Friday, 23 March 2018

If the Daily Mail really want to "stand up for Britain" they should ditch the toxic Tories

The Daily Mail are whipping up a huge storm of nationalist outrage that their beloved blue passports will be manufactured in France, but if you look at the root cause of this issue it turns out that the Daily Mail and their readers are heavily responsible.

The reason that the production of UK passports was put out to competitive tender in the first place is that the production of passports was privatised in 1996. Before that British passports were produced by a state owned company.

This privatisation was one of the last acts of vandalism of John Major's dead duck Tory administration. And who supported these Tories back into power in 1992 despite knowing all about their obsession with hard-right privatisation dogma?

The Daily Mail and their readers of course.

Then there's all the other Tory privatisation scams the Daily Mail and their readers have enabled through their unyielding support for the hard-right privatisation obsessed ideological dogma of the Tory party.

Here's some of the other stuff the pro-Tory propaganda rags and their Tory-voting readers are responsible for:
  • The pre-1997 Tories were bad enough, but the post-2010 Tories are even worse. They don't just hand British infrastructure and services to their private mates and then let them gradually fall into the hands of foreign governments. They've decided to cut out the middle man and flog off our national silver direct to foreign governments. Perhaps the most egregious example being the sale of the GPSS underground aviation fuel pipe network to the governments of Oman and the United Arab Emirates for £82 million, followed immediately by a ten year £237 million contract to use the system we owned until the Tories flogged it off.
All of this Tory economic vandalism puts the passport contract into context. 

If having our passports printed overseas is the grotesque affront to our national identity that the Daily Mail are making out that it is, then surely the distribution of our rail services, nuclear expertise, national grid, water supply, and airport fuel supply network are also affronts to our national identity?

But the Daily Mail and their readers have relentlessly backed the political party that inflicted all this crackpot privatisation dogma on our nation. And what's more is that they continually hate-monger against Jeremy Corbyn because he wants to undo the worst of the damage and return core British public services and infrastructure to British ownership.

So if the Daily Mail really wanted to "stand up for Britain" they'd ditch the toxic Tories and throw their weight behind Jeremy Corbyn and his economic repatriation policies.

If they had any sense of perspective at all the Daily Mail (and their readers) should have a good long period of self-reflection about their role in creating the passport situation they're so furious about ...

But we all know that they won't, and that they'll be back to Corbyn-bashing and their outright refusal to describe hard-right Tory privatisation mania as the profoundly anti-British agenda that it actually is.

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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Who on earth would trust the Tories?

The Tory party reaction to the Cambridge Analytica scandal is every bit as cynical and opportunistic as you'd expect.

Instead of focusing on the election rigging psychological warfare tools these shady characters have built on the the Facebook data they stand accused of stealing, the Tories are attempting to reframe the whole debate to paint Facebook as the big bad villains, and to promote the Tories' pre-existing agenda of clamping down on Internet freedoms.

In an article for George Osborne's Evening Standard propaganda sheet the Tory Culture minister Matt Hancock has bragged about his plan to "bring an end to the Wild West culture" of social media. 

This article makes his Facebook-blaming, responsibility-shifting, censorship-pushing agenda all too clear. Not just by what he says, but also by what he conspicuously fails to say.

Here are some of the many issues that Matt Hancock "forgot" to mention in his "Wild West" article.
One of the reasons the Tories are trying to shift the focus of the blame onto Facebook is really obvious. They recognise that the intimate financial links between the big players in this dodgy election rigging outfit and their own party look terrible, so shifting as much of the blame as possible to Facebook is a simple deflection tactic.

Another reason they're keen to blame Facebook is the £2.1 million they blasted on targeted dark ads.

The Tories outspent Labour by 4:1 on Facebook ads, but their influence on the site was more than negated by a rag-tag bunch of viral left-wing bloggers working on shoestring budgets.

If you'd spent such a huge amount of money in an effort to buy Facebook popularity and ended up getting humbled by a tiny bunch of bloggers who didn't even spend a single penny on buying Facebook ads, you'd be furious too.

