Tag Archives: riot

Will the UK send more riot gear to a despotic Trump? Of course. It makes a profit

Sacrilege: Donald Trump had people tear-gassed so he could have this picture taken, outside a church, with a Bible. It seems he hasn’t read the New Testament… and if he stepped inside the church, would he disappear in a puff of brimstone?

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is being urged to ban the sale of riot control equipment to the United States in response to shocking images of police attacking peaceful protesters against the killing of George Floyd.

Trump seems to be entirely out of control. He had peaceful protesters tear-gassed so he could take part in a photo shoot in front of a church, clutching a Bible, in what many people (including myself) may describe as a blasphemy.

This is symptomatic of the attitude he has displayed since public opinion boiled over in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Many – including media pundits – believe he has turned the corner into dictatorship:

His attitude to the classes seems to support this:

For clarity, let’s have a look at some video clips of what has been going on:

https://twitter.com/LowkeySinistra/status/1267109420955086848

We need these clips by members of the public, too. If we didn’t have them, Ice T would be right:

Look at how news reporters have been targeted:

There have been exceptions, though – and it is important to note them. Not all in the police or the military agree with Trump that peaceful demonstrations should be put down with an iron fist:

It seems US police have been learning “brutality and repression” in specially-funded trips abroad. I make no comment about the country providing the training.

The good news is that, after Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Mr Floyd, the three other officers involved are also to face criminal charges. It has been said that Tou Thao watched while J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane helped hold the victim down:

And a civil rights investigation has been launched into the activities of Minneapolis police.

Back with the president, it seems the affair has killed Trump’s approval rating among US citizens. Now 54 per cent of them disapprove of him – the highest disapproval rating for any US president.

Trump should be happy – he’s always trying to say he’s top at something, and now he is.

All of this takes us back to the UK’s response to all this. Boris Johnson has been urged to stop exporting arms and riot equipment to the United States, so it cannot be used to harm peaceful protesters in the way we’ve seen in the videos (above):

According to the Independent article, neither Johnson nor any government spokesperson has yet commented on the issue.

This Writer’s opinion? There won’t be any cessation of arms trading with the US – it makes Tory-donor UK firms a fortune every day.

And Trump supporters can’t help shooting themselves in the foot (if only metaphorically). After Piers Morgan tweeted critically about the depths to which Trump has dragged his country, a US Twitter user made it clear that they did not want people from the UK to be involved in that country’s business. The response from a Brit was well-deserved and entirely appropriate:

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Let’s kill some Brexit myths: there won’t be riots if it doesn’t happen by October 31

No riots, we’re British: Isn’t it odd that, with pro-Brexit pundits all over the TV and papers saying there will be riots if Brexit doesn’t happen, the only large public demonstrations on the subject have been by Remainers?

Are you sick of being told a lot of drivel by pundits in the TV politics shows and the newspapers, that there will be riots if the UK doesn’t quit the EU on October 31? I am.

It is patently absurd to suggest that Leave-supporting UK citizens will riot, because they simply don’t have it in them – as Simon Wren-Lewis points out in his Mainly Macro column online:

When we failed to leave in March, despite repeated promises we would, you might have expect a very angry reaction. Farage addressed a demonstration in which he called the Houses of Parliament ‘enemy territory’. The demonstration was news because anything Farage does seems to be news and also some right wing thugs got aggressive. But in terms of people, we are talking about a few thousand people. A petition for a No Deal Brexit gained a bit more than 600,000 signatures.

If those numbers seem large, compare it to around 6 million signatures for a petition to revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU. Or regular large marches all around the country for a People’s Vote, with the biggest in London involving hundreds of thousands of people, all entirely peaceful.

In terms of anger and passion, it seems Remainers outnumber Leavers by between 10 and 100 to 1.

The number of people passionate about Brexit is limited to a few thousand people who have convinced themselves it matters to them, politicians in the ERG and Brexit party, the Brexit press, right wing thugs, and those frightened of no longer being able to avoid tax in the EU.

These are the facts of the matter. Leave supporters won’t riot because they don’t have much to gain from Brexit – while Remainers have a great deal to lose.

