et maintenant nous sommes vraiment foutus caduc

Labour recriminations begin as Tories demolish ‘red wall’
Ben Quinn, Esther Addley, Groon, Dec 2019

Corbyn loyalists were already laying the ground to defend his project, as the previously becalmed hostilities of Labour’s civil war started up again. Jon Lansman, the founder of the grassroots campaign group Momentum, asked on ITV:

It’s all very well saying the policies have been rejected, but how do you explain the fact that the poll says in Putney there’s 85% chance of a Labour victory?

Sitting beside him in the ITV studio, the shape of recriminations to come were laid bare by the angry comments of Alan Johnson, a senior minister in the Blair and Brown governments, who said that he wanted to see Momentum “out” of Labour. Describing Corbyn as a “disaster” on the doorsteps, he added:

Everyone knew he couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag.

Jonathan Freedland implicitly rolls the defense of Nazi Israel into his Blairite, social-democrat NATO realism:

This is a repudiation of Corbynism
Jonathan Freedland, Groon, Dec 13 2019

We can skip the first stage of grief. A result like this leaves no room for denial. Let’s move instead to the next stage: anger. We can feel a deep and bitter fury at what five more years of Boris Johnson will mean; at what his government, armed with such a mandate, will do. It will allow him to pursue a hard Brexit, to cosy up to Donald Trump and to trample on our democratic norms and judicial restraints. It will risk the union. It will allow him to ignore the poorest and most vulnerable, the children going to school hungry, to abandon the people whose lives and communities have been made thin by a lost decade of austerity and shrunken services, a decade that will now stretch like a prison sentence to 15 years. We can be angry at the Tories for winning this election, but we must feel an equal rage for the people who let them do it. I am speaking of those who led the main party of opposition down a blind alley that ended in Labour’s worst election performance since the 1930s, a performance that broke new records for failure. Look upon the scale of that calamity: to lose seats to a government in power for nine lean years, a government seeking a fourth term that is almost never granted, a cruel government so divided it purged two former chancellors and some of its best-known MPs, led by a documented liar and fraud. A half-functioning opposition party would have wiped the floor with this Tory party. Instead, Labour was crushed by it.

The leadership’s defenders wasted no time in blaming it all on Brexit. To be sure, Brexit has convulsed our politics and made Labour’s electoral coalition perilously hard to hold together. But pause before declaring that this was the Brexit election: in fact, the NHS overtook Brexit as voters’ top concern. The trouble was, voters trusted Johnson on the NHS more than they trusted Jeremy Corbyn. You read that right. Which brings us to a core point that those culpable for this disaster would rather you didn’t contemplate. Like anyone who travelled the country and listened to voters, candidates and canvassers, I heard with my own ears the Labour voters who said they couldn’t back the party this time, not because of Brexit but because of Corbyn. Indeed, Brexit was often cited not for its own sake. Little of this campaign was spent debating customs zones and trade agreements, but rather for its confirmation of their view that Corbyn was irredeemably “weak.” This problem did not wait until the election to reveal itself. The polling data was clear and voluminous on this point long before the election. Corbyn is the most unpopular opposition leader since records began. And though we may not like it, we know that voters’ assessment of the party leaders plays a huge part in their decision. Labour knew it and Corbyn knew it. Those appalling numbers were not state secrets. His admirers always describe him as a selfless, almost saintly man, devoid of ego. So why didn’t he take one look at his own ratings and say, “I am clearly a drag on this party’s prospects. Those who need a Labour government have a better chance of getting one if I step aside.” Not a chance. Corbyn’s own vanity was too great for him even to consider such an act of self-sacrifice. Instead he was encouraged by his own devoted legions of supporters, for whom the idea of a change of leader was heresy. In their mind, it was better to lose under Corbyn than to have a shot at winning with someone, anyone, else.

