Sunday, 10 December 2017

Toby Young is terrified of losing his place at the Tory trough


After deciding to completely whitewash a British Medical Journal study linking 120,000 excess deaths with Tory austerity dogma just a few weeks ago (because the BMJ are supposedly not a reliable enough source), the BBC decided to give the sneering Tory fanatic Toby Young a platform to spew a load of anti-Labour bile on the Sunday Politics show.

You may remember Toby Young as the hard-right Tory propagandist who led the Tories for Corbyn campaign in 2015 under the spectacularly misguided delusion that a genuinely left-wing Labour leader would destroy the Labour Party and create a permanent Tory hegemony.

Young doesn't seem to have acknowledged his own idiocy in actively promoting Jeremy Corbyn, and neither has he learned the lesson from the 2017 General Election that hyperbolic anti-Labour smears simply don't work anymore.

Young's latest hyperbolic propaganda attack against the Labour left is to compare the grassroots Labour campaign group Momentum with the Britain First hate mob.


Britain First is a disgusting extreme-right BNP splinter group led by a bunch of criminals with multiple convictions for crimes like harassment, criminal damage, and assault, and in June 2016 one of their supporters brutally murdered the MP Jo Cox.

Momentum is a democratic socialist campaign group within the Labour Party that supports Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, and works to promote greater democratic participation.

Britain First have announced all kinds of policies over they years, including extrajudicial lynch mob killings, the introduction of systematic government discrimination in favour of white British people, book-banning, a total ban on abortion regardless of circumstances, the abolition of the right to a fair trial, compulsory Christian indoctrination in schools, the deportation of all refugees, government control of the media, a ban on all Muslims from holding public office, withdrawal from the United Nations and NATO, forced labour schemes, an Orwellian ban on the use of the word "racism", restoration of the death penalty, compulsory national service, an expansion in the sell off of social housing, imitation of Tory austerity dogma, and "repatriation" of British-born people of foreign descent.

Britain First's political tactics involve spreading anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, white supremacist, and anti-intellectual propaganda on social media; providing social media echo chambers for their followers to spread hatred, yearn for fascism, and plot criminal activities; street patrols and mosque invasions; conning donations out of unsuspecting people with honey trap scams like pretending to raise funds for animal welfare issues; turning a murdered British serviceman into a poster boy for an extreme-right ideology his family say he would have abhorred; and ripping off the poppy logo from the Royal British Legion in order to raise funds for their own extremist party.

Momentum support the centre-left policies outlined in the Labour Party manifesto. These include running essential British infrastructure and services (the NHS, Royal Mail, railways, water companies, national grid) as not-for-profit public services; the establishment of a National Investment Bank; treating education as a right that is beneficial to all of society, not a commodity to be sold at the highest possible price; curbs on tax-dodging and excessive boardroom pay; a £10 minimum wage; an end to the systematic abuse of disabled people in the welfare system; and the replacement of ruinous Tory austerity dogma with a sensible investment-based economic strategy.

Aside from supporting the Labour Party manifesto, Momentum also aim to encourage greater political participation and to democratise the Labour Party from within, giving much more power to ordinary Labour members.

So on the one hand you've got a neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist, extreme-right, white supremacist political party with a load of bonkers policies ranging from outright racism and zealotry to keeping the worst elements of Tory fanaticism as they are (austerity dogma, the destruction of social housing, welfare cuts ...), that is run by a bunch of criminals, and supported by a vast online hate mob who openly yearn for fascism and praise acts of extreme-right terrorism.

And on the other hand you've got a group of 23,000 law-abiding citizens from all ages, races and walks of life who promote centre-left economic policies that are commonplace across Europe and the developed world, and work to make the Labour Party more democratic and responsive to the will of its members.

The reason Toby Young wants you to equate this kind of peaceful centre-left democratic socialism with a lawless extreme-right hate mob is that he's one of the big personal beneficiaries of right-wing Tory ideological dogma.

In a spat with the left-wing political commentator Owen Jones over his absurd Momentum/Britain First comparison Young actually patted himself on the back about having set up free schools and bagged a job working as a director of a pseudo-charity called New Schools Network which is designed to siphon cash out of the taxpayer funded education budget in order to stuff it into the pockets of a bunch of "directors" and "advisers" in the form of bloated salaries and advisory fees.

Aside from topslicing cash out of the education budget, Young also earns a pretty penny working as a Tory propagandist for the tax-dodging Barclay Brothers, so he's definitely a man who knows which side his bread is buttered.


