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Showing posts from January, 2016

It's not just Corbyn: Labour is intellectually finished too

The conventional wisdom amongst "moderate" members of the Labour party and their supporters in the press, is that although Labour has made a big mistake in choosing Jeremy Corbyn as leader and although the political pendulum has (quite gently) swung to the Tories, in the end a new leader and the inevitable Conservative failures will one day bring the return of a Labour government.

The problem is that Labour's problem extends well beyond the short term and the tactical. As we have noted before, their very ideology is not merely irrelevant, it is intellectually bankrupt. This bankruptcy can be seen ever more clearly in the attitude that key Labour figures, albeit from the left wing of the party, continue to show towards Communism.

We have seen Diane Abbott suggest that Mao Zedong was "more positive than negative", We have seen Seamus Milne, an unapologetic defender of Stalinism, become one of the most powerful figures in the party. Labour moderates are aghast, but …

The Indictment of Vladimir Putin

Sir Robert Owen, as expected, has today filed his report into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

The conclusions are stark:

1. I am sure that Mr Litvinenko did not ingest the polonium 210 either by accident or to commit suicide. I am sure, rather, that he was deliberately poisoned by others. 2. I am sure that Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun placed the polonium 210 in the teapot at the Pine Bar on 1 November 2006. I am also sure they did this with the intention of poisoning Mr Litvinenko.3.I am sure that the two men had made an earlier attempt to poison Mr Litvinenko, also using polonium 210, at the Erinys meeting on 16 October 2006.4.I am sure that Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun knew that they were using a deadly poison (as opposed, for example, to a truth drug or a sleeping draught), and that they intended to kill Mr Litvinenko. I do not believe, however, that they knew precisely what the chemical that they were handling was, or the nature of all its properties.5. I am sure that Mr Lugovoy and Mr Ko…

Black

I was sorry to learn that Colin Vearncombe, a.k.a Black, was seriously injured in a road accident last week. I was only playing a couple of his songs that day.

Not necessarily widely known, his brand of melancholy was unique for its time. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Black Marx for Jeremy Corbyn

I do not know if Jeremy Corbyn subscribes 100% to Marxism as a political agenda. He has certainly praised Karl Marx and suggested that there is much that can be learned from his writings. Even if Mr. Corbyn is only an admirer, rather than an adherent, of Marxism, it opens up a myriad of questions. For whether Mr. Corbyn himself is a Marxist or not, many key players in his emerging leadership team unquestionably are Marxist adherents. Seamus Milne has made statements, for example, which not only advocate Marxism, but the narrow revolutionary offshoot of Marx, Marxism-Leninism. He has made statements which support the position of Stalin, even in his most bloodthirsty policies. 

The problem I have here is that there is no government that has been accepted as Marxist that has not launched the most vile crimes against the people they purport to govern. Every single government that has been Marxist has also been a murderous tyranny.

The Soviet Union killed an estimated 20 million of their own…

A Post-SNP Scotland

In the 2011 Holyrood election, the SNP won 69 seats on 45% of the vote, and were able to establish the first majority government under a system that was designed to make that difficult. In the 2014 independence referendum the SNP-led "YES" campaign won 44.7% of the total vote. At the 2015 General Election the Scottish National Party gained just under 50% of the vote and won all but three of the 59 Scottish seats in the Westminster Parliament. There is little doubt that the Nationalist tide has been riding high in Scotland for several years now. The party maintains impressive, some might say oppressive, discipline, and in all things- personal and well as policy- the SNP never loses sight of their goal of a separate Scotland. The Nats see the failure of the first referendum as merely a way-station on the road to ultimate independence.

Yet the Nationalist voters are a lot more heterogeneous than the party, and detailed analysis suggests that quite a few voters support the SNP, n…

Scary Monsters and Supercreeps

I was always a little behind the curve when it came to David Bowie. As a child his androgynous, angular face, with its dilated eye, appearing on Top of the Pops, seemed a door into a dangerous and uncomfortable world- even the Laughing Gnome, presumably more my style at the time, was somehow... creepy. At school there were those who fell very much under his spell, but Christiane F helped to lead some of my fellow pupils down a very dangerous road of hard drug use. The contrast between small town tedium and the dark glamour of West-Berlin was too attractive to some- and Bowie was the Lord of Misrule that opened the door. Yet still to me he remained a distant, almost frightening, figure. 

His later incarnations- the Pierrot, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, began to provide a consistent and influential background noise to the music I was more interested in- Eurythmics, Alternative 80s music, American singer song writers and much else besides. In the end, almost reluctantly, and often a…

The Power of the Powerless

In October 1978 a then obscure Czech playwright named Vaclav Havel published an essay called The Power of the Powerless. It was a tragic time for those in Central or Eastern Europe who believed in freedom. The Soviet system had made advances across the globe and seemed to be as solid and enduring as it was soul crushing and brutal. Yet, as history shows, appearances can be misleading. Within only a few weeks the election of Pope John Paul II began a process that lead to tumult across the Soviet World and the eventual downfall of Communism. Havel's moral manifesto became the root of a political renewal which still shapes European society today.

Today there is a new struggle in Europe and across the world. It is a battle between those who seek an open, free and global society and those who oppose that vision. A nascent planetary consciousness is emerging as information becomes ever more accessible and the possibility, indeed the necessity, of debate more urgent. The creation of a glo…