Friday, 7 September 2018

"Money screams". War Child and the Evening Standard

Money doesn't talk - it screams.” As a co-founder of War Child I reluctantly have to step up to the line on this one. George Osborne voted against saying that the case for war against Iraq had not been established. And on 18 Mar 2003 he voted that the Government should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction leading to the UK joining the US invasion of Iraq two days later. His support for Western 'intervention' in Libya and Syria was to follow. Now he supports War Child?

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A Corbyn Rant

Jeremy Corbyn is “an anti-Semite who has “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate”, the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks has said. In an interview with the New Statesman, he described Corbyn’s remarks on “Zionists” as, “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”.
What? And in the New Statesman? Stay with me. He goes on
“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and her majesty’s opposition.”
One of those countries where anti-semitism is now rampant is Victor Orban's Hungary. Wait a minute. Orban was recently an honoured guest of the Netanyahu government.
In our own country The Middle East Forum, a hardline, pro-Israel conservative think tank were funding Nazi Tommy Robinson when he was in prison.
In the words of their Director, Gregg Roman, who has worked in Israel's Defence and Foreign Ministries. “we are helping Robinson in his moment of danger in three main ways .. to fund his legal defence … bringing foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s safety and eventual release ...”
MEF previously funded far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ legal defence, “against Dutch charges of inciting racial hatred”.
It has now reached the level of absurdity when, before criticising Israel, we must prove that we are not anti-semitic. Let’s do it.
My father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The photos he made there, and later showed me of the skeletal prisoners, scarred my young mind. It was those haunting pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism. I took part in street fights with the British Movement, forerunners of the British National Party, the National Front and today's Israeli-backed Nazi, Tommy Robinson.
But my opposition to Zionism now makes me 'anti-semitic.” Well I join a good crew. Albert Einstein said, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.”
Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz, said, “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.
Then there is Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the1943 Warsaw uprising. In a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, he compared them to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw and greeted them thus, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations.” organisations.”
All of them now stand accused of anti-semitism. In the memory of those Jews I spit on these accusations and lies.
So who are the Zionists? Founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century and a proponent of a Jewish homeland was Theodor Herzl. He was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, he of the white settler colony named after him, Rhodesia, “You are being invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you … because it is something colonial ..”
Chaim Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.”
Of the contemporary Zionists we should not forget the Evanglical Christian Right. Prayers at the US Embassy, on the day Trump moved it to Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral land.
Amongst the first Jews who opposed Zionism were those who set up the Jewish Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the four principles of socialism, secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.”
“We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders, Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape, but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to that of humankind.”
Their contemporaries in this country can be found in Jews for Justice for Palestinans, Jewish Voice for Peace and many others.
If opposition to Israel is a definition of anti-semitism then add me to the list along with Corbyn’s mum and my dad. She was blocking Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street in the 1930s, while the Daily Mail, who are today leading the demands for Corbyn to resign as Labour leader, was lauding Mussolini and Hitler.
Last word to Rabbi Sacks and a question for the New Statesman. Recently he led a march through Palestinian east Jerusalem which Haaretz described as “a gender-segregated, extreme-right, pro-occupation religious carnival of hatred” in which participants chanted “Death to the Arabs” and “Al Aqsa will be burned down.” You can find more info at Haaretz here
To the New Statesman a question. If you have any remaining respect for the tradition and history of your magazine you should distance yourself from your interview with Sacks and do it now! Oh and apologise to your readers.

It's long past time to call out these people for who they are. No pasarán!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Left Field special edition / special price

Left Field is now on sale from Public Reading Rooms for £5
 (hardback including delivery). These are the last of the special edition, hardback, with embossed cover and illustrated frontispiece by acclaimed Dutch photographer,Thom Hoffman.

'David is an adventurer and a freethinker, who did something truly useful with his life.' - Brian Eno. (watch interview)  'David Wilson has lived a life and a half.The broken world needed people like David; it still does.' - Sir Tom Stoppard.    'Fantastic and salutary … a born raconteur's account of a remarkable life.' - Michael Walling, Artistic Director, Border Crossings.    'This memoir of a very colourful life is both entertaining and illuminating.' - Amir Amirani, Director “We are Many”.    'What a life this man has led.' - Dorothy Byrne, Head of Channel 4 Documentaries.   'David's entire life has been dedicated to trying to make the world a better place.' - Craig Murray, ex-UK Ambassador.    'Sometimes funny, often moving and occasionally tragic ... one of my top recent reads.' - Morning Star.  'David Wilson shows us how political activism on the Left should be: engaged, informed and passionate. With more people like him, the world would be safer and happier. - Ken Livingstone

Monday, 6 August 2018

David Wilson articles, 2000 - 2018

Corbyn must stand strong against attacks on Israel, The People's News, 28 August 108

Palestinians have Right to Return and Live, The People's News, 20 May 2018

Israel's Act of Terror, The People's News, 14 May 2018

Giving the Finger to the DWP, The Canary, 11 May 2018  

Disabled Tribunal Victory, The London Economic, 10 May 2018

Disabled victory in courts: The People's News 9 May 2018  

Labour Party Remains on the Up, The People's News, 4 May 2018 

Theresa May + husband + war = profit, The People's News, 26 April 2018  

Criticising Israel is not anti-semitic, The People's News, 23 April 2018

The Pornography of War, The People's News, 12 April 2018

The Overton  Window, The People's News, 6 April 2018

The Overton Window,  The Internattional Times, 19 April 2018

Corbyn is no Anti-Semite, The People's News, 26 March 2018 

Corbyn Wise not to Spoil for Fight , The People's News, 15 March 2018

Disabled Man Taken off Disability Allowance, The People's News, 14 March 2018

The Calabash Tree, having a heart operation, 17 Feb 2018

NHS Privateers, The London Economic, 2 Feb 2018

Why Boris Johnson, a Face to be Punched, Public Reading Rooms review

My Disabled Son Stripped of Benefits, The London Economic, 24 Aug 2017

The Fool is for the Many, Jaroslav Hašek's novel The Good Soldier Schwejk, 14 July 2017