Young knows that a democratic socialist government would present a grave risk to parasites like him who gorge themselves on state funds whilst pretending to love capitalism so much.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to reverse the incremental privatisation of the NHS, establish a National Education Service, and to take heavily-subsidised national industries out of the hands of exploitative private sector profiteers and run them as not-for-profit public services.

This not-for-profit agenda strikes terror into the hearts of Toby and his ilk who believe that they have a God-given right to use government budgets to enrich themselves and their cronies, and to milk the British people for every penny they're worth through exploitative employment practices, rip-off private sector utilities, and the virtually unregulated private sector rental market.

These people are so used to enriching themselves at everyone else's expense that the prospect of more democracy, not-for-profit public services, and a clamp down on tax-dodging seems even more extreme to them than the wanton street thuggery, abolition of women's reproductive rights, state control of the media, religious indoctrination in schools, extrajudicial lynch-mob killings, white supremacism, and all of the other depraved stuff that Britain First promote.

Toby Young and his ilk are nothing more than frightened piggies at the Tory trough, and they're absolutely terrified that a rejuvenated and democratised Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn might actually hinder their absolute gluttony at the expense of the rest of us.


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Asking the fox to do a better job of guarding the chicken coop


The myopia of the political right never ceases to amaze. On the weekend after Theresa May's deal capitulation on the first phase of Brexit negotiations the Spectator published a piece warning that the Tory government must wake up to the dangers of fake news before it's too late.

Of course I have no quarrel with the central premise of the article that fake news is a huge problem. Nobody is denying that Twitter and other social media platforms are awash with automated bots pushing vast tides of deliberate political disinformation into the news feeds and inboxes of millions of people.

The problem of course is that fake news isn't just limited to Russian bots, white supremacists, extreme-right activists, and the like. 


As much as the mainstream media and the political establishment would love to convince you that they're the only true sources of reliable information in an ocean of disinformation, they're often guilty of disseminating fake news to the kind of vast audiences that the owners of Russian Twitter bot farms could only dream of.

Mainstream news sites from across the political spectrum have been caught promoting distortions, exaggerations, misleading narratives, and outright lies. Surely we can all think of plenty of examples of newspapers and broadcasters producing shockingly misleading content for ourselves?


In fact it's been proven that mainstream media hacks have massively amplified the popularity and reach of Russian Twitter bots and other fake news purveyors by lazily embedding their Tweets into their articles instead of engaging in actual journalism.

But aside from the mainstream press doing stuff like brazenly misrepresenting statistics to whip up hate against British Muslims, repeatedly inventing fake terrorist incidents, embedding Russian bot tweets in their articles, and concocting stories out of outright lies they've lazily churnalised off the Guido Fawkes blog, there's a subtler but more sinister form of fakery going on.

Take the British Medical Journal research paper linking 120,000 excess deaths with Tory austerity dogma that the BBC decided not to mention at all. The astounding decision to hide the existence of this damning report from the public revealed that the BBC is more of a PR department for the political establishment than an impartial broadcaster.

Then there's the fact that the BBC continually gives credence to fringe lunatics with their fake balance agenda so that qualified climate scientists are given the same platform and airtime as clueless blowhard climate change denialists like Nigel Lawson.

But the BBC obsession with creating fake balance (even between experts and extremists when it comes to subjects like climate change) suddenly evaporates completely when it comes to economics. At the 2017 General Election the British public were split almost exactly 50-50 between supporting pro- and anti- austerity parties. You wouldn't know that watching BBC political output though, which insists on heavily stacking almost all of its debates and politics shows with pro-austerity politicians and political commentators, as if the idea of economic impartiality is an absurd concept, rather than something that should absolutely be expected from a taxpayer funded public service broadcaster.

Mainstream newspapers and broadcasters are demonstrably guilty of creating and disseminating fake news, and of deliberately manipulating public perceptions. But there's also the problem of politicians creating fake news themselves too.

We've all seen how the "£350 million a week for the NHS" and "only a madman would try to drag the UK out of the Single Market and Customs Union" Brexiteer lies have crumbled away to reveal a hard Tory Brexit and a vast 50 billion divorce bill.

We all saw how Donald Trump won the US election promising universal health care to the American people before immediately launching attack after attack on America's very limited socialised health care provisions in order to deny coverage to literally millions of people.

And anyone who uses Twitter will be aware of the Tory party accounts @CCHQ and @Conservatives which both spew a near constant stream of pro-Tory fake news.


