Vote Down Purgemaniac David Evans at Labour Conference

If you’re left wing and in the Labour Party you must be wondering how much longer that’ll be the case for, because under the management of Starmer’s appointee to the post of General Secretary, David Evans, the biggest purge of members, aside from those already driven away by the right wing lurch of the Party under Starmer and Evans, has been underway for months and has only accelerated recently in response to fears Evans might not get confirmed by conference in his role. Purgemania. If we’re to save the Party from these unconscionable fools, we need to make sure that comes to pass. David Evans has to be sent packing and at conference, delegates will have the power to do just that.

Acting General Secretary David Evans tenure has been marked by control freakery and diktat, combined with repeated acts of self harm and epic examples of gross incompetence against the Labour Party and its wider movement. The man is not fit for the office he holds and since assuming it, he’s acted as if he was safe and secure in that role, but actually he is still yet to be formally ratified and accepted by the Labour movement and therefore, his position is vulnerable. Normally the act of conference ratifying the Party leader’s chosen candidate for this post is a formality, but with a leader as weak and disliked as Keir Starmer and his Gen Sec selection a man who has made himself incredibly unpopular in a very short space of time, this vote has become the main focus of Labour Conference this year for a great many people.

For months Team Starmer had been trying to rig the delegates attending Conference to ensure a right wing majority was appointed to ensure Evans gets ratifed. This hasn’t worked out as well as they had hoped, so for all the purging of members that has been going on for several months, this process has recently been accelerated to remove as many awkward people for the weakest most pathetic reasoning they can possibly find. Some Conference delegates have found they’re being put through extra checks, others are finding themselves being sent NOI’s Notices of Investigation into alleged misconduct, or are being auto excluded, a process not confined to delegates, but happening to members around the country for the crime of being left wing, the crime of being socialists, the crime of standing against Starmer and Evans. The trouble is, this has exposed gross examples of incompetence. The Party sent a notice of investigation to the Chair of Young Labour Jess Barnard, who immediately got her legal team involved and this was quickly removed and told it had been an administrative error. She had been sent it at 1am in the morning, just what kind of outfit still has people sending purge notices out at that time? David Evans evidently. Just yesterday we learned that even Labour MP’s aren’t safe from this mistreatment as Jarrow MP Kate Osborne also got sent a letter. Again she got her legal team involved and this was quickly claimed to be in error. Just how incompetent can you get, but this raises a bigger concern because leading figures in the movement such as these with their legal representation can get these things hurriedly dismissed, but for the wider Labour membership? No chance. How many of them are getting rolled over on and who is reporting them? Should right wing members be rolling over on left wing comrades, that’d be the political equivalent of scabs crossing a picket line, if Labour staff are being employed to sift through social media in order to build cases against members of their own party, that’s a gross misappropriation of funds and resources, but would explain why the Party seems to have so little time to attack the Tories and little wonder why Johnson’s recent polling blip over his National Insurance rise already seems to have been recovered from. Normal due processes for this has been circumvented to suit the agenda of Starmer and Evans as they wreck our membership and any chance of electability we have. We already know of other cases such as that of former PPC Pamela Fitzpatrick and Labour List’s Sienna Rogers who reported on an investigation letter being sent to her house for somebody else, who had never lived there and was no longer a member anyway! Just gross errors that shouldn’t happen in a competently run organisation. They’ve gone completely rogue.

The Trade Unions, the backbone of our movement have taken notice too. Unite has already said it will instruct its delegates to Labour Conference to vote against David Evans. The Bakers Union will almost certainly do likewise and may even vote to disaffiliate from Labour completely afterwards. Just yesterday in light of what has happened to Kate Osborne, who, as a former postal worker has close ties to them still, the Communication Workers Union has said it will instruct its delegates to vote against David Evans ratification and Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union, only recently reaffiliated under Jeremy Corbyn has today stated he fully expects that his union will vote against David Evans appointment too as well as consider disaffiliating once more due to Starmer and Evans dire behaviour. Aside from this there’s a left wing NEC on the right wing controlled Unison union ready to cause problems going forwards and the GMB are going to review their funding to Labour to ensure they are still getting value for money from its members. On top of that Momentum members who are delegates have been instructed to now vote against Evan’s appointment as have member delegates of the CLPD, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which actually shouldn’t be much of a surprise all things considered! In addition to that left wing Labour MP Jon Trickett put out on Twitter that the executive of his own CLP had unanimously voted not to endorse David Evans, making Trickett the first Labour MP to position himself against the acting Gen Sec’s formal appointment. These are huge problems for a Party that inherited over £13m when Jeremy Corbyn stepped down, but has been taken to the verge of bankruptcy by Starmer and Evans, forced to court donors and deliver whatever these wealthy individuals might want in return rather than work for the interests of its members and the British people.

All delegates have a responsibility to the movement to act now. Starmer and Evans have a track record of representing little aside from their own ideological desire for entrenched control of the party. Starmer promised unity and has gone back on that and considerably more. He’s demonstrated he’s about as trustworthy as Boris Johnson all things considered. David Evans is a Blairite who has imposed dictatorial instructions on Labour CLP’s, abused the Party rulebook to rule motions out of order and to do as he generally pleases. He’s acted like the job was already his and the party his personal fiefdom. It isn’t. He and Starmer need to be sent a message they cannot ignore. We need 50.01% of members to vote against David Evans appointment. We need delegates to vote to fire him as he has done to a quarter of party staff he can no longer afford to employ through his and Starmer’s mismanagement. I’m recommending each and every delegate going to Labour Conference ensure they cast their vote to vote down David Evans appointment. We need someone not only competent but credible running the Party and it’ll send a message to Keir Stalin that we’ve had enough of his abuse of position and of the party and he might want to consider his own too. We’ve a slim chance of sending Evans packing, but it’s a real chance. It’d be a great start to rebuilding a left alternative in this country so we need to make sure everyone with a say in that knows to take it.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

Labour Party suspension of Young Labour Chair jumps the shark.

The Labour Party has truly demonstrated what an utter cesspit it has become under Keir Starmer and David Evans in the wake of so many suspension letters being sent out, often at a ridiculous hour, midnight or 1am, designed to cause maximum distress to people unable to act at that time, or to start their day with. Young Labour chair Jess Barnard was one such recipient, a fantastic advocate for the party, someone who genuinely wants to make a difference, someone who has a particular interest in mental health awareness and has spoken of her own struggles publicly. So what did Labour do? Chose to send her a suspension letter at 1am in the morning on Suicide Prevention Day for, of all things, standing AGAINST transphobia.

The Labour Party has become a regime of diktat under the current leadership, flouting the rulebook in order to impose orders to not discuss certain topics, block no confidence motions in the leadership, block solidarity motions with some of those already suspended and meting out suspensions for the most ridiculous reasons, such as those given against people who had ever had anything to do with proscribed groups at a time before they were proscribed, leaving the Party open to legal challenges as it has. You’d think given Starmer, as he always likes to remind us being the former Director of Public Prosecutions, he’d know when he’s doing something legally stupid, but perhaps he, or Evans really don’t care as long as they can keep purging socialists, keep driving more members away, so the party, in as dire a state as it is, remains in their control. Above all else, this is about control.

