Category: labour

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Angela Smith is spouting pro-privatisation sewage in the Guardian

The right-wing Labour MP Angela Smith has written an excruciatingly poor article in the Guardian fear-mongering against Labour’s popular manifesto commitment to bring the privatised water companies in England and Wales back under national control.

The article is so poorly structured that it’s difficult to actually discern the crux of the argument, but it seems to be some kind of argument that running national water supplies as public not-for-profit enterprises (rather than profit-seeking corporate entities) risks a collapse in standards that would make Britain “the dirty man of Europe”.

The article is so riddled with basic errors, logical inconsistencies, and downright deceptions that it’s quite extraordinary that it was written by an actual MP and published in a (supposedly reputable) national newspaper, especially considering Angela Smith claims to be some kind of expert on the water industry and chairs the all-party parliamentary group on water!


Britain?

The most glaring error of all in the was the way Smith referenced privatised water supplies in “Britain”, suggesting that she didn’t even know that water supplies in Scotland and Northern Ireland are nationalised. A mistake which blows a massive great hole in the main thrust of her argument: If nationalising water supplies would supposedly cause a dreadful collapse in standards, why is Scottish water doing so well, and why hasn’t Northern Ireland descended into a hellish sewer since Northern Ireland Water was renationalised in 2007?

Public ownership

Smith’s case that public ownership could lead to a collapse in standards further disintegrates when we take a look at Germany, where the vast majority of the water supply is provided by a network of some 6,000 publicly owned municipal water companies, only 3.5% of which are fully privatised.

Is Germany the kind of hellscape of contaminated water, overflowing sewers, and filthy rivers and beaches that Smith fear-mongers about in her article?

Of course it’s not. In fact standards in Germany are actually significantly higher than England and Wales, especially when it comes to issues like repairing leaks (7% distribution losses in Germany vs 19% in England and Wales) and municipal waste water treatment (94% treated to the highest standard as compared to just 39% in England and Wales).

Smith’s conflation of public water provision with poor standards simply doesn’t stack up, in fact the actual evidence points to the opposite: standards of largely public water supplies in Germany are way higher than the privatised water companies in England.

China

Another gaping flaw in Angela Smith’s argument against public ownership of the UK water supply is that chunks of it are publicly owned under the current system that she’s so desperate to defend, but just not by Britain! 

When the Chinese sovereign wealth fund purchased a huge stake in Thames Water in 2012 the company was essentially part nationalised under the control of the Chinese state.


Angela Smith tries to paint people who support water renationalisation as having their judgement clouded by ideology, but surely someone like Smith who bitterly opposes UK government involvement in the UK water supply, whilst defending Chinese government involvement in the UK water supply is the one who needs to have their ideological judgement questioned?

Admitting the truth

In the 4th paragraph of her article Smith admits the truth; that “EU regulations have played a crucial role in raising standards”, which blasts another gaping hole in her pro-privatisation argument.

Then twisting it

In order to make this inconvenient fact fit her pro-privatisation narrative Smith then tries to argue that it’s only down to privatisation that the cost of meeting EU standards were met, but again, this is contradicted by the reality. Standards in Germany have actually improved far more quickly where only a tiny fraction of local water companies have been privatised there.

Investment

The reality is that water company bosses have extracted £billions upon £billions to pay out in shareholder dividends and bloated executive salaries, all of which could have been spent on repairing leaks and treating more than a paltry 39% of waste water to the cleanest standard.

Smith’s whole argument that privatisation led to a boom in investment utterly misrepresents the couldn’t have been afforded under public ownership completely misrepresents the way the water industry is funded.

Water supplies don’t have to compete for “scarce government resources” against “schools and hospitals” as Smith claims. They raise their revenues through water rates in the same way as private providers do, but then save huge amounts of money by not paying out £billions in shareholder dividends and bloated executive salaries.

If a Labour government nationalised the water supply and then set about trying to raid the money raised through water rates to pay for other government services there’d rightly be uproar about it, but that’s not what they’re proposing to do at all. It’s just dishonest propaganda from someone with an ideological axe to grind.

Cost to consumers

handing the water supply over to private profiteers comes at a cost of £2.3 billion per year to water rate payers.

If the water supply was returned to not-for-profit public ownership this £2.3 billion could be returned to water rate payers through reduced water bills, or it could be used to fund much-needed infrastructure improvements to bring our standards up closer to the standards in Germany.

The profit motive

When profit is the primary motive, stuff like improving water quality and dealing with leaks inhibit the profit rate.

Privately owned water companies have a primary duty to create profits for their shareholders. If the fines from failing water quality standards or widespread leaks are higher than the cost of improving standards then the changes will be made, however if the fines are lower, then they’ll be written off as a cost of doing business.

This means that any improvements that have happened since privatisation have happened despite the private water companies, not because of them.

Public opinion

Public opinion is massively in favour of water renationalisation, so Anglea Smith isn’t just arguing against the Labour Party leadership and the Labour Party members who support the Labour commitment to renationalise the water companies, she’s criticising the vast majority of the public too.

Ideology over fact


At one point in the article Smith even says that “when it comes to ensuring we have clean water and a safe marine environment we cannot allow ideology to be the master of fact”, which takes an awful lot of brass neck from someone who is so blatantly prepared to ignore and/or misrepresent inconvenient facts (as detailed above) in order to grind her pro-privatisation axe.
We’ve all seen countless examples of this kind of Orwellian reality-reversing propaganda from the Tories, but it’s still quite shocking to see it from a Labour Party MP.

Conflicts of interest

One of the most extraordinary things about Angela Smith’s article is the fact that she omits to mention that her husband works in the private water industry, and that the all-party parliamentary group on water that she chairs is funded by the private water lobby.

Even if Smith refused to admit the fact that she’s essentially just a lobbyist for the private water companies embedded within the Labour Party and parliament, the Guardian should at least make Smith’s conflicts of interest known to their readers.

Problems for Corbyn

This article isn’t just proof that one of the most high profile Labour right-wingers is such a lame duck that she can’t even write an article about her own supposed area of expertise without a mass of errors, logical inconsistencies, and outright deceptions. It’s also a demonstration of the fact that Jeremy Corbyn would face serious problems were he to become Prime Minister.

