Tag Archives: gas

New evidence has cast doubt on Theresa May’s Syria claims *WHILE SHE WAS MAKING THEM*

Theresa May: Protesting too much?

If Theresa May thinks we’ll swallow unquestioningly her “statement” on the air strikes she ordered last Friday, she must think we were all born yesterday.

We all know the justification by now, right? The claim is that the town of Douma, in Syria, was attacked by government forces using chemical weapons. These have been banned across the world for a century and the US, UK and France launched air strikes against facilities believed to be involved in the manufacture of chemical weapons for humanitarian reasons – to discourage any further use of such weapons. The strikes were said to be tightly targeted, focused on this single objective.

That was the substance of Mrs May’s speech. But it has been seriously undermined already.

She said: “On Saturday 7 April, up to 75 people, including young children, were killed in a horrific attack in Douma, with as many as 500 further casualties. All indications are that this was a chemical weapons attack. UK medical and scientific experts have analysed open-source reports [she means social media posts], images and video footage from the incident and concluded that the victims were exposed to a toxic chemical. That is corroborated by first-hand accounts from NGOs and aid workers, while the World Health Organisation received reports that hundreds of patients arrived at Syrian health facilities on Saturday night with ‘signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’.”

But as she was participating in a Parliamentary debate on the air strikes, journalist Robert Fisk published a claim that the casualties in the Douma attack were treated for dust inhalation – and not for a chemical gas attack. Listen:

You can also read the Independent article.

“We needed to intervene rapidly to alleviate further indiscriminate humanitarian suffering,” said Mrs May. “It was not just morally right but legally right to take military action, together with our closest allies.

“We have published the legal basis for this action. It required three conditions to be met. First, there must be convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief. Secondly, it must be objectively clear that there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved. Thirdly, the proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering, and must be strictly limited in time and in scope to this aim.”

We have already seen that claims of convincing evidence may have been exaggerated – and in any case, claims that action on a humanitarian basis is legal have been disputed. As the use of chemical weapons is now in doubt, the second condition is also unmet – people are still being killed in Syria. Thirdly – well, we’ll come to that.

“This was a limited, targeted and effective strike that would significantly degrade Syrian chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, and with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.

“As a result, the co-ordinated actions of the US, UK and France were successfully and specifically targeted at three sites. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said at the weekend, these were not “empty buildings”. The first was the Barzeh branch of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre in northern Damascus. This was a centre for the research and development of Syria’s chemical and biological programme. It was hit by 57 American TLAMs and 19 American JASSMs.”

In that case, if chemical weapons were present – or just the ingredients for them – they would have been spread out over a wide area by the explosions. There has been no report of any such contamination.

Quite the opposite, it seems. I accept that the link runs to a report by Russia Today, so perhaps you’d prefer a report by CBS News – the US media outlet. Both make it clear that reporters saw no evidence of harmful chemicals – just anti-venom for snakebites (as reported on This Site previously). We now see that Barzeh was the planned base for the OPCW inspectors, who would have taken up residence there on April 15. Well, it’s rubble now. Who benefits from that?

“The second site was the Him Shinsar chemical weapons bunkers, 15 miles west of the city of Homs, which contained both a chemical weapons equipment and storage facility and an important command post. These were successfully hit by seven French SCALP cruise missiles.

“The third site was the Him Shinsar chemical weapons storage site and former missile base, which is now a military facility. This was assessed to be a location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment, whose destruction would degrade Syria’s ability to deliver sarin in the future. This was hit by nine US TLAMs, five naval and two SCALP cruise missiles from France and eight Storm Shadow missiles launched by our four RAF Tornado GR4s. Very careful scientific analysis was used to determine where best to target these missiles to maximise the destruction of stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks to the surrounding area. The facility that we targeted is located some distance from any known population centres, reducing yet further any such risk of civilian casualties.”

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, in his response to the statement, pointed out that OPCW inspectors had given both Barzeh and the Him Shinsar facilities a clean bill of health in November 2017.

