Starmer’s role has been simply to emasculate the Labour Party, and to purge it of any elements that might seek to pose a threat to rampant neo-liberalism and wealth inequality. His efforts to ban Labour MPs from supporting striking railway workers must be anathema to anybody who has the slightest feel for the history and traditions of that party and indeed the most basic understanding of its very raison d’etre.
This Tony Benn quote from the 1980’s has come into vogue because it is prophetic, and the process appears now complete:
If the Labour Party could be bullied or persuaded to denounce its Marxists, the media – having tasted blood – would demand next that it expelled all its Socialists and reunited the remaining Labour Party with the SDP to form a harmless alternative to the Conservatives, which could then be allowed to take office now and then when the Conservatives fell out of favour with the public. Thus British Capitalism, it is argued, will be made safe forever, and socialism would be squeezed off the National agenda. But if such a strategy were to succeed… it would in fact profoundly endanger British society. For it would open up the danger of a swing to the far-right, as we have seen in Europe over the last 50 years.
Starmer is in one sense the apotheosis of this process. Not only has he acted to purge the Labour Party of socialism, he also offers so very little of a meaningful alternative to the Tories that there is very little danger of the Tories being voted out of office. Not only is he a safe right-wing backstop, he is a self-redundant safe right-wing backstop.
The Guardian has long been viewed as the voice of the liberal-left in Britain, so it surprised many during the Corbyn leadership to see it act as one of the main media vehicles through which the campaign to bring him down was fought.
The paper was a key part of the “anti-semitism crisis” that engulfed Corbyn’s leadership. From 2016-19, the Guardianpublished 1,215 stories mentioning Labour and anti-semitism, an average of around one per day, according to a search on Factiva, the database of newspaper articles.
In the same period, the Guardian published just 194 articles mentioning the Conservative Party’s much more serious problem with Islamophobia. A YouGov poll in 2019, for example, found that nearly half of the Tory party membership would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister.
The Guardian’s coverage of anti-semitism in Labour was suspiciously extensive, compared to the known extent of the problem in the party, and its focus on Corbyn personally suggested that the issue was being used politically.
The late Jewish anthropologist David Graeber commented after the 2019 election: “As for the Guardian, we will never forget that during the ‘Labour antisemitism controversy’, they beat even the Daily Mail to include the largest percentage of false statements, pretty much every one, mysteriously, an accidental error to Labour’s disadvantage”.
I am likely to revise this article but I want to get it out. It’s about the historical and continuing malign and corrosive influence of the Australian-American press baron Rupert Murdoch on UK politics. The article starts by looking at Murdoch’s influence over Tony Blair’s government before looking at how he still wields influence over Boris Johnson’s current government (and needs expanding there). I’m only searching the web so you can do this for yourselves.
Former Sun deputy editor Neil Wallis was in charge during the 1997 election campaign when then-Sun editor Stuart Higgins was on holiday.
The paper made shockwaves when it published a “Sun backs Blair” front page after declaring “it was the Sun wot won it” for the Conservatives in the previous election.
He said he asked for a first-person piece from Blair on his party’s “cut and dried position” on Europe but it was “a piece of PR flim-flam that actually said nothing”.
“I said ‘I’m not running this Alistair [Campbell, Blair’s spin doctor] because it’s just saying nothing’. But I said ‘for this to be coherent, for this to have an impact, this needs to say you will not go into the Euro without a referendum’.
“And I duly got the piece under Tony Blair’s name committing them to a referendum on the Euro if it was ever considered that they would go into it.”
Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage directly linked this Sun column with the eventual vote to leave the European Union 19 years later.
He told the documentary: “The price of Rupert Murdoch’s support for Tony Blair was that Blair promised he would not take us into the European currency without first having a referendum, and if Rupert Murdoch had not done that we would have joined the Euro in 1999 and I doubt Brexit would have happened.
“So I think when we look at the long history of Britain’s relationship with the European project that led ultimately to the Brexit vote, I think that was a decisive intervention from Rupert Murdoch.”
So much falls into place with the revelation that Tony Blair became godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s two young daughters and attended their baptism on the banks of the river Jordan last year. True, it isn’t yet clear whether Blair had agreed to become a godparent while he was prime minister [see footnote], and the ceremony did take place after he had left office, but the important point is that the relationship underlines Murdoch’s deep entrenchment in British political life.
