Saturday, 30 July 2016

New Statesman letter on principle and passion

It is difficult to disagree with Ian Leslie`s analysis of the "bonfire of the experts" and the need for "cool logic" in politics (Power and the passion, 22nd July, 2016). Indeed, a morsel of the latter would have countered the arrogance of David Cameron, and prevented the EU referendum from seeing the light of day. Similarly, an iota of joined-up thinking would have alerted Labour MPs to the need for the appearance, at least, of solidarity at a time of apparent Tory implosion.
   There is, however, a problem with Leslie`s conclusion: if our political leaders are to be "effective", he says, they need to be experts in "policy, diplomacy", and "legislative process", and where better to acquire these than by studying for a PPE degree from Oxford? Furthermore, they need to have the self-confidence so that they don`t "screw up an interview"; expensive private schools have many faults, but producing students with low self-esteem is not one of them!

  Been there, done that! Having posh boys, who don`t know the price of milk, running the country for six years wasn`t exactly successful, leading to disillusionment with politics, increased inequality, and Brexit. Give me someone with passion and principle every time, as long as those qualities are allied to a propensity to listen to the advice from the experts!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Letters on "compassionate Conservatism" and "One Nation" Toryism

As it is the custom for incoming PMs of whatever party to announce their intention for a change of government direction with radical reforms, it was rather disingenuous of Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, to describe May`s idea for "putting workers on boards" of companies as "groundbreaking" (The May doctrine, 15th July, 2016). Most historians agree that even Disraeli, the initiator of "One Nation" Conservatism, who laced his 1874-80 administration with reforms to help the working class,and thereby win their votes, was "window-dressing" rather than changing society. Similarly, May`s co-determination policy is unlikely to reduce the pay-gap, as it did in West Germany, when FTSE 100 CEOs in Britain are paid 183 times more than their average employee.
     Leaders of parties claiming to be in favour of " social justice" do not "push for more grammar and free schools", when the inevitable consequences lead to more challenging schools for the majority. Politicians who supported the most callous austerity measures of modern times must never be mistaken for "compassionate Conservatives", if indeed, such people actually exist.

"The Brexit con will soon be exposed", says Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform, but probably not as soon as Theresa May`s "One Nation" con (Theresa May`s first pledge as PM was for a One Nation Britain,17/07/16). Just like her predecessors arriving at Downing Street, May could not resist making extravagant promises, like focusing on "people whose needs were greatest", but her support for the cruel austerity measures passed by governments since 2010 suggest a pinch of salt may be needed. Even the founder of the concept, Disraeli, whose 1874-80 administration passed thirteen major reforms, all ostensibly to improve the lives of ordinary people, was an imposter, tricking working class males into voting for him; historians generally agree that those reforms were more "window-dressing"  than causes of significant improvement.
The truth is that "One Nation" Toryism always has been an attempt to woo working class voters, rather than a serious attempt to change society. It will take more than co-determination to reduce the obscenely large gaps between the pay of workers and bosses, or to end the tax avoidance policies of most businesses. Inequality has its seeds sown in schools, and having a firm believer in grammar and free schools as PM means a few Damascene conversions are needed. Undoubtedly, Tories can show compassion, but a compassionate Tory government is, without doubt, an oxymoron.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Dail Mirror letter re. May and Johnson

By appointing the likes of Johnson and Leadsom to her cabinet, May has put her own job security before the needs of the country (Voice of the Daily Mirror, 16/07/16). No surprise there, she is a Tory PM after all! She must know the Brexiters well enough to realise that not only do they have major limitations which will almost certainly make most of them incapable of being successful in their respective roles, they also have a tendency to speak before thinking.
      Leadsom`s remarks about male nannies will only be the first of many gaffes, whilst the first country to be offended by Johnson is anyone`s guess. Yes, of course it is an insult to all countries for Britain to be represented by this Bullingdon buffoon, but May clearly realises that his impending failure at the Foreign Office will remove her only rival for the top job. His popularity with the general public will soon decrease when he becomes responsible for countries turning their backs on Britain.