On the day before the Spectator article pleading with the Tories to take fake news seriously the @Conservatives account published an extraordinarily misleading Tweet claiming that there is such a thing as British law (there isn't because Scots Law and English Law are two distinct legal systems) and using a picture of a gavel to illustrate it (gavels have never ever been used in Scots or English courts).

On the very same day Tory MPs conducted an absolute barrage of Twitter propaganda trying to recast Theresa May as some kind of master-negotiator for having finally crawled over the first Brexit hurdle a lamentable eight months after triggering Article 50 with no plan for what she wanted to achieve as an actual objective.

And let's not forget that just days before Theresa May's Brexit deal capitulation her Brexit minister David Davis claimed that the Tory government has actually done no Brexit impact assessments whatever, meaning the 58 Brexit impact assessments he'd spent the summer bragging about to parliament, the press, and the public were in fact fake news.

Imagine the myopia of appealing to the Tory party to do something to combat fake news when the writer knows perfectly well that Theresa May's cabinet is stuffed to the gunnels with lying Brexiteers; that the Tory party operates a pair of the most shockingly misleading official British political accounts on Twitter; that BBC political coverage is little more than taxpayer funded PR for the Tory party these days; and that Tory politicians are currently engaged in yet another Orwellian propaganda campaign, this time to convince the British public that the Brexit deal capitulation is a wonderful thing and Theresa May is some kind of exceptional master-negotiator!

It really is like asking the fox to do a better job of guarding the chicken coop.



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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

David Davis has dug himself into a massive hole over his Schrödinger's Brexit impact studies


In March 2017 I wrote a blog post highlighting the fact that the Tories were openly admitting that they had done absolutely no impact assessments into the social and economic effects of a "no deal" cliff edge Brexit before they decided to make the threat of it the absolute centrepiece of their so-called negotiation position with their "no deal is better than a bad deal" rhetoric.

By the summer the Tories and the Brexit minister David Davis had changed their tune completely. Davis took to claiming that there were between 50 and 60 detailed sectoral analyses into the economic impact of Brexit.

When quizzed about whether Theresa May had read these Brexit impact assessments by the Brexit Select Committee, David Davis claimed that they contained "excruciating detail", but that she would have read the executive summaries.

In early November the opposition parties won a vote to force the Tories to hand over the Brexit impact assessments to the Brexit Select Committee so that they could scrutinise the different impacts of the various different Brexit scenarios.

Since then the Tory government have been stalling and stalling on handing over these impact assessments, despite being threatened with contempt of parliament by the speaker John Bercow if they don't.

And then on the morning of December 6th 2017 David Davis decided to tell the Brexit Select Committee that there are actually no Brexit impact assessments on any sector of the UK economy.


This clip is extraordinarily difficult to square with Davis' previous assertions that Theresa May had read the executive summaries of these excruciatingly detailed reports that don't exist.

It makes an interesting though experiment to consider the nature of these Schrödinger's impact assessments which both exist in excruciating detail and also don't exist at all according to David Davis, but the bigger issue here is that the man has clearly exposed himself as a profoundly dishonest charlatan.

He was either lying when he claimed that Theresa May has read the executive summaries of these reports, or he's lying that they don't exist simply because he doesn't want anyone to read them because they project a catastrophic economic meltdown if Brexit goes ahead.

Brexit is the single most complex and risky process the UK has undertaken in decades, and David Davis is now expecting us to believe that the Tories have done no research into the potential consequences whatever. 

He expects us to just accept that they've wasted 18 months since the EU referendum result on a shambolic "let's make it up as we go along" Brexit strategy, without even considering the economic impact of what they're actually doing.

This admission from David Davis should be the final nail in the coffin for the myth of Tory economic competence.

Let's forget the fact that those who propagandised in favour of Brexit should have presented social and economic impact studies before the EU referendum to convince us of their case, and just focus on the fact that even after Brexit they've had 18 months to research the consequences of their actions, and they've done nothing.

How can they ever pretend to be competent guardians of the British economy again when they're now admitting that they've spent 18 months on Brexit without doing a single study into the impact on any area of the UK economy (the financial sector, aviation, the automotive industry, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, the health service, fishing, hospitality, tourism, any of it!)?

Millions of people ignored the fact that the Brexiteers had no plan and no impact studies to justify their case and voted in favour of Brexit regardless, but surely now they must be having second thoughts given the fact that the Tories have openly admitted wasting 18 months, and even triggering Article 50 without even bothering to do any analysis on the possible consequences beforehand.

