We briefly mention the upcoming Fourth Wigan Diggers Festival celebrating the legacy of the first English communist activists, the Diggers (or “True Levellers” as they sometimes called themselves), who occupied and tilled disused lands during and briefly after the English Civil War, and who, in this respect, very much the 17th century prototype of today’s Occupy Movement and, more specifically, the nominally commemorative Diggers 2012. The significance of Wigan in this context is that the most famous and literarily prolific of the Digger Movement was Gerrard Winstanley, who was born in Wigan.
Ironically, the opening poem in a new collection this writer is currently finishing depicts today’s modern equivalent movements, particularly the nominally commemorative and equally short-lived ‘Diggers 2012’ who occupied areas of abandoned land on the Brunel University campus near Runnymede (before being promptly evicted, as were all the original Digger encampments). And by way of ‘contribution’ to the forthcoming Wigan Diggers festival, I’ve uploaded said poem, ‘Digger Hinges’, here. Another of my poems relevant to this theme, ‘Trampler in the Patchwork’ (i.m. Gerrard Winstanley), from my 2009 collection A Tapestry of Absent Sitters, has already been available on The Recusant for some time. [Click on the front page link to the Wigan Diggers festival for more information on the event or click here: http://wigandiggersfestival.org/about/].
[Addendum 30/8/14: It was also good to read in the Morning Star this week (24-31 August) a write up on the Greenbelt Christian festival, which had a particularly 'radical' character this year, with many speakers representing the often under-exposed Christian Left -in this instance, a newly emerging vanguard of Christian green socialism, an amalagam to which this editor subscribes, albeit with some tacit caveats as to the risk of such an ideological gallimaufry inevitably also attracting token pockets of (no doubt well-intentioned) Trustafarians. But the likes of Gerrard Winstanley would have been much heartened today to see such growing throngs of Christian activists challenging the establishments, not least the current crop of Cartesian Dualist 'Christian' Tories who seem to think it's fine to preach so-called 'Christian principles' while pursuing the polar opposite in terms of their social policies.
Indeed, as one 'Greenbelter' put it: "Jesus's teachings and the bible are all about socialism, basically". This is, in essence, this editor's own conviction too; and, increasingly, seems to be that of a large portion of the British population -as opposed to the more Roman-style divide-and-rule chauvinism of the laughably self-proclaimed "peoples' army" of UKIP supporters, or the blue torch-carriers themselves (Tories). When will the Tories finally "wake up and smell the coffee" with regards to the true nature and practice of Christianity? Do our 'great' public schools and ancient Oxbridge colleges teach them some strange and elusive type of biblical studies that the rest of us aren't privy to? Something along the lines that Herod wasn't simply a megolamaniacal despot but was just implementing some kind of population 'cap' when I ordered the slaughter of the innocents; or that Pontius Pilate was put in an impossible position which forced him to make some "difficult decisions" and "tough choices"?
Increasingly The Recusant is minded to think that the true way forward for progressive ideologies and as a reinforced way of countervailing the still seemingly chronic materialistic stranglehold of power wielded over the world by an ever more ruthless anarcho-capitalist global elite, is some fusion of socialism, green agendas and non-judgemental Christian ethics. In these senses the Greenbelt festivals seem to be a good meeting ground for those who hunger for a more compassionate, egalitarian and ecologically conscious humanitarian movement for the 21st century. The Recusant sees the Green Party now as the natural party of ideological Opposition to the failing neoliberal agenda of the three main parties, and most certainly to the right-wing axis of the Tories and UKIP; and we of course support the Greens and encourage others to do so in next year's general election. It has been heartening to see Natalie Bennett's recent speech on the genuinely radical Green Party manifesto (including renationalisation of the railways and a proposal for a £10 minimum wage by 2020) given reasonable coverage in the media, since it is precisely this manifesto which offers an authentic alternative society to the all-stick-no-carrot foodbank and sanction society we currently have.
Undoubtedly the Greens are to the left of Labour, yet, as ever, the mainstream media (Morning Star excepted of course) are way behind the times in terms of political nous since they seem to see this as a relatively new thing - which it isn't: the Greens have been campaigning on a eco-socialist agenda for years now, if not decades. And it's not for nothing that those right-wingers who seek to denegrate the Greens are now nicknaming them Watermelons i.e.: green on the outside, red on the inside. It's also interesting how the Right resorts to such duotoned metaphors when attacking more progressive principles, as the racists of the Deep South in the USA used to call those who sympathised with the plight of the black population, Coconuts (albeit an inverted metaphor). But in the case of the sobriquet Watermelon, The Recusant is very proud to count itself as an affiliate of that enlightened political fruit.
Addendum 13/09/14: The Recusant was heartened to see the at least symbolic defeat of the morally atrocious bedroom tax in Parliament this week, although the sudden Damascene moment of conscience for the Lib Dems was, as is ever the case with the yellow party, driven more by political pragmatism than genuine compassion or principle, wishing to make some 'clear blue water' between themselves and their Tory bedfellows in the long run-up to the 2015 general election. Otherwise Clegg's den of vote thieves have been perfectly happy to support virtually all the worst Tory social policies through Parliament in the past four years, including the full throttle of the vindictive and immoral welfare reforms. Good too to see some protests against Ian Duncan Schmidt's scabrous benefit sanctions regime this week too.
Coinciding with this potential turning of the tide against Tory-tabloid 'scroungerology', was the announcement of the Duchess of Cambridge's second pregnancy: doubtless the future royal child will never be accused of "scrounging" off the taxpayer in spite of the fact that his/her entire life will be fully funded by the rest of us, without our even being consulted as to whether we even want a monarchy any more! With the Scottish independence referendum only a week away -and The Recusant supports social-democratic Scotland in trying to break away from the fetters of right-wing Westminster plutocracy, while also on the other hand fearing the potentially dire political consequences for the English Left should it do so- we might ask at this point, when will we ever get a national referendum on Monarchy or Republic?
