Thursday 27 October 2016

The Nasty Party

There are two Labour Parties.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that stands in silent vigil outside Durham County Hall throughout working hours during this half term holiday week. The other is the party that skulks therein or in its private box at the Riverside, bailing out Durham County Cricket Club while sacking the Teaching Assistants in order to reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that last night sought to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen. The other is the party of the 98 Labour MPs who abstained, so that the motion was defeated by 90 votes.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that will contest the Richmond Park by-election, one hopes in the person of Barnaby Marder. The other is the party that expels people for retweeting the Greens, while demanding that Labour give the Liberal Democrats a free run at Richmond Park.

Whereas the real cheering on of the Lib Dems ought to be with a view to the re-election of their members, and of the Independents, on Durham County Council. Together with the removal of the 57 Nasty Party members who are doing to the Teaching Assistants what Margaret Thatcher did to the miners.

In some places, their removal by Lib Dems. In rather more, their removal by Independents, including those of us who, as supporters of the Leader of the Labour Party, can reasonably claim to be the real Labour candidates. And their removal by Conservatives in a certain number. The four sitting Conservative Councillors did at least abstain. By all means let them defeat a few members of the Nasty Party.

The aim must be to take Durham County Council to No Overall Control, to put together an administration including everyone apart from the Nasty Party, and to fly the Teaching Assistants' flag from County Hall every day thereafter.

We are trying to persuade Ken Loach to make a film about the Teaching Assistants, of whom he is a firm supporter. What an ending that would be, a shot of their flag's triumphant fluttering over a County Hall liberated from the Nasty Party. Even if he did not make that film, then someone will. I guarantee it.

Look at the poor press and broadcasting coverage that the party of Jeremy Corbyn receives, and remember that the Labour Party's Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting is the very personification of the Nasty Party.

I was going to write a criticism of Clive Lewis for his absence last night, and for his having joined in the call for a "Progressive Alliance" at Richmond Park. But Lewis is, as I am, a "mulatto", that being the preferred word of the Labour Party's Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting, who has directed it at me throughout the present century. Indeed, he has a directed a good deal worse than that at me during the present century.

Now living in London, he is easily as racist as Zac Goldsmith, and he is a threat to the physical safety of a very high proportion, perhaps even the majority, of the population of that world city. Look out for him.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Snooping On The Snoopers

It is undeniably disappointing that Labour seems to have acquiesced to the Investigatory Powers Bill when Jeremy Corbyn is Leader, Tom Watson is Deputy Leader, Diane Abbott is Shadow Home Secretary, and Shami Chakrabarti is Shadow Attorney General.

The election of Yvette Cooper to chair the Home Affairs Select Committee is also most disappointing, although at least that can be blamed on the hangers and floggers on the benches opposite.

And at least she beat Chuka Umunna. What remaining potential use is there for Chuka Umunna? A BBC Four documentary on Sir Helenus Milmo, welcome enough in itself. But then, well, what, exactly?

Still, the next Parliamentary Labour Party will contain only the tiniest number of Coopers and Umunnas. Its will be as good as totally committed to the repeal of what will by then be 30 years of assaults on civil liberties.

There should, however, be the odd figure to the side, keeping Corbyn's Labour Party true to itself on this as on its roots in the anti-war and anti-austerity movements.

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Wednesday 19 October 2016

Bowl Them Out

Durham County Council's Cabinet has unanimously agreed the ECB's bailout for Durham County Cricket Club, where the senior Councillors and Officers have a private box.

But they are still sacking the Teaching Assistants, in order to reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

Bring on May's elections.

Monday 17 October 2016

Of Rockets and Ballots

Instead of Trident (and, for that matter, instead of fracking), we need flood defences, we need civil nuclear power, we need a return to the exploitation of our vast deposits of coal, and we need properly paid and properly equipped Armed Forces.

You will be able to vote for that in this constituency, if nowhere else.

By voting for me.

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Why I Want To Be In Parliament

From my longstanding home and political base here in Lanchester, I shall be contesting the new seat of West Durham and Teesdale at the 2020 General Election.

Here are some of the reasons why.

I am active in the campaigns for justice for Durham County Council’s mistreated Teaching Assistants, against the proposed drastic cuts to hospital provision in County Durham and Teesside, and in defence of the public transport on which, as a disabled person, I am reliant.

I opposed from the start Tony Blair’s privatisation of England’s public services in general and NHS in particular, as well as Blair’s victimisation of the disabled, and Blair’s continuation of the previous Conservative Government’s assault on civil liberties.

I always opposed the abandoned austerity programme of the sacked George Osborne, unlike the Liberal Democrats until May 2015, unlike the Labour front bench until September 2015, unlike the Conservative Party until July 2016, and unlike 172 Labour MPs to this day.

