Saturday, 17 December 2016

State of Labour

Image result for Corbyn, Lutfur rahman, len mccluskey + images

James Bloodworth on Twitter suggested that a better headline for the following Guardian piece would have been:
'Admirer of starvation state North Korea joins Labour Party'

Rather than the real strapline which is shown below along with a link to The Guardian where you can read the full article.

Now if you ask me, anyone with any sense 'called time' on the Communist Party years ago, back in the late 1980s, after facing up to the grim realities of life inside the Soviet Union and other totalitarian states like Cuba and East Germany.

If you ask me, Andrew Mitchell shares a very similar political outlook to Jeremy Corbyn's official spokesperson, Seumas Milne, and he's an arrogant tosser too, in my view.
What a state the UK labour movement is in these days.

Unite leader's aide leaves Communist party to join Labour

Andrew Murray previously said communism represented ‘a society worth working towards’

Arrogant Tosser (25/10/15)

I've long regarded Seumas Milne as an 'arrogant tosser' and my enmity towards Labour's new 'spinmeister' goes back to the days when he was the comment editor at The Guardian.

In wrote an opinion piece for the newspaper, in September 2000 if I recall correctly, which argued that the trade unions, particularly in Scotland, were becoming increasingly out of touch with ordinary union members through their continued love affair with the Labour Party.

I was in favour of breaking the institutional links between the unions and Labour on the basis that Britain's union bosses (the Bubs) invariably put their own pro-Labour views and interests above those of rank and file union members.

I said so in a similar article I had written for The Herald newspaper in Scotland I was was pleased to hear from the deputy comment editor (a woman) that my piece for the Guardian would be published in the run up to that year's TUC annual congress which had previously presented me with the TUC's Youth Award in 1983.

But soon afterwards the deputy editor contacted me to say that her editor (one Seamus Milne) had come back from holiday and decided to 'spike' my column, presumably because he disagreed with the politics involved rather than the quality of the writing.

At the time I had no idea that Seamus was an arch-Stalinist and the former editor of a peculiar 'left-wing' journal called Straight Left which was used as an organising vehicle by a small sect of ridiculously pro-Soviet members of Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

Now I had some experience of dealing with these Straight Left comrades who, in my experience, were politically sectarian and firmly stuck in the past, obsessed by notions of class war and using the trade unions as a 'vanguard' movement to promote social and political change.

The concept of vanguardism is well-known in political circles and involves small groups of unrepresentative individuals working together, in an highly organised and ideological way, with the aim of influencing and controlling much larger groups or organisations - trade unions, normally.

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn has appointed such a person to be his 'spinmeister' in chief just goes to show the extent to which the Labour Party has lost its way. 

Flat Earth Politics (30/12/13)

Here's another offering from the Guardian's comment editor, Seumas Milne, who continues his very one-sided writings which condemn America, Britain and other western countries at every opportunity - yet have nothing to say about the vile regimes which previously controlled Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. 

I discovered only recently that privately educated Seumas was the former editor of the Straight Left magazine - the voice of a ridiculously pro-Soviet sect within the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) during the 1980s. 

So I wonder what Straight Left and/or Seumas had to say about the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1982 because I, for one, would find that very interesting - as background to his relentless criticism of the west. 

In any event, I hardly agree with a word of what Seumas has to say - his reference to the 'justification' used by the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby seem ridiculous to me and no more justified than the reasons given by Anders Breivik for committing mass murder in Norway.

Does Seumas, for example, agree with Michael Adebolajo that Allah chose the off-duty, unarmed soldier - and compelled them to run his victim down with a car before attempting to cut off his head? 

I think not, but why let a casual throwaway reference - get in the way of a good story.

As for the rest of his article, Seumas ignores the fact that al-Qaeda launched its murderous terrorist attack on 9/11 from a safe haven in Afghanistan where the Taliban allowed the group to operate freely, so simply sitting back and doing nothing was never an option from an invasion that was supported by the United Nations.  

In Libya, the former Gaddafi regime (a former ally of the Soviet Union of course) was about to commit mass murder against the country's internal opposition before western countries intervened - yet again the state of the country is down the the 'west' rather than the need for totalitarian, often tribal and religious, states to embrace democratic reforms based on sharing political power and respecting minority rights. 

As far as I can see, according to the word Seumas inhabits the 'west' is responsible for all of the problems of the world and never does right for doing wrong - presumably even in the former Yugoslavia (a former Soviet satellite state) - where ethnic cleansing and mass murder was prevented only by the threat and use of military action by NATO.

The new and peaceful countries which have emerged from the former Yugoslavia - Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia - would no doubt beg to disagree with Seumas and his one-dimensional analysis about the pros and cons of intervention against tyrannical regimes.  

Many years ago I used to think of the followers of Straight Left as supporters of a one dimensional, 'flat earth' politics - and all this time later I've heard nothing to change my mind. 

