Homegrown Oligarchs and Regimes

Just looking through my Twitter feed this morning I was struck by the use of the words ‘regime’ and ‘oligarchy’. Both refer to a type of government but, in common usage, usually refer to an ‘authoritarian’ form of government, presumably one step below a ‘dictatorship’.

Most often they are used to describe governments that the writer doesn’t like such as, at the moment, Russia or Syria, but could just as easily be applied to our current government.

‘Regime’ acquires it’s negative connotation from it’s association with regimented or rigid and our government can definitely be seen as being rigid in it’s application of policies which have been proven to be detrimental to the majority of UK citizens.

This in turn leads to ‘oligarchy’ which is the rule of many by an elite few. Again it is obvious that our government’s actions are determined by the wishes of an elite few who really don’t care if the poor get poorer and people suffer just as long as they can live in ease and comfort.

Once it was the ‘ruling class’, the gentry and nobles, who were seen as the oppressors, but most of them are irrelevant now. The downtrodden masses of the French Revolution wouldn’t give most of them more than a passing glance.

The current determinant of power and elitism is Money. Anyone who manages to acquire a lot of money, by fair means or foul, can now expect to have a say in what happens to the rest of the population.

If one looks at the 2016 list of billionaires[1] there are only two Lords named and both of them received their peerages because of business and political interests and, of course, because they had money.

I’m sure that any number of billionaires, millionaires etc., are very nice people in general, but some do have an over-riding sense of entitlement to dictate how the country should be run, based on the amount of wealth they have acquired and to which they want to keep adding.

They are the oligarchs and in many ways they ‘own’ the Conservative regime, if not directly through monetary means, then by way of influence.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_by_net_worth

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It’s a Strange Old World…

… some days you read something, by a politician, a journalist or just a regular Tweeter or Facebooker, and it makes you feel like giving them a standing ovation or at least a hearty pat on the back.

Other days that same person will write something so bad that you have to wonder if they had their morning coffee spiked with a big dose of stupid!

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Labour’s New Look

Found this online today:

The Labour Party·

Meet Clive Lewis MP.”I’d like to think those kind of leadership skills that I discovered in the army you can bring into this position as a Shadow Defence Minister. What’s so important about defence is our armed services themselves… our sons, our daughters, our cousins, our nephews, our nieces.”
Clive Lewis MP, our Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, tells us his story.

One of the comments was this:
Bill Rollinson: I’m ex-Labour, stopped voting when Blair lied to us in 1998, reneged on his promise of a referendum. But you blame the Tories, when it was Blair who sent our troops into Iraq, ILLEGALLY! Now we’ve had Cameron do exactly the same in Libya and Syria. Why can’t you wake up and see, we are fighting for bankers! Saddam and Gaddafi stopped using the dollar to sell their oil. Assad doesn’t use the dollar and wont allow them to build a pipeline across his country. Brazil have been Regime Changed by US for the same thing, now all their oil is being placed in US Corporation hands? The BRICS have been excluded from TPP-TTIP because they wont use the dollar, they have gold backed currencies. The Bankers are scared of losing their influence with the dollar and US of losing their hegemony! WW2 was started the same way! ” When the Weimar Republic collapsed economically, it opened the door for the National Socialists to take power. Their first financial move was to issue their own state currency which was not borrowed from private central bankers. Freed from having to pay interest on the money in circulation, Germany blossomed and quickly began to rebuild its industry. The media called it “The German Miracle”. TIME magazine lionized Hitler for the amazing improvement in life for the German people and the explosion of German industry, and even named him TIME Magazine’s “Man Of The Year” in 1938″

I felt sorry that he was so disillusioned, so I posted this in answer:

