by Martin Odoni

Stupidity is quite the most abundant commodity in modern Britain. Alastair Campbell, former spin doctor of disgraced ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, was absolutely correctly expelled from the Labour Party yesterday, after openly boasting that he had voted for the Liberal Democrats in the recent European Union Election.

Before I get to my central point here, let me make clear; Campbell had to be expelled, as it was an open-and-shut case. The Labour Party rules expressly forbid voting for, supporting, campaigning for, or promoting other British political parties. Any Labour member who is found to have done so during their Labour membership cannot remain in the party. Membership Rule Clause I 4B in the official rulebook is absolutely emphatic about that.

Labour Party Rule 2B

Excerpt from the Labour Party Rulebook explicitly banning support for other political parties.

A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate… shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member

By putting a cross next to the name of a Liberal Democrat candidate, Campbell supported a candidate standing against an official Labour candidate. It is a textbook example of the rule being violated.

I have no doubt that some members of the National Executive Committee are quietly very happy to get rid of Campbell, given his endless undermining of the current leadership. But even if that were true for none of them, they still plainly had no choice. That Campbell is guilty of violating Clause I 4B is manifestly self-evident, because he himself revealed that he had done it. When the guilty openly declare their crimes, even when no one else is aware a crime has been committed, proving the guilt is very easy, and justice can be swift and summary. One can therefore feel as unsympathetic about Campbell’s brazen stupidity in announcing his transgression, as one can for him over the transgression itself.

Inevitably though, many in the media and the wider public have leapt to Campbell’s defence, trying to claim he is being made a ‘scapegoat’ for Labour’s poor showing in the Election, or even that he is being ‘made an example of’ for being on the right of the party. The former accusation is clearly nonsense, because no one is suggesting he was involved in any way with Labour’s campaign. The latter is downright laughable, simply because Campbell announced his expulsion himself, rather than the NEC ‘perching his head on Traitor’s Gate’ or something.

Those who side with Campbell are generally doing so for reasons quite other than an objective assessment of his conduct. Some defend him just because, like him, they are centrists who want the left removed from the Labour Party. Others because they have a pro-Remain position on Brexit, and know that Campbell does too. Unfortunately for all these people, whether we feel their stances are right on these subjects or otherwise, it makes no difference whatever to Campbell’s transgression, which is still undeniable and inexcusable.

Perhaps most absurd though – and this is my central point – many on social media are pointing to a Tweet that Jeremy Corbyn published in 2012, as they attempt to argue that Labour is exercising double-standards. The Tweet in question, congratulating George Galloway on winning a by-Election in Bradford as a Respect Party candidate, is being interpreted as the current Labour leader somehow ‘supporting’ a rival party in 2012.

The people leaping on this in triumph, thinking they have the ultimate Gotcha! moment, are of course making themselves look like complete cretins. Even LBC Radio, which mysteriously likes to think of itself – in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – as a ‘professional media outfit’, has leapt onto this bandwagon.

The lamest excuse for attacking Corbyn ever

Centrists and Remain campaigners demand action by the Labour Party against Jeremy Corbyn for a Tweet that is not, and should not be, against party rules

However, there is no comparison at all between voting for an opponent and simply congratulating an opponent after they have already won. This is because congratulating them after the event will have contributed nothing to their achieving the result in the first place, whereas voting for them will have.

Congratulating an opponent on winning a poll is absolutely one of the most standard behaviours there can be during an Election in fact, and is routinely done by beaten candidates when they deliver their speeches after results are announced. It is a simple display of magnanimity – ‘good sportsmanship,’ or ‘gentlemanly conduct,’ you might say. Like shaking hands with an opponent after the full-time whistle at the end of a football match, or after the last ball is bowled in a cricket match.

Harold Wilson and Edward Heath famously detested each other when they were fighting over the keys to 10 Downing Street in the 1960s and 1970s. But even then, the loser in Elections between them, however they might have felt privately, had the good grace to congratulate the other. After losing the 1970 General Election, Wilson, probably untruthfully, even claimed to have ‘always admired’ Heath as an opponent. Did that count as voting for, or campaigning for, or supporting, the Conservative Party?

When John Major became Tory leader in 1990, Neil Kinnock, the then-Labour leader, crossed the floor of the House of Commons to shake hands and congratulate him. Does that mean Kinnock should have been thrown out of the Labour Party?