The following front page Morning Star exposé on the full extent of Chris 'Gripper' Grayling's penal and probationary tyranny as 'Justice' Secretary just goes to remind us that this dreadful individual was effectively the protege of the equally fanatical and callous Iain Duncan Smith, when working under him as Work and Pensions Minister/Rhetorical Thug:
JUSTICE Secretary Chris Grayling has “blood on his hands” after the summer suicides of two probation officers and a convict’s murder of an ex-partner, probation union Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said yesterday.
In an impassioned speech, Mr Lawrence blasted the government for splitting the probation service in two.
High-risk offenders will still be dealt with by the state, but private “community rehabilitation companies” (CRCs) will deal with the rest.
Mr Lawrence stormed: “Since the split, we’ve seen two members take their lives and in one case there’s a clear empirical link.
“Grayling, you have blood on your hands.”
A Napo source explained that one of the union members who killed themselves had accused the Justice Secretary of “murdering the probation service.”
Other contributing factors to the deaths are not known.
An eerie silence and sombre faces filled the conference hall as Mr Lawrence continued: “One prisoner slipped through the net of the CRCs and murdered a former partner.”
And he said Napo, the Prison Officers Association (POA) and Unison would be taking joint legal action against Mr Grayling in the High Court.
“The man is a liar, he is unfit for purpose and he is the worst justice secretary in the history of this country.”
POA chairman Peter McParlin, seconding the motion, said: “The fundamental rights of UK citizens in relation to justice are under attack.
“Successive governments have gambled our justice.”
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) deadline for bids from privateers to run the CRCs was June 30, but the department has refused to disclose shortlists for the regional tenders.
Preferred bidders are likely to be announced later on in the autumn.
Unison delegate Carol Nobbs blasted the department’s handling of the Probation Service split.
“What has followed has been a catalogue of errors in terms of staff assignment, mismatch between workload, staffing levels and staff location, compromised risk management, reduced IT capability, increased bureaucracy and a huge rise in the use of temporary and sessional staff.”
In a subsequent debate, Napo delegate Yvonne Pattison called for the wider labour movement to launch a massive campaign against the privatisation of children’s services.
She said: “Children’s services should not be a lottery dependent on postcodes, and should never, ever be about making a profit.”
Both motions were passed unanimously by Congress.
And Mr Lawrence called on Mr Grayling’s Labour shadow Sadiq Khan to make his opposition to probation and justice reforms more vociferous.
“If you want an election winner, say what you mean,” he said.
“Pledge to reverse the changes when you come into office, it’s really that simple.”
The Samaritans can be contacted on (08457) 909-090. The website is samaritans.org.
What a heinous record these two hardline right-wingers have: IDS (and Grayling) has been responsible for the mass pauperisation of hundreds of thousands of families, and for the premature deaths and suicides of tens of thousands of sick and disabled claimants; while his once right-hand man Grayling now has several suicides among probation staff on his own autonomous record -is he trying to impress his erstwhile mentor? But as the MS emphasises, not only is privatisation of what should be public services unethical and counterproductive as it leads to greater inefficiency and risk, and less accountability, but it also vicariously destroys lives.
In a recent short interview on Channel 4 News, playwright Laura Wade used a very apt phrase to describe today's social attitudes under Cameron's Big Stick Society: "a leaching away of kindness". Such boot camp-style hardliners as IDS and Grayling are the drivers of such an anti-society and rather than being put into positions of high public office, should, in The Recusant's view, be stripped of all authority, de-selected as MPs and hauled up in front of the European Court of Human Rights without further delay. Perhaps one day they will be. With the 'blood' of tens of thousands of unemployed, sick and disabled claimants' 'on their hands', it really is the least they deserve. But then as we know, law is one thing, natural justice, quite another thing altogether -and never more so than under Tory rule].
Clueless on Gaza
Some define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again in hope of an eventually different result, and, the irrationality of capitalism apart, this can very much be said of Israel’s pathologically “disproportionate response” to alleged Hamas rockets –no matter how ineffective and makeshift they are– spluttering over the border from Gaza.
As to this “response” to the alleged Hamas “terrorist threat”, which puppet prime ministers and presidents of the West keep rhetorically reiterating as if parroting Israeli ‘defence’ policy, has been seemingly discriminate, targeting the very buildings repeatedly cited to the Israelis as UN hospitals and/or refuges for sheltering Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of women and children, and then attempting risibly to ‘justify’ such blatant massacring of the innocents by blaming Hamas for launching their ‘rockets’ from these locations and thereby using its own citizens as “human shields”.
After a week of constant bombardments with shells, bombs and drones, and an illegal and violent land invasion and occupation of the Gaza Strip, resulting in close to 2,000 murdered Palestinian civilians, women and children, the world looks on appalled at the spineless capitulation of the US and the UK to the Israeli rhetorical ‘line’, in spite of sporadic rhetorical interlocutions cautioning “restraint on both sides”.
Most of us watching these daily onslaughts by Israel against its infinitely more vulnerable and defenceless partitioned neighbour state can see now the full Grand Guignol of the Israeli sense of racial and religious entitlement and impunity from international laws and moral accountability, which is beyond pathology and now enters into the realms of a cultural psychopathology –even if the BBC (British Bread and Circuses) and pretty much all British broadcasting media and newspapers, bar Channel 4 News and the Morning Star, refuse to see the reality in front of their eyes and choose to keep over-reporting on alleged Hamas rockets, tunnels and propaganda videos, while seemingly deliberately under-reporting on the devastating impact of the Israeli siege on Gaza.