Murdoch’s third wife, Wendi Deng, who let slip the information in an interview with Vogue, described Blair as one of Rupert’s closest friends. Blair’s account of the relationship in his memoirs is somewhat different, portraying Murdoch as the big bad beast, who won his grudging respect. That is clearly disingenuous. As other memoirs and diaries from the Blair period are published, we see how close Murdoch was to the prime minister and the centre of power when really important decisions, such as the Iraq invasion, were being made.
Blair and Murdoch didn’t have to be bosom buddies for the relationship to be counter to the interests of a healthy national life and politics. As Lance Price, the former Blair spin doctor, has said, Murdoch was one of four people in Britain whose reaction was considered when any important decision was made during the Blair years.
Rupert Murdoch launched an “over-crude” campaign to force Tony Blair to speed up Britain’s entry into the Iraq war, according to the final volume of [total cnut] Alastair Campbell’s diaries.
Mr Blair’s former communications director accuses the media mogul of being part of a drive by American Republicans to drag Britain into the controversial war a week before the House of Commons even voted to approve the intervention in 2003.
The claim is explosive because it appears to contradict Mr Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The News Corp chief told Lord Justice Leveson in April: “I’ve never asked a prime minister for anything.”
It is the second time that claim has been contested. Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, told the inquiry this week that Mr Murdoch threatened to withdraw the support of his newspapers for his Government unless it took a tougher stance on Europe. …
Liverpool MP Andy Burnham has suggested that Tony Blair did not order a full enquiry into the Hillsborough disaster because he did not want to offend Rupert Murdoch.
Mr Burnham, a Labour leader hopeful said he was told not to pursue his demand for an official investigation when serving under Mr Blair.
As a result a “major injustice” was allowed to remain in place for more than a decade, he said.
Mr Burnham was the driving force behind Gordon Brown’s decision to set up the Hillsborough Independent Panel into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans. … The Sun caused lasting outrage after publishing a report following the 1989 tragedy accusing “drunken” Liverpool fans of attacking rescue workers. …
Former Prime Minister Tony has always adamantly denied allegations he had an affair with Wendi, who was married to the News UK magnate from 1999 to 2013. However, the new BBC show spoke about Wendi’s affection towards him, including an unearthed diary entry in which she spoke about his ‘good body and legs’ before adding: ‘And what else and what else and what else…’.
But it was a series of emails, allegedly from Wendi about Blair, that effectively caused their divorce. ‘She made a bad mistake,’ journalist Ken Auletta explained. ‘She was sending emails on Newscorp email, so it’s easy for one of Murdoch’s minions, or lawyers, to extract those emails and see what they said – and they did. …
dizzy: At Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall’s wedding in March 2016 Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel were invited – three prominent members of the current UK government. David Cameron and George Osborne – anti-Brexiteers – were not invited. Tony Blair was not invited – he’s been dropped by Murdoch after not having an affair with Wendi Deng.
As a supporter of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and his allies, I was truly shocked and disappointed by the result of the recent general election. The Labour Party achieved an unexpected poor result losing 59 seats while the Conservatives won an additional 47 seats. I expected the Labour party to improve on their 2017 result.
Boris Johnson shamelessly and repeatedly lied during the campaign – the big lie being “get Brexit done” – but also 40 new hospitals, 50,000 new nurses and “… no checks on goods going from GB to NI and NI to GB …”. While the media failed to nail him on his incessant lying he was also assisted by burying a report into Russian interference in British politics and the Metropolitan Police inquiry into his sponsorship of Jennifer Arcuri getting postponed until after the election.
The electorate latched onto the “get Brexit done” lie and that BJ’s BJexit deal is a Trumpian “great deal” while Labour failed to convey the message that Brexit fatigue and turmoil is all down to the Conservatives.
Jeremy Corbyn proved personally unpopular. People refer to him as a Communist without realising that he is simply a typical Democratic Socialist with a typical Socialist agenda. There were accusations that he would slaughter Kulaks and the intention to nationalise and provide free broadband was accused of being Communism. There is nothing wrong with having utilities and train services provided by the state – that is the normal way of doing it.
Jeremy Corbyn’s personal unpopularity must be down to the incessant and unjustified accusations of anti-Semitism. Zionists have succeeded in imposing Israel’s veto on Jeremy Corbyn. That veto is documented. Labour’s policy of appeasing the Zionists has failed.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party proposed a real Socialist alternative. The manifesto was huge because they have a real vision of change.