This is not only stupidity on the part of centrists, who are leaping on it without even thinking, but it is also childish. Like impressionable teenagers, so many people are being drawn into agreeing with the accusation without pausing to think it through. They are too-easily-led into seeing resemblances that are not even there.

And centrists think that the left are too taken in by conspiracy theories and are ‘not living in the real world’?

by Martin Odoni

So, Theresa May, a war criminal, is stepping down as the Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. Not because she is a war criminal, but because it is clearly the only way out of the Brexit gridlock she has done so much to create. She will depart 10 Downing Street on the 7th of June.

May was in tears when she made the announcement this morning. But as is so often the case with politicians – especially right wing politicians – the tears will not win any sympathy from my direction. She failed miserably as Prime Minister. She was unceasingly dishonest, evasive, cowardly, and mean-spirited, for reasons well-catalogued elsewhere in this blog. Her relentless boasting that only she could deliver Brexit, and her sneers that Jeremy Corbyn would lead a ‘coalition of chaos’ if he ever got into power, have both had a sorry outcome.

May fails and resigns

The Prime Minister resigns, having failed to see out three years in office, and having never truly established a firm mandate to govern.

But I have to comment on May’s speech announcing her departure, which was as littered with the same bare-faced deceit and hypocrisy that marked her entire stewardship. For her to resort to that even now, when she no longer has a job to cling to only serves to make clear that her dishonesty was no matter of desperation in difficult times. It was, and remains, simply a fundamental feature of her personality. She is leaving her post as Prime Minister anyway, there is no practical purpose left in her continuing to tell blatant untruths. But she did it anyway, because it comes as naturally to her as breathing.

May’s lecturing of others on the importance of ‘compromise’ was vomitous. She was the one who repeatedly refused to speak with Opposition parties throughout the Autumn, and when she finally opened talks with Labour this year, she persistently refused to give any ground at all, insisting that Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer had to surrender to her every demand. Hence why, when May kept going back to Parliament to try and force through her Brexit deal that had already been rejected, it never contained any significant difference in its content. It had simply been reworded to mean the same thing each time. That stubborn refusal to give an inch is the very definition of failure to compromise, while her pretence that the Bill had really changed when it had not was the definition of dishonesty. For her now to lecture the rest of the House of Commons on the virtue of compromise means she deserves a milkshake over her head.

But even more deceitful still was May’s attempt to talk up her administration as a success. None of her claims, be they about job security, housing, environmental policies, mental health care, Grenfell Tower etc stands up to scrutiny. But a most particular reversal of the plain facts was her claim that her Government had delivered “a falling National Debt”.

Beyond absurd. The Office of National Statistics’ last two published totals for the National Debt were published in September last year, and April this year, for March 2018 and December 2018 respectively.  What do they reveal?

The National Debt in March last year was £1,763.8 billion. The figure announced for the end of 2018 was £1,837.5 billion. In other words, the later figure was higher than the earlier figure, therefore the amount has continued to go up. And May says that, “the National Debt is falling”?

Now, as I have pointed out many times in the past, the size of the National Debt – while not unimportant – does not matter nearly as much as the Tories like to make out. But irrespective of that, what May said is still yet another a total reversal of the truth delivered with a mechanical bare face. It is possible to argue that the Debt, as a share of Gross Domestic Product, has fallen. But the problem with that is that the Tories are once again switching measurements whenever it suits them, and without telling anyone.

May resignation speech lie

Theresa May lives in a world of blackwhite, where a rising National Debt means the National Debt is falling.

If, as they should have been, public discussions of the Debt had been conducted in terms of the share of GDP from the time David Cameron became Prime Minister nine years ago, everyone would have known how completely pointless and toxic the Austerity program since then has been.

I would like to think May’s tears as she spoke came from the burden on her conscience that she had scarcely passed a day at Number 10 without deceiving someone, but I reckon it was more just a general haplessness on her part, having to acknowledge her failure to deliver the Brexit, or the “strong-and-stable leadership”, she had guaranteed. She cuts the most crumpled figure of a Prime Minister I have ever seen, and although the only candidates to succeed her from within her party are likely to be even worse, that does not constitute a defence of her. Her resignation may be the only truly right thing she has done as Prime Minister.

