by Martin Odoni

Oh dear, what was I saying only a month ago, and back in April 2017?

I do not enjoy saying “I told you so!” At least not when the implications are so dire. But, Conservative Party, I bloody told you so.

Brexit‘ negotiations are facing fresh trouble. Yes, I can imagine what you are thinking. “WHAT?! How’s it possible for Brexit to be in even MORE trouble?!” And that is a fair question after the week we have just witnessed. But sadly, it seems it can. For the Spanish Government, just days ahead of the crucial European Union summit to agree the terms of the UK’s departure, has thrown a ‘Rock’-shaped spanner in the works. Spain is threatening to veto any deal between Brussels and London over the issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Now, the eleventh-hour timing of this intervention does look somewhat cynical, but the British are in no position to moan about that. Thanks to the breathtaking yobbery of Michaels Howard et Fallon in the spring of last year, the UK was practically inviting Madrid to make trouble at the worst possible moment.

This tax haven could scupper the whole Brexit deal

And let us be in no doubt, this is not some minor portfolio inconvenience.  For most of the text of May’s Brexit plan, a majority agreement at the summit next weekend would be enough to get the deal through to its next stage – scrutiny in Westminster – but there is a hitch. The details over Gibraltar are not a matter for the EU collectively. Last year, Spain got a special clause added in to the European Council’s Brexit guidelines, and it is a very powerful clause; –

No agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom

In every way that matters therefore, Spain effectively has a veto so long as Gibraltar is part of any proposed Brexit deal. And as Gibraltar is part of the UK, by definition it will always be part of any Brexit deal.

So next weekend, the British contingent at the summit are going to have to go out of their way to be nice to the Spaniards, hoping somehow to persuade them to play along. And after the way Fallon and Howard openly talked about sending the gunboats in last year, that really will not be easy.

For Gibraltarians, the great majority of whom consider themselves to be Britons, and voted to remain in the EU, this development must be a real cause of consternation. The British Government openly insist it will not let Gibraltar be treated any different from the rest of the UK during Brexit, but say that to the Democratic Unionists, and hear them scoff about how Northern Ireland was supposed to be treated no differently until Theresa May revealed her ‘backstop’ plan.

I am not making light of this, or gloating, by the way. On the contrary, I am very anxious. Leaving the European Union was always going to be a risky enterprise, even if handled well. And it has not been handled well. It has been handled so poorly that it has pushed this country to the edge of a cliff, and a no-deal Brexit would send us hurtling off of it. A big extra hurdle has been added, increasing the danger still further. And once again, we have the Conservatives, and only the Conservatives, to blame for the growing mess into which they are dragging us all.

Advertisements

by Martin Odoni

NB: This is an excerpt from another article published by The Prole Star.

A number of delayed inevitables finally happened this week. With Theresa May at last forced to declare publicly which policy to pursue over ‘Brexit‘, her house-of-cards is teetering. The Democratic Unionist Party, predictably furious to learn that the Prime Minister’s ‘backstop’ plan involved treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK, effectively establishing a kind of border in the Irish Sea, have in all-but-words dissolved the alliance agreed after the General Election. A number of May’s own MPs are now in open revolt over Britain not having independent power to end the backstop summarily, with the rumour circulating – perhaps wrongly – that the magic forty-eight letters of no-confidence have already been received by the 1922 Committee, automatically triggering a leadership ballot. Business leaders have expressed unhappiness with the Brexit plan. Opinion polls suggest the Tories have haemorrhaged between 3 and 6 points in around a week due to hardline Brexiteers across the country feeling betrayed by the suggestion that Britain may stay in a Customs Union with the European Union; they appear to be flocking back to UKIP. A ‘Coalition-of-chaos’?

A coalition of conservative chaos

Everything May said Corbyn would be, May has been.

