Saturday, December 24, 2011

A very Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to everyone.

Keep in mind the fact that the Son of Man, the Christ who lived and was executed by the government of His day, was a great leader, and leader of the common people. It was his great message of Love and Brotherhood which brought him to his death. He knew the poor of the earth were oppressed by the rich and wealthy, and in scathing terms denounced the money changers and all those who defiled the Temple and brought suffering to starving humanity.

George Lansbury, 1926.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How Conan Doyle's detective destroyed Jeremy Brett

 This piece of mine on the late, great Jeremy Brett, appears in the Sunday Express.

With a movie and TV series based on Sherlock Holmes out soon, Neil Clark recalls Jeremy Brett and the sacrifices he made to be the greatest Baker Street detective.

This weekend the latest Sherlock Holmes film, ‘A Game of Shadows’, starring Robert Downey Jnr in the title role, opened in cinemas across Britain.  The New Year meanwhile sees the return of Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC‘s series ‘Sherlock’.  Overall, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective has been played by more than 70 actors on the big and small screens but for Sherlockians-the hardcore fans of the pipe-smoking Victorian sleuth, one stands out from all the rest for his portrayal: Jeremy Brett. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let's hear it for Ed Miliband (and not just because it's Christmas)

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

Neil Clark: Ed has become the equivalent of Stoke City – we're told they have no style but they keep winning

HE'S A 'WASHOUT'.  His prospects are "bleak". He's the man "with the word 'Loser' printed on his forehead". He's the geek "who can't even get being a geek right".

Reading newspaper commentators opine about Ed Miliband and his leadership of the Labour Party you'd think that the party had actually lost last week's Feltham and Heston by-election.

In fact Labour won it with an 8.56 per cent swing from the Conservatives. The party's share of the vote increased from 43.6 to 54.4 per cent and its majority rose from 4,658 to 6,203.

You can read the whole of the piece here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclav Havel: Another side to the story

This piece of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: The Czech leader was a brave man, but the voices of those who lost out after communism's demise are seldom heard

He was the symbol of 1989, the anti-communist playwright who helped free his country – and the rest of eastern Europe – from Stalinist tyranny and who put the countries that lay behind the iron curtain on the road to democracy.

So goes the dominant narrative of the life of Václav Havel, the former Czech president, who died on Sunday aged 75. Havel, we are told, was a hero and one of the greatest Europeans of our age.

But, as with the recent consecration of Christopher Hitchens, another "progressive" opponent of the communist regimes of eastern Europe who found favour with Washington's neocons, there is another side to the story.

You can read the whole piece here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iraq: The Supreme International Crime that remains unpunished

 So the last US troops are leaving Iraq. Supporters of the war would like us to ‘move on’ and forget the illegal invasion- the porkies told about Iraqi WMDs to justify it- and the death and destruction it caused. 
But until those responsible for this great crime are brought to justice we must never do so.

It’s timely to remember the words of Robert H. Jackson, Chief U.S. Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Europe needs an FDR to break the mould and bring prosperity

This article of mine appears in the First Post/The Week.

Neil Clark: Under Sarkozy and Merkel, all Europe can look forward to is years of unemployment and falling living standards.

WHILE most of the attention in Britain has been focused on the domestic political implications of the Cameron-Clegg split over Europe, the bigger, more important story is what the EU leaders actually signed up to last week.

You can read the whole piece here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How I'd stop neoliberalism in its tracks

This piece of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website:

Neil Clark: If I had a Tardis, I'd save the world from the relentless march of neoliberal capitalism by going back to the 1970s

So, we're heading back to the 1970s. Well, at least that what some respected economic pundits are saying.

Of course, they're speaking metaphorically, and in fact the nearest we're going to get to the 70s is watching the regular Thursday night repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC4 and the Saturday night reruns of Dad's Army. But if it were possible to travel back in time to the decade of flared trousers, Opportunity Knocks and Fawlty Towers, I'd set the controls of my Tardis to 1 March 1973.

Here's why.

You can read the whole of the piece here.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi: It Ain't Half Hot Mum fan

I’ve always had enormous admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi. (you can watch a great John Pilger interview with her here). But she’s gone up even more in my estimation now….

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Don't Attack Iran: Please sign the Stop the War petition

We are extremely concerned at reports that plans are being drawn up for an attack on Iran. The case being made for war on Iran is based on a series of speculations about 'undisclosed nuclear-related activities' reminiscent of the disproven 'intelligence' about weapons of mass destruction used to justify the disastrous attack on Iraq.

The West's attitude to Iran's nuclear weapons is hypocritical and contradictory. The US and its allies remain silent about Israel's covert nuclear arsenal, the only one in the Middle East, while they are tightening the campaign of sanctions against Iran without real evidence......