So May resigns as she served; by being deceitful, hypocritical, dysfunctional, high-handed, and unable to accept that anything that went wrong was her fault. Amazing how a Prime Minister can be so powerless.

As for the aforementioned Corbyn, that’s two Prime Ministers he has seen off as Leader of the Opposition. Not bad for the guy who was theatrically told after less than a year in the job by David Cameron, “For heaven’s sake, man, go!”

It is the Tory leaders who keep going at the moment, David.

by Martin Odoni

Hopefully everyone recalls in early-April last year that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was accused of launching a chemical weapons attack against the city of Douma, as part of the Syrian Civil War. An airstrike by bombers of the Syrian Air Force on the city threw up clouds of smoke and dust that triggered an apparent allergic response in the local population on the ground. Photographs and video of those affected went around the world, including of children choking and foaming at the mouth, and were taken as evidence that there had been chlorine gas in the warheads.

However, early investigation by Robert Fisk of the Independent, when he arrived in Douma a few days later, raised severe doubts about the use of chemical weapons in the attack. Conversations with local medical professionals led him to conclude that the supposed ‘allergic reaction’ was probably not chemical poisoning, but hypoxia i.e. the victims had been breathing in too much smoke and brick dust, which had been thrown up into the air by explosions brought on by ordinary conventional warheads.

By this point, Western Governments, namely the USA, the UK, and France, had carried out retaliatory airstrikes that had not been authorised by the United Nations. The legality of these strikes was already highly doubtful, but with the possibility that the pretext behind them – deterring further use of chemical weapons – was false, any legal ambiguity would be gone. It was highly debatable whether the reckless airstrikes were even necessary, especially as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had sent in investigators to check for evidence of any illegal weapons. The airstrikes, if anything, were bound to hamper any such investigation, raising the unsettling possibility that they were carried out for precisely that purpose, in the hopes of preventing Assad from being cleared of such a crime.

Early investigation did find traces of chlorine at the site of the airstrikes, although did not establish whether it was military-grade chlorine gas. The OPCW investigators found two gas cylinders in the area, and there was a strong possibility that the detected chlorine may have been stored in them – perhaps for industrial purposes, perhaps for more nefarious reasons – and was released from them during the bombardment, perhaps due to the damage inflicted.

One of the gas cylinders was on the top floor patio/terrace of an apartment block.

The second was found lying on a bed in a top floor apartment of a separate building. At first glance, it appeared it was originally stored in the roof above the room, but there was a massive hole in the roof that might have caused it to fall through. The hole was originally thought to have possibly been caused by the airstrikes.

In the last few days, a 15-page report from the OPCW, drafted in February this year, has been leaked online, with the findings of analysis of the cylinders, and their surroundings. Study of the report leaves the reader in no doubt as to why Donald Trump, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron have not made any attempt to draw attention to it.

The draft report, written by Ian Henderson, an OPCW engineer of some twenty years’ standing, concluded from a lot of complex analysis that,

The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder having been delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis [that the cylinders were of a standard design used for liquefied chlorine storage and had been manually placed in the locations where they were later found] produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene… Observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft.

[Emphasis added.]

Conclusions of OPCW investigation in Douma

Screenshot from page 8 of the OPCW report

The report was published this week by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM). They said of it that it establishes

beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged. [Emphasis added.]

Now, if we go back almost exactly another year, we should remember a similarly ugly story at the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in which it was alleged that the Assad regime had again launched chemical weapons during an airstrike in April 2017. The ‘evidence’ to this effect was a small crater in the middle of the main road of the city, which appeared to have some kind of ruptured gas canister at its trough. Professor Ted Postol, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a comprehensive report explaining why he had concluded that the evidence was inconsistent with the use of air-to-ground chemical weapons, and why the damage to the canister in the crater was inconsistent with a launch from the air. (Screenshots of the report can be seen at the foot of this article.) He went as far as to accuse a report accusing Assad of chemical-weapon-use published by the White House in Washington DC of being ‘fabricated’.

