Can Labour win the 2017 General Election?

Despite what the opinion polls say, and even they show Labour reducing the Tory lead, Labour can win the General Election, and Jeremy Corbyn is immensely popular, in fact more popular than any other current Party leader judging by the huge crowds which greet him everywhere. However if you read the Main Stream Media, or listen to it via TV, you would get the opposite impression, that Corbyn is the most unpopular leader, and the opinion polls give the same message. It all depends, of course, on who is asked the questions and what newspapers they read.

The problem is that entrenched in Parliament are so many Labour MPs who got there in the New Labour era, and they have done everything in their power from the moment Corbyn was first elected leader to stab him in the back. He picked a Shadow Cabinet from all sections of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the Blairites then promptly resigned saying he was ‘incompetent’. For heaven’s sake, the man had been a backbencher for decades, a bit of help and support would have been nice, and patience. Blairite MPs constantly ran him down in the rightwing media, then 172 voted ‘no confidence’ in him. Had Corbyn then resigned as leader, he would have been kept off the ballot paper along with all other leftwingers.

They put up Owen Smith, who nobody had ever heard of, to challenge Corbyn for the leadership, spouting a left-sounding agenda, but the membership did not fall for it and re-elected Corbyn with an even bigger majority.

As to the General Election which all the polls predict the Tories will win, in these uncertain times nothing can be predicted with any reliability. So many factors come into play in this Election. Brexit will feature prominently. How will Remainers vote? How will Leavers vote? So far it seems most UKIP votes will go to the Tories, but this is not necessarily so. Many could go to Labour. Then there will be tactical voting to confuse things. What happens in Scotland could be crucial, but a post-election alliance of Labour and the SNP could stop the Tories if together they could form a majority of MPs.

One thing is certain. To achieve a Labour victory people must vote Labour. That may seen obvious, but when so many of the potential electorate do not register or register but then do not vote, then they cannot complain if they end up with a government they do not like. In the past many have not bothered to vote as they saw little difference between the main political parties or just did not trust politicians. This time it is different, as Labour under Corbyn has inspired many people that we now have a real alternative and a new kind of politics.

If young people, many of whom were denied a vote in the EU Referendum or were too young to vote in the 2015 General Election, register and vote Labour, and if sufficient numbers of people who do not usually vote do the same, Labour could not only win, but even win by a landslide. That is a lot of ‘ifs’, but it is perfectly possible.

The big fly in the ointment is the Main Stream Media, which includes the BBC and most other TV news outlets, and most of the Press. The tabloids are the worst. In Soviet-style Socialist Democracy the government told the people how to vote; in our own version of democracy Rupert Murdoch, George Osborne and company tell the people how to vote. Thank goodness for social media!

There are two possibilities in this Election. Either young people and previous non-voters come out in their millions and vote, in which case Labour could form the next government, or they leave it to the older generation and readers of the tabloids in which case the Tories will be returned with a bigger majority.

Persecution of Gays in Chechnya and elsewhere

There are consistent reports coming out of Russia about gay men being arrested, kept in prisons or concentration camps, tortured, made to reveal names of other gay men, and sometimes killed by the Chechen authorities. Chechnya is an extremist Islamic autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, and honor killings of gay man by their families is also a common practice, so many gay men there are forced to marry a woman and keep their sexuality secret. The current purge of gay men is truly horrific, and there have been demonstrations outside Russian embassies and petitions to the Russian government.

The difficulty is short of sending in the tanks again, or threatening to do so, the Russian federal government is powerless to do much apart from tell the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution of gay men. The Russian Federation itself is riddled with homophobia due largely to the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, though in Chechnya and some other Russian republics it is extremist Islam which is homophobic. Russia has a law, similar to Thatcher’s Section 28, which prohibits the promotion of ‘unnatural’ sexual relations to minors. This has encouraged violent homophobia, and causes Gay Pride marches to be banned and broken up. Any kind of promotion of the gay lifestyle is illegal.

This is in stark contrast to Lenin’s decriminalization of homosexuality soon after the Bolshevik Revolution, though there was a clamp down later under Stalin and later leaders. It is also in marked contrast to the legalization of homosexuality in Soviet-bloc countries like Czechoslovakia and East Germany in the 1960s. However the homophobia in Russia seems to have got much worse since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, an officially atheist state, and the rising influence of organized religion in the form of the Christian Orthodox church and extreme Islam.

Homophobia is also rampant in Saudi Arabia, Qata, the ISIS held areas and other extremist Islamic areas, also in other Christian Orthodox countries like Greece and the Republic of Cyprus. Also in areas where fundamentalist Christianity is prevalent, such as the Southern states of America, especially in rural areas. However it is in the extreme Islamic republics that killing and torture of gay men, and lesbians, is official government policy.

While Russia must do its utmost to halt the pogrom of gay men in Chechnya, the West has a duty to put pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia which it supplies with arms and torture equipment. These supplies should be stopped immediately, as they also find their way from these extremist Islamic states to ISIS where gays are also being murdered.