He said: “In relation to the air strikes against the Barzeh and Him Shinsar facilities, the Prime Minister will be aware that the OPCW carried out inspections on both those facilities in 2017 and concluded that ‘the inspection team did not observe any activities inconsistent with obligations’ under the chemical weapons convention.”

Mention of the OPCW brings us to further questions about the intelligence Mrs May has used:

The new questions are:

  1. If we knew where [Syrian president Bashar al] Assad was stashing his chemical weapons, why did we wait for him to use them again?
  2. If we just bombed chemical weapons factories in Syria, why was the existence of these factories never reported before – to the UN, the OPCW or the public?
  3. Why did the bombing commence before the OPCW had concluded their chemical weapons investigation?

In this context, it was bizarre to hear Mrs May saying that she supports the OPCW investigation, after having blown up the investigators’ base: “”e support strongly the work of the OPCW fact-finding mission that is currently in Damascus.”

She went on to say that she decided to act ahead of any results because the OPCW would not be able to attach blame, due to a Russian veto on a UN resolution to establish such a mechanism. She said: “Even if the OPCW team is able to visit Douma to gather information to make that assessment… it cannot attribute responsibility.

She continued: “Even if we had the OPCW’s findings and a mechanism to attribute, for as long as Russia continued to veto the UN Security Council would still not be able to act.”

So Mrs May hid evidence that Syria was developing chemical weapons from the OPCW, supported a military operation that bombed the OPCW’s planned base of operations, and would have taken part in air strikes no matter what report the OPCW investigators would have given. That doesn’t seem very supportive to me! 

Mrs May denied acting on the orders of US President Donald Trump: “It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used, for we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised—within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere.”

“On the streets of the UK or elsewhere”. She had to mention the alleged chemical attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, you see. It is as though that incident was staged in order to soften up the British public to the idea of military action on the pretext of preventing the use of such weaponry. Isn’t it?

Mrs May later added: “Last Thursday’s report from the OPCW has confirmed our findings that it was indeed a Novichok in Salisbury… While of a much lower order of magnitude, the use of a nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury is part of a pattern of disregard for the global norms that prohibit the use of chemical weapons.”

The problem is, the lab that tested the Salisbury substance for the OPCW found that it was BZ – a chemical agent apparently used by the UK and the US.

And there is no evidence of chemical weapons at Barzeh, and both that facility and those at Him Shinsar were cleared by the OPCW five months ago.

Without actual evidence of chemical weapons, it is impossible for Mrs May to justify these activities. And she has no evidence.

Mrs May continued: “Why did we not recall Parliament? The speed with which we acted was essential in co-operating with our partners to alleviate further humanitarian suffering and to maintain the vital security of our operations.”

We have established that it wasn’t. Blowing up facilities that have nothing to do with chemical weapons will not alleviate humanitarian suffering (actually, what does that even mean? She was trying to say she was acting on humanitarian principles but mangled the English language instead).

“This was a limited, targeted strike on a legal basis that has been used before.”

And falsely used in this instance.

“And it was a decision that required the evaluation of intelligence and information, much of which was of a nature that could not be shared with Parliament.”

But it could have been shared with other members of the Privy Council, like Mr Corbyn. Clearly it was not, which casts it into doubt.

The best that can be said of Mrs May’s statement is that it is unconvincing.

We have an eyewitness account that the alleged victims of a chemical attack in Douma were in fact under treatment for dust inhalation, there is no evidence that chemical weapons were manufactured or stored at the sites the UK, US and France bombed last weekend (and claims that a Russian chemical weapon was used on the Skripals have been contradicted), so there was no justification for the military action.

On the other hand, Mrs May’s keenness to ascribe the Salisbury poisoning to Russia without evidence, her support for a military adventure that stymied OPCW inspectors, her withholding of evidence – or inability to supply it – from the same organisation – all these elements seem very suspicious indeed.

As this situation is ongoing, further information is likely to become available and I stand ready to be corrected if Mrs May is vindicated.