Which brings us to what the Tories have in store for Facebook. There's no doubt whatever that the Tories will seek to use this mess to their own advantage, even though the money trail flows right back to the Tory party.

The most likely approach they're going to take is to strong-arm Facebook into clamping down on the freedom that has allowed independent voices to gain popularity by challenging the pro-austerity, pro-privatisation, wage repression pushing, welfare slashing, hard-right political agenda that so often goes completely unchallenged by the mainstream media.

Meanwhile they have absolutely no intention of clamping down on the use of the kind of targeted political dark ads they used extensively during the 2017 general election campaign. 

Sensible proposals include updating the existing rules against spreading political lies during elections, a requirement that all political ads be logged with the electoral authorities, and for geographically targeted social media ads to be classified as local election spending.

You'll never hear Tory politicians proposing any of these measures, because all of them would go against their self-interest.

When the Tories say that they want to make the Internet "safe", it's obvious that what they actually mean is that they want to turn social media into another comfortable "safe space" for themselves, where those who challenge the hard-right neoliberal orthodoxy are pushed to the margins. And if they can cynically make use of a crisis that was actually created by their fellow Tories at SCL/Cambridge Analytica to achieve it, all the better for them.

Anyone who paid attention to the bullet points above has got to be able to see that a bunch of Tories promising to keep us safe on the Internet is akin to a skulk of foxes promising to take care of security for your chicken coop.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Want to know why your Council tax is going up again?

If you want to know why your Council Tax bill is going up, but the services your local council provide are worse than they've ever been before, I've got the answer for you.

The reason that councils across the country are increasing Council Tax bills whilst simultaneously cutting what they actually spend on services is that the Tory government have slashed central government funding for local governments by 67% since 2010, and they're still slashing away at the Communities and Local Government budget now.

This sustained Tory attack on local government funding means that councils have way less money to spend on maintaining local infrastructure and services.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on waste services, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that a huge number of councils have reduced bin collections to fortnightly.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on local amenities like libraries, public toilets, leisure centres, and public spaces like parks and indoor markets, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that they're being closed down and sold off to property developers.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on running their planning departments, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that simple planning applications are taking longer than ever to process.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on highway maintenance, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that our roads are deteriorating so badly.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on youth services, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that councils up and down the country have cut back on youth clubs andother programmes to keep young people occupied and out of trouble.
  • Local councils have far less to spend on social care services for the frail and elderly, so these ideologically driven Tory cuts are the reason that millions of elderly and infirm people are being left with totally inadequate care, meaning they end up in hospitals, which puts a lot more strain on the NHS (which the Tories are also deliberately under-funding).
The infuriating thing is that despite the devastating impact of these ideologically driven Tory cuts going on all around us, our local councils have no choice but to raise Council Tax rates in a desperate attempt to plug a few of the most serious of the gaps.

So where has all the money gone that the Tories have saved by slashing the Communities and Local Government budget to pieces?

While they've been gutting local government budget the Tory government have simultaneously been distributing lavish tax cuts and handouts to corporations and the mega-rich.

They've slashed the top rate of income tax to give an average £100,000 annual tax break to Britain's 13,000 income millionaires, and since 2010 they've cut the corporation tax rate from 28% to just 19% today, (which is by far the lowest in the G7).

Then there's all the handouts the Tories have given to corporations and the rich through ridiculously one-sided outsourcing contracts that cost more to run than they'll ever actually save, rip-off privatisation scams to flog off public property at way below its true market value, and the wholesale give-away of public property to wealthy Tory donors.

So the next time you ask yourself why you're paying way more Council Tax when your local services are worse than they've ever been before ... some smug corporate fat cat somewhere has purchased a brand new luxury yacht to berth in Monaco, or blasted six figures on a classic Aston Martin to add to his already extensive car collection.

Thanks to the Tory ideological obsession with the upwards redistribution of wealth, that's what you're paying for.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

#DeleteFacebook is a monumentally stupid campaign for the political left to be pushing

We all know the left has a spectacular propensity for self-harm, from factionalism and splits, through to the alienating language that so many on the left tend to use, but the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data scandal has unleashed a truly spectacular self-harming campaign on the left.