As to the Chechen situation in Russia, there have already been two wars between Russia and the largely uncontrollable Chechen republic since the fall of the Soviet Union, as Chechnya declared independence in 1991. Chechen terrorists have set off bombs in the Moscow Metro system. The current Chechen leader, approved by Moscow, is guilty of causing this progrom and by publicizing what is going on and showing the world is watching, the Amnesty International tactic for decades, we can only hope the authorities will take notice and stop the persecution. As there are no Chechen embassies to protest outside people have no option other than to demand the Russian Federation itself puts pressure on this semi-independent republic. The fact that Russia is heavily involved in Syria, has a divided Ukraine on its doorstep with a large Russian-speaking population and a hostile rightwing government in Kiev due to a coup, and has also had to build up troops on its Western borders because of a NATO build-up does not exactly help, nor does the fact that Russia itself is increasingly homophobic.

A thoroughly depressing situation to which I can see no easy short-term solution. The MSM giving maximum publicity to the Chechen pogrom and similar persecution in other areas of the world is probably the only thing we can do.

Brexit, Scottish, Northern Irish referenda

Brexit, especially the Hard Brexit being pursued by the government, has shaken the United Kingdom to its very foundations and it may not even survive.

It is somewhat ironic that many Leave voters are very patriotic, but all they may achieve is consigning the Union Flag to the dustbin of history and a new flag may have to be designed for what remains of the UK, possibly just England and Wales.

The SNP in Scotland and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland have called for referenda on the status of their regions. The Scottish one would be on independence so Scotland can remain in or re-join the EU, and the Northern Ireland one would be to unite with the Republic of Ireland, which is already an EU member.

Had Theresa May gone for soft Brexit and continued membership of the single market it would have been a compromise which would have avoided these upheavals, but would also probably be far from ideal in that we would still be bound by EU rules and regulations but have no vote or say in forming them.

However life outside the EU and single market altogether, which nobody voted for because it was not on the Referendum paper, is an as yet unknown territory depending on what deal, and it is unlikely to be a good one, May can get from the 27 remaining EU members. If they gave UK a good deal, then other EU countries might be encouraged to leave and negotiate similar terms.

Whatever happens in the referenda in Scotland and Northern Ireland, if they happen, UK leaving the EU will cause immense problems which I am sure people voting Leave in the EU Referendum never even considered: the status of the border in Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, the status of British nationals in other EU countries are just two of these uncertainties. If there is ANY sort of control of the border in Ireland the Good Friday Agreement will collapse, risking the Troubles with the IRA starting again. If the border is left uncontrolled, then there will be an open border with an EU country where EU nationals many Leave voters are so anxious to keep out can stream in. If Scotland leaves the UK there will be another border with an EU country which either has to be controlled or again, an entry point for immigrants to stream in uncontrolled. We will have completely lost control of one or two borders whichever way the referenda go, except in the unlikely event Northern Ireland unites with the Republic but Scotland remains in the UK. The open border(s) would be easy entry points not just for EU immigrants. Anyone who gains entry to the Republic of Ireland could cross the border into the UK and similarly with an independent Scotland. Net result of Brexit: no control whatsoever over immigration from any country because of the open land border(s).

All this is just the beginning of the Pandora’s Box which Leave voters have opened, but for which David Cameron and Parliament are entirely to blame. Thresholds are usually required for Constitutional referenda like this. A two-thirds majority to change the status quo is not an uncommon requirement. It would have also have been sensible, in order to keep the UK intact, to require all four countries of the UK to have a majority vote to change the status quo for it to be effective. Plus the fact that those who will be most affected by leaving the EU were barred from voting yet 16/17 year olds were allowed to vote in other referenda. The end result is just 27% of the British population are dragging the remaining 73%, many of whom although they will be most affected were not allowed a vote, out of the EU. This is hardly democracy, it is a travesty of democracy. Even of the eligible electorate only 37% voted to Leave the UK. I can think of no other Constitutional change anywhere where such a low margin of voters have altered the status quo with unforeseeable consequences.

Finally, at a General Election the electorate get a chance to vote again in 5 years. With the EU referendum anyone demanding a second one to confirm the biggest Constitutional change in recent years once it is known what it will actually mean is greeted with accusations of being undemocratic because Brexit is the ‘will of the people’. Correction: it was the expressed will, apparently, of 27% of the people on one day in June 2016. Some were just registering protest votes against the government, some may have changed their minds since, and the other 73% either were not given a vote or might like to vote when the actual terms and consequences of Brexit are known. How can that be undemocratic? You might as well say once we’ve had a General Election the party who got the most seats in Parliament rules forever!

Marxism and Communism

I describe myself nowadays as a Socialist or even as a Marxist, but note not a Communist or a Marxist-Leninist. It seems this requires further clarification, but I know of others who similarly describe themselves as Marxists but not Communists.

I departed the British Communist Party in 1976 after two visits to the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). During the last visit to the GDR in 1976 my life-partner, George Miller, accompanied me and pointed out the defects in the system I preferred to ignore or excuse as a temporary aberration.

It took me many years to consolidate my political views and recover from the shattering of my dreams for the world eventually evolving into a self-governing Communist society in which all States had withered away, in which wars would be no more, and in which a classless society would govern themselves without police, judges, courts, prisons or even money. Marx and Engels had given us this vision of a society in which there was an abundance of goods and services, and in which everybody lived by the maxim: ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’.

