Every day, singer-turned-campaigner Feargal Sharkey tweets the latest news stories about the privatised water companies and the harm they are doing to our water – and waterways.
And every day, the news gets worse.
Cambridge Water, for example, potentially exposed customers to toxic chemicals in their water supply, and then put “incorrect information” on its website when the contamination became public knowledge…
"And the water company gave “incorrect information” on its website after news of the contamination was published in the national press."
Yes: this is the only image This Site has of Ian Byrne.
The remarkable aspect of this story is not that Ian Byrne is being victimised by members of his own party, or that he is seeking advice from the police about how to deal with it – This Site and others have already covered those things.
No – the extraordinary part is that the BBC appears to have removed its blinkers and is now prepared to cover it.
An MP who wants to remain as a Labour candidate at the next election has said he will be “seeking guidance” from police over alleged intimidation.
West Derby MP Ian Byrne tweeted that he faced “shameful” intimidation at an event on Saturday and had blocked those “involved in this appalling behaviour”.
Mr Byrne is being challenged in the race in West Derby by Liverpool councillor Anthony Lavelle and Lancashire councillor Kimberley Whitehead, after losing a series of ballots in his local party.
In a week’s time, members of the constituency Labour Party will choose one of the three to be their candidate.
The process, which started in the summer has been described as “toxic” by Labour members.
Toxic. The fact that this is the word to which party members resort when describing the process imposed on them by their own leadership speaks volumes.
The article then focuses on an alleged incident between supporters of Byrne and those of Lavelle, when events were coincidentally (?) scheduled to take place at neighbouring venues. One has to question how that happened.
Considering the ill-feeling over this matter and the way the Labour leadership seems to be prioritising the other candidates over Byrne, it seems incongruous that this should have happened.
Who was responsible for it?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
“Keith”: this is just one comment on the way Starmer treats members of his own party who support the values on which Labour was formed, rather than the twisted parody that he leads.
This is excruciatingly poor behaviour by Keir Starmer.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has caught Covid-19, just days into his new job, and it means PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have to go into self-isolation too – after humiliating themselves with an attempt to avoid it by saying they were on a ‘pilot’ scheme with daily testing.
Covid-19 infection rates are now regularly topping 50,000 a day; around around 50 people are dying of the disease every day as well – but it is against this background that the Tory government is ending social distancing restrictions that have helped ensure more of us don’t catch it!
With COVID infections and hospitalisations soaring, you might think the main opposition party would have better things to do. https://t.co/C1wC0Y9KnE
The Tory plan for another top-down restructuring of the NHS, that will restrict access to vital healthcare services because private companies will be taking your tax money for their profits, is well on its way through Parliament.
Also progressing towards becoming law are oppressive and racist plans to restrict our right to make political protests, arrest members of certain ethnic groups on sight (on the assumption that their existence means they will commit crimes), and force refugees to their deaths rather than allow them into the UK.
What is Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer doing about all this? Nothing. He’s more interested in decimating his own party.
Under Starmer, Labour supports the lifting of social distancing rules – he backed the Tory re-opening of schools to the hilt, remember?
He made only token resistance to the NHS restructuring – and it has been widely speculated that this is because he receives donations from private healthcare. He isn’t interested in protecting your right to protest, either.
As for helping ethnic minorities, as far as Starmer is concerned, almost all of them can go hang. His support for ethnic minorities extends only to those members of the Jewish community who support hard-rightwing Zionists and those of that political shade who inhabit the government of Israel. It seems he is related to such people by marriage.
So, for example, he thinks this is okay:
Israel just destroyed the oldest known Canaanite cemetery in Palestine, a 4,200-year old site, to build an Israeli-settlers-only road.
And that is why, instead of attacking the Tories’ many failures, Starmer is planning to purge more than 1,000 members of the Labour Party in the days before Parliament goes into summer recess.
Their crime? Not being right-wing enough to remain in an organisation that still describes itself as a “democratic socialist” party.
So much for Labour’s “broad church”.
According to the Mirror, which seems to be taking his side, he is attacking four groups: Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile and Socialist Action.
Their crimes appear to be claiming that many anti-Semitism allegations, for which Labour members have been suspended or expelled, were blown out of proportion and politically-motivated; welcoming such expelled or suspended members into their own ranks; and demanding the re-admission of Jeremy Corbyn into the Parliamentary Labour Party.
The Mirror quotes one Labour source:
“Under Corbyn those from the far left fringes with poisonous beliefs and warped world-views were welcomed into the party. Keir is right to stamp out anti-Semitism and toxic extremism and get the party back into the decent mainstream of Labour values.”