So it is that we come to Jess Barnard, the elected Chair of Young Labour, the representative body within the Labour Party to represent members below the age of 27 – a weird figure, but there we go – who has herself been targeted for suspension.

Jess has found herself on the wrong side of the Labour leadership, but hasn’t let that stop her from doing what she feels is right and that means highlighting causes the leadership would rather not and it has invited pile-ons from right wing supporters of the Labour leadership, most recently for inviting the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to speak at the Young Labour event at Labour Conference.

She’s also found herself on the wrong side of the right wing press with Murdoch Times scribbler Oliver Kamm going as far as to derangedly accuse Barnard of wanting a second holocaust for Young Labour’s advocacy of Palestinian rights. Thankfully, there are journalists out there who will write factually, such as the Skwawkbox, who has covered this story in detail. No support from the Labour leadership whatsoever, they’d already cancelled Young Labour’s rulebook mandated Conference of their own, so you can see how much regard the leadership have for young members – about as much as they have for members full stop. This Labour leadership would rather have rich donors.

However at 1am in the morning of Friday the 10th of September, she found herself presented with a suspension letter for challenging transphobia – I repeat, she was challenging it. Not defending it. It is indefensible to defend hate speech of any form after all, identifying as trans is a protected characteristic, but that is not what Jess Barnard was doing and was not what she’d been issued with a suspension letter for. She was challenging transphobia in a twitter exchange with a right wing Labour Councillor and had been issued with a suspension letter for it. It was on Friday. Suicide Prevention Day. Often such letters, knowing they cause significant distress, particularly to long time members are supplied with contact details for the Samaritans. I don’t know if that was the case with Jess, but my goodness, can you imagine if anyone sent suspension letters that day was?

Here are the tweets in question, where Jess makes reference to TERF’s, an acronym standing for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, emphasis should be on the first two words since as I said before, identifying as trans is protected in law. I also fail to see what is so feminist about behaving this way towards such people either. The label fits the behaviour, Jess had done nothing wrong, in fact if its not obvious in the first tweet it is with the exchange with the councillor where she is clearly defending the rights of trans people and not attacking them.

To her credit, Jess went straight to the NEC and also got her legal team involved. Lo and behold, later that day the suspension order was rescinded. The claim from the Party is that this was sent in error, but the Communication Worker’s Union General Secretary Dave Ward hit the nail on the head when he sent a tweet saying the Labour Party disputes process is in disarray. It is not an error to hunt through somebody’s tweets, compile an investigation document, attach it and send it. This is clearly factional and wrong.

Of course he’s right, a fair amount of work goes into investigating anyone to the point a suspension is warranted, but you get the feeling they’re being doled out like sweets, especially when they’re being sent out for standing up for a protected characteristic! Are we the Transphobe Party now? It’d be good to get a statement from Starmer on this, but he’s been too busy tweeting about tennis to show interest in this or show Young Labour’s top representative an ounce of solidarity.

It had been suggested that all of this was the work of a rogue senior official with a vendetta against Barnard, but again, the work involved shows that is a risible, weaselly excuse. She was targeted for her beliefs, which are not in keeping with the current leadership even if they are in keeping with the party ethos and she’s not alone. Another example publicised in Evolve Politics this morning shows a Labour member, who shared one of that publications tweets relating to supporting a 4 day working week and championing free broadband has been suspended on the basis that they’ve shared racist content. Free broadband isn’t a protected characteristic last time I looked and I’ve yet to meet someone who self identifies as broadband who might be offended! Something has got to give and with Labour Conference just around the corner, things may well be explosive. A lot of hurt and upset is being caused by these often hilariously stupid suspensions, that sadly the people affected do not find funny at all. Exposed for being based on absolute idiocy, on factional vengefulness as they have in this and many other instances is incredibly damaging to the party’s reputation, its electability and we need a change. That change has to come from the very top.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

The National Insurance Lie: A Tax on Work not Wealth.

A manifesto is a roadmap for how a political party wants to run the country during the next parliament. It is their mandate to rule. However, we’ve seen it before and we’ve seen it again now, these promises, these manifesto pledges are not binding. They should be, they are what gives a governing party legitimacy, but having broken 3 of his manifesto pledges in one day, and inflicted more hardship on low paid workers rather than taxing the rich, Boris Johnson’s government should no longer be legitimate as they seek to tax work instead of wealth.

Is he going to call a General Election now that he’s shredded his mandate to run the country? Of course not, Boris Johnson has a massive majority and can do what he likes, however the question of breaking manifesto pledges is a big deal because it means he lied to the country in order to get elected. It’s not like Keir Starmer can exactly force the matter on that point either, given that he lied to the Labour Party to get elected leader himself, his 10 pledges have long been ditched and he’s done nothing but attack his own party, but he’s also failed to offer any alternatives and again that’s the case here, crowing that the Tories can no longer call themselves the low tax party, but failing to offer a plan of his own, not even to tax the wealthy, which, ironically, even the wealthy are calling for! It’s pathetic and the public will warm to him no more over this, than they have over anything else.

The attack on National Insurance is a vile one. The Tories promised it would not be raised and they’ve done it anyway. Work is the route out of poverty they’ve said for years, a lie as it was then, but now its even more dishonest, as they tax work instead of wealth. Johnson might well be blaming the pandemic for needing to do this, but when his plans will bring in and estimated £36bn, most of which is going to the NHS in actual fact, not social care, so it doesn’t even fix the social care crisis anyway, you can’t help but think hang on, Test and Trace cost £37bn – you didn’t put up any taxes to pay for that? and you’d be right, because taxation to pay for stuff is a myth when we as a sovereign country with our own currency can print however much cash we need for whatever we need it for. That is exactly how test and trace was paid for – numbers typed into a spreadsheet – magic! You start being charged national insurance before you even start paying income tax, meaning the lowest paid and often that means the youngest workers on the most rubbish of minimum wage are getting clobbered by this. These are people scraping by, many won’t even be able to do that, relying on foodbanks and working to earn their poverty and not working their way out of it as so many Tory mouthpieces have promised before. Now even more will be affected adversely. The money they spend goes straight into the economy as they spend what they get on food, on utilities, on essentials all the things which keep our economy going unlike the wealthy who just hoard their wealth, which does absolutely nothing to help the economy. By removing some of what little cash they have, it reduces their spending power and is harmful to the economy, this is why so many have said this national insurance rise will actually damage the economy – reducing spending power shrinks the economy, we have to spend for it to grow. Further compounding this will be the withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit Uplift, Energy bills set to rise £139 a year, furlough ending combined with COVID spiking which we know will disrupt work, we’ve seen it before now so things are looking very scary indeed for those on the lowest incomes. National Insurance is also only paid on earnings and profits as well so anyone making money from annuities, investments, or property rental evades it completely, along with anybody on whatever wage still working past retirement age. Anyone earning over £50K only pays 2% national insurance instead of 12% as well! It is a wicked tax, unfair on so many levels that amounts to an assault on the poor and the young and this 1.25% hike makes it even worse.

