We need a fairer society than this one

On the news that Big Ben will be silenced for Thatcher’s funeral…

“Maybe the pendulum will swing at the next election. But we need a fairer society than this one.”

Ask not for whom the bell tolls (or not)…

Apparently, Big Ben was last silenced for Churchill, the great war leader, and Tory, who saw us ‘safely’ through World War II, Dunquerque, Operation Overlord and the Battle of Britain notwithstanding!

But maybe he and Thatcher are like bookends…

Churchill ‘saved’ us from the Hun. It should be pointed out here, lest we risk idolisation, that it was the people themselves that fought the enemy, whether in Africa, Europe or other continents, and whether that be squaddies, or airmen, joined by redoubtable Polish fighter pilots, or the land army at home, or the commitment of the war industry, including an army of women for the first time. Various other allies too, especially the Russians, who lost more than anyone else.

But Churchill, through the sheer cost of the war, also lost the British Empire, and with his defeat in the khaki election in 1945 to Attlee’s labour, finally a land fit for heroes could be created (notice the Tories didn’t support that then either, too costly).

Crucial to all this was fairer taxation. Over the years this increased in differnt ways, leading to a peak in the 1970s when the rich paid more than ever before…

But then along comes Thatcher… who stepped in, destroyed union strength, cut taxes, and deregulated finance. A new empire (one that hadn’t really gone away either), a financial empire, was created.

The benefits for the super-rich have been that year after year the richest 1% have paid less and less ever since (including 13 years of Labour).

How rich will we let the super-rich become? What will it take? How many food banks? How many homeless? How many elderly dying in cold winters? How much will we pay for health treatment as the NHS is destroyed?

When will we become a land fit for heroes again?

Maybe the pendulum will swing again at the next election. Maybe it won’t…

But we need a fairer society than this one.

The EU must use its position to defend Gaza

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Just written to my MEPs, all of them, on Gaza…

Dear Rebecca Taylor, Linda McAvan, Timothy Kirkhope, Edward McMillan-Scott and Godfrey Bloom and Andrew Brons,

I write to you on the dreadful and continuing situation in Gaza.

Despite Israel’s defenders, the current escalation around Gaza has nothing to do with security and will increase insecurity in the region. Israel is publicly threatening to escalate the situation further even with a ground invasion. Israeli authorities are claiming to have killed 95 people. This includes 9 members of one family, including several children.

The EU should use its position in this.

The EU is the largest multi-lateral donor to the Palestinian Authorities and also Israel’s largest trading partner.

I ask you to call for an arms embargo. No-one should be selling arms in the area, not to any side, nor to linked countries. Nor should we be buying arms there, as Israel is an arms producer.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement has a Human Rights clause. I ask you to call for this to be invoked and to suspend the Agreement.

People have a right to live in peace, free from attack. Children should be able to sleep through the night free from air-raids, sonic booms or rocket attacks.

Attacking civilian populations is a crime: there should be no impunity – whoever is responsible.

Finally please call for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to resume. These cover a longer-term ceasefire, opening the Rafah crossing and helping to boost the economy of Gaza – which needs it given a 30% unemployment rate there.

Any progress has now been halted – again.

The international community must take action. It is not enough to simply secure a ceasefire.

Yours sincerely,

Turning the lights out on the Titanic

Is Cameron’s reshuffle supposed to be a kind of reverse psychology? Climate-change denier Paterson at the Environment, anti-gay marriage Miller at Equalities, supremely unqualified Gove still at Education, the laughable Hunt at Health, pro-3rd runway McLaughlin at Transport. Clearly plenty of work still to do on the destruction of the UK.

Miller and Paterson plus Hunt “the NHS is a 60 year mistake” going to Health represents a movement to the right by a besieged Prime Minister.

Owen Paterson is: sceptical on climate change, pro fracking, expect gas drilling everywhere, and less renewables investment; and he who compared the call to ban fox hunting to National Socialism!

The more I read about Owen Paterson, the more I realise he’s the sort of person I got into politics to stop ever having power! Meanwhile, Iain Duncan Smith was offered the job as Justice Secretary but didn’t take it. Surely following his own precepts, his benefits should be cut!

