Archived
Editorials

Rupert Murdoch in Portcullis House’s post-modern restaging of King Lear;

The Daily Express and Mail Couldn't Give ATOS About the Facts;
Cutting Out the Tabloid Cancer Once and For All;
Czar Dave ‘I Don’t Do Irony’ Cameron Guest Edits the Big (Society) Issue to Welcome in
a New Generation of Street Vendors Created by His Government’s Housing Benefit Caps;
Osborne and Bust

Rupert Murdoch in Portcullis House’s post-modern restaging of King Lear

Another stormy couple of weeks politically speaking but in some ways potentially the most positive and progressive shift in our political culture as Rupert Murdoch’s philistine empire of vigilante rags seems to be hitting the rocks in terms of its unholy Sauronic grip on what has for the past thirty years been a sham-democracy in the UK. Watching the subsequent Select Committee ‘interrogations’ – apart from the ever-vigilant and ebon-eyed Tom Watson, who did his job superbly, it was otherwise a damp squib of a grilling – of Murdochs Snr and Jnr I occasionally wondered whether this was actually a post-modernist stage version of Shakespeare’s King Lear: Murdoch Snr appearing to be as oblivious to the manipulations and subterfuges of his Machiavellian ‘family’ – i.e. his son, surrogate daughter ‘Rebekah’ and associated executives and ‘advisors’ – which have now brought his ‘kingdom’ into dire disrepute right under his octogenarian nose. But of course, this is probably precisely what Murdoch Snr wanted us to think, cue his robotically delivered double-bluff of a statement as this being ‘the most humble moment of his life’. As for Murdoch Jnr., his mechanically co-operative and enthusiastic engagement in what was clearly nothing more than a transparent indictment of his duplicity and incompetence, I kept being reminded of the garrulous yank in Monty Python’s ‘Death Sketch’ in The Meaning of Life, who clearly can’t grasp that he is pivotal rather than at one remove to the impending finality of the situation; and I kept wondering whether Watson was going to suddenly produce a scythe, stand up, point a skeletal finger at the spectacled Stepford heir apparent and say, ‘You always talk you dynastic capitalists, you talk and you say things like…Ok, so this is a really serious allegation and here’s what we’re going to about it… Well your credibility’s dead now, so SHUT UP!’

Farcical all considered; grimly intriguing to endure; disorientating in the extreme in that Murdoch Snr seemed an un-daunting doddery old ‘Wizard of Oz’ prankster, just as in the film when an unimpressive and slightly crabby old man steps out from a curtain like an antique photographer, behind which he’d been projecting the omnipotent image of a disembodied vapour. But subsequently the post-mortem on Murdoch Snr’s ‘performance’ has indicated there’s probably more tricks up the old codger’s sleeves yet. The chief one of these being to put himself across as an enfeebled old idealist who looks like an extra from Cocoon – rambling intermittently bizarre digressions of Lear-esque nostalgia, particularly regards his father’s expose of Gallipoli somehow inspiring the son to go on to become a titanic right-wing media mogul and symbolic bully of the unlikely pairing of the rich and famous and the unemployed and vulnerable, for forty odd years under the subterfuge of providing ‘news’.

David Cameron’s sudden self-distancing from the Murdoch cabal and even his trusty mate Andy Coulson from whose stout defence he has practically had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the outcry of the general public and Labour leader Ed Miliband (who has scented blood and this time got the target right), has no obvious conviction, sincerity, or even verisimilitude. Perplexingly, the media and the Tories seemed wholly won over by Cameron’s pathetically vacuous and evasive performance at the dispatch-box at the extended parliamentary debate and rather than affirming to the nation that he himself is clean of any culpability in this whole murky affair, simply demonstrated that he had no answers whatsoever, no self-justifications for his appalling misjudgements, but only reaffirmed that Eton really does produce a breed of hubristic, obscenely self-confident and arrogant clones who think high political or judicial office is their default birthright. Cameron’s performance in the debate was laughably shallow and risibly duplicitous – but then, that’s hardly anything new is it? Cameron pompously asserted that he was ‘rather old-fashioned’ in believing that one is innocent before proven guilty – what a pity this ‘principle’ of his does not extend to the poor, unemployed, sick, disabled and all others who are deemed economically inactive (cue government ‘chav’-esque acronym NEETS: Not in Education or Employment) all of whom his government continually tar with the brush of ‘scrounging malingerers’ – no doubt the Tories wish they had their own Botany Bay to dispatch all their perceived undesirables to.

The Daily Express and Mail Couldn't Give ATOS About the Facts

To which, recent excoriating reports into the morally clouded cowboy operation of Atos – a French IT company! – sub-contracted to interrogate and bully millions of vulnerable and ill claimants off their incapacity benefits, demand to be taken serious notice of now by ministerial outsourcers and this corporate exclusion racket’s pogrom on the incapacitated dismantled forthwith. The fact that these assessments are commonly referred to as 'Atos Trials' rather says it all - lamplights and thumbscrews spring to mind! That things even got to the point when the most vulnerable in society were put onto a bureaucratic factory conveyor-belt designed to tip them into unsuitable work or further poverty in a so-called ‘social democracy’ simply beggars belief in its transparent Malthusianism. The Recusant predicts that in decades to come people in this country will look back in shame that it ever sunk so utterly low as this. Tory sadists aside, I sincerely hope the more vitriolic sections of British ‘taxpayers’ who supported and even helped whip up this tabloid-fed anti-benefit frenzy for the sake of saving themselves a few pennies of tax, will hang their heads in shame – alongside ministers and tabloid editors – when the full scale of broken lives, and suicides, sees the statistical light of day.

Only this week we’ve heard the story of a widow whose fatally ill husband was proclaimed fit for work by Atos, only to collapse and die a short time later (if one wanted to be superstitious about this, one could almost suggest the Atos ‘tick’ acts subliminally like a kind of Black Spot). Of course the mentally ill get less news coverage but it’s widely known now that legion sufferers either have breakdowns and serious relapses in their conditions, attempt or succeed in suicide, or end up being re-sectioned due to the intolerable pressure put on them by agencies like Atos. This whole Malthusian operation under the Con-Dems has to be the darkest moment in modern British political history. Shame on the government and its Atos shock-troops for hounding the sick and vulnerable so remorselessly and viciously as they continue to do; shame on the Murdoch-esque tabloids for whipping up this fiscal pogrom; shame, in particular, on the risible Daily Express for continually scapegoating and slandering the unemployed and incapacitated; and shame on those sections of society who think that their own ‘tax-paying’ status somehow gives them the right to morally judge those who are unfit to work or who simply cannot cope mentally with the unreasonable demands of modern industrial employment.

