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




Saturday, 14 August 2021

keeping the war kettle on the boil



This was the dedication on the credits for the 1988 Rambo 3 film. The US supported and financed the Afghan Mujahideen from the get go. It’s never a matter of winning a war. It’s a matter of good business practice. The war kettle needs to be kept on the boil to justify military-industrial cashflow. There will always be funding for both friend and enemy. 


Oh and Jeremy Corbyn voted against the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 saying, “This will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation, that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations.”

Friday, 13 August 2021

The Paris Commune - 150 years anniversary




"The fighting for a total involvement of the people in their own democracy gripped Paris. The newspaper Rappel declared, “Today Paris has become truly pictureaque with the cries of its paper-sellers from dawn to dusk. It is a permanent concert, a sort of perpetual fair.” Read the article in full here





Monday, 9 August 2021

'Out of control' climate crisis or 'ping-pong sweat'?


"We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control". Jeremy Corbyn 


"There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong." Boris Johnson


"We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now. This is no longer about the distant future. We are talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes … Parliament rarely leads change. It usually drags its feet. Think about the huge transformations to our society: workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights. The impetus has always come from outside. From social movements and communities … Let’s work more closely with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe, especially those at the sharp edge. Like the Maldives – so vulnerable to rising sea levels. They told the UN climate talks last year: “we are not prepared to die” and implored countries to unite … And Bangladesh, whose foreign minister recently warned of the “existential threat” posed by climate breakdown to the 160 million people of his country as he urged others to adhere to their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement... we must be absolutely clear-eyed about the Paris Agreement. As significant as it is – it is not enough … If every country meets its current pledges temperatures will still rise by three degrees this century. At that point southern Europe, the horn of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean will be in permanent drought. And major cities, like Miami and Rio de Janeiro will be lost to rising sea levels. At four degrees, which is where we’re currently heading, agricultural systems will collapse. This isn’t just climate change. It is a climate emergency … Around the world we’re seeing ice caps melting, coral reefs dissolving, droughts in Africa, hurricanes in the Americas and wildfires in Australia. Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people in south east Africa, largely in Mozambique, and affected 3 million more, only to be immediately followed by the current horrors of Cyclone Kenneth. The heating up of our climate is contributing to the terrifying loss of animal and plant species – something we are only just recognising. According to the WWF, humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. Earlier this year the first global scientific review of its kind found that insects could become extinct within a century unless action is taken. Insects pollinate plants and keep the soil healthy. Without pollination and healthy soil there is no food and without food there are no humans. Meanwhile intensive farming is pumping the earth full of fertilisers and taking its toll on our soil. A more sustainable farming system will actually lead in the longer run to better yields and less cost in pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser….It’s those here and around the world who are least to blame for it who bear the highest cost. A 2015 study found that children living in inner city areas can have their lung capacity reduced by up to 10% due to air pollution. And of course it is even more extreme for those children growing up in the polluted cities in India or China. Children shouldn’t have to pay with their health for our failure to clean up our toxic air. And it is working class communities that suffer the worst effects of air pollution – who are least able to rebuild their lives after flooding and who will be hit hardest by rising food prices while the better off, who are responsible for most emissions, can pay their way out of trouble. And internationally, in a cruel twist of fate, it is the Global South which is facing the greatest devastation at the hands of drought and extreme weather. This fuels poverty and war and creates refugees as people are forced to flee their homes. Some of the 65 million refugees in the world right now are climate refugees. Those people are paying the price for emissions that overwhelming come from the richer Global North … That’s the magnitude of what we are talking about. The future of life on Earth. It’s too late for tokenistic policies or gimmicks. We have to do more than just ban plastic straws. Individual action is not enough. We need a collective response which empowers people instead of just shaming them if they don’t buy expensive recycled toilet paper or drive the newest Toyota Prius… The hidden hand of the market is not going to save us… Technological solutions are not going to magically appear out of nowhere … An emergency of this magnitude requires large-scale government intervention to kickstart industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future … What we need is a Green Industrial Revolution with huge investment in new technologies and green industries… It will be about harnessing manufacturing to avert climate breakdown while providing well-paid, high-skilled and secure jobs … The solution to the crisis is to re-programme our whole economy so that it works in the interests of both people and the planet … That means publicly-owned energy and water companies with a mandate to protect the environment instead of just seeking profit. It means redesigning public agricultural funding to benefit local businesses and sustainable farming that supports wildlife and plant life and not unnecessarily flying in basic produce from across the globe. It means funding home insulation schemes, particularly in our poor quality private rented sector. It means investing in bus routes, cycling infrastructure and improved railway lines in public ownership so people can travel quickly and cheaply without cars. It means planting trees to improve air quality and prevent flooding and it means expanding our forests that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and provide habitats for native wildlife … We must take serious steps on debt relief and cancellation to deal with the injustice of countries trying to recover from climate crises they did not create while struggling to repay international debts … And we must end UK aid support for fossil fuel projects in the Global South. The government will boast that the UK is reducing its carbon emissions, but I have to tell them it’s too slow. At the current rate, we will not reach zero emissions until the end of the century. More than 50 years too late. By that time our grandchildren will be fighting for survival on a dying planet ...The science says this is an emergency. But an emergency does not have to be a catastrophe. We could use it as an opportunity to rebuild our economy so that it works for the many, not the few. This is not a time for despair. It is a time for action … We have the chance to act before it’s too late. It’s a chance that won’t be available to succeeding generations. It is our historic duty to take it." Jeremy Corbyn, 01/05/2019