When the Labour Party was controlled by the right-wing faction of the party between 1994 and 2010 numerous pro-austerity, pro-privatisation neoliberals like Angela Smith were parachuted into Labour seats. This means that even if Corbyn won a majority at the next election, he’d struggle to implement his manifesto commitments like nationalising the water supply, creating a National Education Service, and scrapping Tory austerity dogma as a result of ideological opposition from the rump of self-serving, right-wing orthodox neoliberals embedded within his own party.

Nobody ever said it would be easy

Nobody ever claimed that returning the Labour Party to its democratic socialist principles would be easy, but just because a job is difficult doesn’t make it not worth doing.

The UK has suffered four decades of unbroken neoliberal rule since 1979, resulting in an absolute mess of inequality, stagnating wages, failing public services, collapsing productivity, ruinous austerity dogma, and now the Brexit shambles.

Something has to change because “more of the same” simply won’t cut it any more. 

Jeremy Corbyn has outlined a path towards Scandinavian-style democratic socialism, which is obviously unappealing to right-wing orthodox neoliberals like Angela Smith, but the other alternative is the kind of hard-right frenzy of deregulation, ultranationalism and deliberate disaster capitalism envisaged by the Brextremists.

We’re facing a political choice between maintaining existing standards on workers’ rights, environmental laws, food standards, equal rights legislation, and consumer protections alongside a move back towards public ownership of vital state services and infrastructure, or a fanatically right-wing deregulation frenzy.

And by publicly fear-mongering about Labour’s democratic socialist policies, Angela Smith is acting as a useful idiot for the hard-right Brextremists. 

But then the suspicion remains that when it comes to issues like austerity dogma, wage repression, imposing barriers to social mobility, and privatisation mania, numerous right-wing Labour MPs actually have far more in common with the fanatical Tory Brextremists than they do with the Labour leadership, with Labour Party members, and even with the general public.

 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.



OR

To my mind, the Lib Dems are right about so mu…

To my mind, the Lib Dems are right about so much and yet it does them no good. They consistently opposed the Iraq war, for example, which is now an extremely mainstream view. Obviously the Labour party is very down on the Iraq war these days but, crucially, that wasn’t the case when it was actually happening. At that point, both Labour and the Tories were all for it.

The Lib Dems are also the only political group that’s consistently advocated proportional representation, and their failure to gain traction there may be the biggest disaster of the lot. It’s because of the first-past-the-post voting system that neither Labour nor the Conservative party can split without facing electoral annihilation. So Cameron called the Brexit referendum to keep the Tories together, and the majority of Labour MPs remain part of an organisation they believe to be ineptly or even malevolently led.

The energy required to keep the Conservative and Labour parties ostensibly united is tearing Britain and Europe apart. Meanwhile the hapless and laughable irrelevance of the only political movement properly addressing the country’s biggest problems is a fascinating manifestation of our looming national disaster.

Why on earth is the Guardian editor siding with The S*n over the people of Liverpool?

If you ever needed a demonstration of how far to the right the Guardian has shifted, consider the fact that their political editor Heather Stewart decided to insult the people of Liverpool, and insult the intelligence of the rest of us by presenting hacks from the S*n as poor innocent victims, solely in order to score ridiculously cheap political points against the Labour left.

The Tweet in question relates to a Momentum event in the city of Liverpool. It wasn’t Momentum’s choice to hold the Labour Party Conference in the city (it was the Labour leadership) but once it was settled that all the conference events were going to be in Liverpool it was obvious that anyone with any decency and respect for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster would avoid inviting hacks from The S*n to their events.

The reason is simple. When police negligence resulted in the deaths of 96 innocent Liverpool fans in 1989, The S*n produced a truly vile pack of lies on their front page to deliberately deflect blame from the police onto the victims of the tragedy. Worst of all, the headline above the extraordinary pack of front page lies read “The Truth”.

For decades this grotesque fan-blaming narrative was used to deflect blame from the true culprits onto the victims of the disaster.

Just imagine how the families of the deceased felt to have their loved ones falsely blamed for their own deaths. Just imagine how the traumatised survivors of the tragedy felt to be smeared as drunks who pickpocketed the dead and urinated on the “brave cops” (you know the “brave cops” who actually caused the tragedy through their negligence).

Just imagine how it felt to suffer these lies for decades before the truth was finally admitted; that police negligence caused the disaster and the fan-blaming propaganda was all a pack of lies.

To their eternal credit the fans of Liverpool’s rival club Everton FC put aside all their footballing differences and supported the Boycott the S*n campaign too out of solidarity for their friends, family members, neighbours, and work colleagues from the red half of the city.

So if you can’t see why The S*n is still boycotted across Liverpool to this day, you really can’t have much in the way of basic human empathy.

Despite this well-known and commonly understood history between The S*n and the city of Liverpool, Heather Stewart decided to use this show of respect for the Boycott The S*n campaign as a stick to beat Momentum with, publicly calling the decision “outrageous” and comparing it to Donald Trump’s tactic of excluding journalists who criticise his Presidency or dare to ask him awkward questions.

After being called out on her misrepresentation, Heather’s response was to feign ignorance with ‘oh, I couldn’t have imagined that not inviting a S*n hack to an event in Liverpool could have had anything to do with Hillsborough’ type Tweets.

There’s no way that the political editor of a British newspaper could have remained entirely ignorant of the reasons The S*n is boycotted in Liverpool. No way at all.

So dressing this respect for the Boycott The S*n campaign up as some kind of Trumpian press censorship, rather than respect for a Liverpool-specific boycott is clearly an attempt to deceive the reader.

And feigning ignorance in the aftermath is perhaps even worse. 

Not only is siding with hacks from The S*n to present them as the poor innocent victims of lefty oppression an gross insult to the people of Liverpool, it’s an insult to the intelligence of everyone else that she expects us to believe it too.

It’s a clear demonstration of the level of contempt Heather and many of her fellow Guardian hacks seem to have for ordinary people. 

