Independence for England? By Craig Murray

15 September 2011 — Craig Murray

Unemployment fell in Scotland on yesterday’s new figures, while it rose everywhere else in the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that the difference was caused by the fact that the Scottish government has a (limited) ability to effectively spend forward and thus postpone the results of the Osborne public spending cuts. But the interesting result of that, is that the employment increase in Scotland was in the private sector, not the public sector, while private sector employment fell in England.

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An unholy alliance: The Media, the State and Big Business By William Bowles

19 December, 2009 — Strategic Culture Foundation

Readers might not be very familiar with Private Eye, the UK’s one and only satirical magazine that’s been going for decades and long a thorn in the side of the Establishment in spite of the fact that its editors are very much a part of the Establishment. But then this why they get the ‘inside dope’ on the corruption and other neferious ‘dealings’ that occupy the ruling elite who assist their business pals in ripping off the public purse.

For me as a lifelong adsorber of information of all kinds, PE’s major strength is in its inside info on the relationship between (big) business and the state, whether at the national or local level. Pretty much every major scandal that finally breaks in the mainstream press, for example the Trafigura disaster was reported in PE first. The oil trading company Trafigura dumped thousands of tons of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, 31,000 people were injured by the foul stuff and 16 died.[1]

When the story finally broke in the corporate press, Trafigura tried to get the story squashed and they hired the solicitors Carter-Ruck to get an injunction forbidding publication of news about the catastrophe Trafigura had unleashed on The Ivory Coast (which succeeded, but only for a while, see below). Affectionately known in the pages of PE as Carter-Fuck, it is a company that seems to get mentioned in almost every issue.

“Messrs Carter-Fuck, London’s most vainglorious solicitors, tout for business by boasting of their matchless skills in “reputation management”. — ‘Carter-Rucking Hell’, Private Eye, No.1248, 30 Oct-12 Nov, 2009

The story concerns a secret injunction that Carter-Ruck obtained that actually gagged Parliament from talking about things Trafiguran. It’s called a super-injunction[2] that “anonymises” the names of those involved in the legal proceedings (the gag order on the media talking about things Trafiguran even in Parliament). Eye calls this “censorship by judicial process” and Carter-Ruck are the experts at it.

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Boys from Bullingdon are bad for Britain By George Anthony

20 December, 2009

George Anthony asks can Labour win in May 2010?

The boys from Bullingdon had a bit of a shock when they opened the Sunday papers of November 29th for the Ipso MORI survey put the Tories on 37% and Labour on 31%, with the Lib-Dems on 17%. This means-on the present parliamentary line up with a Labour bias in the distribution of voters per constituency-the Tories need to win 117 seats to achieve a simple majority, but 140 for a working majority, which is a huge mountain to climb.

A fairly reliable political weather vane and right-winger, Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer of 6/12/2009,

“The Tories have put all their chips on Cameron. The downside to his adroitness at catching the prevailing wind is uncertainty about where he’ll drop anchor. It has been fluent, slick and largely well-modulated talk, but the strain of sustaining the act is beginning to show. There are evident Tory jitters about the recent erosion of their poll lead and more behind the scenes angst about why this is happening.”

But, true to form, on December 12th, he wasn’t so sure, finding holes in the Pre-Budget Report.

The Bullingdon Club members are composed of wealthy hooligans whose qualification for membership is that they are able to pay for the damage they cause after a drunken spree.

Cameron for instance has £30 million, plus his wife’s money as Lady Astor’s daughter.

Osborne’s  personal wealth is estimated at £4.3 million, in addition being next in line to inherit the family baronetcy of Ballentaylor in County Tipperary. As well as a substantial share of Osborne & Little, his father’s luxury wallpaper company.

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Negative spacemen By Alan Simpson MP

30 October, 2009 — The Morning Star Online

Sometimes in politics what is absent is more revealing than what is present

Negative space is a concept that artists are more familiar with than either politicians or the BBC. This is the space between objects that helps to define the objects themselves. Often what is absent is far more intriguing and revealing that what is present.

This is the notion that has stayed with me long after the BBC’s inclusion of British National Party leader Nick Griffin on its Question Time panel.

The law and not the BBC will ultimately decide whether the BNP is a legitimate political party or not.

The recent court ruling that its constitution is racist will test whether the party’s desire for a platform will override its more visceral appeal to ignorance and prejudice.

What the BBC decided, however, was that the BNP was both legitimate and significant.

