Yearly Archives: 2016

Labour expulsion debacle: Is this enough evidence to turn the tables on the culprits?


This treatment of Labour Party members is despicable.

There can be no doubt that anybody receiving a letter like this was excluded from the leadership election purely on an expectation of the way they were going to vote.

It indicates that the suspensions and expulsions were an attempt to rig the election by members of the NEC, in collusion with the party’s discredited general secretary, Iain McNicol.

This Writer would suggest that it is enough evidence to allow the rest of us to demand the removal of those who took part in the exercise – if they have not already been removed in NEC elections earlier in 2016.

If you are a Labour Party member, and you have had enough of this treatment, take this evidence to your branch party and then your constituency party, and write a motion to rid the NEC of the malcontents.

For months now, the SKWAWKBOX has covered the disenfranchisement of Labour members via arbitrary suspensions and even expulsions, as well as the dismissive, abusive and even incriminating way in which those have been lifted once the leadership election was over. The conclusion that they were done with the aim of preventing Corbyn supporters voting in that election is almost impossible to dismiss.

Now, 3 full months after the close of the election, you could be forgiven for thinking that the debacle could be consigned to the past, at least until the next contest – but you’d be wrong.

[Above] is a letter received in the last couple of days by a Liverpool Labour member who had been not merely suspended but completely expelled from the party – for 5 years, with no right of appeal.

You’d think that such an expulsion must mean some serious misdeed had taken place – or at least the reasonable belief in one. You’d be wrong about that, too:

No reasons for the exclusion decision, nor any explanation given for its reversal beyond a ‘review’. Basically, ‘oops, oh well’ – ‘apologies for any inconvenience’, with no recognition of the serious, fundamental wrong that such an arbitrary removal, not only of voting rights but of actual membership, represents in a party that claims to be democratic.

it perfectly conveys the dismissiveness with which the party bureaucracy is treating members – as does the rote wording, which is clearly a template that has been used for all members similarly affect. That such template letters are still being sent out 3 months after the event underlines the scale of the disenfranchisement.

It’s staggeringly presumptuous as well: “we’ve let you back in now, so get back to campaigning”, essentially.

Source: Labour expulsion debacle still continues | The SKWAWKBOX

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Labour members: If you want rid of McNicol, you need to read this | The SKWAWKBOX

The article proposes a model motion for changing the composition of Labour’s NEC.

This Writer already brought a similar motion to my own Constituency Labour Party, which voted it through decisively.

If you are a Labour member, I strongly urge you to visit the source article and support the model motion there.

If you’re one of the many tens of thousands of Labour members, supporters or affiliate members who were deprived of a vote in the leadership election and/or you were suspended or even expelled from the party as part of the latest purge, or if you simply care about having a democratic Labour party that gets behind its leader to fight the reckless and damaging Tories, McNicol’s name will be mud – or several rungs below that.

If you want him removed from his position for the indisputable disrepute he’s brought on Labour and the damage he has done to it and to the millions of people who need it to obstruct and eventually bring down this malevolent government, you face a significant hurdle:

His tenure depends on the 33 individuals who make up Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee).

Anyone who wishes to see McNicol booted out of a position they believe he has no business occupying therefore needs to set their sights on an even tougher – but not impossible – target: change the NEC.

Source: If you want rid of McNicol, you need to read this | The SKWAWKBOX

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The SKWAWKBOX launches official Facebook page | The SKWAWKBOX

Follow SKWAWKBOX on Facebook – it’s well worth your support!

In order to maximise the reach of the information it puts out, which for the most part you will not find in the mainstream media, the SKWAWKBOX has been advised by a helpful PR professional to launch an official Facebook page.

Most months, around 70% of the visitors to this blog – an average of some 120,000 a month since its relaunch in August – come via Facebook anyway, so it’s clearly an important avenue for getting information out to those who need to be aware of it.

The link is below – if you’re on Facebook, please like and share there and on Twitter. There are some major articles due out imminently that we want to reach the biggest possible audience and your help will be invaluable.

https://www.facebook.com/SKWAWKBOX/

Thanks for your help!

Source: The SKWAWKBOX launches official Facebook page | The SKWAWKBOX

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As the homeless death count grows, Tories must be delighted

A homeless man has been found dead near this theatre in Chatham [Image: Google Maps].

This is what they wanted. Tories across the UK must be delighted at the news that another homeless person has frozen to death.

The string of deaths taking place this winter is the logical conclusion to the Tory plan for the lives of the poor.

Currently, the plan has poor people losing unemployment benefits through sanctions, and losing sickness or disability benefits by failing to qualify according to the nonsense standards of a make-believe, tick-box test.

The plan also requires poor people to lose an important part of housing benefit for the heinous crime of having been allocated accommodation that has more bedrooms than they are deemed to need, by local authorities that did not have any choice due to Tory legislation that required the sale of council houses.

In this way, according to the Conservative plan, poor people can be thrown onto the street where they can be expected to freeze to death during the winter.