In short, the Government has hit the buffers this week.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

by Martin Odoni

Last night’s Mid-Term Election results in the United States have been a mixed bag. The Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives. This development is hugely important, and should not be down-played. However, given the general shape of the campaigns over the last month, they were always going to win that particular battle, and so the more telling measure of their performance is margin-of-victory. In that light, the performance has been underwhelming. At the time of writing (10am GMT), 412 of the 435 results have been called, and the Democrats have only just got past the 218 ‘finishing post’. If they were to win half of the remaining seats, they would wind up with 231, and a majority of 27. Useful, and very significant, but they were hopeful of getting closer to 40.

In the Senate races, the news was not just underwhelming for the Democrats, but pretty bleak. With 35 seats out of 100 up for election, the Republicans gained a couple of seats, bolstering their wafer-thin majority of the last couple of years. With just four races left to call at the time of writing, and two of them projected to go to the Republicans, the Democrats have definitely had a failure there.

The State Governorships were a little like the House – some handy headway made by the Democrats, but nothing dramatic; 7 seats gained from 36 races.

A healthy showing?

Looked at in most contexts, these numbers would be seen as quite a healthy showing by the Democrats. But sadly, in the present context, it is a slight disappointment. The painful truth for the Democratic National Committee is that, after two years of unheard-of chaos in the White House, with staff going through the metaphorical revolving door in train-loads, and persistent corruption, scandal and unconstitutional governance surrounding President Donald Trump, anything other than a Democrat landslide in all three races last night should have been unthinkable. That the gains last night were so modest says a lot about how weak and half-hearted the modern Democrats are. They just seem to lack the stomach for a battle with the Republicans, or to distance themselves from the increasingly hard-line policies, and dirty-fighting authoritarianism, of the ‘Grand Ole Party’.

Part of the reason for that is the ongoing pre-eminence in the party structure of so-called ‘Corporate Democrats’, the US equivalent of the Blairites in the UK Labour Party. The long-running moves towards the right by the Democrats since the late-1980s have made them much the same as the Republicans were back in the 1970s. These points of similarity, resulting from an over-willingness to compromise even on fundamental principles, has made it difficult for the right wing of the Democratic Party to stand up to their opponents with any conviction, because any arguments they raise against Republican policy or behaviour can be applied almost as easily against their own. And like the Labour Party between 1994 and 2015, the Democrats offer ordinary people only sporadically more than just “neoliberalism-watered-down”. They have also shown, again just like ‘New Labour’, a far greater and dirtier willingness to fight their allies on the left of their own party, than to fight their Republican opponents, showing them to be morally inconsistent and unreliable. The US public will not take much hope from representatives with a history like that, and this lack of hope means a lack of mobilisation when the polls open.

Reasons for Democrats to cheer?

Still, there were some reasons in individual head-to-heads for progressive Democrats to cheer, and most of them, most happily, come from the left half of the party. The demise of the thoroughly unpleasant (and probably corrupt) Scott Walker, who lost his Governorship in Wisconsin to Tony Evers, will bring smiles to long-suffering workers across the state. Also of note, two 29-year-old Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer – have become the youngest women ever to be elected to the House of Representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez, in particular, looks a very promising figure on whom the US left can pin future hopes – although before too much pressure is put on her too quickly, it must be recognised that in terms of legislative experience, she is at present still a ‘baby’, and has a lot to learn. But look out for her from about 2024-onwards. She is bursting with energy and potential, and if she fulfills it, she could well be a candidate in the long term for the first female, and first Latino, US President.

 

Ocasio-Cortez elected

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a young left-wing New Yorker of Puerto-Rican extraction. Her arrival in Congress will be watched with great interest by US progressives.

Also worth a round of impressed applause is Sharice Davids, a gay Native American, who has been elected to the House by the people of Kansas, handing four-term Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder a sound 9.1% bashing at the polls. (I know this is an old Star Wars joke, but “Yoder was clearly not one with the Force this week.” Ahem. Sorry.) Davids is the first Native American, much, much too long in coming, to be elected to Congress.