For most people, Cameron’s cabinet was quite Tory enough thank you:

  • “Oh yes, I remember – this is what they were like!”
  • Now it’s more traditional, more Eurosceptic, more authoritarian. In other words, more rightwing – a step backwards for progressive politics
  • expect a continuation of Labour’s appeasing of the bankers and paying with cuts.
  • over £80 billion in so-called austerity across the country, now expect more cuts.
  • Projections say the cuts are on course to cost a million jobs.

This is such an unbelievably far cry from what Greens were promising in 2010 – to tax properly and CREATE a million socially useful jobs!!

Owen Paterson returning to mainland politics will also be welcomed by Tory MPs. It’ll be interesting to see what flexibility he is given on the EU aspects of his department.

The replacement of Ken Clarke by Chris Grayling as justice secretary demotes Clarke, one of the more reasonable Tories, in many respects.

Health – was Andrew Lansley, who everyone will be pleased to see theback of. Except that he’s now replaced by Jeremy Hunt (Culture), he who presided over the hacking scandal, still yet to reach a conclusion. I’ve already signed a petition warning Hunt we’re watching him and his plans for the NHS! His co-author in a book, Daniel Hannan, called the NHS a 60-year mistake. We must end moves to split up the NHS. Instead we must tax properly and make it the world’s best public health service.

Hull and area faces a current total of £99m cuts, with £18m this year. We’ve already lost two wards to the area. Ther are ten to go in total. This is a major attack on health in this area. The coming CCGs are the next step in making health provision more private and less accountable.

Theresa May says: “I can assure you I am very pleased women have the vote.”” – except around the cabinet table. The UK lags behind much of the world when it comes to women’s representation – we are currently ranked 57th.

Maria Miller – Minister for Equality:

  • Voted against: gay adoption rights,
  • against Human F and E Bill which would give lesbian couples fertility treatment rights,
  • against Racial and Relig Hatred Bill and is in favour of defining racial hatred, prejudice and homophobia as freedom of speech

Another interesting high-up addition is Paul Deighton, the former Goldman Sachs executive who ran LOCOG. He has now got the job of ensuring that Osborne’s infrastructure investment programme rescues the economy.

At the top, the government has also become more male and white, but junior appointments are expected to compensate for that. we’ll see.

Cameron appears to want to ramp up the damage he is doing across society and push a radical, vicious agenda forward rapidly. Most people are already stunned bu the nature of this government and its actions and see it as a failure of Titanic proportions, including the economy! But now – will the last person to leave the Titanic please turn out the lights?

Nations of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

First they issued promissory notes, and I did nothing…*

Then they leveraged many times their assets, and I did nothing…*

Then they made the US$ the world reserve currency, and I did nothing…*

Then they abolished the gold standard, and I did nothing.*

Then they repealed Glass-Steagall, and I did nothing.*

Then they liberalised financial markets paving the way for massive financial speculation and the creation of many and dubious loan packages – actually I was sceptical of the massive credit boom – but still I did nothing.

Then they created debt so huge it was many times the total amount of real-asset backed money in the world, $560TRN.  But by this time I’d joined a political party (for other good reasons) warning of many runaway factors including high finance, I’d cut up my credit card, and moved to an ethical bank.  I’ve stood for Parliament, aghast at the craven supplication of existing politicians to the sacred cows of City banking, who exploded the world, got millions in bonuses, trillions in bailouts, and those elected who refuse to re-regulate finance especially to separate commercial banking from casino banking, and likely to let those who fixed the LIBOR international trading rate get off free!

Now the predictions continue: it will all happen again, 2008, bankruptcies, foreclosures, jobs and homes lost, until the banks own everything there is to own.

Now the vast majority of money is (uncollateralised) debt. That means it has no value of its own! It’s only valuable to the banks, as and when we, as individuals or nation-states, pat it back!

Nations of the world unite! Nationalise all your banks. Put people first. You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

[*…Hey it was hundreds of years ago and I probably wouldn’t have had any gold anyway. How was I to know it was important, no-one teaches this stuff at school! So the US gets a free ride for decades while slashing freedom globally. I still wasn’t born.]

The Official London Olympics 2012

I could care less, but then I’d have to make some effort.