But Lo! What were the Daily Express and Daily Mail leader headlines the day after the revelations about the appallingly flawed Atos assessments and the 70% of appeals that found in favour of claimants kicked off their benefits by it (latest figures suggest it is 70%, not the 39% originally claimed by the government)? Yes, the usual disingenuous right-wing claptrap that on the face of it, i.e. assuming Atos’s wholly discredited statistics are in some obscure sense still correct, 79% of those on incapacity benefit found fit to work apparently to those in Lynch-Mob La La Land of said Malthusian rags. And for those who might think here’s the Recusant getting a bit hyperbolic again, it seems a growing sense of outrage at what appears to be a serious issue of the abuse of truth for partisan purposes among certain right-wing tabloids on this issue is interestingly dissected here also:
http://fullfact.org/factchecks/two_million_incapacity_benefit_fit_to_work_express-2435

Any who worry for forthcoming over-regulation of our tabloids (and it should ONLY apply to the tabloids, not to more responsible and genuinely investigative broadsheets, in our view) should be nothing short of relieved that there could be a chance to rein in the ethically reprehensible right-wing propaganda of the Express and Mail; both pretty repellent papers that have campaigned for years to slander, hound and victimise the unemployed, poor, vulnerable and now even the sick and disabled. If that’s what we think of as a free press then I think it is better we trashed most of it as soon as possible, or at the very least, demarcated tabloids from proper journalism so emphatically that they share completely different stands in shops: newspapers for proper investigative journalism and actual news; tabloids for mindless celebrity gossip and failed partisan satire, perhaps somewhere between OK Magazine and Viz.

In instances such as the latest Atos scandal, the Express and Mail show neither ethical conscience nor loyalty to the truth when they cynically twist what the actual story was here: that Atos is inaccurately classing most of these claimants as fit to work – do these papers feel no shame, no moral responsibility, guilt or culpability in a culture they’ve helped create which has driven legion mental health sufferers to breakdown and even in some instances suicide, and led to the death of one physically disabled man after Atos said he was ‘fit to work’? Fit to drop more like, and he did.

These piranha-like tabloids also seem to think that just because a large proportion of new Incapacity/ESA claimants end up ‘dropping their claims’ prior to their Atos assessments that this somehow implies that they were trying to wag their incapacities. This is a rather perverse logic, and it seems to the Recusant, quite oppositely, that the numbers of claimants dropping out of the process is likely more indicative of their genuine incapacities and the fact that they simply can’t cope with the stress and uncertainty of these widely criticised Atos ‘trials’ which appear to be demeaningly interrogative processes. It is well known nowadays that with the cranking up of anti-claimant rhetoric in parliament and the media, where being on benefits seems to involve the donning of invisible leper bells or figurative ‘Scrounger’ tags – guilty till proven genuine! – that there are scores of eligible claimants who simply no longer see the state support they are entitled to by dint of their incapacities a psychologically viable option anymore. Shame on this brutally judgemental British ‘consensus’ that so viciously discourages the most needy in society from claiming that to which they are entitled, and which is a mere pin-prick in the wallet to our gratuitously wealthy Cabinet aristocrats but the difference between a meal or some second-hand clothes to the impoverished.

But nothing, no amount of reality-checking, truth and blatant evidence that the government, via Atos, is pursuing an amoral and fanatical pogrom against the most vulnerable in society will EVER sway said papers from their ethically twisted, misanthropic and anti-tax attitude which puts money before human wellbeing and even lives. Shame on them. But shame most of all on this Tory-led government which actively encourages such resentful attitudes as if they are somehow virtues.

Cutting Out the Tabloid Cancer Once and For All

The Recusant regards such papers with equal contempt to that which they routinely display to the unemployed and socially vulnerable, not to say to the largely working-class readers whom they implicitly patronise by presuming they want to read such black and white un-incisive and infantile titillation on a daily basis. The Recusant also believes that these tabloids are basically infringing on human rights by encouraging vicious discrimination of those sections of society who have the least recourse to withstanding such continual victimisation. That the toothless PCC has never thought to seriously hold these papers accountable for their vicious headlines is perhaps no surprise given the organisation’s absolute uselessness regards the Murdoch affair; but I would suggest any future regulations of the media clamp down on the twisted ideological gutter-trash produced daily by the right-wing newspapers of this country. Now the reprehensible News of the World has gone the way of all trash, we sincerely hope in time the same will happen through tighter regulations to tabloids such as the Daily Express, the Sun, the Star, the Evening Standard, the Daily Mail, and, yes, to be balanced here, the Labour-supporting Mirror too (its slandering of the wrongfully suspected landlord in the Bristol murder affair was unforgivably hostile and sensationalist). To ever have the hope of a truly socially progressive and ethical democracy, we need to cut the red-top tabloid cancer out of our media altogether, or at the very least, significantly emasculate it by bringing it in line with fair, rational and mature mainstream journalistic ethics.

For too long the tabloids have been the vandals of truth and the mobbers of compassion; they need to take a leaf out of the less abrasively partisan broadsheets’ books – particularly the Guardian which has definitively proven itself, in the Murdoch affair specifically, the Guardian of our democracy. And for those who might sniff at the fact that I do not include the Morning Star in my list of tabloids, there are many very strong reasons why I do not and why I believe it is a far superior outlet to those papers mentioned: though an openly ideological paper, its writers never resort to the kind of greasily intrusive and offensively phrased articles and headlines of the majority of right-wing tabloids (which in itself says a lot by contrast about the ethical calibre of the left-wing press). For the Recusantthe Morning Star is just what its title suggests: a much-needed compassionate torchlight on a moral cloud of capitalist mouthpieces masquerading as ‘news’ outlets. The Morning Star is an establishment-sceptic, independently funded daily account of our times from an openly socialist perspective, nothing more, nothing less; and in that, probably the only honestly ideological and transparently accountable newspaper in our country, since it does not hide behind a populist façade to promote right-wing prejudice, nor behind bogus political neutrality, or the fence-sitting convenience of the ‘liberal’ tag.

Talking of democracy: it may surprise those tabloids mentioned to realise that one basic principle of being part of an ‘ostensible’ social democracy, is tax: without tax, society cannot function – simple as that. Christ’s famous Render unto Caesar proverb, far from being, as some wilfully blind right-wingers would suggest, the ultimate vindication of capitalist establishments, actually has far more logical mileage as an argument for one’s responsibility to others in society, and was therefore much more of a socialist-oriented aphorism, inconvenient though that may be to many who abuse its meaning to defend their own greed. Why do so many people resent paying any tax? Possibly because they aspire to accrue sufficient capital throughout their lives so they put themselves above others in society? Well that ain’t what a democracy is supposed to be about, though the Recusant recognises that the embryonic ‘Big Society’ is very much about such tight-fisted misanthropic instincts, while its gradual withdrawal of state support for its citizens is undoubtedly intended to either turn many of us over night into philistine profit-driven entrepreneurs, or street vendors for the Big Issue. The weak to go to the wall all over again, for the second time since Thatcherism kicked off this brutal trend in British culture; only this time it’s going to be even worse since the welfare state is being systematically dismantled around us and hounded along into its grave by the right-wing gutter press.

If such pathologically intolerant/socially un-empathic ‘taxpayers’ as those who cheer the tabloid vigilantes had a choice, they’d not pay a penny in tax towards anything at all, let alone the sick and unemployed. But as long as the system obliges them to, their seeming one consolation is to act as singularly ill-suited ethical judges on the misfortunes and suffering of others less fortunate. A contemptible bully culture, kick-started the Thatcherites and helped along by New Labour Pink Tories such as James Purnell, and now catapulted to top lynch-mob priority by the fiscal fascists who currently lord over us.

