Monday 20 December 2021

Venceremos in Chile



"If Chile was the birthplace of neoliberalism, it will also be its graveyard" Gabriel Boric


Chilean leftist, Gabriel Boric, won the country's presidential election on Sunday 19 December.

On 11 September 1973 the Chilean military imposed a junta led by General Augusto Pinochet. During the air raids and ground attacks that preceded the coup, the left-wing Popular Unity President, Salvador Allende, gave his final speech, refusing offers of safe passage into exile. I remember the photos of him in helmet, looking up from a balcony at the presidential palace as the US supplied Lockheed F-80s and British Hawker Hunters attacked after completing their destruction of radio transmission antennas and of the presidential residence at Las Condes. Witnesses claim that Allende committed suicide.

The military suspended all political activity in Chile and repressed left-wing movements. The Nixon administration promptly recognised the junta, having helped create the conditions for the coup This task had been given to Henry Kissinger who had recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pinochet's soldiers rounded up supporters of Allende's Popular Unity party. Many were imprisoned in the Chile Stadium. The popular singer/guitarist Victor Jara had his fingers broken and the guards then taunted him to play. He managed to sing Venceremos before being riddled with bullets. If you have Netflix you can watch “Massacre at the Stadium” His last words - “How hard it is to sing when I must sing of horror / horror which I am living / horror which I am dying.”

Before the coup, Chile had been hailed as a beacon of democracy and political stability when much of South America was in the grip of their militaries. It was now to become the beacon for the playing out of the economic neo-liberal ideas of Friedrich Hayeck, Milton Friedman and James M Buchanan and supported by the policy makers, Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher and Alan Greenspan.

They advocated the resurgance of 19th-century free-market capitalism, now referred to as neo-liberalism. This included privatisation, deregulation, globalisation, austerity and reductions in government spending to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.

The 1973 coup was a bullet to the head for those struggling for a more equitable economic and social order, while it was a tonic to the rapid advance of the 1%.

48 years later Lucrecia Cornejo, 72, a seamstress joined the many thoudands celebrating on the streets of the capital, Santiago, and spoke not just for Chile, but for us all. "I want equality, for us not to be as they call us, the 'broken ones’ - more fairness in education, health and salaries. I want real change."



Thursday 11 November 2021

Labour Party's topsy turvy world



I resigned from the Labour Party in February 2020. Twenty months later, on 3 November 2021, I received an email from the Party which said ...

We are writing to you to let you know that a third party that handles data on our behalf has been subject to a cyber incident. While the Party’s investigation remains ongoing, we wanted to make you aware of this incident and the measures which we have taken in response. We have also provided details of precautionary steps you may consider taking to help protect yourself.

What happened? On 29 October 2021, we were informed of the cyber incident by the third party. The third party told us that the incident had resulted in a significant quantity of Party data being rendered inaccessible on their systems. As soon as the Party was notified of these matters, we engaged third-party experts and the incident was immediately reported to the relevant authorities, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Party continues to work closely with each of these authorities. The Party is also working closely and on an urgent basis with the third party in order to understand the full nature, circumstances and impact of the incident. The Party’s own data systems were unaffected by this incident.

What information was involved? We understand that the data includes information provided to the Party by its members, registered and affiliated supporters, and other individuals who have provided their information to the Party. The full scope and impact of the incident is being urgently investigated.

What are the Labour Party doing? The Party takes the security of all personal information for which it is responsible very seriously. It is doing everything within its power to investigate and address this incident in close liaison with law enforcement, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the affected third party.

What you can do With incidents of this nature becoming increasingly common, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant against suspicious activity. As an immediate precaution, and in line with National Cyber Security Centre guidance, we recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself:

Be especially vigilant against suspicious activity, including suspicious emails, phone calls or text messages. The National Cyber Security Centre has published advice regarding suspicious emails on its website:

For more information If you have any questions or queries in relation to this incident, please direct them to We will also provide updates on our website in respect of this incident in line with guidance received from relevant law enforcement authorities.