Perhaps it was too much to ask that he make way for a candidate less sure to repel the electorate. But he made this a presidential campaign, his face everywhere, other Labour heavyweights banished from the airwaves. In their place were factionally approved nodding dogs such as Richard Burgon. Never mind that they were bound to be useless, what mattered was that they were loyal to the ruling clique. Of course, this relates not just to Corbyn but Corbynism. For the last four years, Labour has been in thrall to the notion that it’s better to have a manifesto you can feel proud of, a programme that calls itself radical, than to devise one that might have a chance of winning. Some even argued that “win or lose,” Corbyn achieved much simply by offering a genuinely socialist plan, in contrast with Labour’s 1997 offer, which was so boringly modest and incremental. Well, guess what. Labour’s “radical” manifesto of 2019 achieved precisely nothing. Not one proposal in it will be implemented, not one pound in it will be spent. It is worthless. And if judged not by the academic standard of “expanding the discourse,” but by the hard, practical measure of improving actual people’s actual lives, those hate figures of Corbynism, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, achieved more in four hours than Corbyn achieved in four years. Why? Because they did what it took to win power. That’s what a political party is for. It’s not a hobby; it’s not a pressure group that exists to open the Overton window a little wider; it’s not an association for making friends or hosting stimulating conversations and seminars; it’s not “a 30-year project.” Its purpose is to win and exercise power in the here and now. It is either a plausible vehicle for government or it is nothing. That was beyond the reach of the faction ruling Labour. Not for them the electoral basics of reassurance and credibility. They came up with a manifesto more stuffed with giveaways than Santa’s grotto, and about as believable. The voter who quite liked the extra sugar in their tea represented by, say, free tuition fees, gagged when the sweetener of discounted rail fares, Waspi compensation, free broadband and a promised £6k7/yr to every family were all spooned into the cup.

Labour’s ruling elite forgot that parties of the left are held to a higher standard than those committed to the status quo: to change people’s lives and spend their money, first you must win their trust. That obligation is even spelled out in Labour’s constitution, which insists that “Labour seeks the trust of the people to govern.” Instead, the leadership clique dragged around their 1970s baggage and arcane ideological obsessions. The anti-Semitism arose not by accident, but as the inevitable outgrowth of a strain of left conspiracist thinking that marked them out as cranksm unfit to run the country. To warn of this danger and sound the alarm was to be instantly howled down as a Blairite, a centrist, a red Tory. On social media, a group of outriders policed the conversation, unleashing a pile-on of mockery and denunciation on anyone guilty of pointing out that the emperor seemed to be unnervingly lacking in clothes. Then they affected surprise when those they’d told to “fuck off and join the Tories” didn’t come running to help. The tragedy of this is measured in the idealistic young volunteers who signed up for a new and necessary movement in 2015, but whose faith was abused by a clique of hard-left sectarian dinosaurs, and most important, it is measured in the millions who needed a social democratic government and now won’t get one. The question now is, how long will it take to draw the obvious conclusion? You might have thought that the experience of the 1980s, of four defeats in a row followed by a march towards electability, had been education enough. We’d seen this movie before but it seems we needed to see it all over again. We’ll have a clue whether it’ll take a fifth or sixth defeat for the penny to drop when Labour selects a new leader. Will it look for someone who ticks all the ideological boxes, who’s as sound and “radical” as Corbyn, or will it look for someone who can win? Underneath that is a larger question: are you in politics to control the Labour party, or to win power? If the honest answer is the former, then get out of the way. Go back to your student unions and your pub meetings and give Labour back to those who seek the power of government and are fit to wield it.

Strong stuff from the great Craig Murray of Scotland (and once of HMG Diplomatic Service):

Craig Murray, Dec 13 2019

It is very difficult to collect my thoughts into something coherent after four hours sleep in the last 48 hours, but these are heads of key issues to be developed later. I have no doubt that the Johnson government will very quickly become the most unpopular in UK political history. The ultra-hard Brexit he is pushing will not be the panacea which the deluded anticipate. It will have a negative economic impact felt most keenly in the remaining industry of the Midlands and North East of England. Deregulation will worsen conditions for those fortunate enough to have employment, as will further benefits squeezes. Immigration will not in practice reduce; what will reduce are the rights and conditions for the immigrants. Decaying, left-behind towns will moulder further. The fishing industry will very quickly be sold down the river in trade negotiations with the EU. Access to fishing is one of the few decent offers Boris has to make to the EU in seeking market access. Most of the UK fishing grounds are Scottish. His Brexit deal will take years and be overwhelmingly fashioned to benefit the City of London. They will not build any significant portion of the hospitals or other infrastructure they promised. They will do nothing effective about climate change. The NHS will continue to crumble, with more and more of its service provision contracted out, and more and more of its money going into private shareholders’ pockets, including those of many Tory MPs.