Czar Dave ‘I Don’t Do Irony’ Cameron Guest Edits the Big (Society) Issue to Welcome in
a New Generation of Street Vendors Created by His Government’s Housing Benefit Caps

Perhaps one of the most glaringly ironic and farcical PR stunts yet of any prime minister in living memory is the fact that this week the Big Issue, ostensibly a magazine for the homeless, has as its guest editor none other than ‘roll up your sleeves and do the right thing’ Cameron. You just couldn’t make this up could you? It’s like a sketch in Private Eye: the man who, as prime minister, is directly responsible for the unbelievably blinkered and socially destructive housing benefit caps which are set to force around 40,000 families into homelessness due to the absence of any moves to regulate private rents proportionately, is guest-editing an issue of the country’s leading mouthpiece on behalf of the homeless! No doubt frequent claims that Cameron doesn’t take any interest in ‘policy detail’ will be used to explain his duplicity in accepting this appointment, since no doubt he isn’t actually aware of the direct consequences of his own government’s deplorable housing policies – not just regards housing benefit caps but also cranking up the rent levels of social housing and capping council housing tenancies. Few prime ministers have managed to do so much so quickly in the cause of providing A. John Bird with such an immense pool of surplus street vendors as David Cameron. For this, he inexplicably gets the badge of being the Big Issue’s guest editor! What are we going to get next? Nick Griffin guest-editing Urban Mozaik?

There seems to be something of an Irony Black Hole here, not only in the echoing emptiness of David Cameron’s head, but in the Big Issue office itself. What on earth does founder A. John Bird think he’s playing at? Is this perhaps in the spirit of the new-found ‘pluralism’ that Mr Bird seriously believes it is justifiable for a prime minister heading one of the most right-wing, viciously discriminatory, Social Darwinian governments in our history, one which is as the issue goes to press, deep in the process of accelerating street homelessness in the capital and nationally to a potentially unprecedented scale not seen since the initial Diaspora under Margaret Thatcher? Whatever the reasons behind this deeply eccentric, actually downright offensive, even duplicitous editorial stunt, I will not be buying the Big Issue again – although will happily still, as I do anyway, give change to the vendors themselves.

But I’m afraid this is pushing editorial pluralism way too far: to invite someone directly responsible for increasing homelessness in this country to edit what is meant to be its mouthpiece is simply beyond comprehension. If Mr Bird cannot see this I would say that it marks a very sorry day indeed for any hope that our culture will eventually wake up to the fact that it is simply not acceptable in one of the richest countries in the world to have so much as ONE person sat on the street. That homelessness has almost become a kind of Dickensian tourist attraction and accepted grittier feature to British national culture is frankly only further fed by such self-defeating and nonsensical publicity stunts as this. It is an insult to the vendors who distribute the magazine and to the homeless in general. Tactless is an understatement here.

It is also ironic too since it comes only a few months after our very own Emergency Verse campaign in defence of the welfare state took up a four page spread in the Big Issue; a feature clearly highlighting and even tacitly supporting our absolute anti-Con Dem stance and implicit criticism of Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ spin. Pluralism and democratic debate aside, we do struggle to see how the Big Issue can feel comfortable moving from one area of focus to the absolute opposite possible, by inviting the prime minister himself to guest edit one of their issues, especially when in the face of the growing reality of the very social Diaspora EV was warning would come only a few months ago in the same title! This is topsy-turvy editorial thinking; it’s not pluralistic, it’s just plain absurd. If the scandal of Thatcherite-driven homelessness in this country is not an implicitly partisan issue, then Heaven knows what is! Unless Cameron spends his editorial apologising to the Big Issue readers for his unconscionable acceleration of street homelessness, we can see no other ethical or sane purpose that his guest-editorship could possibly have.

One does seriously worry now that there may be more than a titular coincidence between the names 'Big' Issue and ‘Big Society’ – and perhaps Mr Bird and Mr Cameron share some similarly misguided Smilesean beliefs in pre-Welfare State self-help and charity-driven mutualism. The Recusant is all for a more co-operative based communitarianism, but that does not mean at the expense of an institutional Welfare State and legal aid structure; which unfortunately for us is precisely what Mr Cameron intends it to mean. The Recusant is also concerned as to the ambiguity of the Big Issue’s new red-inked slogan: The Big Issue - a hand up, not a hand out... That the pejorative term ‘hand-out’ has come back into mainstream parlance in reference to what used to be called ‘state benefit’ or ‘benefit entitlement’, is far more worrying than it might seem placating to any who have swallowed the red-top spun nonsense that the Welfare State has simply encouraged a culture in which everyone thinks they can just dip into the public purse for no particular reason – a total nonsense as anyone who has been on benefits will tell you: nowadays, one is lucky to even get what they are supposed to be ‘entitled’ to, let alone anything to which they are not ‘entitled’.

But that the mouthpiece of the homeless is employing such dubious phraseology – and as if a homeless person getting a pitch as a vendor automatically means they’re on their way towards anything resembling proper employment, let alone securing a roof for themselves, is just ‘wilfully blind’ and unrealistic – and emphasizing this sort of ‘Big Society’ self-help rhetoric, seemingly under the assumption that it’s now some sort of common knowledge that claiming any benefits at all is ethically taboo, seems to us both deeply disturbing and frankly irresponsible. But it seems, tragically, this once noble title might soon be changing its name to the Big Society Issue. What’s the bet that Cameron comes out from his one-week stint in a grittier reality to any he has directly witnessed in his life with a robotic Murdoch-like line: ‘this has been the humblest moment of my life’. And then, of course, goes back to his multi-millionaire lifestyle and forgets all about it. Cynicism, yes, but in this instance we think, justified.

Osborne and Bust

And lastly, just in on 26 July 2011, were the non-growth figures for the last quarter, risibly low due mainly, apparently, to the Royal Wedding in April, which hitherto Osborne and his cohorts had been claiming would be a reason why there would likely be a growth-boost due to tourism; as Ed Balls pointed out, first it was the ‘snow’, now it’s the ‘sun’ to blame for poor figures. Pathetic excuses for a flatlining economy by the Chancellor thanks to his unacceptably draconian and self-defeating austerity cuts. But of course, it’ll not be those such as Baronet-to-be Osborne who will actually suffer from any of the cuts is it? So easy for millionaire Cabinet ministers on six figure salaries to make ‘difficult decisions’ and ‘tough choices’ for everyone else who don’t have their pay, pensions, perks, inheritances and properties to fall back on.

But according to a spokesman from the less-than-encouragingly titled Adam Smith Institute, ‘we all spent too much during the boom and bought lots of property’ and so on, and so it’s natural there’ll be a ‘hangover’ after the ‘party’. Such a gauche and frankly execrable remark displayed a breathtaking pig-ignorance regarding the ordinary lives of most people, but more to the point the fact that millions of Britons did not take part in the ‘party’ at all, even in the boom times, did not have then and certainly don’t have now the money nor, in many cases, sufficient greed acumen to have cashed into the buy-to-let boom and general grab-all-you-can bonanza of other sections of society, mainly of course the bankers, speculators and super-rich, all of whom, of course, have got away from the austerity measures scot-free and continued to accumulate wealth while those who played no part whatsoever either in the boom grab or in the fiscal roulette that caused the recession, are suffering the cuts for others’ criminal self-interest. So more a case of those at the ‘party’ buggering off and leaving the rest to clear up the mess without having had any of the fun. That’s British ‘fairness’ for you. Funny how suddenly the rich and powerful use ‘we’ when it comes to cuts, but hitherto were perfectly happy to use ‘us’ when there was plenty of swill in the troughs.