They think we’re crap-brained and gullible enough to fall for their politically partisan smears, even when they’re as poorly crafted as Heather’s.

Heather’s smear also demonstrates something else about the media. Her decision to shit all over the people of Liverpool in a show of solidarity with hacks at The S*n, just in order to smear the left-leaning grassroots campaign group Momentum is evidence that the mainstream media is a clique where comfortably wealthy hacks from the hard-right Murdoch propaganda empire and from the supposedly left-leaning Guardian have way more in common with each other than they do with ordinary people.

In recent years The Guardian have run countless articles bitterly attacking left-wing independent media sites like mine, and decrying the fact that the traditional mainstream media hacks are having their role as gatekeepers of political discourse undermined, and Heather’s S*n solidarity Tweet is about the best demonstration of why this is happening that you could ask for.

If the Guardian’s political editor has more empathy towards hacks from the Murdoch propaganda empire than she does for the people of Liverpool and the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, then she’s clearly living in an insulated bubble very far removed from the real world.

And if she’s willing to distort the Liverpool Boycott The S*n campaign solely in order to score cheap political points against the Labour left, she’s using the same kind of despicable and deceptive journalistic tricks as S*n hacks do, and displaying the same outright contempt for her audience too.

So it’s absolutely no wonder at all that ever more people are cancelling their subscriptions to The Guardian and making donations to independent media sources instead.

 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.



OR

Here’s the reason “centrism is really struggling to make headway”


In a speech to the Lib-Dem conference Gina Miller lamented the fact that “centrism is really struggling to make headway” before going on to call people to the left and right “fascists” with “cold hard ideologies”.

The obvious problem with centrism is that the term itself is a complete misnomer that implies that hovering aimlessly around near the centre has some special moral virtue no matter how far off into the political extremes the prevailing political orthodoxy might go.

Thus during the post-war decades the political centre was the mixed economy of public ownership of vital infrastructure, services and industries combined with a strong welfare state and regulated capitalism (a position occupied by Labour, the Liberals, and the Tories), and the privatise everything, “greed is good” deregulate the financial sector right-wingers were fringe lunatics.

Fast forward to 1979 and the hard-right fringe were propelled into power and their mass privatisation, welfare-wrecking, deregulation mania has continued unabated for four decades with truly appalling consequences.

Just look at the behaviour of the self-declared centrists between 2010 and 2016 and you can see the disastrous consequences of this morally weak and utterly wrong-headed determination to occupy the centre ground between raving ideological extremism of the Tories and the Blairism that went before it:

  • In 2014 Theresa May introduced her extremist “hostile environment” legislation and bragged about how the Tory government could “deport now, hear appeals later”. Dozens of black British citizens were deported under these rules. Several died in exile. Thousands more were denied employment, housing, access to public services, access to banking services, even medical treatment. The majority of ‘centrists’ either voted in favour of this disgusting legislation, with only a tiny minority of MPs opposing it on principle (or because their “cold hard ideologies” wouldn’t allow them to enable it as Gina Miller would no doubt describe it).
  • After their election defeat Labour centrists like Chris Leslie actually tried to argue that losing the election by copying Tory extremism rather than opposing it meant Labour should shift even further to the right! Thankfully the Labour membership strongly disagreed and voted for a candidate who would actually oppose ruinous Tory austerity dogma instead of meekly copying it.
  • During the Labour leadership election the Labour centrists decided to abstain on a massive programme of Tory welfare cuts designed to further impoverish the poor, especially the working poor. Jeremy Corbyn was the only Labour leadership candidate to vote against it.

Centrist collusion with Tory austerity dogma had appalling consequences: The longest period of sustained wage devaluation on record, public services put under massive strain or shut down entirely, in-work benefits slashed, soaring food bank dependency, exploitative employment practices like Zero Hours Contracts and fake self-employment spreading like wildfire …

Then it came to the Brexit vote and suddenly the complacent centrists were trapped in a pit of their own digging. The far-right Brextremists opportunistically blamed immigrants and the EU for the wage collapse, the failing public services, the in-work poverty, the suffering … But the centrists couldn’t fight back with the truth that these things were the result of austerity, because they were all complicit with austerity.

The only way the centrists have countered the far-right anti-immigrant anti-EU lies would have been to admit that ‘centrism’ itself was a fraud!

Amazingly centrists still occupy this bubble of delusion that it’s somehow morally superior to triangulate with hard-right Tory austerity dogma than to oppose it. That all the ‘centrist’ MPs abstaining on Theresa May’s vile “hostile environment” policy was acceptable and palatable xenophobia, but the xenophobic Brextremist lies were somehow so much worse than a policy they couldn’t even be bothered to oppose that eventually led to British citizens dying in exile abroad!

The problem is that centrists promised us that their watered down version of neoliberalism would bring prosperity, but what it’s actually delivered is Tory austerity dogma, collapsing wages, failing public services, exploitative employment practices, ridiculous privatisation scams, grotesque “hostile environment” policies, soaring in-work poverty, and eventually the centrist‘s own worst nightmare; Brexit.

But rather than admit their culpability in creating this dreadful situation, they’re intent on moral high-horsing and abusing everyone to the left, and everyone to the right of them as “fascists”!

And it’s exactly this kind of self-aggrandising and aloof sneering that’s going to keep them in the political wilderness, because like it or not, the idea of aimlessly drifting around in the totally artificial territory of the ‘centre ground’ is finished.

The choice now is between the hard-right neoliberals who want to keep us on the same course we’ve been on for four decades (more privatisation, more undermining of workers rights, more public service cutbacks, more under-investment in infrastructure spending and research and development, more welfare cuts for the poor, more tax cuts and lavish handouts for the mega-rich) or those on the left who want to change direction and make Britain more of a high-tech, high-skill society with a decent welfare system like Norway, Finland, Germany, or Denmark.

Of course it’s necessary to take an ideological position to step away from the complacency and aimlessness of the political ‘centre’, but there’s nothing “cold” or “hard” about opposing the political orthodoxy of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable people in society (the sick, the disabled, the working poor, the jobless, the children, the elderly and infirm …) in order to lavish corporations and the mega-rich with ever more tax cuts and handouts.