You can read the whole of the Stop the War petition (which also calls for the lifting of sanctions against Iran), here. Please spend a moment or so to sign the petition, and tell your friends about it too. We can't allow the serial warmongers to initiate yet another war of aggression against an independent sovereign state.
UPDATE: Great piece by Seumas Milne in today’s Guardian: The war on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The west has Iran in its sights

Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya.... and now Iran.

William Hague has denounced the action of the students as a violation of international law. But Iran itself has been targeted for many years by a series of western and UK policies that are gross violations of international law. Repeatedly threatening Iran with a military attack, thinly disguised under the phrase "all options are on the table" and publicly announcing that the west must use covert operations to sabotage Iran's nuclear programme (as John Sawers, the head of MI6, demanded two years ago), are only two examples of the UK's disrespect for the UN charter. It is no wonder that many Iranians believe the UK must have been involved in the assassination of two prominent Iranian nuclear physicists in the past two years.

You can read the whole of Abbas Edalat’s great article on the west’s increasingly aggressive stance towards Iran, and what it is building up to, here.

Abbas is the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.
Do try and lend your support to their campaign.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why private sector workers should support the strike

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

Neil Clark: Pension cuts are all a ploy to reduce costs so that more public services can be privatised

WHOSE side are you on in Britain's biggest industrial dispute since the 1920s?

The public sector trade unions, who are leading Wednesday's national strike of up to 2.6m workers, say they are fighting to maintain the living standards of their members, who are being hit with wage freezes, cuts to their pensions and a higher cost of living.

Prime Minister David Cameron says that far from being hard done by, many public sector workers will still receive pensions "far, far better" than ones in the private sector.

You can read the whole of the article here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Craig Murray on Fox, Werrity and Gould and the questions which must be answered

Top class investigative blogging from Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Take a look at this.  Then this.  And then this.

It’s good that, after all Craig's digging, the MSM are now asking questions about the Fox/Werrity/Gould meetings.

The neocon elite doesn’t want ordinary people to find out what they’re up to behind the scenes- so bravo to Craig for his persistence.

HAT TIP: John Edwards.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Trial of George W. Bush and Tony Blair for Crimes Against the Peace

Happening now in Malaysia. Let’s hope one day in the US and Britain too.

UPDATE: Bush and Blair have been found guilty.

The charge is proven beyond reasonable doubt. The accused are found guilty. The Tribunal orders that the names of the 2 convicted criminals be included in the war register of the KL War Crimes Commission. And the findings of this Tribunal be publicised to all nations who are signatories of the Rome Statue.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kauto's star lights up Haydock

There’s been some emotional days in National Hunt racing over the past few years.

Best Mate’s third Gold Cup win. Denman’s heroic victory in the 2009 Hennessy, which I wrote about here.
But yesterday’s wonderful performance by veteran chaser Kauto Star, to land the Betfair Chase for the fourth time was right up there. What a sensational, front-running performance. National Hunt racing doesn’t get any better than this.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Syria needs mediation, not a push into all-out civil war

Syria is on the verge of civil war and the Arab League foolishly appears to have decided to egg it on. Where common sense dictates that Arab governments should seek to mediate between the regime and its opponents, they have chosen instead to humiliate Syria's rulers…

You can read the whole of Jonathan Steele's excellent piece on the situation in Syria, and why the US and its allies are making the situation worse, here.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague is to meet with Syrian rebels in London. What a surprise. More on this here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

If you lived in Iran, wouldn't you want a nuclear bomb?

Imagine, for a moment, that you are an Iranian mullah. Sitting crosslegged on your Persian rug in Tehran, sipping a cup of chai, you glance up at the map of the Middle East on the wall. It is a disturbing image: your country, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies and regional rivals, both nuclear and non-nuclear.

The map makes it clear: Iran is, literally, encircled by the United States and its allies.

If that wasn't worrying enough, your country seems to be under (covert) attack…

Wouldn't it be rational for Iran – geographically encircled, politically isolated, feeling threatened – to want its own arsenal of nukes, for defensive and deterrent purposes?

You can read the whole of Mehdi Hasan’s brilliant Guardian article on the threat posed to Iran, here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The vulture hedge funds poised to swoop on Africa's poorest countries

The Guardian reports:

Twenty-six hedge funds are demanding over £1bn debt repayments from Africa's poorest countries - more than twice the International Red Cross budget for Africa this year. They are using legal loopholes around the world, including the Channel Island of Jersey.

