Thursday, June 28, 2012

Barclays Bankers Show Banking is Bent

Gaoled Banksters

So Barclays Bank have been fined a fortune for fiddling their books in cahoots with other banks to seem more prosperous than they really were when other banks were in dire muck a few years back. Bob Diamond, Barclays CEO has offered to forgo his bonus this year, presumably therefore accepting responsibility. He was in charge of the fiddling division at the time. What an honest Joe he is!

My understanding is that insider trading is a serious crime. How is senior bankers fiddling interest rates to their advantage any less a serious crime? How is it even possible. We poor dumbos down here thought interest rates were set by governments or by a state bank, the Bank of England in the UK, but now we find that is not so. bankers set their own rates, and evidently can set them to their own advantage.

Can we be told why an autistic computer hacker can be extradited to the USA for alleged potential threats to computer networks, with the prospect of a long period of incarceration in some US semi-feudal dungeon full of violent muderers and psychopaths, but the genial, smiling mega crook, Bob Diamond, is not even investigated by the police here in the UK?

And whose money pays those massive fines? Is it Diamond's? Even his annual bonus of £several million is puny by comparison, and he is careful to tell us he will not be receiving it this year. Next year he will receive double to make it up!

This man and his weaselly fellow crooks throughout the bent banking kingdom should be arrested and properly brought before the courts of justice, with no permissible excuses like suspected senile dementia, no last minute conversions to the way of God, truth and light, and no fobbing off the case with some legal technicality. All of these have been used to get rich crooks off the punishment they deserve. Where then are the police? Where are the MPs asking questions like these in defence of the rights of the citizens who elected them?

The truth is that they are all cheaply bought by men like Murdoch and the bankster mafiosi. If no one in public office demands action over this criminality, then we know what a diseased state western society has fallen into. All our public servants are greedy opportunists, cheaply bought by latter day robber barons. Are there any honest people of principle left in public office? If so, let them show themselves!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Civil Disobedience has Done for Us

Kinder Scout Reservoir

The Kinder Scout Trespass

Peter Frost, the author of the definitive Haynes Camping Manual, has been writing about a memorable event in the history of political struggle in the UK—in this case the struggle for access to land grabbed in centuries past by so-called noblemen—the Kinder Scout mass trespass. The great act of civil disobedience was inspired by young communists and is widely recognised as the event that opened up the enjoyment of the countryside to ordinary people and led to the establishment of our National Parks and to countryside access legislation. Though it happened 80 years ago, those who enjoy the British countryside are still enjoying the benefits of this act of political defiance, and act that shows what mass resistance can do, even in our right dominated supposed democracies.

Then, in the shadow of mass unemployment, lads and lassies from northern mill towns with little or no money sought free entertainment by walking the high countryside, much of which was private shooting estates and grouse moors. Frequently turned away by gamekeepers protecting the private shoots, members of the Lancashire branch of the British Workers Sport Federation (BWSF) decided they would make a public mass trespass on Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Derbyshire Peak District. Some of the BWSF were members of Manchester Cheetham Young Communist League, and they advertised their trespass in the Daily Worker, the forerunner of the present day Morning Star. The leader of the trespass was a Young Communist called Benny Rothman.

Benny Rothman Book

Fortunately Benny wrote the whole story down and his book was published in 1982 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the trespass. Today his book, long out of print, is a collector's item. Rothman's unique story is still an inspiring read, so a much enlarged version has been published to mark the 80th anniversary of the trespass (The Battle For Kinder Scout, Benny Rothman, Willow Publishing, £9.95). The new volume has more pictures, many in colour, more eyewitness reports and tributes to some of the participants such as Communist folk singer Ewan MacColl. The new and additional material, albeit focused on a single issue, makes this an inspiring guide to those in the battle for equality, fairness and justice for ordinary people.