I quite agree that the US and the bankers have deliberately destabilised the Middle East in an effort to gain control of resources there, such as gas and oil. The current trouble in Syria started with the battle of the pipelines – the US and it’s allies wanted it to follow one route, while Assad and Syria’s allies had already signed an agreement for it to take a different route. The US “encouraged” and armed the “rebels” specifically to try to get rid of Assad and negate the signed agreement.
We’ve been complicit in this and even now our FCO and the mainstream media are painting Assad as the “bad guy”. Admittedly he’s no angel, but a lot of what he’s supposed to have done has been engineered by others not sympathetic to his remaining as President.
Our “special relationship” with the US has meant that we have danced to their tune, played by the military with the bankers as backing, far too many times and been drawn into all sorts of ridiculous situations which are still coming back to bite us.
However, I don’t see this as a reason to sound off at Labour’s bright, new Shadow Ministers. From what I’ve seen they are doing a great job. Much better than the other lot who flounced off because they couldn’t get everything their own way, trying to drag the Party back to the “glory days” of Blairism.
The newly re-elected Labour leader and his Shadow Cabinet are putting out a new type of politics that appeals to ordinary people. Which is why so many of us have actually committed to joining the Party. Currently over half a million members. It won’t sit in the US’s pocket and it certainly won’t pander to the bankers. It’s all about real people, living real lives, trying to make ends meet and do a bit of living, instead of just existing or even giving up, which some do.
I’m not a professional blogger, or an activist or anything else. I’m just a retired nurse, with MS, bringing up my grandson on a pittance from the government and an NHS pension frozen at last year’s rate and I’ve finally found something I can believe in and find hope with. Why not join me, (re)join Labour. https://join.labour.org.uk/

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The Labour plotters are right about Jeremy Corbyn ;)

A little gem from The Independent:


The Labour plotters are right about Jeremy Corbyn

Mark Steel


Well, that was a highly successful three-month campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. There’s nothing like spending all summer on a project that proves worthwhile and repays the effort.

If Angela Eagle and Owen Smith were generals in a medieval army, they would report back to their commander: “We fired incessantly for three months and have brought such damage to our opponent’s army they now have 100,000 more soldiers than when we started, sir. And I’m not sure how, but although we’re fighting in Belgium, we seem to have given them Wales.”

Corbyn should ask them to do it every year; by 2025 he’d be crowned King of Europe.

Even more impressive was the way the plotters all agreed, after the result, that “this shows the lessons Jeremy needs to learn, and he has to reach out”.

Next they’ll ask Owen Smith to fight Tyson Fury, and as Owen is dragged away by paramedics, Stephen Kinnock will announce: “This shows the lessons Tyson has to learn. From now on he needs to look more skinny and wear glasses and reach out if he knows what’s good for him”.

This is an exciting development in democracy, that the side who won the least number of votes decides what the lessons are that have to be learned. Maybe this is how the anti-Corbyn section of Labour hopes to govern after a general election. They’ll say to the Tories: “As you won a majority of 190, you have to learn to reach out and fill your cabinet with me and my mates”.

Even so, the plotters made an important point: that Corbyn must reach out to those who already tried to unite the party by calling him a moronic pitiful unelectable pile of steaming goat sick for the last year.

Instead of being divisive, as he was last time by offering them jobs in the shadow Cabinet from which they resigned, he should let them pick their own jobs, and if they don’t fancy doing them one day, let them bring in games.

All the plotters agreed on the need for unity, and many of them displayed that straight away by not turning up to Corbyn’s speech. But Corbyn himself ruined the unity by turning up to it himself, rather than uniting with his colleagues by saying he couldn’t be bothered to say anything so he was popping down the pub.

Some MPs will soon resume their commitment to unity by insisting Corbyn is hopeless, on every TV station, one by one through the news channels, the cartoon channels and the GOD channels. Then on a porn channel, John Mann will knock on a door to say: “Hope you’ll be voting Labour in the council by-election”. But a woman in rubber will reply: “I certainly won’t be voting for you”, so he’ll say: “I suppose that’s because we’ve been very, very bad and chosen an unelectable leader”, then lay down and scream: “We’ve been so irresponsible by saying we’ll renationalise the Royal Mail!” while getting thrashed on the arse with an egg whisk.

Others will prove their loyalty as they did before, by texting helpful snippets of information to journalists from meetings, such as: “OMG! Apparently Corbyn wants to abolish the army and replace it with a salad”.