There won’t be any riots if the UK fails to Leave at Hallowe’en. There will be relief.

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Journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland, 21 years after Good Friday Agreement. WHY?

Did Lyra McKee die because Republican opportunists are seeing an opportunity to restart the ‘Troubles’ in the continuing uncertainty over power-sharing in Stormont and the Brexit border row?

Northern Ireland is at its least stable in more than 20 years, and it seems to This Writer that terrorists – or would-be terrorists – are seeing this as an opportunity.

Is that the reason police were on the Creggan estate in Derry, looking for arms and ammunition they believed would be used in violence to mark the 1916 Easter Rising?

Is that the reason a crowd gathered and the situation developed into a riot in which around 50 petrol bombs were thrown and two vehicles hijacked and set alight?

Is this the reason Lyra McKee was shot dead by a Republican with a gun?

If so, it is not good enough. No reason is good enough to justify murder.

It is now 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement heralded the end of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Such an anniversary is a time to reaffirm the commitment to friendship – not to open up opportunities for a return to hate.

Northern Ireland needs the restoration of its government in Stormont – now, not after Theresa May has spent another few months or years stalling so she can extend her own tenure in Number 10.

And the six counties need proof that their borders with the Republic of Ireland will remain open, no matter what happens about the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

The best way to shut down the possibility of violence is to deny people any excuse for it.

Bear in mind that the New IRA, who have been blamed for this murder, set off a car bomb outside a courthouse in Derry in January.

I wrote at the time that it had a political cause and needed a political solution.

But in the words of Mrs May, “Nothing has changed.” Why has nothing changed, Mrs May?

Source: Lyra McKee: Journalist shot dead during Derry rioting – BBC News


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Martial law plan for post-Brexit Britain shows This Site was right again

Theresa and the troops: I used this image in my previous article on martial law, but it seems she really does mean to rely on them to keep her in power after she stubbornly forces the worst possible Brexit on us all.

I know it’s a dodgy source – The Sunday Times – but if it is accurate, the claim in that paper that the Conservative government is preparing to declare martial law marks the third in a series of correct predictions for Vox Political, despite the claims of some readers.

People told me Jaguar Land Rover was making decisions because of wider economic reasons than Brexit – until a press release from the company made it clear that uncertainty over that situation was directly responsible for the decision to halt production for an extra week during the summer.

After my story about the double standards that allowed Rachel Riley to complain that she needed extra security on Countdown because of death threats, after she brought death threats down on an innocent teenage girl with anxiety issues by falsely tweeting that she was an anti-Semite, I predicted that Ms Riley’s followers would revive the false accusations against me – and they did.

And now: Do you remember a commenter on this site stating, “3,500 troops could not enforce martial law on a country of 60 million,” after I stated it suggested Theresa May was preparing to impose martial law on the UK after a “no deal” Brexit? Well, it seems I was right again.

In that previous article, I stated: “Martial law would preserve her government – sorry, dictatorship – against the civil unrest that her policies seem certain to provoke.”

Now we discover (I got this from the i, as I refuse to pay money to the Murdoch machine): “Britain is preparing to declare a state of emergency and introduce martial law in the event of disorder after a no-deal Brexit, according to officials who say the Cobra emergency committee will be able to deploy the army to quell rioting.”

The i article states: “Powers available under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 would allow ministers to impose curfews, travels bans, confiscate property and deploy the armed forces to quell rioting.

It quoted a Sunday Times source who said: “The over-riding theme in all the no-deal planning is civil disobedience and the fear that it will lead to death in the event of food and medical shortages.”

And another source said a no-deal Brexit would be “about a thousand times worse” than the volcanic ash cloud crisis of 2010, adding: “The only other thing that would be comparable would be something like a major Europe-wide war.”

Inevitably, the claim has provoked a strong response from the public:

Of course, martial law is an extreme measure that would be imposed only in dire need – or if a government is desperate to keep power in spite of the will of the people.

Do you trust Theresa May not to follow the latter path?

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Tories are working hard to make prisons ripe for privatisation – the rats are already there

What’s the line by the great Noam Chomsky about privatisation? “Defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”

HM Prison Bedford seems a textbook example of this behaviour.