Left-wing people are taking to Twitter to call for others to #DeleteFacebook.

Of course Facebook has some very serious problems, including the alleged misuse of Facebook data to create psychological warfare tools to rig elections, their hosting of disgusting terrorism-inspiring extreme-right hate chambers like Britain First for years, their continued promotion of fake news, and their willingness to allow political parties and campaigns to spread outright lies through targeted dark ads.

I'm clearly not denying Facebook has serious problems, but to focus on all of the problems and refuse to recognise that Facebook was the scene of a massive left-wing victory during the 2017 General Election is wilful myopia.

After decades of hard-right neoliberalism completely dominating the means of communication, suddenly Facebook provided a voice to people to express an alternative.

Analysis by The Guardian found that every single one of the 30 most viral political stories on Facebook during GE2017 was pro-Corbyn, anti-Tory, or both.

My own analysis demonstrated that a small rag-tag bunch of left-wing political bloggers completely annihilated the Tories and the mainstream press for Facebook virality during the final week of the GE2017 campaign.

The 2017 General Election proved that there was an enormous public appetite for left-wing news that dared to step outside the parameters of the narrow spectrum of permissable mainstream media debate.

People wanted to read analysis that offered an alternative to the ridiculous caricature of Jeremy Corbyn as an irredeemable and incompetent terrorist-sympathising communist, and they wanted to read analysis that actually held the Tories to account for the seven years of ruinous austerity dogma, wage repression, local government cuts, privatisation scams, and impoverishment schemes they'd overseen.

2017 was the moment that the left finally fought back against the mainstream media cheerleaders of neoliberalism, and Facebook was the battlefield on which this all-too-rare left-wing victory was won.

So the idea that left-wing people should suddenly up sticks and abandon the vital media territory they've only just won, without even putting up a fight, is quite extraordinary.

Some might argue that Twitter is a better platform for political debate, but anyone who thinks winning on Twitter would be enough on its own is completely delusional.

Only 7% of British people have a Twitter account, significantly fewer are regular Twitter users, and even fewer still are deep into 'politics Twitter'.

On the other hand almost half of British people have a Facebook account. 

If you concede defeat on Facebook then you haven't got a chance of winning the social media battle. It's that simple.

Nobody who is on Facebook to keep in touch with their friends and family is going to delete it over a load of Cambridge Analytica scandals they probably don't even understand that well.
The right obviously won't care a jot that a dodgy company allegedly misused Facebook data to deliver Britain to a the Brextremists and the White House to Trump, so it's going to be predominantly lefties and liberals who go along with this #DeleteFacebook campaign.

So the only people who are going to strop off Facebook are politically active people on the left.

What could actually be a worse idea than left-wing people abandoning the largest and most effective social media platform of all, and leaving it to the Tories and the extreme-right?

Facebook is a fantastic means by which politically engaged people like me can reach out to less politically engaged people to present alternatives to the right-wing tropes that remain almost ubiquitous in the mainstream media.

And what's more is that the evidence shows that people are vastly more likely to share a political story if it's come to them via a friend, family neighbour, or work colleague than they are to share content that's been targeted at them in sponsored Facebook ads.

Yet the #DeleteFacebook crowd are pushing for people on the left to just throw this fantastic means of reaching out to ordinary people away, and abandon it to the Tories and the extreme-right!

Of course Facebook needs to be held to account for their actions. Of course Facebook has a responsibility to introduce new measures to combat stuff like dodgy data-mining, fake news spreaders, extreme-right hate chambers, and dishonest political dark ads.

But you'd have to be completely and utterly delusional to imagine that a whole bunch of left-wing people deleting their Facebook accounts and conceding the biggest social media platform of all to the Tories and the extreme-right is a great idea.

We only just cracked a way to counteract the nefarious influence of the billionaire hard-right press barons who have ruled the parameters of UK public discourse for decades, and these #DeleteFacebook melts want us to just throw it away!

