Friday, 10 February 2017

Today's 'Alt Right' are the Old Far Right

This week Channel 4 news screened a report on the British Alt Right - the kindred spirits of America's infamous 'Alt Right' ie white supremacists and other assorted neo fascists who flock to internet sites like Breitbart and who salivate at the hateful rantings of the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos In one sense the channel 4 report was revealing because it showed british devotees of the Alt Right openly expressing admiration for Hitler's Mein Kampf and their adherence to a form of politics which emphasis the primacy of skin colour above all else.You would have thought that these 'wunderkinds' might have been savvy enough to realise that openly expressing admiration for a racist mass murderer like Hitler or promoting an ideology based on racial identity on a major british news programme isn't the best way to build popular support.

But in another sense there wasn't anything in Channel Four's report (uploaded below) we havent seen or heard before. Substitute 'Judaism' for 'Islam' and 'master race' for 'white civilisation' and these foot soldiers of the British Alt Right are saying exactly what the Nazis used to say in the 1930s and what the neo nazi british national front were saying in the 1970s and 1980s. In other words today's Alt Right are Nazis pure and simple, and they should be treated accordingly.


UPDATE : The Anti Fascist organisation Hope not Hate has unearthed more details on the links between US white supremacists and the Alt Right in the UK

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A ray of light amid the gloom

Well they say every cloud has a silver lining and as disastrous as the vote to leave the EU may prove to be for many parts of the UK - my home country Wales included - one welcome consequence of Brexit is the threat it may pose to the proposed Wylfa B nuclear reactor on Anglesey. I looked at the reasons we should be very concerned about plans for new nuclear power stations on Anglesey and at Hinkley point in an earlier post :

But on Tuesday BBC Wales reported "Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert. Prof Dr Glyn O. Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd. The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved. Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom "will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK" as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland."

"They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern," he said in an interview with BBC Cymru Fyw."If that link is cut and we can't keep the connection, then I can't see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about."He said training is "crucially important" to staff the next generation of plants, and that doing so is dependent on "working with other people"."I don't see cutting ourselves off through Brexit bringing any new jobs. It just means that you cannot use other people's resources."

Now as well as highlighting the problems brexit might pose for Wylfa B Prof Williams comments are also important for another reason in that if the proposed nuclear reactor is so dependent on a workforce from EU member states to function it raises serious doubts made by backers of nuclear power that Wylfa B would bring a 'jobs bonanza to the area'. Indeed it's looking increasingly as if the promises of local jobs in north wales made by the UK energy department and Wylfa B's parent company Hitachi are about as genuine as the promises made by the leave campaign during the EU referendum. Hitachi of course also gave assurances about radiation levels at their Fukushima designed plant not being dangerous

On Saturday 11 March 2017 a conference entitled 'Green Nuclear-Free Wales, A United Welsh Front against Nuclear Power' will be taking place at the National Library, Aberystwyth. Further details can be found here

And sticking with the theme of bogus promises i notice that as i type this piece the Bill to invoke Article 50 has passed through the Westminister Parliament without a single amendment being accepted by the May government. Now after the referendum result and the resignation of David Cameron Theresa May and her new foreign secretary (boris johnson) and her new brexit secretary (david davis) made great play of saying they would protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK and incorporate EU directives on workers rights and environmental protection measures into british law following Brexit. Yet this week when they've had the opportunity to make such promises concrete they have ensured tory MPs have voted down all such amendments guaranteeing these things.

Course the likes of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Davis will still say these promises will be implemented after brexit, but given they ensured these amendments were voted down on the day they disgracefully dumped the 'Dubs scheme' i think we are entitled to be highly skeptical of these promises being fullfilled

And without any of these amendments being successful what we have in essence been left with is a hard brexit. A Brexit which takes us out of the single market and the customs union. A brexit which doesn't guarantee the rights of a single EU national living in the UK. A Brexit which offers no guarantee that EU directed employment rights and measures to protect the environment or even EU food standards will be incorporated into British law once the UK has departed the EU.