The mainstream of Labour values – when This Writer was a member – included respecting the right of all ethnicities to self-determination. That includes Palestinians, who have been persecuted, murdered, and forced out of their homes and land by armed Israelis on the orders of a government that enforces racist, apartheid laws – a government that Keir Starmer slavishly supports and endorses.
It is not poisonous to believe that the Israeli government is wrong to murder Palestinian children.
It is poisonous to suggest that people who protest against such murders have “warped world-views”.
But Starmer won’t be concerning himself with the lies put forward by the Mirror‘s source; he agrees with them.
He may even agree with toxic Labour MP Neil Coyle – who has called for the expulsion of Jewish Labour members who do not share Starmer’s extreme – and I mean fanatical – right-wing views of what Israel should be:
Not far enough. JVL should be gone too. And other outright Communists who have their own political party/ies they can ruin. https://t.co/sLRk33dv17
There’s no reason to suggest that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) are Communists. Or that any of the organisations Starmer will purge are “poisonous”, “toxic” or “warped”.
But it is easier to persuade doubters with emotive language than it is to actually provide a reasoned argument for the unreasonable thing Starmer is about to do.
Coyle’s tweet is anti-Semitic. JVL argues that the purge of Labour Party members on grounds of anti-Semitism is false – from a Jewish standpoint. Coyle is therefore prejudiced against these Jews because they are Jews, which is the classic definition of anti-Semitism. And Starmer is perfectly happy with that, meaning that he is also an anti-Semite, notwithstanding his familial connections to Judaism.
It’s all about politics, you see.
People who support Palestinians against a brutal hard-right regime that persecutes them are socialists. They want a better deal for everyone, so that people all over the world – including the UK – can live in freedom and be able to pursue their own prosperity without fear. Starmer isn’t interested in any of that.
Starmer’s only interest is in his own prosperity, which he considers to be best pursued by stamping on the faces of those of us who stand for traditional Labour values – the political priorities on which the party was founded, back in 1900.
So he will pretend to be on the side of the Jews – while actually attacking more of them than he supports.
He will pretend to stand up for Labour values – while crossing his fingers behind his back and telling himself that neoliberal “New Labour” (Tory) values are Labour values too.
And he will pretend to be a beacon of decency standing out against the chaos he says was created by his forerunner as Labour leader.
The trouble is, he isn’t any good at the pretence.
My response to the news that Keir Starmer is about to enact a purge of left-wing members of the Labour Party – egged on by the people who made up such accusations against Jeremy Corbyn. pic.twitter.com/xKB9FVChWR
The Zionist witchfinder general Keir Starmer , aided by proposed right wing leader of Unite Gerard Coyne continue the subjugation of socialist members of Labour, particularly Jewish folk. The dossiers compiled on them were produced by Assaf Kaplan, Israeli Spy. This is Labour.
— neil flek waugh . revolutionary socialist/marxist (@sammythedog1989) July 18, 2021
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Last year the UK was warned it would face a European Court of Justice case if the nitrogen dioxide problem was not dealt with [Image: Getty Images].
It must be particularly galling for Brextremist Michael Gove that he is being summoned to Brussels to explain why the Tory government has failed to tackle the UK’s toxic levels of air pollution.
You can be assured that it is no skin off his rosy nose that 50,000 UK citizens die every year because of air pollution; he’s doing quite all right, thank you very much.
You can also bet that he can’t wait for Brexit to happen, so he won’t have to answer to all those do-gooder Eurocrats who want to keep UK citizens safe from harm.
As far as he’s concerned, the sooner the UK can get back to making huge profits for him and his Tory friends, no matter the cost in health or wealth terms to the vast majority of the population, the better.
But you won’t hear him say that.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has been asked to attend a meeting of the European Commission in Brussels, to explain why the UK still breaches legal air pollution limits.
Britain is one of the five member states that have received a “final warning” from the commission after persistently surpassing limits for nitrogen dioxide levels.
The meeting which is set to take place at the end of the month, will be an opportunity for Mr Gove and other European politicians to discuss air quality and how to protect “a basic quality of life” for European citizens.
Poor air quality resulting from pollutants including nitrogen dioxide have been linked with deadly health conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.
Experts have estimated air pollution kills 50,000 people annually in the UK alone.
Last year the nation was warned it would face a European Court of Justice case if the nitrogen dioxide problem was not dealt with.
Jeremy Corbyn will speak at the conference in Prague [Image: PA].
“Political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions” – yes, that would describe the Tories – and UKIP’s – attitude to immigration (for example).
