.

Shock and gloom

A strong economy, and the publication of a series of opinion polls showing a clear Labour lead, convinced Prime Minister Harold Wilson to call an early election for June 1970.

Victory appeared a formality. Wilson was at the top of his game: his easygoing, pipe-smoking, man-of-the-people persona contrasted sharply with the stiffness of his Conservative opponent, Edward Heath. In early June, the bookies were offering odds of 20-1 on that Labour would win.

Then it all went horribly wrong.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why a hung Parliament will NOT be a danger to Britain

This piece of mine appears in The First Post.

It'll be the end of the world as we know it. Britain will be plunged into severe economic crisis. There'll be a run on the pound and we will suffer the same ignominious fate as Greece.

So go the dire warnings propagated by the Tory media of what will happen if Britain's voters fail to fulfill their patriotic duty and give David Cameron an overall majority in Thursday's general election.

But like other right-wing tactics down the years, it's a claim that doesn’t bear close scrutiny. The notorious 1924 'Zinoviev letter', threatening Communist agitation, turned out to be a forgery. The warnings in 1983 that a nuclear-disarmed Britain would leave us defenceless against a Soviet invasion, and the Sun’s front-page headline in 1992 - "If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights" - were scaremongering ploys of the lowest order.

Far from being a national disaster, there's a strong case for arguing that a hung parliament - which on the eve of the election is an odds-on bet at some bookmakers - would actually be very good news for Britain. Let's take a look at the historical precedents.

It's simply not true to say that the last time we had a minority government propped up by the Liberals - in the 1970s - it was an abject failure which led to 'paralysis', as Dominic Sandbrook maintains in Wednesday's Daily Mail.
The 1977/8 Lib-Lab pact, which sustained James Callaghan's Labour administration in power, was in fact extraordinarily successful: during that time both inflation and unemployment fell and the general economic outlook improved considerably.

And what on earth was wrong with Britain's wartime coalition governments? Did they lead to weakness and instability? Those who argue that 'strong' single-party governments always out-perform 'weak' coalitions really ought to get out more - at least across the English Channel.

Can anyone seriously maintain that Britain, with its 'strong' governments over the past 30 years, has been better governed than the likes of Germany, Austria and The Netherlands, where coalitions have been the norm? The Cameron-backing press conveniently neglects to mention that the Hellenic Republic doesn't have a 'weak' coalition ruling the country, but a supposedly 'strong' one-party government.

You can read the rest of the piece here:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Do not vote for the Socialist Labour Party

If you agree that the banks and financial institutions should always be bailed out by the government then do not vote for the SLP.

If you agree that the bankers, speculators and hedge fund operators should continue to heap lavish bonuses upon themselves then do not vote for the SLP.

If you believe that the NHS should continue to be sliced up and hawked off to private enterprise where profit comes first then do not vote for the SLP.

If you believe that the gap in wealth between a tiny financial elite and the rest of the population should continue to increase then do not vote for the SLP.

If you agree that British soldiers and innocent civilians should continue to die in foreign wars fought for control of energy supplies, when Britain as an island stands on hundreds of years of coal then do not vote for the SLP.

If you believe that Britain should have no manufacturing industry of its own and should rely on imports of essential supplies from the most unstable regions of the world then do not vote for the SLP.

I might also add, if you believe that the wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were good things, do not vote for the SLP.

And if you believe that Britain’s railways, public transport, energy and water companies are better off in the private sector, do not vote for the SLP.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Éljen május elseje!

video: szolnokinaplo

A very happy May Day!

To mark the occasion here’s some great footage of the 1970 May Day parade from Szolnok in Hungary. Watching it, and hearing from my wife Zsuzsanna, about how much people enjoyed these socialist-era May Day parades and the spirit of camaraderie they engendered, I am reminded of that wonderful old One Nation Tory Sir Ian Gilmour’s views about neoliberalism.

economic liberalism, a la Professor Hayek, because of its starkness and its failure to create a sense of community, is not a safeguard of political freedom but a threat to it...'

Dave Cameron, who next week may well become British Prime Minister, can talk all he likes about building a ‘Big Society’ in Britain, but so long as we cling to an ultra-competitive, dog-eat-dog capitalist system, we can only expect further atomisation and social unrest. The neoliberal economic order which all three of our main parties support, doesn’t build solidarity or a sense of community- it destroys it as it puts profits before people and encourages us to see other human beings as rivals, not comrades. And we are all the poorer for it.