The other demand from the side celebrating its achievement of getting fewer votes than someone they say is unelectable is there can be no threats of deselection. There should be no half measures with this; if Jess Phillips announces: “I’d rather vote for Donald Trump than Corbyn, that’s why I broke into his house and poisoned his fish”, that’s her right as a loyal party member and any talk of deselection would be divisive.

The next issue Corbyn must address now he’s been humbled by winning the election is the problem of all these new members. For example, an investigation into Liverpool Riverside complains there has been “an explosion in membership” which now “meets several times a month”.

That sounds sinister, because when has there ever been any need to do two things in a month?

And what are they all doing, joining like that? No wonder proper Labour members are suspicious. They should have to pass a test, clambering across an assault course, or swimming through piranhas.

As any business leader will confirm, there’s nothing more damaging to an enterprise than an explosion in people demanding your product. This is why Bill Gates always insists, when a new version of Microsoft Windows comes out, that anyone who asks for one is told they can’t have it as they’re almost certainly a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party.

One MP grumbled: “It’s all right these new people joining, but will they go knocking on doors at the election?” We can’t know the answer to that, which is why the best way to ensure they’re enthusiastic enough to knock on doors is to tell them they’re all infiltrating scum and they can sod off somewhere else with their several meetings a month.

If they still join, they should have to prove their loyalty by not only knocking on doors, but when someone answers, say: “Our leader’s unelectable so I don’t know why I’m bothering”.

But most importantly, not one of the plotters has fallen into the trap of accepting they may have made the odd mistake, and perhaps shouldn’t have all resigned to get rid of their elected leader, or whined too many people have joined their party, or gone to court to ban their own voters, or insisted people supported Corbyn because they’d had their arm twisted by Trotskyists, because it’s obviously Corbyn that needs to learn the lessons from the result.

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Guiding Light or the Grey Rebels?

My main problem with the current situation is how those who disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership went about the business of trying to change things.

Instead of picking one or more representatives who would declare their candidacy and trigger an election in the usual way, they tried to force the issue, very publicly.
In doing so they made the Labour Party look ridiculous. They also showed complete contempt for the judgement and wishes of those who had elected Jeremy Corbyn the previous year and, as has been shown by CLP nominations, contempt even for members of their own constituencies.

Their main grievances seem to centre around a culture of ‘bunker’ mentality with a lack of communication and cooperation. I can see that this would create a difficult situation but also see that there is probably a lot of projection going on.

It was obvious from the outset that Jeremy Corbyn’s more left looking stance would not be popular with MPs who had grown accustomed to the, in my opinion, uninspiring, middle of the road approach of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. (Ed Miliband was a complete surprise given that his father was Ralph (Aldophe) Miliband, a dedicated Marxist).

What they were unable to see was that the Party’s popularity with the British public had been declining steadily since 2001. The claim that all parties were as bad as each other was commonplace. Many people became disengaged from politics feeling that whoever they voted for it wouldn’t really make much difference to their lives. So they didn’t bother, they just accepted that life was a series of disappointing struggles followed by becoming resigned to the situation and ceasing to hope for anything better.

In September 2015 the division between the PLP and the majority of the members of the Party became glaringly obvious. While the PLP were still clinging to the belief that they could find another Blair to take them back into power, the electorate had suffered more and more from the austerity being imposed on them and were looking for something or someone completely different. Someone who could inspire them to hope that politics wasn’t just about expecting more of the same. They didn’t want another Blair they wanted radical change which would put the largest demographic i.e. the approximately 60%* of the population with an income under £30k, back in charge of their own destiny.

Those in the Labour Party chose Jeremy Corbyn as the voice of change. It’s no coincidence that his voting share was almost 60%, the thousands that voted for him were representative of the UK as a whole. Pretty much the best sampling any pollster could wish for.

The EU referendum was the next test. Many were disappointed that the Labour Party opted for Remain. Not because of the immigration issue as you would think if you believed the moral panic generated by mainstream media, but because the EU represented more austerity, more loss of self-determination, more loss of self respect.