And who exactly are these vultures? Check this out. And this. But as Greg Palast says, we should not forget the economic ‘restructuring' that made all this possible:

I think the focus on Grossman and his fellow carrion chewers is distracting. The destruction of Bosnia's power-pylon industry was the direct consequence of privatising it, bringing the free market to socialist Yugoslavia and Brankovic to power over its debts, allowing him to buy and sell debt securities on the deregulated world financial market.

It was the privatisation of Congo's state cobalt mine and the looting of its riches, all at the behest of the World Bank, IMF and privateers, that drained Congo's treasury.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven alternatives to the EU (in case it all gets too much)

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

Neil Clark: As German leaders issue heavy-handed threats, here's a timely survey of Britain’s options

A SENIOR German politician has inflamed the great Europe debate by saying, in effect, that all European countries are expected to fall into line behind Germany, Britain included – even over the controversial Robin Hood tax on financial transactions...........

So, it's a good time to ask - would it really be the disaster Nick Clegg and this fellow europhiles prophecy if Britain did the unthinkable and left the EU?

You can read the whole article here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some good news from Rome: Hungarian superstar Overdose wins his 16th race

video: 06 frankel


Well, what about the events in Rome this weekend? No, I’m not talking about yet another undemocratic EU/‘markets’ coup d’etat, (anyone out there still thinks that the EU is about increasing democracy?),  but the great comeback victory of the Budapest Bullet, Overdose, who chalked up his 16th victory from 19 starts in the Group Three Premio Carlo & Francesco Aloisi.

Ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori, it was the Hungarian hero’s first run since finishing a close-up fourth in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Enjoy a great performance on what was a wonderful day for Hungarian sport.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

There is no Iranian nuclear 'crisis'

Here we go again. They’ve just finished bombing Libya, so the serial warmongers now want us to focus again on the ‘threat’ posed by Iran‘s nuclear programme. After the non-existent ‘genocide’ in Kosovo, and the non-existence of Iraq’s WMDs, you wouldn’t think they’d have the nerve, would you?

It seems an appropriate moment to link to this piece of mine from 2006 on, why even if Iran was secretly developing nuclear weapons, it wouldn’t constitute a ’crisis’.

Here’s an extract.

'LEADERS meet to discuss Iran crisis." It all sounds rather familiar. In 1999, "leaders" met to discuss the Kosovo "crisis"; we now know there was no genocide in Kosovo. In 2003, "leaders" met to discuss Iraq's weapons of mass destruction crisis; we now know there were no WMD in Iraq.

Now it's Iran nuclear ambitions that represent the "crisis". If past form is anything to go by, we can be fairly sure that once again this is a crisis of the Western powers' making.

You can read the whole piece here.
Remember, there is no Iranian nuclear ‘crisis’. And repeat that to anyone who tells you that there is.

UPDATE:  More on the 'imminent' Iranian nuclear 'threat' here.  It's been ‘imminent’ for quite some time now….

(Hat tip: Gabriele at the Media Lens Message Board.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

The EU's coup d'etat in Greece

The Daily Mail reports:

Athens gave in to EU demands to install a coalition government of ‘national salvation’ last night as uncertainty in debt-stricken Greece and Italy threatened fresh turmoil on financial markets.

Greece’s opposition had offered to form a national unity administration that would push through a controversial bailout – if prime minister George Papandreou stood aside.

The EU has been accused of carrying out a coup d’etat in Greece, after the head of the European Commission threatened the country with ‘paralysis’ unless MPs removed their prime minister.

EU leaders were horrified that Mr Papandreou said a referendum should be held to approve a 100billion euro bailout deal, which will result in a decade of tax rises and spending cuts.

An EU coup d’etat is exactly what has happened in Greece. What a very sad day for democracy in Europe when a Prime Minister is deposed for the 'crime’ of announcing a referendum.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My time travel fantasy

This piece of mine appears in the Daily Express.

THE new Woody Allen film Midnight In Paris is a light-hearted time travel romance. Which era would you go back to and what would you miss from the modern world?

The prospect of time travel is something which has fascinated mankind for generations.

In Woody Allen’s sparkling new film Midnight In Paris, scriptwriter and self-confessed nostalgist Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) is magically transported back to Paris in the 1920s where he meets his literary heroes Ernest Hemingway and T S Eliot.

We asked celebrities which time in the past they’d like to travel back to:

You can read the whole piece here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Film of the Year: Midnight in Paris

Well, there’s still two months ago, but I very much doubt if I’ll see a new film as good - or as downright enjoyable- as Woody Allen’s wonderful ‘Midnight in Paris’ before the end of the year.

The film is funny, charming (about how many of today's films can you say that?) and thought-provoking, a classic piece of movie magic from a master film-maker. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you get down to your local cinema asap as you’re in for a real treat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Justice for the Farepak victims! Please sign the FVC petition!