It could’ve been so different, but the way to pay for this is to hit those with the broadest shoulders and when UK billionaires have added more than £100bn to their wealth in the last year, why can they not foot the bill? Many are calling for it! One third of what they’ve added to their wealth in the last year would raise what Johnson is projecting, it doesn’t even have to touch what they had before, so why can they not pay it? As it stands 2.5 million households look set to lose an average of £1,290 a year in the next tax year. All families that can most ill afford it. It is a depraved move by bottom feeding, money grabbing, big bucks worshipping maggots for whom greed is their God and the wealthy shielded from paying their share.

A 10% tax on the wealth of everyone who has more than £100m would raise £69bn – is that not fairer? It legitimately would fix social care as well as inject more cash into the NHS though it remains to be seen if it’s the NHS or private contractors running former NHS services who actually benefit. Why are the poor having to pay for the rich? Why is work being taxed instead of wealth? There is no other way of viewing this and the Tories are prepared to betray their voters, betray their mandate to rule to do it.

But it’s not even the only example of pledge breaking that day. By apparently having to do this to pay for social care, Johnson’s manifesto commitment to a plan for social care during the 2019 election campaign has been proven to be a lie.

If pensioners who wouldn’t be hit by the National Insurance clobbering thought they were protected, they’d be wrong as Johnson has decided to scrap the pensions triple lock for a year. Anyone really think it’ll ever be put back into place? Only right before the next election as a sweetener, you can bet on it, that or a promise to reinstate it, but why honestly would you trust a Tory manifesto ever again after this?

How about after you have to sell your house to pay for social care? Yes, even with all these cuts, all these shattered promises, you’ll still have to stump up up to £86K to pay towards your social care. The Tories promised nobody would have to sell their homes to pay for social care, but who has that kind of cash not locked up in their homes? £86K is a cap on costs and kicks in after the first £100K of a homes value, but when the remainder of the property value is divided up as an inheritance, a wealthy homeowner sat in a half million pound property is going to leave a damn sight more to their family than the owner of a house somewhere in the red wall who’ll leave scarcely anything behind at all. Again, it’s war on the poor, it’s a class war. Protect the wealthy, guard their wealth, hammer the poor, they either don’t vote for us or don’t vote at all anyway. The poorest people across the board are paying so the richest don’t have to. This is what happens when you elect an elitist fool without the faintest idea of what life is like for ordinary families, not that he’d give a damn if he did, he only thinks of himself after all. Johnson doesn’t give a damn that he’s broken so many promises and wrecked his mandate, he is a serial liar that couldn’t lie straight in bed and anyone believing a word he says is a fool. The question now is, are we going to just take it, or are we going to do something about it?

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

National Insurance rise to pay for social care persecutes the youngest and poorest.

So Boris Johnson is proposing a National Insurance rise to pay for social care. Now as a Socialist I’m certainly not against higher taxation to cover necessary costs, things any of us may rely on in the future, but who is actually paying here and more importantly, who isn’t?

The Tories plan to raise National Insurance to pay for the increasing cost of social care according to numerous reports and to do so they’d be breaking not one but two manifesto commitments they made going into the 2019 General Election. Not only were National Insurance increases ruled out, but they clearly stated they had a plan for social care at the time, a plan Boris Johnson had refused to set out then, has refused to set out for 2 years now – the utter waste of oxygen stood on the steps of Downing Street after election and repeated the lie that he’d fix social care and probably pissed himself laughing after the door closed – and with this latest announcement it would seem that this social care plan really was a pack of lies from a career liar.

So they’ve broken a pledge or two, big deal you might think, I’m busy, I haven’t time to be worried about you and your leftish whinging because social care needs paying for after all and you’d be right, it does need paying however the fact the Tories will say stuff to get elected and then not mean it should be a concern to us all, that manifesto pledges are not binding is a big problem in the UK, because it betrays trust, wrecks faith in our electoral system, is acting in bad faith on the part of those doing it, and ends up promoting apathy amongst voters which is bad for democracy. But y’know, you’re busy! They’re busy too, rigging the system against you and there’s more coming down the road! But I’m not going to get into those particular issues here and now, the issue I’m going to focus on here is social care needs to be paid for and this is how the Tories are thinking of finally doing it, unless of course they don’t and just use the money for something else, that trust issue, it doesn’t just go away. Now many of you will be familiar with the fact that National Insurance Contributions show up on your payslip along with income tax and these are both deductions you pay anyway. Many of you might not begrudge paying a bit more and yes, I would agree with that, however the choice to charge more national insurance and not more income tax is a relevant one because of who it actually affects.

National Insurance is paid by businesses, the self-employed and employees who earn over £9,568 a year and it goes to pay for certain social security benefits like state pensions, statutory sick pay, maternity leave and gives you an entitlement to additional unemployment benefits should you need them, its supposedly an insurance policy against ill health and falling on hard times, hence the name, but it is basically just another tax. Now £9,568 a year is not a lot, you start paying National Insurance when you could be earning as little as £797 a month, a really low wage and that matters if you’re going to be asked to pay more of it to pay for Social Care, all while your energy bills are rising, your rent is rising, food prices are rising if you can actually find what you want these days and now they want to hit you with this too! They really do hate the poor. If you’re self employed it’s even worse, you start paying National Insurance on profits of just £6,515 a year – £540 a month! Now Income Tax on the other hand doesn’t start to be charged until you’re earning £12,570 a year, so you can see this National Insurance hike would be targeting the very poorest paid people in the country, hardly the sort of people you imagine that should be paying extra for social care in a fair society, they’re scraping just to get by and finding it harder by the day. Now because it goes to pay for your state pension, when you reach state pension age you stop paying it, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve retired – you may keep working, but you still stop paying National Insurance at age 66. So whereas the poorest paid and this typically is the youngest workers on the crappiest levels of minimum wage anyway, would face increasing national insurance costs to pay for social care, the oldest workers, those aged over 66, wouldn’t pay it at all and would not contribute whatsoever to the increased cost of social care and that’s true regardless of how much they earn. The other ridiculous thing about National Insurance is if you earn more than £827 a week, over £43,000 a year, the level of National Insurance drops from 12% of earnings to just 2%, so if you’re on a very nice wage above this level, are pretty well off all things considered, the less of a percentage of your earnings are taken through National Insurance. So far its looking like a bit of a scumbag move isn’t it! Well I’m not finished yet!

National Insurance is also only charged on earnings. If you rent property out, you don’t get charged it on the money you make, if you own a business and get an annuity from that, you don’t get charged for the money you make, if you’re rich and have lots of lovely investments bringing in more cash for you, you don’t get charged for the money you make. All in all, National Insurance itself, is actually a very unfair tax because of who it targets and how they are targeted.