“It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong." Boris Johnson

Friday, 30 July 2021

Solidarity with Craig Murray



This article by Jonathan Cook clearly explains what lies behind Craig Murray’s imprisonment. It should not make any difference to the strength of his piece, but I would like to add that I have known Craig since we met when he travelled the country speaking for the anti-war movement after he had been sacked by Blair and Straw as UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

I recommend his book  “Murder in Samarkand” which explains his experiences in some detail. Thank you Craig for doing the job that has been neglected by so many of those who call themselves ‘journalists’.

I will never forget how he travelled to London for the launch of my book and contributed the best and funniest speech of the evening.

Solidarity with Craig Murray.

Read his wife Nadira's, statement here

Monday, 26 July 2021

The Overton Window



The Overton Window is a phrase taken from Joseph Overton’s argument that public debate should take place within an ‘acceptable’ frame. Anything outside that frame is not allowed. I have written about this in International Times.


The result is a bias to the right, so right-wing ideas are defined as ‘moderate’ and are inside the window while left-wing ideas are defined as ‘hard-left’ and are excluded.


After visiting my friend Merilyn Moos the other day, I posted a blog on my personal Facebook, (No Pasaran is more than a lifetime's struggle). I wrote about her years as a trade union activist and how she had been influenced by the political strruggles of her radical parents.


Facebook rejected the post with this message: “your post could not be shared because this link goes against our community standards.”


One friend emailed me that, “Sometimes it is how the algorithm functions. It can pick up a word like ‘Nazi’ and assume the opposite of what’s true.”


Another friend commented, “It is significant that FB won’t allow it. I notice the establishment won’t use the F word these days - Fascism. I recently complained to the BBC that they would not use the Fascism word on National Holocaust Day - and this while dwelling on images of Bergen-Belsen. Fergal Keane blamed it on extremism. And here are the politics. The equation of fascism with communism, even socialism.”


Decide for yourself what is going on, but I managed to post it by removing the word ‘Fascist’, ‘Nazi’, ‘Trotsky’ and ‘Palestine’.


We are not only living in troubled times, but it’s all so weird. If it turns up on The People’s Campaign for Corbyn FB that will be confirmation of that. Talking of whom, is he in or outside that window frame?