Quite the contrary, it takes a “cold hard” heart to go along with such barbarity solely because you want to maintain the illusion that by doing so you’re somehow a ‘moderate’ occupying the ‘centre ground’!

When centrism actively helps the Tories grind the most vulnerable people in society into absolute destitution for five years in order to feed the greed of the mega-rich, and then centrists accuse others who object to this horrific agenda of “fascism” and having “cold hard ideologies” then you really can’t expect anyone other than your ever-diminishing echo chamber of delusional ‘centrists’ to applaud your unbelievably hypocritical message.

 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.



OR

When it comes to democratic reselection and a 2nd EU referendum Jeremy Corbyn’s reputation is at stake

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s main points of appeal (beside his longstanding commitment to genuine democratic socialist values when so many Labour MPs abandoned them), is his policy of democratising the Labour Party and making it much more responsive to the views of ordinary Labour Party members.


Given that so much of his support relies on this reputation as a democratiser, his leadership is facing a huge litmus test at the Annual Labour Party Conference (September 23-26).

It’s becoming absolutely clear that huge numbers of Labour Party members want to see changes, and two specific changes in particular.

Brexit referendum

The first clear demand from the membership is the widespread call for a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit agreement. Jeremy Corbyn’s policy to date has been to subject the Brexit terms to Keir Starmer’s six tests, and then oppose Brexit in parliament if the tests are not met.

So far scores of local Labour Party branches have called for a Conference vote on a second referendum, which would almost certainly be won given that well over 70% of Labour Party supporters are opposed to the Tory Brexit shambles.

A vote in favour of Labour supporting a second referendum would surely force Jeremy Corbyn to adapt his method of opposing Tory Brexit from parliamentary opposition (if you look at the actual parliamentary records, Labour have opposed the Tories on practically every single Brexit vote) to officially backing a second referendum on the final Brexit agreement.

Democratic reselection

The second demand from the membership is the introduction of democratic reselection of Labour MPs in order to put an end to the complacency of the ‘jobs for life’ brigade by allowing local constituency parties to weed out the most corrupt/self-serving/abusive/lazy/incompetent of Labour MPs.

Under the current system the only way to get rid of a disgraceful Labour MP is through the trigger ballot process, which necessitates negative campaigning against the incumbent MP rather than positive campaigning for a rival candidate.

Democratic reselection for all Labour MPs (including Corbyn and his allies of course) would create a much more positive environment where individuals who wish to challenge their local Labour MP get to run a positive campaign focused on how they propose to do a better job of representing the Labour Party and the local community in parliament.

Democratic reselection is hardly a controversial policy (except for those incumbent MPs who would feel understandably afraid of being held to account for their atrocious behaviour of course).

Every single one of the 54 of the Scottish National Party’s MPs were democratically reselected before the 2017 General Election because they’d all done a fantastic job of representing the party in Westminster.

But then look at the Democratic primaries in the united States for examples of how open selection contests have reinvigorated Democratic politics. Consider the shock selection of the 28 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over a 10-time incumbent, and a wave of other progressives taking Democratic slots in the midterm elections.

Without open selection contests how many potential Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez type figures within the Labour Party are being denied the chance to shine in favour of keeping utterly complacent and self-serving old-timers in their party political sinecures?

If MPs do a good job of representing the Labour Party and their local communities then there’s hardly any chance of them being ousted through democratic selection (because removing the incumbent MP and replacing them with a newcomer risks increasing the chance of losing the seat to a rival party), but democratic reselection would certainly invigorate local Labour Party politics, gives local people a fair shot at getting rid of the laziest and most self-serving Labour MPs, and give rising stars in the Labour Party a chance to make their own positive cases to be selected as candidates in their local areas.


The litmus test

If the Labour leadership deliberately stonewalls either of these internal democratic campaigns, then Corbyn’s reputation is surely going to take a significant hit.

Personally I think it’s an incredibly dangerous idea to hold a second referendum when the electoral rules haven’t been reformed to prevent the absolute tidal wave of dark ads, lies, distortions and outright fraud we saw in 2016, and because the Electoral Commission who would oversee it are a shockingly discredited joke (just a week before Labour Conference the courts found they had given Vote Leave misleading and unlawful advice that they could channel excess funds through shell campaigns).

But if it’s the will of the Labour Party membership to hold a second referendum under such risky conditions, Corbyn would tarnish his own reputation as a respecter of democracy by stonewalling it.

When it comes to democratic reselection I’m strongly in favour. I can’t see any reasonable objection whatever against Labour MPs being required to renew their mandate to serve in democratic processes. All the objections centre around a seething contempt for the whole concept of democratic accountability.

If the Labour leadership caves in to the demands of Labour MPs in safe seats that democratic reselection proposals be taken off the table, this would be a much bigger betrayal than stonewalling a second referendum because Corbyn has staked his reputation on the internal democratisation of the Labour Party,.

If the Labour Party ignore the membership calling for democratic reselection in order to protect incumbent Labour MPs from democratic accountability, it’d be a betrayal of one of Corbyn’s main points of appeal.

Next week Jeremy Corbyn faces probably the biggest test of his credentials since the General Election, so let’s hope he manages to pass it. 

 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.



OR

The European Parliament just voted to vandalise the open Internet

The European Parliament has just voted by 438-226 to vandalise the open Internet with a truly absurd set of proposals that will undermine independent media, further distort the political debate, and radically impact the way citizens use the Internet.

The two most controversial proposals in the proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market legislation are article 11 and article 13 which have been dubbed the Link Tax and Upload Filters.

Link Tax

The Link Tax seeks to financially penalise any websites that use more than “individual words” of an article to describe what is being linked to. Thus the automatic previews of hyperlinked articles on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will fall foul of the Link Tax for including the full title of the article and a subheading or extract from the article.

Even linking to an article with a text link that quotes from the article would fall foul of this ridiculous new law.

The Link Tax proposal puts the onus on EU member states to ensure that the sites where the hyperlinks are posted pay financial compensation to the news organisations that are being linked to.