Ignoring “Trespassers will be prosecuted” signs, Benny led about 400 ramblers from Bowden Bridge quarry on Sunday, 24 April, 1932. The trespassers scrambled up towards the Kinder plateau and came face to face with the Duke of Devonshire's gamekeepers armed with sticks, and a scuffle ensued in which one gamekeeper was bruised. The ramblers pressed on to the plateau, where they were greeted by a group of trespassers from Sheffield who had set off that morning, crossing Kinder from Edale. Five ramblers were arrested, four others besides Rothman, and they were charged the next day with unlawful assembly and breach of the peace. Rothman had a previous conviction. He had been jailed earlier for chalking slogans welcoming the launch of the communist newspaper, the Daily Worker, in 1930. Benny Rothman was a firm supporter of the Daily Worker and the Morning Star all his life.

All pleaded not guilty and were remanded to be tried at Derby Assizes by a jury consisting of army officers. Five were found guilty and were jailed for between two and six months, with Rothman getting the longest sentence. It unleashed a huge wave of support and public sympathy, and brought unity to a divided community. Previously, other more respectable and more middle class bodies like the Ramblers and Holiday Fellowship had strongly opposed direct action and the trespass, but public opinion shifted with the reports of the prison sentences.

Kinder Scout Trespass Plaque

A few weeks later more than 10,000 ramblers—the largest number in history—assembled for an access rally in the Winnats Pass near Castleton and the pressure for greater countryside access continued to grow. That pressure led in 1949 to “The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act” and to the establishment of Britain's first national park to preserve our countryside treasures. It also led to the Countryside and rights of way legislation that we enjoy today.

At the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the trespass, the Duke of Devonshire and owner of the Kinder Scout grouse moor made an amazing admission:

I hope to have the opportunity of making an apology on behalf of my family. The ramblers were entirely in the right. My grandfather, I think, took the wrong attitude.

In April this year, the Kinder 80 festival, which spanned a week, included nearly 30 walks, talks, exhibitions and events in and around the Peak District. The event was launched at the Moorland Centre in Edale, Derbyshire, where there was a Trespass exhibition. The event saw the launch of the revised, updated and expanded version of Benny Rothman's book. To end the festival was a ceilidh in Sheffield. Kinder 80 committee chairman Roly Smith said:

The 1932 mass trespass was an iconic event not only for freedom to roam legislation, finally achieved by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000, but as a catalyst towards the creation of our National Parks of which the Peak District was the first in 1951. The Trespass anniversary has become an important date in the outdoor calendar and many people believe that the sacrifice made 80 years ago by these ramblers should never be forgotten.
Kinder Trespassers

Today the fight to protect the British countryside goes on. Cameron and his coalition government have slashed National Park funding by a quarter and have sought to sell off much of our national forests. Public bodies charged with protecting our landscape, like the Environment Agency and Natural England, have seen their budgets slashed too. The right to enjoy Britain's landscape was never just handed down freely as many people, devoid of historical knowledge and even interest in it, think. Like most of the rights we enjoy, we have fought for them. They have come to us as a result of political struggle and activities like the Kinder Trespass, struggles that still go on today. We let them cease at the risk of again being enslaved.

More can be read by Peter Frost in the Morning Star by searching for “Kinder Scout”, and there is a web page at Kinder Scout Trespass. The book by Benny Rothman is available from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Basic Arguments for Socialism by Tony Benn, former UK Minister

Chartist Demonstration

Tony Benn, who was a cabinet minister under Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, and represents the now disappointly small socialist wing of the Labour Party, has written in his diaries (published 1988):

As a minister, I experienced the power of industrialists and bankers to get their way by use of the crudest form of economic pressure, even blackmail, against a Labour Government (1). Compared to this, the pressure brought to bear in industrial disputes [by trades unions] is minuscule (2). This power was revealed even more clearly in 1976 when the IMF secured cuts in our public expenditure (3). These lessons led me to the conclusion that the UK is only superficially governed by MPs and the voters who elect them. Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact (4). If the British (or American) people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is, and some new Chartist agitation might be born and might quickly gather momentum.