And despite the claims of the hard right now firmly in charge of the British Tory government there is simply no evidence to support their insistence that a rock hard brexit is what 17 and a half million people voted for on June 23rd. The only people advocating this sort of brexit during the referendum campaign were the Kippers and neo fascist groups like Britain First.The names of the 122 MPs who took a stand against this hardest possible of Brexits can be found here

Monday, 6 February 2017

Right wing bigots and Online trolling

I've written previously of my concerns about some aspects of social media, such as the way right wing and neo fascist forces are using social media to disseminate fake news ie tell lies and also the fact social media seems to bring out the worst in some people I publish here a worrying example of this disturbing trend in a recent screenshot from Facebook sent to me by a friend.

Now i've no idea who Veronica Jones is, other than i understand she lives somewhere in the UK and frequents the facebook pages of news outlets like The Mirror and The Mail. And while she obviously wont find herself being shortlisted for the Booker prize any time soon in reading the torrent of hatred and bigotry in her post you do have to have serious concerns about the mentality of an individual like this. And the worrying thing is Veronica Jones vile comment isn't an isolated example of the abuse you can find yourself subject to from some people for having the temerity to challenge their right wing and racist views. Anyone who has challenged UKIP members or Brexit supporters or Donald Trump enthusiasts online will tell you that there are plenty of people like 'Veronica Jones' out there.

And i was given a very stark reminder of this myself last week in the shape of a certain 'Sarah Svensson'. Sarah Svensson is a UKIP member based in South Wales who distinguishes herself by posting links to various facebook groups promoting the hate mongering of Milo Yiannopoulos and the 'Alt Right' website so beloved by white supremacists Breitbart Recently however Svensson plumbed new depths with remarks she made about the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.

As some readers might know last year Leanne was the victim of vile online attacks, attacks which included threats to rape her and calls for her to be shot Now given such horrific experiences Leanne quite understandably adopts a zero tolerance approach to online trolls and blocks such people from commenting on her facebook page.You might have thought then the appalling threats Leanne has suffered would have prompted UKIP members to moderate their vitriolic attacks on her somewhat - not a bit of it. When i reminded Sarah Svennson of the horrific abuse Leanne has suffered at the hands of online trolls, and pointed out she that she is perfectly entitled to take measures to protect herself from further harassment - such as blocking the worst offenders - Svensson responded with a remark so thoughtless and callous as to almost defy belief.

Saying Leanne should "stay off the frontline where it's safer to dodge the bullets" a few months after somebody was prosecuted for publicly calling for her to be shot must surely rank as among the most insensitive comments to appear on social media, and i think illustrates all too graphically what i've said previously about social media bringing out the worst in some people. Even more disturbingly however the comments i have highlighted in this post perhaps shows us what those like Sarah Svensson and Veronica Jones - and other right wing bigots like them - are really thinking.

P.S. since drafting this piece i've been informed - ironically by a supporter of Ukip - that 'Sarah Svensson' is a fake facebook profile. Her real identity is however known to me and i can confirm she is a prominent Ukip member in south wales. I hope she will have the decency to reveal her true identity before it is done for her.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Who will Trump ban next?

Following news of Donald Trump's executive order banning muslims from a string of countries from entering the United States - even Americans with dual citizenship and green cards have been caught up in the ban - the famous words of Pastor Martin Niemoller have rarely seemed so pertinent.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Was that Madge i spotted at my doctors surgery?

The Guardian reports "Hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons living in Europe may be forced to return to the UK unless the government guarantees that their healthcare will continue to be reimbursed by the NHS, campaigners for British people settled in Spain and France have warned.The House of Commons Brexit select committee was told on Wednesday that an unintended consequence of Brexit could be a surge in immigration of British migrants both working and retired".

Groups campaigning for the rights of Britons settled in Europe told the committee that many pensioners in countries such as Spain and France would not be able to afford private health insurance if the current system was jettisoned post-Brexit."They may have no alternative but to come back,” said Sue Wilson, one of the founders of the Remain in Spain group.