Despite proposing real policies to address the climate crisis, it appears that the public remain ignorant of the pressing need for action.
I feel for the Labour party and fellow Socialists and climate activists.
Boris Johnson claimed today that the naughtiest thing he’s ever done is ride a bicycle on the pavement. In early September however, he alluded to his time at university by advising primary school children not to get drunk.
While at Oxford University Boris was a member of the elite Bullingdon Club that engaged in high jinks such as drunkenly destroying pubs and restaurants followed by humiliating the owners by paying for the extensive damage in cash.
The woman who was the club recruiter said: “Boris was one of the big beasts of the club. He was up for anything. They treated certain types of people with absolute disdain, and referred to them as ‘plebs’ or ‘grockles’, and the police were always called ‘plod’. Their attitude was that women were there for their entertainment.”
She said there was a “culture of excess” in the 1980s in which the activities of the Bullingdon Club felt “normalised”. “They had an air of entitlement and superiority.”
In 2013, Johnson – who reputedly still greets former members with a cry of “Buller, Buller, Buller” – described it as “a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness”. He added: “But at the time you felt it was wonderful to be going round swanking it up.”
The 2019 UK general election matters because the climate emergency means that the next decade is critical for the future of humanity. Only a Labour government can really turn things around, not just in the UK, but globally. This may sound exaggerated, but it’s true. Let me explain.
While flooding has affected people in Yorkshire during the election period, look further afield and many millions are suffering the impacts of catastrophic floods in Central and East Africa. Fires have raged in Australia and things will get a lot worse until humans stabilise Earth’s rapidly changing climate. To do that means carbon emissions need to decline to zero. Fast.
Pursuing policies to limit warming to 1.5℃, as the Paris Agreement mandates, is a two part process. Stage one is to halve global emissions by 2030. Stage two is to eliminate the other half by 2050. Getting the world to zero emissions is extremely difficult as it means every sector of every country needs to get to zero. We can still pollute, but every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted will need to be immediately captured again, giving a net impact of zero emissions.
A serious plan
Finally, after 30-plus years of scientists explaining the problem, a major political party of a major economy has a serious plan for part one of the process. After wrangling between grassroots activists and trade unions, the Labour Manifesto pledges that the “substantial majority” of UK emissions will be eliminated by 2030. This isn’t bluster, as there is serious investment planned across electricity production (more wind and solar), buildings (retrofitting all UK houses to high efficiency standards), transport (investment in buses, only electric cars sales from 2030), and heavy industry (research and development into hydrogen and carbon capture technology), to name a few sectors.
Crucially, this would be driven by those who control the finances of the country. A new Sustainable Investment Board would bring together the chancellor, business secretary and Bank of England governor to oversee and co-ordinate these major investments. A National Investment Bank with £250 billion allocated for decarbonising the economy provides serious funds. And climate and environmental impacts will be included in the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, so that the cost of not acting will be factored into every government decision.
Labour are calling it a Green Industrial Revolution. And it would be. It is a far-reaching set of policies and investments befitting the scale of the problem.
Tory plan ‘lacks ambition’
By comparison the Conservative Party manifesto lacks ambition and seriousness. Capital spending on climate – broadly conceived – is just £20 billion. There is no overarching strategy to reach net zero. As the independent analysts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said of the whole manifesto, “If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest. As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.”
While the Conservatives have a net zero target of 2050 and official UK emissions have dropped by 43% from 1990 levels, most of the reduction has come from the power sector, and the low-hanging fruit of switching from coal-fired electricity generation to gas and renewables. Beyond this, their record over the past decade in government has been poor – emissions from transport, buildings and agriculture have not declined over recent years.
Of course, UK emissions are just 1% of the world’s total, so does it matter what the UK does? It does. First, because every country needs to get to net zero emissions. Second, as the fifth largest economy in the world, large and sustained reductions in emissions across all sectors simultaneously would become a beacon to other countries to learn from the UK and reduce their emissions more quickly. Third, Labour would use £4 billion of new overseas development funds help countries leap-frog the fossil fuel age.
Finally, geopolitics matters. The world is gripped by right-wing populists who are often hostile to tackling climate change. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro abandoned hosting this years’ UN climate talks, while Donald Trump plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Fearful inward-looking nationalism means that the internationalism necessary to tackle climate change is being eroded.