This Writer spent an annoying few moments on Thursday evening explaining to one of the right-wing parties’ cultists that immigrants are not responsible for a shortage of school places near him – Tories are.
The speech seems as eloquent a way of rejecting the politics of Tony Blair as we’re likely to see, too. Blair enthusiastically embraced the neoliberal politics of Margaret Thatcher, which is why she said New Labour was her greatest achievement.
The result, as we have seen, was a United Kingdom that New Labour left ripe for the sale of its remaining public resources into private hands by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition – and also ready for the spread of racist and other antisocial attitudes that we are seeing today.
Mr Corbyn is right. The politics of division will only leave us defenceless against the exploiters of the populist far-right – and don’t be fooled; Theresa May and Nigel Farage are far-right politicians.
This cartoon by Gary Barker for Tribune Magazine illustrates Mr Corbyn’s point.
Spread the word. Those with the intelligence to recognise the facts will hear.
Europe’s centre-left parties must reject the establishment – or watch the populist far-right win across the continent, Jeremy Corbyn will warn this weekend.
In a speech to Labour’s European sister parties, at the Party of European Socialists conference in Prague, the Labour leader will warn that the populist right had correctly identified problems with the prevailing economic model.
But he will argue the solutions of those anti-immigrant, anti-EU, and anti-Islam parties were only “toxic dead ends” that would not solve people’s problems.
“In many cases the populist right do identify the right problems, but their solutions are toxic dead ends of the past.
“They are political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way for taking back real control of our lives [from] the elites who serve their own interests.
“But unless progressive parties and movements break with a failed economic and political establishment, it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap.”
Here’s a letter sent to houses here in Brecon and Radnorshire. It starts with the famous Lib Dem block graph, which is a mainstay of all their election communications in places where they have won seats. Presumably they keep using it because it is effective but one has to doubt this example, as it does not feature a European election result, but that of the last UK general election in 2010.
They cannot use a block graph to show a favourable result in the last European election because they don’t have any Welsh MEPs, and the result in the last Welsh Assembly election (in 2011) showed support was already eroding away as a result of their toxic alliance with the Conservative Party in Westminster, along with some spectacularly effective campaigning by the local Labour Party.
The result is a misleading graphic that shows a massive Liberal Democrat majority, coupled with the slogan, “Only the Lib Dems can beat the Tories here”, where in fact we have two Labour MEPs, one Tory and one representing Plaid Cymru.
It hardly encourages confidence when a political letter – from one of the ruling parties in Westminster – begins with a filthy lie.
The text of the letter, by the constituency’s Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams, asks where the reader wants to be working in five or 10 years, and suggests we will be looking for more pay, promotions and a better quality of life. He states that it is important to protect the economic recovery, but “all that hard work could be undone” if Britain pulls out of the EU “as UKIP and many Conservatives want to do”.
Thanks to the UK’s Coalition government, ordinary hard-working people are receiving far less pay than before the 2010 election, with a corresponding drop in quality of life. Child poverty, for example, is rising fast. The economic recovery has helped nobody but the very top earners (like those in the Sunday Times ‘rich list’, published last weekend) – and besides, the Tory Democrats are not the only party keen to protect Britain’s place in Europe. For that, your best bet is still Labour or (in Wales) Plaid Cymru.
The letter continues: “Across rural Wales the EU has invested £5.8 million into local businesses struggling to find funding to grow and create more jobs, this is on top of the £26 million invested in promoting tourism to Wales which is vital to our local economy.” Yes indeed – but that money was negotiated by either a Labour government in Westminster or a Labour government in Cardiff Bay. It has little to do with the Tory Democrats!
The letter ends with an exhortation to vote for the Yellow Party’s nonentity candidate, whose name is instantly forgettable.
Alongside this came a double-sided flier offering more of what the Tory Democrats do best – negative campaigning. “Don’t gamble with Welsh jobs…” it states, “Stop UKIP and the Tories from risking Wales jobs”. A box-out with a red background says, “Labour stay silent” – which is a blatant falsehood.
Flip the page and you’ve got the pro-Tory Democrat bit – but they can only say they have “helped deliver” funding for superfast broadband, funding for small-to-medium-sized enterprises, and cash to support tourism. And who did they help?
It’s a sad little screed from an organisation in its twilight days.
Announcement or admission: Labour’s announcement, as it appeared on Facebook.
A future Labour government would cap rent increases, the party has announced – around a year and a half late.
The Coalition government has chosen to keep Housing Benefit down by making it the first payment to be reduced as part of the benefit cap, and Labour’s announcement should rightly be seen as a response to this.