The original ‘out of the window’ blog about my friend Merilyn Moos can be read here:

Saturday, 24 July 2021

'No Pasaran' is more than a lifetime's struggle



I spent yesterday afternoon with Merilyn Moos. We have been friends for fifty years, almost to the day, so the cuppa tea and lemon cake in her garden was a sort of anniversary marker. We talked about those years and what had become of us and the half-century of struggles we have been involved in. Perhaps it is good I was there for tea and cake and chat. A little later in the day and it would have been time for wine and whisky and brutal curses.

Merilyn has been a trade union and political activist all her life and feels that she has been carrying the baton passed to her by her parents. Her German mother, Lotte, was involved in left wing agitprop as Hitler came to power. She followed her lover to the USSR and felt guilty that she may have contributed to his death. He was sent to Spain at the time of the Civil War and, in a card she wrote to him there, she praised POUM. He was kidnapped, sent back for ‘trial’ in the Soviet Union, accused of Trotskyism and died in the Gulags.

Her father, Siegi, witnessed the sailors declaring a Soviet on the steps of Munich town hall in 1918. He was a leading figure in agit-prop which is how he met Lotte. He became an active anti-fascist. They arrived separately in the UK where, in 1940, Lotte was imprisoned in Holloway prison as a spy.

After many years as a trade union activist in further education, Merilyn started to write about her family history. She writes about her parents in “The Language of Silence”, but in recent years has dealt with the history of anti-nazism within the German working class to counter the view that there was no significant German resistance. “Anti-Nazi Germans” by her and Steve Cushion deals with this.

My wife Anne Aylor, is writing a novel set in the Spanish Civil War and, as her proof reader, can testify to the numbers of Germans who took up arms against fascism. The German Thälmann batallion was one of the largest of the International Brigades.

Many of these people would, like Merilyn, have described themselves as “historically Jewish” and would join her today in support of the Palestinians. “It is a terrible irony”, she told me, “that the very people once defined as untermensch are now treating others, the Palestinians, as untermensch.”

Because of our frayed health neither of us were able to make it to the recent Palestinian demonstrations, but stick or no stick, we will join the nurses and health workers if they take to the streets as now seems likely.

A good review of “Anti-Nazi Germans’ is here:

Merilyn’s other writings on German anti-fascist resistance can be found here:


Monday, 19 July 2021

20 years of Jeremy Corbyn's 'anti-semitism'




18 April 1977, Corbyn organises the defence of the Jewish population in Wood Green from a Neo-Nazi march

8 May 1987, Corbyn succesfully campaigns to stop property developers taking over a Jewish cemetery in Islingon. He was opposed by then council leader, Margaret Hodge.

7 Nov. 1990, Corbyn signs motion condemning the rise of antisemitism, EDM3933

11 Apr. 2000, Corbyn signs motion condemning David Irving for being a Holocaust Denier, EDM634

6 Nov. 2000, Corbyn praises the ‘British Schindler’, Bill Barazetti, for his WW2 kindertransport, EDM1124

28 Jan. 2002, Corbyn signs motion praising football clubs for commemorating Holocaust Day, EDM742

30 Apr. 2002, Corbyn is primary sponsor on motion condemning antisemitism, EDM1233

11 May 2002, Corbyn leads a clean up of Finsbury Park Synagogue after an anti-Semitic attack

23 July 2002, Corbyn condemns attacks on a synagogue in Swansea, EDM169

26 Nov. 2003, Corbyn officially condemns attacks on 2 Istanbul synagogues, EDM 123

16 Dec. 2003, Corbyn signs motion commemorating International Holocaust Day, EDM298

Jan 2004, Corbyn condemns news that anti-Semitic hate crimes had risen for yet another year

21 Jan. 2004, Corbyn condemns the French government’s moves to ban the Jewish Kippa in French Schools, EDM461

26 Feb. 2004, Corbyn signs motion praising Simon Wiesenthal for bringing Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice, EDM717