How can anyone, no matter what their views on EU membership, look at this extraordinarily reckless Tory shambles and not be deeply concerned about it?


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Monday, 4 December 2017

On planet reality the Tories are the radical economic extremists, not Jeremy Corbyn


Every single time you hear someone from the political right trying to make out that Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of hard-left economic extremist (as if the Tories are economic moderates in comparison), you've got to remember that they're trying to convince you that black is white.

In reality Labour's core economic policies under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership (public ownership of the rail industry, water companies, mail service, health service, police services & national grid + a National Investment Bank) are quite normal centre-left policies that are commonplace across the developed world.

Not only are these policies commonplace across the developed world, they're all incredibly popular with the public.

Renationalisation of our core infrastructure and services has overwhelming public support, and the only reason British people are a bit more divided over the excellent idea of a National Investment Bank is that Britain has never had a proper sovereign wealth fund like Norway, so a lot of people are unfamiliar with the idea.

There is a constant right-wing political narrative that Jeremy Corbyn is a terrifying hard-left economic extremist which rarely ever gets challenged by the mainstream media. But the really crazy thing is that while mainstream media hacks continually allow right-wingers to smear Jeremy Corbyn and Labour as economic extremists when they're not, they're simultaneously letting the Tories get away with implementing one crackpot economic policy from the hard-right fringe after another.

Only 3% of the British public agree with the proposition that police services should be privatised, yet that's exactly what the Tories have been up to. In 2012 they ignored expert opinion and public opinion alike and privatised the Police Forensic Science Service. Now that police privatisation policy has come back to haunt us all as one of the privatised forensic science companies has been caught manipulating the results of 10,000 samples from criminal cases. That's thousands of potential miscarriages of justice! Thousands of potential retrials (at the taxpayers' expense of course). Potentially thousands of innocent people fined, or even jailed for crimes they didn't commit. And most worrying of all, these manipulated samples could have allowed rapists, murderers and violent criminals to roam free as innocent people took the rap for their crimes.

Then there's schools. Only 6% of the public believe that schools should be privatised, yet that's exactly what the Tories have been doing since 2010. Over the last seven years they've transferred ownership of literally thousands of state schools to shady unaccountable private sector psuedo-charities that have then used bloated executive salaries in order to siphon millions out of our children's education budgets and into their own pockets. The mainstream media completely let them off the hook for implementing this fanatically right-wing policy. It's incredibly rare to see the mainstream journalists frame the situation as hard-right radicalism gone wrong whenever a privatised academy chain collapses into ruins, but that's exactly what it is because hardly anyone wanted our schools privatised in the first place.

Then there's the NHS. The public is split 84% to 10% in favour of running the NHS as a not-for-profit public service (which is Jeremy Corbyn's position), yet the Tories have been carving it up and giving away the pieces to their private sector mates ever since their disastrous 2012 Health and Social Care Act. The more they cut NHS funding and distribute services to their private sector mates, the worse NHS services are getting (just ask anyone who actually works in the NHS), but the mainstream media barely ever frame the worsening conditions in the NHS as yet another example of hard-right Tory radicalism gone wrong, because they're too busy trying to frame Jeremy Corbyn as the terrifying extremist for actually offering the public what the overwhelming majority of them say they want!

If Jeremy Corbyn was on about nationalising the airlines there would be legitimate grounds for claiming he's an economic extremist given that only 14% of the public support the idea, while 68% oppose it, but he's certainly not proposing that. And even if he was proposing a more radical left-wing policy like that, it's still not quite as extremist or unpopular as the Tory policies of privatising police services (87% against - 3% in favour), the NHS (84% against - 10% in favour) and schools (81% against - 6% in favour).

So the next time you hear a right-winger trying to deride Jeremy Corbyn as an economic extremist, you've got to realise that they're taking you for an idiot and trying to con you into believing that black is white.

And whenever you see someone from the mainstream media refusing to hold the right-winger to account over this kind of Orwellian deception, remember that they're making themselves absolutely complicit in the con.

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Note: All public opinion percentages used in this article and header image are sourced from this May 2017 opinion poll from YouGov

Friday, 1 December 2017

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour just stood up to the bully bankers at Morgan Stanley


Since 2010 the Conservative party have handed one tax break after another to Morgan Stanley and their employees. They have slashed corporation tax for major businesses from 28% to 19% (the lowest rate in any of the major advanced economies), they scrapped the Bank Levy, and they've also lavished tax cuts on the super-rich by slashing the top rate of income tax, Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

In order to fund these deliberate handouts to corporations and the mega-rich, the Tories have loaded the burden of their toxic austerity dogma on the majority of poor and ordinary people, resulting in the worst fall in real incomes and living standards in decades and an increasingly unstable and debt-laden economy. 

