Recent Article Digest

Twelve diverse and very worthwhile articles for your eyes here. Firstly Hugh Muir laments the societal shafting of the British working class in The Guardian of all places- “attributes Britons hold dear, the most potent is stability. Our traditions endure, institutions survive. We seem loth to countenance revolution. And yet we have experienced a coup d’etat of sorts and the question must be asked: just when did the middle classes take untrammelled control of the levers?…” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/13/britain-working-middle-class)

Barry Winter from the ILP gives a stimulating analysis of neo-liberalism’s ill-effect on British society and suggests some responses: “Neoliberalism still rules, as one recent example shows: the coalition government has privatised the Post Office despite dogged opposition from the workforce and against public opinion, and did so at bargain basement prices. Yet public feelings were not mobilised into political opposition; people, it seems, were resigned to the fact that it was going to happen. In an era of political cynicism and defeatism, the sentiment seems to be, ‘Well, what can you do?’ And, of course, that argument has a point. Such sentiments are also reinforced by what’s happening to many people in their workplaces where the pressures and insecurities have never been greater – in both the public and private sectors. The recent exposure of Amazon, a company where workers are being transformed into robots, demonstrates that this deserves muuch greater attention…” (http://www.independentlabour.org.uk/main/2013/12/13/unbalanced-britain-what-can-we-do/)

Next Peter Hitchens extensively sets out what the segregation of the sexes on University campuses is really to do with and stresses it’s important implications on his Mail Online blog: “..the militant atheists have very little idea of the power and force of Islam, having for the most part not lived in or experienced Muslim societies. So they think that by destroying this country’s Christian character, they merely open a space for themselves. In fact, they open a space for Islam, as we shall see…” (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/12/segregating-the-sexes-on-campus-what-its-about-and-why-it-matters.html)

Michael Meacher on Left Futures meanwhile is of course bang on the money and right to ask why no ‘big’ names seem to be addressing this in the media (must pick up his new book soon..): “the mooted Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)…will allow, if not blocked, Big Business to sue governments before secretive panels made up of corporate lawyers and, believe it or not, bypass the courts and override domestic statute. It would be the biggest victory for unaccountable corporatism over political democracy since neoliberal capitalism became the dominant ideology since the time of Thatcher-Reagan in the 1980s.” (http://www.leftfutures.org/2013/12/has-no-one-noticed-the-us-eu-trade-deal-allows-multi-nationals-to-override-governments/)

Then there is this creepy Nu Tory agitprop exposed on Political Scrapbook: “With details of the Conservatives’ attempts to distribute party propaganda in schools emerging at the weekend, Scrapbook has managed to get hold of a copy of the ‘Citizenship & Democracy’ pack, which is embedded below. The full document is even worse than it appeared in the Independent on Sunday, with pages and pages of blatantly party political material.” (http://politicalscrapbook.net/2013/12/tory-propaganda-booklet-for-school-children/)

Elsewhere on Left Foot Forward James Bloodworth reports on the dispiriting boom in the use of emergency Food Banks. The Coalition and their ‘growth’ indeed. “Half a million people received three days emergency food assistance from a Trussell Trust foodbank between April and December 2013, according to the organisation’s latest figures. This is more than the number assisted in the entire 2012-13 financial year (346,992). One third of these were also children…” (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2013/12/the-growth-of-food-banks-a-crisis-made-in-downing-street/)