We don’t have to be historians to fathom out the roots of this seemingly chronic and internationally tolerated pathology of Israeli chauvinism: the Nazi-architected Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War. Its aftermath resulted in the victorious Western powers repatriating the Jewish people in their own ancestral land, Judea in ancient times, now renamed Israel, and which meant carving out a vast chunk of what was once Palestine, displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians to the margins of the West Bank and the geographically isolated Gaza Strip. The British military maverick Orde Wingate was instrumental in training the guerrilla forces of the new state of Israel during the late Forties in the defence of their newly gerrymandered ‘homeland’, teaching the Zionist militias that the best form of defence was for a nation to always keep one metaphorical foot in the neighbouring nations.
Hence this has been Israel’s chief policy of national ‘defence’ ever since, and is pivotal to its illegal expansionism into the Palestinian West Bank for decades. Western guilt as to the ramifications of a Holocaust part ‘justified’ bogusly by the Nazi persecutors of the Jews as some twisted form of historical reprisal for the crucifixion of Christ, the Messiah whom the Jews only recognise as a religious figure but not as a the ‘Son of God’, themselves still waiting for the ‘First’ Coming while Christians await the Second, together with various political, economic and strategic interests, has seen a tacit light-touch approach to Israeli aggression against its Arab neighbours since the Forties which has been as inexorable and unrelenting as the aggressions themselves.
But following this last week’s grotesquely excessive and inhuman siege of Gaza, the cracks are finally beginning to show in terms of global toleration of the Israeli sense of entitlement over and above the moral laws all other nations have to adhere to. One can only describe the kind of anger and moral outrage felt by so many of us at a daily “Un-weeping’ Wall’ of rhetorically intransigent, delusional, almost psychopathically un-empathic granite-faced, frozen-eyed Israeli spokespersons displaying absolutely no remorse or self-questioning whatsoever at the human catastrophe they are inflicting on their defenceless Palestinian neighbours as a kind of gut-churning nausea continually triggered by the moral miasma coming out of the mouths of modern day Pharisees.
In spite of having previously criticised Sayeeda Warsi prolifically for her former risible public speeches on various subjects including, laughably, Christianity from a Conservative perspective, The Recusant recognises on this particular occasion that Warsi has, in her quite courageous and publicly robust resignation, made a commendable stand against the pro-Israeli chauvinism of the current Tory-led Cabinet, and David Cameron’s refusal to even admit that Israeli ‘response’ to the Hamas rockets has been “disproportionate”, in spite of all other political leaders’ admission of this inconvenient truth, is unconscionable but typical of this unscrupulously opportunistic prime minister.
Warsi’s charge that the Government’s mealy-mouthed quiescence to the Israeli sense of ‘entitlement’ to contravene all international moral laws in its gratuitous siege of Gaza and refusal to condemn such atrocities as “morally reprehensible” is –perhaps for the very first time in her political career– absolutely the correct analysis. Cameron of course will be quietly pleased to see Warsi go (his purely token ‘Muslim woman in Cabinet’ who has also commented that her fellow Tories see her as unsuited to a proper ministerial post due to being a "brown woman") since politicians of any principles whatsoever are demonstrably incompatible with his implicitly unprincipled style of government.
Indeed, Cameron’s own egregious regime is hardly significantly superior to that of Israel itself: while the latter bombards its vulnerable neighbour with bombs and drones and wipes out 25% of the Gaza population through what can only be described as ethnic cleansing under the unhinged ‘excuse’ of “national defence”, Tory Britain continues to drop its own silent but deadly fiscal bombshells on its poorest and most vulnerable citizens, socially cleansing entire communities and effectively wiping out whole sections of them through vicious welfare cuts, caps, sanctions, bedroom taxes and Atos attritions.
Then there is the ‘double whammy’ of moral culpability for HM Government in that the Israelis are currently using British-manufactured and imported weapons in their campaign of carnage against Gaza, which is also another aspect echoed in Sayeeda Warsi’s charge of her party’s “morally reprehensible” stance (nothing new there!): she has rightly cited the darkly farcical fact that the UK is currently contributing humanitarian aid to “patch up” the carnage inflicted on Gazan civilians by weapons deployed by Israel and in supplied them by the UK itself! And our morally illiterate prime minister still refuses to listen to mounting calls from legion groups both left and right for the UK Government to stop supplying any further arms to Israel as long as it is using them to bombard Gaza.
Ever an arms-sales evangelist, Cameron once again breaks all records of moral hypocrisy and unprincipled duplicity, particularly while publicly mourning the victims of the 1914-18 mass slaughter on a Continent he and his party are presently seeking to re-Balkanise by belligerently threatening to remove us from the European Union. Cameron seems to be the prime minister most capable of not only holding continually contradictory ideas in his head at the same time, but of also enacting these through government policies.
Significantly, both the Israelis and our Etonian overlords share an unrivalled sense of entitlement to be above common morals and ethics in pursuit of their mutually ruthless political ends. Something of a dovetail joint in all this is the increasingly nastier aspect of icy Chancellor George Osborne, who is very much a conduit in this whole affair, in spite of having nothing to do with the Foreign Office, he was interestingly the first to say in an interview on the matter that Warsi’s resignation was “bluntly unnecessary” –in typically detached and clinical terminology; he is himself, according to Warsi, “a close friend of Israel” and so naturally takes their side in all this, while she has hinted too that he has disproportionate influence over Cameron and the rest of the Cabinet on this matter which has nothing whatsoever to do with his exchequer brief.