It's five years since the collapse of Farepak.

The Guardian reports:

The Farepak Victims Committee (FVC) will mark the fifth anniversary by launching an online petition to demand the remaining £36.9m is repaid and those responsible are held to account. The group needs 100,000 signatures to prompt a discussion in the House of Commons.

Louise McDaid, chair of the FVC, said: "Surely we deserve some answers as to why, five years on, we have still not received justice."

There's another good report on the campaign over at the BBC website.

"The government have a responsibility to ensure that people's money is protected", she (Louise McDaid) told BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"If they can protect the banks, then they can protect ordinary working people."

The FVC petition says:

The Farepak Victims Committee call on the Government to: 1. Bring those responsible to account; 2. Fully compensate Farepak Victims; 3. Put in place financial regulations that ensure that this never happens again.

You can sign the FVC petition here.   Please try and spare a minute or so to support this very worthy cause. And tell your friends about it too. Many thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Travel Supplement: Off the bitten track: Yorkshire- the dramatic county that helped inspire Bram Stoker.

This piece of mine on the delights of North Yorkshire, appears in the Mail on Sunday.

Bram Stoker, author of classic horror novel Dracula, spent a summer holiday in Whitby, where he discovered the name for his vampire. Neil Clark follows suit.

'It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits.'

This was how Bram Stoker described the magnificent Whitby Abbey in his classic horror novel Dracula.

But on a glorious morning, with beams of sunlight shining through the ancient building's many apertures, it was hard for my wife and me to imagine bloodthirsty vampires at this idyllic spot.

The Abbey is perched on a cliff 200ft above the North Sea, and wandering around its ruins was one of the highlights of our hugely enjoyable three-night stay in North Yorkshire.

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi, June 7, 1942 – Oct 20, 2011

TO his followers he was Brotherly Leader and Guide Of The Revolution, a man who transformed Libya into the most prosperous country in Africa and provided free education and health care for his people.

To his opponents he was the “mad dog of the Middle East”, a dangerous and unpredictable dictator who supplied weapons to the IRA and other terrorist groups and whose government was behind the horrific bombing of a Pan Am passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.……..

This time last year, Gaddafi must have been confident of seeing out his final years in power in the luxury lifestyle to which he was accustomed. But the so-called Arab spring, which began in Tunisia in January and which spread to neighbouring Libya soon afterwards, was to prove his downfall.

Although many Libyans stayed loyal to him, Gaddafi could not have expected the scale of popular revolt against his rule or that the Western powers he regarded as his new allies would decide to intervene militarily on the rebels’ behalf.

You can read the whole of my Daily Express piece on the late Libyan leader, here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh Dear. How Sad. Never Mind. Liam Fox resigns from the government

‘Liam Fox is a serious loss- to Cameron and the country’ laments neo-con commentator Janet Daley.

Well, Dr Fox is indeed 'a serious loss to the country'- if you’d like Britain to be involved in a war with Syria and/or Iran.

But for the 99.9% of people who don’t want us involved in any more illegal wars, the departure from the government of this out-and-out warmonger is surely a cause for great celebration.

P.S. I’ve written before on how Janet ‘Obama will not win the Presidency’ Daley was a master of political predictions. Here’s another classic.

UPDATE: In case you haven't already seen it, there’s a great piece on the Fox/Werritty scandal- and the serious issues it raises- by former diplomat Craig Murray in the Mail on Sunday

The real reason Liam Fox had to resign was not a grubby little money scandal about firms funding Adam Werritty as he jetted round the world with the Defence Secretary. It was much more important, and much worse, than that.......

Let us hope that Fox’s fall will remind future Defence Secretaries that there is only one country whose interests they should seek to defend – and that is this one.

As Sheila from Wiltshire says in the comments underneath Craig Murray's piece:

Sounds like treachery to me - both of them should be arraigned by the courts and dealt with accordingly. No special treatment for posh criminals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Letter of the Week: Len Gibney on Europe’s state-owned railways

This great letter, entitled 'Europe is on right track when it comes to the train', appeared in the Daily Express.

I’ve travelled by rail extensively in Europe and find trains there cheap and efficient. State operators find ways to fill public needs. Subsidies are used but fares are kept low. It’s not all bonues and profit for directors as it is here, it’s more a necessary public service.

I think anyone who travels regularly on European trains would agree with Len Gibney. Yet Europe’s wonderful railways are under threat from neo-liberal fanatics in the EU Commission, who propose a Single European Railway Area and the end to all government subsidies.