According to reports in many newspapers (this one‘s from The Guardian), one inmate caught and killed multiple rats in his cell during an inspection, while another – who had disabilities – was in a cell with no adaptations and had been provided with a wheelchair that could not be self-propelled and was therefore almost utterly useless.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke reported that two years of efforts to improve standards had failed, and they were continuing to decline.

In addition to the references to the disabled prisoner and the rat-catcher, he also referred to cells as “filthy and decrepit” and warned that the toilets did not flush properly.

Self-harm had increased substantially and there had been five self-inflicted deaths since the previous inspection in 2016.

Almost half of prisoners surveyed said it was easy to get illicit drugs, and a fifth said that they had developed a drug problem while in the jail. The smell of cannabis and other burning substances pervaded some wings, with one officer saying: “If it’s just cannabis, it’s a good day.”

And there was a serious lack of control on the wings as prison officers were inexperienced and struggled to exert authority over prisoners who did not obey basic rules or conform to expected behaviour.

What happened to all the experienced staff, I wonder?

They were probably retired by the Ministry of Justice in a cost-cutting exercise.

Of course Tory cuts have caused the harm that we see. Bedford was reportedly an exemplary prison in 2008 – under a Labour government – but then the Tories turned up, cut funding to the bone, and chaos ensued. Bedford was the location of a riot involving 200 inmates in November 2016.

So we see a prison service drained of funds, that is no longer fit for purpose. It certainly doesn’t even try to rehabilitate inmates any more, meaning when sentences are served, hardened criminals are released onto our streets, who know that the punishment for getting caught is no longer any punishment at all.

It’s all part of the Tory crimewave.

So much for the party of law and order.

The Tories are also the party of privatisation, and some prisons – notably HMP Northumberland – have been handed over to private operators – Sodexo, in that instance.

The result? Disaster.

Prison officer numbers had been cut, meaning the authorities had lost control. An undercover reporter for Panorama revealed that prisoners had been sneaking out – unobserved – to collect drugs. They were treating prison like a holiday camp.

But that’s what happens when you hand over corrective services to organisations for which the only concern is profit.

Private companies don’t care about the conditions in which prisoners live. They don’t care if there aren’t enough prison officers to keep control – they’ll cut employee numbers in order to make their profit. They don’t care if prisoners get out and bring illegal substances back – it probably makes them easier to handle. They certainly don’t care if prisoners learn nothing from the experience and go back to crime on their release – it means they will stay in business when those people are caught.

But at what cost to communities?

Worst of all, your Conservative government doesn’t care either.

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Right-wing press must shape up or shut up after Abbott targeted for abuse AGAIN

Diane Abbott pleaded for peaceful protests after the death of Rashan Charles – she certainly did NOT defend rioting.

When right-wingers- especially right-wingers running newspapers – find a metaphorical dead horse to flog, they really put their back into it, don’t they?

Editors of the Daily MailThe Sun and the Daily Express took it upon themselves to misrepresent Diane Abbott after she spoke up about rioting that has taken place in London after the death of Rashan Charles, a 20-year-old man who died after being “restrained” by police.

The trouble started shortly after around 150 people gathered in Dalston, near where Mr Charles was tackled by officers on July 22.

Protesters threw bottles at police and barricaded Kingsland Road, a long main road which runs past the police station where the protest started peacefully and also through the area where Mr Charles died. The disorder is said to have lasted around an hour, between 10pm and 11pm on Friday (July 28).

The Metropolitan Police said a 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, while a police officer suffered an eye injury but remained fit for duty.

Ms Abbott, in whose Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency the rioting took place, put out a press release saying: “The anger and upset at the death of Rashan Charles is understandable. But Rashan’s family have explicitly spoken out against hostile actions. We must respect their wishes and any protests must be peaceful.”

The Express misrepresented her with this headline: “‘It’s understandable!’ Diane Abbott defends anger as violent rioters HIJACK protest“.

Of course, Ms Abbott wasn’t saying that rioting was “understandable”. She said “anger and upset” was. She was asking for protesters to respect the wishes of Mr Charles’s family – in fact advocating peaceful protest, not “hostile actions”.