In the present crisis these words mean more than ever:

  1. We have given £1 trillion (£1 million million) to banks (mainly) and various industrial groups and scammers
  2. The government and press blame trades unionists and workers defending their work and conditions for “living beyond our means”, and all those with low IQs accept it!
  3. The money magicked out of the treasury into bankers' coffers is to be replaced, not by taxing bankers and their wealthy chums, but by laying off public servants and cutting benefits for the poor
  4. Our so called democracy is smoke and mirrors, intended to pull the wool over the eyes of simpletons. Regrettably, we have a lot of them, mainly yes-men in comfortable jobs, but many who think politicians and the media cannot tell a lie!
  5. Both Britain and the USA have a two party system but with only one policy between them—lining the pockets of the rich and powerful, and blaming working people for being idle!
Chartist Charter

Benn himself had to fight to get a seat in the British House of Commons after he inherited—at his father's death and the previous death in action of his elder brother—the peerage his father had been awarded earlier for his public service. The constitutional point about this is that peers (Lords) were confined to the feudal House of Peers and were, for constitutional reasons, not allowed to stand in the commons. But nor were they allowed to renunciate their peerage to do so. Already an MP for ten years, Benn had tried to introduce renunciation bills to allow those, like himself, who did not wish to inherit a title, they personally had not earned, to renunciate their inheritance. Both houses refused them.

Benn had his parliamentary seat removed, and a by-election was arranged, for which Benn sought and received selection by his local constituency party. Benn then won with a vastly increased majority, but was not allowed to take his seat. Two senior judges were appointed to test Benn's case which was based on some precedent, but mainly on the fact that, in a modern democracy, a properly elected candidate ought to be able to take a seat if constituents had vote for him. The judges found Benn's case inadequate and his losing opponent was given the seat. There was such a public outcry that the government of the day had to introduce a bill allowing a peer to renounce his peerage and take up a legitimately elected seat in the commons. So Benn returned, convinced that the system was designed to maintain the status quo, but that concerted public action could change things.

Benn's call for a new Chartist agitation has been answered in the UK, where there is a charter movement, but unfortunately not strong enough, not least because the non-democratic media tell us nothing about it. Needless to say, the odious sociopathic crook, Tony Blair, partner in murderous crime of the pathetic G W Bush, gets every chance to defend his get-rich-quick policies such as the PFI, as it is called, which has driven large hospitals into bankruptcy and has doubtless put many other public enterprises into the red, all the better for greedy corporations to privatize them.

Newport Uprising

Benn elsewhere pointed out that the Labour party of 1935 proposed in its election manifesto to nationalize the banks. The crisis then was similar to the one we are experiencing now. The present one is, if anything, worse. Why then is there no demand by the Labour Party to nationalize our banks instead of putting our taxes directly into the share dividends of people rich enough to go without their unearned incomes for years, and still be rich?

There are millions times more people who are poor or only moderately well off, yet so many of them are deluded into thinking they are among the rich. The 1% is richer than most people can imagine, let alone sensibly defend as being in their own best interests. Support a people's charter. You'll probably find there is a charter group near you. If not, draw one up and get your friends and fellow workers to support it. If we do nothing look around the world at what our ruling classes are willing to do to others. Think you'll be any different when push comes to shove? Don't delude yourselves.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Honderich Interview

Bid for Palestine Statehood and the Arab Spring

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calling People “anti-Semitic” is a Trick, we Always Use

So says a former Israeli minister, Shulamit Aloni, answering Amy Goodman. This video from Representative Press is a response to that trick used repeatedly against dissidents, among them being that channel in channel comments. It is the standard defamation tactic of calling people anti-Semitic who speak out against those supporting immoral and illegal Israeli policies in violation of basic human rights. Raising the specter of the Holocaust is similarly used to deflect criticism, as if Zionists have the right now to abuse other people such as Palestinians because Jews have been horribly abused as scapegoats to distract attention from their own abuses by totalitarian regimes in the recent past.

The Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people justifies what we do to the Palestinians.
Shulamit Aloni