I eventually realized that this utopian dream was totally unrealistic and that, in this world at least, there would always be those who would seek to corrupt any system and gain privileges for themselves and their families. It also became obvious that attempts to clamp down on those seeking to distort Socialism in this way failed, and much worse, it seemed the main victims of Stalinist repression were those who remained true to the ideals of the Bolshevik revolution or who were for genuine freedom of speech and real democracy, albeit under a Socialist Constitution.

Those who sought to usurp the organs or power and use them to award privileges for themselves and their families had no such ideals, so were willing to sway with the political wind, always following the Party line and whoever was the leading comrade. They thus, for the most part, survived the Stalinist purges and all attempts to clamp down on dissent; they paid lip-service to the ideals of the revolution and to the creation of a Communist society.

I still maintain, however, that the Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries achieved a great deal, including full employment, education for everyone, homes for everyone at low rents, good publc transport and public services, good health services, and for some at least, a feeling of comradeship between peoples and hope for the future. I also believe that in the years 1989-1991 which saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and Socialism in Eastern and Central Europe, opportunities were lost for making the system more democratic. I believe not that they threw out the baby with the bathwater, but in many cases they threw out the Socialist baby and kept the corrupt bathwater. No place was this more obvious than in former Yugoslavia, the most liberal and successful Socialist state in Europe, where the old Communist Party leaders became nationalists overnight and where terrible wars and genocides took place as the country fragmented.

In countries like the GDR and CSSR (Czechoslovakia) there was a ruling coalition headed by the Marxist-Leninist Party but also including many other political parties. It would have been relatively simple to break up these coalitions and allow the individual political parties to put up rival candidates and contest free General Elections held under the Socialist Constitution of these countries. This would have allowed corrupt governments and officials to be voted out, and a new government elected to run their own brand of Socialism. The Socialist Constitution could have been replaced only by a referendum in which a substantial majority would need to vote for a new Constitution. In the one-party states like the USSR, amendments to the Socialist Constitution would have been needed to allow new political organizations and parties to form and contest elections.

Now we come to the question of Marxism, Marxism-Leninism and Communism. I have already said that I now believe Communism, i.e. the utopian Stateless society, is unlikely to evolve anywhere in the near future, if at all. In my view there will always be the need for a State and all its apparatus such as police, judges, courts, prisons, etc. and indeed money or its equivalent and the ability, as Tony Benn said, to elect representatives to governing bodies and to remove them.

However Marxism is not just about creating the utopian society of Communism. Marx’s greatest achievement was probably to describe the surplus value of labor; that workers by hand and brain create surplus value to what they need to subsist and this is what is exploited by capitalism in the form of profits and dividends. It can be demonstrated by the value of, for example, gold. If it remains in the ground it is worthless until miners expend their labor to dig it out of the ground. It is the danger and hard labor involved in digging out this rare commodity which give it its high value. If gold rained down from the skies or grew on trees it would still be pretty and used for jewelry, etc. but would not have much true value at all. Similarly with great works of art and antiques; the labor, often very skilled labor, involved in producing them, much of it unique, give these works and antiques their scarcity value. If machines and computers help produce goods, then it is the labor power involved in their design and manufacture which give the end products their value.

The other important philosophy Marx formulated were the doctrines of Dialectical and Historical Materialism. He showed how society inevitably evolves through stages from primitive tribal society, through feudalism to capitalism and Socialism. He then added the final stage of Communism, which no society has yet achieved, except possibly in small communes and these tended to be temporary before they collapsed or transmuted into something else.

I still believe that the eventual collapse of capitalism is inevitable and that it must be replaced by some sort of Socialism. Wars and dictatorial systems like fascism can delay this evolution, but however long it takes Socialism must come eventually come about.

We now come to the question of Marxism-Leninism. I now believe Lenin, and indeed his close compatriot Leon Trotsky, both betrayed the original ideals of the Bolshevik Revolution and paved the way for the Stalinist terror and all that followed including the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Early in the days of Soviet power the Kronstadt rebellion took place, led by sailors and others seeking to preserve the original ideas of the Revolution. Their demands were quite modest and included the right to organize in trade unions and leftwing political parties, to allow limited private enterprise which did not include hired labor, to a degree of workers’ control (which would eliminate the growing bureaucracy), etc. This rebellion was crushed on the orders of Lenin by Trotsky’s Red Army. For obvious reasons the crushing of this Kronstadt rebellion is not criticized by either Trotskyist organizations nor by the successors to the Stalinist branches of Marxism-Leninism.

As I believe it was Lenin, along with Trotsky, who laid the foundations for a bureaucratic dictatorship in the Soviet Unon and all the horrors which followed, I no longer can describe myself as a Marxist-Leninist. However it can be argued that in adopting the notion of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ Marx and Engels also laid the foundations for the repression which symbolized Soviet-style Socialism, and its most extreme form during the Stalinist eras in several Socialist countries. However the term can be interpreted in several ways. Marx and Engels used it to describe the Socialist era after the collapse of capitalism and that it was necessary to create the classless, self-governing society of Communism proper. By creating a one-Party State the toiling masses would be able to join and by sheer numbers eliminate any attempts to restore capitalism or to corrupt the Socialist system, and eventually create the self-governing, classless society of Communism. This of course never happened as the bureaucratic repression had already been instigated by Lenin and Trotsky, carried to extremes by Stalin, and the corrupted and distorted version of Socialism led to its eventual demise.