There is zero chance the Conservatives will employ a sizeable number of extra nurses: they just will not be prepared to put in the money. They will employ more policemen. In a couple of years’ time they will need them for widespread riots. The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Johnson’s bombastic promises. These were simply dishonest promises. The Establishment are not stupid and realise there will be an anti-Tory reaction. Their major effort will therefore be to change Labour back into a party supporting neo-liberal economic policy and neo-conservative foreign (or rather war) policy. They will want to be quite certain that, having seen off the Labour Party’s popular European style social democratic programme with Brexit anti-immigrant fervour, the electorate have no effective non-right wing choice at the next election, just like in the Blair years. To that end, every Blairite horror has been resurrected already by the BBC to tell us that the Labour Party must now move right – McNicol, McTernan, Campbell, Hazarayika and many more, not to mention the platforms given to Caroline Flint, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann. The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton style right wing ultra capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.

Northern Ireland is perhaps the most important story of this election, with a seismic shift in a net gain of two seats in Belfast from the Unionists, plus the replacement of a unionist independent by the Alliance Party. Irish reunification is now very much on the agenda. The largesse to the DUP will be cut off now Boris does not need them. For me personally, Scotland is the most important development of all. A stunning result for the SNP. The SNP result gave them a bigger voter share in Scotland than the Tories got in the UK. So if Johnson got a “stonking mandate for Brexit,” as he just claimed in his private school idiom, the SNP got a “stonking mandate” for Independence. I hope the SNP learnt the lesson that by being much more upfront about Independence than in the disastrous “don’t mention Independence” election of 2017, the SNP got spectacularly better results. I refrained from criticising the SNP leadership during the campaign, even to the extent of not supporting my friend Stu Campbell when he was criticised for doing so (and I did advise him to wait until after election day). But I can say now that the election events, which are perfect for promoting Independence, are not necessarily welcome to the gradualists in the SNP. A “stonking mandate” for Independence and a brutal Johnson government treating Scotland with total disrespect leaves no room for hedge or haver. The SNP needs to strike now, within weeks not months, to organise a new Independence referendum with or without Westminster agreement.

If we truly believe Westminster has no right to block Scottish democracy, we need urgently to act to that effect and not just pretend to believe it. Now the election is over, I will state my genuine belief there is a political class in the SNP, Including a minority but significant portion of elected politicians, office holders and staff, who are very happy with their fat living from the devolution settlement and who view any striking out for Independence as a potential threat to their personal income. You will hear from these people we should wait for EU trade negotiations, for a decision on a section 30, for lengthy and complicated court cases, or any other excuse to maintain the status quo, rather than move their well-paid arses for Independence. But the emergency of the empowered Johnson government, and the new mandate from the Scottish electorate, require immediate and resolute action. We need to organise an Independence referendum with or without Westminster permission, and if successful go straight for UDI. If the referendum is blocked, straight UDI it is, based on the four successive election victory mandates. With this large Tory majority, there is nothing the SNP MPs can in practice achieve against Westminster. We should now withdraw our MPs from the Westminster Parliament and take all actions to paralyse the union. This is how the Irish achieved Independence. We will never get Independence by asking Boris Johnson nicely. Anyone who claims to believe otherwise is a fool or a charlatan.

Classic Dom clicks his fingers and the celebrations begin
John Crace, Groon, Dec 13 2019

Dominic Cummings. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe

Dominic Cummings shuffled his way through the crowd of Tory activists before merging into the shadows to one side of the Mountbatten room in the QE II Conference Centre.  This was how he liked it. To be both seen and unseen. This was his victory. Boris Johnson was just his amoral, frontman clown. He knew it and Boris knew it. Without Classic Dom, the prime minister would be a nobody. Elsewhere, Dom’s Praetorian Guard prepared the room for the start of the impromptu 7 am campaign celebration. One minder barked:

Can you move off the platform? You’re a health and safety risk.

There was no one within three feet of me. I replied:

I thought the whole point of Brexit was that we were going to deregulate this sort of thing.