At the moment, she seems a weak leader, desperately trying to manufacture some popularity – and failing.


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May’s hypocrisy: Use of UK-sold chemical weapons in Syria gives her an opportunity for mass murder

This is classic ‘cycle of hate’ behaviour.

The UK sold several chemical weapons ingredients to Syria, back in 2012/13 – with explicit approval from then-prime minister David Cameron.

It followed the sale of huge amounts of other ingredients in the 1980s.

It seems those ingredients have been turned into weapons and used on the people of Douma, in Syria.

Now the UK government, in an act of enormous hypocrisy, wants to join Donald Trump’s USA in a reprisal bombing against that country.

Mrs May said the international community needed to uphold the worldwide ban on chemical weapons – which is outrageous, considering our government’s effort to undermine it.

As UK citizens, we can only be nauseated by Mrs May’s behaviour.

This Site warned that we would be in exactly this situation five years ago.

I wrote: “In January 2012, 10 months after violence erupted in Syria, [then-business secretary] Vince Cable licensed the exporting of potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to the Syrian government – both chemicals being ingredients of nerve gas.

“The chemicals were sold under licences that specified they should be used for making aluminium structures like window frames – but the government has refused to identify the licence holders. Dodgy!

“This means that, in the same way as the United States with Iraq, it is entirely possible that the [Conservative/Liberal Democrat] Coalition government wanted British troops to attack Syria in response to a situation that the Coalition government created!”

The fly in current UK prime minister Theresa May’s ointment at the moment is Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has blocked US-led calls for an investigation into the chemical attack. Russia’s own proposal did not gain enough votes.

The US proposal would have launched an independent investigation that would have assigned blame to a perpetrator. The Russians wanted a UN-led investigation, but with the results reviewed by Russia for “acceptance” before being publicised.

Both proposals were flawed. Russia’s demand for the ability to censor the results of an investigation is unacceptable – but then, why should the US (and the UK) be permitted to assign blame solely to Syria for an attack in which they chemical weapons were used that were made from our products?

Boris Johnson, who is still (amazingly) clinging on to his role as the UK’s foreign secretary, has leapt in to offer his biased view:

Chemical attacks made possible by the actions of your government, Mr Johnson.

The latest information is that Donald Trump is planning to bomb Syria anyway. Russia seems unlikely to tolerate any such action.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a ceasefire and a political solution, rather than – as Susan Rees describes below, “bomb first, talk later”. He is the only leader who is making sense.

https://twitter.com/OWLowery/status/983755108013010951

And what good will more bombing achieve?

These words seem prophetic, in the light of Mr Trump’s latest bit of sabre-rattling:

So, a big win for Theresa May: Her government sold the ingredients of chemical weapons to Syria; those ingredients were used in an attack that gives us an opportunity to attack Syria; and if Jeremy Corbyn opposes such an attack, she can smear him as an unpatriotic peacenik.

And the only cost will be thousands of Syrian lives and the possibility of conflict with Russia – which is a nuclear superpower, let’s not forget!

As UK citizens, we can only be nauseated by Mrs May’s behaviour. Tory political decisions have created this situation and she is revelling in the opportunity to commit mass murder.


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Another Theresa May manifesto promise evaporates in a puff of hot air

It’s all about gas. While Theresa May is full of it, she has failed to fulfil a promise to cap energy prices – and now an energy company is hiking its bills.

According to The Independent: “British Gas will hike its prices by an average of 5.5 per cent next month, taking the price of its standard tariff to £1,161 for a typical dual fuel customer.

“The energy firm said the increase was due to rising wholesale and policy costs, and blamed government policy for putting more pressure on customers’ bills.”

The minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, was quoted as saying: “We are disappointed by British Gas’s announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to.

“This is why government is introducing a new price cap by this winter to guarantee that consumers are protected from poor value tariffs and further bring down the £1.4bn a year consumers have been overpaying the Big Six.”

Too little, too late!