The absurdity of this should be obvious to all but the worst Internet illiterates. What the EU is proposing is that in return for hosting free adverts to mainstream media websites on their platforms, social media organisations should have to pay them compensation!

The obvious get-around for this absurd legislation would be for social media platforms to block automatically generated hyperlink previews when users post links to their platforms. 

So instead of getting a picture, the title of the article, and a subheading/short extract, the hyperlink would simply display as a plain link, essentially creating a lucky dip instead of the current situation in which social media users are given a foretaste of what they’re likely to find on the link they’re considering clicking.

Another option would be for social media sites to eradicate the link tax problem altogether by blocking links to mainstream news sites altogether.


Whatever the social media platforms decide to do to combat the threat of the Link Tax, it would undoubtedlycreate a massive incentive for them to favour highly partisan political dark ads (that they get paid to promote) over hyperlinks to independent media sites and mainstream media news organisations that they would face financial penalties for hosting on their sites if they include even the most rudimentary of previews!

It’s extraordinarily difficult to see how any mainstream media organisation could be in favour of wrecking hyperlink previews of their articles through such wild copyright extremism, especially since they actually design their hyperlink previews to attract as many people as possible from social media onto their own websites, but that’s where the all pressure for this ludicrous legislation is coming from, and if you Google search “Link Tax” you’ll hardly find any mainstream news outlet describing the policy, let alone critiquing it.

Upload Filters

The concept of upload filters is perhaps even more radical copyright extremism than the link tax. Upload Filters put the onus upon all but the smallest of websites to constantly scan their comments sections for copyrighted material. 

The logical step for most small websites would be to severely restrict their comments sections to block the upload of images and/or hyperlinks, or just shut their comments sections down altogether.

Another deeply concerning aspect of the Article 13 proposal is that it looks set to outlaw memes, because once an image has been added to the EU’s proposed database of copyrighted images, people will find themselves blocked from uploading copies for the purpose of parody, commentary and/or criticism.

An assault on the open Internet

By effectively outlawing hyperlink previews, banning memes, putting onerous burdens on small independent websites, and giving social media platforms a massive financial incentive to prioritise partisan political dark ads over legitimate political commentary, the EU are seeking to radically reform the way that citizens use the Internet.

The mainstream media organisations and the political elitists are clearly absolutely terrified of the way that the Internet and social media platforms have opened up political discourse to ordinary citizens, but this effort to use copyright extremism to stamp out the threat is the wild flailing of people who don’t even understand the phenomena they’re trying to crush.

They’re trying to attack citizen journalism and restore political discourse to the carefully curated pro-neoliberal echo chambers of the 1990s and early 2000s.

But now that people have got used to being their own news curators and commentators through social media, the sharing of hyperlinks, memes, blogs, and the comments sections on assorted websites, they’re going to see it as a massive invasion of their free speech when the EU attack the sharing of hyperlinks on social media, outlaw popular memes, and enforce the restriction/closure of comments sections on all manner of websites to avoid the onerous burden of continually scanning them for copyright infringements.

Opposition

The Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and the World Wide Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee are two of the most famous opponents of this copyright extremism from the EU. Other opponents come from across the political spectrum, the academic community, a coalition of open science advocatesmultiple media companies who are the intended beneficiaries of this nonsense, and even the European Copyright Society!

Hypocrisy or idiocy?

If you look at the social media feeds of the MEPs who voted in favour of this copyright extremism, their feeds are full of hyperlink previews of articles on mainstream media sites, yet they’re pushing for these hyperlink previews to be outlawed.

These people are either disgraceful hypocrites who think there should be one copyright law for them and another much harsher copyright law for everyone else, or they’re idiots who don’t even understand the legislation they’re supporting, or anything about the Internet other than how to open their Facebook/Twitter account.

What the hell are Labour playing at?

Unfortunately the majority of Labour Party MEPs in the European Parliament actually voted in favour of this nonsense, proving that a. they don’t have a clue what they’re doing, and b. they’re intent on defying the will of Labour Party members who would surely mostly oppose what’s being proposed if the mainstream media actually bothered to explain what the EU are plotting.

No wonder people hate the EU

I’ve continually argued against Brexit because the concept of enabling an unprecedented hard-right anti-democratic Tory power grab to escape from the EU is a classic out of the frying pan into the fire situation.

The EU’s blatant bias in favour of copyright extremists who want to radically reform the Internet to restore their own power and influence is grotesque.

The shockingly incompetent way they’re going about imposing this copyright extremism agenda is infuriating.

And their tone-deaf response to critics of their Link Tax and Upload Filters proposals is all too reminiscent of their aloof and contemptuous dismissal of widespread concerns about the TTIP corporate power grab.

The fight isn’t over

The copyright extremists may have won this battle to radically restructure the Internet in their own favour and interfere with the way ordinary citizens behave online, but the fight isn’t over yet.

The European parliament must debate these rules with the European Commission before they bring it back for the final vote, and even if they win the final vote, there are clear grounds for fighting these proposals in the courts, given the radical impact they’ll have on free speech and free political expression.

Make sure you’re following Julia Reda on Twitter and check out the #SaveYourInternet and #SaveTheLink hashtags to keep up to date with these ridiculous new laws.

 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.



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An open letter to the self-styled Labour “centrists”

Dear self-styled “centrist” Labour politician,

With the prospect of democratic reselection of Labour MPs (to weed out the corrupt, self-serving, lazy, incompetent, and the deliberate internal wreckers) looming on the horizon you Labour right-wingers have agreed amongst yourselves that your new propaganda line is that everyone in Labour needs to unify to fight the Tories.

The problem of course is that we all remember what you lot did in the wake of the Brexit vote in 2016.

On the day of the worst Tory cock up in decades you Labour right-wingers didn’t come together with the rest of the party to criticise the Tories over their decision to gamble the entire future of the UK in order to nick a few votes off UKIP, and their utterly reckless failure to draw up a contingency plan in case their extraordinary gamble backfired.

No, you decided to use this once-in-a-lifetime Tory cock up to launch a pre-planned coup against your own democratically elected party leader meaning the entire summer of 2016 was spent on a bitter internal battle, rather than in condemnation of the Tory Brexit farce.