But the benefit cap was announced in the mists of history, back in 2012 or thereabouts, so why has Labour only just got around to telling us its counter-proposal? The rest of us were screaming it from the rooftops at the time.
Coming so late, it seems less that this policy has been announced, and more that it has been admitted.
Perhaps this is the influence of new election advisor David Axelrod, and maybe it signals the start of regular announcements in the run-up to the general election next year. If so, this would go some way towards saving Ed Miliband’s blushes.
Certainly today we were presented with a 10-step ‘cost of living’ contract, stuffed with promises Labour has made to help beleaguered consumers keep prices down – and these are (mostly) good steps.
First is the popular scheme to freeze gas and electricity bills while the energy market is reformed.
Then there’s Labour’s plan to have 200,000 new homes built every year by 2020, relieving the housing shortage and lowering the cost of a new home.
Next comes the rent cap, plus a pledge to help families that rent plan for the future with new, long-term, predictable tenancies.
There’s the pledge to cut income tax with a 10p starting tax rate. This may be seen as an admission that Labour’s decision to end the original 10p tax rate (even though I seem to recall it was intended to be temporary) was a mistake. But isn’t it better to admit our mistakes, put them right, and move on? The plan to restore the 50p top rate has been lambasted by posh Tories and business executives, who say it won’t achieve anything (they would, wouldn’t they?) but is a good symbolic gesture.
Fifth is a pledge to ban zero-hour contracts altogether. This may seem problematic, as the evidence shows that there are working people who benefit from these contracts’ flexibility. The trouble is that unscrupulous firms were using these contracts to exploit workers who deserved better from them. Labour’s attitude – that these firms will have to manage without them if they won’t use them properly – is a bit ‘nannyish’ but makes a strong point.
Then comes Labour’s pledge to “Make work pay”. Some may criticise the use of words that have been tainted by Conservative spin. The Tories want you to believe that they’ll “make work pay” by cutting out-of-work and in-work benefits, but we all know that this won’t make anybody better-off; quite the opposite. Labour’s idea is to boost the minimum wage and encourage firms that are able, to increase their pay rates to the Living Wage, cutting the benefit bill that way.
Seventh is a little-known plan to cut business rates and make banks lend to small businesses (at least, that’s the only interpretation of “reforming the banks” that makes any sense in this context).
There’s a pledge to give working parents 25 hours’ free childcare (presumably this is per week) for kids aged three and four, and one to tackle abuses of immigrant workers by banning recruitment agencies that only hire people from abroad and pushing Europe for stronger controls. This would present problems for the Conservative-run NHS, as the BBC News has just announced that it is recruiting heavily from Portugal!
Finally we have the weakest promise – the job guarantee for the young unemployed, coupled with more apprenticeships. This has been met with opposition from the very people who were expected to welcome it, as it seems nobody outside the Labour front bench believes it has the remotest chance of success.
Unmentioned is Labour’s plan to change the assessment system for sickness and disability benefit ESA, which earned instant toxicity because it sports only cosmetic differences from the current Conservative scheme that has been fatal for thousands. The plan was announced at around the same time as a Labour inquiry into these benefits called for preventative investment that the party leadership is unwilling to countenance, and a group of mostly-disabled people called Spartacus provided a far more enlightening overview of the problems with the benefit, and the steps needed to remedy them, that clashed with what Labour is saying.
More concerning still is the fact that all of these measures are responses to Coalition policies that have harmed people during the course of this Parliament – or situations that the Tories and Tory Democrats have allowed to continue because they support the overall plan.
Where is the inspiration to transform Britain and return prosperity to everybody, rather than limiting it to people who own smart suits and big houses? When can we expect a hint that this is coming?
Unless you are one of the aforementioned people with smart suits and big houses, the Conservatives sidled into government with a plan to diddle you out of as many of your Parliament-supported rights, privileges and benefits as they could possibly fit into a five-year term in office, all the while telling you it was for your own good.
Of course, the Tories didn’t announce this plan, because they knew it would turn the electorate away in their millions – the classic example of this in practice is the way Andrew Lansley was forbidden from mentioning his privatisation plan for the National Health Service, as this would be toxic to the Tory election campaign.
But times have changed. People are suffering. They need Labour to offer something more than a promise to rub ointment on their wounds.
They want to see Labour turn the tables on the Tories. And they want to know how that’s to be achieved.
Saying Labour will “transform Britain” won’t work as we’ve all heard about such miraculous transformations before, and they have always benefited the suit-and-house people.
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