Martin Rowson on the budget

March 22, 2012 at 1:03 am (economics, Guardian, Jim D, parasites, Tory scum)

Martin Rowson cartoon 22.03.2012

© Martin Rowson 2012

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Save the NHS! Shoot down the vultures!

February 28, 2012 at 9:59 am (Champagne Charlie, Cuts, health service, parasites, profiteers, protest, Tory scum)

Protest outside ‘Winning Business in the New NHS’ conference, Wednesday 29 February, 8.00 am at  the King’s Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Street London, W1G 0AN.

Protest called by the Health Alarm 11:59 mobilising committee.

Click here to download pdf leaflet.

The conference is a briefing session (at £354 a head) for private profiteers dealing with the NHS, run by a communications firm, GB Communications PR, whose bosses have strong NHS connections. The philosphy of these profiteers is succinctly and frankly outlined  in a recent letter to the Guardian:

 I find the logic of your editorial (23 February) somewhat lacking. Neither vested interests nor the vagaries of public opinion can be allowed by an honest government to stand in the way of difficult decisions. On your logic, the unions would still be holding us all to ransom, the Bank of England would remain under the government’s thumb, and Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi would still be in business. Radical reform of the NHS is essential. The proposed reforms are rational and modest. The lurid and shameless resistance movement has been managed by the usual suspects. Unless the NHS is at long last de-Sovietised, it will collapse in bankrupt ruin, to be followed by thoroughgoing privatisation.
Professor David Marsland

Conference speakers include Mark Simmonds, Tory MP and shadow Health Minister 2007-10, probably the highest-placed Tory able to speak on the issue without the constraints of a current government position. Simmonds is paid £50,000 a year, on top of his MP’s salary, to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, which on 1 February became the first private firm to take over the running of an NHS hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

As NHS experts Alyson Pollock and David Price have written: “up to £100 billion annually of taxpayers’ money is likely to be handed over to large corporations that will run and operate our NHS services for profit…

“The winners will be shareholders, CEOs and directors of new companies while the losers will be the poor, the elderly and the infirm — those whom the health service was designed to protect… The reforms mean that the NHS will remain as a brand name only with health services will be run on US lines by, and largely for, shareholders and profit.”.

The 29 February conference is about profiteers positioning themselves to get their slice of the £100 billion.

There is still time to stop the Health and Social Care Bill, which is set to strike a massive and grievous blow to the NHS. We need a mobilisation of the labour movement to demand the bill is withdrawn and to put forward a positive plan to rebuild the National Health Service.

We demand also the repeal of cuts to the NHS, the liberation of the NHS from extortionate PFI charges, the reversal of the marketisation already imposed.

We call on the Labour Party to publicly reaffirm Andy Burnham’s promise that a future Labour government will reverse marketisation of the NHS by this government.

We will demonstrate against the private sector vultures, with a simple message: no to the Health and Social Care Bill! No to privatisation – hands off our NHS! Please join us!

More details: or Rosie, 07734 088 243.

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M Jelly on Scots nationalism

September 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm (Jim D, middle class, parasites, plutocrats, populism, scotland)

Over at Dave‘s:

scotCH nationalism is shit. in all its forms. disgusting little wannabe hitlers the lot of them. Och aye the noo we are ohpressed!

opposition parties twice reject his £30 billion spending plans.

Alex Salmond has threatened to resign and call an early election if his Budget is rejected twice

NO> YOU ARE NOT YOU THICK FUCKING DRIVEL MERCHANTS. No more than the fuckking ENGLISH Northern regions are anyway you tossers.

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Richard Branson – the people’s capitalist

July 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm (capitalism, celebrity, James Bloodworth, parasites, plutocrats)

Cross-posted from ‘Obliged to Offend’

Sir Richard Branson is widely held up as an example of entrepreneurial success.
Not in the mould of the ruthless tycoon sat atop a shiny tower counting piles of
cash, but as the face of a new breed of capitalist who, at the end of the
20th-century, “tore off their ties, threw open their shirt necks and fretted
about their employees’ spiritual well-being,” as Terry Eagleton puts it.