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


If the Tories had any sense they'd make hapless Ben Bradley delete his Twitter account

The Tory MP Ben Bradley isn't just a nasty piece of work who defames his political opponents, calls for the sterilisation of poor people, and joked with Iain Duncan Smith about castrating a journalist who dared to criticise him, he's also a remarkably dim bulb who couldn't spot a public relations own goal if it slapped him in the face.

Fresh from creating the most viral political Twitter disaster British politics has ever seen with his apology for defaming Jeremy Corbyn, Ben Bradley must have thought that he'd scored a magnificent public relations goal by announcing the defection of two Ashfield councillors from Labour to the Tories.

'Oh good' he must have thought, 'a chance to bash Jeremy Corbyn by citing "Momentum" as the reason for the defections'.

The problem of course is that these defections don't really do anything to make the Tories look good, but do an awful lot to reinforce the Labour left narrative that the Labour Party has been somewhat over-run by a bunch of self-serving right-wing neoliberals in recent decades, and that re-selection is a means of removing the worst of these "Red Tory" infiltrators from the party.

If these defecting councillors have decided that they've got more in common with the pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, welfare-slashing, workers' rights trashing, NHS vandalising, disability discriminating, local government wrecking, blue-kip panderning, hard-right ultranationalist Tories than with their fellow Labour Party members ... then what the hell were they doing in the Labour Party in the first place?

Aside from actively confirming the accusation that the Labour Party has been infiltrated by "Red Tories" and adding weight to the calls for re-selection of Labour MPs to ensure they actually represent the will of the party membership rather than their own right-wing agenda ... there's more.

It turns out that one of the defectors has actually been democratically deselected as a Labour Party candidate by local people, and was being investigated by the party over allegations of racism!

It tells us a lot about the Tories that they're so keen to make a fanfare of poaching a Labour councillor, but that they "forgot" to mention the fact their new guy ran away because he's under investigation for alleged racism.

I'm a strong believer in due process, so it's absolutely right that Labour were investigating the issue internally before taking action, but now that Lee Anderson has damaged the Labour Party further by defecting to the Tory party, it seems like the racism allegations should be made public, because there's no conceivable justification for conducting an internal party investigation into the alleged racism of a guy who is now another party's politician.

So in one failed PR stunt Ben Bradley has managed to clearly demonstrate the validity of the left-wing "red Tory" narrative about the problem of pro-austerity pro-privatisation neoliberals in the Labour Party, and also make the Tory party look so desperate that they're lapping up the Labour Party's disgusting unwanted dregs!

But then again, don't the unwanted backstabbing alleged racist Lee Anderson and the elitist sterilise the poor proven liar Ben Bradley just make a perfect couple?

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Vince Cable is actually complaining about the consequences of flogging the Royal Mail!

In the Autumn of 2013 Vince Cable was the Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition minister who sold off the Royal Mail to a bunch of private profiteers at way below its market value. In 2017 he has the absolute brass neck to complain about the consequences of that sale.

Vince knew that he was ripping off the public by flogging the Royal Mail at way below its real market value, but he simply didn't care.

Vince knew that public opinion was dead set against the sell-off, with 67% of the public against to just 20% in favour, but he went ahead anyway.

Vince knew that Royal Mail sorting offices across the nation were sitting on prime bits of development land worth £billions, and that the sale of just a few of these sorting offices would recoup the entire £2 billion price he flogged the Royal Mail off for.

In hindsight the sale of the Royal Mail has been described as "crony capitalism at its worst" and the widespread predictions that the private owners would cash in on the property portfolio have come true.

When Vince Cable flogged off the Royal Mail in 2013 he valued the 6.25 acre Mount Pleasant sorting office at £29 million. Just a few years later in 2017 the private owners flogged it off to developers for £193 million. 

A cool £164 million profit at the public's expense.

The same story in Battersea where 2.7 acres were sold off for £101 million, when the "book value" of the land was marked as just £12.9 million when Vince flogged it off.