All these British nationals coming over here from Europe and using our health service - it's disgusting! We need to get out of the EU to stop outrages like this from happening - someone get hold of Nigel Farage pronto and tell him we need another one of those nasty posters he specialises in. Er but hang on a moment - it's because the UK is leaving the EU that hundreds of thousands of mainly elderly British nationals living in EU member states might have to return to live in the UK, with all the extra pressures on the NHS, social services and housing that will bring.

Wonder if they'll let Madge bring her scooter back with her?

Monday, 16 January 2017

The end for blogging in the UK?

It might seem a bit extreme to say that a new piece of legislation could well spell the end of blogging as we know it in the UK but that is exactly what could happen if an amendment to the 2013 Crimes and Court Act (section 40) becomes law. Unfortunately most people will be completely oblivious to this amendment or its serious implications for anybody who writes anything that's seen in public. The authors of the blog Left Foot Forward recently made a compelling case as to why we should all be worried if section 40 becomes law :

"In 2013, Section 40 was snuck into the Crime and Courts Act after just 13 hours of parliamentary debate on a controversial piece of legislation that would fundamentally change the relationship between the press and politicians.For three hundred years, the press has been free from state interference – put simply, if you wanted to print news or opinion on paper you didn’t need to ask the government’s permission to do. All you needed to do was abide by the law of libel (and other laws) and Grub Street could get on with its work unimpeded.

Section 40 fundamentally shifts this relationship. It means for the first time in 300 years, newspapers, blogs and campaigning groups (that is anyone who published ‘news-related materials’) would need to sign up to a state-approved regulator. If you decide not to, the legislation means you would be financially punished.The stick to force those affected to sign up was a big stick indeed: those who don’t join the state-backed regulator will be forced to pay all the costs in a libel case, even if what they published is entirely true and in the public interest.You could expose the Panama Papers and have to pay the entire costs of any tax-dodger who decided to sue you.

Section 40 is flawed legislation that poses many legal, political and human rights problems including:

1. Section 40 chills free speech by making people who publish news, fear the financial clout of the rich and powerful who may wish to suppress information that is in the public interest;

2. Local and regional newspapers who have faced declining budgets in recent years, but who provide a vital check on the power of local authorities and national government will be financially ruined by the impact of this law;

3. It is unclear which organisations are caught by the law as the definition of ‘relevant publishers’ under Section 40 is vague. This means that campaigning organisations could be put off publishing important news on human rights, financial corruption and environmental destruction simply because it is unclear whether they are covered by the law;

4. Even if campaigning organisations were to sign up to the only state-backed regulator MPRESS, they would be bound by an arbitration system that is expensive and not designed for not-for-profit news publishing.For instance, the cost of arbitrating a single claim could be £3,500 if it wins at arbitration plus £3,000 and reasonable £300 per hour lawyers if it doesn’t. These NGOs would be punished by Section 40 even though they were never intended to be covered by this legislation.

5. There are unanswered questions (and pending legal challenges) about the independence of the only state-backed regulator, IMPRESS which is funded through a trust network, ultimately leading to a single rich individual Max Mosley. In the last two years, 89up has been working with the newspaper industry and publishers to understand what the impact of Section 40 would be on smaller publishers, campaign groups and the press.

For all the rhetoric of proponents of Section 40, there are two questions that we believe need exploring; do you think this legislation sets a dangerous international precedent, do you think this legislation is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights?"

The authors then go on to show how the proposed section 40 will impact on anyone in the UK who blogs (and remember it doesnt only apply to those of us who write on political matters. You might blog on something like gardening or bee keeping and this law will still apply to you).

How it will affect blogs?

"Blogs like Left Foot Forward would be caught up by this legislation because it has an editor, multiple authors and publishes news-related materials. If Left Foot Forward decides not to join the state-backed regulator it could be bankrupted by a single vexatious claim against it (LFF would have to pay the entire costs of the case which could be many hundreds of thousands of pounds).