Sharice Davids elected

Native American Democrat, Sharice Davids, dislodged Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder from Congress this week

So in some respects, it is a worthy election of firsts for the Democrats. But the soul-searching the DNC should have been doing after Hillary Clinton’s completely-avoidable disaster in the Presidential Elections two years ago is still needed.

The threat of Trump

The Democrats have now placed a powerful legislative obstacle in the President’s authoritarian path, and in the nick of time. Not just to weaken his chances of forcing policies through, but for consitutional reasons too. Trump has openly declared a desire to see the US having Presidents-for-life – almost certainly starting with himself. To that extent, I was unconcerned for the most part at the start of this year about his narcissistic self-advancement in office, as I knew there were plenty of checks-and-balances in the US legal system to get in his way. But that changed over the course of this year with the rise of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS now has a partisan Republican majority, and as it is the body that decides how US constitutional law is to be interpreted, it opens up very dangerous future possibilities, should Trump move to curtail Presidential elections; I would not put it past him.

With all the controversies surrounding Trump, including putative collusion with Russia, it is now possible for the Democrats to start impeachment proceedings against him.

The one worry on that score is, again, the Corporate Democrats’ aforementioned lack of stomach for a fight. They need to find that stomach, and fast, as removing Trump may be the only way of averting the threat his narcissism poses.

by Martin Odoni

We already know that Israel and its supporters assume the right to interfere in the Governments of other countries – Shai Masot inadvertently made that pretty inescapable. But someone in the Zionist movement clearly forgot to tell academic Manfred Gerstenfeld that this reality is still supposed to go unspoken in public. It may be an open secret, but it is still an official secret.

Gerstenfeld, an Austrian-Israeli, at the weekend just past wrote an article that was published in the Jerusalem Post, in which he performed an all-too-familiar character-assassination on Jeremy Corbyn. He titled it in rather militaristic terms, Battling Corbyn, Israel’s main British enemy. The word enemy in particular is startling, as it implies that Gerstenfeld sees a critic or vocal opponent is indistinguishable from a violent, blood-seeking foe.

Gerstenfeld v Corbyn

Manfred Gernstenfeld, an Austro-Israeli academic, has written a hatchet-job article on Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, most of Gerstenfeld’s account of what has been happening in the UK Labour Party over the last couple of years is hopelessly biased and inaccurate – particularly his damnable lie that Corbyn has offered, “expressions of sympathy for genocidal Arab terrorists.” The people Corbyn has expressed sympathy for are ordinary Palestinian people imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank, not terrorists. Despite endless media assertions, for instance, that Corbyn laid a wreath on a memorial to the Munich Terrorists of 1972 in Tunisia in 2014, he did not. But the desire to eclipse the harmless truth about Corbyn runs strong in Zionists.

We should expect no better than that from Gerstenfeld, or indeed from any Zionist discussing any Palestine sympathiser, so let us leave that on one side.

Instead, let us look at the bit where the twister writes,

Is there anything Israel’s allies can do to make it more difficult for a Corbyn-controlled Labour to rise to power?

This makes what we already knew quite explicit; Israelis really do think that they have a right to interfere – either themselves or by proxy – in the democratic processes of other countries, for the sake of Zionist advancement. Of course, Israel is very far from alone in this arrogance, but that makes the wish no less corrupt.

Gerstenfeld’s words are an open declaration of Zionism’s anti-democratic foundation, a foundation I have mentioned before. Israel has spent decades trying to be an ethnocracy and a democracy simultaneously, and it just cannot be done; the will-of-the-majority can only be reconciled with the will of one ethnic group over all others, by artificially making the chosen group larger than the others, which in turn can only be done by adopting policies that oppress the others – undemocratic in themselves. The democratic veneer of Israel is therefore more illusory than substantial. Zionism desires a ‘Jewish State’ be perpetuated at any cost, with even democracy being seen as a small price to pay. Respecting the sovereignty of other nations is also a lesser concern in the mind of the Zionist fanatics who dominate the Israeli Government and media.