Their proposals must be defeated.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

We are the 99%: the people fight back against neoliberalism

In the U.S.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, let all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge that
- the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members;
- our system must protect our rights, and upon its corruption it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and of their neighbors;
- a democratic government derives its just power from the people, no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.
- They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
- They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

More here.  hat tip: Media Lens message board.
Meanwhile, exciting things are happening in Chile too.

What a great quote from Camila Vallejo, the young student leader (photo above) at the forefront of Chile's anti-neoliberal protests:

"For years, Chilean youth have been consumed by a neo-liberal model that highlights personal achievement and consumerism; it is all about mine, mine, mine. There is not a lot of empathy for the other,"

All over the world, people are fighting back this ultra-selfish economic model, which only benefits the tiny minority. Whether its end will come in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the days of neoliberalism are well and truly numbered.

UPDATE: Protests in London too over our neoliberal government's appalling NHS plans.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Russia and China deserve praise for UN veto

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

Neil Clark: Anyone who wishes for a peaceful world should welcome this double veto against UN sanctions

AMERICA is 'outraged'. Britain and France are pretty miffed too. The vetoing by China and Russia of a European-sponsored UN resolution which threatened sanctions against Syria if President Bashar Assad's violent crackdown on protestors did not stop, has been met with angry denunciations by the self-appointed leaders of the 'international community'…………

The reality is that the Chinese and Russian veto is good news - not just for Syrians - but for the whole world.
You can read the whole piece here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

NATO massacre of Libyan civilians in Sirte

Take a look at  this.

And I thought that the NATO mission was supposed to be about ‘protecting' Libyan civilians.

Whoever would have thought it- another 'humanitarian’ NATO intervention that was anything but.

And another war, started in March, which was based on lies.

UPDATE: On the subject of NATO ‘saving lives’ in Libya, don’t miss this great piece by Michel Chossudovsky.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Coalition’s NHS changes ‘to cause irreparable harm’ say doctors.

The BBC reports:

The overhaul of the NHS in England will cause irreparable harm, according to leading public health doctors.

In a letter to peers, who will debate the changes next week, nearly 400 public health experts said the changes must be rejected as they represented a risk to patient care and safety.

The doctors suggested it would fragment services, possibly threatening vaccination and screening campaigns.

The revelation that such influential members of the public health community have put their names to the letter comes on the day Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is to address the Conservative Party conference.

More on this story here.  Bravo to the 400 public health experts for speaking out.  And let's hope that peers listen to their views and reject a truly appalling bill for which there is no democratic mandate.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It Ain't Half Hot Mum! The hottest end to September in Britain since 1895


The Daily Mail reports:

Sun worshippers peeled off in parks and enjoyed surprise sorties to the seaside as yesterday became the hottest September 29 for more than 100 years.

The 84f (29c) temperatures seen in parts of the country trumped the Costa del Sol, Turkey and even Mexico.

And it smashed the previous record for a balmy September 29, when the mercury hit 81.5f (27.5c) in York in 1895.

Another good excuse to show a clip from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. And I hope our non-UK readers are enjoying some great weather too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

David Croft- comedy genius R.I.P.

video: BigJohnCannon.

Very sad to hear the news that David Croft, one half of the best comedy writing partnership of all time, has died at the age of 89.

Together with Jimmy Perry, Croft wrote three of the all-time classic tv sitcoms- Dad’s Army, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Hi-De-Hi.

Above, you can watch part one of a classic episode of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Enjoy.

And thank you very much David for all the laughs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Has tv got too much control over football?

You can hear me discussing Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments  on the Tony Livesey show on BBC Radio 5 Live, here.

The discussion starts at around 7mins into the programme of 26/09/11.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peter Shore: Labour's forgotten prophet

It's ten years today since the sad death of Peter Shore. This piece of mine appears over at the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: The former cabinet minister was right about many issues – it's time to resurrect some of his democratic socialist policies

Whoever could have predicted that the Maastricht treaty and the introduction of the euro would lead not to a democratic workers paradise, but to unelected bankers and officials imposing austerity and privatisation on EU member states?

Who could have predicted that closer European integration would lead to ever-rising unemployment across the continent and ordinary people effectively being forced to leave their home countries in order to find work elsewhere?

Well one man did, and his name was Peter Shore.

You can read the whole piece here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spot the Difference: The US stance on Palestine and Kosovo

So, the US says that Palestine independence can only come if/when Israel agrees to it. I can’t recall the US saying that Kosovan independence needed to have the approval of Serbia, can you?

Why the double standards, Mr Obama?

UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports:

Tony Blair yesterday condemned a ‘deeply confrontational’ move by the Palestinian president to ask the United Nations to recognise an independent state for his people.

