Tuesday, 12 October 2021

taking it on the chin



“We should just take it on the chin.” Boris Johnson


As of October 4, 2021, the number of confirmed UK deaths due to coronavirus is 136,986.

Britain’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with the government’s “fatalistic” approach resulting in the huge death toll. According to a report titled “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” that was headed by two former Conservative ministers, the UK’s “slow and gradualist” approach meant the the country fared “significantly worse” than other nations. 


Impaired by lack of transparency, the crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice. 


Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis ... For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.”


It’s not all bad news. Ministers have handed out billions of pounds in Covid mateocracy contracts and right now, the man in charge is lying beside the Marbella pool of a Tory donor who bought himself a lordly title. And hey, it would have been so much worse if Jeremy Corbyn had been PM.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Cable Street 85th anniversary



It was great to meet up with Carole Vincent at the 85th anniversary Cable Street march. She told me that, as a delegate to the recent Labour Party conference, she was interviewed by the police so they could find out whether she was a 'suitable' delegate! As I suspected no sign of Margaret Hodge or Keir Starmer in Cable Street. Jeremy Corbyn there of course and a wonderful speech from Rabbi Herschel Gluck, who made clear that the battle of Cable Street is ongoing.



Friday, 1 October 2021

No Pasaran



I hope you will join me on Sunday 3 October 2021 in Cable Street for this ‘No Pasaran’ memorial march. Assemble 1pm Junction of Cable Street, Leman Street and Dock Street. Marching to the Cable Street Mural/St George’s Gardens.

Speakers include: Apsana Begum MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP (Project for Peace and Justice), Rabbi Herschel Gluck, Mick Lynch Gen Sec RMT, Amina Patel (Unison), Abdul Chowdhury (NEU), Noorahmed Uddin (Altab Ali Foundation) Joginder Bains (Indian Workers Association-GB) Julia Bard (Jewish Socialists’ Group), Rob Griffiths, (Communist Party), Weyman Bennet (Stand Up To Racism) Marlene Sidaway (International Brigades Memorial Trust), and relatives of the activists of 1936: Michael Rosen, Ruth Levitas, June Legg and JVL member Tony Booth. Co-chairs: Julie Begum (Swadhinata Trust), David Rosenberg (JSG)

Margaret Hodge’s “Fucking antisemite and racist” Jeremy Corbyn will be speaking alongside rabbis, the Bengali and Indian communities, Stand Up to Racism and members from the Jewish Socialists and Jewish Voice for Labour. Their co-chair Leah Levane, was recently thrown out of the Labour Party conference. We will be remembering those who stopped fascism all those years ago and reminding ourselves that the struggle continues. I don’t think Hodge or Starmer will join us.


more info here

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Brexit & Covid. Who benefits?



“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” — Nelson Mandela



BREXIT has been a disaster for most of us, but a success for a few. Exit from the EU has meant the UK has escaped the regulatory practices and directives implemented by Europe relating to tax avoidance and can retain its position as the ‘go to’ country for more than a third of global tax avoidance. Government figures show the total cost of tax avoidance in the year 2018 to 2019 came to approximately £1.7 billion, while tax evasion was around £4.6 billion. HMRC has estimated that £4.6 billion in tax revenue was lost to evasion in 2018/19.

Let’s put a few names to those who benefit from tax avoidance. Famously David Cameron said he didn’t know whether the £300,000 he inherited from his father was the result of tax haven status in Jersey. Leave EU backer Arron Banks has money put away in Belize and was listed in the ‘Panama Papers’ as a shareholder of PRI Holdings. Jacob Rees-Mogg owns property company, Saliston, and is a major stakeholder in Somerset Capital Management, both registered abroad to avoid tax. He also had £500,000 in British Virgin Islands company, Lloyd George Management. Talking of virgins, Richard Branson paid no tax on the £229 million he made when selling his Virgin Music Group to Thorn EMI. He used tax havens in Jersey and Guernsey to avoid a United Kingdom tax bill of £92 million. Former Tory Party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, domiciled in Belize, has hundreds of millions of pounds in Bermuda’s Punta Gorda Trust Fund. I haven't listed the many tax-avoiding copanies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook, Google, Boots ....