The sale of just two London sites has raked in almost £300 million for the private owners of what was our public property just a few years ago, yet when Vince flogged it off he priced the entire Royal Mail property portfolio of over 2,600 sites at just £787 million!

Within five years the private profiteers Vince flogged our property to have recouped almost half of his total property valuation with just two property sales!

Anyone would have thought that the man responsible for inflicting such a brazen rip-off on the British public would disappear from public life in shame, but not Vince.

After losing almost all of their MPs as a result of their collusion with the Tories and their ruinous austerity agenda the Lib-Dems have been left with a rump of just a dozen MPs, and in their wisdom they decided to appoint the man responsible for this outrageous rip-off as their party leader!

And now Vince is on Twitter complaining about the planned closure of the Royal Mail sorting office in Hampton in his own constituency.

Vince Cable was responsible for one of the most brazen public swindles of the Coalition government, but he's so arrogant that he thinks that everyone will have just forgotten by now.

He's so confident that he's got away with this massive swindle that he's actually trying to score political brownie points for 
protesting against one of the consequences of the rip-off privatisation he carried out less than five years ago!

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Monday, 19 March 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg has £millions in dodgy Russian investments

Aside from being a living 'Lord Snooty' caricature of the quintessential English Toff, Jacob Rees-Mogg has strategically positioned himself as one of the most powerful people within the ruling Tory party, despite never even having served as a junior government minister.

The way he's done this is by becoming the leader of the hard-right Brextremist 'party within a party' called the European Reform Group (ERG). This shadowy organisation rakes in taxpayers' cash to fund their campaign in favour of the hardest possible Brexit, and has easily enough members to call a no confidence vote in Theresa May at any moment.

The two previous leaders of this Brextremist pressure group Steve Baker and Suella Fernandes have both been rewarded with positions in Theresa May's government, but Rees-Mogg doesn't seem to just be interested in bagging some junior ministerial role, he's intent on using the ERG's influence over Theresa May to control her every move.

May knows that if she steps out of line over any issue, the ERG have the power to oust her because they've got more than enough members to trigger a leadership election by registering letters of no confidence with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee (the archaic method by which the Tory party dispose of unwanted leaders like Margaret Thatcher and iain Duncan Smith).

Theresa May knows that if she defies the ERG then she'll be out of Downing Street in a flash.

The upshot of all of this is that as the leader of the ERG Jacob Rees-Mogg is the de facto Prime Minister, a man who gets to call all the shots, but doesn't have to take any of the flak when things go wrong because he can use the hapless and hopeless Theresa May as a bullet shield.

One interesting question is whether Rees-Mogg has used his indisputable power over the Prime Minister to push for things that go beyond the hard Brexit fanaticism that the secretive ERG pressure group exists to promote.

For example have Rees-Mogg and the ERG had any influence over the Tories' extremely pro-Russian behaviour in the weeks before the Salisbury attack for example?

Given the revelation that Rees-Mogg's Somerset Capital Management fund has a huge £90 million investment in Russia, including £57 million in the blacklisted Russian Sberbank, the very recent Tory party decision to deliberately obstruct the introduction of Magnitsky powers to clamp down on dodgy Russian money looks a tad suspicious.

Sberbank is already subject to EU and US economic sanctions, but somehow Rees-Mogg and his Somerset Capital management chums have seen fit to retain this dodgy investment despite the sanctions, and £43 million worth of other Russian assets. 

These kinds of Russian investments obviously mean that any serious government moves to clamp down on Russian money flowing in and out of the UK would represent a risk to Rees-Mogg's profit margins.

Because of the secrecy of their operation it's impossible to know whether Rees-Mogg and the ERG are responsible for the Tory government's very recent policy of obstructing Magnitsky powers, but their continual secrecy (despite being bankrolled by the taxpayer) leaves questions like this hanging in the air.

If they insist on being so secretive about their influence on government policy, it's clearly invites questions about whether they would use this secret influence to further their own financial interests.

