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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,973

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UK in breach of international human rights

The United Nations has confirmed that the UK's Austerity policies breach the UK’s international human rights obligations.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed “serious concern” about the impact of regressive policies on the enjoyment of economic and social rights in a damning report on the UK.

Based on evidence it received from Just Fair and other civil society groups, the Committee concludes that austerity measures and social security reform breach the UK’s international human rights obligations.

This was the Committee’s first review of the UK since 2009 and thus its first verdict on the Austerity policies pursued by successive governments since the financial crash. Over eight months the Committee conducted a dialogue with government officials, the UK human rights commissions and civil society groups.


"The good of the country!!!!"

"You have to think of the good of the country!!!! You can't let your own intra-party squabbles and your egotistical desire to hang on to power drag us all down ... Erm ... Erm ... Why are you all laughing?! THIS IS SERIES!!!!1! Now some of you are crying ...."

The truth behind the Labour coup, when it really began and who manufactured it

An exclusive investigation by The Canary can reveal that the current Labour ‘coup’ being instigated against Jeremy Corbyn appears to have been orchestrated by a PR company {Portland Communications} where Tony Blair’s arch spin-doctor, Alastair Campbell, is a senior advisor.


Its advisory council is made up of three members: Alastair Campbell, Blair’s infamous spin doctor; Jimmy Leach, Blair’s former head of communications and previously executive editor at the Guardian, and Kitty Ussher, former Labour MP for Burnley, parliamentary private secretary to Margaret Hodge and a writer for Peter Mandelson’s “Policy Network”.

And at the top of the Portland tree are the likes of Tony Ball, former CEO of BSkyB and Fox; George Pascoe-Watson, former political editor of the Sun; Jim Rosenberg, former head of communications for the World Bank, Lisa Shields, vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Sir Stephen Wall, former EU adviser to Tony Blair.

Furthermore, Laura Kyrke-Smith (formerly of Portland) is currently head of communications for David Miliband at the International Rescue Committee, was previously chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development (LCID) and a speechwriter for Glenys Kinnock.

Full story: http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/28/truth-behind-labour-coup-really-began-manufactured-exclusive/

Now we can argue Corbyn's faults, what's "best" for Labour right now, yadayadayada, but it's clear that this company has orchestrated events from the (sole) planted heckler of Corbyn at the Pride rally that the media so eagerly promoted before the weekend to the staged timing of the resignations up to the no confidence vote.

The Canary's a partisan outlet, but you can research Portland Communications online, check out other aspects.

I'll say it again: Chilcot. Chilcot. Chilcot.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but maybe someone can persuade me that the timing of this attempted coup, co-ordinated if not instigated by a PR firm staffed largely by Blairites, doesn't stink to high heaven.

I'm all ears.

Amid chaos, Sturgeon finds time to troll Gove

While the other parties are flailing and fighting ...

Standing Council on Europe

First Minister forms group to advise on Scotland’s relationship with the EU.

Professor Anton Muscatelli will chair a group of experts to advise the Scottish Government on securing Scotland’s relationship with the EU, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

The Standing Council on Europe comprises specialists in legal, financial, business and diplomatic matters.


Ms Sturgeon said:

“The Scottish Government’s overriding objective is to protect Scotland’s relationship with and place in the European Union. The Standing Council on Europe will provide advice on how best to achieve those objectives.

“More than 60% of voters in Scotland wanted to stay in the EU to protect the jobs, investment and trade that depend on it. We chose to be an open, inclusive and outward-looking society where other EU citizens are welcome to live, work and contribute, and we voted to protect the freedom and prosperity that comes with our rights to travel, live, work and study in other European countries.

“We now need to set out and evaluate all the impacts of the referendum result and all of the options open to Scotland to secure our relationship with the EU. The Council draws on a breadth and wealth of knowledge and experience, comprising specialists with backgrounds in business, finance, economics, European and diplomatic matters, and it will encompass a range of political and constitutional opinions.

“Members will consider the impact of proposed changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU on Scottish interests and advise Ministers throughout our negotiations on the best way to secure Scottish interests and objectives.”