Arguably worse, is if LFF decided to join the regulator. Any enemy of the website (angry UKIP MEPs) could make complaints against the website for any critique that LFF published about them.For any case the regulator takes forward, LFF would pay an arbitration fee of up to £3,500, plus any legal costs that may accrue. Not many cases would need to be taken forward for LFF to feel the pain.Some campaigners are presenting Section 40 as an opportunity to rein in the parts of the media they don’t like. But this is to imagine that the only people who would ever take action against in courts are genuine victims with legitimate grievances.

In truth, the libel courts are often used by greedy bosses, oligarchs and crooks to scare newspapers, blogs and campaigners from uncovering their misdeeds. Section 40 would embolden such people to take even more actions against already straitened publications, safe in the knowledge it wouldn’t cost them a penny.Luckily, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is consulting on Section 40. We believe it should be repealed in order to protect free speech for campaign groups and publications like LFF".

I echo everything the authors at Left Foot Forward say about this proposed piece of terrible and draconian legislation and i would urge everyone reading this to support the campaign to repeal section 40

I would also stress this isn't a left/right issue - the right wing Guido Fawkes blog has been equally vociferous in opposing section 40

Friday, 13 January 2017

Well let's hope it's not another 'dodgy dossier'

Readers might be familiar with the phrase 'dodgy dossier', it was the term coined to describe the dossier written by british intelligence on which the decision to launch the disastrous invasion of Iraq was based - and it included the infamous claim that Iraq had 'weapons of mass destruction'. Nearly a decade and a half on and a report apparently authored by british intelligence (the MI6 operative Christopher Steele) is once again at the center of a massive news story. In this case extraordinary claims that the US president elect Donald Trump is a Russian 'stooge' and that the Russian intelligence services possess compromising material of the controversial Trump. Given then the dubious role of the intelligence services in the Iraq debacle we should i think be cautious before rushing to judge Trump on these latest charges against him.

Funnily enough British intelligence have got form when it comes to accusing politicians of being Russian assets. In the 1970s a group of right wing officers in MI5 were convinced that the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was working for the KGB - they seriously believed the Russians had poisoned the previous Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell to pave the way for Wilson to replace him and eventually become british prime minister. We now know of course these ludicrous claims were the creation of a group of deranged right wing fantasists in the upper echelons of british society and part of a sustained campaign to sabotage and undermine Wilson's labour governments (with part of this campaign also apparently involving plans to stage a military coup

Course the US republican Trump's politics are a million miles away from those of a british socialist like Harold Wilson. But the motives of the british and american intelligence services in wanting to seriously damage Trump would seem to be clear and i suspect they are anything but altruistic motives. He doesn't back the so called 'rebels' in Syria (some of whom are linked to murderous jihadists like al qaeda and daesh it should be noted) and he has publicly endorsed Russian intervention in that country's civil war. For the hawks in US and British intelligence - and their Saudi allies - used to shaping the middle east along their own lines Trump's stance is tantamount to treason, and they have clearly decided the new man in the white house has to be made to toe the line when it comes to policy in the middle east and towards Putin's Russia.

That means toeing a line which has led to the near disintegration of at least 3 countries in the region - Libya, Iraq and Syria - and which has seen swathes of all 3 countries fall into the terrible clutches of the medieval homicides of daesh. And if Trump doesn't do what every president since Lyndon Johnson has done ie do whatever the US intelligence service tell him to do on the middle east and on Russia then i wouldn't rule out efforts to bring Trump's presidency to a premature end, either by constitutional means such as we saw in the summer of 1974 or unconstitutional means as we saw on November 22nd 1963.

The renowned investigative US journalist Glenn Greenwald is like myself strongly opposed to Trump's politics and it's revealing that he too is deeply skeptical of the claims some in the intelligence community are making The prospect of a Trump presidency genuinely appalls me but i would prefer it those of us opposed to his uniquely divisive and dangerous brand of politics sought to defeat Trump by exposing and challenging his reactionary plans - such as abolishing Barak Obama's affordable healthcare act, building a massive wall on the mexican border and his dinosaur views on climate change - rather than trying to undermine him by relying on on dubious leaks from intelligence agencies trained in the art of deception.