Richard Branson is essentially a man of the “Cool Britannia” era. “We
are seriously relaxed about people becoming very, very rich,” Peter Madelson
said at the time; and this was reflected in people like Branson. It was no
longer a source of shame to have “loadsamoney”. Class, that old chestnut of
20th-century politics, was no more, or so the establishment liked to think.
Still lingering here and there like a bad smell, but on the way out,

Unsurprisingly perhaps, it didn’t take long before the rich
began to view the payment of tax as something they could be seriously relaxed
about, too. What would at one time have been shameful became over the course of
30 years something like a badge of honour. This did not restrict itself to those
at the top of society, either. Even members of the working class – those on the
receiving end of today’s government cuts – can at times be heard referring
disparagingly to the “tax man”, implying a dark, shadowy figure in it simply for
what they can get. Perhaps it is indeed language that is of greatest importance
in this respect, for one can hardly boast of “asset maximisation” when
well-aware they are depriving not an anonymous and shadowy “tax man”, but
terminally ill children of otherwise affordable cancer treatment, or pensioners
of the ability to heat their homes for more than a few hours a day.

Recently I wrote an article highlighting the behaviour of Bono and U2
when it came to the payment of tax. In it I quoted Jim Aiken, a music promoter
who helped stage U2 concerts in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. What he said
epitomised Bono and the new breed of ego-driven capitalist in a sentence: “U2
are arch-capitalists – arch-capitalists – but it looks as if they’re not.”
Looking beyond the self-glorification and ferocious publicity campaigns that
characterise Bono’s “charitable giving,” U2 were simultaneously cutting the feet
from under their own government’s ability to provide for the very poorest in the
world – the very people Bono feigned the greatest concern for.

A similar thing could be said of Branson, whose first company, Virgin Music, started amid
a sophisticated purchase-tax fraud that Branson himself admitted in 1971. The
company was sold in 1992 for £560m and Branson went on to build his business
empire from there. Despite a public persona as the amiable People’s Capitalist,
Branson, according to Tom Bower, author of the book Branson, has spent “a lifetime building

a fortune on hype, misrepresentations and…a criminal conviction for tax

Branson’s business interests would always come ahead of any
notion of the public good. For years Branson campaigned in Westminster for the
privatisation of the rail network, one of the most disastrous sell-offs of
public assets during the Thatcher era. Today Virgin Rail remains dependent on
state money, aggressively protects its monopoly, and is subject to an exorbitant
number of passenger complaints. (Bower, 2005)


Another of Branson’s obsessions, his “lifetime ambition,” according to a millennium
lecture he gave at Oxford, was to take over the running of the National Lottery.
As Bower points out, “possessing the lottery would bequeath a vast cash flow in
management fees and endless free publicity to Virgin by association while
Branson anointed the lottery’s millionaires. By controlling the lottery, Branson
would never again need to bother with dicey enterprises like cola, clothes,
cosmetics or even mobile phones. Most important, he would reverse the crushing
humiliation he suffered by two rejections”.

News surfaced today that Branson is planning to
move Virgin’s brand division to Switzerland in a switch that is likely to save
the company millions in tax revenue. The move is being undertaken, in the words
of Virgin, “to co-ordinate…international growth and brand management,”
whatever that means.

Commenting on Virgin’s historical tax record in
Britain before the latest move was announced, Richard Murphy from Tax Research
was already less-than complimentary, saying: “I didn’t think
Virgin paid any tax here, let’s be blunt about it. It’s been remarkably poor at
doing so.”

Whatever the case, the British treasury – and by that I mean
hospitals, schools and care homes, to name but a few – is about to become
several million pounds lighter, and no amount of rolling-up the shirtsleeves,
hairspray or aspirational rhetoric is going to change that.