Alan Morrison, 31 July 2011

From 'Red Ed' to 'Red-Top Ed': The New 'Blue Labour' Thinking and Labour's Tabloid-Wooing Abandonment (Again!) of the 'Crushed Underclass' in favour of the 'Squeeze Middle'; Party of Welfare Universalism but 'Moral' Means-Testing

Well, this heading pretty much sums up what I wish to say on the deplorable piece of pseudo-Daily Express claptrap that characterised in the main Ed Miliband's so-called 'fightback' speech yesterday. For all those on the true left in this country, this 'Blue Labour' diatribe is the final nail in the coffin for any who hoped Labour might finally, after the ethical debacle of New Labour, realign itself with its core founding principles and offer a true ideological opposition to the right-wing austerity agenda.

But in one death-blow of tabloid-pandering, Ed Miliband has blown this hope out of the now clearly very blue water of the latest centre-right party thinking. All thanks to the influence of recently ennobled Labour peer Maurice Glasman, whose 'Blue Labour' agenda wishes to reassert party links with the most conservative and reactionary aspects to working-class social attitudes - what Frank Field vacuously applauds as its 'moral economy', which discriminates explicitly between 'deserving and undeserving poor' and is inherently judgemental of those who are unemployed.

The Blue Labourites would rather skip back to pre-45 Labour and cherrypick the least significant and worst traits in their movement's history - a masochistic belief in 'work' at all costs even if futile and impoverishing; a contempt for those on benefits; a hard line on crime and punishment; a tacitly xenophobic aversion to too much immigration; and an empty concept of 'patriotism' through mutual class suffering - than seek to reignite the far more important old Labour ethics of egalitarianism and social justice. This is not only ethically hollow, but also deeply philistine. It also demonstrates what the real problem is with Labour today: a complete lack of conviction. What precisely do they believe in anymore other than just a slightly less harsh Toryism? Blue Labour seems to be nothing more than the latest pathetic attempt for many well-heeled Oxbridge centrists to find more excuses for the party not to stand up for left-wing values while also having one or two scraps of 'progressive' concessions to justify why they're not simply joining forces with the ConDems. Why they wish to maintain this ideological void of neither being one thing nor the other is anyone's guess. But it's achingly clear to those on the true left today that this new emphasis on the 'blueness', the 'conservativeness' in Labour values is much more than a figurative symptom of a party without any soul: it is symbolic of the fact that basically most Labour MPs are ultimately just Tories-in-denial. No such charlatans can offer us a genuine Opposition to this vicious government. We need an ideological opposition at this time, a true alternative vision - Ed Miliband has just copped it. So over to the Unions, the Greens and other smaller left-wing parties, as it seems clear now that Labour has abandoned this generation - for a second time!

It pains me to say that Blue Labour is being fuelled further by some hitherto incisive centre-left Labour thinkers who ought to know better but who have recently been contributing such unhelpful terms as 'conservative socialism': an oxymoronic ethos which appears to confuse a focus on re-planting uprooted working-class communities with a drive towards a sort of ‘patriotic’ working-class traditionalism that focuses far too much on national identity as opposed to international working-class solidarity. Those who support such ideas should think again, though should not need to be asked to, since their previous insights into recent welfare policies being effectively modern day enclosures and clearances of the disenfranchised in society had shown a sharp dialectical eye on the current seismic shift in our social fabric. But unfortunately even ostensibly progressive thinktanks such as Compass are beginning to dither, to seemingly be swayed by the likes of Maurice Glasman - and this is to commit a similar solecism to Labour's short-sighted expulsion of the Militant Tendency under Neil Kinnock in the Eighties: alienating the left and giving up on converting the mainstream to socialist principles, instead converting the party itself to mainstream non-principles more akin to the Thatcherism the party was supposed to be supplanting. Hence New Labour, and the rest is history. We don't want that again, Blue Labour.

It is the conviction of the Recusant that Labour is ideologically dead, and that the left-wing Labour Representation Committee should migrate away from a party which clearly does not share its socialist principles and merge with the Green Party – which clearly does – and the other smaller socialist parties, to join in the Coalition of Resistance with the Unions. To hope to still influence a clearly recrudescent rightward shift in Labour to anything approaching the centre-left - let alone the true left - seems now to be purely wishful thinking.

The Recusant takes issue with Ed Miliband's risibly discriminatory speech, in particular, with his appalling assertion that somehow the alleged 'benefit fraud' among some of the poorest in society is to be equated with the disgraceful mass theft of the wealthy banking speculators as both examples of the ‘take what you can’ attitude of Thatcherism. That any party, let alone Labour, should insult the poor and unemployed – themselves the direct victims of Thatcherism – in this manner is truly reprehensible and a direct insult to the memories of Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan, Clement Attlee and all those True Labour left-wing figures who built the British Welfare State and National Health Service in the first great governmental effort to once and for all level society – but which has been continually undermined for decades by successive governments of both colours.

That there is even this debate at all at the moment on so-called ‘welfare reform’ and discriminating against the ‘deserving and undeserving’ unemployed when this country has been devastated economically by the self-enriching criminals of the private sector who continue to use taxpayers’ money to award themselves further bonuses (bail out contributions apparently ‘leaking in to the bonus pool’ according to Barclays Chief Bob Diamond) – just shows how ethically corrupted our political classes, including Labour, truly are. Those same political classes, let us not forget (though they’d like us to of course), who in droves routinely defrauded the public coffers through the expenses and property-flipping bonanza, and without any material need whatsoever in doing so.

It is these same unscrupulous abusers of power and privilege who then turn to a bankrupted nation and start lecturing those at the bottom of the heap for simply trying to survive in a benefits system wrought with loopholes, wilful disinformation and punitive penalties.

But that the leader of Labour should use a public platform to fuel such right-wing claptrap, and only a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s rousing call to arms for the British Left to stand up for the most vulnerable in society against this vicious government, is absolutely beyond the pale. The only consolation for the Recusant in this is that we had already switched our allegiance to the Green Party beforehand. Now that move has proven well-judged. Miliband, who got off to a reasonable start as leader, began to wobble considerably in his marked absence during the various mass protests and marches of recent months, and his seeming inability to stand up and fully support the Unions who, after all, fully supported his leadership bid. But now, because he is clearly desperate to appease the growingly disgruntled right of his party who are as we know itching to usurp him with the even more centre-right David, he is truly forsaken his promise. The Milibands' late socialist father must be turning in his grave at the knowledge that now both of his sons seem to be pulling the party further away from its roots and playing into the hands of the perennial capitalist apartheids of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’.

Labour, it appears, is the party of universal benefits, but ‘moral’ means-testing – something of a contradiction, but one implicit in Miliband’s speech, where he talks of those have been ‘ripping off society’ and lumps bankers and so-called ‘benefit cheats’ in together - this is a lazy, convenient but deeply offensive political balancing act designed not to offer any real alternative to our atomised society, but to cynically capitalise on both wings of the national centreground. His espousal of the value in volunteering including among those unemployed, is the only shred of reasonable comment in an otherwise deplorable piece of ‘moral’ cherrypicking of the poor. Miliband cheapens his salute to volunteers by then saying Labour would prioritise them for council housing above those unemployed who did not volunteer in their communities, thus once again bringing in a divide-and-rule attitude. And one which, apart from anything else, implies future volunteering would – as is increasingly the case under the ConDems – actually not be volunteering at all, but a combination of mandatory community conscription and/or offering one’s services purely to get into council housing, which then undermines the true spirit of voluntarism.