Kind regards,

The Labour Party

This was my reply…


TO: The Labour Party

I am seeking more detail about your breach of data given that you should have deleted it when I left the party over 18 months ago. Consider this an SAR request under article 15 of the UK GDPR.

1. Provide me with greater clarity about the third party you gave my details to including their name, reason for giving it,, when you gave it and the exact details you gave to the third party.

2. Provide me with the names of all parties you have shared my data with, again with reasons for sharing, times and dates and the exact details that were shared,

3. Provide me with details of when and to what extent I granted you permission to give my details to any third party,

4. Provide me with all information you hold on record about me.

5. Provide me with an explanation as to why you did not delete my personal data when I left the Labour Party.

6. You suggested what I should do even though the responsibility for this data breach is yours, not mine. Provide me with details as to what measures you have put in place to ensure there is no repetition of a similar breach.

7. Provide assurances that all third parties you have shared my details with have deleted my personal data. Please inform me when you have deleted my personal data except for this email address.

Please be aware that you should respond without delay and within one month of this request.


David Wilson

and this is their reply to me:


Thank you for making a subject access request (otherwise known as a “SAR”). We will respond to your query as quickly as we can, as we are currently receiving a large volume of enquiries. If you have not already provided the below, please send that to
If we do not receive your ID, we will assume you do not wish to progress your SAR.
What do you need from me?

  • Provide us with your ID. We ask for a copy of photo ID (e.g. driving licence, passport) from requesters to guard against unauthorised or unwarranted attempts to access your confidential information. This is in line with guidance provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office. On verifying your identity, copies of any documents you provide will not be retained, and will be securely and permanently deleted.

  • Limit the scope of your request (if you have not done so already). It is likely your request will be returned much sooner if you limit the scope of your request. This could include providing the following:

-Date range – e.g. any emails between June 2015 and March 2016
-Specific search terms – e.g. where “Doncaster North CLP” has been mentioned alongside my name
-Specific conversations/email trails between named individuals
-Only related to a certain event – e.g. only about the complaint I raised/the dispute I was involved in

  • Provide us with your postcode and membership number. This ensures we can locate you on our systems.

Thank you if you have already specified the scope of your request in your original correspondence to us.
What information will I obtain from a SAR?
A Subject Access Request will provide the personal data the Labour Party is processing about you. There are however exemptions which apply to the disclosure of this data.
The Labour Party will apply limited redactions in line with the provisions given under the Data Protection Act 2018 (Schedule 2, Part 3 Para 16). It is therefore important to note that 3rd party personal data, as well as any information provided to us in a 3rd party capacity (e.g. complaints made to the Party which mention your name) are likely to be redacted, or removed entirely, before the information is disclosed to you. This reflects the need to also respect the privacy rights of the 3rd party and is in line with the ICO’s detailed guidance on SARs, which you can find here.
The Labour Party will also include the following information as part of your request:

•Any profiling carried out using your personal data
•Personal data transfers internationally
•Other rights available to you under the GDPR
•Retention periods
•Your right to complain to the regulator

In accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018, we will respond to your subject access request within 30 calendar days of date of receipt. You should be aware that there are provisions which allow us to extend the timeframe for response by a further two months where we determine that a request is either excessive or complex. I will confirm whether the party intends to apply this extension once we have conducted our initial searches.
Yours sincerely,
Data Protection Team| The Labour Party

So no apology for this "incident", which is a major breach of data protection, but a lengthy explanation of what steps I must take to protect myself from data abuse. Then a request for detailed information about myself, my membership number and emails, search terms and so on. When I resigned I binned my membership card and since the LP has me on their records – that is why I received the initial email from them – why must I give them further details? My personal data should have been deleted from Labour Party files when I resigned my membership instead of which they now want MORE information about me. This is beyond crazy.

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




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