Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The banality of JC's ideology

After about a week of revelations about sympathies with terrorist groups and motorbike rides in East Germany we know a lot more about the new leader of the Labour Party. Looking over the evidence assembled before us the depressing thought emerges that there is not much to know in the first place. It seems that JC, as he is fondly called by his supporters, has lived the 'normal' life of an eternal back bencher in Parliament, nurturing his pet dislikes and cultivating the image of himself as the moral, if slightly ineffectual, conscience of the party.

Love under the Red Flag - Dianne Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn in happier times
Image: The Times

If this public image of the new leader appears to be rather two dimensional, what about his policies? So far, we know that JC and his team want to build Jerusalem by introducing socialism to the green and pleasant land. The details of how this is to be achieved are still sketchy but some policies have come to light. There is the re-nationalisation of the railways (until 2030) and the opening of the coal mines. Nationalising the banks also appears to be somewhere at the top of the list, although it may have escaped their notice that two of the banks were de facto nationalised already, so hardly a radical tool in the socialist arsenal.

Apparently, making the Bank of England independent of political influence is also something the Jeremy Corbyn team deeply resents, depriving the British government of the convenience to print money when things do not work out as planned (no pun intended). Bringing the Bank of England back into the control of the all knowing treasury officials should take care of the evil scourge of low inflation and low interest rates. Never mind that most British people may take a different view on that.

Looking at the list of early policy announcement one is struck by how little of what is so close to the heart of the new leader actually matters to people's lives. How does the re-opening of the coal mines help with providing better child care? What does the re-nationalisation of the railways mean for the crisis of social care and how to provide good quality dementia care in the communities?

The vacuity of JC's 'policies' does not lie in their left leaning drift but their shocking ignorance of the issues that matter to people up and down the country. It's the banality of his ideological positions in the context of modern society that reinforces the impression of a man who appears to have fought hard to protect his own little bubble from any undue influence of reality. And now he is in a position to make his party just as irrelevant as he has been for more than three decades in parliament. Three cheers to that!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Fixing Liverpool's crime problem

The New Yorker recently ran a feature on Bill Bratton, the former and current Police Commissioner of New York and Los Angeles. Bratton achieved some fame (and notoriety) as an advocate of the 'broken windows' policy which is often credited with bringing crime levels down in New York during Rudi Giuliani's govenorship.

Ever since the big apple experienced a precipitous fall in crimes, a debate has been raging whether the 'broken windows' policy has been a factor, or even the major contributor to this success.

Kirkdale, Liverpool - crime capital in England; image: www.guardian.co.uk

In essence, advocates of the 'broken windows' policy base their support on the slippery slope argument. Small misdemeanours will lead to larger ones, leading from 'victimless' to more serious transgressions. Ignoring offences that are, initially, seen as inconsequential, such as fly tipping or drug dealing, send out a signal to everyone that criminal behaviour may be tolerated too. The 'broken windows' policy is a tool to nip things in the bud, before they can get out of hand. It strengthens the community's resolve to see all types of misdemeanour as harmful to at least one victim: the local community itself.

Whilst I have no evidence either way to decide this debate, I can say on thing with certainty. Living in Liverpool, one of the most deprived areas in Britain with the highest crime rate, I think it is quite irrelevant whether preventing so called 'minor' crimes may lead to a reduction in larger ones too. So far I have still to meet a single resident of, say my current home Kirkdale, who says that tolerating a single 'smaller' or 'victimless' crime leads to high quality of life. No matter of what 'scale' or 'consequence' a crime is, it seems to me that reducing any type of offence will make for a better quality of life.

As Kirkdale (Liverpool) is an area with, on average, more than 600 crimes per month which makes it one of the highest in England (in July the official crime statistics by the government documented a record of 828 crimes in Anfield and Kirkdale), you can take my word for it that tolerance of allegedly 'harmless' drug dealing (and drug deals gone wrong with people being stabbed in front of shop stores) do not add to feelings of high quality of life in the area. To my mind, there is every reason that the local police should try out the 'broken windows' policy in Liverpool.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The banality of principles

Jeremy Corbyn has been called a principled man time and again by his supporters. Principled he may be, but do these principles mean anything? Here are some quotes from his victory speech in London yesterday. Tick if you are in agreement with him. 

 'a decent and better society for all'

 'let's fight for social justice'

 'let's be a force for change in the world'

 'let's be a force for humanity in the world'

 'let's be a force for peace in the world'

 'we are one world'

Looking over this list of principles, I challenge you to find two dozen Tories who would not have ticked every single one of them. As someone once wryly noted, politics is about answering the question who gets what and when. That involves compromising the principles you hold dear. Corbyn has so far (and his political career spans more than 30 years) managed to avoid answering that very question of politics. Let's see if his leadership will rise above the banalities he has plied himself and his supporters with for more than three decades. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Draft of Jeremy Corbyn's victory speech found!

It was clearly high time for JC (that's Jeremy Corbyn, not Jesus Christ... not yet anyway) to write a first draft of a speech for the victory parade, errmmm, victory celebration on Saturday. Somehow it was left on the Central Line and we publish it here. Please remember this is only a draft and some details may still be subject to change...


(loud chants of 'Jeez we can!', note to myself: ask for front row to be staffed with supporters in red t-shirts with pictures of Marx, Lenin and Corbyn in profile)

Greetings to you all! Greetings also to our friends here today from Syriza and Podemos! We are with you, comrades, in your fight against the finance capitalists of the US and Germany, and reality! All the way!

Comrades! This is the day we have been waiting for! Some of you have been waiting a bit longer like me, others have just joined us recently! But the waiting is over now!

People of future generations will remember this day as a historical turning point, when social justice returned to the dispossessed! There have been some concerns that under my fuehrership, errrmm, leadership, the Labour Party will become a chapter of the Trotskyist Socialist Party. I say.... perhaps! But Labour is a big tent with many people of different persuasion.

And, here and now, I will make a clear commitment to those on the right of the party. I will guarantee that you can stay! Yes, you can be part of Labour! Malicious rumours about purges are utterly untrue and concocted by our enemies within and without the party. Obviously there will have to be a period of re-education for some of you. I think re-connecting with the proletarian masses will be best. Perhaps a placement in the many factories all across our beautiful country shall be appropriate. Or some time in the mines that we are going to re-open in Yorkshire and Wales! (chants: 'Re-educate! Re-educate!' and 'Send them to the mines!')

Now, dear comrades. Let me also address some opinions voiced in the bourgeois press that I have not paid sufficient attention to the economic realities of our days. I say: nothing could be further from the truth! As the enthusiasm of all of you show, we are fed up with poverty and destitution! Down with the exploitation of workers! Think of the starving children of unionised train drivers in the privatised railways. Living on £48,000 pounds a year. That is a disgrace! Whilst the greedy capitalist barons of the city live it up with champagne! Never again!

That brings me to the last point of real importance. Nothing is more urgent than constitutional reform, I say! The House of Lords is an anachronism of Stalinist proportions. (note to myself: check this metaphor... something seems odd about this). We do not need an unelected upper house! Once the factionalism in bourgeois society is banished to the dustbin of history, we will be able to co-opt our carefully selected members of the glorious Socialist Party straight into the House of Commons. Away with the antagonism and strife of democratic elections! We are all workers now!

Comrades, before I go away and take my first long distance call from the our dear friend Vladimir, let me re-assure you! Things will never be the same! Honesty and discipline will be the watchwords of my first term as a leader until 2045.  (note: remove voting records from House of Commons library)

Now, let us all rise and sing the International... and let the small minded and the rich be in no doubt: NO PASERAN!