But finally, Ed Miliband’s most offensive– not to say two-faced – tactic in this speech is to begin with the example of a man on Incapacity due to a ‘genuine injury’, whom the privileged and Oxford-educated Miliband then condescends to say is a good man who wishes to provide for his family, before turning on his heels and showing the complete temerity of someone who’s had a particularly smooth route onto his own path in life and who demonstrably lacks any first-hand knowledge of poverty or survival on benefits by casually stating, ‘but I felt convinced there will still some work this man could be doing’. Miliband then twists the knife in on this social case study, by suggesting he is an example of those ‘shirking their responsibility’, which ‘the rest of us (i.e. taxpayer) have to pick up the pieces’ for. Grudgingly paying a bit of tax, only a fraction of which goes towards the welfare system, is hardly exactly ‘picking up the pieces’ of the industrially broken lives of thousands of people is it?

‘Picking up the pieces’ would be, well, for instance, to be volunteering in mental health while incapacitated oneself in a society which stigmatises both volunteer and mental health service user as burdens on the taxpayer. Perhaps Miliband should think of that rather than taking the Tory line of measuring everything in terms of material rather than practical and humane social exchanges. It is very easy for a well-educated and practically dynastic Labour Party insider, who has also inherited his own house in London, to lope about deprived housing estates lecturing incapacitated and impoverished fathers as to their ‘responsibilities’.

So this is the face of Blue Labour: the new ‘moral’ means-test, which, apart from anything else, is simply an empty echo of IDS’s current sanctimonious crusade against those who apparently ‘opt’ for stigmatised impoverishment as a ‘lifestyle’ choice. Clearly we are a nation divided between the avaricious and the masochistic. This is what comes from a consultation period which involves largely listening to underpaid and invariably resentful supermarket cashieres on their canteen breaks: ‘Blue-Rinse Labour’. But Miliband clearly doesn't realise that such groups represent only one small section of the multi-varied working classes. Clearly Labour are not interested in the 'non-working class', nor with the 'underclass' or the dispossessed. How broad-minded of them.

What an ethical, moral and intellectual cop out Blue Labour ‘thinking’ is: for Ed Miliband to speciously claim that the reason New Labour lost so many votes was not only due to being regulation-light on markets and banks, but also due to some imperceptible ‘soft touch’ approach to welfare, when it was specifically under their DWP Minister James Purnell that the most reactionary putsch against the unemployed since the welfare state was created, through proposed workfare schemes, was legislated. Neither in truth or even by any verisimilitude of truth did New Labour ever in any conceivable sense act ‘soft’ on the unemployed; the horrific policies of their Tory successors in besieging the welfare state from every single direction is simply an intensification of what New Labour put in place for them. This assertion is specious in the extreme; it is, effectively, a lie - or, if not quite that, a gross misjudgment and self-delusion on the part of Miliband and his policy advisers.

The so-called conclusion of Blue Labour's ‘listening excercise’ is one fuelled by the worst and most ignorant attitudes among the red-top sections of the working class, and attitudes which Labour, if it had any intellectual or ethical backbone, should be doing its utmost to re-educate and campaign against, not use as a blueprint for their party’s very policies. If eventually in power again, will ‘Blue’ Labour be using a board of blue-rinsed tabloid-reading supermarket cashieres to advise them on their ongoing welfare policies?

Why not ‘listen’ to the views of the most deprived in society, the unintentionally unemployed, the unintentionally homeless (on which semantic point, it was also under New Labour’s homeless tsars, let’s not forget, that the disgraceful stigmatisation of ‘intentionally homeless’ was invented), the sick and disabled, and those mistreated and stigmatised for having to live with mental health problems? If Miliband et al did so, they might learn a damn site more than they do from tabloid-littered supermarket canteens. Labour should be proselytising on socialist principles, re-educating those sections of the working classes politically brainwashed by three decades of Thatcherite divide-and-rule dogma which has atomised all sense of class solidarity, and awareness of the true ‘benefit cheats’ of society: the bankers, capitalists, property moguls, tabloid tycoons, politicians and aristocracy. All of whom, in our ‘big society’, say ‘Thou Shalt Volunteer’ to the unemployed, poor and sick, and to the thousands of public sector workers shoved out of their jobs and then told to carry on doing them for peanuts or nothing. The same ‘big society’ of course in which the charities, CAB and voluntary sectors are dismantling around us due to cuts, and whose very tsar ended up resigning because he realised without a hint of irony that working for nothing wasn’t ‘a life’.

So it appears Blue Labour is all about wooing back those working-class voters who switched to the EDL or BNP for feeling culturally marginalised, and in part, bowing to their ill-informed prejudices, rather than in trying to woo back the hundreds of thousands of more enlightened left-wing and left-of-centre working class and lower middle class voters who deserted them – disastrously as it now turns out of course – for the leftist posturing of the Lib Dems in the last election. Thus, Blue Labour is touting for the lowest common denominators in so-called ‘public opinion’ among both the working and middle classes. In effect, the attitudes most akin to the very Thatcherism Miliband irresponsibly and unjustifiably applies to most of its victims: the long-term unemployed. If Labour had always sought purely to lazily court popular ‘opinion’ in order to determine its own policies, then it would never have even been created, let alone fought for tooth and nail for parliamentary acceptance and, later, government. Shame on Blue Labour and all who bow to its hollow opportunism.

Oh, Miliband does vent a token bit of spleen against the banks and speculators – but this is entirely undermined by his tabloid-baiting volte face into welfare judgmentalism; he rightly says that being ‘intensely relaxed about the rich’ is not right, but then completely undermines this the next minute by saying that he ‘applauds’ those who make lots of money and create wealth – on the condition they are doing so legitimately and through genuinely hard work of course. However, as many of us know, this is rarely if ever the case: capitalism is oiled on the exploitation of others’ labour to create profits.

This is not the kind of playground discrimination-game the country needs from its official Opposition at this horrendous time. Labour is once again ducking its ‘moral responsibility’ to stand up for the most vulnerable in society, and quite blatantly in a bid for a shot-cut back to power, for no purpose other than to pump up their own power-prestige and salaries.

The only dialectic any allegedly centre-left party should be encouraging at this time is that of the ‘undeserving rich’; to water this down by arbitrarily and cynically attempting some convenient balancing act between those playing the system at the top and the bottom of society, is ethically corrupt and intellectually void. How anyone could possibly claim that someone struggling on paltry benefits and who due to dire need may or may not occasionally cut corners for meagre sums in order to literally survive from week to week, is somehow comparable on a ‘moral’ level to a super-rich tax-avoider or a millionaire speculator gambling public money, losing it, taking more public money to sort themselves out, then pooling even that back into their own bonus pot and refusing to lend anything back to the public – well, what can one say that hasn’t already been said on this utterly absurd state of affairs? It speaks for itself: it is capitalism par excellence and of a pedigree even Karl Marx wouldn’t have imagined possible.