The joke didn’t land well. It had been a long night. When all the faithful, many of whom were still pissed having been on the lash ever since the exit poll was declared, had been herded into position, Dom clicked his fingers. The show could begin. Moments later Needy Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid and James Cleverly were brought out as human wall-paper, before Michael Gove was sent on as warm-up act. Dom, Mikey and Boris was quite the Vote Leave reunion. Only this time the acid trip had been rather more fun. Gove tried his best to be statesmanlike as he addressed the nation. Tricky for someone whose insincerity is now second nature. He didn’t make it any easier by making vague promises to give more money to towns he clearly hadn’t heard of before yesterday. And insisting that the Tories were now a One Nation party when it had just kicked out its entire cohort of One Nation MPs immediately before the election was just taking the piss. But Mikey saved the best till last. Boris was the right man to lead the country, he said. No one had ever admired Johnson more than him. He was not worthy to kiss his feet. In fact the only reason he had twice stood against him for the leadership of the Tory party was to show up just how useless he was in comparison to the magnificence of Boris. There is no bum into which Gove won’t thrust his nose.

Then it was Johnson’s turn. “What will we be able to do?” he asked. That question was rhetorical. Because the real answer was that he would now be able to do whatever the fuck he wanted. The World King was in business. Though the one problem with being able to do whatever you believe in, is it rather requires you to believe in something first. And Boris has never really believed in anything but himself. And only then as a series of bodily impulses catapulting him from one crisis to another. He said he’d get Brexit done but he still hadn’t a clue how. Or why. And one of the problems of a landslide majority was that now there was no one left to blame. He would be responsible for whatever shitshow Brexit inevitably turned into. More people had voted for an anti-Brexit party than for a pro-Brexit one, so the country was just as divided as it had ever been. The idea of healing was a sick joke. Besides, he’d never thought for a minute that Brexit was a good idea anyway. It had just been a means to an end. To get him right here, right now. So he’d better try to enjoy it. Though best not to look as if he was enjoying it too much. Now was the time for a show of humility. To keep it low key. To at least look as if he was grateful that so many people had voted for him, when in his heart it just felt as if the natural world order of privileged entitlement had been observed. Boris mumbled some thanks to Labour voters for overlooking his dishonesty, racism and homophobia and promised he would try to do rather better at repaying their trust than he had in any previous relationships. A fresh start and all that. Or maybe not. Dom gave him the eye and he swiftly wrapped things up. He had no idea what came next, but something would come to him. It always did. The trick was to stay one step ahead of exposure.

Back home in Islington, Jeremy Corbyn was equally bewildered at the way the night had turned out. More in sadness than in anger, the Labour leader tried to explain how the real victim of his party’s failure had been him. He was the misunderstood Messiah. A man out of time. Too good for this world. Just give him another 1,000 years and the country would come to realise the salvation that had been offered in his party’s manifesto. His one regret was that he had not been even more radical. Perhaps then the people might have seen the light and not been distracted by Brexit. Corbyn sighed, willing his stigmata to bleed. It was time for him to move on. Though not quite yet. A period of reflection on the divine mysteries of his complete uselessness was required. Replacing someone as enlightened as him could not be rushed. Someone who would take the road less travelled of making the party unelectable for another 10 years. So why not give the Tories a free ride for several months while Labour tore itself to pieces? There was madness in his method. As Johnson nipped off to see the Queen – he’d lied to her once, he could lie to her again – and prepared to make another largely untrue statement outside Downing Street, Cummings quietly congratulated himself. He was the disruptor in chief. The man who tore things down. And his crowning achievement was to install an impostor as prime minister. Classic Dom.

halfwits in syria

Pentagon chiefs say Pindo troops to stay in Syria for years
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

Pindo convoy outside Tel Tamr, northern Syria. Photo: Baderkhan Ahmad/AP

Barely two months after Trump’s demagogic announcement that he was pulling Pindo troops out of north-eastern Syria to fulfill his campaign promise to bring a halt to Faschingstein’s “endless wars,” Pentagon chiefs told a House panel on Wednesday that there is no foreseeable end to the Pindo presence there. Sec Def Esper and JCoS Milley maintained in their testimony to the House Armed Services Committee that the Pindo military was staying in Syria to assure the “enduring defeat” of Daesh, and that the fulfillment of that goal is likely years away. Milley told the committee:

My assessment at this point is that if we do not retain an intelligence capability that allows us to collect and see and then act with a strike capability on Daesh in Syria then the conditions for re-emergence of Daesh will happen. It will take some time, it will probably take maybe six to twelve months, but Daesh will reemerge if Pindostan went to zero.