I wonder if this is the same Tony Blair who was so enthusiastic about Kosovan independence.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Great Privatisation Rip-Off- and how we can end it

Ever since the Thatcher governments – which insisted that regulation, rather than being a device to protect the public, was in fact a conspiracy against them– politicians have been deluged with complaints about poor service, mis-selling and excess profit among privatised or deregulated industries. They always promise to get tough and, indeed, sometimes move towards re-regulation. But companies always find new tricks, keeping one step ahead of both consumer and government. So it will continue, for better or worse, until someone dares to utter again the dread words: public ownership.

You can read the whole of Peter Wilby’s brilliant Guardian piece on the ‘financialisation of daily life’ in the neoliberal era, here.

And of course some of us have uttered the ‘dread words’, and have been doing so for some time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain 1930-2011

HE was the blunt, plain-talking Northerner whose name will forever be associated with Britain’s most famous horse race – and its best-loved racehorse.

Donald “Ginger” McCain, who died two days away from his 81st birthday, was the man who trained the legendary Red Rum to an unprecedented three Grand National victories in the seventies. But he wasn’t just a great trainer he was also one of racing’s most colourful and outspoken characters.
You can read the whole of my Daily Express piece on the late Ginger McCain here.
And you can watch a re-run of the classic 1973 Grand National, in which Red Rum overhauled Crisp in the dying strides, here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ginger McCain R.I.P.


Very sad news. Ginger McCain, trainer of the legendary three-times Grand National winner Red Rum has died.

Above you can relive the drama of the epic 1973 Grand National when Red Rum overhauled the runaway leader Crisp in the final strides.

As I wrote here:  
“It took a special horse to overhaul Crisp in 1973, a very special horse indeed, as we discovered when, 12 months later, Red Rum carried 12st to victory in the National, the knowledge of which, for those close to Crisp, probably makes his anguished and unforgettable defeat a little easier to bear".

Imran Khan on how neocolonialism is destroying Pakistan

Quote of the Week from Imran Khan:

"Every country I know that has had IMF or World Bank programmes has only impoverished the poor and enriched the rich."

You can read the rest of Stuart Jeffries’ Guardian interview with Imran Khan here. Let’s hope that Imran is successful in his bid to become Pakistan’s President. His analysis is spot-on.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gleision Colliery tragedy: NUM has ‘grave concerns’ over safety standards

What terrible news about the four miners found dead in a flooded mine near Cilybebyll in South Wales.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports:

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is worried that these privately-controlled facilities, which barely employ more than a dozen workers at any one time, operate largely "under the radar" of mine inspectors – if only because they are usually situated on remote hillsides.

Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the NUM, said: "We have grave concerns about safety standards in these kinds of mines. We fear that safety is often set at minimum standards so that costs can be kept down. They are not generally unionised or easily visited by inspectors."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It is Ed Miliband who is mistaken over public sector strikes

This article of mine appears over at the Guardian's Comment is Free website:

Neil Clark: In attempting to appear 'moderate' by calling industrial action 'a mistake' at TUC, Miliband has misread the public mood.

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness, wrote the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Caution in politics can be pretty damn fatal too.

We saw a classic example of this phenomenon with Ed Miliband's failure to support public sector strike action at this week's TUC conference. The Labour leader believes this summer's strikes by teachers and civil servants were a "mistake" and the further action announced by unions on Wednesday should not take place while negotiations are ongoing. Sorry, Ed, but the mistake is yours.

You can read the whole article here.

Transport Minister: Britain's railways have become a "rich man's toy"

Fifteen years of privatised railways and it's come to this.  What a surprise.

And, make no mistake, our health service will go the same way if we allow them to get away with it.

More stories from today's papers on the wonders of neoliberalism here and here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What's it really like to fly a Spitfire?

To mark Battle of Britain Day, which is commemorated later this week, here’s my Daily Express piece on the aircraft that played such a key role in the defence of Britain against the Nazis in 1940.

IT IS the most famous British fighter aircraft of all time.

In 1940 the Spitfire played a crucial role­ in our country’s “finest hour” – our against-the-odds victory against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. Since then piloting this iconic plane has been a dream for generations of schoolchildren.

Now the dream could become a reality.

You can read the whole of the article here.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Letter of the week: The BMA calls for halt to NHS bill

It is clear that the troubled passage of the Health and Social Care Bill reflects real concern over the future direction of the health service in England…….

the BMA continues to call for the Bill to be withdrawn or, at the very least, to be subject to further, significant amendment.

We believe there continues to be an inappropriate and misguided reliance on "market forces" to shape services.