It can only be a matter of time before Osborne is held to account not only for a conflict of interest in this particular issue, but also with regards to just why he went to such lengths to ensure that the now criminally indicted and imprisoned ex-News of the World hack-editor Andy Coulson become Cameron’s spin doctor and be brought into the heart of Government at Downing Street, without any proper checks being carried out, which also, apart from implications of the Murdochisation of the Con-Dem Government, put the security of our entire nation at risk.
We can only wonder what exactly it is that Osborne holds over Cameron and to some extent over our media that he is never personally interrogated and held to account for both of these highly dubious quandaries. And all that quite apart from his already toxic legacy as the Chancellor who chose to destroy the security, wellbeing and futures of tens of thousands of poor, unemployed and disabled British citizens instead of facing up to the criminal bankers, speculators and tax-dodgers, in his fanatical pursuit of “fiscal consolidation” through elective and selective austerity. Eventually, however, Mr Osborne’s various dark arts will be exposed to the sharp light of day as the shutters are pulled up just when he least expects it: for, after all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Meanwhile, one of the repercussions of the Israeli siege of Gaza is a retriggered anti-Semitic tendency in the wider world, hence Warsi’s description of Israel’s brutalising of Gaza as a form of “national self-harm” –even if it’s not Israelis, but European Jews who are bearing the brunt of ectopic hostilities; most alarmingly in France, where it was reported last week that some Jewish communities in Paris had been attacked and vandalised by native French citizens. In the wake of Front National’s European election victories, this vicissitude is particularly disturbing.
The Recusant echoes the Morning Star’s own respectful reading of Warsi’s stance and her surprisingly articulate letter of resignation, so icily dismissed by the pathologically un-empathic Chancellor, and seemingly ignored by the emotionally constipated prime minister while sunning himself off insouciantly at his holiday home in the Algarve. Cameron’s refusal to condemn Israeli’s unacceptable actions in the Gaza Strip is indeed “morally indefensible”, not to say typically spineless, unprincipled and transparently dictated by the considerably powerful behind-the-scenes right-wing pro-Israel lobby. Yet again our prime minister puts partisan political interests before basic morality; it remains one of the greatest rhetorical ironies in modern political history that the prime minister who most frequently urges his citizens to “do the right thing” (however warped his interpretation of the trope may be) practically never does so himself.
At the going down of The Sun and in the Morning Star we will remember them from very different perspectives
The Morning Star’s accessibly didactic special supplement commemorating the 1914-18 Great War in collaboration with organs of the European Left appositely incorporated some detail on the earliest territorial incursions in a decades-long project to carve up Palestine in order to reincorporate a Jewish state. This inevitably turbulent redrawing of racial and religious boundaries in the region began with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 –and by 1922, Britain had gained a ‘mandate’ to govern the region. In 1948, following the Second World War and the Jewish Holocaust perpetrated on an industrial scale by the Nazis, the new State of Israel was declared under the aegis of the UN General Assembly. In 2014, over 70 years later, we are still witnessing the devastating consequences of this West-facilitated, Arab-resented land pact.
The MS also included an engrossing tribute article to unsung First World War humanitarian martyr, Norfolk-born Nurse Edith Cavell who nursed all wounded soldiers irrespective of which side they were fighting on while working for the neutral Red Cross in German-occupied Belgium, for which she was subsequently shot by a German firing squad on 12 October 1915. Only due to a vast public petition to our current jingoistic government has it finally been agreed that the Royal Mint will issue a commemorative £5 coin with Cavell’s visage to mark the 1914 centenary, alongside its bluntly unforgivable decision to also issue a commemorative £2 coin featuring Lord Kitchener’s historically notorious “Your Country Needs You” recruiting catchphrase on its reverse side.
The MS WWI supplement is a unique one in many respects, not least for its’ polemical emphasis on how international capitalists profited from the First World War through the unprecedented demand for supplies from the armaments industries; as it would again less than thirty years later at the advent of the Second, which was instrumental in resuscitating Western capitalist economies from their major infarctions induced by the Wall Street Crash and subsequent Great Depression. Still today we see how unscrupulous capitalistic political leaders pursue military interventionism and arms deals abroad in order to boost their domestic economies (not naming any names, Mr Cameron).
By stratospheric contrast to the MS’s excellently educational commemorations, The Sun produced a front page replete with a photo of Prince Harry in full ceremonial military uniform with a nebulous headline underneath alluding to his apparent status as a ‘Hero’!!! In which sense this is meant is anyone’s guess, but if the suggestion is that a few tours cruising around in a plane and dropping bombs on Afghan insurgents, or rather, in the young Royal’s terminology, “taking them out of the game”, somehow equates to the mass sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of young soldiers armed only with rifles walking to their slaughter against German machine-gun fire across No-Man’s-Land in the Great War, then I’m sure we’d all like to be enlightened.
Juxtaposed against this uber-patriotic image and strap-line was a small inset of The Sun’s own commemorative WWI supplement ‘respectfully’ titled –with customary Sun ‘sensitivities’– ‘BASHING THE BOSH’ (almost comparable to the notorious ‘GOTCHA’ headline on the illegal sinking of the Argentine battleship General Belgrano during the Falklands War of 1982). Yes, you read that correctly.
Inflammatory jingoism apart, it seems immensely ironic that this egregious rag should advertise its own historical ignorance so flagrantly as to simultaneously insult the German race while also promoting one of today’s progenies of the Germanic House of Saxe-Coburg Gotha (now Windsor). One suspects that in The Sun’s version of events between 1914-18 will fail to mention that in July 1917 King George V oversaw the hasty renaming of the British Royal dynastic surname from its German one which was also, with resounding irony, shared with the nation’s then-current enemy, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to the more English-sounding Windsor, after one of the Royal family’s favourite castles.