8 Sept. 2004, Corbyn co-sponsors a bill expressing fears for the future of the United Synagogue Pension Scheme, EDM1613

11 Oct. 2004, Corbyn condemns arbitrary attacks on civilians in Israel and Palestine, EDM1699

12 Jan. 2005, Corbyn commemorates International Holocaust Day, EDM482

16 June 2005, Corbyn condemns the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in east London, EDM343

11 Jan. 2006, Corbyn commemorates International Holocaust Day, EDM482

,8 Mar. 2006, Corbyn condemns an Iranian Magazine soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust, EDM1774

16 Apr. 2006, Corbyn condemns Bryan Ferry for anti-Semitic remarks, EDM1267

26 June 2006, Corbyn praises British war veterans for their efforts to combat the Holocaust, EDM2414

10 Oct. 2006, Corbyn signs a motion marking the 70th anniversary of Cable Street, EDM2705

14 Nov. 2007, Corbyn co-sponsors a motion lamenting the poverty and social exclusion suffered by East London Jews, EDM27

12 May 2008, Corbyn praises the efforts of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during the uprising of 1944, EDM153

27 Oct 2008, Corbyn signs a motion marking the 70th anniversary of the horrors of the holocaust, EDM2350

8 Dec. 2008, Corbyn condemns the Press Complaints Commission for refusing to sanction The Times for antisemitism, EDM173

14 Jan. 2009, Corbyn condemns a wave of recent anti-Semitic incidents, EDM461

27 Jan. 2009, Corbyn signs John Mann’s motion condemning antisemitism on university campuses, EDM605,

26 Feb. 2009, Corbyn signs motion condemning antisemitism on the internet, EDM917

24 Mar. 2009, Corbyn signs motion praising the heroism of British Jews during Holocaust, EDM1175

2 Dec. 2009, Corbyn condemns Iran’s treatment of Jewish minorities in Iran, EDM337

9 Feb. 2010, Corbyn joins in calls for Facebook to do more to fight antisemitism, EDM850

22 Feb 2010, Corbyn co-sponsors a motion calling for Yemen’s Jews to be given refugee status to the UK, EDM891

27 Oct. 2010, Corbyn praises work of late Israeli PM in his pursuit of a 2 state solution, EDM908

27 Jan. 2011, Corbyn co-sponsors motion praising the ‘never again for anyone initiative’, EDM1360

3 Mar. 2011, Corbyn backs motion condemning the anti-Semitic remarks of Dior’s lead fashion designer, EDM1527

14 Mar. 2012, Corbyn condemns the sale of Nazi memorabilia at an auction in Bristol, EDM2870

14 Mar 2012, Corbyn co-sponsors a bill condemning the rise of antisemitism in Lithuania, EDM2866

20 Mar. 2012, Corbyn condemns a terrorist attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, EDM2899,

12 June 2012, Corbyn co-sponsors a motion condemning anti-Semitic attacks during EURO 2012 in Poland, EDM168,

13 June 2012: Jeremy attacks BBC for cutting Jewish programmes from Its schedule, EDM 195

1 Mar 2013, Corbyn joins a chorus of calls condemning antisemitism in sport, EDM 1133

1 Oct. 2013, Corbyn was one of the few MPs who defended Ralph Miliband from Daily Mail antisemitism

9 Jan 2014, Corbyn praises Holocaust Memorial’s work on antisemitism education EDM 932

22 June 2015, Corbyn condemns a Neo-Nazi rally planned for a Jewish area of London, EDM 165

Sat 4 July 2015, Corbyn co-plans a counter-fascist demo in defence of Jewish residents at Golders Green. The march was re-routed

18 Nov. 2015, Corbyn uses one of his first PMQs to challenge Cameron to do more on antisemitism

9 Oct 2016, Corbyn, close to tears, leads commemoration of the Battle of Cable Street 9 Oct 2016

3 Dec. 2016, Corbyn visits Terezin Concentration Camp to commemorate Holocaust victims

In 2017-19, Corbyn introduces 20 new measures to combat antisemitism in the Labour Party.

original blog on People's Campaign for Corbyn here 


(Thank you Sue Luton for the initial research)