Almost as telling as what Gerstenfeld says in the article is what he scarcely says. He is not speaking out against ‘anti-Semitism’. Indeed he only uses the term once in the entire article, and does not use the word ‘Jew’ even once. In the one paragraph where he uses the term ‘antisemitism’ (his spelling, not mine), he then starts discussing opposition to Israel instead of prejudice against Jews – the never-ending rhetorical trick of Zionists trying to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism rears its ugly head once more. From the omissions from his own writing therefore, we can take it as incontestable. Gerstenfeld’s objection to Corbyn is entirely on the grounds of Corbyn’s opposition to Israel, not any supposed hostility he may feel towards Jews.

Gerstenfeld, another specimen of the stupid Zionist fanatic, has let the metaphorical cat out of the bag.

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD: The following is an opening excerpt from an article I have written for The Prole Star.

Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia who, in recent years has been resident in the United States of America, has been missing since the 2nd of October. Khashoggi was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Turkey to obtain some personal documents. CCTV images very clearly show him entering the Consulate, but there are no images of him leaving afterwards.

Khashoggi enters the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

CCTV image of Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul, on 2nd October 2018. There is no apparent footage of him ever leaving it subsequently. Photo c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

Khashoggi is almost certainly dead, and if he is, it is certain that the Saudis murdered him. Were he alive and held at the Consulate, it would have been very easy for the Saudis to have paraded him on television at any stage, and so cool the growing controversy. Moreover, Khashoggi has been highly critical of the House of al-Saud over the last few years, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman clearly sees him as a ‘traitor’. According to some reports, Khashoggi had publicly claimed in August that the Saudi regime wanted him dead.

This chapter demonstrates that anyone who thinks the positive-but-shallow gesture of allowing women to drive marks the end of Saudi Arabia’s gruesome history of repression is naive in the extreme.

TO CONTINUE READING, PLEASE SEE THE FULL ARTICLE ON THE PROLE STAR.

by Martin Odoni

Remember this?

17629959_214644189018641_6414535529056839565_n

Click here for a reminder.

The first action the Conservatives took in the spring of 2017 after activating Article-50 was to threaten war against Spain. This diplomatic masterstroke to precipitate negotiations with neighbouring countries, as the UK prepares to withdraw from the European Union, has rather set the tone subsequently. The Tories have blundered, fumbled, thrashed around, struggled even to come up with a starting framework for creating a new trading agreement, and repeatedly and predictably then tried to blame the repeated logjams on the EU. So much of the eighteen-months-plus since activation of Article-50 has been wasted, and now, alas, we are at the proverbial ‘crunch-point’. Although our official leaving date is 31st March, the effective deadline for completing the broad strokes of negotiations really is this month; the final six months or thereabouts are about fine-tuning the (very, very many) inner details of a new trading arrangement with the EU. We need to get the overall structure of the deal sorted out right now, and I am sure I do not need to tell you that we are clearly not at that point. Workable settlements for the Irish and Gibraltar border problems still have not been found, and negotiations over a new actual trade deal between the UK and the EU have therefore barely got off the ground.

The likelihood is that at some stage over the next six months, the British Government is going to have to ask for an extension to its withdrawal period. I know foam-at-the-mouth Brexiteer fanatics will play merry hell over such a move, insisting it is a cover for cancelling Brexit altogether, but the reality is that we are not going to be ready at the end of March. If we proceed as we are now, the UK will have two options, and both are bad; –

Either the UK crashes out of the EU altogether, and then has to experience the grinding, expensive, bureaucratic frustrations of trading with Europe on World Trade Organisation terms, while having a hard border in Ireland by default, which could trigger a war. Or the UK accepts a bad, under-cooked deal, with an awful lot of kinks and confused minutiae, from the start of April 2019.