As a result of seven years of ruinous ideologically-driven Tory austerity dogma productivity has collapsed, wages have stagnated, increases in GDP per capita have been anaemic, rates of private and public debt have soared, local governments and public services across the country are on the brink of collapse, economic demand is faltering, and public investment in infrastructure and research is the lowest in the developed world.

None of these problems matter to the bankers at Morgan Stanley because they're happily getting richer at a faster rate than ever before. And after the bailouts that followed the bankers' insolvency crisis, they can feel entirely confident that if another crisis comes along, the UK government will bail out the financial sector again, and load the cost of these vast financial sector subsidies onto the public again.

It's no shock at all that Morgan Stanley have decided to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party under these circumstances. Engaging in partisan political attacks against the political rivals of the party that has showered you and your kind in handouts is hardly surprising behaviour.

Neither is it surprising that they'd intervene in British politics to scaremonger about a party that is intent on redressing the soaring rates of inequality between the mega-rich and the rest of us. It's pure self interest at work.

And why wouldn't bankers who make their £millions in fees handling private capital come out against Labour's plans to bring vital UK infrastructure and services back under public ownership so that they can be run for the national good, rather than to generate private profits?

And why wouldn't a bank that stands accused of being one of the biggest global players in the offshore tax-dodging industry come out all guns blazing against a political party that actually seems to be serious about clamping down on companies and individuals who are intent on siphoning off their wealth rather than paying their fair share?

Morgan Stanley provided no real evidence to back up their fearmongering that a Corbyn government would somehow be worse for the UK than a cliff edge "no deal" Tory Brexit. But this lack of justification hasn't stopped an army of right-wing astroturfers repeating this new anti-Corbyn propaganda trope all over social media and newspaper comments sections as if it was evidence-based analysis from a respected and impartial observer, rather than the self-interested speculation of a major beneficiary from seven disastrous years of Tory misrule.

The reason for Morgan Stanley's overt political attack on Labour is obvious. They know that even if the Tories deliver an economically disastrous complete meltdown Brexit shambles, they'll still be able to make a killing by shorting the pound, and shorting British assets. Once the meltdown takes hold they can reinvest their winnings by gobbling up British infrastructure and assets on the cheap like vultures stripping the flesh off a carcass. They can do that safe in the knowledge that a Tory government would shower them in even more tax breaks while loading the cost of the disaster onto ordinary people with more austerity dogma, and if the worst came to the worst they know the Tories would bail out the financial sector if it all went wrong.

Mega-rich bankers are being promiosed no such favours by Jeremy Corbyn, and they're deeply afraid that Labour might actually stick to their word and set about claiming down on tax-dodgers, taking control of vital national infrastructure away from private profiteers, and reversing some of the most egregious Tory handouts to corporations and the mega-rich.


In the past Labour leaders might have seen this kind of overt political attack from a major bank as extremely damaging, and set about apologising to the right-wing propaganda rags and meekly prostrating themselves at the feet of their financial sector masters. But under Jeremy Corbyn they're actually got a bit of fight about them.

Labour haven't responded to this politically partisan attack by grovelling and begging for forgiveness, they've stood their ground and used it as an opportunity to explain how their policies would benefit the majority, which is only really a threat only to the piss-taking minority who have got mega-rich stuffing their ill-gotten gains in offshore tax havens while the rest of us bear the brunt of socially and economically ruinous Tory austerity dogma.

Here's Labour's response:

For far too long the Westminster political establishment have worked as the management class  to represent the interests of major corporations against the interests of ordinary people, when their job should actually be quite the opposite; to protect the interests of ordinary people from the dangers of unregulated capitalism, and the unrelenting greed of the wealthiest people in society.

These Morgan Stanley bankers thought that they could bully Labour into dropping the policies that made their 2017 Manifesto such a hit (renationalisation of vital infrastructure and services, Corporation Tax rates more in line with the global average, no tax increases for the bottom 95% of earners ...). But by standing up to Morgan Stanley rather than tearing up their own manifesto and begging them for forgiveness, Labour are showing that they're actually interested in putting up a fight on our behalf.


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