There are, however, as I said other interpretations which can be applied to the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, though I dislike the term and would no longer use it as it implies repression of all minorities. Nevertheless democracy itself can be described as ‘the dictatorship of the majority’ and if the majority labor for a living, as the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. Again the rights of minorities are overlooked in this description. I would therefore now use the term Socialist Democracy to describe the kind of society I would like to see. This would involve, as described above, all political parties and organizations existing side-by-side, able to contest free elections, the ability of the electorate to vote out one government and elect another, freedom of speech and of the Press, but within the confines of a Socialist Constitution which could only be replaced by a substantial majority vote in a Constitutional referendum. In this way Socialism could be enshrined as the basis of society, but corrupt governments could be voted out and another political party voted in to administer Socialism, or indeed their own brand of Socialism. The Soviet model was by no means universal, and Tito in Yugoslavia had a unique system of worker cooperatives which was much more successful. Rather than huge State monopolies operating under cumbersome and inefficient five-year plans, individual companies could also be taken into public ownership with workers’ control and they could compete along with cooperatives in a Socialist market place. State monopolies or nationalization is probably more suitable for the public utilites and transport systems which use national networks or grids which need to be maintained centrally.

So I consider myself a Socialist and a Marxist, but no longer a Marxist-Leninist. I would be quite satisfied if society reached and maintained the Socialist society Marx and others envisaged without the repression of Soviet-style Socialism and with no promise of an eventual Communist society. If that does eventually materialize in this world it would not be for many generations in hundreds or even thousands of years time when humanity has evolved sufficiently to make it practicable.

Our Segregated Schools

In the United States during the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s, schools were one of the places they were determined to de-segregate. Children were bussed miles to schools in order to achieve an ethnic mix. Before that, especially in the Deep South, schools were segregated. When Elvis Presley was first heard on radio people thought he was black because of his unusual first name and the material he was singing. How did they indicate he was in fact white? By slipping into the introductions to his records the school he went to in Memphis, which of course was an all-white one.

It seems to me that we now have segregated schools in the UK. I am a gay man and do not have children myself, nor do I have any close relatives with children, but I am fully aware that State schools in many Inner London areas are about 95% ethnic, and that private schools are about 95% white – this being a conservative estimate. How do I know this? Because I pass State school playgrounds or see the children on outings, and I have also visited private schools and their students come to our pensioners’ Lunch Club and Drama Group, I also see private schools on outings. There can be no doubt about it, our schools in many Inner London areas are segregated.

In the outer suburbs and rural areas I would imagine most schools, both State and private, are predominately white. This is because most ethnic communities tend to be in the Inner cities and poorer areas, often on council estates.

How has this segregation come about? It is certainly not government policy to segregate our education system, as was the case in South Africa during the apartheid regime. It has come about by parents deciding they would not send their children to State schools which were increasingly becoming predominantly ethnic. If they could afford it they sent their children to private schools, but if they could not afford the fees they moved out to more rural areas where the State schools were still predominantly white.

The reason this is not debated as an issue on the liberal Left is because many otherwise liberal middle-class people do not wish to discuss it. They prefer to turn a blind eye because they are as guilty as the rest for bringing about this situation. Nor is it just the white middle-class population who have brought about this situation; some middle-class blacks, including a well-known Leftwing Labour MP, have sent their children to private schools.

We have always had the British public school system, which is where the upper classes send their children. Not ‘public’ schools in the American sense, they are in fact private schools for the elite. They obviously are predominantly white upper class. Their pupils go on to Oxbridge and many end up in Conservative governments, including many former Tory Prime Ministers.

So the UK now has an educational system which, certainly up to university level, is almost completely segregated. Surely this is a bad thing if what we need more than anything is integration? If children are brought up in an all-white or all-ethnic environment, how will they learn to integrate later in life? How will they learn to accept different cultures and different ways of life?

I am not sure what the answer is, if we should start doing what they did in the Deep South in the 1960s and bussing children, often against their parents’ wishes, to different State schools to insure an ethnic mix. Should the State pay for more ethnic pupils in private schools? Whatever the solution, the problem needs to be addressed or society will become ever more polarized and segregated in future. Far from the problem being addressed, it is never spoken about on the Left but quietly brushed under the carpet. Middle-class parents, otherwise quite liberal or Left in their politics, often send their kids to private schools, or move to predominantly white areas if they do not already live in them, and pretend there is no problem. Those like me living on a council estate in Inner London with no ax to grind as we do not have children of our own, can see the glaringly obvious segregation which exists in our schools, which everyone else on the liberal Left prefers to ignore.

American Presidential Election 2016

I can’t say I was that surprised at Donald Trump winning, though I was rooting for Hillary as I sat up watching the results come in. However if I’d had a vote in this election I really don’t think I could have voted for either candidate. I still think Bernie Sanders would have had a better chance of beating Trump, and I’d have certainly voted for him. Hillary was too associated with previous administrations, the war in Iraq and the Establishment. I felt she was positively dangerous with the real prospect of her authorizing the shooting down of Russian planes in Syria. She would also have continued the demonization and isolation of Russia, which I consider disastrous. I would have had to vote for the Green candidate.