Incomplete Guardian editorial

Whilst there is little about which to disagree in your editorial`s conclusion that Corbyn needs to show, in the coming leadership contest, that he can "rehabilitate the party as a force" for government, in some ways it was glaringly incomplete (The party needs a leader who can help it win power,18/07/16). If, as you allege, "all Labour MPs share the party members craving for a more equal society", should you not be urging them, as forcefully as possible, to demonstrate how they aim to achieve it? That would be "the stuff of normal debate", as opposed to their continued whinging and plotting. 
     So would reminding their constituents, and, of course, Corbyn`s detractors, of their leader`s fantastic political record over the years, so that a fair and measured view can be adopted. Indeed, perhaps details of Corbyn `s achievements would have been better placed in the Leader column, rather than the Letters` page (Letters, 18/07/16)? A prestigious international "award for lifelong dedication against injustice" seems to me a far more appropriate qualification for PM, particularly at this time of obscene inequality, than a career in the profit-obsessed City!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Myopia not confined to Labour`s PLP

As last week`s Leader pointed out, the country has discovered that there was as "little plan for Brexit" as there was "for a post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq", so what`s new (The Iraq War and its aftermath,8th July, 2016)? Joined-up thinking isn`t exactly the forte of our current crop of politicians, with the prime minister`s decision to announce both his future resignation and, practically simultaneously, a referendum on the EU, the prime example.
     Corbyn`s opponents in the PLP are equally culpable; it`s little wonder that, as George Eaton informs us, his allies believe the petulant MPs "have not learned" the lesson of their previous defeat (Politics,8th July, 2016). Even if Corbyn`s percentage of the vote goes down, and as they apparently hope, "repeated challenges" can be made, how can they possibly think this will increase the chances of unifying the party, or winning an early election?
 Far better to stick with him this year, and rather than dismiss his policies as unelectable, explain as one, how fairness can be injected into our society, and much-needed transformation can be achieved. A start could be made with the true cost of Trident, and its relevance in a post-Cold War world!

Prior to the forthcoming vote in Parliament, on spending £100-150bn on renewing Trident, could the Guardian please email the last three paragraphs of Mary Dejevsky`s article to every MP (Will Nato`s warmer words prevent a new cold war?11/07/16)? Perhaps then a decent debate could take place, and the inevitable result ensue? The cold war is over, and as the Nato secretary-general said, it "should remain history".

Of course, Jonathan Freedland is right when he sees the similarity of myopia in the leadership of Blair and Cameron, especially over their "lopsided view of Britain`s place in the world", concentrating too much on being close to America , and too little on our relationship with Europe (Cameron really was the true heir to Blair: both were totally reckless, 09/07/16). Sadly, Cameron still displays the same short sightedness, wanting Britain to be America`s best friend and taking position at the "top table", even if it means over-spending on defence at a time when expenditure is badly needed elsewhere.. There is no other explanation for his government`s insistence on spending probably a hundred billion on the renewal of Trident. The threat of Russia, yet again, will be exaggerated, as if the Cold War had never gone away.
   History, it is often said, repeats itself, but only because politicians lack the courage to prevent it.

History is allowed to repeat itself, largely because politicians lack the original and daring thoughts needed to introduce change, so why Simon Jenkins is so optimistic, following Brexit, is baffling (Ignore the prophets of doom. Brexit will be good for Britain, 07/07/16). There may well be "a great evacuation", and leaders may change, but will policies and attitudes? Did the huge expenses` scandal significantly alter the behaviour of our politicians? The economic crisis of 2008, brought about largely by the greed of the banks, was followed by a massive £375bn of quantitative easing given to the banks to kick-start the economy, and now Brexit has, in Jenkins`s words, led to the Bank of England "pumping money into the economy, or at least into the banks". Putting so much faith in the economic sagacity of bankers, whose raison d`etre appears to be profits and bonuses, has to be a mistake.
 As many lies were told by politicians in the lead up to the referendum as in the preparation for the Iraq War. Of course, social democracy and capitalism need "hitting over the head from time to time", but there is little or no empirical evidence to suggest that causes anything other than short-term pain, which is generally passed down to those least able to endure it! A new prime minister there may be, but it is difficult to see her ending the "ugly, uncontrolled greed" which has dominated society in the 21st century.



Friday, 8 July 2016

New Statesman letter on Establishment "cock-up"