If Mrs May had been serious about this, she would have imposed the cap immediately – before energy companies had a chance to give themselves pay rises which even the Tory government has said are “unjustified”.

Therefore, she isn’t.

And we all know it:

We all know what to do about it, too:

Right?


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‘Gas chavs’ WhatsApp chat WAS by Activate members


Remember this statement from Activate, the Tory version of Momentum?

You should; it only appeared on the organisation’s (yet-to-be-launched, allegedly) website a couple of days ago, and is still there at the time of writing.

Well, it’s a lie.

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/903650611509555200

So evidence is available to tie the abusive language to pro-Conservative campaigners.

According to Kerry-Anne Mendoza in The Canary, Activate membership director Fizarn Adris was in the WhatsApp chat – and had a Twitter account revealing a “hostile attitude” to poor and vulnerable people (“had” being the operative word – it has been all but cleaned out now).

And what are the mass media doing about all this?

They’re turning it into a story of abuse by left-wingers. Seriously:

No “allegedly” about it – I’d say that’s deliberately misleading the public.

Meanwhile, here’s a clip of the chap in charge of Activate, from 1987:


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BacktrActivate: Tory youth organisation dissolves into chaos

[Image: Thomas Stewart (@T_I_D_Stewart) on Twitter.]

There’s no other way to describe it: Activate, allegedly the Tory version of Momentum, is in chaos – with allegations of ‘Nazi chat’ on WhatsApp followed by a denial from organisers that they are even up and running, despite having launched on Twitter earlier this week.

What the blazes is going on?

Well, after the highly-parodied launch of Activate, earlier this week, it seems a certain right-wing blog – that’s correct, a right-wing blog – published details of a WhatsApp chat by group members, containing some highly objectionable statements:

Gassing chavs? Running medical experiments on them? That is not turning to a Nazi chat – it is Nazi language.

Greater control of media and television? More Nazi chat. As is introducing compulsory birth control on – guess who? – chavs. And what does one say about turning the Isle of Wight onto a “super prison” and “shooting peasants”?

Clearly someone at Activate HQ (if there is such a thing) saw what was going on and realised damage limitation was necessary. So the following statement appeared:

“Not officially launched” yet? Then why all the hullabaloo on Twitter? There’s a Facebook page, a website and a Twitter feed – all active… and a presence on WhatsApp, it seems.

“Activate is in no way, shape or form associated with the Conservative Party”? But what about this, from the Activate website:

We are committed to modern, open and member-driven politics in the Conservative Party, working to get Conservatives elected and ensuring that a Conservative government is in power.

Or indeed, their constitution, which declares that Activate members are “expected to be members of the Conservative Party” and membership is “not compatible with membership of any registered political party other than the Conservative Party“?

I ask merely for information.

“The ‘Whatsapp’ posts that are being connected to Activate by the media did not originate from Activate or any of our members.” Really? I wonder. Because someone came onto that WhatsApp chat and did this:

So it seems as though someone from Activate HQ (if it exists) has tried to be a voice of reason – but too late, because the chat has already turned up on the – and I stress this, right-wing – site mentioned in the last message.

Inevitably, Twitter has been having fun:

Some took an opportunity to remind us all about the recent media attack on Laura Pidcock, who said she would not treat Tories as friends:

https://twitter.com/PRHRoy/status/902927961829117952

But worse was to follow:

Perhaps they had a bad “felling” about their spelling?

Or – no. It had to be a hack, right?

https://twitter.com/ActivateBritain/status/903272243291095040

Riiiiiiight.

Some of the responses suggest that people did not take this claim seriously…

… especially as someone at Activate actually ReTweeted Russ Roberts’s reply:

https://twitter.com/TheSexiBoi/status/903284936672759808

And now, the final indignity: A rival Tory-supporting grassroots group has been set up, apparently by an estranged former member:

Our Conviction? It looks like a group suggesting the Tories should all be in jail.

And is it any better than Activate? Weeeeeell…

Keep your eyes on this one, folks – it can only get worse for the Conservatives.