What a shame we live in a country where the vermin live in mansions.

A lonely homeless man ‘froze to death’ in a doorway yards from a theatre packed with families watching a New Year pantomine.

Police were called to Solomons Road in Chatham, Kent, in sub-zero temperatures at 3.20am yesterday when the man, known locally as Greg, was discovered.

He had been sleeping rough with a group of three friends near the Central Theatre where TV Dancing on Ice star and Olympic gold medallist Robin Cousins was starring in Jack and the Beanstalk.

The tragedy comes less than a week after another homeless man, Michael McCluskey, was found dead a few minutes’ walk away in Chatham High Street on Christmas Eve.

Source: Lonely homeless man ‘froze to death’ in doorway yards from theatre packed with families watching New Year pantomime

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Crony knighthood for company boss who gave £930,000 to Tories. Their 2017 price list now available

What your Tory donation can buy you: David Ord had been given exclusive access to cabinet ministers when David Cameron was at No 10 [Image: the Conservative Foundation].

Needless to say, the commentators on Twitter are having a field day.

Here’s Momentum Oxford, mocking the soon-to-be Sir David Ord by calling him Lord Ord (which sounds like an echo):

Or there’s this:

https://twitter.com/Theresa_Maybe/status/814984863552040960

But we shouldn’t allow the mockery to hide the facts:

The Conservative Party is still nearly £1 million better-off, thanks to this man, and he has still received a reward that diminishes every honour bestowed to ordinary people who have earned their titles through good works.

His donations allowed him exclusive access to cabinet minister during David Cameron’s time as prime minister, meaning he could lobby hard for whatever he, personally, wanted – in mockery of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 that, it was claimed, would prevent such access.

David Ord’s knighthood – and every other crony honour dished out by our corrupt Conservative excuse for a government – is an insult to the nation.

A company boss who has given nearly £1m to the Conservative party and long-serving MPs from across the Commons head the list of political figures who receive a knighthood in this year’s New Year honours list.

David Ord, who becomes a knight in the new year, is a co-owner of Bristol ports and a member of the Conservative party’s Leaders’ Group, who were granted exclusive access to cabinet ministers under David Cameron and George Osborne. He has given more than £930,000 to the party since 2013.

Ord, a major opponent of the Severn Barrage, was once embroiled in a donations row after it emerged in 2014 that Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie had failed to declare the port owner’s donations to her local party on time, despite making numerous parliamentary interventions about the project. She apologised and was cleared of wrongdoing by the parliamentary watchdog.

Jeremy Corbyn said the honours for Tory donors were an insult to those who had been rewarded for charitable work or achievements. “The Conservatives are making a mockery of our honours system,” the Labour leader’s spokesperson said. “Every crony appointment is an insult to the incredible people from right across Britain who are rewarded for the great contributions they make to our national life.”

Source: Company boss who gave £930,000 to Tory party receives knighthood | UK news | The Guardian

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Tony Blair won’t return to Parliament on the Labour benches. Happy New Year!

The man on the right is a representative of the ABC (Anybody But Corbyn) brigade. Does anybody seriously want a return to his kind of politics?

Tony Blair will not be rejoining the Parliamentary Labour Party in the near – or far – future, and it has nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn.

The simple fact is: He would be a liability to Labour’s electoral chances.

Time has moved on since 1997; New Labour had its day and haemorrhaged followers in the process – nearly five million voters abandoned the party during the 13 years it was in office.

The electorate got sick of the silly policy of “triangulation” – adopting the ideas of the party’s political opponents, most particularly the Tories – that pushed Labour to the right wing of politics alongside the Tories and left it with no policies of its own.

The late, great Tony Benn had an excellent analogy that sums up the situation. He said some politicians are like signposts. They point in the direction they want to travel and say, “This is the way we must go!” And they are constant. Others are like weathercocks; they lick their fingers, find out which direction the political winds are blowing and follow.

Triangulation demanded that all Labour politicians became weathercocks. As a result, the party ended up wasting time, chasing other people’s policies like (to stretch the analogy) a headless chicken.

This is not the time for Labour to be chasing other parties’ policies. They don’t have any that are worth taking, in any case.

This is the time for Labour to return to its roots and stand up for everybody in the UK; be the ‘One Nation’ party the Conservatives claimed to be but weren’t – and do it right.

There is no place for Tony Blair in such an organisation.

Tony Blair will not return to the House of Commons while Jeremy Corbyn is in charge of Labour, the party leader has said.

Mr Corbyn said “nuanced differences of opinion” would prevent the former prime minister’s return to Parliamentary politics inside Labour, which he led to three successive general election victories between 1997 and 2005.

This summer Mr Corbyn backed a motion declaring his predecessor guilty of “contempt” following the release of the Chilcot Report, while Mr Blair was later reported to be mulling a comeback because he considered the Islington North MP a “nutter”.