This nominal distancing from the close family ties with the Kaiser (nephew of Queen Victoria and first cousin of our then-monarch George V) was intended to generate synthetic clear blue water between Britain and its German enemy, particular as an inevitable ‘anti-German’ sentiment had been intensifying throughout Britain since the outbreak of war in 1914. Cannily, the name-change was also a move to forestall any potential repeat of the proletarian uprisings which were then percolating into full-blown revolution in Russia; so cautious was George V as to political sensitivities of the time that he even refused refuge to the usurped Tsar Nicholas II (also his first cousin) and his family which –perhaps inescapably– culminated in their collective assassination by the Bolsheviks on 16 July 1918, almost exactly a year to the day after George V’s symbolic re-branding of the British monarchy to Windsor (17 July 1917).
The Green Council in Brighton has cultivated its own deeply moving tribute to the Great War in the form of a small area of overgrown grass mottled with wild poppies and commemorative wooden plaques at one corner of the vertiginously rejuvenated Level, near to where this editor lives.
We also note the irony that at the official commemoration of the outbreak of the Great War, on 8 August at Glasgow Cathedral, Poet Laureate read out a poem dedicated to the recently late (d. July 200 aged 111) Harry Patch, the Somerset-born supercentenerian and one of the last-surviving European WWI veterans, who once went on record describing the 1914-18 War as “legalised mass murder”.
Boris for South Ruislip, Nigel for Thanet South
Talking of blue-bloods, the nation’s favourite blond-mopped buffoon, bounder, unlikely rake and habitual ‘fibber’ Boris Johnson has finally blurted out this week that “in all probability” he will now be standing for Parliament in the 2015 general election (in spite of still being in his office of London Mayor until 2016). But he is emphasizing at the same time that a) he’s highly unlikely to get elected in the Tory safe seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and, b) he absolutely doesn’t have any ambitions on challenging his old Eton and Bullingdon sparring partner David ‘Lofty’ Cameron for the Tory leadership and, in turn, possibly the premiership. That is, at least, “in all probability”.
(Apparently no one whatsoever believes him, and already, in a perverse echo of the old 'Blairite'/'Brownite' paradigm, the Tory party is currently dividing itself into two tacit factions forming around the jostling aspirations of two prospective contestors of Cameron's leadership: "FoBs", 'Friends of Boris', and "FoGs", 'Friends of George' (does 'George' have any actual friends?). Both factions are thoroughly disagreeable in terms of members and motives, but perhaps Osborne's has the edge in terms of sheer vileness when one notes that -quite apart from the fact that the Chancellor has to be one of the most intensely unlikeable politicians in British political history- two of its prime 'movers' are ex-Education Secretary Michael 'Gradgrind' Gove, and obnoxious Oxbridge brownoser Matthew Hancock).
The Morning Star was swift to notify us on the front of one of its editions this week that if we were to witness next year the inauguration of “Three Jobs Boris”, his combined income as London Mayor, Telegraph columnist and MP would be approximately half a million per annum. In ‘Borisian’ parlance, this would be a step up from the “mere chicken feed” of £140,000+ as London Mayor, amounting to a marginally more generous gross income commensurate to ‘superior quality pigs’ swill’ when in combination with his side-earner of £250,000 penning right-wing gibberish for the Torygraph, and his new extra pocket money of £66,000 plus ‘expenses’ as MP.
Contrapuntal to Boris’s newly blurted-out ambitions to become Emperor of England, comparably ‘popular’ right-wing maverick and Europhobe Nigel Farage of UKIP has been touring his own prospective parliamentary constituency of Thanet South in his native Kent, seemingly intent on stamping his own statesmanlike prime ministerial ‘image’ in suit and posture-steadying rolled umbrella as walking stick. He put down his party’s unprecedented level of support in the East of England as possibly “something in the water” of the region –but we suspect it’s more to do with the fact that the East of the island is in the closest proximity to the Continent and so historically more territorially sensitive, plus has long been brainwashed by the grab-it-all ‘I’m All Right Jack’ edicts of Thatcherism and its associated ubiquitous red-top mouthpieces (Essex in particular), as well as, puzzlingly, having one of the highest populations of Irish travellers, Roma and immigrants.
Not surprising Farage has chosen the inveterately right-wing entrenchments of his native Kent for his campaign’s stomping ground; even if it is now hugely ironic to recall that far back in history, in medieval times, the county’s inhabitants were at the vanguard of almost all the most significant and radical uprisings against establishments, including the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 (Wat Tyler formed his army from mainly Kentish men), Jack Cade’s rebellion against Henry VI in 1450, and the Protestant revolt against Catholic Mary Tudor in 1553, led by Thomas Wyatt.
[Stop Press 30/8/14: Life really is a bit too short to go into much polemical comment on the recent defection of Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell to the xenophobic ranks of UKIP; suffice it to say that The Recusant sincerely hopes this will at least cause a rupture in the Tory Party and hamper its chances of scraping a minority in next year's general election. Apart from such considerations, the story is otherwise far more predictable than the media have tried to hype it, and entirely irrelevant to the pressing issues facing our cuts-shattered society -such as, for instance, our almost obliterated social fabric. But unfortunately, of course, the 'Great' British public still seem to be infatuated with Nigel Farage and his march towards a new English chauvinism, as a recent -and, one suspects, distintly un-ironic- poster pastiche reminds us this week: KEEP CALM AND DEFECT TO UKIP. It would be funny if it wasn't so bowel-scrapingly depressing.].