Therefore, to raise this particular tax to pay for social care is a political move by utter bottom feeders, its seriously regressive as it compounds that inbuilt, inherent unfairness. It discriminates against the poorest paid, it discriminates against the youngest workers, it is an attack on the young because it is not a proportionate tax across all ages in society.

Raising the needed revenue with an increase on income tax would be far fairer across all demographics, all revenue streams, would be based on actual income and not discriminate against you based on age and earnings. It would be charged against older, better paid workers more rather than attacking the poorest paid and the youngest in work, but the point needs to be hammered home again and again that the most unfair aspect of our society when it comes to income and wealth is that the very wealthiest in society – the UK billionaires added £100bn to their wealth last year, more wealth than they could possibly spend in their lifetimes and that huge sum, let’s say it again, is in addition to what they already had. No matter what they spend therefore, they never even dent their capital. They can therefore afford to pay more than anyone else without any impact to their daily lives whatsoever and yet a wealth tax to address the rampant inequality in this country never gets addressed by this government. The playing field needs to be levelled, but with a government more intent on taxing the youngest and poorest workers into poverty and an opposition party leadership, incredulously still calling itself Labour, spending the entire weekend hand-wringing over whether to oppose this blatant attack on them – newsflash Starmer, you mug, its bloody obvious! What the hell took you so long? What chance is there of that?

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

Sharon Graham wins!

It’s not very often these days that I get to report some good news for a change, but at last the Unite the Union General Secretary election appears to be over and seemingly from out of nowhere Sharon Graham has won it.

She’s exploded what a lot of people felt. That she had no chance, that she should’ve stepped down when Howard Beckett did, that only one left candidate should run else we risk letting the right winger, laughably referred to by the lamestream media as a centrist – centrist to them, he won’t rock the boat – win.

I’m guilty of surmising the same, I’ll admit it. I was from the start an advocate of Howard Beckett, was devastated when he stood down, but understood why, that under the appallingly bad First Past The Post system the Unite election was taking place under, the risk of Gerard Coyne winning with the left vote apparently split, was a clear and present danger. I’m a Community member, I’d be slung out under a Coyne leadership along with thousands of others. This was after all why Howard stepped down, I understood why he got behind Steve Turner, who had the most nominations and that left many wondering why Sharon wouldn’t step aside.

Of course anyone wanting to stand should be able to, that’s good for democracy, but under such an unsuitable, archaic system, the right is favoured in such circumstances and this really needs to be addressed.

However as things have turned out that has not been the case. the two left candidates have come first and second so despite a split, the right winger still came last! Rupert Murdoch’s candidate, Keir Starmer’s candidate came last, the Labour To Win candidate came last and the right is kept out of any controlling role in our Union.

Sharon Graham ran a clever campaign, she got her data together and she’s reaped the reward.

As for Steve Turner’s campaign, behaving like the heirs apparent to the crown of McCluskey has blown up in their faces. Even with the support lent by some of Beckett’s supporters it wasn’t enough. Many would not be persuaded to back another candidate after their favourite bowed out, but without them, Steve Turner, the guy who got the most nominations, would certainly have come last, only just pushing Gerard Coyne into third place. The whole, ‘Steve got the most nominations, so the left must rally around him’ myth has been busted. The nominations process has always been a poor indicator and those defending this argument were just plain dishonest, just playing to their favourites and for many big name mouthpieces as my Socialist Telly colleague Steve Walker of Skwawkbox has laid out in recent articles, some supposedly lefty commentators have been left with reputations well shredded over this. The left is strong, a surprise has been sprung, I wish Sharon Graham well and look forward to seeing what she’s got in store for us.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

Tory trade envoy troubles

Liz Truss, cheese afficionado and pork markets fan – will she ever be remembered for anything else? Has today announced ten brand new trade envoys to represent Britain and promote our exports and our interests. Truss might be the most popular Tory politician – God only knows why – but she’s never been known for being the brightest. Perhaps that’s unfair, perhaps she’s picked some real experts here, some real professionals in this field, after all her boss Johnson signed off on them all. So who has she appointed then? Who are these trade experts? Oh dear Liz…you were better off with the cheese…

Liz Truss the Secretary of State for International Trade and never one to shy away from bigging up even the smallest deal has today announced 10 brand new trade envoys to help open up new trade links, promote our produce and big up Great Britain post Brexit. All sounds rather positive doesn’t it! So who are these booming economies we’re sweet-talking with these new faces?

Let’s start with Australia and you can imagine Liz Truss thinking what are we famous for in Australia, what do they love about us and came up with cricket. They don’t love us for cricket, they love us for losing against them at cricket. So rather than appoint anyone with familiarity with Australian economics, she appointed a cricketer, who also just happens to have joined the vermin in ermine in the House of Lords in 2020, becoming Baron Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham of Ravensworth. Although he sits as a crossbencher, Botham was vocally pro-Brexit which is all the qualification he surely needs. What part of cricketer training, what conversations in the clubhouse concern economics and trade relations? Weren’t the Tories implying sportsmen should stick to what they know? They told Marcus Rashford he had no business sticking his nose into things that didn’t concern him when he strove to feed kids during the holidays when the Tories would rather they starved, what could qualify this millionaire footballer after all, other than growing up poor himself! He had life experience, Botham has none regarding trade. The Tories really do need to make up their minds – can sportsmen make good politicians? Yes or no?

Ghana next, and who have the Tories carefully selected? Former Labour MP – and by the fact she’s taken the Ian Austin weasel route into the Tories grace and favour, you can tell that’s where she really belongs – Kate Hoey. Yes, screamingly pro Brexit cheerleader, another life peer to the House of Lords and Irish white woman Kate Hoey. Was there any real desire to have someone with something remotely in common with Ghana appointed to this post? I mean she was certainly one of the loudest voices for Brexit, she even got on a boat with Nigel Farage so perhaps she was owed a favour? I’m not sure what the Ghanaians did to deserve her though. She can bring her political experience of cutting her nose off to spite her face, wanting to hunt small wildlife and demand all cyclists be registered I suppose. Have they even heard of her over there?

Sir Geoffrey Donaldson MP is off to Cameroon – he’s a DUP MP, Brexit patsies that they were for the Tories and it seems they just can’t help still cosy up to them after the way they were shafted and what is it with the Tories sending the Irish to Africa, or do you have to be Irish AND bigoted? Have they left Dominic Raab to sort this out? He does know Ireland isn’t over there right? Donaldson apparently is already trade envoy to Egypt, so apparently he’s got enough time for this as well which is remarkably reassuring that we’re clearly getting some massive trade going on there if he’s got time to do both.

Current Tory MP Conor Burns is off to Canada – an Irishman not heading for Africa, well there’s a change, though no doubt his constituents in Bournemouth will be delighted to see their MP working for them on the other side of the Atlantic! The joys of living in a Tory safe seat – you don’t matter. Another brexiteer, so a shoe-in for a trade envoy job, but this ais a guy who was forced to resign as minister of state for trade policy just last year for being found guilty by the parliamentary standards commissioner for threatening to expose a member of the public using parliamentary privilege. He got suspended from parliament for 7 days, so this very much looks like your typical Tory rewards for bad behaviour when they think we’ve stopped looking. We see you. Sorry Canada, you’ve drawn a short straw.

