Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Damning of Tony Blair: Unindicted War Criminal

Oh Dear. It’s not going too well for the neo-cons and their ‘liberal’ interventionist allies is it?

The NATO fiasco in Libya. The ever-deepening crisis surrounding News International. And now this .
In the comments section on the Mail on Sunday's website, Darren writes:
if another country had done it they would be charged with war crimes. we went to war because he assured us they had wmd that could strike us within 45mins... this was a lie so why is he not held accountable for our military loss and that of everyone else who perished?
While Mo, from Carlisle, asks the question:
Any chance of war crimes charges being brought?
Let’s hope that war crimes charges are indeed brought. The case against The Bliar, as I argued here, is rock solid.
Meanwhile, here's the latest news from the country that Tony and his neo-con pals ‘liberated’ in 2003.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We must now end our involvement in Libyan civil war

This piece of mine appears in today's Daily Express.

THAT men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach, the great sage Aldous Huxley once wrote.

It’s hard to think of a more appropriate judgment on Britain’s military involvement in Libya. After the disastrous invasion of Iraq – a war based on dodgy dossiers and misinformation which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, you would have thought that the British Government would have done all it could to keep our country out of any more unnecessary Middle East military conflicts, especially as the war in Afghanistan is still ongoing.

Indeed when David Cameron became PM last year many people hoped that he would make a clean break with the foreign policy of New Labour and its enthusiasm for sending Britain’s armed forces around the globe to act as world policemen. But he has cruelly disappointed by taking us into yet another ill-thought-out military adventure.
You can read the whole article here.

UPDATE: Over at The First Post, Venetia Rainey reports:

The Libyan rebels have suffered a serious setback following yesterday's assassination of the commander of their army, General Abdul Fattah Younes, with suspicions being raised that he may even have been killed by his own side.

The news will trouble politicians in Britain, who on Wednesday made the bold move of recognising the NTC as the official government of Libya, despite earlier protestations that the UK only recognises states. Making the announcement, foreign secretary William Hague praised the rebels for their "commitment to a more open and democratic Libya", a sentiment that may turn out to be premature.

More here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011: The year we took on the unaccountable elites

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

Neil Clark: The people are fighting back - even Charles Moore wonders if ‘the Left may actually be right’
Suppose you had read an article on January 1, 2011 predicting that popular uprisings would topple President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and seriously threaten a whole host of other long-established and corrupt Arab regimes; that the Murdoch media empire would be facing meltdown, with Rupert Murdoch himself humiliated by a custard-pie thrower at a Commons select committee hearing; and that bookies would be offering odds of 6-1 in July that David Cameron would be the next member of the government to quit.

You would have dismissed the author of the piece as a fantasist. What on earth is going on?

You can read the whole of the article here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We're all Norwegians now

Well, over a day on from first hearing about this appalling atrocity, I find it still very hard to get my head round the scale of this incredibly vicious and evil attack.

Not that it’s hard to work out why far-right fanatics hate the Norwegian political system.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Public services proposals will not mean more choice

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

Neil Clark: David Cameron wants us to believe that rolling back state provision will benefit the public. The opposite is true.

Thirty-two years after Margaret Thatcher swept into Downing Street promising to roll back the frontiers of the state, the neoliberal drive towards a fully privatised Britain is entering its final stages.

The government's new Open Public Services white paper, revealed by David Cameron last week, may have passed under the radar somewhat due to the scandals engulfing the Murdoch media empire, but it's an important document nonetheless. The coalition claims that "reform of public services is a key progressive cause", and that its proposals "give power to those who have been overlooked and underserved", but in reality there is nothing progressive about its underlying objective to radically change the role of the state from a provider of public services to one that will merely ensure "fair access" to them.

You can read the whole of the article here.

UPDATE: On this very subject, do try and get a copy of the new edition of Private Eye where there’s a great piece on Page 12.

When David Cameron launched his Open Public Services white paper last week, he did so at a conference arranged by a think-tank funded by the very firms who will benefit from the privatisation his document proposes. Cameron unveiled his plan at a Canary Wharf event hosted by 'Reform', a right-wing charity funded by business "partners". Cameron and his ministers regularly appear at Reform events; and the PM proposed "releasing the grip of state control and putting power in people's hands" .