The only positive thing I can say about Trump is that he seeks a dialog with Russia and is cool on NATO. CND has been against NATO from the start, including me of course, and at the very least we think it should have been wound up at the same time as the Warsaw Pact at the end of the Cold War. Russia should have been brought in from the cold once the Soviet Union collapsed. The worst thing is that Gorbachev was promised NATO would not expand eastwards, and it has crept right up to the Russian border and now includes former Socialist states and Soviet republics. The arms build up on both sides of the Russian border is alarming, as is the presence of nuclear weapons. Remember the Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962 which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust was caused by Soviet nuclear weapons being shipped to Cuba a few miles off the Florida coast, and American nukes being just over the Soviet border in Turkey. Thank goodness there was then dialog between President Kennedy and Krushchev which resulted in an agreement not to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, and for the ones in Turkey to be removed. There is no such dialog in the present Cold War situation between Russia and the West.

Therefore I consider the most important international issue at the moment is dialog with Russia and a joint effort to defeat ISIS/ISIL, Al-Quaida, etc. which have risen up due to Western interventions in places like Iraq and Libya.

Trump is a bigot and a billionaire, and his racism and misogyny during the election campaign were deplorable. In the aftermath of his election there have been riots on the streets and at the same time, as in the post-Brexit vote, racism and homophobia are rampant.

This election is a disaster for America, which is divided more than ever before. Clinton got more of the popular vote, but under the first-past-the-post Electoral College system Trump was pronounced the winner.

I am extremely uneasy about Trump having access to the nuclear codes. He is so unpredictable he could decide to launch nukes against, if not Russia, possibly ISIS in the Middle East. Hopefully he will be contained and controlled, as no President has absolute power. Even with a Republican House and Senate, many fellow Republicans oppose Trump’s more extreme policies. I do hope, however, he is allowed to meet Putin and re-establish a relationship with Russia.

His policy of tariffs on goods imported from places like China, his threat to deport immigrants, to ban Muslims from entering the US, to abolish Obamacare, etc. are silly and abhorrent and will hopefully be dropped.

However Trump’s election victory is a symptom of the worldwide rejection of neo-liberalism and against the Establishment which has impoverished the lower classes. While Trump’s policies are not the solution, at this time any anti-Establishment candidate is liable to gain great popularity. We see this in the crowds who attended Trump rallies and similar scenes at rallies of leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn. Bernie Sanders also attracted big enthusiastic crowds. At times like these it is scary because the electorate can go for either extreme rightwing policies or leftwing ones. If it was not to be Sanders, it would probably be Trump. If it is not to be Corbyn as the Brexit result showed it could be an extreme rightwinger. UKIP claimed credit for the Brexit vote.

It is all very depressing, but my hope is that Labour will unite and manage to win the next General Election, and that the USA will now resume dialog and relations with Russia. Also that Trump’s racist and misogynist traits will be contained and he will not be able to implement policies based on these. Whether he replaces the fence with a wall on the USA’s southern border with Mexico is really immaterial, but deportation of immigrants would be a grave mistake, especially considering most of the USA population are the descendants of immigrants. The Native Americans being the first settlers of that country.

The problem with Brexit vote

Brexit map

This map, showing how the regions of the UK voted in the Referendum on whether to Remain in the EU or Leave illustrates clearly the huge problem with not setting any kind of threshold for invoking Article 50 in the event of a Leave vote. The yellow countries/regions voted Remain, the blue countries/regions voted to Leave. 48% to 52% is not a huge majority, but more to the point, two of the four countries which make up the UK and the capital city, London, voted to Remain. How is it democratic to take these regions out of the EU against their will?

I can’t see what the solution is except another Referendum which stipulates all four UK countries have to vote Leave for it to be operative. The current situation means Scotland is likely to leave the UK, and it will cause big problems for Ireland and the peace agreement which requires an open border and cross-border institutions. Already there is a move to re-unite Northern Ireland with the Republic.

On top of all this, if the end result of Article 50 negotiations means a Norway-type access to the single market for what remains of the UK there will still be free movement to/from EU countries, the very thing most Leave voters do not want. Nor, I suspect, do many of them want the UK to break up and the Union Flag to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Nobody is keen to sort out this mess, hence Cameron, Johnson and Farage all washing their hands of the mess they’ve created. May just keeps kicking the whole issue into the long grass. This is what happens when you ask the electorate a very complex question without explaining the full possible implications of a Leave vote, especially when lies were told about £350 million extra being available for the NHS if we leave the EU, and being able to control immigration from the EU, which now looks extremely unlikely.

Justification for genocide?

At a recent get-together it was suggested that in war it might sometimes be justified to kill, say, 150,000 people to save more. I vehemently rejected this suggestion, in fact it made me extremely angry.

The most obvious reference to a real-life situation is the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, which immediately killed well over hundred thousand innocent men, women and children, and over the past 71 years has killed many more with cancers, and caused children to be born deformed. This was a heinous crime by the Americans which can never, ever be justified.