The antidote to the rising right-wing populism that Brexit and Boris Johnson are part of, is a Labour government with a Green Industrial Revolution at its heart. And just as Brexit spurred the Trump campaign, a win for Labour would increase the chances of the Democrats in the US reaching office and pursuing a similar Green New Deal. The tide would be turning towards deploying the tools of the state to reshape the economy to seriously tackle climate change.
Scientists working on climate often say some form of transformation of society is needed to tackle climate change. Here’s a rare chance to lever serious resources to do just that. Of course, supporting any political party is a major compromise, especially with our voting system.
When it comes to the environment, you can’t beat the Greens, but they can’t form the next government. The big prize is to grasp the chance to turn things around. So, I won’t just be voting this election. I’ll be out knocking on doors to canvas for Labour. It’s the least I can do. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
UK’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is announcing the Labour manifesto today.
While I am not and have never been a Labour member, I strongly support the current Labour party and their policies. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are presenting a real alternative. Instead of sucking up to the rich and powerful they are going to represent ordinary people.
How on earth is democracy so perverted that the rich increase their obscene wealth while we have so many people freezing to death homeless on the streets and so many of the working poor relying on food banks? (The Tories’ Universal Credit has no doubt hugely contributed to that actually.)
I am concerned with delay in addressing the climate crisis. Knowledgeable scientist are virtually unanimously agreed that action needs to be taken immediately.
Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.
As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future. We urge widespread use of vital signs, which will better allow policymakers, the private sector, and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change. The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual. We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.]
During a speech lasting no more than 10 minutes, viewers learn that he is building 40 new hospitals. Sounds good. But it’s a lie that has already been exposed by fact-checkers, including the website Full Fact.
The prime minister tells Sky viewers that “20,000 more police are operating on our streets to fight crime and bring crime down”. This assertion is misleading in a number of ways. Recruitment will take place over three years and do no more than replace the drop in officer numbers seen since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Sky viewers are then informed by Johnson that Jeremy Corbyn “plans to wreck the economy with a £1.2 trillion spending plan”. Labour’s manifesto hasn’t been published, let alone fully costed. Johnson’s £1.2tn is a palpable fabrication. As Full Fact concluded: “Many of the figures behind this estimate are uncertain or based on flawed assumptions.”
Johnson then goes on to say that the Labour leader “thinks home ownership is a bad idea and is opposed to it”. I have been unable to find any evidence of Corbyn expressing this view. Perhaps Johnson is referring to the floated Labour policy that would give “right to buy” to private tenants. The policy, which was only ever supposed to target the wealthiest landlords, has since been dropped and, according to the Financial Times, will not appear in the party’s manifesto.
In theory Johnson should not be able to get away with this scale of lying and deceit. In a properly functioning democracy, liars should be exposed and held to account. But that isn’t happening. As with Donald Trump, for Johnson there seems to be no political price to pay for deceit and falsehood. The mainstream media … prefers to go along with his lies rather than expose them.
Boris Johnson appeared before the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today. The CBI are not keen on Brexit. BJ wanted a general election to gain a majority of MPs so that he can pursue a no-deal Brexit without democracy preventing him.
We fully know Boris Johnson’s attitude to business because he’s told us. He said “F*** business”.
The UK’s foreign secretary apparently outlined his new business strategy at a private reception, when challenged about the clamour from Airbus and BMW over the threat to jobs and investment. Mr Johnson’s aides say the remark was aimed at business lobbyists. It makes little difference. (He has now fled to Kabul to avoid having to resign rather than vote with the government for a new runway at Heathrow. The foreign secretary had said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers. It turns out he preferred to lie low.)
“F**k business.” It may have been a casual aside but it was also a revealingly contemptuous one, not least in its indifference to the fate of Airbus’s UK staff. This is the strategic nihilism of a spoiled child lashing out. After two years of failing to offer up even a scintilla of a plan, relying on magical thinking and the belief that if Britain just held its nerve, Europe would fold, this is all he had left — a petulant explosion.
It’s insulting that the Conservatives can only offer such a dishonest, arrogant, infantile and misogynist ^£$€ as their leader and prime minister of UK. In addition to the widespread recognition that truth is totally alien to him, BJ has a huge history of extremely offensive remarks – sexist, racist, anti-gay – that expose how unsuitable he is to public office.
“Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.” Boris Johnson during 2005 general election campaign.