Ms Abbott herself responded to similar lies in the Mail

– and also in The Sun:

Perhaps these right-wing propagandists have been emboldened by the apparent success of the Tory Party lie that Jeremy Corbyn promised to write off student debts if elected into office in June. In fact, he said no such thing and there was no such promise in the Labour Party manifesto.

Another recent right-wing lie is the Tory claim that parents having a job lifts children out of poverty, when in fact the rise in the number of working families simply means there has been an increase in working-household poverty.

They try to pretend that valid arguments – like those presented in a recent Momentum video about the selective amnesia suffered by certain middle-class Tory voters about the help they had to become comfortably wealthy – are “hateful” attacks on bourgeois “caricatures”, but are able to mount no coherent argument against its claims.

And does anybody remember the squawks of upset after This Site pointed out the political aspects of the disastrous fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower last month? Again, this had no basis in fact – the fire happened because safety regulations had been relaxed to the point where landlords could put flammable cladding on the building without being questioned over it, while neither council chiefs nor MPs reviewed safety rules.

Yes, it seems I was the first to point out specifically that there was a political angle to the disaster, on the morning after it happened. The Tories and their lapdogs in the press only picked up on articles that followed in other sites, again claiming that these criticisms were inappropriate.

And yet now – because of pressure from myself and the others – it’s the only story to be told about Grenfell.

Perhaps the uptight right believes Ms Abbott is fair game because she has carried out a few poor performances, notably in a radio interview about police funding and personnel. It was what’s known as a “gotcha” interview – one in which politicians are criticised for failing to memorise relevant information about a policy, rather than for the policy itself. Many Conservative politicians suffered the same fate in the run-up to the general election, but did not receive nearly as much negative attention.

It was later revealed that the MP has been suffering from a long-term illness – but This Writer does not recall seeing any apologies from the gutter newsrags.

Really, the tone of political debate needs to be improved, and massively.

Emotion-based, evidenceless claims from the right are pointless; we can all look up the facts.

And personal attacks that deliberately misrepresent comments by any politician are also ridiculous, because they can use the social media  – as Ms Abbott has – to dismiss these claims, almost before the printing presses have finished churning out hard copies of the lies.

The choice facing the right-wing media is very simple, then:

Shape up – or shut up.


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Is G4S really the right choice to run sexual assault referral centres?

G4S Forensic and Medical Services already provides similar services in Essex, Worcester and Telford [Image: David Jones/PA].

Let’s get one thing straight – G4S promises us that Theresa May’s husband Phillip has nothing to do with the company.

Fine – so why does this inept and dangerous organisation keep winning plum contracts from the Conservative Government?

Only today (December 16), the Prison Service had to take over Birmingham Prison because of what appears to be a riot – that this security-based company cannot control.

If G4S can’t control rioting prisoners, why is it running a prison?

This is the latest in a series of cock-ups that go back through the years.

Can anybody forget the fact that G4S completely messed up its contract to run security at the 2012 London Olympics, forcing the Tories to bring in the Army at extremely short notice?

Now this mob has won a contract providing medical exams and counselling for rape and sexual assault victims – who deserve far better.

Considering the way the benefits system has been perverted to put people off claiming, one has to wonder whether this choice is to put people off reporting these serious offences.

G4S, the controversial private security company, is to run services providing medical examinations and counselling for victims of rape and sexual assault in the West Midlands.

The company has been awarded a three-year contract to take over two sexual assault referral centres (Sarcs) in Birmingham and Walsall. The national network of 33 centres across England which have developed over the past decade also allow rape and sexual assault victims to report attacks without going to the police first.

The decision to award the contract for such sensitive services to the company, despite widespread criticism over its failings in the Olympics security contract, was made by local NHS commissioners who have recently taken over responsibility for the network of Sarcs from the police.

Union leaders and violence against women campaigners sharply criticised the “sell-off” of such sensitive services to a private company with such a chequered record.

Source: G4S contract to run sexual assault referral centres damned | Business | The Guardian

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Is the Bedford Prison riot just part of the Tory Government’s policy of privatisation?