Another Tory MP, Mark Eastwood is off to Pakistan and you’ve guessed it, he’s a brexiteer, he’s white and I’m not sure how fluent his Urdu might be! He has been to Pakistan once as part of an all party delegation though, so he does at least know where it is. He was a new intake MP for 2019, a red wall Tory, so there’s little else to be said, but then there doesn’t seem to be much needed to qualify anyone for these roles.

David Mundell, for some time the lone Tory MP in Scotland has been appointed trade envoy to New Zealand, so at least they got a politician and not a sportsman, though the question needs to be asked given he’s being sent from plague island, will they even let him in – do catch my recent article on New Zealand going into lockdown again off the back of a single new COVID case. There’s an irony sending a Scottish unionist to an island that gained its independence from Britain and has been successful – he doesn’t think that’s possible you see.

Another Tory MP, Marco Longhi, he who replaced a cowardly Ian Austin who had stood down as an MP rather than face defeat. Of course the Tories then gave the snivelling rodent an ermine overcoat, showing he was never really Labour to begin with. Longhi is off to Brazil. He’s lived there, he speaks Portuguese, you could almost think there was logic to this choice, if we hadn’t already run through a bunch of absolute howlers, but Longhi is a Tory after all, owning numerous properties and had accused the National Trust of being woke and appropriating cultural Marxism, which is a known racist trope. He’ll no doubt get on brilliantly with Jair Bolsonaro.

Stephen Timms is off to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, famous between them for chocolate and false teeth, so the more of one they can push on us, the more we’ll need the other! He’s a remainer and Labour MP so how did he sneak through, though perhaps the question ought to be, why on Earth is a currently serving opposition MP taking a role from the governming party, because that’s just taking the piss and makes Labour look even more of a failure in the opposition department than it already is.

Felicity Buchan has been appointed as a trade envoy to Norway and Iceland, who is the current MP for Kensington, having replaced the excellent Emma Dent Coad and therefore inheriting the ongoing, unresolved mess of Grenfell, I’m sure her constituents will be delighted that she’s sodding off to Scandinavia, though given she voted against the Labour amendment to the Fire Safety Bill intended to implement the recommendations of the first phase of the Grenfell Tower Enquiry, they’re probably more than well aware she doesn’t give a shit. A former banker, her only qualification to this role appears to be the fact she’s Scottish and therefore comes from the bit of Britain closest to Norway and Iceland.

Lastly there’s Lord Walney, there’s an innocuous, name, but it’s bloody John Woodcock. A former Labour MP who took a Tory peerage – funny so many of these have been former Labour MP’s, its almost as if the Labour Party is led by people who don’t really belong in it doesn’t it! He left the Labour Party let’s not let him forget coincidentally whilst a sexual harassment investigation into him was taking place. He was Ian Austin’s sidekick and fellow Corbyn basher and stood up publicly declaring what a danger Corbyn was to society and advocating for people to vote Tory. Yeah. That worked out well. He and Austin got their peerages for services rendered, but don’t think he’s satisfied yet, he’s a co-owner of the Jewish Chronicle.

Well he’s been appointed trade envoy to Tanzania. Whilst this country suffers, the people he purported to represent he has utterly betrayed for his own ends and he’s still cashing in. I can only apologise in advance to the people of Tanzania, I had no idea the Tories hated you this much.

So we have a list of ten trade envoys, many with no experience in trade whatsoever, all on the gravy train to some extent or another, despite 50% of these nations being majority non-white, 100% of all the trade envoy’s are white. 80% of them are male and 70% of them were pro Brexit.

Liz Truss and Boris Johnson aren’t interested in getting trade deals, I doubt they’re bothered whether any of these people succeed or fail, these are pats on the back, these are golden handshakes, these are rewards for loyalty and services rendered and when we’re paying for all of this, all whilst the Tories cut to ribbons our quality of life, all while our cost of living goes up, we should all be very, very pissed off at this.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

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Starmer ‘paint a picture in primary colours’ relaunch. WTF?

Keir Starmer, Labours absolute shambles of a leader is – you’ve guessed it – relaunching himself again!

He’s gone from embracing Blair’s legacy to finally admitting those 10 pledges were a sham and now wants to paint a picture in primary colours – what the hell does that even mean?

Keir Starmer has announced a departure from his 10 pledges, a pledge lest we forget being a solemn promise, made to us, the Labour membership. This is hardly news to those of us who have been or still are members of the Labour Party. He departed from them on day one, its just taken him 18 months to admit he never really meant a word he said in order to become elected. His war on the left of his own party just confirming that. His promise to build on the success of Corbyn’s leadership translated as rip it all up and suspend him from the party for far longer than the rules allow and suspend any CLP’s that dare try show solidarity with him. Any semblance of socialism he appointed to his front bench was ousted on the flimsiest of terms as fast as he could manage and its been diktat ever since.

He’s lost support, lost volunteers, lost members and has now thrown out even more by proscribing various groups on the left of the party and as a result is no longer competitive in by elections, losing one after another, only hanging onto Batley & Spen as a result of emotional blackmail and a bit of luck in the Green Party stepping aside.

Pledge one was the easiest to keep as it was on economic justice. Lowest corporation tax level in Europe, a tax only on profits as this is, raising it should’ve been a no brainer. He said now is not the time to this at the same time he was campaigning to be Labour leader – he literally broke it before even getting elected!

Pledge 2 was social justice – well where’s the social justice in saying nurses deserve a 2.1% pay rise, after the Tories promised 1%. They needed 12%, they were owed 15%, the Tories went 3% and Starmer broke his pledge and faith with nurses needing a fair deal.

Climate justice was pledge 3, for heavens sake all he had to do was stick with Becky Long-Bailey’s excellent Green New Deal and Corbyn’s 2030 climate crisis target. Nope, ditched it within months of becoming leader, has offered a limp ambition since. Always ambitions and never actual policy announcements.

Promote peace and human rights was pledge 4, just look at his treatment of Labour Party members, his abuse of the Labour party rulebook, the payoffs to shush up legal cases we had, and you’ve got an authoritarian who has been far too profligate with Party cash. No wonder Labour is worried it can’t even cover payroll now, but besides internal abuses he’s been a serial abstainer on the issue of human rights and he’s a former human rights lawyer! From the overseas operations bill, to the spycops bill he whipped his MP’s to abstain and was going to on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill until Clapham Common happened, forcing him to grudgingly oppose. Pathetic.

Pledge 5, common ownership – he ripped that up when he rowed back on the prospect of nationalising BT saying Labour under him is pro-business. In other words, he’s a red Tory.

Defend migrants rights was pledge number 6. When we have a sociopathic migrant hater in Priti Patel, it should be easy to just oppose frankly anything that comes out of her mouth. Starmer has failed to ever do so, so hasn’t kept this pledge.