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Michael Howard: Former Tory leader faces questions by serious fraud office

Doesn’t he look worried?

It seems some of our favourite former Conservative leaders’ chickens are coming home to roost. What have they been saying about Mr Heath lately?

The former leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Howard of Lympne, is to be questioned by the Serious Fraud Office over the coming days in relation to a criminal investigation into an oil explorer where he is chairman.

Last week the SFO searched the offices of Soma Oil & Gas after a whistleblower made allegations about the London-based company, believed to relate to the manner in which it obtained exploration and drilling rights in Somalia.

Source: Michael Howard: Former Tory leader faces questions by SFO over oil deal corruption claims – Crime – UK – The Independent

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Better late than never? Burnham’s call for fracking moratorium

Andy Burnham’s call for a moratorium on fracking may be welcomed in many areas, but it still makes him – and Labour – look like a follower rather than a leader.

Too many people will remember that Labour did not support a similar call for a moratorium in January, made by the Green Party and supported by the SNP (if This Writer recalls correctly – Labour was certainly hammered by SNP supporters afterwards).

Instead, Labour called on the Coalition Government to impose a series of regulations that effectively meant fracking would be delayed until after the general election – in the hope that the Tories and Liberal Democrats would be ousted and saner minds would prevail.

This blog supported that choice because it was the only way fracking in England would be halted in the short term; the moratorium plan would not have won support from Coalition MPs but the regulations did – from Tories and Lib Dems who feared reprisals from their constituents if they did not show some restraint.

But Labour did not win the general election – the Tories did – and now the fear is that fracking will go ahead unhindered.

In that context, is Burnham asking for too little, too late?

(Note: A huge amount of crude oil was discovered beneath the Surrey/Sussex border last October. One is moved to ask whether this huge find will be developed and how heavily it will inconvenience the Conservative voters who live above it.)

A moratorium on fracking should be imposed until stronger scientific evidence can show it is safe to drill for shale gas, Andy Burnham, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, is to say.

The former cabinet minister will become the most senior Westminster politician to warn that fracking could pose a danger to communities as licences are “handed out like confetti” on flimsy evidence.

The MP for the Greater Manchester seat of Leigh, who will outline his plans on Saturday at a leadership hustings organised by the Fabian Society, told the Guardian: “I was literally left open-mouthed two years ago when I realised there were about nine licences all over my constituency. Some of them are moving forward.

“These things just seem to be handed out like confetti. That made me really focus on the issue. In my area, we are riddled with mine shafts as a former mining area. Where is the evidence that it is safe to come and frack a place like this? No fracking should go ahead until we have much clearer evidence on the environmental impact.”

Source: Andy Burnham to call for moratorium on fracking | Environment | The Guardian

Take action against Tories’ harmful policies by hitting them in the wallet

westminsterfromwater

People across the country will be taking part in a different kind of protest – on the day of the state opening of Parliament.

May 27 will be the first National Switch Off Day, when thousands of people have already pledged to stop using gas and electricity, and stop shopping in non-local shops for 24 hours.

Organised by a varied group of campaigners, this will be the first in a series of multi-issue actions that will take place once a month. Reasons for taking part range from keeping the NHS public and tackling issues like overpriced parking in hospitals, to stopping benefit cuts, to issues affecting vulnerable people and their carers such as the cold weather benefits to the elderly, to keeping the Human Rights Act, to stopping fracking – and mostly that all members of the general public get a voice in matters that concern them.

Paul, a single parent with two sons, said: “Traditional protesting on the streets is fine but it doesn’t affect the government, banks or big corporations. It’s time to switch off and hurt them in the pocket. No electric. No gas. No spending money. Whatever your protest, let’s unite for one day a month and switch off.”

Brenda, an organiser of the action, added: “David Cameron: this country is unsettled. You are giving your MPs a wage increase, but what about the people? Low wages and queuing for food? For God’s sake, this is 2015 – not 1915!