COVID: Surely no one can have benefitted from a global pandemic, but the British Medical Journal has concluded that, “The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health.” Billions of pounds have been paid to private companies in Covid contracts. Allyson Pollock, a member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, described it as “scandalous expenditure … This money should have been put into supporting the established system of public health services instead of going into new parallel services run by private companies, where much of it is squandered and wasted.”


Let’s put a few names to those who have benefitted from the Covid pandemic.They range from pest-control companies to publicans, experts in offshore investment to fashion, confectionary and interior design companies. Ayanda Capital, Clandeboyes, Clipper Logistics, Faculty, Family Office, Globus, Hanbury Strategy, Kau Media, Meller Designs, PA Consultancy, Pest Fix, PPE Medpro, Public First, Randox, Serco, Taeg Energy, Tower Supplies, Uniserve, Ventures Ltd.

This all takes place as the 1,000 richest people in UK are worth £771 billion. This is 6 times the NHS budget. Meanwhile14 million are living in poverty. And it’s getting worse







Thursday, 2 September 2021

Three books on the boil



I am now involved in the writing and editing of three books. I am entering the final stages of my first draft of a book on food and memory. There are twenty chapters to date: from recollections of enjoying childhood popcorn to more recent memories of eating burritos in hospital. 


I am the reader of Anne Aylor’s work-in-progress about the Spanish Civil War, The Witness from Salamanca. Her protagonists are International Brigaders from the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. 


I am also helping to edit Merilyn Moos’s memoir. The daughter of German Leftists bravely involved in agit-prop in Hitler's Berlin, she has spent a lifetime haunted by her past. Despite her family's traumatic life, this book of her writings, photos and sculptures is a testament of survival. 










Friday, 27 August 2021

Afghanistan - Operation Cyclone



In 1978, a liberation movement led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the dictatorship of Mohammad Dawd. A year later the U.S. Embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests… would be served by the removal of the government, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The USA then launched “Operation Cyclone” to bribe and arm religious zealots, known as the Mujaheedin.

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote that the CIA spent $70 million on bribes alone. He describes a meeting between a CIA agent known as “Gary” and a warlord called Amniat-Melli: “Gary placed a bundle of cash on the table: $500,000 in one-foot stacks of $100 bills. He believed it would be more impressive than the usual $200,000, the best way to say we’re here, we’re serious, here’s money, we know you need it.”


There then followed years of war, occupation, bombings and killings.

We were told it was Osama bin Laden. But he escaped into Pakistan - on horseback - soon after the U.S. started dropping bombs. The war then became a "feminist” mission, but with the Taliban beaten the mission changed again to reconstruction— President Bush introduced us to, "an Afghanistan that is free from evil and a better place to live." This translates as a better place for the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, multiple defense contractors, mercenaries and Afghan warlords who, over the years pocketed $2.6 trillion.

Andrew Cockburn wrote that. "if we understand that the [military industrial complex] exists purely to sustain itself and grow, it becomes easier to make sense of the corruption, mismanagement and war.”

Where will be the next bonanza for the war profiteers and the next catastrophe for the civilians and soldiers who pay the ultimate price for campaigns launched in the names of "security" and "freedom"?

Those who have caused this chaos are having their noses powdered in TV studios. Those politicians who have tried to tell us the truth have been villified and removed. An even worse fate for truth-telling journalists. They have been forced into exile or imprisoned. 


Further reading








Tuesday, 17 August 2021

War is a racket


Robert Reich: Don’t say that nobody won the war in Afghanistan. If you invested $10,000 in defense stocks when the war began, your stocks would now be worth almost $100,000. Defense contractors and their shareholders. That’s who won the war in Afghanistan.



After 90 years US Army Maj Richard Ojeda repeats words of Gen Smedley Butler