A faster 100m or ending world hunger?? Ooh, tricky one. Let’s go for a faster 100 metres. Yes, I’m sure there’d be more headlines about that.

And indeed a lot of effort is going into the Olympics – as represented by the £9 billion pounds cost to the taxpayer – minimum, at a time of cuts costing a million jobs. G4S put a lot in clearly too – until they realised they couldn’t find enough people prepared to work for not very much in the country’s most expensive location. So send in the cavalry (as we sack thousands of them too). Still, for the 1200 troops involved, it makes a nicer change than the 1 in 6 chance of being killed or wounded in Afghanistan.

Not to mention the Olympic Nazis cracking down on the slightest independent mention of the games not sanctioned by McCoke-idas, or SAM missiles on council estates. There’s an upgrade they could do without.

As Mark Steel points out: If the Palestinians do that they get screamed at for using civilians as a “human shield”, but we’re doing it to protect the 200 metres backstroke.

And all that with some 700,000 Olympic tickets unsold. Incredible! We should have cancelled it and given it to some capable, non-corrupt country.

£900,000 NHS spend on private ambulances for Olympics

I love the Olympics, but not here, Mark Steel

Circuses, but less bread, Craig Murray

Bread and Circuses, Wiki

Christopher Alder: Quest for Justice

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Janet Alder describing her brother Christopher, his death and the ongoing campaign.

There have been 333 deaths in custody since 1998.

There has been no officer found guilty for 42 years.

On Sunday we held a memorial for a man that Hull police left to die on their station floor.

The vigil was held by Queens Gardens police station, one of many since Christopher Alder’s death on the 1st April, 14 years ago. Supporters gathered on the beautiful day. The press came too and Janet Alder, Chris’s sister, spoke to cameras and reporters reminding them of the story so far.

A coach pulled up in a while at the end of the road. A big, colourful entrance was made by supporters from London marching up the street and chanting “No Justice, No Peace” with drums too.

Speeches were made in the sunshine and everyone was invited to say which organisations and campaigns they represented before people set off on a demonstration around town.

Later, at the Unison building, about 100 people packed the meeting organised by the Hull Trades Council to hear the latest from the campaigners for justice for their loved ones.

Christopher Alder Campaign, Hull Trades Council

It was a stunning meeting. Chris himself died 14 years ago. But there were other people from London, from Manchester, who have lost men to police brutality and they spoke passionately too.

The family of Anthony Grainger shot dead by Manchester police in a supermarket car park. Friends and family of reggae star Smiley Culture (David Emmanuel) stabbed through the heart during a police raid – killing himself – according to police. And speeches for Sean Rigg, 40, who died in Brixton police station, a gifted musician.

In Chris’ case, he had been on a night out. Towards the end of the evening, he had been involved in a fight and he was taken to hospital for treatment. Apparently he became troublesome, possibly due to his head injury. The police were called and arrested him for behaviour likely to breach the peace.

Arriving at the police station, he was carried unconscious from the police van. Mysteriously he had lost his belt, something still unexplained today.

Chris was left with his trousers around his knees, obviously having difficulty breathing, on the police station floor. And eventually died there while police speculated he was feigning illness and made racist comments.

In 2000, at the inquest, the family received a verdict of unlawful killing. During questioning, the five police officers concerned refused to answers on over 150 occasions. Further court actions haven’t moved things further. In this case, the officers concerned were retired due to stress with £50,000 each and a full pension to come. So, neglect, minimum, that led to death, in a situation of statutory duty of care, had no criminal consequences for them.

Not only that – but this year – after 14 years, his body was discovered NOT to have been buried in 2000 when the family held the funeral! Rather, a 77 year old Nigerian woman had been buried in his place, apparently due to a mortuary mix-up! The mortuary staff concerned have moved to Australia and New Zealand, the funeral directors, paid £2200 for hearses and preparing the body(!), have since gone out of business.

It’s a horrific story!

The speeches were very moving today. No country is without its troubles, but the trials these families have gone through, the deaths, cover ups, police lies, media collusion, IPCC investigations refusing to investigate properly or at all, underscore a state where the police can kill someone and get away with it. As one police officer was reported to have said “Nothing will happen to me.”

333 deaths in custody since 1998.

No officer found guilty for 42 years.

United Friends and Family Campaign