I have opposed every military intervention of the last 20 years, unlike the Liberal Democrats on all but one occasion, unlike the Conservative front bench and almost all Conservative MPs on every occasion, unlike the Labour front bench on every occasion until Jeremy Corbyn became Leader, and unlike one third of Labour MPs even after that.

I campaigned successfully for traditional Labour areas such as the North East to decide the EU referendum in favour of Leave, and thus to make themselves the centre of political attention.

I am mixed race, I was born in the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, and I recognise the need for immigration controls in order to deliver public services.

I oppose any approach to climate change that threatens jobs or workers’ rights.

I would seek to rescue issues such as fathers’ rights and male suicide from the likes of Philip Davies and Milo Yiannopoulos, whose economic policies caused the problems.

I have long worked throughout the English-speaking world and beyond to bring together the opponents of neoliberal economic policy and neoconservative foreign policy among traditionalists and libertarians, conservatives and liberals, social democrats and democratic socialists.

Locally, I have co-operated for more than 20 years with Independents, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour Party members and supporters, activists on the wider Left, and entirely nonpartisan community stalwarts.

I remain banned from several leading political websites because I have been pointing out for at least 15 years the links between Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange.

From outside any party since October 2006, I bring all of this to bear as a friendly critic and a critical friend of Jeremy Corbyn.

I am medically unable to drive, but I undertake that, if elected, I would spend one weekend per month in the parts of the constituency previously falling within each of Gateshead, Derwentside, Wear Valley, and Teesdale.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Overall Control

No one is a Labour parliamentary candidate until approved as such by that party's National Executive Committee. That Committee now has a pro-Corbyn majority, and ought therefore to resolve that it will never, under any circumstances, approve the parliamentary candidacy of Tony Blair.

Blair then needs to be asked live on air whether he would ever seek election as anything other than an official Labour Party candidate. That is a Yes-No question, and any answer other than No is automatically expulsionable from the party, with a five year ban from even so much as applying to re-join.

While the NEC was about it, then it ought to suspend the membership at least of those Durham County Councillors who presented themselves in order to vote against the Teaching Assistants. Based on that, Windlestone Hall, the Cricket Club, and the cuts to transport provision, the Leader of the Council, Simon Henig, ought to be expelled forthwith, and therefore made subject to the five year ban. The forfeiture of his CBE ought also to be explored most actively. Let's face it, that would save time.

Being suspended or expelled, those people could not be Labour candidates in May, thereby potentially saving the party dozens of seats that such candidates would certainly have lost. The Teaching Assistants, being council employees, cannot be council candidates. But their supporters include many people who not only could be, but in several cases should have been years ago.

The NEC can grant membership and candidacy on the spot in emergencies, and this is an emergency. Alternatively, it can watch the devastation of the largest Labour Group in local government, taking the authority to No Overall Control while at least depriving the Leader of his seat before he lost his liberty. Of course, as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, the majority of the NEC's members may actively wish to see that outcome.

Friday 7 October 2016

The Stench of Incompetence and Cruelty

I was at a wonderful meeting last night, of which great things will come. But it was in Newcastle, meaning that, after the train back to Durham, I had to get a taxi back to Lanchester, because the last bus is now at nine o'clock between Mondays and Thursdays. On Sundays, it is at a scarcely credible twenty past six.

I am medically unable to drive. That I am forbidden to do so is printed on the packaging of my medication. But I used to live somewhere that was very much on the beaten track, as befitted a place only eight miles from Durham city centre. Thanks to the appalling Durham County Council, however, it has been turned into the middle of nowhere.

This. The Teaching Assistants. Windlestone Hall. The Cricket Club, with its private box for senior Councillors and Officers. The whiff of corruption hangs over Andrew Cunningham's old fiefdom, while the stench of incompetence and cruelty is overwhelming. Private Eye, of Poulson fame, is already on the case.

Nationwide, there is easily a half-hour current affairs documentary, a Panorama or a Dispatches, to be made on those semi-rural, almost suburban communities the very old, very young, or simply disabled residents of which have in recent years been sent to the dark side of the Moon by the withdrawal of public transport.

It is no wonder that Durham County Council has to pay its members what for some of them amounts to more than £500 per hour (£13,300 per year for two meetings per month, each of those meetings being ordinarily of one hour's duration), and more than many of its Teaching Assistants will soon enjoy, so that they can attend meetings that begin at nine o'clock in the morning. Even with their senior citizens' bus passes, how else would they ever get home?

Monday 3 October 2016

Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield?

Not a chance.

To no apparent effect, the insolvent Durham County Cricket Club is subsidised by the supposedly cash-strapped Durham County Council. Senior Councillors and Officers entertain in a private box at the Riverside, a venue that has today been forbidden to host Test matches.

Meanwhile, they are preparing to sack all 2700 of their Teaching Assistants, whom they already pay one quarter less than neighbouring authorities, and then re-engage them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

These people simply have to go. Bring on next May's elections.