Members invited to take part in the Standing Council include:

Chair: Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Glasgow

Vasco Cal, former economic adviser at the European Commission

Sir David Edward, European Court Judge

David Frost, whisky, trade expert, former diplomat

Dame Anne Glover, former chief scientific adviser to President Barosso

Charles Grant, Centre for European Reform, London

John Kay, financial markets

Lord Kerr, diplomat, deputy chair ScottishPower, Carnegie Trust

Dame Mariot Leslie, diplomat

David Martin, MEP

Amanda McMillan, CEO Glasgow Airport

Professor Alan Miller, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission

Anne Richards, M&G Investments & Edinburgh University Court

Frances P. Ruane, Irish academic economist & former director of ESRI

Alyn Smith, MEP

Grahame Smith, STUC, Scotland Europa

Professor Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh

Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre, Brussels

Background details on these *hack ptt* experts here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Standing-Council-on-Europe-25c6.aspx

Favourite Brexit memes

Dark humour's a British specialty in times of trouble. This might sink like a stone, but I've seen so many I really like over the past few days, I thought it might not be a bad idea to gather some of them together.

Here's a starter.

ETA: If you want to nominate big gifs, maybe link to them rather than pasting them below? - Not all of us have high-speed broadband!

Scotland welcome to join EU, Merkel ally says

(Reuters) - An independent Scotland would be welcome to join the European Union, a senior German lawmaker and ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel has said after Britain's vote to leave the bloc.

"The EU will still consist of 28 member states, as I expect a new independence referendum in Scotland, which will then be successful," said Gunther Krichbaum, a member of Merkel's conservatives and chairman of the European affairs committee in parliament.

"We should respond quickly to an application for admission from the EU-friendly country," he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.


Not sure how this plays into what I'd been seeing as Merkel's good cop versus Junckers' bad cop routine towards the UK as a whole in the aftermath of the vote.

The cost and terms of joining are the devil in the detail, of course, but it's a 180-degree switch from the stance during the independence referendum, when we were told such a thing could never happen.

Brexistential Crisis

Repost: Brexistential Crisis – what would Cassandra say?

In January Colin Hay, SPERI’s co-director, predicted that Britain would vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Today as that prediction (in the manner of Cassandra) comes to pass we’re reposting Colin’s article which goes on to make two further predictions about the break-up of Britain and a second financial crisis.


Prediction 1: Britain will vote to leave the European Union in 2016

I never thought I would write, type or say these words (and I have now done all three). But the brutal reality, at least for the sooth-saying political economist, is that Cameron’s Conservative administration may prove to be the last of a Britain in Europe. Until recently, that did not seem very likely. When the spectre of an in/out referendum on EU membership was first unveiled, there seemed little prospect of Brexit. Indeed, it was presumably precisely because there was so little prospect of Brexit that such a referendum could be contemplated as a means of lancing the simmering boil on the question of Europe in the Conservative Party.


Prediction 2: Brexit will lead to break-up

But that, of course, would not be the end of it. Far from it. For, as we all know, Brexit would be, and is, simply unacceptable to Scotland. It is in fact quite difficult to imagine how Brexit would not lead to a second Scottish independence referendum; and scarcely less difficult to imagine how a second Scottish independence referendum under such conditions would not lead to a massive majority, in effect, for the break-up of Britain.


Prediction 3: The second crisis is on its way

A final prediction is certainly no less bleak. In a sense, it is independent of the others in that it takes neither Brexit nor break-up for it to come true – though either and certainly both together could well be precipitating factors or accelerants. The brutal reality, once again, is that the British economy is more fragile today than it was in 2007 on the eve of the crisis. A second crisis looks extremely likely, if not perhaps immanent. Despite the rhetoric of deficit reduction and rebalancing, the economy is more polarised and distorted than ever before; Britain is more reliant than it has ever been on consumption-driven growth; private debt is at near-record levels and even more responsible than in 2007 for the modest growth Britain now enjoys; Britain’s balance of trade position has deteriorated further since the crisis and there is essentially no productive investment in the economy; Britain’s infrastructure is dilapidated and decaying, with austerity in effect committing the government to an indefinite public investment strike; and, above all, the housing market (which has been primed, pumped and stoked more vigorously and frenetically since 2011 than ever before) is now massively over-valued and exhibits all the signs of a bubble on the verge of bursting. What makes this worse is that any such second crisis would take place in a context of massive public debt, interest rates already at an historically unprecedented low and with the world economy on the verge of a deflationary stagnation. It is not at all clear what could or would be done.

Full article: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/2016/06/24/repost-brexistential-crisis-what-would-cassandra-say/

There are liars and then there’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove

Nick Cohen

Where was the champagne at the Vote Leave headquarters? The happy tears and whoops of joy? If you believed Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the Brexit vote was a moment of national liberation, a day that Nigel Farage said our grateful children would celebrate with an annual bank holiday.