You lot were so confident of successfully removing Corbyn that you even briefed your mates at the Daily Telegraph about your plot to oust him three weeks before the Brexit result came in!

Nobody summed up the idiocy of this anti-Corbyn coup better than your stalking horse candidate Angela Eagle who went from praising Corbyn for campaigning against Brexit on a schedule that “would make a 25 year old tired” on June 13th, to claiming that he campaigned with “an ambivalent half-heartedness” in her resignation letter just 14 days later.

And now the very same Angela Eagle is calling on everyone in Labour to unify to fight the Tories, without any mention of the fact that she was one of the Labour Coup-plotters who utterly squandered the best opportunity to fight the Tories in decades in 2016, or showing the slightest contrition for having acted in such a divisive and damaging way at such a crucial time in British political history.

The tragedy is that you lot really seem to think that us ordinary folk have such short political memories that we’d just forget the last three years of your divisive and destructive internal wrecking.

You really seem to think that we’re stupid enough to forget the way you lot squandered the best chance to fight the Tories in decades to launch your spectacularly failed Anyone But Corbyn coup.

You really seem to think we’re stupid enough to forget the way you’ve spent the last three years rudely and arrogantly slagging off hundreds of thousands of ordinary Labour Party members as “trots”, “dogs”, “rabble”, “entryists”, “Stalinists”, “Nazi storm troopers”, “cultists” and conducting vast purges of left-leaning Labour Party members for crimes like once retweeting Caroline Lucas or liking the Foo Fighters too much!

You really seem to think that we’re stupid enough to believe your reality-reversing nonsense that you’re the poor innocent victims after your backstabbing, your efforts to “break Jeremy Corbyn as a man”, you’re barrages of insults, abuse and condescension against ordinary Labour members, and your failed attempts to rig both of the Corbyn leadership elections by ruthlessly purging thousands of left-leaning Labour Party members.

If you really cared about unity, why on earth didn’t any of you speak out against the purges and all the abuse at the time?

The reality is absolutely obvious to anyone with a few brain cells to rub together.

If you lot were genuinely motivated by a desire to unify and fight the Tories, you would have unified to fight the Tories when it would have counted the most, in the wake of the Brexit vote. 

But you didn’t show unity then, you launched a staggeringly divisive and destructive internal civil war instead.

Now that the prospect of democratic reselection of Labour MPs is looming on the horizon you’ve suddenly had a massive change of heart because nothing frightens you as much as the prospect of having to justify your actions to the ordinary Labour Party members you’ve spend the last three years insulting, smearing, defying, and purging.

So now you’re desperate that everyone unify and fight the Tories, rather than holding you lot to account for your actions and replace you with people who will actually fight the Tories!

My advice, if you want it, is simple: If you get on board now, show some genuine contrition for your divisive and destructive actions in the past, and show that you’re intent on expending every effort on opposing the Tories rather than on continuing to defy the will of the Labour Party membership, then maybe that will be enough to save you from the democratic reselection you’re so afraid of.

But if you resort to yet more gratuitous insults and abuse towards ordinary Labour Party members like Joan Ryan (trots, Stalinists, communists) and Chuka Umunna (dogs), you’re clearly just making the situation worse for yourselves by insulting and abusing the very people who you’re going to have to justify your actions to when it comes to democratic reselection.

The tragedy is that if you’d taken your own advice in the past, you’d never be facing the prospect of democratic reselection now because Corbyn never wanted it this way, and it’s even possible that it’s not too late for you now, if you’d just get with the programme instead of continuing your internal wrecking. 

But there’s little doubt at all that most of you will have forgotten this unify to fight the Tories argument within a few days in order to return to plotting and smearing, because it seems that many of you couldn’t stick to a principle, even if your parliamentary careers depended on it.

I honestly wish some of you would follow through on this unify to fight the Tories argument you’ve come up with, because all it takes is a bit of humility to understand that the vast majority of Labour Party supporters actually want genuine democratic socialism, not the kind of pro-austerity, pro-privatisation, pro-war, anti-welfare, unregulated neoliberalism that’s dominated UK politics for so many decades.

But you’ve spent so long wrapped up in the “how can we get rid of Corbyn?” groupthink that even a tiny bit of humility and realism about the direction Labour is moving in is probably beyond you.

So all the best in developing a sense of humility, and coming to terms with the reality that Labour has returned to democratic socialism, and that it’s headed towards becoming a genuine grass roots organisation where members have a real say, rather than just serving as campaign fodder to help people like you get elevated into the unaccountable “jobs for life” brigade.

Best regards and good luck for the future,

Tom (AAV)

 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.



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No wonder the internal wreckers are terrified of democratic reselection

The thing with bullies is that they will always cry victim if the tables are turned and their victims begin standing up for themselves, and so it has come to pass with the right-wing internal wreckers in the Labour Party.

For three infuriating years of deliberately trying to wreck the Labour Party within by continually plotting against the party leadership, and regularly abusing hundreds of thousands of ordinary Labour members (“arm-twisting trots”, “dogs”, “rabble”, “cultists”, “communists”, “entryists”, “Stalinists”, “Nazi storm troopers” …) the ordinary members have begun to fight back with a series of no confidence votes in the most divisive anti-Corbyn Labour MPs.

But after “no confidence” votes in several of the worst offenders like Chris Leslie (one of the architects of Labour’s disastrous austerity-lite strategy at the 2015 General Election), Joan Ryan (who was caught on camera fabricating fake anti-Semitism smears) and Gavin Shuker (a guy who keeps threatening to quit the Labour Party in order to inflict as much damage as possible from the inside) the Labour right-wingers are suddenly crying victim.

The extraordinary thing is that it never needed to be this way. If the likes of Joan Ryan, Chuka Umunna, Jess Phillips, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Ian Austin, and Stephen Kinnock had got with the new programme they would never have ended up facing no confidence votes and the looming prospect of mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs.