The UK really needs to seek an extension, probably at least eight months, before it will be in a position to swallow Brexit without suffering a serious economic ‘choke’. And this, sadly, is where I fear that the UK’s ‘gunboat-diplomacy’ approach to Gibraltar at the outset may come back and bite the Government hard.

If the UK asks for an extension, it can be done, but it needs unanimous approval from the other countries in the EU. Unanimous. As in, agreement by all of them.

Therefore including… Spain.

Now I am not saying that the Spanish Government will definitely be vindictive over the threatening noises made by Michaels Fallon et Howard last year. Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, is arguably more grown up than the average Tory, and may well choose to be magnanimous. He is an experienced economist moreover, and will know that a deal between the EU and Britain will be in his own country’s interests – especially after years of pointless damage caused to Spain by toxic Austerity. But at the same time, Sánchez might also see an opportunity to ‘strong-arm’ the UK over Gibraltar, knowing as he will that the pressure-of-the-clock is heavier on the British than it is on the rest of the EU.”You want an extension? Okay, give us such-and-such over Gibraltar and I shan’t veto it.” And if the British protest at such opportunism, he can simply shrug and say, “Well, you guys started it!” And he would not be altogether off-his-head to say it.

The stupidity of Conservative rhetoric over the last two years has been a constant nagging worry for anybody following Brexit’s progress. Now the Tories may be in danger of reaping what they sowed. For certain, the Tories deserve no better than to be thrown around in the gales of someone else’s anger. But given the way many in this country have behaved over Brexit over the last three years – some Remainers as well as many Leavers – it is hard to argue that the UK more widely deserves any better either.

by Martin Odoni

Further to the article earlier this week, detailing the horrible assault in Wakefield on Labour Party member and activist, Jade Unal: I and other Labour members have put our heads together and agreed we should pressurise the party over its, at best, disinterested response to Jade’s request for help. The local constituency party in Wakefield have tried to pretend nothing happened, while the police investigation has been utterly futile. We want to try and convince the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Jennie Formby, to put pressure on the CLP to provide support for Jade, who has been badly traumatised by the assault.

The following text is another ‘template’ for people to use for typing up e-mails to send to Formby. If you wish to help get support for Jade, please consider using the template as a starting point for contacting Formby

______

Dear Ms Formby,

I write to draw your attention to a very disturbing and violent assault on a member of the Labour Party in Wakefield last week, and the very lackadaisical response of the constituency party.

On Friday 21st September, Jade Unal, an activist and local campaigns manager for Young Labour, was in a pub with her mother, when they were attacked by two locals. The attackers told Jade that she was,“a posh c*nt in politics, that’s stuck up your own a*se”, and of being “a paedophile“.

Both Jade and her mother were badly beaten. Jade’s head was smacked against the bar so hard that it came out in a giant lump, with a severe gash in her scalp. The assailants then followed them back to their home, where they threatened to set the house on fire.

Since then, the police have made minimal effort to find the attackers, while Jade has been largely isolated in emergency accommodation, terrified of another attack. She also has a young child to protect.

The reason I contact you is that Jade approached her local constituency party for support – in light of the apparent political motivation for the assault – and has been largely fobbed off. She was a prospect to join the candidate selection panel for Wakefield East, and had been scheduled to deliver her selection speech this week, but cannot due to her injuries. While the party in the area have expressed sympathy, they have offered no practical help. Instead they keep referring Jade back to the police, who continue to do nothing, even though the assailants live locally and are still at large. Jade remains very scared that she might be attacked again.

Both the authorities and the party appear to be taking the attitude that this is all very sad but “nothing to do with us”. This seems an incredibly lax mentality to adopt when a fellow member of the party is physicaly attacked, explicitly over her political beliefs.

Can I please request that you contact the Wakefield constituency and press them to provide proper help and support to Jade? It would also be a worthy gesture if you were to contact Jade herself.

Kind regards
[YOUR NAME]