Music of the Spheres, Heathcote Williams play, 18 June 2017

Them or Us in the Election, The London Economic, 7 June 2017

Exposing Corruption in Charities, Guardian article about charity corruption, 16 April 2017,

Abandoning Refugee Children, The London Economic, 11 Feb 2017

In The Living Years, for Stand Alone under pseudonym, 16 Sep 2016

Who Speaks for the Refugee Children, Counterpunch after visit to Calais, 20 May 2016

Planet Zembar, Subdural Haematoma article in Huffington Post, 17 March 2015

Famous anti-Zionist Jews, Stop the War Coalition, 12 Aug 2014

What a Strange Way to Protect Civilians, article for US antiwar website about depleted uranium weapons, 16 April 2011 

Bush in London, Counterpunch, 18 June 2008 

The Collapse of Iraq's Health Services, Counterpunch article about collapse of Iraq's health services, 14 Oct 2006

Depleted Uranium Weapons, Future Trust, 2006

Gloucester Weapons Inspectors, Counterpunch, 30 Jan 2003

Music and War, as published by the European Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol 10, issue 3, 1999 and in The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, University of Kansas, Fall 2000, Vol. XV, No. 8 & re-written for a chapter in Left Field


Left Field,a memoir,

+44 (0)7951 579 064

Friday, 3 August 2018

Nothing changes: This is the Daily Express headline just before the 1945 general election Labour Party victory. The new government quickly introduced the National Health Service among other reforms.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Disabled court victory

My son lives in Cornwall and, aged 45, has been disabled since he was six months old after a vaccination precipitated Salaam epilepsy. In hospital, he contracted meningitis and started a life of physical and, more recently and courtesy of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), mental hardship.
Today his eyesight is poor and the right side of his body has atrophied and shortened. He often falls and has to use a stick.
After a recent scan on his right ankle which was causing him discomfort, he was given anti-inflammatories and painkillers. His doctor is currently helping him with a request to be given an electric wheelchair.
He has never been able to hold a full-time job, but occasionally picks up small bits of income working as a DJ and running an online radio station from his home. I have to include all this biographical/medical information so that you can better understand what follows.
For 20 years, he received a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) of £80 per week and £108 per week working tax credits, a weekly income of £188.
Because his mobility was worsening, he contacted the DWP to request assistance with his housework. He could only stand for a short time without pain. “Their answer was to tell me that my benefits had been assessed and that I would lose them.” says Ben. “As a result, my weekly income fell from £188 to £67. They said I could apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which had replaced DLA. I did so, but my application was rejected. It was a massive blow and has left me with a huge shortfall. It’s crazy because my disability means I have to take five tablets twice a day as I’m in constant pain.”
He appealed their decision and the DWP then carried out an ‘assessment’ on Ben’s condition which concluded that their original decision to cut his benefits was the correct one.
The assessment was carried out by a private firm, Atos, one of two companies (the other is Capita) who between them earn more than £125 million a year from the taxpayers for their work. Work which doesn’t actually involve any face-to-face assessments at all. I have been unable to find out whether they employ any medically-trained staff.
The Guardian gives a figure of 80 suicides a month by disabled people refused their benefits. “Before our eyes,” writes Frances Ryan, “ the principle of a benefit system is being reduced from opportunity, respect, and solidarity to destitution, degradation and isolation”.
Those resilient enough to continue their lives and, as with my son, lucky enough to have strong family and friendship support, have been pressing their cases on to a final court-based Tribunal appeal.
Of these about 60% are successful. Ben is one of them so here’s the story of his court hearing on Tuesday 8 May at Truro Magistrates Court.
I am there as a witness for Ben which took place in front of a judge, a GP and a disability professional. It was an eye-opener to me that once the government is not present, (one of the Tribunal members said, ‘you will be pleased to know that the DWP are not represented here”), then everyone can and does start behaving as human beings.
The questions dealt with the reality of my son’s life and not with assessments carried out at the other end of the country and without anything being assessed. So it came down to ‘how do you peel potatoes?’, ‘how often do you pause when you are walking?’, ‘what are your pains and what medicines do you take?”
Ben’s cousin Peter had put together the papers for the Tribunal and when he asked to speak critically on the DWP’s assessments, was told by the judge, ”Don’t bother with that. We don’t take them seriously.”
Sir Patrick McLoughlin, former Chairman of the Conservative Party, said ministers had to view the funding for people with disabilities in the context of a wider need to reduce the UK’s budget deficit and that “as far as supporting disabled people, I think overall we do very proudly in this country.”
Scope called on the chancellor Philip Hammond to withdraw his “totally unacceptable and derogatory comments” after he said Britain’s sluggish productivity could partly be blamed on more disabled people in the workforce.
This Tory government and their devotion to weakening the already weak are beyond contempt, but their policies have a logic which is both cruel and unjust.
They take place in the context whereby the richest 1% of the global population is receiving 82% of the newly created wealth worldwide. Oxfam claims this is brought about by tax evasion, erosion of workers rights and continuing social benefit cost-cutting in countries such as the UK.
Back in Truro we were sent out of the court while the panel deliberated and after a short time, we were called back. The judge was smiling as he told us not to bother to sit down. Ben had won his appeal. The panel then told him that he would now be receiving enhanced benefits.
As we were leaving the room the judge’s final comment was “serves the DWP right”. The Truro Trio were giving a massive finger to the DWP and the government.