Jeremy Corbyn made it clear over and again that he was prepared to work with the Labour right-wingers, but every time he extended the hand of friendship and invited them into his shadow cabinet they ended up petulantly refusing to serve, knifing him in the back, andor slagging off the ordinary Labour Party members who twice decided that they wanted a genuine democratic socialist as their leader, not another run-of-the-mill pro-austerity, pro-privatisation, pro-war, anti-welfare neoliberal.

Corbyn also expressed his personal opposition to the idea of mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in the past, but after three damaging years of internal wrecking from these neoliberal plants in the Labour Party, it’s not Corbyn calling for democratic reselection, it’s the Labour Party membership.

Yet somehow these right-wing internal wreckers have the absolute brass neck to suddenly begin arguing that membership dissatisfaction with their three years of divisive and damaging conduct is a distraction from the main task of criticising the Tories!

So for three years they expended far more effort on attacking their own party and slandering the membership than they did on criticising the Tories, but as soon as the prospect of democratic reselection is looming on the horizon they’re suddenly painting the idea of being held to account for their actions by ordinary people as a terrible distraction from the main job of criticising the Tories.

And aside from the utter hypocrisy of suddenly deciding that criticising the Tories is the main objective after three years letting the Tories run wild as they concentrate on internal wrecking, some of the worst offenders are lobbing insults again too.

After the vote of “no conficence” against Joan Ryan, she issued an extraordinary Tweet describing her own party members as “trots, Stalinists and communists” instead of seeking to make amends with the people she’s so badly let down!

It’s as if she’s so lacking in self-awareness that she can’t even see that bitterly slandering the people who have lost confidence in her as a perfect demonstration that she’s completely unsuited to be their representative in parliament.

Then there’s Chuka Umunna who has returned to the Labour right-winger trope of calling left-leaning Labour members “dogs” in an effort to get Jeremy Corbyn to quash the move towards democratic reselection of all Labour MPs.

These people are terrified of democracy and the concept of actually being held to account for their actions by ordinary people.

It’s no wonder they’re acting so incoherently given how wrong everything has gone for them in the last three years. 

They’ve gone from heirs apparent who would get to walk into the top jobs in the Labour Party without the faintest worry about ever being held to account by anyone, through petulantly refusing to participate in Corbyn’s cabinet; and then their spectacularly failed chicken coup; and then their failed effort to ban Jeremy Corbyn from participating in the 2nd Labour leadership election; and then their outrageous purge of left-wing Labour members for “crimes” like retweeting Caroline Lucas or liking the Foo Fighters; and then seeing their predictions of a Labour General Election wipe-out under Corbyn ruined by the biggest surge in the Labour vote since 1945; and now they’re facing the very real prospect of being democratically replaced by their local Labour Party as a result of this bullying and constant internal wrecking.

So the over-entitled Labour right-wingers are angrily lashing out again, but making the same mistakes as before: Insulting the Labour Party members they’re soon going to have to justify their behaviour to, and resorting to the laziest and most hypocritical cry-bully arguments in the expectation that ordinary Labour Party members are suddenly going to start lapping up their ridiculously fact-averse narratives now, after three years of getting ever more pissed off by 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.



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How many of these Labour Party policies did you actually hear about this summer?

During the summer of 2018 the Westminster political establishment and their chums in the mainstream media ran an extraordinary smear campaign aimed at discrediting the lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn as a terrible racist.

The reason they’ve kept relying on the tactic of continually smearing Jeremy Corbyn is that they know they haven’t got a chance of winning the political debate if they ever allow it to focus on policies and issues, rather than personal attacks.

So in this article I’m going to give brief overviews of some of Labour’s policy positions that have been almost completely drowned out during the summer of smears.

Media

In August 2018 Jeremy Corbyn introduced a very interesting set of proposals for the media. These include reducing government influence over the BBC by democratising the BBC Board of Directors, empowering investigative journalists by giving them more Freedom of Information powers, and taxing social media giants in order to fund local journalism.

Unsurprisingly the right-wing propaganda rags decided to misleadingly attack Corbyn’s proposals to empower local and investigative journalists and reduce his own ability to interfere with the BBC as a terrible attack on free speech, before dropping the subject as quickly as possible and returning to the smear campaign.

Railways

Throughout the summer Jeremy Corbyn has continued highlighting Labour’s popular policy of bringing the rail network back under public control so that it can be used for the benefit of British people rather than being milked as a cash cow by corporate profiteers and the state rail companies of foreign states.

Another of Corbyn’s rail policies is the upgrade of rail infrastructure in the north of England, especially a much-needed upgrade to the transpennine route between Liverpool and Hull to create a Crossrail for the North.

There is widespread public support for renationalisation of the railways, which is why you’ve probably heard very little about Labour’s rail policies over the summer, buried as they have been under the landslide of smears.

Police

As violent crime continues to soar out of control across the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has reiterated Labour’s policies of reversing the Tory cuts to the police force, putting an additional 10,000 police back on the streets, and actually listening to public order experts like the Police Federation (rather than attacking and belittling them as Theresa May does).

Industrial strategy

In July 2018 Jeremy Corbyn delivered a detailed speech on Labour’s industrial strategy, outlining multiple policies to make Britain a fairer and more prosperous place, but somehow an absolute hatchet job of an article portraying Corbyn’s speech as some kind of Trumpian anti-immigrant rant went absolutely viral with the anti-Corbyn mob.

In reality the speech focused on issues like reversing the decline of British manufacturing (from 32% of the economy in 1970 to 12% today), creating a level playing field when it comes to taxation, investing in infrastructure, and the importance of establishing a customs agreement with the EU as a matter of priority.

It didn’t matter to the anti-Corbyn mob that the fake news article they were sharing deliberately cherry-picked highly selective quotes and stitched them together to create a shockingly misleading account of Corbyn’s actual speech. 

The article attacked Corbyn so they made it go mega-viral by sharing it, despite it being an utterly reprehensible pack of lies.

You can read about what Corbyn actually said in that speech and how it was so brazenly misrepresented by his political opponents here.

Education

Jeremy Corbyn has spent the summer expanding on Labour’s fantastic policy of introducing a National Education Service to provide free education and training for all, from cradle to grave.

Corbyn is often presented as a clueless old duffer who hates business, but his education strategy is actually what’s needed for Britain to become a high-skill high-pay economy like Germany. 