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‘New’ Labour on the rocks? The last of the lackeys jump ship By Solomon Hughes

3 October, 2009 — The Morning Star Online

I got a sense of the complete exhaustion of the new Labour project when Will Hutton launched a crushing attack on 12 wasted years at a fringe meeting at the party’s conference.

Hutton made his attack in the heart of the Blairite temple, in front of some of new Labour’s high priests, and they responded with a smile and a murmur and little more.

Hutton was speaking at a Policy Network fringe meeting. Policy Network is an “international progressive think tank” founded by Blair in 2000 with Peter Mandelson as president. It is the “third way” made flesh.

Roger Liddle, the first servant of the new Labour gods under the dynasty of Blair, was in the chair.

James Purnell, a junior temple official who rose to the inner sanctum as work minister, was on the panel. Both Liddle and Purnell worked in Number 10 in the first Labour government, they were there when Blair started building his temples to the corporations and launching his wars against the worshippers of other gods.

While Liddle and Purnell did their work for the pharaoh in the name of the new religion of the third way, they didn’t really believe it. The third way turned out to involve pretty much doing whatever the multinationals wanted.

By contrast, Hutton is quite genuinely committed to a third way. His politics and economics do mix together a real interest in putting public welfare above private profit with a commitment to modernising capitalism.

So, on the one hand, Hutton can offer pretty interesting insights into the destructive nature of neoliberal capitalism, but on the other you do get a lot of talk about “experiential businesses,” “flexicurity,” how we “navigate our lives” and a demand that public-sector workers accept zero-hours contracts.

Hutton told the Blairite panel: “Precisely the wrong lessons were learned in the 1992 election, as Brown and Blair retreated further from Labour values and won in 1997 essentially as beaten men. And the problems we now face stem from then.”

Responding to some murmurs from Liddle, Hutton went on: “I think the electorate voted in 1997 for a modern social democratic party, for social investment and reining in the excesses of capitalism, but you [Liddle] and Peter Mandelson were into what you called the politics of assurance.”

This meant assuring the rich and the bankers that they were safe with new Labour.

Hutton continued: “But look, for example, at the Financial Services Authority constitution, drawn up by Brown and Ed Balls in 2001.

“It is essentially drawn up by the City, and it could not question any new financial instrument, the instruments that caused the crisis. Labour bought the neoconservative story.

“The big story is not Tony becoming a neoconservative with his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is Brown joining American economic neoconservatism, giving Alan Greenspan a knighthood and the freedom of Edinburgh – it’s just beyond belief.

“And now we face being reduced to 150 MPs and out of power for decades.”

Faced with this heresy, spoken on the temple floor, Liddle did little more than grimace. Purnell went one stage further – he partly agreed.

Purnell said: “Look at Alastair Campbell’s diaries around ‘96 and Tony Blair became very keen on stakeholder capitalism and you can read them and see it would fit in with Will’s description.”

Indeed they do. Stakeholder capitalism was a moderately social democratic principle asserting that businesses should not only listen to shareholders, they should also listen to stakeholders. The government would force boards to consider the effect on jobs, the environment, welfare and the public good as well as profits.

According to Campbell’s diaries in ‘96, Blair “felt he was on to something with the stakeholder economy idea. It was a way of conveying the economy is about more than money and jobs. It was also about what sort of country we wanted to be … it was a washing line from which to hang all the parts of economic policy.”

David Miliband “was ecstatic” about Blair’s laundry. But it was Brown who stepped in and tore all the ideas off their clothes pegs.

Campbell writes: “It was pretty clear that GB did not believe in the basic stakeholder economy message at all.”

Blair may have felt he was “on to something,” but he wasn’t on it very hard. Brown argued against any demands being placed on capital, so Blair gave up his vague ideas and happily waited for his crown and sceptre instead.

And now, 12 years on, Blair’s priesthood cannot even be bothered to make a defence when their religion is insulted in public.

They seem happy to sit back and watch their pyramids crumble, the nose fall off their sphinx and the new rulers sweep down.

– While Liddle and Purnell gave up on the fringe, there was an alternative strategy on the conference floor. Peter Mandelson demanded there be more real engineering and less financial engineering.

Gordon Brown assaulted the immorality of the bankers. Which means that the other Gordon Browns and Peter Mandelsons, the ones who rejoiced in “lighter than air” industries, light-touch regulation and intense relaxation about the filthy rich becoming richer and filthier, were just imitators.

Or were they the real Mandelsons and Browns? Will the real Peter Mandelson please stand up?