The next part of the claim can never be proven, i.e. that it ‘saved’ even more lives. The fact is the Americans committed this genocidal crime, not the Japanese. Whatever the Japanese did previously to POWs, etc. it cannot be said the atomic bombs prevented them killing even more people than these bombs did. On the contrary, if it was these two atomic bombs which caused the Japanese to surrender, why on Earth did the Americans have to agree to the humiliating terms of this surrender? They had to let Emperor Hirohito remain on the Chrysanthemum Throne and guarantee he would never be brought before a War Crimes Tribunal. So 140,000+ innocent people were killed, born deformed, had cancers induced in their bodies but Hirohito escapes Scot free. Not only that, but the Japanese had suffered similar civilian casualties in the conventional bombing of Tokyo, yet did not surrender. Kamikaze pilots were sacrificing their own lives for the Emperor. Such was the adoration of the Japanese for their Emperor they would die for him. The two bombs were more likely dropped before the end of the War in the Far East to demonstrate the awful power of the new weapon America had developed to the world, but in particular to the Soviet Union, which then quickly acquired atomic and then hydrogen bombs of its own. The other reason for the atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities was probably revenge for Pearl Harbor.

On a more general note, can it ever be justified to kill innocent people to save more lives? I say it never can because, for a start, you can never prove it would save more lives. It is an extremely dangerous policy to follow, which could be used by any despot or dictator – they could kill millions and say they did it to save even more lives.

It is said that in war such difficult decisions have to be taken, but I am a pacifist and reject all war under any circumstances. We then have to define ‘war’ itself. I can see there are situations where force has to be used, even lethal force. I would define these as special operations by the secret services, SAS, etc., or simply international policing operations, targeting the guilty rather than innocent civilians. Not using indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, conventional bombs, landmines, etc.. There are occasions, of course, when innocent people get killed, such as when police are dealing with a siege with hostages and the kidnapers, who are killing the hostages, die along with some of the hostages, some shot by the police accidentally or caught in the cross-fire. This is completely different to deliberately targeting thousands or hundreds of thousands of totally innocent civilians in order to induce fear, or out of revenge.

I am a pacifist (being against war, but reluctantly supporting carefully targeted operations against those committing atrocities), but I’m also a Spiritualist. I happen to know, from researching Near Death Experiences and After Death Communications, that we all face a Life Review when we die. This Life Review is not a particularly scary experience, but rather a learning and enlightening experience. We do not simply see our whole lives flash past, but outside of Earth Time we experience every action, every thought, everything that happened in our lives not only from our own perspective, but from the perspective of all those we inter-acted with. So if we helped someone in some way, we experience what they felt, but also the effects of our negative actions. For most of us this is no big deal, but if we dropped atomic bombs which killed hundreds of thousands of people and caused cancers and deformities in others it could be quite a heavy Life Review, even though as a First World War soldier said in an After Death interview via the Direct Voice Medium Leslie Flint it would be those who ordered the killing who would feel most responsibility. However carrying out orders which result in genocide is not acceptable, as was stated at the Nuremburg Trials of Nazi War Criminals.

There are many ways to deal with dictators and those committing atrocities. I am not going to detail them all here as we all know them perfectly well. All I’ll say is individuals have been targeted by special forces many times. Also take the role of the civilian police in a siege situation. Do they bomb an entire street or area in order to kill the gang or the terrorists who caused the siege? No, they surround the premises and then make an attack, and although some hostages may get killed or injured in the raid, there is no deliberate killing by the police of totally innocent people.

War is the breakdown of normally civilized behavior. Atrocities and genocide, committed for whatever reason, cause hatred and reprisals. It is a never-ending cycle of violence. We must find more civilized ways of dealing with situations.

Finally, it is a sobering thought whether or not you are a Christian (I’m not), that Jesus Christ lived in an occupied country and told his disciples not to resist the occupiers but rather to render unto Cesar that which be Cesar’s (taxes in this instance), and also he told Peter to put away his sword when he used it against a Roman Centurion, as those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. Jesus was a pacifist, and that’s good enough for me, he was a great Spiritual leader who taught by example. In the ultimate self-sacrifice he apparently died in a crucifixion, though this cannot be confirmed. I don’t believe, if indeed he did die in this way, it was anything to do with absolving us of responsibility for our actions. Spiritualists believe in personal responsibility and progress open to all souls.

I have come to believe that this life here on Earth is largely a virtual reality, as nothing is what it seems. For instance, everything solid around us, including our own bodies, are largely empty space, they just appear and feel solid to us. Therefore everything that happens here could well be a sort of drama acted out to learn lessons and develop spiritually. By reducing ourselves to the lowest level and copying the genocidal practices of others, we are not learning lessons, we are not developing spiritually, and we are inviting reprisals and therefore continuing an ever more violent, never-ending series of atrocities and genocidal actions by both ourselves and others.

Explanation of my current Facebook header

karl Marx tomb

The header demonstrates my Socialist principles. Although I would admit to being a Marxist, I am no longer a Communist. Karl Marx, together with Friedrich Engels, laid the basis of Socialism by showing how the surplus value of labor was exploited by the capitalist ruling class. They also theorized on how historical materialism meant society progressed thru stages, and that capitalism would inevitably collapse, due to its own contradictions, and be replaced by Socialism. This would be a society based on the common ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The formula Marx described for the Socialist era was ‘To each according to their work’.

Marx and Engels also forecast that Socialism would eventually be replaced by Communism, a society where the State and all its institutions had withered away. There would be no police, no courts, no jails, no money, no State itself – just a completely self-governing society with an abundance of goods and services. I now feel this is far too utopian an ideal and there will always need to be a truly democratic State to avoid a corrupt ruling class rising again.