It is perhaps the most disturbing British political development since the rise of Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts in the 1930s that the increasingly popular and so-called "fourth party of British politics", UKIP, numbers among its MEPs characters such as Bill Etheridge who, as reported in the Morning Star this week, has exhorted 'young UKIP members' to emulate 'Hitler's speaking style':
AN MEP found himself in hot waters this weekend after advising young Ukip members to copy Adolf Hitler, describing the dictator as “magnetic,” writes Joana Ramiro.
According to the Mail on Sunday, West Midlands representative Bill Etheridge praised the Nazi leader at this year’s Young Independence Conference in Birmingham.
Mr Etheridge — who was later defended by his party — endorsed Hitler’s public speaking style, arguing that “when he started speaking [people] were hanging on his every word.”
“Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history,” he advised prospective party candidates.
Labour MP Mike Gapes found the Ukip politician’s speech “simply unbelievable.”
“I thought nothing could surprise me any more but this just goes to show that Farage has completely failed to clean up his party,” he said.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) joint secretary Weyman Bennett told the Star that “there has been a clear link of fascists and racists joining Ukip and Ukip have not got a robust system for dealing with this.”
UAF said it severely condemned any positive association with Adolf Hitler.
In response, Ukip opted to denounce the Mail on Sunday for its “truly disgusting” coverage of the event.
A party spokesman said that the Mail “as a Tory paper is terrified by the rise of Ukip and apparently will stoop to nothing to attack the party.”
However, in Mr Bennett’s opinion: “There is a real danger, although we do not consider Ukip to be fascist, that their politics will give a boost to fascist politics.”
Interesting that of all papers to -rightly- condemn this latest hint of latent fascism in UKIP's ranks is the Mail on Sunday, a paper which, together with the Daily Mail, openly praised and supported both Hitler and Mosley's Blackshirts during the 1930s (in part why it is still known informerly as the Daily Heil). The Mail on Sunday is also edited by democratically unaccountable press baron Paul Dacre who also just happens to be the Chair of the Editors' Code of Practice Committee which advises the spineless Press Complaints Commission -in spite of it only having been revealed in the last couple of weeks that Dacre himself was very likely fully aware of phone hacking going on under his editorial auspices at the MoS, an allegedly common practice at said paper group which was systemically 'covered up'.
If this is true, then Dacre has not only been involved in breaking the law and being highly 'selective' with the truth at the Leveson Inquiry (i.e. the old "I can't recall anything" 'defence'), but has also broken the very Editors' Code of Practice of whose Committee he is still -implausibly- Chair! Yet again The Recusant asks: Why is Paul Dacre seemingly above any democratic accountability, and why in Heaven's name has he not yet been dismissed from his position as Chair of the EDCPC? Is there not a chasmal conflict of interest in his Chairing the Committee that advises the PCC when so many of the complaints it receives are directly about his own editorship of the Mail on Sunday? We think Mr Dacre should in fact be Chair of an Editors' Code of Malpractice Committee.
Three Month Whip
We can only be left to wonder just what exactly the Creature of the Department for Whiphands and Persecutions (DWP) Inane Duncan Smith holds over David Cameron which prevents the prime minister from sacking him from his catastrophically disastrous overseeing of the welfare brief, following IDS’s inexplicable retention of his post after the very thorough recent Cabinet reshuffle. But the sleepy summer recess period was preceded by a sting-in-the-tail announcement from the punishing auspices of Caxton House, which dealt a double-whammy for both the anti-welfare and anti-immigrant lobbies: that all future EU immigrants, though primarily those from newly integrated Romania and Bulgaria, will have any benefit entitlements from hence on time-limited to a maximum of just three months!
After which time, it is anyone’s guess what will happen to them if they do not secure paid work –but we suspect they will be accommodated temporarily in porchways of boarded-up shops, night shelters, refugee camps, immigration detention centres or, if they dare to squat in abandoned buildings, slung into prison cells. This is all in the cause of ‘discouraging’ those coming to the UK for a spot of “benefit tourism”, in spite of the fact that the UK is the Continent’s most tight-fisted offshore welfare system, something of a ‘masochist’s sanction-happy unemployment resort’.
It is vindictively punitive that, in addition to recently steam-rollered rules that all immigrants will have to wait a mandatory three months before even being permitted to claim any British benefits, once they finally reach the eligibility stage to do so, they will then be informed that they have a time limit of just three months during which they can claim them (and by the time the DWP processes their claims, it’s highly likely that initial three months would have elapsed in any case). The message HM Government really wishes to put out here is basically “We don’t want to let you claim any benefits whatsoever! If you’re unemployed, or likely to become unemployed in the near future, please don’t come here, we don’t want you! BRITAIN IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS ONLY –BUT FOR THE UNEMPLOYED, IT IS OPEN ONLY FOR PREJUDICE’.
The fact that, bar the Morning Star and Guardian Society, there was barely a twitter from the British media in response to this latest and quite possibly illegal infringement on the basic pecuniary rights of our fellow Europeans embarking across the Channel, as is their right, really says it all about the unspoken Zero Tolerance Covenant which very much typifies the fiscally fascistic British national character of today.
Deputy prime minister and Orange Book Tory Nick Clegg has also weighed into this non-debate by finally surrendering the last dregs of his alleged ‘Liberalism’ by supporting the Tories in their indefensibly chauvinistic policy –so now even the leader of the so-called Liberal Democrats seems to think it perfectly acceptable that while there should be free unfettered movement of ‘capital’ throughout the European Union (which, apparently, he so evangelically champions), the free movement of labour can be acceptable ‘adjusted’ to ‘discourage’ any temporarily unemployed Europeans emigrating to seek employment, and all those likely to be unsuccessful in finding it. that’s the funny thing about Liberalism, it’s such an elastic and flexible ideology that it can organically recalibrate itself whenever and however it pleases –it is political chameleonism, its principles are mutable.