Esper went even further, insisting that Pindo military forces had to remain in Syria not so much to counter any existing military force, but rather an “ideology.” Esper told the House panel after repeated questions regarding Pindo strategy in Syria:

I think the defeat, if you will, will be hard because it’s an ideology. It’s hard to foresee anytime soon we would stamp it out.

Both Esper and Milley attempted to dodge questions about Trump’s green-lighting of a Turkish invasion of Syria in October aimed at driving the YPG, the Pindo military’s proxy ground force, away from their border. Esper and Milley also deflected questions about Trump’s subsequent justification for a continued Pindo presence in Syria on the grounds that they were being deployed to “take the oil,” which he said could be exploited by a Pindo corporation like Exxon Mobil. Both Esper and Milley claimed to have no knowledge of any plan to steal Syria’s oil, even though Pindo troops backed by Bradleys have been deployed in the Deir ez-Zor oil fields of north-eastern Syria. The Pindo occupation of the oilfields serves to cut Assad off from a vital resource for the reconstruction of a country that has been decimated by the eight-year-old war for regime change orchestrated by the CIA. It also represents a direct provocation to Russia, which has signed deals with Damascus to extract oil, as well as China, which previously had oil investments in Syria and is poised to play a leading role in the country’s reconstruction. Esper seemed to identify Turkey as the principal challenge to Pindo operations in Syria, stating that Turkey’s incursion into the northeast of the country had “complicated the battle space.” He described the Turkish-backed Islamist militias deployed against the YPG as a “wild card” that could provoke a wider conflict in the region, and said that Erdogan’s stated intention of settling more than a million Syrian refugees in the border areas threatened “turmoil.” Esper repeated a refrain that he has sounded in recent days about Turkey “spinning out of NATO’s orbit.” In the wake of the NATO summit in London, Cavusoglu said that Ankara would veto the implementation of plans for an anti-Russian military build-up in the Baltics unless NATO agreed to support the campaign against the YPG. Cavusoglu said:

It would be unfair if some countries supported the plan to defend the eastern flank and at the same time refused to agree on a similar plan for us.

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved legislation imposing sanctions on Turkey for contracting with Russia for the deployment of its S-400 missile defense system. Ankara has threatened to retaliate against any Pindo sanctions with measures of its own, including the possible exclusion of Pindo forces from Incirlik airbase. The Pindo military is remaining in Syria’s north-east with what it claims is a force of 600 troops, along with a detachment of at least 200 more SOF near the southern border crossing of al-Tanf. With the inclusion of military contractors and troops rotated in an out on a temporary basis, the real deployment is probably at least twice these numbers. While Pindo forces are currently occupying Syria’s oilfields, their mission is neither to “take the oil” nor to combat a shattered Daesh. Rather, they are continuing the same strategic objectives that underlay the CIA-orchestrated war for regime change initiated under the Obama administration eight years ago. Faschingstein still seeks the overthrow of Assad and his replacement with a more pliant puppet regime in Damascus. Moreover, it is determined to roll back the influence of Iran and Russia, not only in Syria but throughout the region. Esper gave a somewhat more candid explanation of the Pindo deployments in the region when he told the House committee:

The Pindo strategy in the Middle East seeks to ensure the region is not a safe haven for terrorists, is not dominated by any power hostile to Pindostan, and contributes to a stable global energy market.

