Thursday, 10 June 2021

G7 - A Tale of Two Duchies


As Royal Navy Culdrose sees helicopters unloaded from giant transporters, cruise ships anchor off Falmouth to house the 5,000 police and as Boris Johnson flies in from his 300 mile journey from distant London, locals have the chance to contemplate the £70 million cost for all this.


This is a truncated version of Tanya Gold’s excellent, “The Prostitution of Cornwall”



"The Carbis Bay Hotel at St Ives, which is hosting the G7 summit this week, contains a parade of ugly beachside villas that rent for thousands a week They exists for people who travel here with their own fantasies, which rarely involve Cornish reality.


There was Daphne Du Maurier and Manderley now it’s Boris Johnson, the G7 and Carbis Bay


It’s an old story: rich and poor competing for the same space.


There is only one road into Carbis Bay and on it a sign: “St Ives Foodbank Welcomes You”.


Living costs are high, but wages are low; work is often seasonal, zero hours and without benefits. If the average Cornish salary is less than the national average, housing costs are explosive. The average house now costs eight times the average salary: and prices are still rising. You buy a house, rent it out (but not to locals, that is unprofitable), and either enjoy the income or sell it on. The old cottages by the sea are rentals or second homes.


It is normal to be evicted for the summer: people camp in fields or squat in campervans. One third of children under five live in insecure and privately rented accommodation, which is some of the worst maintained in Britain. 36% of children in St Ives live in poverty. That isn’t on the postcards.


Cornish people are up the hill on the Penbeagle Estate, a pale and uniform collection of houses, from which they contemplate their own town from a distance. 


Carbis Bay Hotel has destroyed a portion of woodland to build meeting rooms for the summit, despite planning permission being denied for the same site in 2018, and yet still calling itself an “Eco hotel”.


The “global elite”, have had footpaths closed and taken hotel rooms from vulnerable homeless people. Cornwall is two duchies now, and the G7 is happening in one of them.


A resident at the Treneere estate in Penzance says the housing shortage is so acute adult children are living in parents’ garden sheds. People are inhabiting cottages with water running down the walls; or they are evicted so the home can be an Airbnb. “We might as well go back to days of the poorhouse. It feels like that. What about lovely, ordinary people?” They have been obscured, I think, by lovely, extraordinary landscape, and the desire of others to possess it. "

Friday, 4 June 2021

Get Beckett


BBC Newsnight wore their knuckle dusters last night to get Howard Beckett, the leading left-wing candidate for General Secretary of the UNITE union. We were told that “Keir Starmer has had an epic battle to bring different factions of the Labour Party together” and "launch a new era with a leader pledged to restore unity.”

Newsnight went on to tell their viewers that, “We’ve seen emails sent to one of the top candidates to take over the UNITE union showing the depth of planning to challenge established Labour figures.” 


Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Howard Beckett put up a strong defence in the face of this assault, but the programme's sympathies for them were little more than allowing air time for BBC 'balance'. 

First up on camera was Tom ‘let’s bomb Syria’ Watson whose contribution to unity was summed up in this comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership: “The Stalinist cabal has a lot of responsibility for creating internal political tensions.” Newsnight billed him as former deputy leader of the Labour Party, but failed to mention that he is now an adviser to Paddy Power, Betfair and SkyBet on a salary in the region of £100,000. He told Newsnight that, “While UNITE carries on with its internal politics and plays these hard left games, that plays very badly with mainstream voters on the doorstep … I have no doubt that Keir Starmer can face these people down.”

Next up was Margaret Hodge whose contribution to party unity can be found in her comment to Jeremy Corbyn, “You are a fucking antisemite and racist.” She told Newsnight that, “It is outrageous that at a time when all our focus should have been on defeating the Conservative government, UNITE was having discussions on how to undermine sitting MPs and get rid of the Labour Party General Secretary, (Iain McNicol).”

After their efforts at “unity” which ensured the return of a Tory government, they have all been well rewarded. Watson with his lucrative betting job, McNicol with his ‘elevation’ to the House of Lords and Margaret Beckett as new Chair of the Labour Party NEC.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Dylin is more important than you


What has been more important to the Johnson government than protecting people's lives? Obsessing over bombing the Middle East, Dylin the dog, getting out on the ski slopes, privatising the NHS and enriching mates 

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

The Jimmy Saville of Nation States


For the first time in my memory politicians and the media are allowing the truth to reach us along with the images of the terror being meted out to the Palestinians by the Israeli state. This morning I listened to the Tory Lord Finkelstein denying he had ever been a Zionist! It is only a tragedy that this is happening because of the destruction and killings.

I think this is the moment to understand that Zionism is a right-wing movement that has never been at the centre of religious or secular Judaism.

The founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century, Theodor Herzl, was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, founder of the white settler colony named after him, “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: “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.”