Pledge 7 was strengthen workers rights and trade unions – what a sick joke this one is. When Becky Long Bailey sided with the teaching unions over concerns regarding covid in schools, she got the sack, allegedly over calling actress Maxine Peake a diamond, but we all know the truth. Useless Kate Green replaced her and Starmer just went, schools must open no ifs, no buts, no equivocation. He backed Unite over Fire and Rehire on twitter, then panicked over it and deleted it and now he’s using fire and rehire tactics to sack 90 staff, whilst recruiting more on temporary part time contracts, causing the trade unions to consider industrial action against Starmer and Labour! He broke this in the most egregious possible way.

Pledge 8, radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity, was torn up when he defended Boris Johnson’s trip to Scotland to promote the Union during the pandemic and has been utterly silent on Tory cronies ending up in the House of Lords – so much for equal opportunity, the gravy train rumbles on.

Pledge 9 was promotion of equality, but then he called Black Lives Matter a moment and has expelled members, most notable Jeremy Corbyn and most recently Ken Loach over factually questioning the prevalence of antisemitism or standing in solidarity with suspended members, plus he’s still burying the Forde Report, which, lest we forget is a report into internal racism in the party and BAME members in particular are furious this has still not been released.

And pledge number 10, to provide effective opposition to the Tories. I’ll never forget the people on Gogglebox saying ‘if him saying I agree with the Tories were a drinking game you’d be pissed!’

So lets bury this notion that he might scrap his 10 pledges, he’s already broken every single one, some several times over and they are no longer worth the paper they were printed on.

Now, on top of his agile ceremonies and multi-disciplinary collaboration in iteration, he’s talking about painting in primary colours. Why the hell does this brylcreemed advert for suited and booted nothingness insist on talking in such a meaningless fashion? His speech is now a direct reflection of his persona, it’s like he’s from an alien planet, there’s no sense in anything he says! Painting in primary colours, what are you three? Well you’ve torn up any semblance of socialism, so you won’t be using red, you stand for a metric ton of sod all, so Liberal yellow might suit, but with all your constant agreement with the government your tenure as leader is most definitely blue. Some might argue that mixing them makes green, but we’ve already exploded pledge number 3, so lets not go there.

The top priority is a Labour government he says, great, tell us something we don’t know, how are you going to achieve that when you lie, break your promises and have no policy? Are you going to announce some? No you’re apparently going to paint.

What is the one thing that connects Attlee, Wilson and Blair? They all had vision, had policies, they all increased Labour’s seat count, you missed Corbyn out in 2017 who did the same though, but that little nugget doesn’t suit you does it?

By officially announcing the 10 pledges might be on the way out, broken as they are anyway, merely confirms you lied to get elected. You lied to members who might have supported you and that makes you fundamentally untrustworthy. You’re dishonest Keir. You have no policies, still, to this day for anyone to base an opinion on your ability to lead, and the longer that goes on for, the worse people’s opinions of you are going to be. A recent YouGov poll of people’s attitudes towards you was excoriating. Of 12,000 respondents – huge by YouGov’s measure – 76% think you’re incompetent, 80% dislike you, 80% don’t believe you’ll ever be Prime Minister and as for people voting who they thought did a better job of leading the Party, you scored 35% compared to Jeremy Corbyn leading with 44%.

‘Win the Future’ is the new strapline you’re sticking to, how handy for a guy with no policies and no direction that the future isn’t written yet, but it won’t be primary colours with you still leading, you walking absence, it’ll be beige, beige, beige. The fact this abbreviates to WTF and what that usually stands for hilariously sums up how the majority of not just members but voters feel about you and what passes for your leadership, but how cringingly awful you are at promoting yourself or the party.

Nobody trusts you after you broke all your promises, nobody knows what you stand for when you relaunch yourself more often than you change your underwear and so I’m afraid I have to break it to you that you will never lead the country, you will never win, because unlike the Tories, we won’t support somebody with so little substance, nor back a liar. Next month at Labour Conference I really hope some home truths are going to hit you hard, you useless little man.

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Labour agile ceremonies? What is this drivel?

What in the ever loving chuff are Agile ceremonies? Unelected, unratified acting General Secretary of the Labour Party David Evans has taken inspiration from a Thick Of It script by the sounds of this. What a pile of drivel! In his strategic plans unveiled to Labour staff this week, some of whom it won’t matter to anyway when around a quarter of them now face the axe, somehow have to make sense of this in order to succeed. All this, because of the financial mismanagement of the Labour Party under Starmer & Evans tenure. What happened to just making popular policies?

Agile ceremonies, I had a vision of a vicar in gym gear when I first heard it, athletic weddings perhaps? Maybe its Starmer, Evans, the right wing frontbench and certain members of the NEC dancing in a circle and chanting around a cauldron? Is this how they resurrect the legacy of Blair perhaps? Sounds a bit cultish.

But no, apparently it’s the new way of working for those surviving the cut at Labour HQ.

David Evans idea of leadership is to tell the remaining staff they need to work collaboratively in agile and multi-disciplinary ways, that they need to adopt agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration.

What the hell? Has he tripped over a dictionary and swallowed it? What do we want? Agile Ceremonies! When do we want it? At an optimum point for delivery whilst maintaining product quality!

How do you convey this to local party members when they ask for help or advice? Iterate more! Deploy with more agility! What does it mean? do you want us performing somersaults as we post flyers through doors?

This absolute travesty passing for advice is what Labour staffers have been told they must do in order to make up for the job losses faced by colleagues. Evans admitted the key driver was a need to achieve a substantial cost reduction – no bloody kidding! Where has the money gone Keir and Dave? Corbyn left you with a £13m surplus! Blown on pay-offs to people who may or may not be badly incriminated in the never to be seen Forde Report, losing membership subs in droves as they attack the left of the Party ceaselessly, driving more members away from the party and pissing off the Trade Unions to the point some are considering disaffiliation, have withdrawn funding and are now even considering possible industrial action, since the way the party has gone about the layoffs, whilst recruiting more people on poorer terms and conditions, temporary, work-from-home contracts, is straight out of the Fire and Rehire playbook! Reports last month were that the Party was a single payroll away from bankruptcy, they’re certainly going to need to be more agile with their spending if they’re going to last much longer!

There is of course a way that we can put this nonsense to bed once and for all and that’s to make sure unratified Dave Evans, remains so. He cannot remain as General Secretary if he isn’t formally endorsed by Labour Party Conference happening next month and it really does depend how much the Starmer faction has stitched up the delegate selection process as to whether he’ll get the nod. A lot of people want him gone, not just over this latest, hilariously bad, incomprehensible plan for the Party going forwards, but as a result of his dictatorial instruction to CLP’s, walking all over the party rulebook, ordering them not to discuss things such as no confidence votes in him and Starmer, but also blocking solidarity votes in the perpetually suspended Jeremy Corbyn, for which he and Starmer will never be forgiven. The additional suspension of Ken Loach only adding to the contempt members across the country hold for the pair of them. We can give Starmer and his regime currently running our Party into the ground and into financial ruin a massive headache. Send Evans unceremoniously packing next month, let’s see how agile he bloody is then and see how well Starmer can rapidly deploy and iterate after that.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

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British response to refugees is shameful.