“We need faith in our government and we haven’t had that for 53 years. I’ve voted in all elections, I’m 71, and the last one was nothing but a sham. I’m ashamed of them all. They are bringing this country to its knees.”

And Suzanne made clear: “Rather than being the action of sore losers who are disgruntled at a single election result, this is the culmination of more than five years’ building resentment towards a group of people who seem only to represent a minority of wealthy people in this country.”

With only 24 per cent of the electorate represented by the current government, organisers said it seems that the other 76 per cent may be keen to give up their home comforts for one day a month to show their displeasure, and hope that some kind of dialogue can be made between the government and the people who will be hit hardest by its cuts.

This is an important start.

We should also be building up a database of business interests held by Conservative donors and MPs, ensuring that they do not receive our business. Beyond that, we should also consider boycotting firms that receive government contracts.

Apathy doesn’t work. It would be madness to sit back and let them carry on – and paying them for what they’re doing.

Think about it. And please join the day of action. May 27 is Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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A simple plan to get Labour back on track

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

If the Labour Party is to regain the confidence it has lost, it needs to re-state its identity with a core message of purpose – one that not only encapsulates what Labour is about, but also what it opposes.

That is what was missing from Labour’s general election campaign, and is as much a reason for Ed Miliband’s defeat as the Conservative campaign, which was not based on objective facts but on political spin.

In a nutshell, it is time to remind the voters and the public that Labour is the enabling party. This creates a clear contrast with the Conservatives – the party of restriction.

So, for example, with the National Health Service, Labour should support a service available to everyonefree. That means no private involvement. With the Tory privatisation in full swing, funds are being restricted and so are services. The NHS is now a postcode lottery, with care allocated on the basis of profitability. That’s not good enough; the privateers must be told to jog on.

Education must also be available to everybody, up to the level each person can achieve (or wants to). Again, this means there should be no charge for state-provided services. A state school system has no place for privately-owned ‘academies’ or ‘free schools’. These are Tory devices; the private sector will, by its nature, restrict access in order to extract a profit. It also means no tuition fees for students in further/higher education.

Labour should be helping anyone who wants to start a business, by ensuring there are as few obstacles in the way as possible; it must be the enabling party. That means, for example, a graded taxation system, with lower business rates and taxes for start-ups, progressing to a higher rate for medium-sized enterprises, and a highest rate for multinationals – who should be taxed on all takings made in the UK; no excuses.

Another part of the enabling agenda must be ensuring that people can pay a minimum price for things we cannot live without: Accommodation, services, utilities.

There is now an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for many people – mostly because the Tories sold off so many council houses and did not replace them. This is why the Tories were able to impose the Bedroom Tax on so many innocent people – a restrictive idea, intended to push people out of some areas and into others; shifting Labour voters out of places the Tories didn’t think they should have to share with the riff-raff, you see – a gerrymandering tactic to make those constituencies easier to win in elections. The solution is simple: Build council houses again.

When the utility companies – gas, water and electricity suppliers – were privatised, we were all promised that household bills would be kept down by more efficient private-sector business models and private investment. That has not happened. Instead, consumers have been held to ransom by a small cabal of corporations who have been able to charge rip-off prices. Remember the electricity price scandal of 2013? Who told those firms to quit their restrictive practices and cut bills? Labour. The enabling party. The fear of a Labour government imposing new rules in the consumer’s favour helped hold the greedy private bosses in check for a while, but now we have a Conservative government. How long do you think it will be before prices soar? This Writer reckons they’ll take the first opportunity. Even now, after Labour managed to secure price cuts, the poorest families still have to choose between heating and eating during the winter (the phrase has been used so often it is now a modern cliché). This must not be allowed to continue and the solution is clear: Re-nationalise. There are even two bonus factors in such a plan: Firstly, as many of these utilities are owned – or part-owned – by firms or governments based abroad, it will ensure that our bills pay people in the UK rather than boosting foreign economies at the expense of our own and, secondly, takings will help the UK Treasury balance the books.