With technological developments moving at an ever faster pace, workforce flexibility is increasingly vital. And what better way to increase workplace flexibility than making sure every worker knows that they’re entitled to free education and training to give them the skills to move from one job to the next?

Aside from his unmistakable enthusiasm for higher education, further education, and life-long learning, Corbyn also recognises the damage that Tory cuts to the education system are doing to the younger generations. It’s beyond obvious that kids growing up in over-crowded under-funded classrooms are less likely to be able to make full use of their potential, so that’s why Corbyn is promising to begin the process of reversing the shocking 8% per pupil cut in education spending that’s happened since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Opposing Tory “no deal” Brexit

If you believed Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors you’d think that he was guilty of supporting the Tory Brextremists’ every move, but if you actually look at the parliamentary votes it becomes clear that Labour have opposed the Tories in virtually every House of Commons vote on Brexit.

Over the summer Corbyn has reiterated time and again that Labour oppose the extreme, hard-right anti-democratic, and economically ruinous “no deal” Brexit Theresa May and the Tories are working towards.

In one vital vote on the Tory Trade Bill that could have ruled out a ruinous Tory “no deal” Brexit for good, Corbyn and the majority of the Labour Party voted against the government only to be betrayed by four Labour Brexiteers (including Frank Field who has somehow promoted to political sainthood by the very same people who claim Corbyn doesn’t oppose Brexit enough after he quit the Labour whip with an anti-Corbyn tirade).

Aside from the four Labour Brextremists, the Lib-Dem leader Vince Cable and ex-leader Tim Farron didn’t even bother to turn up to the vote at all. Farron was too busy giving a £5 per head speech about how wrong he thinks gay sex is!

Water

Privatised water companies cost the public £2.3 billion more per year than public ownership. The British public are split 70-30 in favour of water renationalisation.

Over the summer Corbyn has raised the issue of water nationalisation several times, but if you search for mainstream media coverage of “Corbyn Water”, you’ll actually find more mainstream media articles written about the ridiculous Tory Love Island style water bottles they were giving away than on Jeremy Corbyn’s water renationalisation policy!

Saudi war crimes

When the Saudi Arabian tyrants blasted a bus full of small children to pieces with a guided missile in August 2018 as part of their campaign of war crimes against the Yemeni people, Labour strongly opposed it, while the Tories just sat on their hands and refused to do anything to intervene.


One of Jeremy Corbyn’s strongest positions is his stance that the UK should not be issuing arms export licences to regimes with poor human rights records at home, or records of committing war crimes abroad.

The Tories still believe in arming countries like Saudi Arabia, despite knowing that they’re using British weapons to commit war crimes!

Outsourcing

Jeremy Corbyn is planning to introduce new rules to ensure that all companies that bid for government outsourcing contracts are registered in the UK and pay their fair share of tax.

In a way it just goes to show how warped the political debate has become that people who have allowed tax-dodging corporations to suckle the public teat for decades are routinely described as “moderates” and “centrists”, while the guy who wants to put a stop to this farcical situation is derided as some kind of far-left lunatic.

Rational drug policy

Globally the tide is turning on drug policy with more and more nations ditching criminalisation and punishment in order to adopt sensible evidence-based harm-reduction strategies

Unfortunately the UK has been left swimming against the tide thanks to Theresa May’s right-wing authoritarian stance at the Home Office, and since she became Prime Minister.

In the summer of 2018 Jeremy Corbyn signalled that he’s open to rational drug policies by talking about how the drugs debate is moving on, and his personal preference for the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis.

Basic Income

In July 2018 Labour announced that they will include proposals for a Basic Income trial in their next manifesto.

Basic Income is the concept of allowing every citizen a basic subsistence income, with the aim of ensuring nobody falls into absolute destitution, but also that everyone who works ends up better off by virtue of the fact that they get to keep their basic income payment as well as their wages.

NHS

In June 2018 Jeremy Corbyn addressed thousands of people at the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS where he spoke out against the Tories’ hard-right agenda of cutting NHS and social care funding, and privatising NHS facilities and services.

In his speech he made a clear commitment to ending the 8 years of Tory cuts to NHS funding, so that NHS funding rises as a share of GDP in order to deal with rising demand for services, rather than falling as it has done under the Tories.

Ban employers from stealing staff tips

Even if you’ve never worked in the service sector the fact that employers steal their employees should annoy the hell out of you. When we leave tips we leave them for the staff, not as an additional income stream for the restaurant owners.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to put a stop to employers from pinching their staff tips.

Austerity

Jeremy Corbyn won the 2015 Labour leadership election by virtue of being the only one of the four candidates to actually oppose Tory austerity dogma, so it should come as no surprise that he’s still opposing it.

In the summer of 2018 he went further than ever before by raising the fact that Tory austerity dogma comes with a death toll when he said “there is clear and mounting evidence that austerity and inequality are killing people”.

In a way it’s astounding that people thought that it would be possible to slash funding for the NHS and social care services without thousands upon thousands of people dying as a consequence, to cut the welfare system without extremely vulnerable people being left to die as a consequence, to cut fire services without more people dying in house fires, to cut 21,000 police without violent crime soaring out of control …

Even though Labour failed abysmally in their duty to oppose this ideological madness before Corbyn became leader, at least they’re opposing it now.

Conclusion

The reason the mainstream media have concentrated their efforts on whipping up the anti-Semitism storm is beyond obvious. They know that the majority of British people would be strongly in favour of most, if not all, of these Labour Party policies, so they’re intent on steering the political debate as far away from policy issues as possible.

The more people hear about the Labour anti-Semitism row, the less time and space is dedicated to providing honest coverage of Labour’s actual policies like the 14 I’ve outlined above.

It doesn’t matter a jot to the mainstream media hacks that anti-Semitism is actually much more rife in the Tory ranks, or that senior Tories have been meeting with the extreme-right white-supremacist kingmaker Steve Bannon, they’ll keep on banging on about Labour anti-Semitism because they simply don’t want the public thinking about all of the Labour Party policies that they’re highly likely to agree with.

 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.



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