Marxism provided the basis for many Socialist parties, including the British Labour Party. Until it was re-written prior to the New Labour era, Clause IV of the Labour Party clearly stated Marxist principles, and this Clause was printed on all Labour Party membership cards. It sought the common ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The 1945 Labour government not only greatly increased public ownership, but went further and adopted Marx’s formula for the Communist era for the National Health Service and Welfare State: ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’.

In the 20th Century we saw many Socialist states arise including the Soviet Union. While the basic necessities were catered for, and full employment achieved, an increasingly corrupt ruling class of bureaucrats arose with perks and privileges denied to the rest of the population. This, in turn, encouraged more careerists and opportunists to join the ruling Marxist-Leninist parties in order to get these privileges for themselves and their families. Since there were no opposition parties, it was very difficult to remove this ruling clique.

The Soviet dictatorship reached its peak under Stalin, but it was started by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. They crushed all opposition, even from other Socialist parties. The Kronstadt rebellion in the early days of the Soviet state was ruthlessly crushed by Lenin using Trotsky’s Red Army. Yet the demands of the Kronstadt rebels were to reinstate the original aims of the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’ (October 25th by the old Orthodox calendar, November 7th by the current Western one); to allow non-capitalist parties and to end the perks for bureaucrats. The ruthless Bolshevik dictatorship of Lenin, Trotsky and others meant Stalin was later able to impose his reign of terror. Although his methods industrialized a backward country and made it into a superpower, millions died in the process, including those who perished in the labor camps (gulags) and due to his infamous show trials which managed to eliminate many of the original Bolsheviks, but which did nothing to deal with the corrupt bureaucratic ruling class distorting the system.

So I am firmly against the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ as described by Lenin and others. I also reject violent revolution which usually continues afterwards and devours its own. Evolution not revolution is my motto, though revolutionary change may need the might of the organized working class using industrial action and mass demonstrations to inforce their Will if parliamentary methods fail or are blocked by the Establishment. (Corbynistas take note!)

I do not describe myself as a Marxist-Leninist for these reasons. The term ‘Dictatorship of the Proleteriat’, even if it was truly the working-class which was ruling and not a class of bureaucrats, takes no account of the rights of minorities. The idea was the masses would join the Marxist-Leninist Party and exercise Socialist Democracy thru it, leading eventually to the self-governing society of Communism. In actual fact, as the 20th Century experiments showed, it just led to a new ruling class of politicians and other bureaucrats since it was mainly careerists and opportunists who flocked to join the ruling parties.

What is true, however, is that a constant flux between capitalism and Socialism; between common ownership and privatization, is destabilizing. Therefore once Socialism is established and working it would be advisable, via a Referendum, to draw up and implement a Socialist Constitution which would enshrine the principle of public ownership and control of the bulk of the means of production, distribution and exchange (private shops and small family businesses would still be allowed, subject to laws to prevent exploiting any hired labor.) All political parties should be allowed to contest free elections, but to overturn the Socialist Constitution and re-introduce large-scale private enterprise they would need to call another Referendum to replace the Socialist Constitution with a different one. All Referendums on Constitutional matters should be compulsory (could be done with the Census) with at least 60% voting to change the status quo in order to overturn an existing Constitution.

Finally, State ownership or nationalization has proved cumbersome and inefficient in many cases in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. While it is suitable for certain industries and services, such as those which have national grids or networks (the railways, the phone service, the postal service, the public utilities), for most industries and services there are other forms of public ownership such as cooperatives, mutuals and individual publicly owned companies all competing in a Socialist market place. This was basically the system operating in former Yugoslavia successfully before that federation broke up due to rampant nationalism.

So although the Red Flag and Karl Marx appear on my Facebook header, I am not a Communist nowadays. The Red Flag has long been a Socialist symbol, and the anthem ‘The Red Flag’ was sung at all Labour Party Conferences. I hope it continues to be and that the old Clause IV is reinstated along with the old logo to replace the New Labour red rose logo. As to the sculpture of Karl Marx, this stands atop his grave in Highgate Cemetery, London. Although it may not at the moment be one of the main tourist sights of the capital, maybe it should be. Marx’s ideas have been distorted and misused, but so have the teachings of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless Marx correctly described the nature of capitalist exploitation of labor, and showed how it must eventually collapse and lead to Socialism.

I will quote Lenin briefly, when he said progress consists of ‘two steps forward, one step back’. The collapse of the imperfect Socialist states of the 20th Century were one step back, but if we learn from their mistakes and do not repeat them we can move forward towards a better form of Socialism, and many different political parties can offer their own formulas. ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom’ said Mao, even if it wasn’t practised in China. But the best quote of all, and here I paraphrase, came from the great British Socialist Tony Benn who advised people to ask who gave politicians their power, who are they responsible to, and how we can get rid of them if necessary. This is essential to avoid a corrupt ruling class rising again.

Can Labour win a General Election under Jeremy Corbyn?

I think it can, and probably with a landslide which will be as big a shock as the 1945 General Election which brought the leftwing Clem Attlee Labour government to power, when everyone thought the Conservatives would win because its leader, Winston Churchill, had brought us thru the Second World War.

However as long as the majority of Labour MPs are voting they have ‘no confidence’ in their leader and demanding he resign, and threatening yearly challenges to his leadership, the Party is going to have difficulty not only winning elections, but successfully providing a united Opposition to the Tories in Parliament.