You can read the whole of the letter from Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council, BMA, here.
While here you can read the excellent Guardian interview with Dr Meldrum.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please pop over to 38 Degrees,  to sign their petition and to send a letter/email to your MP ahead of next week’s third reading of Lansley’s appalling Health Bill.
Remember, it’s the future of socialised health care that’s at stake. As Seumas Milne says here, we cannot allow the end of the NHS in all but name.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Travel Supplement: Fine on the Rhine

This piece of mine, on one of Europe’s most beautiful regions, appears in the Mail on Sunday.
If you've never visited Germany's Rhineland, then I heartily recommend it.

My wife and I are standing at the top of an enormous 400ft-high rock gazing down at magnificent river scenery. But this is no ordinary rock. According to a 19th century legend, it was the spot where a beautiful siren, Lorelei, who had earlier committed suicide because of an unfaithful lover, lured boatmen to their death by bewitching them with song.

We are in the Rhineland, the spectacularly beautiful region of Germany where myths and legends - and fairytale castles - abound.

Our visit to the rock was one of the high points, literally and spiritually, of our week-long coach holiday exploring the towns and cities which lie on Europe's great river.

You can read the whole article here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ken Loach: The ruling classes are cracking the whip

I’ve always found that the people with the most to brag about are the least big-headed. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, was one example. The late Ian Carmichael was another. And so too is the brilliant film director Ken Loach. I met Ken when we were both speakers on an anti-war platform - a more modest and unassuming man you couldn’t possibly meet.

There's a wonderful interview with Ken in today's Guardian by Kira Cochrane. There's some great stuff all the way through, but particularly powerful was this passage on the enormous damage of thirty-odd years of neoliberalism.

It seems to me any economic structure that could give young people a future has been destroyed. Traditionally young people would be drawn into the world of work, and into groups of adults who would send the boys for a lefthanded screwdriver, or a pot of elbow grease, and so they'd be sent up in that way, but they would also learn about responsibilities, and learn a trade, and be defined by their skills. Well, they destroyed that. Thatcher destroyed that. She consciously destroyed the workforces in places like the railways, for example, and the mines, and the steelworks … so that transition from adolescence to adulthood was destroyed, consciously, and knowingly.

Ken Loach is a fantastic film director. But I can't help but feel that he would have made an even better Prime Minister.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On NATO’s bogus ‘humanitarian’ intervention in Libya

Above you can watch an interview with me on Russia Today on the lies surrounding NATO’s bogus 'humanitarian’ intervention in Libya and the economic motives which lie behind it.
More here

UPDATE:  In similar vein, here's Peter Hitchens in today's Mail on Sunday.

The official pretext, that we are ‘intervening to protect civilians’, is lying hogwash and should be laughed at every time it is used.  In the past few days – according to reliable reports – Libya’s rebels have been guilty of indiscriminate shooting into civilian areas and the brutal and arbitrary arrests of suspected opponents.

You can read the whole of the piece here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NATO “kept bombing the civilian targets"

We went to Libya on the 28th July and we came back on the 7th August and we found a totally different situation because NATO was bombarding civilians.

The bombings were not only carried out on military targets, but they also hit houses, hospitals, schools, television centers, and this was totally against the humanitarian reasons they said they were there for.

I believe they were doing this to bring panic in the city. That’s why they were bombing the things that people use daily, like places with food and essential utilities like hospitals.

Anyone out there who still believes that NATO’s intervention in Libya was/is ‘humanitarian’ ?

Then please watch the above interview from Russia Today with Italian peace activist Yvonne Di Vito.

More on this story here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Libya 'ultimately represents' to the NATO powers

Britain and France will, like the US, maintain that their motives are altruistic. But, as always, it will be selfish economic concerns that inevitably guide Libya’s fortunes.

Billions of pounds worth of oil and natural gas are what Libya ultimately represents to avaricious Western powers.

……..All this amateur army has proved is that it can fight a civil war while supported by the firepower of RAF planes and their Nato allies. But this backing is only temporary.

If Libyans are to establish true democracy, to maintain internal peace and security, to rebuild a shattered infrastructure, and to redistribute wealth, then they will have to do it alone.

You can read the whole of Nabila Ramdani's excellent Daily Express commentary on Libya here.

UPDATE: If you haven't seen it yet, there's a great piece by Seumas Milne in today's Guardian on Libya's imperial hijacking.

If stopping the killing had been the real aim, Nato states would have backed a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement, rather than repeatedly vetoing both. Instead, after having lost serious strategic ground in the Arab revolutions, the Libyan war offered the US, Britain and France a chance to put themselves at the heart of the process while bringing to heel an unreliable state with the largest oil reserves in Africa.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's not peace but regime change, that the US is after in Syria

Above you can see an RT interview with me on the US's true aim in Syria- and why bringing international war criminals like George W. Bush, Tony  Blair and Bill Clinton to justice is a much more urgent priority than having President Assad indicted.