Johnson and Gove had every reason to celebrate. The referendum campaign showed the only arguments that matter now in England are on the right. With the Labour leadership absent without leave and the Liberal Democrats and Greens struggling to be heard, the debate was between David Cameron and George Osborne, defending the status quo, and the radical right, demanding its destruction. Johnson and Gove won a dizzying victory with the potential to change every aspect of national life, from workers’ rights to environmental protection.

Yet they gazed at the press with coffin-lid faces and wept over the prime minister they had destroyed. David Cameron was “brave and principled”, intoned Johnson. “A great prime minister”, muttered Gove. Like Goneril and Regan competing to offer false compliments to Lear, they covered the leader they had doomed with hypocritical praise. No one whoops at a funeral, especially not mourners who are glad to see the back of the deceased. But I saw something beyond hypocrisy in those frozen faces: the fear of journalists who have been found out.

The media do not damn themselves, so I am speaking out of turn when I say that if you think rule by professional politicians is bad wait until journalist politicians take over. Johnson and Gove are the worst journalist politicians you can imagine: pundits who have prospered by treating public life as a game. Here is how they play it. They grab media attention by blaring out a big, dramatic thought. An institution is failing? Close it. A public figure blunders? Sack him. They move from journalism to politics, but carry on as before. When presented with a bureaucratic EU that sends us too many immigrants, they say the answer is simple, as media answers must be. Leave. Now. Then all will be well.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/25/boris-johnson-michael-gove-eu-liars

Thanks for saying this.

The last few days have been like playing Whack-A-Mole while trying hard to stay patient and not get hides or fall out with folks for no productive reason.

I've followed US politics closely for years, I'm married to an American, and although I'll chip in on some conversations about US politics, I wouldn't dream of making some of the grand assumptions and pronouncements about it that I see about UK politics here on an hourly basis.

DU has a fairly numerous UK sub-community and a currently increasingly active UK Group. We're certainly not in lockstep, but we have relevant perspectives and experiences and views that so often seem to get lost or ignored among the stream of opinions from afar that swamp threads. That's been more and more apparent in the last few tumultuous and traumatic days.

That's not so much a complaint as an observation.

"The left" in the UK lost the ability to counter that sort of missplaced blame

(the blame for the ills motivating most folks who would be subsceptible to leftist arguments) under New Labour and Blair.

I'm talking about blaming the EU (and immigration) for the most pressing ills that people are complaining about in their everyday lives, when it's the policies of successive UK governments, including Labour itself in more recent times, that are the primary causes.

They disrespected, ignored and effectively dismantled a local infrastructure in the Constituency Labour Parties that was embedded in communities, because they thought it was less troublesome to rely on more "modern" methods of communicating with and attracting voters on those rare occasions when they could be bothered even thinking about voters - every four or five years when they needed to mobilize to keep them in power. (CLP's could be a major thorn in the side of the New Labour leadership because they brought unwelcome resolutions to conference and tended to weed out non-local right-wingers from standing as candidates, which meant that the leadership couldn't reward loyal apparatchiks by parachuting them into safe seats without a serious fight.)

The old CLPs were indigenous. They tied in with long-established initiatives like the Workers' Educational Association that would be able to help people explore and identify the political reasons behind the ills their communities were experiencing, and local union branches that had earned people's trust by being there for them when they needed them.

Once they as a result had to rely on the media for their main form of outreach, they had to suck up to it - so Blair courted the likes of Murdoch, and it skewed Labour's priorities and meant that policy became hostage to other agendas and messaging that could turn on a hairpin if Labour, on increasingly rare occasions, looked like it might do anything to seriously challenge the status quo and big business interests. It also led to a greater emphasis on fundraising because there were advertising and costly photo ops to fund that didn't come cheap, which along with the denigration of union funding meant that they needed to rely increasingly on rich sponsors from the business community.

They lost touch. They've reaped the whirlwind of that most notably in Scotland, but it applies everywhere. There's no way to rebuild that from scratch nowadays. There might be a chance to recoup some of it in a smaller way with the groundswell of popular support for Corbyn, but the PLP is suspicious of that for the very reasons I outlined above for why they turned away from the CLPs in the first place, and seems keen to alienate that new blood at the earliest opportunity.

So these local communities have to find their own fragmented sources of information elsewhere. And that's generally the mainstream media and the conventional wisdom of the pub and modern workplace and what their neighbours think etc.

And so here we are.
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