The list of Reform's backers suggests who those people will be. They include leading hospital privatiser General Healthcare, prisons and schools firm G4S, cleaning and catering outfit Sodexho and all-purpose giants Serco and Capita. Telereal Trillium, which already gets £284m a year for running government properties, also funds Reform, as does PA Consulting, which makes millions as an adviser on several privatisations.....

On the subject of the think-tank ‘Reform’, please take a look at this and this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Martin Meenagh on Britain's Watergate

Martin Meenagh, who knows a thing or two about US politics, writes:

This may seem a silly bubble scandal, while the real economy here freezes and the west's economy burns. It is becoming something else. We're getting a glimpse beneath the murk of the political-media class and the financial monsters who live in the deep.

Watergate was important not because of Nixon, and Dallas only partly because of JFK--they both exposed the connections that really run a great many things, and the existence of a nexus of money, power and war that has nothing to do with democracy but which convinces itself that it owns the free world.

You can read the whole of Martin's brilliant blog post on the scandal that is shaking the British neocon/neoliberal establishment, here. 

Meanwhile, in case you hadn't heard, Sean Hoare, the whistleblowing former News of the World journalist,
has been found dead.

More here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks is arrested

The crisis surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper empire has just deepened in a very big way.

The BBC reports:

Ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been arrested by police investigating phone hacking and bribery at the News of the World.

She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption.

More on the arrest of Rebekah Brooks over at The First Post.

UPDATE: In another dramatic development, Britain's most senior police officer, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has just resigned.

The BBC reports:

 Sir Paul has faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive Neil Wallis - who was questioned by police investigating hacking - as an adviser.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh, What a Lovely War! Murdoch's other legacy

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

As bad as the phone hacking is the pro-war propaganda, argues Neil Clark.

They've hacked into the voicemail of a murdered teenager and the relatives of dead UK soldiers. They've paid police officers for information. The charge sheet against News International is a long and serious one.

But as shocking as the allegations of illegal news gathering have been, the greatest crime of Murdoch's UK newspaper empire has gone largely unreported. Namely that no other newspaper group has as much blood on its hands when it comes to propagandising for illegal and fraudulent military conflicts.

There hasn't been a war - or potential war - involving Britain in recent years that Murdoch's British titles haven't been gung-ho about.

You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why it's time to bring British Gas back into public ownership

You can hear me making the case for renationalisation of the energy sector on the Emma Britton Show on BBC Radio Somerset here.
The discussion starts at 32 minutes into the programme of 12th July.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oh Dear, How Sad, Never Mind: Rupert Murdoch could sell off his remaining London newspapers

In today's First Post, Nigel Horne writes: 

There is now rising speculation that Murdoch could sell off his remaining London newspapers – the profitable Sun and the loss-making Times and Sunday Times - in order to protect both his BSkyB takeover and his American media empire.

It will be painful for him – he loves newspapers – but for the sake of his legacy, it might be the only option.

The latest Guardian investigation suggests the malpractice contagion has spread to the Sun and the Sunday Times.

According to the paper, Gordon Brown was targeted by News International newspapers for over a decade, both as chancellor and later prime minister.

I am told the mood at the News International offices in Wapping is ominous following these revelations.

A sell-off of the other titles would bring plurality to Britain's media landscape – if buyers can be persuaded to take on the loss-making Times and Sunday Times.

And if buyers can’t be persuaded, then the loss-making Times titles will just have to go the way of the News of the World. What a huge loss to journalism that will be. Not.

In another development, the Guardian reports:

Scotland Yard has accused News International of undermining its inquiry into police corruption by leaking confidential details of investigations to the media. NI has orchestrated a "deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere", the Met said in a statement.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Manufacturing is the lifeblood of a prosperous nation

This piece of mine appears in today's Daily Express.

IT wouldn’t happen in Germany. It wouldn’t happen in France.

In fact, it wouldn’t happen in any other western European country.

Earlier this week, Britain’s coalition government announced that it was minded to award a £1.4billion contract for new trains, not to the Derby-based company Bombardier Transportation, but to the giant German firm Siemens.

While the Government’s shamefully unpatriotic decision has quite rightly been attacked as a shocking betrayal of skilled British workers, it is only the latest example of the low regard that our pro-globalisation and pro-EU political elite has for British manufacturing.

For while our economic rivals still maintain a balanced economy, combining a sizeable services sector with a strong manufacturing base, successive governments in Britain have seemed happy for manufacturing jobs at home to be destroyed and for flagship British companies to be sold overseas.