This week, Professor Postol has also assessed the leaked OPCW report from Douma; –

Evidence collected by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM)… indicates two analyzed chlorine cylinder attacks were staged in April 2018 in Douma. The holes in the reinforced concrete roofs that were supposedly produced by high-speed impacts (impact at speeds of perhaps 100 m/s or more, 250 mph) of industrial chlorine canisters dropped from helicopters were instead created by earlier explosions of either artillery rockets or mortar shells. In one event a chlorine canister that was damaged on another occasion was placed on the roof with its head inserted into an existing crater hole, and in the other case a damaged chlorine cylinder was placed on a bed supposedly after it penetrated the building roof and bounced from its original trajectory into a bed. In both cases the damage to the chlorine cylinders was incompatible with the damage to the surroundings that was allegedly caused by the cylinder impacts. As such, 35 deaths that were originally attributed to these staged chlorine events cannot be explained and it cannot be ruled out that these people were murdered as part of the staging effort.” [Emphasis added.]

This all should have been headline news before the start of March. Instead, it appears to have been buried, not just by the Governments of the US, UK and France, but also by the world media, and by the OPCW itself, which made no mention of these findings in its report to the UN.

The OPCW has confirmed that the document is the genuine article, and has stated that it is investigating the leak. That is all well and good, but the Organisation has nothing to say about the scandal of the document being kept secret in the first place.

The unbearable stink of political corruption can be smelt coming from all angles of this latest chapter. That a crime was committed by the US, UK and France when they launched the ‘punitive’ airstrikes is difficult to argue with, but there was always a likelihood that people would largely shrug their shoulders about it in the event that it was established that Assad really was using chemical weapons. The probable refrain would have been, “We haven’t got the time for legal niceties to be sorted out, people are being gassed in the most horrific way devised by Man.”

But now, with strong evidence that the whole ‘gas attack’ angle was staged to make a conventional attack look like an explicit violation of International Law, the responding violation of International Law by the three Western Governments becomes as unnecessary as it is illegal. And that makes it an act of corruption too.

Add in events in Eastern Ghouta in 2013, where significant doubts also linger about Assad’s supposed use of chemical weapons, and again the aforementioned events in Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, and the pattern that stands out is not the brutality of Assad. It is the relentless desperation of his opponents both in Syria and in the West to convince everyone of his brutality. That Assad has at times been a bloody dictator is impossible to dispute, but the crimes he, and his father before him, have truly committed (Hafez al-Assad was probably one of the leading minds behind the Lockerbie Bombing of 1988, for instance, even though the atrocity has always been officially blamed on the then-dictator of Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi) should be enough to condemn the regime; there should be no need to keep trying to invent other crimes that simply do not leave behind the evidence that they would.

Map of the Middle East

The Western determination to bring down the Syrian Government always has US/European strategic interests at its heart. Yes, there are some politicians who support the efforts for genuine humanitarian reasons, but it is long past time that everybody recognised that what Governments want from intervention is entirely self-serving. In this case, the US, the UK and France are concerned about Syria’s close ties to Russia, as well as its alliance with Iran. Preventing Russia from expanding its sphere of influence along old ‘Soviet-Union’ lines is seen as an end in itself. Meanwhile, the USA in particular wishes to bring down the Iranian regime, which already exercises a powerful influence over neighbouring Iraq, and is extending its reach into Syria. Iran and its old enemy, Saudi Arabia, are using Syria as a proxy war-zone in much the same way they are also exploiting the Yemeni Civil War. (The Shi-ite Republic has been a thorn in the flesh of American and British oil interests in the region since it began in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Arguably, the Iranian problems went back to the time its secular Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, tried to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951, leading to an Anglo-American coup, which removed him from power two years later.)

External interference in Yemen's Civil War explained

Turkey and Israel are key allies of the West, as they spare the British and the Americans the enormous practical difficulty of having to station their own armies and navies in huge numbers in the region to patrol the eastern Mediterranean and guard its oil shipping routes. Turkey and Israel also fear Iran’s growing power in Syria; Turkey in particular as it shares a long border with Syria, and the lands around it are almost ungovernable as it is due to rebellions by Kurdish freedom fighters. The thought of that border coming under the control of Iranian sympathisers frightens the Government in Ankara. Israel also shares a border, albeit a much shorter one, with Syria, and is almost paranoid in its fear of the reach of Iran, and so is eager to see Assad fall as well.

All of which explains the real reasons why Governments in Europe and North America keep trying to stitch up Assad, and co-operating in stitch-ups created by Assad’s wartime enemies. Some of these enemies, I cannot reiterate enough, make Assad, brutal though he may be, look almost philanthropic, especially the former ‘al-Nusra Front‘.