Nobody expected Corbyn to win the leadership. I was amazed myself, and so was Jeremy. There is a groundswell of popular opinion which is largely unrecognized by the media, by MPs, by the Establishment generally. Not only unrecognized, they hate it, they fear it. Jeremy Corbyn has long been associated with protest against the Establishment. The last time a similar man led the Labour Party was in the early 1980s when fellow CND-er Michael Foot was leader. Similarly to now he was criticized and ridiculed constantly by the media, and Labour MPs, led by the Gang of Four, attacked him and broke away to form the SDP. We know where that eventually led, to joining with the Liberal Party to become the Liberal Democrats and then going into coalition with the most rightwing Tory government since Margaret Thatcher’s!

Why did Maggie win the 1983 General Election? Was it because Michael Foot was Labour leader at the time? Only indirectly if you take into account the Labour Party had split, as it is in danger of doing now, with the formation of the SDP (Social Democratic Party). But the biggest factor was the Falklands/Malvinas war in 1982 which boosted jingoism and Maggie Thatcher’s popularity amongst much of the population, but also of course the anti-Tory vote was split.

We are in a different position today. First of all we have the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) which took nearly all the seats in Scotland. This really is not a problem for Labour, since either Scotland will hold another referendum on independence after Brexit and leave the UK, or if it stays in the UK the SNP will back up a leftwing Labour government in many of its policies, along with Plaid Cymru and the Greens and some of the Northern Ireland parties (if they stay in the UK).

The real question is whether Labour needs to win back people who voted Tory, and I think that would be an unmitigated disaster. We saw what happened under Tony Blair and New Labour, which Maggie Thatcher described as her greatest achievement. A Tory Party MK II, which imposed Thatcherite policies, privatized as much as it could, and took us into an illegal war in Iraq which in turn led to the rise of ISIS. Never again!

Labour must seek to win votes from those who never voted before because they were too young or too apathetic, or because there seemed little difference between the two major parties. Millions voted for the Greens and Ukip in the 2015 General Election, but this only resulted in one MP each under our first-past-the-post electoral system. Labour must try to win over these voters too. Ukip plays on fears of immigration, so Labour must tackle this issue, but in any case even if Brexit goes ahead it seems likely there will be a Norway-type arrangement whereby the UK gets access to the single market but in return has to accept freedom of movement to/from EU countries. So what does Ukip do then?

Labour can deal with the problem by enforcing the minimum wage for a start, and by ending austerity and the housing crisis. A leftwing Labour government would defuse the explosive issue whereby immigrants are seen to have caused loss of jobs and the housing crisis. It is the Tory government and New Labour before that which have caused these things, and the international banks.

Jeremy Corbyn was thrown in at the deep end. He had no experience of Cabinet government, he has had to learn on the job. He has brought a fresh approach to the job of leader of the Opposition, such as his novel way of asking questions on a Wednesday in the House, putting ordinary working-class people in the forefront. Given half a chance by his MPs I believe Jeremy Corbyn could capture the enthusiasm of millions of the electorate.

MPs who refuse to support him may be de-selected, but anyway many new MPs need to be selected before 2020 because of constituency boundary changes. So by the time of the next General Election there could be a very different Parliamentary Labour Party, the present one being representative of New Labour. Hopefully many of the present MPs will come to reaize that Labour can win elections under Corbyn if the Party is united.

Also Party policy is under constant review, such as the ongoing defense review. It could well be that Annual Conference, castrated by Tony Blair, will once again be the body which makes policy democratically, and this could easily mean many of Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas will be adopted, such as abandoning Trident for instance, also nationalizing the railways and public utilities. The idea of cooperatives is becoming to the forefront as a much more efficient and successful alternative to wholesale nationalization. These are exciting new times, and it is sad if fuddy old stick-in-the-muds who want to preserve the neo-liberal traditions of Thatcher and Blair try to smother the mood in much of the country for a new kind of politics. Just take housing for a start – more council homes need to be built for those who cannot afford to buy, and if the right to buy council homes continues than all homes sold must be replaced. Private rents need to be controlled, and the right to buy extended to private landords’ tenants.

Jeremy Corbyn is not unelectable. He is looking more like a great Labour Party leader and future Prime Minister every day, but make no mistake, the Establishment hate him and fear him. Every dirty trick in the book will be used to stop him getting anywhere near Number 10. But the sweeping changes in Labour and politics is not confined to one man, if Jeremy is out of the picture, others will rise to replace him.

Finally, is the main objective to get elected to government or to stick to certain principles? Hopefully we can do both, but for me principles ALWAYS take priority. If you make being elected to government your only priority, then that’s when you are likely to take your cue from the Murdoch media and end up with a New Labour type Thatcherite government. I have voted in the past Green, Communist and Liberal Democrat. I was once a member of the Communist Party, and of the even smaller Left Unity Party started by Ken Loach. These smaller parties never stood a chance of being elected to government on their own, but I voted for them or joined them out of principle. Sadly the LIb-Dems let me down when they betrayed the trust of many who voted for them by going into coalition with the Tories and backing many of their policies.

I want a party which sticks to its principles, and it is then up to the Labour Party to convince the electorate, and its MPs, that this is the correct course. We have to lead, not follow the herd who in turn are led by the media barons representing the Establishment.