What a far cry all this is from the days when a Labour prime minister would casually trot out phrases like ‘we’re going to squeeze the property speculators until the pips squeak’! At a time when the sick and disabled are being bullied out of their benefits, thousands on thousands of social and council housing tenants are going to have the rugs literally pulled from under them through lease and housing benefit caps as the parasitic private landlords crank up their rents in response, and the social care and mental health sectors are literally melting before service users’ eyes – all Ed Miliband and ‘Blue Labour# can do is talk some complete spurious crap about a minority of benefit recipients ‘ripping off society’ in a way comparable to the behaviour of the banks and the tax-dodging super-rich. And no mention of course of the £16 Billion a year that goes UNCLAIMED in welfare benefits!

I think Ed Miliband needs to check out Owen Jones’ Chav – the Demonisation of the Working Class pretty quickly, as well as Pete Golding’s indispensable Images of Welfare; clearly not books one would find on Maurice Glasman’s coffee table. Perhaps Blue Labour should just ditch ‘Labour’ altogether and just call themselves the ‘Blue Party’.

On quite a different tone of the colour spectrum, the Recusant now supports the Green Party, and, in principle, the Labour Representation Committee, but urges the latter to join with the former and with the smaller Socialist parties, away from Labour once and for all, towards the formation of a new left-wing movement in opposition to the Con-Dem-Lab centre-right austerity consensus. We also fully support the Unions and implicitly back their campaigns in the months and years ahead.

Alan Morrison, June 2011

All Hail the Red Archbishop

As I have commented on previous editorials, in many ways one of the spokespersons for a true socialistic opposition (apart from Caroline Lucas of the Greens, John McDonnell of the Labour Representation Committee, and Bob Crow of the Unions) to the ConDem Government has been the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; and never more so than this week in the New Statesman, in which he eloquently speaks out directly against the mandate-less, arguably illegitimate ‘radicalism’ of the Coalition, and, most crucially of all, against the ‘punitive’ attacks on welfare provision – not simply a Tory policy, but also previously (though slightly less harshly) one of New Labour also: it was under Gordon Brown’s DWP heavymen Purnell and McNulty that there was an increasing emphasis on the ‘deserving and undeserving poor’ myth in order to attempt morally justifying draconian measures against the long-term unemployed. In typical Tory style, this government is simply cranking up this Calvinistic rhetoric several notches, in order to claw back billions of pounds from the poor and sick to pay for the sins of the speculating rich.

Cue the sanctimonious IDS who has seized on his ministerial role with an evangelical zeal, and though one of his proposals is a positive move - namely to allow a gradual phasing out of benefits rather than a sudden withdrawal when someone first gets a job, which sensibly helps them avoid the less reported phenomenon of 'working poverty' (particularly when waiting for one's first monthly pay packet to come through) - his department's insistence on continued harassment of those on incapacity and DLA benefits under the auspices of unaccountable private agencies such as ATOS, among other punitive measures, are far from the kind of soft/Christian Toryism (if not a total contradiction in itself) that the silverspooned DWP Minister likes to make out. Indeed, his own response to Williams' intervention was as pompous as Cameron's, with the added spice of being wholly contradictory too: IDS first said that he did 'not believe in the deserving and undeserving poor' paradigm, yet in the next sentence said: 'but there is an undeserving group' within the welfare system. So, in other words, he DOES believe there is such a thing as 'the undeserving poor'. Clearly our DWP Minister is not acquainted with the Socratic contradiction. IDS bangs on about Williams having not seen some of the things he has witnessed in workless communities - so suddenly IDS is the nation's expert on poverty and unemployment just for selectively visiting random communities and in the employ of a party which is constitutionally judgemental of the poor and in continual denial as to its own direct responsibility (since Thatcherism in particular) for having created the very socially 'fragmented' society that Williams rightly argues we have today.

Tories always talk of 'personal responsibility' - but they rarely if ever address the issue of 'community responsibility', responsibility to others, which is precisely what Williams is talking about: basic Christian principles, apart from also being socialist ones. The Tories talk of 'making work pay' as a solution to the benefits trap - but what about making benefits pay so that people are not demeaned so much through poverty and stigmatising that they lose all sense of self-esteem necessary to convince at work interviews? Make work pay absolutely - pay a proper living wage for a start; but also make benefits pay, to the effect that one is not demonised and given figurative leper bells for simply claiming what they are supposed to be entitled to in deprived circumstances. And as for the old 'Render Unto Ceaser' trope always trotted out by grubbing right-wingers to spuriously justify capitalism: Williams, I am sure, would be the first to point out that this phrase was specifically referring to paying tax, and tax is, let us not forget, the chief hate of the Tories and the right, something they resent as an obstacle to unfettered self-enrichment of the individual (hence the abundance of tax loopholes and havens for the rich). That Cameron and his ilk constantly stir up the taxpayer to resent the benefit claimant (helped along by the trogladite Daily Express et al) by arguing that a whole section of society basically lives off others' 'hard won' earnings, is twisted and specious in the extreme. Firstly, most people on benefits have previously paid into the system through tax when they were employed, so are merely being reimbursed to support them when they are out of work; and secondly, welfare is only one tiny part of what taxpayers money contributes to - lest we forget the billions of tax donated to our struggling banking sector only to find - as revealed by the permatanned Bob Diamond of Barclays only this week - that some of the bail out money might have 'leaked into the bonus pool'. Funny how Cameron never bangs on about that example of rich milkers of taxpayers' money isn't it?

Cameron's poisonous assault on welfare via whipping up a mass resentment among taxpayers against benefit claimants is deeply unethical of a prime minister, and socially pernicious. It is of course a deliberate divide-and-rule tactic and one which is ensuring that mass welfare cuts on a previously unthinkable scale which are targeting the sick and disabled as much as anyone else, even driving many with mental health problems to suicide, seem generally unopposed by a large section of the public. It is a right-wing populist culture-shift on a scale which even Thatcher couldn't quite pull off. That a day should come in a so-called 'social democracy' where thousands of disabled claimants literally had to wheelchair a protest past parliament to get public attention, should come sixty years down the line from the great Attlee settlement, is really cause to weep for the ethical and moral degeneration of this nation. A nation which, without any hint of irony, Cameron casually refers to as 'compassionate'. Thus speaks the Humpty Dumpty Coalition, who do one thing and call it the opposite.

It is, then, within this deeply depressing national debate between ConDem 'fast savage cuts' and Labour 'slightly less savage fast cuts' (hardly any real alternative), where only the Unions and a handful of left-wing backbenchers argue against the austerity agenda, that Williams' intervention comes and at an essential moment. Unrestricted by any tribalisms, he at least can speak out without fear of the party whips or spin doctors castigating him. Williams has not missed the vital ethical black hole in the current government’s fiscal blitzkrieg on the welfare state, and even himself lambasts the 'deserving/undeserving poor' paradigm in his piece. He quite rightly accuses Cameron et al of bogusly championing mutualism and cooperativeness as a deeply cynical cover for a right-wing dismantling of the welfare state, much of the public sector and, if they have their way – and still might in part yet – our very National Health Service. Williams condemns the ConDems not only on moral and ethical grounds, but on practical ones also: he correctly highlights how all the specious aspirations of the ‘big society’ project simply fall to bits on closer inspection when it is evident that due to the gratuitous austerity cuts throughout the public and charity/voluntary sectors, all the vital agencies there to supposedly implement Cameron’s nebulous vision are being undercut from the outset, when they should be, as Williams argues, underwritten – and underwritten by the state/government of the time; not calved up for profiteering at the public expense by private ‘providers’ (e.g. see the current parlous state of our railways, drained of all quality and affordability by a parasitic private sector, only to inspire the transport minister to pursue even further privatisations and arbitrary redundancies for exploited staff).