The Labour leadership’s growls against the market and the bankers fail to convince because they spent so long purring in the laps of the corporate elite.

They might rally a few votes, but they are limited by the fact that Labour has done the opposite in power for over a decade.

They do at least show that there is a political space to make these arguments, a task the left should take up if we are not too busy splitting and sabotaging our own initiatives, or launching successful electoral initiatives that promptly self-destruct.

War Comes Home to Britain By John Pilger

4 March, 2009

Freedom is being lost in Britain. The land of Magna Carta is now the land of secret gagging orders, secret trials and imprisonment. The government will soon know about every phone call, every e-mail, every text message. Police can willfully shoot to death an innocent man, lie and expect to get away with it. Whole communities now fear the state. The foreign secretary routinely covers up allegations of torture; the justice secretary routinely prevents the release of critical cabinet minutes taken when Iraq was illegally invaded. The litany is cursory; there is much more.

Indeed, there is so much more that the erosion of liberal freedoms is symptomatic of an evolved criminal state. The haven for Russian oligarchs, together with corruption of the tax and banking systems and of once-admired public services such as the Post Office, is one side of the coin; the other is the invisible carnage of failed colonial wars. Historically, the pattern is familiar. As the colonial crimes in Algeria, Vietnam and Afghanistan blew back to their perpetrators, France, the United States and the Soviet Union, so the cancerous effects of Britain’s cynicism in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home.

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Welcome to the crony capitalist convention where New Labour got into bed with the bankers but we were the ones who got screwed

14 February 2009

The cry goes up, ‘wha’ happened?’ The former boss of HBOS, Sir James Crosby became head of the Financial Services Authority allegedly the ‘watchdog’ of the financial sector and then it emerges that Crosby was one of the architects of what Michael Hudson describes as:

“The commercial banks…us[ing] their credit-creating power not to expand the production of goods and services or raise living standards but simply to inflate prices for real estate (making fortunes for their brokerage, property appraisal and insurance affiliates), stocks and bonds (making more fortunes for their investment bank subsidiaries), fine arts (whose demand is now essentially for trophies, degrading the idea of art accordingly) and other assets already in place.” — ‘Bubble Economy 2.0: The Financial Recovery Plan from Hell’ By Michael Hudson’

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End of the year or end of the world (as we know it)? By William Bowles

23 December 2008

think-aheadBefore all the Xmas BS gets in the way, an end-of-year essay of sorts is in order, especially so given the bumpy ride capitalism has bestowed on us this past twelve months. And the portents for 2009 look to be even worse as capitalism, desperate to shed over-valued assets, descends into the abyss.

Look at it this way: after the Crash of ‘29 and the launch of the New Deal, it took some six years to engineer the outbreak of WWII, the surefire way of literally burning up surplus capital in awesome quantities.

And if history has any lessons for us, some equivalent global conflagration is now in order. However, is this possible under these new circumstances and over what timescale can such a capitalist catastrophe be engineered?

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High Culture — Low Values By William Bowles

11 July 2008

I was raised in a working class family. My father was a full-time trade union official for the Musicians Union and my mother, before she became a full-time ‘housewife’, had been a chorus girl working in pantomime and a member of the Tiller Girls (the Brit version of The Rockettes) and during WWII she worked in a factory making bomb sights at Fry’s Diecasting where she campaigned on behalf of the female workers for equal pay (in the face of opposition from the male-run union). Not exactly typical of working class life but definitely of it.

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The nature of the beast by William Bowles

22 November, 2007

Darling admits 25m records lost

Two computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.

The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25m people.

Alistair Darling, the chancellor, urged people to monitor their bank accounts. — BBC News Website 20/11/07[1]

I get the occasional letter asking me why I do this? I mean it doesn’t generate an income worth counting, it consumes an awful lot of time, but then time is the only thing I actually own, hence how I use it is an issue partly of choice and partly because it’s very difficult for me to ignore what I know and feel about events and my fellow humans and the planet that we inhabit. As Engels said, “Freedom is the recognition of necessity,” so I freely chose to do this.

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The Law of the Jungle – New Labour’s Version by William Bowles

10 May 2005

The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state.
The new liberal imperialism’, Robert Cooper

There could be no clearer example of the return to the age of imperialism than Cooper’s statement above, taken from an essay published in April 2002. Cooper, a former Foreign Office official was, and no doubt still is, one of Blair’s chief ideological advisors (Cooper was based in Afghanistan, then Iraq and then back in the EU as a military expert).

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