So we understand why Trump, May and Macron co-operated with the staged ‘chemical attack’ in Douma. What we now need to know is how. Or to put that more precisely, how much did their Governments know in advance about the stitch-up? Were they aware beforehand that the evidence was going to be faked? Or were they just being opportunistic? More disturbingly still, did they assist in some way in the faking of the evidence to begin with? That seems unlikely on the face of it, given the local rebel groups probably would not need help with it, but it cannot be discounted.

In any event, the Governments of the USA, the UK, and France, have all committed a war-crime, and one that can no longer be extenuated on the grounds of it being an ‘essential intervention’ to prevent chemical weapon use against civilians, because that use was not happening. That the mainstream media in the West have kept completely silent about this demonstrates once more how hollow the term ‘Freedom of the press‘ continues to ring.

Just like Tony Blair before her – albeit for less extreme reasons – Theresa May is a British Prime Minister who must be made to stand in the dock in the Hague, for violating International Law.

While the media keep their lips zipped about this, there is zero chance of that happening.

_____

Professor Ted Postol’s Report from 2017 on the Khan Sheikhoun Attack; –

 

by Martin Odoni

A common refrain I see from libertarians and anarchists, including ones who believe themselves to be on the left, is that

‘Taxation is theft’.

Now, this is not really true, and is based on the false ‘tax-and-spend’ notion that people make money and the Government takes it away from them to cover the cost of spending. It actually works the other way around. The state issues money, usually via a Central Bank, and circulates it around society, before it returns to the state in the form of taxes. If we keep in mind that the ultimate source of a currency is always a Central Bank, and that the Central Bank is always part of a state – even the European Central Bank is part of one after a fashion – the nonsense of the platitude, ‘Taxation is theft’ becomes very obvious. (Taxes go up and down, not to regulate the size of the spending budget, but to discourage or encourage more private spending, depending on whether the economy is too active, which causes inflation, or too sluggish, which causes recessions.)

The implication of the platitude is that, basically, the Government taking money from its population is a crime and should therefore be stamped out. But what would happen if it was stopped? After all, if the state does not need to rake in tax to cover its spending commitments, why not just get rid of taxes altogether?

Well, the answer is that, especially in a consumer/services-dominated economy like the UK, its native currency will lose value rapidly.

The key consideration is that the value of a currency is driven by the demand for it. The main reason people in the UK do their business in sterling is precisely because they have to pay their taxes in pounds. Therefore, within Britain, there is a constant demand for pounds, at least up to the level required to meet the overall tax burden of the population. The less they have to pay in taxes, the less need they have to do their business in pounds. And as, thanks in particular to Margaret Thatcher, UK manufacturing produces far less than it used to, the pound is a less useful currency than it used to be in terms of what can actually be purchased with it.

In a no-tax environment therefore, more and more businesses will start accepting other currencies, like the Chinese renminbi, or the euro, as payment for goods, instead of pounds. This is simply because the bigger a stockpile of these currencies businesses can build, the more it bypasses the cost and inconvenience of having to exchange currencies before importing goods to sell.

The point will come when the UK will be flooded with other currencies. The population will increasingly buy and sell in them, while sterling’s value will have gone through the floorboards, because no one will want or need it anymore.

At that same point, the UK would lose much of its independence, because it will have become dependent on the country that issues the new ‘dominant’ currency in Britain for its money supply. (See the way Greece has been treated by the European Union since the Global Financial Crisis, to realise how powerless a Government can become when it does not have a currency of its own.)

So, when people demand “Abolish all tax”, because they imagine that their wealth is being used to support “scroungers”, or “moochers” if they are American (even though the actual amount of UK Government expenditure paid on unemployment support, fraudulent and legitimate combined, is only about 1%), they are making a big, big mistake.

Now the use of slurs like “scroungers” gives away the reality that they are trying to rationalise their own selfishness by denigrating those who receive state support.

'Scrounger' accusations translated

“I want more!” The Veruca-Saltz-esque translation of the people who espouse ‘scrounger’-narratives.

But whatever the motivation, what they are missing is that, should they get their way, instead of keeping about 75% of something worth a lot, they will instead be keeping 100% of something worth dust.

A fool’s saving if ever there was one.