Source: Jeremy Corbyn says Tony Blair will not return to House of Commons while he leads Labour

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There is a toxic culture at the top of the NHS | Big Up the NHS

If you want to know why Jeremy Hunt’s failure-inducing changes to the NHS are being allowed to happen, read this – and the article from which it is taken.

The image is the risk register taken from the NHS performance report presented to the last NHS England board meeting in December 2016 – this month. As you can see, it mostly amber or red, meaning the NHS in England is in the deepest trouble.

Yet nothing is done, for the reasons outlined below.

If you live in England, are you really going to accept this catastrophic abrogation of responsibility?

All major NHS institutions from NHS England down are managed by a board consisting of Executive Directors (EDs) who do the actual work and Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) who are there to hold them to account.

The problem is that the EDs know full well that that rising demand, inadequate funding, a catastrophic manpower plan and health inflation will make it impossible to provide honest assurance to the board, but to say they cannot deliver a safe solution is professional suicide.

On the other hand NEDs cannot afford to hear that there is no safe solution. It means that they have failed and in all likelihood NHS Improvement will replace them.

This is where the rot sets in

All board members know that the real state of affairs but they are not allowed to admit it. Yet they cannot lie, or at least be caught lying, or they will certainly be for the chop. In board meeting EDs choose their words carefully, glossing over the negatives and emphasising the positives. They are overoptimistic about the likely success of recovery plans.

The NEDs don’t believe a word but it is not in their best interest to challenge too hard, especially when is no solution that will be acceptable to the government. Indeed they will often exert considerable pressure on EDs to get them to say what they need to hear. This is where NHS bullying culture originates. NEDs accept the assurance in the knowledge that when it all goes pear shaped they can say they were misled and will have an obvious scapegoat to blame.

So boards are made up of intelligent people who know the score but can’t see a solution, who dance round their handbags misleading each other, desperately hoping they will make it to retirement or the next job before it all falls apart.

This climate of deceit and bullying filters down to middle management and ultimately poisons the whole NHS.

We desperately need senior people in the NHS to admit what is happening. I hope this will start with clinical board members – Medical and Nursing Directors in particular. They have duty to protect patients under their respective professional codes of practice.

It is about time for them to grow a backbone, and to speak out – before it is too late.

Source: There is a toxic culture at the top of the NHS | Big Up the NHS

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Zero-hours workers ‘£1,000 worse off a year’ than regular employees

Sports Direct’s Derbyshire warehouse. Zero-hours contracts are widely used in the retail, leisure and care industries [Image: Joe Giddens/PA].

Those of us who read (and write) Vox Political knew zero-hours work was a profit-boosting dodge for employers. This is not news.

But it is entirely possible that the Resolution Foundation’s findings will come as a complete surprise to many of our friends, insulated from the real world as they are by a constant diet of Daily Mail and BBC news.

Ask them how they would like being cheated out of £1,000 a year, in a rip-off by their bosses.

Workers on zero-hours contracts lose an estimated £1,000 a year compared with employees doing the same work, according to a study that underscores the divide between people in precarious jobs and those who have a permanent contract.

The Resolution Foundation said all workers who find themselves without a permanent, full-time role lose out in terms of wages, but people hired on zero-hours contracts suffer the biggest financial punishment.

The thinktank said its research showed that workers on zero-hours contracts faced a “precarious pay penalty” compared with other workers doing similar jobs.

Source: Zero-hours workers ‘£1,000 worse off a year’ than employees | UK news | The Guardian

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Should the UK go to war with Israel because of New Zealand?

As Kanjin Tor puts it, this is awkward:

Our Queen is indeed New Zealand’s Head of State – but does that mean we must go to war with a country that declares war on that country?

Sadly, no.

The only binding legal agreement to support a Commonwealth country at war is with Canada – and that’s because both the UK and Canada are in Nato.

The UK has a defence agreement with Australia, also.

And the UK is in the Five Powers Defence Arrangement, along with Australia and New Zealand – but that is about defending Malaysia and Singapore.

However:

The UK has a history in which it helps defend or stabilise Commonwealth countries, and has even assisted countries that are not in the Commonwealth but are former colonies.

What’s interesting now is whether Benjamin Netanyahu follows through on his threat. What will the pro-Israel lobby do, knowing that the UK has a de facto obligation to stand up for New Zealand, if not a legally-binding one?

Israel could do its cause more harm than good.

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Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE – for the right reasons

Prof Scraton received the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in September [Image: Getty Images].

Good for him.

Acceptance would have meant complicity with those who have spent decades trying to cover up what happened at Hillsborough.

We haven’t seen the prosecutions that the evidence demands, and This Writer thinks Professor Scraton is right to refuse any honours until after these have taken place…

If they ever do.

Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

The author, who led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research team, said he could not receive an honour in protest “at those who remained unresponsive” to help families and survivors affected by the disaster.

He added: “Finally, I could not accept an honour tied in name to the ‘British Empire’.

“In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.”

Ninety-six people died following a crush at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.

In April, an inquest jury concluded the fans were unlawfully killed.

Source: Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE – BBC News

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