You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. 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.

The Jewish opponents of Zionism could be found at the same time as Herzl in the Jewish Bund, founded in 1897 in Poland and Russia. They stressed the principles of, socialism, secularism and doyikayt or “localness.”

Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.” One of their early leaders, Viktor Adler, declared “Bundists 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.”


Here are past and present advocates who have linked their lives to humankind. Perhaps we will now be able to hear their voices more clearly.

Albert Einstein; “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.”

Sigmund Freud: “I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.”

Erich Fromm, social psychologist: “The claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse.”

Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz: “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.

Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising compared the Palestine resistance to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw.


Hannah Arendt, political scientist: “The trouble is that Zionism has often thought and said that the evil of antisemitism was necessary for the good of the Jewish people.”

Martin Buber, Israeli philosopher: “How great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought here from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; the fruits of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather; and in whose cities that we put up houses of education, charity and prayer. . ”

Isaac Asimov, novelist: “I find myself in the odd position of not being a Zionist ... I think it is wrong for anyone to feel that there is anything special about any one heritage of whatever kind.”

Harold Pinter. On Israel’s 60th anniversary said, “We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land."

Uri Avnery, ex-Israeli army officer: “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints.”

Daniel Barenboim, Israeli pianist and conductor: “I don’t think the Jewish people survived for 20 centuries, mostly through persecution and enduring endless cruelties, in order to now become the oppressors, inflicting cruelty on others.”

Lenni Brenner, writer and civil rights activist: “The Zionist leaders were uninterested in Fascism itself. As Jewish separatists they only asked one question, the cynical classic: 'So? Is it good for the Jews?'”

Richard Cohen, US columnist: “The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake … the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare.”

Henry Siegman, Rabbi and director of the U.S./Middle East Project: “Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.”

Prof Norman Finkelstein: “Every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated. Both of my parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. And it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits its crimes.’

Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on human rights, called Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories “a crime against humanity.” Falk also has compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

Alexei Sayle: “Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states.”

Miriam Margolyes: “My support for the Palestinian cause is fiercer because I am Jewish.’

Noam Chomsky, “The last paradox is that the tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story—hard to understand and even harder to solve.”


(This is reworked and updated from an earlier blog)

Monday, 17 May 2021

Am I surprised?


President of Croatia (2015-2020) Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited Bleiburg, Austria in 2019, for the annual commemoration of the Ustashe, the soldiers and civilians from the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia, that were killed by Yugoslav partisans in the aftermath of WWII.

Rudolf Edlinger, president of the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance, described it as “the biggest annual neo-fascist reunion in Europe." He said that the event glorified the Croatian Nazi-collaborationist regime.

In the same year, and on her third visit to Israel as President, Grabar-Kitarovic described her country as being “a strong and supportive ally of Israel”. For his part, Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that "Croatia has supported Israel and will continue to do so in the future." They then signed trade and security (military) agreements.

Grabar-Kitarovic's visits followed those of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, who called Hungary’s Nazi World War II leader Miklós Horthy an "exceptional statesman". Netanyahu greeted him as “a true friend of Israel”.

So this road sign (the Croatian and Israeli flags) does not surprise me, nor do the war crimes presently being committed by Israel.


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Under cover of covid


In announcing a Covid public public enquiry, Boris Johnson said, “This process will place the state’s actions under the microscope”.

Will the microscope expose the galloping privatisation of the NHS and £billions in corrupt profiteering taking place under the cover of Covid?

A friend of mine posted this shocking statement on the same day as Johnson’s announcement

I despair, I really do. For the past decade I've watched the Tories systematically demolish the services & support available to me to manage a condition that is literally rotting my lungs away. It's the fucking Tories' relentless attack on the NHS that has brought it to it's knees, not fucking Covid 19. I, like hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other British citizens suffering from chronic, incurable conditions will be uninsurable and condemned to die, many of us slowly and in a great deal of pain. And our lying, complicit media are more than happy to just lie down with the dogs, propagate the lies and gaslight the rest of the country.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

staying home is not a surge


At the 2017 General election the Tories got 14,319 votes in Hartlepool. In 2021 they got 15,529 votes.

At the 2017 General election Labour got 21,969 votes in Hartlepool. In 2021 they got 8,589 votes.

This is not a Tory surge. It is a Labour ‘stay at home’ surge. Saudi Arabia admirer, Paul Williams, the Labour candidate, was ‘parachuted’ into the constituency by Starmer on the advice of his adviser, Jenny Chapman. He was commissioner of a report that supported the removal of critical care services in the city.

In the Welsh Senedd and in Preston, for example, where Labour put forward progressive and socialist policies closer to Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 and 2019 manifestos, with nothing conceded to Starmer and his ‘coterie’, there were election successes in the local elections.

Just saying