Saturday, 23 June 2018

2 letters on Heathrow and the north-south divide

With not only the decision to back a third runway at Heathrow, and the obvious loss of flights and customers thereby incurred by all northern airports, but also the revelations made by Lisa Nandy to the House of Commons about ministers being warned of "impending chaos" on the Northern rail network two years ago, Labour has been gifted another electoral opportunity (Ministers "were warned of Northern rail chaos", 21/06/18). It is imperative for all Labour MPs to stress both that the Tories` preference for massive investment in the south-east is deliberately increasing the north-south wealth gap, and that all constituents in Tory-held areas in Scotland, Wales and northern and western areas of England have been betrayed by the government.
      Even so-called "moderate" MPs should be able to present a united front on this issue, and rally round a leadership demanding investment outside the London area. It`s a no-brainer!

The decision to expand Heathrow highlights once again this government`s insistence on giving investment preference to London and the south-east. Gaby Hinsliff states that "the feeling that the government can`t even be trusted with the basics" is growing around Liverpool and Manchester, but it hasn`t needed a rail crisis to cause that! The number of people in the north of England and Scotland who have to get to Heathrow to catch flights out has grown inexorably in recent years. A "multimillion-pound project to connect London to the rest of the planet" would be unnecessary if some northern airports were expanded, and the number of point to point flights from them increased!

Labour can win, but electoral tactics need upgrade!

Should we welcome the fact that "politicians and sympathetic left-leaning think tanks are looking at" Labour`s electoral problem (Politics: The Tories think that Corbyn can`t win in the British "rust-belt" - but their belief rests on shaky foundations, 15th June, 2018)? After all, their 2015 "solutions" included a pink bus for female MPs and the "Ed Stone"! Stephen Bush clearly agrees with the so-called Corbyn-sceptic Labour MPs who place the blame for the disappointing "position in the polls" on the party leader, but some might see their divisive lack of support for what obviously could become election-winning policies more culpable.
     Support in "small cities and towns, and anywhere voters with degrees are thin on the ground" will not be won by Labour rallies or pamphlets on a rebalancing of the economy, but it could certainly be increased by sensible use of television broadcasts and social media. Anticipating objections from the right-wing press and media to Labour policies, and countering them early, have to be priorities. Tax policies will be popular but only if explained properly, and using actors in roles of characters of varying wealth to explain how Labour`s proposals will only affect the very well-off could prove successful.
Comparing the reactions to Labour policies of a shop assistant with a City broker might not be rocket science, but it beats engravings in stone, and being "intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich"!

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Guardian`s "race card"!

Looking forward to reading expert analysis and discussion about the north-south investment gap, with Labour`s decision not to support the government`s plans for a third Heathrow runway, and Lisa Nandy`s revelations to the House of Commons about ministers being warned of "impending chaos" on the Northern rail network two years ago, I was disappointed to find that there was no mention in my newspaper of the subject at all. There were, however, two pages devoted to Royal Ascot! 
Can we leave the playing of the "race card" to right-wing politicians, please?

Yemen: Tories have "blood on their hands"

With "more than 8 million people on the brink of starvation" in Yemen, and "22 million relying on humanitarian aid", one would have expected any western government with a hint of a sense of decency and responsibility to have voiced massive disapproval of the latest  Saudi bombardment of Hodeida (Morning Star, 13/06/18). Instead, this callous Tory administration not only supplies the Saudis with weapons, but with military training and advice. 
        May and Johnson will say, of course, that the government "said its piece", but the truth is that the Saudis know that as long as their cheque books are open, they have the total support of the UK. Didn`t the March visit of bin Salman to Britain prove it, with all the "bowing and scraping", as Emily Thornberry accurately described the shameful event?
 Now we hear of the US and UK acting together to block a Swedish attempt to get the United Nations to demand a ceasefire. Is any further proof needed that this government has managed to take British foreign policy to depths previously unreached, even by Cameron, Blair and Thatcher.
  Hopefully, Corbyn will use PMQs to stress not only the opposition of his party, but of all civilised people in Britain, to this murderous government, complicit in crimes which deepen the world`s worst humanitarian crisis. They have blood on their hands!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Sob story!

Come on, Barry Glendenning, a list of "the most ridiculous and embarrassing circumstances imaginable". which result in copious male sobbing, has to include the final episode of Friends (There`s no shame in football turning into the crying game, 03.06.18)! Then there`s Father`s Day cards, plus the very occasional time when something pleasant is said about you in public, and, of course, a list of "ridiculous and embarrassing circumstances" which start other people off. Barry`s certainly got me started!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Letter on Niall Ferguson

Peter Wilby wonders whether it has occurred to Niall Ferguson, that historians in US universities might have abandoned the Republican Party because it "has moved so far from evidence-based policies" (First Thoughts, 8th June, 2018). The trouble is that for Ferguson, unlike most historians, history has rarely been "an evidence-based subject". In his biography of Kissinger, he ridiculously claimed that responsibility for atrocities and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people should not influence "how we assess his legacy"! Again by ignoring the evidence, Ferguson was able to claim that British imperialism, despite its greed for wealth, land and labour, its use of weapons, massacres, concentration camps and torture, was a force for good. He has acknowledged that the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 made mistakes, but fails to connect it to the earlier British and French intervention in the area!
     So no, Mr Wilby, it almost certainly hasn`t! The British public has been badly served by biased historians like Ferguson, who misuse historical evidence, and by governments which fail to release over a million hidden files of evidence at Hanslope Park. Only by facing up to the truths about the past, and by unpicking the idea of a glorious Britannia, can the country hope to rid itself of its bigotry and racism.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Guardian Weekend letter on Gauke

What a shame David Gauke, when exchequer secretary to the Treasury, didn`t "want to get macho about" tax evasion in the lead up to the 2013 G8 summit, which was focussed on that topic.(Not a resigning matter, 02/06/18). His meetings with the International Financial Centres Forum (IFC) were described in the Panama Papers as examples of the "superb penetration of UK policymakers" by lobbyists, resulting in totally ineffective G8 measures. Being prone to "wobble quite a lot" appears to be a Tory common denominator!