There is at least one other privatised service that could also be re-nationalised: The railway system. Prices have rocketed while government subsidies have also soared, since the system was turned over to private hands in the early 1990s. This is madness; it is a huge drain on resources and must not be allowed to continue. We should re-nationalise and follow the example of Northern Ireland, where the service was never privatised and where any profit is ploughed into improvements, not profit.

Then there is our grocery bill, which keeps escalating. This is a particularly thorny subject as, for example, farmers are being ripped off by supermarkets over the price of milk, but the same corporations will happily send apples to the other side of the world and back, just to have them polished. It’s time to straighten out that system as well – although it will take a while.

So this is how Labour should frame its arguments from now on: Labour enables; the Tories restrict.

It should be stressed that the themes raised above are just starting-points which occurred to This Writer while considering the issue last night. The above is not an exhaustive list. Undoubtedly there are many more.

Your comments are invited.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Where did Labour go wrong? Let us count the ways…

The newest right-wing party: This Gary Baker cartoon appeared after Ed Miliband's 'One Nation' speech last year, but let's adopt it to illustrate the fact that successive Labour leaders, from Blair to Brown to Miliband, have steered the party ever-further away from its support base until, with Miliband's speech this week, it has become a pale shadow of the Conservative Party it claims to oppose, leaving the majority of the UK's population with nobody to speak for them.

This Gary Baker cartoon illustrates the belief that successive Labour leaders, from Blair to Brown to Miliband, have steered the party ever-further away from its support base until it became a pale shadow of the Conservative Party it claims to oppose, leaving the majority of the UK’s population with nobody to speak for them.

Watching a drama on DVD yesterday evening (yes, there is more to life than Vox Political), Yr Obdt Srvt was impressed by the very old idea of the partners in a married couple supporting each other – that behind every great man is a great woman, and vice versa.

It occurred to This Writer that perhaps the biggest problem with the Labour Party’s campaign – not just for the May election but over the last five years – has been the leadership’s insistent refusal to support the requirements of its grassroots campaigners.

So, for example, on the economy: We all know for a fact that the big crash of 2008 or thereabouts was caused by the profligacy of bankers, and not by any overspending on the part of the Labour government of the time. Economists say it, blogs like VP say it, and we all have the evidence to support the claim. So why the blazes didn’t the Labour Party say it? Instead they let the Conservative Party walk all over us with their speeches about “The mess that Labour left us”.

On austerity: We all know that fiscal austerity will never achieve the economic boom that George Osborne claimed for it. If you take money out of the economy, there is less money – not more. What the UK needed in 2010 was a programme of investment in creating jobs with decent wages for the people who make the economy work – ordinary people, not bankers, fatcat business executives and MPs. The money would then have trickled up through the economy, creating extra value as it went. Quantitative easing could have done some good if it had been used properly, but after the Bank of England created the new money it passed the cash to other banks, rather than putting it anywhere useful. The Conservative Party said austerity was the only way forward: “There is no alternative”. Why did Labour agree? Party bigwigs might protest that Labour’s austerity was less, but the simple fact is that the UK was never in any danger of bankruptcy and there was no need to balance the books in a hurry. There’s still no need for it. Austerity was just a way of taking money from those of us who need it and giving it to those who don’t.

On the national debt: The Tories have hammered home a message that their policies are cutting the national deficit and paying down the national debt. That message is a lie. The national debt has doubled since the Conservatives took over. Labour hardly mentioned that.

On benefits: Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ have cut a murderous swathe through the sick and the poor, with more than 10,000 deaths recorded in 11 months during 2011, among ESA claimants alone. Many have chosen to attack Labour for introducing ESA in the first place, and for employing Atos to carry out the brutal and nonsensical Work Capability Assessments, based on a bastardised version of the unproven ‘biopsychosocial’ model, that ruled so many people ineligible for a benefit they had funded throughout their working lives. Labour should have promised to scrap ESA and the Work Capability Assessment in favour of an alternative – possibly even a rational – system. But Labour continued to support the Work Capability Assessment, earning the hatred of the sick and disabled. Why? According to Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, it was because the party leadership was afraid of provoking the right-wing press. Well done, Labour! As a result, instead of tearing into Labour like rabid attack dogs, the right-wing media… tore into Labour like rabid attack dogs. This pitifully weak attitude made no difference at all and Labour would have earned more votes by promising to ditch a policy it should never have adopted.

