18 October 2018
Diary of a Corbynista
All in it together?
by Don Urquhart
Today I have been attempting to spread the Corbynista message in affluent Surrey, more precisely at Walton Heath where the British Masters was in full swing (see what I did there?). Shocking how few people wanted to divert their attention from the exploits of Moliwood and the like so I settled to a rest day from political evangelism.
But my God the loos! The more middle class the event the more approximate the sanitation. My appreciation of Tosca will be forever tainted by the Grimpen Mire of a trudge to and within the outdoor conveniences of Torre del Lago, Puccini’s birthplace.
Even that horror must be viewed in the context of India’s sewage system. On Newsnight James Clayton reported on the 600,000 Dalits sent down into the sewers for £4 a day to relieve blockages with their bare hands. There are many fatalities. There was an interview with the chairman of a municipality who blamed it all on the subcontractors in a very Chris Grayling fashion and I mused proudly that one of the legacies of the Raj is an officialdom skilled in denying responsibility for its failures.
At least at Walton Heath the man attempting to service the unusable roller towels seemed healthy enough.
You will run into the sort of problems that the Conservative Party ran into with the Poll Tax.
Not me or any other lefty but former PM John Major talking about Universal Credit.
In 1990 there were riots in many cities, most notably in London where 200,000 people gathered and fought with police.
Earlier this week police arrived in force to move along a peaceful demonstration at the Lancashire Cuadrilla fracking site. The Mirror has Kafkaesque footage of a matronly tea lady being forcibly moved while being filmed in an intimidatory manner by a policeman.
The paper also reveals that the family of the Judge who handed out custodial sentences to three fracking protesters runs a business supplying fossil fuel companies. We’re all in it together has long been a laughable slogan.
John Major predicts riots. The question is now not if but when people will hit the streets.
Today’s Times reports that 22 charities contracted to supply services to the DWP have been forced to sign contracts which prevent them from criticising the DWP and more specifically the Minister. Here’s the headline:
Charities gagged by ministers over universal credit
It’s hard to see how the government will present the Commons with anything other than a “Blind Brexit”, simply because there will be key issues not agreed. Of course, it is still not clear when the Commons will have the chance of a meaningful vote.
Five months ago, a Brexit minister, Suella Braverman said we would be handing over €39 billion to the EU before a trade deal was finalised. Not so responded No. 10 as reported in The Independent:
Theresa May slaps down minister who admits UK will pay £39bn divorce bill regardless of future trade deal. Downing Street insists nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
The PM’s position appears to have shifted. We will finalise the Withdrawal Agreement then talk trade.
So what the EU wants can be agreed before anything else is agreed.
I do not blame Sir Richard Branson and Sir Brian Souter. They are just sharp businessmen who see the Department for Transport (DfT) as a soft touch. Katie Grant of iNews reports that their companies, Virgin and Stagecoach, shared dividends of £52 million for the West Coast Mainline just before they pulled out of their contract to run the East Coast Mainline. This cost the taxpayer £2 billion.
Andy McDonald, the shadow Transport Secretary took the view:
This is yet more evidence of a failing rail system which is costing taxpayers a fortune, lining the pockets of billionaires and making passengers feel like they’ve been mugged whenever they buy a ticket. These vast payouts show exactly why we need to bring our railways back into public ownership.
Not much lifts my spirits over the morning porridge but this week the New Scientist achieved this with their wistful headline:
Are Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson really going to space soon?
Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 11/9 was showing at the London Film Festival. 9th November 2016 was the day Trump was confirmed as President. The film has a variety of themes largely around Trump’s Presidency, some funny, but mostly disturbing.
For example Moore claims that Hillary Clinton’s nomination as Democratic candidate was rigged. He has witnesses to the counting of votes who assert that Bernie Sanders beat her in virtually every state. You would think that Bernie would therefore have been a shoo-in at the Convention, but Moore contends that the Democratic hierarchy conspired to prevent this. The “super delegates” sent from the states are not compelled to follow their voters’ wishes, and clearly many of them didn’t. It has long been axiomatic that the USA is a country where money buys political power. Michael Moore gives us a graphic illustration here. Critics will say that he preaches to the choir but we ignore his messages at our peril.
Chipping Barnet Labour Party is in the process of selecting a candidate for the next parliamentary election. There are two candidates as far as I can see – Emma Whysall and Holly Kal-Weiss. I have sent them a questionnaire where their answers will tell me and hopefully others more about them.