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Hitchens on bin Laden (via Kindle)

May 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, fascism, Human rights, islamism, Jim D, mental health, misogyny, parasites, terror)

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Celebrated polemicist Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, reflects upon the life and death of Osama bin Laden in this sobering Kindle Single. This isn’t the first time Hitchens has turned his barbed pen on a despot guilty of drinking too much of his own bloody Kool-Aid. But “bin Ladenism,” he argues, “like other nihilistic movements, is ultimately doomed to fail.” Lest you take any comfort from this assertion, he is then quick to remind us that “the war against superstition and the totalitarian mentality is an endless” one. It’s a war Hitchens thinks is worth fighting, though, and this rousing Kindle Single serves as his call to arms. —Erin Kodicek


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In a brilliant essay on the death of Osama bin Laden, Christopher Hitchens insists that the necessity to resist the threat of theocratic fanaticism is by no means cancelled. Hitchens argues that bin Laden and his adherents represented the most serious and determined and bloodthirsty attempt to revive totalitarian and racist ideology since 1945. Further, that while the unending struggle for reason is entitled to take some especial comfort in his demise, the values of secularism, libertarianism, internationalism, and solidarity will always need to be defended and reaffirmed.


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Police kidnap anti-monarchists to prevent protest

April 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm (AWL, Civil liberties, Free Speech, Jim D, Monarchy, parasites, republicanism)

Submitted on 29 April, 2011 – 11:37 on the Workers Liberty website

Sacha Ismail and Esther Townsend report:

12.50pm, Friday 29 April: This morning about ten anti-monarchy protesters, students and young workers who are mostly socialists and anarchists, were stopped by the police outside Charing Cross station, searched and handcuffed. When we left to write this report, they had been held outside the station for about an hour.

Trafalgar Square was tightly controlled, with the help of the police, and it was not actually possible to protest. The group of comrades were preparing to leave to attend the Republic street party in Holborn when the police stopped and searched them. Another thirty police were then called in, arriving in four vans, and surrounded them.

This paranoid, over the top action by the police is part of a wider assault on civil liberties in the run up to the royal wedding.

Updates as we have them. For more information ring Sacha Ismail on 07796 690 874. Please reprint this report widely.

Update, 5.30pm: The comrades were arrested for ‘breach of the peace’, even though there was no possible way this could be justified. They were then taken to Sutton police station, in deep south London, where they were eventually released – of course – without charge. This was essentially an act of kidnapping by the state to prevent a protest.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch to express solidarity or offer support.

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26 March: hope I don’t see you…

March 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm (Cuts, Johnny Lewis, parasites, solidarity, stalinism, Tory scum, unions, Unite the union)

I hope I don’t see anyone I know on Saturday’s march. I say that because  it should be so big that the chances of bumping into a friend, colleague or comrade will be minimal. Meeting up somewhere for a drink later is a different matter, of course.
A massive march is to be welcomed. But it is, of course, only a start. It must be more than a one-off execise in gesture politics and must, instead, be the start of a co-ordinated political and industrial campaign by the trade union movement against the cuts and the Coalition government itself.
Maria Exall (CWU Executive and TUC LGBT Committee) discusses the way forward in the latest edition of Solidarity & Workers Liberty. She writes in a personal capacity:

The TUC “March for the Alternative” is an attempt to put pressure on the Conservative led coalition Government to change the direction of their economic policy.

It is good that labour movement bodies as well as voluntary sector and community organisations are marching together. Realistically, though, the aim of defeating Government policies can only be achieved by a greater level of industrial resistance and much more focused political campaigning.

The Tory led Coalition Government is pursuing an ideological agenda — keeping lax arrangements for bank regulation, cutting back workers’ rights (including recently stopping improvements in flexible working arrangements), rolling back the welfare state — all continuations of the “laisse faire” capitalism that gave us the credit crunch in the first place.

But trade union reaction is, so far, very limited. 26 March can only be the beginning, we need a more strategic and political response.

Though trade unions in the public sector are looking at the possibility of co-ordinated industrial action on the major cutbacks in public pension schemes, this is an issue that only affects public sector workers directly.

The ideology behind the Tory plans (supported by constant media references to inefficient bureaucracy and privileged and overpaid public sector workers) is this — a dismantling of decent conditions of employment for public sector workers as a precursor for the dismantling of the public sector itself. The challenge is for public sector trade unionists to argue against this ideological intent and win over the majority of working people to defend the public sector.