More on the western hypocrisy towards Syria here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bring Back British Rail- a surefire vote winner

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

Neil Clark: Labour should pledge to re-nationalise railways and put UK on a par with other Europeans.

Here we go again. Britain's train users, who already have to pay by far and away the highest fares in Europe, are to be hit with even more above- inflation increases in the New Year..........

Not surprisingly, Labour has lambasted the government, calling the price hikes "eye-watering" and claiming that they are "the direct consequence of the Tory-led government's decision to cut too far and too fast".

But Ed Miliband could - and should - do an awful lot more.

You can read the whole of the piece here.

UPDATE: You can sign a petition, addressed to the government, calling for the renationalisation of the railways here. Do try and spare a couple of minutes to sign it, and tell your friends about the petition too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Who will save Libya from its western saviours?

What both the pro-intervention left and right share is the conviction that "we" (meaning the civilized democratic West) have the right and the ability to impose our will on other countries.

Certain French movements whose stock in trade is to denounce racism and colonialism have failed to remember that all colonial conquests were carried out against satraps, Indian princes and African kings who were denounced as autocrats (which they were) or to notice that there is something odd about French organizations deciding who are the "legitimate representatives" of the Libyan people.

……The activists who in March insisted that “we must do something” to stop a hypothetical massacre are doing nothing today to stop a massacre that is not hypothetical but real and visible, and carried out by those who “did something”.

You can read the whole of Diana Johnstone & Jean Bricmont’s brilliant piece on the far from humanitarian, ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya here.

Hat tip: Media Lens message board.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On western hypocrisy and Syria

Above you can watch an interview with me on Russia Today (RT), on the current situation in Syria, and why the US and its allies are only helping to inflame the situation there.

More on this story here.

UPDATE: On the subject of inflaming the situation in Syria, take a look at this (hat tip ‘Badger’on  Media Lens message board).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sick Britain, sick politics

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

Neil Clark: Entire urban communities have been sacrificed in the blind rush to ‘liberate the people’
Within hours of the first London riots breaking out, the debate was already being polarised, with left-wing commentators blaming Tory cuts, poverty and institutionalised racism, and right-wing observers slamming multiculturalism, poor parenting and 'community' policing.

In fact both the Left and Right must take equal responsibility for the social breakdown we are now witnessing. Or more precisely, the New Left and the New Right.

You can read the whole article here.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Britain on the Brink

This article of mine, on the civil unrest sweeping Britain exactly 100 years ago, appears in the Daily Express.

Neil Clark: Exactly 100 years ago the wealthy bought revolvers to protect themselves against the mob, soldiers shot striking workers dead and revolution was in the air...

THE Edwardian era is often portrayed as a period of peace and calm that preceded the horrors of the First World War.

In fact the early years of the 20th century were a time of enormous social unrest. And exactly 100 years ago this month, in August 1911, Britain appeared to be on the brink of revolution.

You can read the whole article here:

UPDATE: At the end of the piece I say:

The Britain of 2011 is a very different country to that of 1911 but with real wages once again falling and tens of billions of pounds wiped off the stock market amid fears of a global economic crash, is our situation really that much less volatile?

After this weekend's events- it seems that it isn’t.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Syria: President Assad declares a multiparty system- and France calls it a ‘provocation’

You can watch me discussing the latest developments in Syria- and why France’s reaction is so extraordinary, on Russia Today here.

Meanwhile, I see that Hillary the Hawk has said that the US believes that over 2,000 people have been killed by the Syrian authorities in recent clashes. While all deaths must be deplored, there’s strong reasons for treating such numbers with a huge barrow-load of salt.

Remember Kosovo?

John Pilger writes:

Following the same path as the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, the media coverage in the spring of 1999 was a series of fraudulent justifications, beginning with the then US defence secretary William Cohen's claim that "we've now seen about 100,000 military-aged [Albanian] men missing . . . they may have been murdered". David Scheffer, the then US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, announced that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" may have been killed

……….One year later, the International War Crimes Tribunal, a body in effect set up by Nato, announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo's "mass graves" was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Like Iraq's fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions - along with Serbian "rape camps" and Clinton's and Blair's claims that Nato never deliberately bombed civilians.

The US is not a disinterested party when it comes to Syria, nor was it when it came to events in the Balkans in the late 1990s.

For a view on Syria from someone who has actually been in the country this summer, check out this report.

On July 15, I received news feeds from the AFP announcing a million protestors all over Syria, of which 500,000 in Hama alone.

In Hama however, they could not have been more than 10,000.

This ‘information’ was even more absurd due to the fact that the city of Hama counts only 370,000 inhabitants.