And just to make sure that the unemployed, underemployed, sick and disabled aren't let off the hook for the August period when the nation's "hard working people" are all holidaying in the sun, IDS is making a speech today to announce that his DWP will be "intensifying" its welfare 'reforms' into 2015, should the Blueshirts win a majority in the general election (something currently being bet against by Sayeeda Warsi due to her party's abject failure to engage the ethnic minority vote). Here's The Guardian's somewhat ambivalent snippet on this latest vicissitude:
The work and pensions secretary will use a speech in central London on Monday to insist the Government is “delivering” after Labour left “whole sections of society on the sidelines”.
The comments come amid speculation that the Tory general election manifesto could pledge to lower the benefit cap of £26,000 to closer to the average take home pay of £18,000 or extend other tough measures.
Under the previous Labour government , he will claim, “the number of households where nobody had ever worked doubled” and the welfare bill rose by twice as much as average earnings.
“More than half of the rise in employment that we saw was accounted for by foreign nationals. And not just in London – three-quarters of Eastern European migrants in employment live outside London.”
“When we took office, there were nearly five million people on out-of-work benefits. It was clear to me that in large part this situation was the product of a dysfunctional welfare system that often trapped those it was supposed to help in cycles of worklessness and dependency.
“My one aim as work and pensions secretary has been to change this culture – and everything we have done, every programme we have introduced, has been about supporting everyone who is able to into work.
“The scale of the change has been enormous – but we are delivering, and it is changing our country for the better.
“Fixing society at the same time as the economy, matching a firm economic settlement to a firm social settlement; and in so doing putting this country on a path to a more productive, more dynamic, and ultimately a more contented, future.”
The Recusant has long-documented the psychopathology of the Work and Pensions Secretary, his apparently insatiable appetite for political notoriety in order to 'reassert' himself after his previous abject failure as Tory Party Leader, and how this belligerent ambition comes for him at the price of tens of thousands of devastated lives among the nation's most vulnerable citizens. Not content with a current estimated death toll of around 40,000 sick and disabled claimants who died within six weeks of being declared "fit for work" by Atos, not to mention the 80,000+ families with children who have been mass-evicted from their homes due to the benefit cuts and bedroom tax and wound up dependent on food banks while subsisting in B&Bs, it seems no human cost is big enough for IDS. And so he now pledges to reduce the benefits cap still more by a further whopping £8k per household! Does this sound like the 'more contented future' of which IDS speaks? If this is "Fixing society" then God only knows what IDS's notion of 'breaking it' would be like!
The comment about alleged multi-generational worklessness is quite simply a LIE which IDS has repeated incessantly over the past four years in spite of objective independent statitiscal evidence that this is and never has been a true reflection of the facts, only accounting for a percentage of the unemployed population so miniscule as to hardly even be worth recording. One suspects there is even an encoded point being made by IDS in the phrase "whole sections of society on the sidelines": 'sidelines' being a near-exact anagram of 'idleness'. But the true agent of 'idleness' is its near-homophonous acronym 'IDS', who married an aristocratic multimillionairess so he could live rent-free at her London townhouse while he perfected the art of faking his own CV. The Recusant still believes it can only be a matter of time before Pope Francis acts on requests from conscientious British Catholics for IDS's excommunication on the grounds of his department's mass abuse of human and disability rights and Atos-subcontracted administrative manslaughter.
Luke James in the Morning Star (12 August) covers this story in considerably more detail than The Gruaniad:
Iain Duncan Smith vowed to give Britain’s poor another dose of his sickening cuts medicine yesterday – by claiming it was curing unemployment.
The Tory Work and Pensions Secretary insisted slashing benefits is driving those “hardest to help” back into work and putting Britain “on the path to a more productive future.”
Panicked by the prospect of being booted out of office next May, he also signalled his intention to rush through as many welfare cuts as possible.
His boasts were undermined though as a charity he threatened to shut down revealed that cuts have helped spark a surge in people turning to loan sharks and foodbanks.
A Trussell Trust survey of 4,000 adults showed that more than one in ten had taken out a high-interest pay day loan last year.
That “alarming” rise coincided with a 163 per cent increase in the number of cash-strapped families turning to the charity for a week’s supply of emergency food.
Mr Duncan Smith had defended his relentless attack on what he called a “dysfunctional welfare system” in his central London speech.
He said it was “no kindness to park people on benefits” and dubbed his household benefit cap as “one of our most important changes in terms of its cultural impact and the message it sends out.”
But Trussell Trust chief executive David McAuley said yesterday that it was “high prices, static incomes, problems with benefits and harsh welfare sanctioning” forcing people into poverty.
He said: “It’s deeply concerning that the basics of dignified life in modern Britain - food, heat and electricity - can fall out of reach for so many.”
The charity, which runs 400 foodbanks across Britain, has now been forced to launch a financial advice pilot scheme alongside its foodbank as a result of welfare cuts.
Mr Duncan Smith also took aim at the record of the last Labour government, saying it “tested the socialist view of welfare to destruction.”
Hitting back, shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves pointed out that Britain’s housing benefit bill is set to double by 2018 and Universal Credit is in chaos.
“The Government’s flagship welfare reforms are in chaos,” she said.
While the Morning Star editorial (12 August) pulls no polemical punches on the matter:
Iain Duncan Smith’s torrent of poisonous drivel on welfare “reform” yesterday was par for the course from Britain’s most hated minister.
Routine guff about how ripping up the social security safety net somehow helps people to find jobs is nothing new.