The "British establishment cock-up", as Andrew Marr put it, wasn`t simply to give "the plain people" a referendum on the EU (The biggest blunder of them all,1st July,2016). The arrogance of Cameron and his team led them to believe that, even after imposing the cruellest austerity policies in modern times on the generally least fortunate, whilst simultaneously reducing tax bills for the rich and selling off the country`s assets to friends in the City at knockdown prices, the voters would support them.
      They did not realise that over a hundred years of establishment propaganda about Britain`s greatness, uniqueness and ability to stand alone would, one day, again in Marr`s words, bite them "in the bottom". The Brexiters were guilty of the mis-use of history, promising a return to a non-existent past, when Britain was "great", and on her own, whilst the remain campaign were equally culpable, fearful of upsetting traditional supporters with a more accurate version to debunk the mythology.
      There is nothing unique about "Britishness", given the number of Europeans who have settled here, starting with the Romans. Wars have never been won without the aid of allies from around the world; the country bravely stood firm in 1940, but was never "alone". A "special relationship" with America does not exist; our Industrial Revolution, financed by our slave trade and the looting of colonies, was accompanied by the barbaric treatment of workers, including children; and even the truth about our so-called "greatest" Briton, is rarely revealed. No wonder Gove wanted more of this nationalist nonsense taught in schools; no surprise that Johnson`s latest "history" book was a biased biography of Churchill. 
      How ironic that recent governments have refused requests to release the secret archive containing 1.2 million files, going back to the end of the Crimean War, and which would almost certainly change people`s perspective of Britain`s past roles.  

Monday, 4 July 2016

Guardian letter on politicians` ambitions

Jonathan Freedland is absolutely correct; we must not forget "those who for the sake of their career or a pet dogma, were prepared to wreck everything" (Let the vandals know - we won`t forget what they did,02/07/16). Johnson and Gove deserve all the criticism coming to them for the Brexit vote, but the list of those, in recent years in this country, whose "appetite for status"  led them to take the path "to disaster" does not stop with those treacherous Tories. Blair and the Iraq war is obvious, but what about Osborne`s unnecessary austerity to balance the books, while at the same time reducing the rich`s taxes, and selling off the country`s assets at knockdown prices to friends in the City? Few will be persuaded that his quest to reach the "top of the greasy pole" has not been determining his policies for the last six years.
     Wasn`t "vanity and ambition" behind Clegg`s duplicitous decision, against the wishes of the majority of Lib Dem voters, to agree to five years of Tory-led coalition? Isn`t that same ambition at the crux of many Labour MPs` willingness to rid their party of a leader hell-bent on reducing inequality and unfairness, and putting principles first. Most politicians, it would appear, ply their trade for a variety of reasons, mostly selfish ones, which explains the popularity of those such as Corbyn and Jo Cox, who break the mould.


Morning Star letter on manipulation of history

As Wednesday`s Star editorial stated, the referendum result came about because of working class communities expressing "their feelings about the Establishment in a roar of anger at the polling booth" (Morning Star,29/06/16). Blaming Corbyn is simply another example of Tories and Blairites passing the buck, especially when they did so little to emphasise the economic benefits brought to this country by immigrants.
    They also failed to counter many ridiculous claims made by the Brexiteers about Britain`s great heritage and history, with the reason for voting to leave the EU given by many as a method for putting the "Great" back in Britain. When so many of us criticised Gove six years ago for insisting on more British history being taught in British schools, little did we realise how important, and how soon, nationalist history would become to so many of the British people. So much of this mythology is swallowed; let`s get some things straight. 
      There is nothing unique about "Britishness", given the number of Europeans who have settled here, from Romans to Romanians, not to mention German royalty.
      Wars have never been won without the aid of allies. Yes, the country bravely stood firm in 1940, but it was never "alone".
     Our Industrial Revolution cannot be described as "great", financed as it was by our slave trade and the looting of colonies, and accompanied by the barbaric treatment of workers, including women and children.
   Even the truth about our so-called "greatest" Briton, is rarely revealed; no surprise that Johnson`s latest "history" book was a biased biography of Churchill.
 The only people who think a "special relationship" exists between Britain and the States are the British; the Americans never mention it.
   No explanation is needed to explain the existence of a secret archive containing 1.2 million files, going back to the end of the Crimean War, hidden from the prying eyes of historians, who might want British history re-written.
    Brexit can be regarded as just desserts for the continued manipulation of history!


Letter on Brexit lies

Nick Cohen was right to emphasise the lies told by the Brexit team in their referendum campaign, which "followed the tactics of the sleazy columnist", but strangely, he ignored two vital elements of the Remain campaign, which also "misled so grievously" the voters (There are liars and then there`s Johnson and Gove, 26/06/16).
   Firstly, Cameron and co. could not explain in detail how much the EU was benefiting financially the UK because their government was simultaneously trying to convince the people that they were investing in the future, by supposedly funding such policies as the mythological "northern powerhouse". Revelations of the huge European grants would have exposed the government`s duplicity.  By worrying too much about future Tory election victories, their focus throughout the last few months has been to avoid losing their traditional support, which also explains the second factor; the economic benefits brought to the country by immigrants could not be stressed too much for fear of antagonising the anti-immigrant faction within the Tory ranks.