Cameron then is imposing on us, ironically, not only a society which eventually will be direly in need of many more charities and voluntary organisations to tackle the oncoming storm of poverty and homelessness – though contradictorily, at a point when there will be precious little funding to actually sustain these – which in turn his government is actually creating; but also a society in which, through the next decade or so, if his government is to cling on to power for significantly longer, will eventually need to recreate or ‘redintegrate’ (an old term meaning re-integrate or re-form) a newer and less emasculated welfare state as inevitably the only way to limit the damage of full-scale poverty. Ditto the future necessity of more council and social housing due to current clampdowns on those very sectors; either that, or generations of social Diaspora lie ahead of us. So much for not passing on debt to the next generations; well perhaps not, but we will be passing on privation and homelessness instead. Great. And so much for housing minister Grant Schapps' wilfully ignorant assertion that due to the current austerity, housing benefit caps will be absorbed by the response of private landlords to lower their unregulated rent levels: not so apparently Mr Schapps, as reported today in the wholly unsurprising reality that our parasitic culture of private landlords and property moguls are in fact cashing in on the back of a shortage in housing (one presumably not including the hundreds of thousands of empty properties throughout the country?) by actually cranking up their rents. But even so, of course, this government would never ever consider regulating private rent levels, since most of them are probably property moguls themselves, oh, and plus the fact that it was the Tories in the early 90s who short-sightedly removed rent controls in the first place. The only things Tories believe in regulating are the public sector, the welfare state, and, as Vince Cable hinted this week, the already overly regulated Unions. What a principled bunch they are!

But to return to Williams: the only phrasal point I am not totally convinced by here – although I recognise Williams means it in the sense that he perceives this government to be hiding behind a ‘progressive’ smokescreen – is his reference to the Conservatives having superficially taken up a form of ‘associational socialism’ in the guise of the ‘big society’ idea. I would quibble with extending such a worthy accolade, no matter how thinly and spuriously it is pursued, to the Tories, since any form socialism, whether ‘associational’ or not (that term apparently refers to a form of liberal left-of-centre mutualism rather than full-blown socialism), would not start out by attacking the very foundations it would need to flourish – the welfare state, charities, voluntary organisations, Unions, employment legal rights etc. etc. – before allegedly embarking on its social crusade. Such arbitrary, ignorant and brutal attacks on the most vulnerable in society as those currently being inflicted on the poor, unemployed, sick, disabled and mentally ill have absolutely no ‘association’ with socialism on any conceivable level. However, I recognise that this might be a slightly semantic quibble and is certainly not meant as any kind of repudiation of Williams’ generally commendable and compassionate stance.

What Williams is saying here is incontrovertibly right, true and fair. That Cameron has the sheer puffed-up arrogance and lack of humility to even question the dreadful direction his government is taking this country in when pushed to justify his brutal policies, and from someone who, apart from being leader of the established church – once nicknamed ‘the Tory party at prayer’ – is also a demonstrably compassionate, wise and intellectualised individual who has the ethical authority of theological knowledge and practical Christianity behind him. What moral or ethical authority does Cameron have? An inherited millionaire and ex-PR man who is notorious for having no interest in ‘policy detail’ (rather like his hero Tory Blair), an ex-Bullingdon Club Hooray Henry descended from a line of stockbrokers – what sheer conceit of his to come out so swiftly and in so knee-jerk a fashion to express how ‘profoundly’ he disagrees with an infinitely more learned and empathic man of the cloth as Rowan Williams. For me, the issue here is nothing to with the already ubiquitous right-wing criticism that Archbishops should stick to their area and not comment on politics; it is much more the sheer bare-faced moral hypocrisy and ethical philistinism of David Cameron, someone to whom profundity is demonstrably on every level, complete anathema.

Cameron is that worst type of Tory prime minister: one who plays on a kind of tabloid populist rhetoric spun from the hairshirts of Calvinism into modern secular industrial dogma – in short, not only material but also ‘moral’ success is indicated by how much one earns and owns and pays in taxes; anyone who is still poor or on benefits is clearly at some level morally diseased. This is a simplistic and twisted political stance, but of course one which our generally right-wing media laps up with every new helping: and this is simply because it justifies the epithet coined by Roy Hattersley in reference to Thatcherism, that ‘greed can be respectable’. Cameron is promoting such a philosophy in an indirect way: by selling the ‘big society’ moral imperative of volunteering amongst the largely underpaid sections of the workforce – such as ending job contracts for public sector workers just to reemploy them under bastardised employment rights and lower pay and pensions, as is already happening – our prime minister and his Cabinet of charlatans are clandestinely securing the continued financial monopoly of the political and banking elites, and of course, the tax-dodging super-rich; he is, basically, withdrawing the honey or adulterating some of it with a lot of milk, and hoarding the lion’s share safely in the pockets of his privileged few.

What Williams is doing here is utterly essential, especially at such a divided and increasingly vicious period of austerity cuts: he is standing up on a public platform, possibly the most prominent one in our country other than ever-taciturn throne, and directly opposing the Coalition mantra of cuts and its deeply dishonest manipulation of public debate from the private sector banking crisis to the spurious issue of alleged pockets of over-paid managers in the public sector (and, in turn, the continual tabloid-inspiring bile thrown at the welfare state’s dependents, by unreasonably hyperbolising on random rare cases of exorbitant housing benefit payments for families living in roomy London houses, and the continued, utterly stale rhetoric about often distorted examples of benefit abuse (stale because this has been going on in the media and in successive governments as far back as the late 1970s when, incidentally, the welfare state was paying out far more in benefits than it is today).

Vitally, Williams also challenges the Opposition, Labour, to set up a true left-of-centre alternative to as-yet unchallenged Conservative Austeritism. And this is absolutely right of him to say so, even if in a broad phrasal shorthand of ‘the left’, when presumably it is Labour to whom he primarily refers here – still, sadly, hardly ‘left-wing’ by any historical standards. One might also take from this that Williams is as yet less than impressed by current academic diversions in Labour thinking such as Maurice Glassman’s ‘Blue Labour’ which, in spite of being spot on in terms of criticising New Labour regulation-light market politics, stills unfortunately falls far short of providing a true ideologically left-wing alternative to current centre-right parliamentary thinking by still tacitly indulging the ‘undeserving poor’ meme of Brown and Purnell. That, along with a still stubborn commitment to some forms of punitive welfare ‘reform’ on the Labour benches – and a general ineffectuality in defending the very welfare state it created by cherrypicking only certain often more middle-class oriented benefits for special championing while risibly side-stepping on issues to do with incapacity and DLA – is a Blairite rot still eating away at the core of the party’s original grassroot values.