Unless they give up the secrecy and actually publish stuff like their membership list, all of their sources of funding, their contacts and communications with government ministers, their contacts with people and institutions outside the Tory party, and their own financial conflicts of interest, then these kinds of questions about how their influence could be misused are inevitable aren't they?

It is of course possible to come at it from an alternative direction and ask the Tory government to provide a detailed explanation of their decision to brazenly obstruct Magnitsky powers up until very days before the Salisbury attack, but then that would require some journalists within the Westminster lobby to earn their salaries by actually holding the powerful to account, rather than uncritically churning out whatever hard-right propaganda trope is the chosen narrative of the day.

Would Jacob Rees-Mogg abuse his position as the most powerful man in the Tory party to further his own financial interests?

Given the culture of secrecy that runs through the ERG and Theresa May's autocratic government, who knows if it's even theoretically possible to answer the question. But given the abject lack of decent journalists within the Westminster bubble, it's almost certainly a question that will never be answered.

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Anna Campbell was killed by Theresa May's tyrannical Turkish mates

Anna Campbell gave up her comfortable western lifestyle and her job to travel to the Kurdish region of northern Syria in order to fight ISIS. She did this because the democratic Kurdish Rojava are demonstrably the only real good guys in the brutal Syrian civil war (the other main forces being the Assad regime, ISIS, other Islamist terrorists, Russia, Turkey, and the increasingly marginalised anti-Assad rebels who kicked the whole thing off).

Of course she knew that she was putting her life in danger by taking up arms to defend Kurdish democracy from the threat of ISIS, but she wanted to help make the world a better place.

Anna was killed last week as a result of Turkish shelling in the Kurdish town of Afrin.

Turkey has continually intervened in the Syrian conflict in order to attack the Kurdish forces that are trying to drive ISIS and the other Islamist fanatics out of Syria.

Turkey also stands accused of allowing Islamist extremists and military supplies to flow across the border into and out of Syria, treating wounded ISIS fighters in Turkish hospitals, and funding ISIS by buying their oil.

Aside from their interventions in Syria to support ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups, Turkey itself is in the grip of a brutal and repressive dictatorship. There are more journalists in Turkish jails than any other country on earth.

Theresa May and the Tories don't care about any of this though. Human rights violations in Turkey, support for vile Islamist terrorists in neighbouring countries, attacks on the Kurds who are fighting back against ISIS ... it's all swept under the carpet because just like Saudi Arabia, Turkey is a marketplace for British weapons.

Just a couple of months ago Theresa May and the Tories signed a £100 million fighter jet deal with the Turkish tyrant Erdo─čan.

And Theresa May and the Tories have also flogged an incredible £4.6 billion worth of arms Saudi Arabia in the full knowledge that they're a barbaric tyranny that funds, arms, and supplies terrorist fighters to ISIS, and also uses British weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen.

If Anna Campbell hadn't been killed by the British-backed Turkish forces behind her, she could just have easily have been killed by the Saudi Arabian and Turkish backed ISIS terrorists in front of her. Both of the enemies that wanted to kill Anna and wipe out the emerging democracy in Kurdistan are ultimately backed by Theresa May and the Tories.

Probably the worst thing of all is that it's only really in unusual cases where this Tories' grotesque foreign policy of hawking weapons to the most brutal and tyrannical regimes on earth ends up killing a British citizen that the British media pay any kind of attention.

So often the British press are willing to turn a blind eye when it's gays and atheists being beheaded and crucified in Saudi Arabia; huge numbers of Yemeni civilians suffering Saudi war crimes and starvation; dozens of Turkish journalists languishing in jail for doing their jobs; millions of civilians displaced in Syria and Iraq as the Turkish/Saudi backed Islamist terrorists run amok; or hundreds of Kurdish democratic fighters being shot in the back by Turkish forces as they try to defend their region from Islamist terrorism.

When Britain should be following Anna Campbell's lead and standing in solidarity with one of the few genuinely democratic movements in the Middle East, our government actually arms and supports the tyrants who seek to destroy them.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.