Similarly, Labour & Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree Luciana Berger discusses this shameful state of affairs on The Independent: “Ministers should understand that it is not merely an immediate crisis for the people unable to feed themselves this Christmas. By creating a generation of vulnerable people, especially children, with a poor, irregular diet, we are storing up a public health time bomb. We are starting to understand the obesity epidemic. Soon we will see an explosion in the other conditions related to poor-quality, unhealthy diets and intermittent hunger. On this government’s watch, we have seen an increase in the diseases of Dickensian England: rickets, scurvy, tuberculosis and malnourishment.  Just as the Edwardians discovered at the time of the Boer War, we will soon discover a generation permanently damaged by vitamin deficiency and unhealthy eating. It’s already starting. Ask anyone in the NHS. A GP tweeted the other week stating “I’m sad to say that at my NHS practice if we have a patient who has unexplained symptoms, we have started asking if they can afford to eat.” That tweet struck a nerve. It was retweeted 3,000 times by people horrified by its implications” (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/we-must-not-normalise-food-banks-their-proliferation-is-a-mark-of-shame-on-this-country-9013489.html)

Also find a much welcome contribution here from Lord Maurice Glasman in NewStart Magazine: “what is required is a new political consensus that recognises the weaknesses of both state and market based approaches and argues for the necessity of decentralised self-governing institutions that uphold a notion of humanity, virtue and reciprocity in the governance of the economy and the state..” (http://newstartmag.co.uk/features/relationships-institutions-action-a-relational-approach-to-poverty-and-politics/)

Next Andrew Spooner on Left Foot Forward examines events in Thailand unfolding where Fascists are running amok (the Liberal Democrats allies over there that is): “last week, amidst the worst violence Thailand has witnessed in several years, the word ‘fascism‘ was uttered by a leading group of progressive Thai thinkers and academics. In the shadow of protests led by Suthep Thuagsuban, a former ‘Democrat’ party deputy prime minister who is tainted not only with highly credible claims of corruption dating back to the 1990s, but who is also awaiting to be indicted for the murder of pro-democracy protesters in 2010” (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2013/12/the-global-community-should-support-those-battling-extremism-in-thailand/)

Tom Gallagher stands up against the SNP demagogues in The Telegraph: “A glance at the Scottish autocracy being created by the SNP shows a desire to centralise and silence discordant voices that Britain never got close to during the Second World War. Under Sir Peter Housden, the civil service has become a vehicle for SNP propaganda. To the fury of the major opposition parties, this obsequious Englishman has defended all manner of sharp practice by the government. The bulging Scottish third sector has learnt that one of the best ways to guarantee its funding stream from the taxpayer is to provide numerous low-key services for the SNP. Even university heads now face pressure to slap down noisy academics.” (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomgallagher/100249019/the-snp-and-its-apparatchiks-are-behaving-as-if-they-owned-scotland/)

Neil Clark exposes the true ‘Great Train Robbery’ as the privatisation of our rail services and calls for renationalisation in The Guardian: “Supporters of privatisation are in denial about the consequences of the railway sell-off, which they enthusiastically urged in the 1990s. A few weeks ago, I was in a radio debate with a member of a pro-privatisation thinktank. Public ownership of the railways was no solution, he argued, because it would mean higher taxes on account of subsidies to the state-owned train company. I pointed out that subsidies to Britain’s privatised rail companies have been up to five times higher than those received by British Rail. It’s a mistake to call the system which has operated in Britain since 1979 a “free market”: what we have under neo-liberalism is socialism and subsidies for the rich, and free market, sink-or-swim capitalism for everyone else.”(http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/13/rail-fares-passengers-renationalisation?CMP=twt_gu)

And finally Patrick J. Buchanan considers Putin’s recent speeches such as his attacking of “attempts to enforce more progressive development models” on other nations, which have led to “decline, barbarity and big blood,” a straight shot at the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.” and considers if the Russian President is in fact a paleoconservative of sorts- “While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.” A very interesting article though cannot agree with the ‘Translation:..’ paragraph and over-simplification in certain areas. Similarly calling same-sex marriage ‘evil’ is ridiculously hysterical and I speak as a staunch opponent of the policy. More on that later. Buchanan’s absorbing piece was published on The American Conservative and Taki’s Mag alike. (http://takimag.com/article/is_putin_one_of_us_patrick_buchanan#axzz2nlo0qr73)

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