The sight of people trying to flee Afghanistan as the Taliban moved in and took over was harrowing to see. People cramming onto aircraft if they were lucky enough to get on one, some so desperate that they were tying themselves to the wheels or clinging onto the sides, literally risking death to escape, only for death to claim them, yet our sorry excuse for a government? They all seem to be on holiday while it happens.

As with any war, innocent lives are not only lost but displaced as well. It happens every time and sadly all too often this side of the story isn’t spelt out, isn’t told, all too often our media play it down not wishing us to be informed as to what the human cost is. Death figures are harrowing of course, but they are numbers on a sheet, people displaced by war, driven from their lands, homes destroyed, jobs gone, nowhere to go and in need of help that doesn’t always come – well, these are real people, still there and the picture becomes far more complex.

For those countries that do put their hands up, that do acknowledge their role and that they need to play a part in helping the innocent caught up in atrocity deserve to be applauded for their efforts. Germany have said they’ll evacuate 10,000 Afghans, naming translators and human rights lawyers specifically – those who worked with the West for 2 decades and are at risk of execution if caught. Angela Merkel has also said that she’ll work with other European countries to facilitate more. Good luck with dealing with Emmanuel Macron of France on that, since he seems more interested in blocking flows of ‘migrants’ from Afghanistan – they aren’t migrants, they’re refugees, learn the difference –  and has vowed to develop an EU initiative to stop them. Pandering to the far right in his own country to try and save his own political hide at the expense of displaced victims of war. Centrism for you – people hanging off planes and falling to their deaths and he wants to put the boot in.

The US plan on taking 30,000, Canada 20,000, even Uganda has pledged to take 2,000, now there’s a country that knows something about citizens displaced by war.

But what of the UK, how many are we taking? Boris Johnson is on record as saying we must not turn our backs on Afghanistan, Boris Johnson has mumbled something about an Afghan refugee scheme this week, but would they really want to come here given our track record?

Since 2008, the UK have deported, under the guise of repatriation, 15,575 Afghans back to their home country on the basis that their country was safe. It’s another untold Windrush story. By 2015 an average of 100 Afghans a year were being sent back, including people who arrived here as children, have known nothing else. Their formative years were spent here, they studied here, passed qualifications here, were raised by foster families here, but the minute they hit 18, back they went. In fact an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found Afghan children were more than twice as likely to be refused permanent asylum as children from anywhere else.

How many more days will it be before Johnson informs us how many refugees the UK is going to take? Why is it taking so long? Why also, is he not being put under any pressure by the opposition, where is Keir Starmer in all of this, how many refugees does Labour think we should take? Oh, he’s apparently going to wait until the government produce some numbers first. Pathetic, he’s going to Captain Hindsight this as well. Johnson will name a number and he’ll go that’s not enough and raise him what? 100? A thousand? and then Johnson will go slightly higher. This is what passes for leading the opposition these days, utterly useless. Canada has already received a planeload of refugees, whilst we can’t make our minds up how many we’ll take still!

It’s hardly surprising, Johnson was on holiday and the de facto deputy prime minister and Geography impresario, Dominic Raab, who also, without any trace of irony is the foreign secretary was also away! He was warned ahead of heading off to a beach in Cyprus, that things were escalating in Afghanistan and that he shouldn’t go. Naturally, being all about himself as Tories invariably are, he went anyway. He’s had to be dragged back, refusing to budge for several days and mumbled a mealy mouthed ‘nobody could see this coming’ when he got back! Literally the PM and Deputy PM were absent from duty, nobody holding the fort, because y’know, don’t these Taliban types realise the UK is on its hols! Nobody could see it coming? You were told before you left! Jeremy Corbyn warned Blair about this in 2001, but y’know, who listens to jam making vegetable botherers! Well he was right again!

He’s also mumbled about increasing aid to Afghanistan by 10%, but this is after the UK cut foreign aid there by 78% just last month! They knew the Taliban was advancing then and all the while aid and military were being pulled out. What bloody good is 10% after that you pathetic worm of a man and who will it be paid to now, the Taliban?

And of course wherever there’s talk of the UK taking people in from elsewhere you just know Home Secretary Priti Patel will have said something dreadful and that chronic woman has already squealed about migrants – again, they aren’t migrants! They haven’t made a choice to come here, they’ve literally nowhere to go, the very definition of a refugee – they’re seeking refuge for heavens sake! She wants to make sure we only take people of value apparently! Good job Ted Heath didn’t feel the same way when he opened the UK up to refugees fleeing Uganda, since that included Patel’s bloody parents! Uganda, the same country now taking 2,000 refugees, which is 2,000 more than we currently are!

Patel is more concerned about the message this will send to other refugees who might want to come here. She is inhumanly cruel and callous, it is just astonishing given her own personal family history that she thinks the way she does and worse, that she’s in a position of privilege such as she is as Home Secretary.

We owe the people of Afghanistan. We stoked dissent there during the Cold War, we trained many of the fighters who later became part of the Taliban back in the 80’s to fight the Soviets. That proxy war left a country torn apart by civil war which laid the foundations for the Taliban to take it over. Displaced Afghans came here as children only to be sent back the minute they turned 18 as the country was deemed safe, during the 20 years a Western supported government held up but in reality the entire thing was built on quicksand. Trillions of dollars wasted without giving any thought to the country being able to support itself and its gone to hell inside 10 days.
Our government, We in Great Britain, we owe the people of this country a lot. We’ve caused chaos over the last 40 years in Afghanistan as a nation, the least we can do now is take some of those who’s lives have been destroyed thanks once again in part to this country, offer them a new, permanent home somewhere safe to rebuild. We should all demand it, we as a country need to do our part.

UPDATE:

Its now emerged we’ll be taking 20,000 refugees, but over the course of 5 years! What the hell these people are meant to do while they wait I don’t know, but this is effectively washing our hands of the situation and should shame us all. Demand better.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.

Afghanistan abandoned.

Once upon a time and by that I’m going back to the early 80’s, the West was actually funding various dissident groups in Afghanistan, the likes of Osama bin-Laden in fact, the so-called Afghan mujahideen, because they were at war with the Soviet Union and that suited us because Russia bad, America and its allies good. We armed these people, we trained these people and now, as always seems to be the case, we’re walking away from a mess of our own making.

Margaret Thatcher promised these people that the hearts of the West were with them when really these people were just a temporary convenience to the West. It was a proxy war to the ongoing Cold War and it resulted in as many as 2 million Afghans losing their lives and countless more displaced, becoming refugees. For 9 years it rumbled on, ending only when the Soviets decided to withdraw, unable to cope primarily with the difficult terrain more suited to Afghan guerrilla tactics, but left the country in such a state it collapsed into civil war amongst various factions of that same mujahideen, a mix of disparate warlords fighting over bits of the country until they themselves were driven out by the Taliban, hardline religious zealots who had emerged from Pakistan promising to drive out the factions, taking over roughly three quarters of Afghanistan by 1996 and holding it until 2001 when the West went to war there and drove them out.