Jeremy tried gamely to keep the message on track, trying to make people see that it was the Tories who were using the EU as an excuse for their own bad policies and that we should try to change the game from within, but even he was defeated in the end when Juncker declared that no more ‘reform’ was possible, that Cameron had got all he was going to get. Which was very little to be fair. Cameron knew this, kept it to himself and played the whole nation. None of it was anything near what was needed, none of it was backed by any guarantees and all of it is now off the table following the vote to leave.

To use that as a pretext for trying to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader was the lowest of the low. The rebel MPs hadn’t wanted him from day one and the rebel frontbenchers took their jobs under false pretences. They had been given their briefings and told to run with them. To come back saying they had no support, were denied meetings, that their leader was inaccessible just shows their weakness and that they were being deliberately obstructive.

Owen Smith wanting recognition for going up against Ian Duncan Smith, as he said last night at the Hustings, is a perfect example. Why should he need extra kudos for just doing the job he was given? The rebels had their jobs, they are grown adults who volunteered to serve their constituents and the country, could they not just do their jobs without needing constant reassurance from the leadership team who had their own job to do? Of course they could, but they chose not to do so, continually demanding attention and making things as difficult as possible for the leadership team. I can understand the ‘bunker’ stance in such a case. Just wanting them to get on with their work, leaving the leaders to get on with theirs. I used to feel that way when my children prevaricated about doing their chores because they thought if they harassed me enough I would give into their demands to do something else.

The fact that they deliberately and consciously rejected these very responsible positions does not speak in their favour either. Why would any true Labour member give up the opportunity of making a difference in the lives of their constituents and the country as a whole. Why would they turn their backs on the very people who elected them just to make a point? Well we know from various interviews and tweets that a number believe that they alone should be able to choose their leader, just as they did back in the last century before the rules were changed to include the wishes of the people they represented. Combine that with their absurd belief that they need another middle of the road leader to regain power and we have the answer to this mess. They are out of touch with the needs of those they are supposed to represent. They are putting their own personal preferences before the needs of the country.

The British electorate, in all parties, have woken up. They don’t want more of the same policies which have lead to the present state of greyness throughout, they want a guiding light. That guiding light for the Labour Party is currently Jeremy Corbyn. At some point he will pass on the responsibility to someone else, but that time is not now. We need him first to show the way because he has the courage of his convictions and is true in his belief that there is a better way, we do not need someone who will sit down in the middle of the road once elected and wait for the greyness to overtake everything again.
*A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment http://soc.sagepub.com/content/47/2/219.full

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Labour Party History & A Bit Of Deja-vu?

The current situation in the Labour Party reminds me of what happened in 1980-83, especially with people posting pictures of the huge rallies which Michael Foot used to have, with dire warnings about how it all went wrong for him.

Foot in the park Foot & CND

Michael Foot took over, in 1980, from James Callaghan who resigned having lost a vote of no confidence. When he in turn resigned, in 1983, he was followed by Neil Kinnock. All three were beaten by the Conservative Margaret Thatcher in General Elections. Callaghan in 1979, Foot in 1983 and Kinnock in 1987. Kinnock, unlike his predecessors, didn’t resign after losing the General Election, he continued on but lost again in 1992 to John Major.

Foot’s leadership of the Labour Party, and bid to become PM, failed, partly due to division in the Party* and partly due to receiving terrible Press. He was consistently portrayed as unelectable, unrealistic, shabby, awkward and politically extreme i.e. too far to the Left – sound familiar?
His supporters were branded as ‘Trots’, entryists, thugs, militants, hard left and sandal-wearing peaceniks, all the things we are hearing again now.

At that time there was no internet so people relied entirely on what they were told on television and in the newspapers.
Politics was also fairly polarised then, almost a two party system with the Liberals fading and the newer parties having relatively low numbers. (My favourite of these was the Monster Raving Looney Party with Screaming Lord Sutch)

However, the political system is very different now, more Parties, better communications via social media and, most importantly, the British people have finally woken up to the fact that not all politicians are the same, there is an alternative to the rubbish they have had to put up with for years and they have found their voice. This voice is solidly behind Jeremy Corbyn and his allies. Hopefully, it will keep cheering them on and will be particularly loud on the day he walks through the door of No.10.