150601 chomsky privatisation

The Conservative Government has been handing over prisons to private companies – G4S being the well-known option – for years, and there can be no doubt that the plan is to privatise the whole service.

It certainly fits with Noam Chomsky’s description of the pattern for handing public services over to profit-making companies (see above).

It’s clear that funds have been drained from a service that is suffering staff shortages and in which prisons are being choked with far too many inmates.

Result: Prisons have become powder kegs.

This Writer thinks that is the plan. What do the Tories care if riots break out? A few prisoners will get hurt, and maybe some staff. That’s a risk of their job, isn’t it?

No – it really isn’t.

They are supposed to be working in acceptable conditions – they aren’t. That’s what is causing the unrest.

And what about the alternative – handing over more prisons to G4S and similar companies?

That would be begging for even worse events. These companies are only concerned with profit and should not be allowed anywhere near custody of other human beings. Corners will be cut in order to make more money from contracts. Inmates – and staff – will suffer.

And a Tory Government will turn a blind eye.

It is not a civilised way to treat criminals. If you don’t care about that, bear in mind that it is an appalling way to treat prison staff.

But then, it is foolish ever to consider Conservatives civilised.

Earlier this year, the departing chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, described the former justice minister Chris Grayling’s attempts to interfere with his conclusion that overcrowding and a shortage of staff were contributing to worsening standards across the prison estate.

In September, a report by Hardwick’s successor Peter Clarke on an inspection of Bedford prison said that standards there were “unacceptable” and fell short of “basic levels of decency”, partly because of staffing shortages.

Last week, the head of the Prison Officers Association (POA), Mike Rolfe, said that staff across the country were on their knees, and that prisons were succumbing to a “bloodbath”.

Last night, 200 prisoners were involved in a riot in Bedford prison that took more than six hours to get under control. Whatever else anyone thinks about Sunday’s disturbances, no one can say that they weren’t warned that it was coming.

Source: Dear Liz Truss – please consider why prisoners are rioting | Archie Bland | Opinion | The Guardian

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Welcome to North Britain – Bella Caledonia

It seems some of our friends north of England are having a hard time coping with the decision that came from the Scottish referendum. The following article by Mike Small sums up the different strands of feeling – but is it accurate? Isn’t it too soon to say the Westminster parties lied about new powers for Scotland and is it accurate to say they won’t be enough to ward off the next wave of austerity from the evil Coalition government? Here’s the article:

For my friends, the ‘Proud Scots’, congratulations on your victory. Now there’s good news and some bad news for you No voters.

The good news: your vague ‘sense of Britishness’ is secure. Hurrah, no need to worry yourself any more.

The bad news: you have opened the door to £25 billion of austerity measures that will redefine the fabric of our society. On the plus side, you’ll still be able to get The Archers, so while people living in destitution sounds harsh, you won’t be inconvenienced.

The good news: the media is busy telling everyone that ‘home rule’ is coming to Scotland.

Bx7BGk7IMAADXXM.png-largeThe bad news: Gordon Brown just made that up. He’s not in government, it’s not yet 24 hours after the polls closed and the ‘Vow’ is unravelling before our eyes. Already the timetable has disintegrated. Couldn’t they have waited until the weekend before pulling it?

Apparently “Baroness Goldie” thinks appointing “Lord Smith” to reform Scottish democracy is a “strong” move.

The good news: ‘Unionists’ are so happy at the result they’re burning the saltire in George Square, singing the Famine Song and telling asians to leave the area. Is this ‘No Borders’ with a twist? Luckily, you’ve defeated ‘narrow nationalism’.

The bad news: Nigel Farage says “absolutely clear” the Barnett Formula will have to be reconsidered. He’s not alone.

Your victory has left Scotland disempowered and isolated. 73% of over 65s voted No. 71% of 16/17 year olds voted Yes. The young & the poor voted to build a new country & a better future.But the old & the rich said it’s not worth the risk.

45% of Scotland doesn’t want to be part of Britain.

Did you think that by voting for less powers you would get more powers? Funnily enough that’s not what’s going to happen. Already the agenda has moved swiftly on to home rule for England.