Mission accomplished? Afghanistan is a calamity and our leaders must be held to account

British troops haven't accomplished a single one of their missions in Afghanistan. Like Iraq and Libya, it's a disaster

By Seumas Milne

'The wars unleashed or fuelled by the US, Britain and their allies over the past 12 years have been disastrous.' Illustration: Matt Kenyon

Of all the mendacious nonsense that pours out of politicians' mouths, David Cameron's claim that British combat troops will be coming home from Afghanistan with their "mission accomplished" is in a class all of its own. It's almost as if, by echoing George Bush's infamous claim of victory in Iraq in May 2003 just as the real war was beginning, the British prime minister is deliberately courting ridicule.

But British, American and other Nato troops have been so long in Afghanistan – twice as long as the second world war – that perhaps their leaders have forgotten what the original mission actually was. In fact, it began as a war to destroy al-Qaida, crush the Taliban and capture or kill their leaders, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.

That quickly morphed into a supposed campaign for democracy and women's rights, a war to protect our cities from terror attacks, to eradicate opium production and bring security and good governance from Helmand to Kandahar. With the exception of the assassination of Bin Laden – carried out 10 years later in another country – not one of those goals has been achieved.

Instead, al-Qaida has mushroomed and spread throughout the Arab and Muslim world, engulfing first Iraq and now Syria. Far from protecting our streets from attacks, the war has repeatedly been cited as a justification for those carrying them out – most recently by Michael Adebolajo, who killed the Afghan war veteran Lee Rigby on the streets of London in May.

The Taliban is long resurgent, mounting 6,600 attacks between May and October this year and negotiating for a return to power. Mullah Omar remains at liberty. Afghan opium production is at a record high and now accounts for 90% of the world's supply. Less than half the country is now "safe for reconstruction", compared with 68% in 2009.

Meanwhile, women's rights are going into reverse, and violence against women is escalating under Nato occupation: 4,000 assaults were documented by Afghan human rights monitors in the first six months of this year, from rape and acid attacks to beatings and mutilation. Elections have been brazenly rigged, as a corrupt regime of warlords and torturers is kept in power by foreign troops, and violence has spilled over into a dangerously destabilised Pakistan.

All this has been at a cost of tens of thousands of Afghan civilian lives, along with those of thousands US, British and other occupation troops. But it's not as if it wasn't foreseen from the start. When the media were hailing victory in Afghanistan 12 years ago, and Tony Blair's triumphalism was echoed across the political establishment, opponents of the invasion predicted it would lead to long-term guerrilla warfare, large-scale Afghan suffering and military failure – and were dismissed by the politicians as "wrong" and "fanciful".

But that is exactly what happened. One study after another has confirmed that British troops massively increased the level of violence after their arrival in Helmand in 2006, and are estimated to have killed 500 civilians in a campaign that has cost between £25bn and £37bn. After four years they had to be rescued by US forces. But none of the political leaders who sent them there has been held accountable for this grim record.

It was the same, but even worse, in Iraq. The occupation was going to be a cakewalk, and British troops were supposed to be past masters at counter-insurgency. Opponents of the invasion again predicted that it would lead to unrelenting resistance until foreign troops were driven out. When it came to it, defeated British troops were forced to leave Basra city under cover of darkness.

But six years later, who has paid the price? One British corporal has been convicted of war crimesand the political elite has shuffled off responsibility for the Iraq catastrophe on to the Chilcot inquiry – which has yet to report nearly three years after it last took evidence. Given the dire lack of coverage and debate about what actually took place, maybe it's not surprising that most British people think fewer than 10,000 died in a war now estimated to have killed 500,000.

But Iraq wasn't the last of the disastrous interventions by the US and Britain. The Libyan war was supposed to be different and acclaimed as a humanitarian triumph. In reality not only did Nato's campaign in support of the Libyan uprising ratchet up the death toll by a factor of perhaps 10, giving air cover to mass ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate killing. Its legacy is a maelstrom of warring militias and separatist rebels threatening to tear the country apart.

Now the west's alternative of intervention-lite in Syria is also spectacularly coming apart. The US, British and French-sponsored armed factions of the Free Syrian Army have been swept aside by jihadist fighters and al-Qaida-linked groups – first spawned by western intelligence during the cold war and dispersed across the region by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The wars unleashed or fuelled by the US, Britain and their allies over the past 12 years have been shameful. Far from accomplishing their missions, they brought untold misery, spread terrorism across the world and brought strategic defeat to those who launched them. In the case of Afghanistan all this looks likely to continue, as both the US and Britain plan to keep troops and bases there for years to come.

By any objective reckoning, failures on such a scale should be at the heart of political debate. But instead the political class and the media mostly avert their gaze and wrap themselves in the flag to appease a war-weary public. The first sign that this might be changing was the unprecedented parliamentary vote against an attack on Syria in August. But the democratisation of war and peace needs to go much further. Rather than boasting of calamitous missions, the politicians responsible for them must be held to account.