He stressed that the positioning of Pindo troops in the region was bound up with Faschingstein’s global strategy of preparing for confrontation with Russia and China. To the extent that Demagogs on the House committee challenged Esper and Milley, it was from the standpoint of concerns over Trump’s twists and turns over Pindo policy in Syria strengthening the influence of Russia in Syria and the broader Middle East. Esper insisted that Faschingstein was engaged in a “responsible” drawdown of forces from the region in order to “reallocate” them to the “great power conflicts.”

back in the wild, wild west

Pindostan to impose sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream 2
Peter Schwarz, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

The Pindo House of Representatives adopted sanctions by a large majority on Wednesday against firms involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The firms and their managers are threatened with the withdrawal of their visas and the freezing of their wealth in Pindostan. Nord Stream 2 connects Russia directly with Germany across the Baltic Sea. From there, the gas is distributed by land to other European countries. The pipeline runs parallel to Nord Stream 1, which has been in operation since 2011, doubling its capacity from 55 bcm/yr to 110 bcm/yr. Germany currently uses almost 90 bcm/yr of gas. The Turkish Stream pipeline, which runs from southern Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey, is also impacted by the sanctions. However, the laying of that pipeline, against which the sanctions are directed, has already been completed. Nord Stream 2 is also largely complete. Over 1,000 of 1,230 km of pipeline have already been laid. Half of the €10b cost is being covered by Gazprom while the other half is divided among the five European companies, OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper, and Shell. The German government also supports the project. Both parties in the US Congress backed the sanctions, which were introduced by Thug Sen Ted Cruz and Demagog Sen Jeanne Shaheen. They were adopted by 377 votes to 48 within the framework of the $738b military budget, the largest in the country’s history. Final passage in the Senate and Trump’s signature are considered formalities. Trump is expected to sign it into law by the end of the year.

Nord Stream 2 has long come under criticism in Eastern Europe and Pindostan. Pindo pols have accused Germany of making itself dependent on Moscow, strengthening Putin and weakening Ukraine, which until now has been the main transit country for Russian gas, allowing it to cash in on high transit charges and use its control of pipelines to apply political pressure. Poland and the Baltic states also oppose Nord Stream 2 because they fear Germany and Russia reaching an accommodation at their expense. The German side rejects this, claiming that Nord Stream 2 is essential for its own and Europe’s energy independence. They also accuse Pindostan of trying to drive up gas prices so as to be able to supply Europe with expensive Pindo LNG. The importance attached to the project by Germany is shown by the fact that former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has served as a member of the Nord Stream supervisory board for 14 years, formally as a Gazprom representative. German political and business figures angrily denounced the sanctions and sharply criticised Pindostan. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared:

Europe’s energy policy will be decided in Europe, not in Pindostan. We are opposed in principle to external interventions and extraterritorial sanctions.

The head of the German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade, Matthias Schepp, urged the German government to take counter-measures, saying:

It is high time for Berlin and Brussels to take a clear political stand and answer with retaliatory measures.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Alexander Gauland spoke along similar lines. he said:

Germany needs cheap energy prices to succeed with its energy-intensive industries in global competition. Without gas imports from Russia, the risks for German energy security will increase. Behind the decision to lay sanctions are vast economic interests in Pindostan who would love to supply Germany with expensive Pindo LNG in place of Russian gas. They have to accept that we decide ourselves where we source our energy fuel, instead of threatening sanctions that will cause everyone to lose.

CDU deputy Johann Wadephul described the sanctions as a “blow to Pindo-German relations.” The leader of parliamentary business in the SPD parliamentary group, Karsten Schneider, declared:

Pindostan has now finally returned to the wild west, where only the law of the strongest applies. If sanctions are now imposed against allies, we are entering tough times. Europe will not be blackmailed into buying dirty Pindo LNG.

Left Party leader Dietmar Bartsch called on the German government to take a hardline stance towards Pindostan, saying:

The German government can’t bow to that. It cannot accept this blackmail under any circumstances.

The Greens, who oppose Nord Stream due to environmental and foreign policy considerations, joined in the chorus of nationalism. Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock stated:

This is an unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of the EU. The POTUS has once again demonstrated how he is replacing political action with blackmail.