Mr Duncan Smith claims that “everything we have done” has been about finding people work.
So that includes shutting down the Remploy factories which provided work for those with disabilities?
Launching the notorious “workfare” scheme which forced the unemployed to provide free labour to private firms in return for their benefits — and thus giving employers a stark incentive to cut back on staff they actually have to pay?
Farming out contracts to “get people into work” to privateers who consistently underperform compared to jobcentres — while slashing the number of public servants at the jobcentres themselves?
Even where Mr Duncan Smith’s vindictive policies are not directly counterproductive — and they often are — they do nothing to solve the problem of mass unemployment.
Jobless figures that stay stubbornly in the millions are not, as he affected to believe yesterday, the result of Labour bribing the masses to remain idle with over-generous benefits.
Anyone who has tried to live on the dole — which has fallen, not risen, in value compared to average wages since the 1970s — can give the lie to the idea that supporting yourself on it is easy.
No, mass unemployment returned to Britain during the Thatcher years and it is the neoliberal policies followed by all governments since which have kept it here.
A government prepared to invest to solve Britain’s myriad acute problems — the housing crisis, the understaffed NHS, the dearth of social care, the ageing transport and utilities infrastructure, the growing threat of climate chaos expressed in disasters such as floods — could easily create the jobs Mr Duncan Smith claims he is trying to help people find.
But planning and investment in people rather than corporate profit is anathema to this government.
Forcing the most vulnerable to the wall through threats, harassment and sanctions is not.
Hence the Department for Work and Pensions predilection for murderous “solutions” such as the Atos assessments which saw more than 10,000 people die within six weeks of being declared “fit for work” before the DWP decided to stop counting.
Even the minister’s shameless bid to play on anti-immigrant sentiment by blaming the welfare state for immigration is not new.
He chose to imply that business needs immigrants because British people are too lazy to work when benefits are available, rather than that immigrants come here specifically to claim benefits, which has been disproved too often even for Mr Duncan Smith’s taste.
But we’ve heard this slander of Britain’s work ethic before, not least from bosses’ clubs such as the CBI and radical-right Tory manifestos such as Britannia Unchained.
The Work and Pensions Secretary’s outburst does not change his department’s policies in any respect.
Rather it is a pitch to the electorate with one eye on 2015 — and tells us all we need to know about the sort of vicious, hard-right campaign the Tories intend to fight.
The Conservative Party is expert at divide-and-rule politics — pitting private-sector workers against public-sector workers, young against old, those with jobs against those without.
To win next year Labour needs to show it has a different narrative — one that unites Britain’s working people and stands for all of us.
One Door for the Rich and another Door for the Poor
It’s not just “one law for the rich and another for the poor” anymore, but also ‘one door for the rich and another door for the poor’. The latest manifestations of David Cameron’s ‘Haves and Have Nots’ (or ‘Haves and Have Yachts’) ‘Big’ Social Apartheid are what are rapidly being referred to as “poor doors”, separate entrances for “affordable housing” tenants renting the dark shanty-like side of otherwise salubrious London apartment blocks whose vast marble-floored palatial front entrances are reserved for the City bankers, whose still-unpunished mass- bankrupting of our entire economy seemingly gives them no end of divine dividends and Pharoanic privileges.
These ‘poor doors’ are nothing new, but are perhaps more prevalent under Tory rule due to the past four years’ relentless “gentrification” (i.e. ‘social cleansing’) of the Capital. But it is encouraging at least that, as with the other recent national disgrace of ‘anti-homeless studs’ (previously commented by The Recusant), there has been something of a ‘virtual’ national outcry against this latest example of architectural social segregation and stigmatisation of the poor. Here is a piece by Hilary Osborne (presumably no relation to the canapé and cuts-happy Chancellor?) from The Guardian of 25 July: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/25/poor-doors-segregation-london-flats
It can only be a matter of time before we move from “poor doors” to a whole new ‘Poor Law’ for this nation’s prolific dispossessed, even if in many respects this is what we have already witnessed since 2010 through the welfare ‘reforms’, bedroom tax and mandatory workfare placements. Indeed, if Home Secretary Theresa "Go Home or Go To Jail" May gets her way, and her party withdraws the UK from the European Convention of Human Rights in the apocalyptic event of a Tory victory next May, then a new 'Poor Law', or 'poverty settlement', might well not be far away.
But seeing as this Tory-led Government has already perpetrated a mass breach of human rights throughout the past four or so years, through the fiscal persecution of the poor and unemployed, the imposition of workfare, the medically illegitimate Work Capability Assessments of the sick and disabled, the flagrantly illegal bedroom tax, the criminalisation of squatting, the taser-happy eviction of traveller sites, the kettling, stampeding, tasering and beating of young, vulnerable and even disabled protestors, the banning of books for prisoners, zero hours contracts, discriminatory "retrospective legislation" etc., such a legislative move, if it ever came about, would almost just be a nominal formalisation of an already existent state of affairs.
The Tories have never really believed in universal human rights, and if it had been left to them, we'd never have even seen universal suffrage come about; they only believe in rights for the privileged classes their party represents. Forget Thomas Paine, in Toryland universal human rights are for "Johnny Foreigners"; 'Great' Britain wants its 'sovereignty' back so that it can commit another great act of national self-harm...
Finally, it just remains to say that The Recusant will be on an editorial part-sabbatical for the remainder of August due to this writer’s extracurricular commitments, although submissions will still be uploaded as and when possible. Apologies to those recent contributors who have had to wait a bit longer than usual before seeing their contributions appear; but it’s anticipated that from mid-September onwards The Recusant will again be more regularly updated.
11 August 2014 [updated 30 August 2014]