* some MPs didn’t want either Michael Foot or Dennis Healey, didn’t like how the Leader was elected, because it was no longer just the decision of the PLP and didn’t like Foot’s policies, such as getting rid of all nuclear weapons. They split from Labour and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which had a few of years of steadily declining fortune, then became part of what evolved into the LibDems. There was another Owen mixed up in that, David Owen, who led the SDP for four years until 1987, then resigned when they merged with the Liberals to become the Social and Liberal Democrats.

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We don’t want to go back… we have always looked to the future.

One of the things I’ve noticed, as part of the campaigning for the referendum, is the accusation that a lot of us older voters want to go back to some fantasised Utopia that supposedly existed before we joined the EU.

They accuse us of wanting to drag the UK back into the last century with all our talk of how it was before, when in reality all we are trying to do is point out that a lot of what they are telling us the EU had to ‘force’ us to do, was already beginning to happen.

A lot of younger people are really quite fuzzy on the details of how life was ‘back then’ but it’s not entirely their fault. The teaching of modern history often seems to stop short at the end of the Second World War. Films and television programmes aren’t much better at dispelling the myths either, seeming to focus either on upper class frolics or the drudgery of the working classes.

Of course we didn’t have the internet then for instant communication and had to rely on newspapers and televised news for much of our information, so perhaps the great strides forward were less well known. Even the sixties are best known for mods and rockers, the Beatles, the mini skirt and teenagers getting out of control.

However, the British people did fight for progress, not just in two world wars, but in all areas of life. If you consider the amazing progress we had made from Victorian slum living to 425,000 houses built for ordinary people in 1968 alone.

In 1918, for the first time, women over 30 were allowed to vote in elections, then in 1928 all women over 21 were allowed to vote. In 1970 that age was dropped to 18 for all voters.

We went from expecting children to work at all sorts of menial tasks from a very young age to wanting them to remain in education until aged 16 (1972).

We progressed in many areas including equal rights for men and women, decriminalisation of homosexuality, clean air act, abolition of the death penalty, workers rights on pay, conditions and holidays, unions, the National Health Service and many others, all before we were signed up for the ‘Common Market’ by Ted Heath in 1973.

The ‘Common Market’, by the way, was sold to us as just that, a means to help our industry and farming trade more easily with European countries. We weren’t made aware until much later that this involved stockpiling things like milk and butter in order to keep prices artificially high or that it would involve protectionist policies which meant that those doing their job well would need to subsidise those doing badly and all sorts of other policies which would deny us the right to trade directly with countries outside the EU, even those in our own Commonwealth.

My point is, that we weren’t ‘forced’ to any of these advancements in our daily lives. We, the British people, demanded that it happen and would have continued to demand advances and improvements even without joining the EU. We would probably have arrived at all the niceties of modern life without the EU holding our hand, plus we would have retained our unrestricted access to commerce and scientific development with the wider world.

In a number of areas we actually have higher standards, better performances and better quality public services and institutions than the rest of Europe. We have demanded better than even the EU wants us to have. Which is why we are such an attractive place to come to live and work and why being in the EU often places us at a disadvantage. Most recently affecting our ports, which are for the most part privately owned and doing very well. The EU have voted to put in place regulations to standardise activity across all EU ports, a lot of which, in other parts, are state owned or subsidised. This will limit the potential for innovation and growth, scare off private investors and reduce all ports to a state of stagnant mediocrity.

This is not the future I want for our country. I want us to be able to continue going forward using the great minds, and the great hearts, that we already have here, to interact with the rest of the world as ourselves and not just as part of a bloc which is becoming even more restrictive than the old USSR used to be. The EU’s concept of a level playing field, expecting the competent and innovative to prop up and pay for the incompetent and traditionalist, is almost Marxist.

So for those that say we are old fogeys trapped in the past I just want to say that we look at our past to give us inspiration and the knowledge that we are capable of great things, not on our own, but as part of something more dynamic and forward looking than the EU. We don’t want to go back, we just want to be able to move forward under our own steam.

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