Thursday, 3 August 2017

On Commission

I am a candidate for Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington in 2020.

The continued attempt to prosecute me for – oh, can anyone even remember what? – has no remaining motivation except to prevent my election to that office.

As such, it is an unwarranted interference in the electoral process by the Crown Prosecution Service, calling for national and international condemnation.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Setting The Standard

This is to make possible the launch, in October 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter, of a new print magazine, The Weekly Standard. There will be 25 pages of popular television, pop music, and football.

And there will be 25 pages of alternatives to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy, including weekly columns by Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burgon, George Galloway, various supporters of one or more of those, paleoconservatives from both sides of the Atlantic, and the only guaranteed Liberal Democrat columnist in the national media, as well as a page of reflections from the traditions of Christianity in Britain and in the Middle East that are politically radical precisely because they are doctrinally orthodox.

In addition to the regular columns, each edition will feature five guest articles. The subjects of those are already intended to include Modern Monetary Theory, the valiant struggle of the Durham and Derby Teaching Assistants, the scandal of blacklisting in the construction industry, the fraud against the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme, the right-wing case against Trident, the case against NATO by a former Special Assistant to President Reagan, the crisis on St Helena, the Chagossians, the Dalits, the Rohingya, fathers' rights, the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners, the secular humanist case against assisted suicide, and the Britons fighting against the so-called Islamic State in Syria. All this, and a great deal more besides.

Alongside popular television, pop music, and football. With a serious commitment to all of them, and to the right of their fans to read intelligent comment that treats them as adults and as the citizens who most need to be equipped for the struggle against neoliberal economic policy and against neoconservative foreign policy.

Friday, 30 June 2017

"A Good Man Fallen Among Fabians"?

Very soon, the Fabian Executive will be up for election. Members will vote for up to 10 candidates, and the top 10 will be elected for a two-year term, provided that at least two must be under 31 years of age at the time of election. There are also a few regional and other reps, but the 10 are the big ones.
My 70-word statement will read: “Jeremy Corbyn is the most culturally significant British politician in living memory, the most agenda-setting Leader of the Opposition ever, and the global leader of the opposition to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy. Fabians must co-ordinate that critique at home and abroad, in preparation for the Corbyn Government that will lead Britain and the world out of politically chosen austerity, and away from wars of political choice.
In 2015, even the highest scoring of the 10 successful candidates won only 464 votes, while the lowest scoring was elected with a mere 305. You do not necessarily have to be a member of the Labour Party, or anything like that. The Fabian Society can be joined here. But hurry. And if possible, then do please let me know:
The Executive meets quarterly, and if we could stretch to 10 candidates, of whom at least two were under 31, then so much the better in order to take control of the Society’s prestigious name and not inconsiderable resources for publication and conference purposes. But come what may, I for one will certainly be doing this. Third time lucky? Luck does not enter into it.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Proudly Parochial

The supporters, and perhaps even the persons, of Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson ought to keep in mind that they owe their respective positions to the votes of large numbers of the same people. In similar vein, I am getting it in both my left and my right ears about Lanchester Parish Council. As a former long-serving member, who stood down voluntarily in 2013 and who then failed to win back his seat this year, I comment with some trepidation. But people have asked for my view. Therefore, here it is.

I voted for 15 candidates to fill the 15 seats on Lanchester Parish Council, and 12 of those candidates were elected. Among those 12 were, and are, Labour, Independent, Conservative and Liberal Democrat representatives. No one on that Council would have been elected on the votes of people who had voted only Labour, or only Independent, or only Conservative, or only Liberal Democrat. Such ballot papers were submitted, but I was at the count, and I can assure you that there were not enough of them to have elected anybody. Everyone who was elected ought to keep that in mind.

Monday, 26 June 2017


Most people have no idea that the councillor's allowance exists, and most of those have no idea how much it is. To the general public, being on the council is voluntary work in the evenings, by people with full-time day jobs. How little they realise. Although the allowance is paid for attendance at as few as four meetings per year. Anything over and above that is, in that narrow sense, voluntary.

At the very least, it ought to be illegal for any council pay any of its staff less than it paid its members. And at the very, very least, the Leader of the Labour Party ought not to appear on a platform with any member of the majority Group on any council that failed to adhere to that rule. Such a member ought to be booed heartily by the crowd at, for example, the Durham Miners' Gala.