On education: This Writer attended a hustings on education, here in Brecon and Radnorshire. It was attended by many local teachers and it was clear that they all wanted to hear someone say they would clear away the layers of bureaucracy and constant interference that interfere with their jobs, and allow them to get on with teaching our youngsters. Nobody said anything of the kind, including the Labour candidate. Meanwhile, Michael Gove’s pet project – the very expensive ‘Free Schools’, continues unabated, and state-owned schools continue to be turned into privately-run ‘academies’, with all their assets turned over to private companies for free. And what about the debate over what should be taught in our schools and colleges? With employers now merrily shirking any training responsibilities and taking on foreign workers because they know what to do, can our educational institutions not take up the slack and provide that training for British people, so we don’t need to import as many people from abroad?

On immigration and the European Union: Right wingers including Tories and Kippers (members and supporters of UKIP) have made many claims that immigrants are a threat to the UK and to our way of life. In fact, migrant workers are a net benefit to the country, contributing far more to the UK Treasury in taxes than they ever claim in benefits. Ah, but they’re occupying houses that could be taken by British people; they use our NHS and their children take up places in our schools – and it’s all Labour’s fault because Labour signed the treaty that let them in, according to the right-wing critics. In fact, the Conservative Party signed that treaty, in the early 1970s. Free movement between European Union countries has always been a condition of membership and was never a problem when the EU consisted of nations that were on a relatively equal economic standing. The problem arose when the poorer eastern European countries were admitted to the union and people from those countries took advantage of the rule to seek a better life in the more affluent West. The simple fact is that those nations should not have been allowed full Union membership until their economies had grown enough that people would not want to move here – that was a matter that EU officials failed to address, not the UK government. Labour’s response was to fall in line with the right-wingers and promise harsh immigration controls. People naturally asked why they should vote Labour if Labour was no different from the nasty Tories.

On the NHS: Labour promised to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, ending the creeping privatisation of the NHS – and then said that it would limit the profits of private firms working in the NHS. This is contradictory and confusing. People wanted to end NHS privatisation, not let it go on with limited profits!

On housing: Labour promised an increased home-building programme, but what people need right now are council houses – cheaply-rentable properties run on a not-for-profit basis by local authorities. They need this because there is an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for individuals and families of varying sizes, due to the Conservative ‘Right to Buy’ policies that started in the 1980s. Council houses were sold off to their tenants, who in turn sold them to private landlords, who rented them out for more money than councils ever demanded. Labour never offered to build council houses again. Instead, we were promised more expensive alternatives from the private sector that we didn’t – and don’t – want.

On privatisation: More than 70 per cent of the general public wanted energy firms re-nationalised when the controversy over bills arose in 2013. Labour should have promised at least to consider it. Labour did not. Labour is the party that should represent public ownership of utilities. The private water, electricity and gas companies have ripped off consumers with high rates that were never part of the offer when their shares were floated on the stock exchange. But Labour was happy to allow those firms to continue.

These are just a few reasons Labour let the people down. They arise from the disastrous philosophical reversal of the 1990s that changed the party from one that represents the people into one that exploits us instead. Now, right-wingers in the party like Peter Mandelson are claiming that Ed Miliband pulled Labour too far back to the Left; instead, they want Labour to push further into Tory territory, utterly abandoning its core voters.

That would be a tragedy – not only for the people of the UK, but also for Labour. We already have one Conservative Party; we don’t need another.

Labour must rid itself of the right-wingers in its ranks and return to its original values – before it is too late for all of us.

Or is it already too late, thanks to the dithering of the last five years?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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