So – congratulations Proud Scots – an evening of celebration perhaps? Just avoid George Square, there’s a riot on.

 

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Government’s ‘troubled families’ programme is failing; we knew it would

[Image: historyextra.com]

[Image: historyextra.com]

Remember back in April last year, when Vox Political said the Coalition government’s plan to stop children in ‘troubled’ families from playing truant, while finding work for the adults and stopping both from committing crime, was doomed to failure?

If you don’t, it’s not surprising (our readership back then was around a quarter of its current level) – and you haven’t missed much, because the scheme is back in the news as it is (again, unsurprisingly) failing.

The VP article pointed out that the government had been fiddling the figures in its bid to make it seem that 120,000 such families exist in the UK; in fact, “the number came from Labour research on disadvantaged families with multiple and complex needs, rather than families that caused problems,” according to ‘trouble families tsar’ Louise Casey at the time.

The article pointed out that local councils, offered a £4,000 bonus for each ‘troubled’ family they identified and helped (for want of a better word) were shoehorning families into the scheme – whether they qualified or not – just to make up the numbers.

It was doomed from the start.

So today we have figures obtained by Labour’s Hilary Benn, showing that around 106,500 families have been identified for the scheme (according to averages worked out from councils that responded to a Freedom of Information request). Of these, only around 35,500 were engaged by the scheme, which then failed in three-quarters of cases (around 26,600 families).

That leaves 8,878 families who actually came back to the straight-and-narrow – less than one-thirteenth of the target figure.

A success rate this low could have been achieved if the government had done nothing.

(That seems to be a running theme with the Coalition. What else does it remind us of? Ah, yes… The Work Programme. In this context it is extremely interesting that Mr Benn said the biggest obstruction to the scheme was the Work Programme’s failure “to deliver jobs to the poorest people in society”.)

According to The Guardian, “Data from 133 councils out of the 152 participating in the scheme found that almost one in seven families that had been “turned around” were either still on drugs, had children missing from school or involved in criminal acts.

“Another 60 per cent of households deemed to have been successfully helped by the scheme in March still had adults on unemployment benefits after leaving the programme.”

Bearing in mind the £4,000 ‘carrot’ that was waved in front of councils as encouragement for them to take part, you’ll enjoy the revelation that each local authority claimed to have found an average of 812 troubled families – 20 per cent more than central government had estimated.

Again, this is hardly surprising. Government-imposed council tax freezes have starved local authorities of money and £4,000, multiplied by 812, brings an average of £3,250,000 into each local authority that they would not, otherwise, have had.

So much for David Cameron’s plan to “heal the scars of the broken society”.

The Guardian also tells us that the ‘troubled families’ programme was launched by Cameron as a Big Society (remember that?) response to the riots of summer 2011.

In fact it doesn’t matter what the Coalition government does – or, indeed, what Labour plans to do if that party comes into office in 2015; schemes that are imposed on people from above will never succeed.

The problem is that the United Kingdom has become an increasingly unequal society, with money and privilege bled out of the majority of the population (who do most of the work for it) and into the hands of a very small number who have power and – it seems – no responsibility at all.

The vast majority of us are seen as disposable commodities by these exploiters – whose number includes a large proportion of MPs with interests in private business; they use us to make their huge profits and then throw us into unemployment.

Is it any wonder that such betrayal breeds families that turn away from the system and take to crime instead?

When David Cameron slithered into Downing Street he said he wanted to “re-balance” society. In fact, he over-balanced it even more in favour of privilege and wealth.

Now we need a proper re-balancing of society. The only way to solve the problem of ‘troubled families’ – a problem said to cost us £9 billion every year, by the way – is for people to be born into a society where everybody is valued and receives a fair (in the dictionary sense of the term, rather than the Conservative Party definition) reward for their contribution.

That will mean a fundamental shift in attitudes that should be taught to everybody from the cradle upwards.

You won’t get it under the Conservatives or any other right-wing government because they are exploiters by definition.

Will you get it under Labour?

Possibly. But a lot of right-wing Blairite dead wood will have to be cleared out first, and Hilary Benn is not the man his father was.

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