That it takes the Archbishop of Canterbury to stand up publicly and say many of the things that the Opposition should be saying but continually fail to, just shows how ethically moribund our political class has become. There is of course a left-wing alternative – espoused pluralistically through the Green Party, the LRC, the smaller socialist parties and, of course, the admirably outspoken Trades Unions – but the trouble is, much of this alternative vision has yet to fully penetrate the ranks of the official Opposition. Williams article then can be seen as an urgent rallying cry for a more assertive left-wing alternative to this horrific austerity agenda we are currently facing – so, ‘Red Ed’ and Not-Quite-New-Anymore-But-Possibly-A-Bit-Blue Labour, take heed of Williams’ intervention and sort out just which side you are actually on: that of banks and big business, or that of the common people. At least Williams knows which side he is on, and like a true practical Christian, is morally impelled to speak up openly in defence of the poorest and most vulnerable in society at a shameful time in which, frankly, no high profile politicians are.

the Recusant fully supports and commends the Archbishop of Canterbury’s moral courage in standing up to a government of duplicitous bullies and saying what has to be said.

You can read his article in the New Statesmen at this link: http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2011/06/long-term-government-democracy

Alan Morrison ©June 2011

The First Anniversary of the Most Regressive Government in British History - After the Farce of the AV Fisticuffs, It's Back to Rose Garden Smiles Again, Though Now the Lib
Dems Have Learnt the Tories Have (T)horns

The ConDem Coalition's first anniversary on 11 May 2011 was marked by a flatlining economy; a tax-dodging multi-millionaire Chancellor declaring war on the unions and workers' rights as casually and unironically as if passing the port at his stately dinner table; and the disabled of this nation wheeling past Westminster in protest against the DLA cuts which are set to devastate their lives to the tune of £4 Billion; all proceeds to go to plugging a near-mythical deficit and letting off its culprits, the bankers, with a mere £2 Billion slap on the wrists as they continue receiving bonuses for wrecking our economy. This is modern Britain: punishing the innocent, weak and vulnerable for the crimes of the guilty, greedy and immoral. A country that pays lip service to the Arab Spring's nascent democratic values while it cripples the lives of its most vulnerable citizens and kettles all those who protest against it. Once the deficit is finally plugged, at the greatest human cost, will the society left prove worthy of such a sacrifice? No such questions asked by today's establishment media, which, like the Disabilities Minister herself, failed to speak directly to so much as ONE disabled protestor! This is the contemptuous society Cameron, Osborne and Clegg have created: brutal, uncaring and immoral. 'It's not fair to pass on the deficit to my children and grandchildren' slipped Clegg tellingly on C4 News (and Clegg doesn't do figurative). The BBC offered a belittling lack of coverage of this protest, while Newsnight didn't even mention it! Unsurprisingly, the national press uniformly dodged this issue which no doubt they found in the main extremely embarrassing in the wake of recent patriotic royalist pageantry - once again the ONLY newspaper to cover this story fully AND to have it as a leader on its front page was the ever-commendable Morning Star, which the Recusant fully supports as Britain's only genuinely left-wing, truth-telling daily newspaper. the Recusant supports a ROBIN HOOD TAX on the Banks, so that those who created this economic mess pay for it, not the sick, disabled and poor! Even Sarkosy is currently considering it - so why not our Etonian PM?
 
One Law for Laws, Another for Everyone Else

Further evidence of our new feudalistic sense of justice is news that David Laws, ex-cuts architect who was found to have fiddled his expenses claims to the tune of around £50k to pay rent to his secret lover out of public monies allegedly in order to 'keep his sexuality a secret' - and when he is already a multi-millionaire! - has been slapped on the wrists for his gross misconduct with a mere seven day suspension from sitting in parliament! If someone on benefits is found to have cut corners to the tune of so much as a few hundred pounds, and frequently due to trying to survive in the face of an impoverishing and loophole-ridden benefits system rather than out of any sense of greed, at the very least they get penalised for the money and sometimes even stripped of all benefits for up to three months, which frequently pushes people into further poverty, even homelessness! And on top of this, there is talk of Laws even returning to the front bench at a later date! You couldn't make this up really could you? One law for the rich and greedy, a very different law for those at the bottom of the heap. This is modern Britain's 'Big Bankers Society'. Funny how the welfare-stigmatising hate-rag Daily Express never thinks to have front page headlines denouncing wealthy 'scroungers' isn't it? Much easier to just pick on the poor, and frequently spuriously anyway.

Only today we witnessed the appallingly hypocritical spectacle of the Laurel and Hardy of politics, Cameron and Clegg, speaking about Laws as if he was some terribly wronged individual who has suffered quite enough and should be given a jolly good pat on the back; who, according to Clegg (which of course means absolutely nothing), made 'no profit' from his swindle of public monies but was basically a misunderstood martyr to the terrible stigma of homosexuality - when nowadays there are legion out-of-the-closet gay MPs, even an out-of-the-closet gay ex-vicar in Chris Bryant of Labour.

So none of these pathetic excuses for Laws' deceptions hold any water whatsoever, and though I am not one to enjoy punishments being meted out to anyone - unlike this government of course who thoroughly revel in punishing the proles - even those I dislike or disrespect, what should be being discussed is not should Laws return to government eventually, but whether he should actually be expelled full stop from parliament; moreover, whether a mere seven days suspension from parliament is a remotely convincing punishment when one compares the horrendously brutal sanctions dished out to anyone on benefits who is perceived to have in some way committed 'fraud', which invariably is a form of corner-cutting based on the need to survive financially amid an absurd welfare system that arbitrarily impoverishes its claimants through various loopholes, and very seldom - in spite of what classist rags such as the Daily Express would have you believe on a weekly basis, and which has, incidentally, been spouting the same specious headlines about welfare 'scroungers' ever since the late 1970s, and periodically thereafter, during times of recession - just because it can be done.

Yet again this government and political class are shown up as the hypocritical, greedy and duplicitous people they really are, condemning the poor and sick from the odd undeclared pittance here and there in order just to pay their rents and bills and feed themselves, but expecting the public to feel awfully sorry for poor Mr Laws, a multi-millionaire who has not only, without any necessity for material survival, manipulated the expenses system and pilfered over £50k of public money, but who has then cynically used his alleged fears of sexual exposure as his prime motive for doing so. If he was so concerned about his sexuality becoming public, surely a man of such gratuitous means could have simply dipped into his own pocket to cover his private life up rather than do the easier and expedient thing and helped himself to public money? It's not about giving tougher punishments necessarily, it's about balancing the books morally and not having one law for the wealthy and powerful and another one for the poor and vulnerable.

Cameron has the temerity to speak of how the thought of giving prisoners the vote makes him feel 'physically sick', while many others might say they feel physically sick at the thought that someone convicted of indefensible and cynical malversation is not only let off with a piddling 'punishment' (basically seven days leave, apparently unpaid, but are we seriously supposed to feel sorry for the millionaire Laws losing £1,200 in the process?), but is also still considered of sufficient character to return to a ministerial post! And all because he's seen as 'talented'. And so are the banks and speculators of course - that's why they also get off scott free with more bonuses after committing national fraud, while the rest of us lose our benefits, jobs, even homes, and are left to fend for ourselves in the Big Bullshit Society.

There should be infinitely more leniancy regarding alleged benefit fraud in our view, especially in light of such risibly lenient 'punishments' for those who have more than enough personal means to sort out their own domestic messes but who nevertheless choose to abuse their positions and the trust of the electorate by helping themselves to money that is not theirs.

The day the Daily Express has onits front page MULTI-MILLIONAIRE CO-ARCHITECT OF AUSTERITY CUTS MP SCROUNGER CAUGHT WITH HAND IN PUBLIC TILL - I'll hang out the red flag!

AM