Hang on a minute Damo you might be thinking, these warlords, the mujahadeen had been funded, armed and trained by the West and they’ve been driven out. How is the Taliban invading from Pakistan and taking over the West’s fault?

Well the Taliban are themselves a mess of the West’s making. They were founded in 1994, essentially a student movement in Pakistan, appalled at the lack of Islamic teachings in neighbouring Afghanistan after that country fell apart once the Soviets had withdrawn. They pledged to establish a purely Islamic state and as we saw subsequently, they installed a harsh regime with hardline Sharia Law at its centre. Crucially, a great many of these individuals also came from the very mujahadeen fighters, trained, armed and funded by the West to fight the Soviets years earlier, so it was a kind of mujahideen civil war in a sense.

I’ll go back to that point as well about the Taliban beginning as a student movement – the word Taliban literally means student – students need educational materials in order to learn and what they were being taught was being supplied by the US. Despite eventual revisions to texts, these Taliban students, but also students in war-torn Afghanistan received learning materials that would shape their thinking, images of soldiers, of war, of weaponry, of jihad, of violence combined with Islamic teachings and a hatred of foreigners. Kids were literally being taught to count by counting tanks or missiles in a book for goodness sake! The intent was to keep fresh in the minds of these students what the Soviets had done to them, a hatred of Communism – to foment a distrust and dislike of the Soviets, just as the West distrusted and detested the Soviets – all supplied covertly, so US hands weren’t dirtied by it, all Cold War propaganda effectively.

So we have armed, indoctrinated forces from two countries, taught to hate foreigners, primarily intended to be Russia, who went to war and the Taliban came out victorious. None of this would’ve been possible without western involvement. Let’s get that into context.

But then all this interference in other countries came and bit the West on the arse.

The Taliban were supported by the terrorists Al-Qaeda, formed by Osama bin-Laden after he ceased to be a useful, Western funded mujahadeen fighting the Soviets, yes they formed from that same funded, trained and armed proxy army too. He’d been involved in blowing up US embassies in Africa, which had put him on the most wanted list, but the events of 9/11 meant he was now too big a threat to the US to be left at large. Demands that the Taliban hand him over, hiding in a cave in Afghanistan as he was, were rebuffed, they didn’t bow to the demands of the hated foreigners, including the non-Russian variety, so the month after 9/11 the US invaded to remove the Taliban from power and they did so within months, though it’d take a decade of fighting them before they got bin-Laden. The Taliban, having come from Pakistan, simply returned there to regroup, started feeding back into Afghanistan to mount more offensives and it became a constant cat and mouse game. The problems with the landscape that the Soviets found fighting there in the 80’s proved to be a problem for Western forces right up to the here and now. Here we are some 20 years after that initial invasion and it is decided that we’re going to all pack up and go home without finishing what we started and what happens? The Taliban have taken city after city, are at this moment knocking on the door of the capital city Kabul and sweeping back into power. Civilians are being evacuated where possible or ordered to remain in place for their own safety, the US ambassador has been airlifted from the roof of the embassy and everything has gone to hell as the government the West installed and built up is trashed in a week! If I was an American taxpayer, I’d be pissed, $100bn US dollars spent on training the Afghan army and to what end? An embassy that cost $700m now just gifted to the Taliban. An absolute failure for any of the structures put in place to hold up. Still, the withdrawal is going on, troops are being deployed, but to continue with the withdrawal, not to defend people who have worked with us for 2 decades, nor it seems to help them flee as well! The country is going to fall once more to the Taliban because, what? We got bin-Laden and now we’re bored and want to go home? There are people out there who helped the West, served the West, translators and the like who are now being abandoned. These people have a price on their heads and the Taliban plan on separating them from their bodies. The despotic Priti Patel has decided we don’t want to take Afghan refugees in case it encourages others to flee here – just what part of taking responsibility for our nations actions doesn’t she get, or rather, her own maniacal hatred of bloody foreigners coming here means she simply doesn’t care. These people literally face execution at the hands of the Taliban, they’ve been warned in advance they face beheading for helping us and we’re just going to walk away again, leaving a mess behind, just as we always damn well do. Apparently Dominic Raab is the foreign secretary these days, who knew! We’ve heard very little from him, perhaps he’s still trying to find Afghanistan on a map! Has he found Dover yet?

After the Gulf War, we abandoned Palestinians and the Bedoon booted out of Kuwait, after Libya we left a country to fall apart to the point its now a place of slave markets and civil war, after the Iraq War we left a political vacuum filled by the rise of ISIS. Every time we go to war somewhere, we don’t see it through, we go out there under the auspices of achieving peace yet that is the one thing that never happens. Our Western leaders get what they want, then lose interest. They’ve become bored by Afghanistan, they never really won, but they started a fight they can’t be bothered to finish, instead allowing the oppressive Taliban, a monster of the West’s own making, to just take it all back again and the people out there are doomed to suffer as a result.

Some of the most sickening responses I’ve seen are the blatantly political attacks on Joe Biden for pulling troops out and whilst there’s certainly cause to be angry over this, the orange idiot before him wanted to pull out in May – there’s no political high ground for republicans or democrats here!

There’s none for us here in the UK either. Refugees need not apply, weasel soundbites from Boris Johnson about not wanting Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terror as we wash our hands of the situation too. Jeremy Corbyn of course warned us against getting involved in Afghanistan to start with, but hey, it was never in Tony Blair’s playbook to not go running when George Bush clicked his chubby fingers and they made him a peace envoy to the middle east. How much more twisted can you get? Soldiers from any country who served must be looking at this, families of those who had died out there and they must surely be wondering, what was the point? What did we fight for? What did our loved ones die for if this is the end result?

So when would have been the right time to leave? We can’t stay forever after all? Is a perfectly reasonable response to all I’ve said so far. I’d suggest after 20 years, you’d think we’d have done enough so that Afghanistan could stand against the likes of the Taliban on its own, be secure in its own defence capability, have allies in the area to aid it, a strong economy to support it. A huge amount of time and money has been spent but what is there to show for it? Perhaps 20 years in a region so battle-scarred in recent history isn’t enough, but surely it is not unreasonable to suggest if you go to another country and you make war and cause disruption, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to stay until the situation is settled don’t you? Walking away just to let the Taliban take back over should be utterly unthinkable.

I could’ve gone further back in history if I’d wanted to, Western interference in the middle east has been a pisstake and a grand litany of failure, leaving only death and suffering behind for a great deal longer than I’ve covered here. This is another sad, sorry chapter in that history. Our governments should shame us and my heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan as events continue to unfold, abandoned, with a choice between Sharia Law, death or fleeing goodness knows where, while we just walk away.

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