The basic allowance for a member of Durham County Council is £13,300. The pay of at least a large minority of that authority's Teaching Assistants will soon be less than that.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Teaching Assistance, Indeed

I do not mean this question rhetorically. What says my Member of Parliament, and apparently now my near neighbour, Laura Pidcock, on the latest development in the saga of Durham County Council and the Teaching Assistants? On her answer depends whether or not she will be worth a vote at the next General Election, no matter how desperately one might yearn for a Corbyn Government, a yearning that is not shared by the Leadership of Durham County Council. The same is true of every other Labour MP is this county, which is of course every other MP at all in this county.
Laura walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when their principal spokeswoman on last night's Look North, a Lanchester resident who is therefore also now a constituent of Laura's, called for a vote against every Labour candidate at what were then the forthcoming local elections. Under the influence of people very close to Laura, and of one in particular, the TAs seemed to back away from that simple and brilliant strategy.

As a result, Labour kept control of Durham County Council and the injustice continues unrectified. If Labour had lost that control, then it would have been possible to call for a Labour vote at the recent General Election, and it would be possible to call for a Labour vote at the forthcoming one. But as things stood, that was possible only at Easington last time. Will it be possible anywhere else next time?
The Teaching Assistants will march again at the Durham Miners' Gala this year. One speaker, Steve Gillan of the Prison Officers' Association, has already assured me that he will march with them. Will Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach and Len McCluskey, all of whom have offered strong support in the past, do likewise? For that matter, will Laura Pidcock, who already seems to be getting a lot of coverage as a poster girl for the Left?

Saturday, 10 June 2017

General Election Roundup

I told you that there would be a hung Parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon has some nerve, calling for Theresa May to resign because she had taken her party from a hung Parliament to a minority government. Sturgeon took her own party from a hung Parliament to a minority government. I said then that she ought to resign. And I say now that May ought to resign. So much for "the ruthless Tories". If that were true, then May would have been removed yesterday morning. If they have any sense, then they will put in David Davis, who is mildly anti-war, and who is a good civil libertarian who fought and won a court case on those issues alongside Tom Watson. He is also a friend of George Galloway's.

If there is another General Election this year, then vote Labour in every constituency in Great Britain. No exceptions. None. We could sort out any difficulties once we had won. Labour has just won Kensington, the wealthiest constituency in the country. Anything is now possible. Anything. Those who say that Labour's policies were more popular than Jeremy Corbyn was, they were Labour's policies only because Corbyn was Labour's Leader. Both the policies and the Leader have clearly gone down well in Kensington.

The attack line about murky connections to Northern Ireland 30 years ago has been blown out of the water by the fact that Theresa May now intends, not in the 1980s but today, to be sustained in office by a party from over there which has its own history of paramilitarism, and which has a large financial scandal still hanging over it. Now, the DUP has its moments. Its votes helped to stop David Cameron from intervening in Syria. It is economically populist, favouring investment in infrastructure, as well as the retention of the Triple Lock on pensions. But even so. The facts are the facts.

Craig Mackinlay has been re-elected. Although I would not have voted for him, I am quite pleased about that. As for Nigel Farage, he can no longer use the line that he has changed politics forever. If the seven times failed parliamentary candidate came back, then it would have to be on the grounds that Brexit was in mortal danger. Well, which is it, then?

Every good wish to Laura Pidcock now that she is the Member of Parliament for North West Durham. At 29, she clearly intends to stay for 35 or 40 years, The never-consulted Constituency Labour Party is already on manoeuvres. How do I know that? How do you think? She really does need to move here, having made such a fuss of the unnecessary claim that she already did. And she needs to become known at Westminster for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. No one wants a Geordie Jess Phillips. (Yes, of course I know that neither she nor her constituents are Geordies. But Private Eye or the Fleet Street sketch writers will not know that.)

With Laura installed, there is literally no remaining reason for the County Durham Labour machine's continuing persecution of me. It ought to withdraw its action forthwith. Indeed, it ought already to have done so by now. Its failure to do so has no motivation beyond malice and spite.