The massive attacks on working-class living standards through job losses, public and private, changes to tax and benefits systems, and the higher prices for necessities will only get worse over the coming year. Progressive trade union leaders need to lead the resistance to this attack on living standards too.

The involvement of a broad coalition of community groups and the voluntary sector will be important, but the commitment of trade unionist to fight cuts and job losses is vital. This is not only because organised labour has economic and political power which it can use through targeted industrial action, but because (imperfect though it is) the labour movement represents working class democracy.

We need to build a truly non sectarian campaign, formally backed by several unions, to take things forward.

A conference called around this aim, and open to all would be a start. We need a broad-based but political coalition against the cuts, left unity amongst socialist groups, and a recognition that the cuts will hit certain groups within the working class harder — disabled people, women, BME and LGBT communities. The demands of such a political coalition can form the focus of community campaigns but also the basis of the policies we should expect from the Labour Party.

Now is the time for focused political demands — putting flesh on the bones of an “alternative”. An increase in political involvement in grassroots anti cuts campaigning led by the labour movement is the best chance of achieving political change.

We need a workers’ government and this can only be built through workers’ democracy.


Johnny Lewis writes:

Meanwhile, it has been suggested in certain none-too-reputable quarters that the scabs of the ‘Stop The War Coalition’ and the once-honourable CND, are hoping to use the march to give the false impression that there is significant trade union support for their objectively pro-Gaddafi line of opposing intervention in Libya. It is being suggested that they will try to flood the march with their “Cut Warfare Not Welfare” placards, hoping that marchers will not realise that this apparently unobjectionable slogan will be presented by both ‘Stop The War’ and the right wing press as opposition to intervention in Libya.

I very much hope these rumours are unfounded, and that such cynical manipulation will not be tolerated by responsible figures like Mr Andrew Murray, who will surely have used his influence as both “Chief of Staff” for Unite the union and Chair of the Stop The War Coalition to prevent the march being brought into disrepute in such a disgraceful manner.

So if you’re offered one of these placards…just say no!

Above: ‘Stop the War’ / CND scabs must not hi-jack the march

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Ambridge shocker: an everyday story of rural idiocy

January 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm (BBC, Jackie Mcdonough, media, parasites, trivia)

BBC Radio 4, taking a leaf out of recent events on Coronation Street,  promises listeners to tonight’s 60th anniversary episode of The Archers something that will “Shock Ambridge to the Core.” Somehow, I doubt that it will prove to be all that shocking. This bastion of rural idiocy has already brought us adultery, same-sex relationships, steamy shower sex, a fatal tractor accident, fraud and even a rape. As early as 1955 Grace Archer died in a fire – an episode broadcast by a strange co-incidence on the very evening that ITV was launched. None of this has ever seriously dented the series’s all-pervasive atmosphere of smug, dull,  middle class complacency.

According to Mark Lawson in Saturday’s Graun, Philip Larkin is revealed in his letters to Monica Jones published last year, to have been an Archers fan. But even so, Larkin complained in one letter about the programme’s dullness and fantasied about taking over the scriptwriting and introducing prostitutes, violence and crime, with a character “gored to death by a bull.”

Tony Hancock in 1961 went further and dreamt of wiping out half the village and repopulating it with his own relatives.

Let’s see if tonight’s episode is anywhere near as satisfying as the plans of Larkin or Hancock. Somehow, I doubt it it.

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Stuff the wedding! Forward to the republic!

November 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm (Jim D, Monarchy, parasites, republicanism)

Picture: dannyt-twitter
Let’s hope that the Brit ‘left”s republicanism is a bit more robust than its erstwhile secularism proved to be, eh?
See also Calder Valley Sue.

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Mandelson=treacherous scum

July 16, 2010 at 12:06 am (Jim D, labour party, parasites, Tony Blair, twat, wankers)

Letter to the Graun (15/07/10):

As a Labour member I am appalled that some senior members of the party feel it necessary to publish tawdry, gossip-filled books. What an insult to those of us who worked hard at the last election to now see former cabinet ministers acting to enhance their bank balances at the expense of those who need a united party to fight the coalition.

Chris Gale, Chippenham, Wiltshire

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