The Pindo sanctions against an energy project of a close NATO vassal underscore just how conflict-riven the relations between hegemon & vassals in the world’s largest military alliance are. They also show that the mounting tensions in relations do not merely arise from the crude personality of Trump and his Pindostan First policies. Trump has in fact adopted a more lenient line on Nord Stream 2 than the hawks in the Demagog Party. The objective cause of the mounting conflicts is the deepening global crisis of capitalism. The struggle of powerful capitalist interests for markets, raw materials, oil and gas pipelines, trading routes and cheap labour is reviving the old conflicts between the imperialist powers which twice plunged humanity into world war during the 20th century. Merkel, Maas and other German politicians sharply criticised Macron for his declaration that NATO was “brain dead” and proclaimed their loyalty to it, but this is above all due to the fact that Germany still requires more time to emancipate itself militarily from Pindostan. A detailed study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs on the role of NATO for European defence came to this conclusion:

The credible deterrence and military defense of Europe is currently impossible without Pindostan’s political, conventional, and nuclear contributions. An independent capability of the Europeans in the defence sector is unachievable without Pindostan in the short term. It is in Germany’s interest to secure the political and military functioning of the alliance over the long term, but given the shifts in Pindo policy, the Euro vassals must consider a future form of NATO and Euro defence which involves Pindostan to a lesser degree.

In other words, the Germans and other Euro vassals must rearm themselves first, before they can break with Pindostan. The Pindo sanctions on Nord Stream 2 will accelerate the German government’s rearmament drive, which already aims at doubling military spending to €90b/yr over the coming ten years. As the reactions to the Pindo sanctions show, the ruling class can rely on the support in this of all parliamentary parties, from the AfD to the Left Party.

when trump says he’s scored some great triumph by direct phone calls, leader to leader, don’t believe him

Pindostan announces ”in principle” agreement on “phase one” trade deal with China
Nick Beams, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

Pindostan and China are reported to have agreed in principle to a “phase one” trade agreement which is now awaiting a go-ahead from Trump to go into effect. According to reports on the deal, Pindostan has agreed to cut back on some of the tariffs on $360b worth of Chinese goods, and not to go ahead with additional tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods threatened to be imposed on Sunday. In return, China has agreed to increase its imports of Pindo agricultural products and other goods. According to a source cited by The Guardian:

The written agreement is still being formulated, but they have reached an agreement in principle.

Yesterday began with Trump raising the prospect of a deal. He wrote in a tweet:

Getting very close to a big deal with China. They want it and so do we.

The tweet, issued just before markets were due to open, signified something of a shift on Trump’s part. Previously he had said China was anxious for a deal but Pindostan was prepared to wait, possibly until after the elections in Nov 2020 in one case. The tweet had its intended effect on the markets, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing at record highs and the Dow not far off its record peak, rising by more than 220 points. According to a report in the WSJ, the Pindo offer to reduce tariffs it has already imposed, namely a 25% levy on $250b worth of Chinese goods and a 15% levy on $110b worth, were decided on over the past week. They could be cut by as much as half, but the reduction will be accompanied by a so-called “snapback” provision, under which they can be immediately reimposed if it is determined that China is not abiding by its side of the deal. Here the devil is very much in the details, because the issue is by whom and how will it be determined whether there has been a breach of the agreement. From the outset of the conflict, the Pindo side led by Robert Lighthizer has insisted there must be some kind of “enforcement” mechanism. Whatever the mechanism has been decided on, trade with China will take place under the threat that tariff sanctions by Pindostan can be reimposed at any time. One of the main sticking points in the negotiations has been the Pindo demand that Beijing agree in writing to increase its purchases of Pindo agricultural products including poultry, soybeans and other grain products to between $40b and $50b. This compares to the level of $25b to $30b before the trade war began. China has objected to this on the grounds that to meet that level of imports it would have to breach WTO rules and such action would mean the use of government authority to discriminate against other countries. There is also a price issue involved. Since the conflict began, China has been able to obtain soybeans, a major component of Pindo agricultural exports, from Brazil at a lower price than from Pindostan.

The dispute over agriculture highlights the doubletalk that has surrounded the Pindo negotiating stance. On the one hand, it has railed against China for using the power of the state instead of relying on “market forces” in its economy, while on the other it is demanding that Chinese state power be used to discriminate in favour of Pindo producers. Trump has made agriculture a central focus, because of the economic hardship Chinese retaliation against his tariffs has led to in agricultural regions crucial to his strategy for next year’s presidential election, and he wants to present the deal as a “victory” for Pindo farmers. The “phase one” deal does not include any agreement on issues considered more significant by key sections of the military intelligence and political establishment. These are the subsidies provided by the government to state-owned enterprises and the Chinese push to enhance its technological and industrial development, both of which are considered to be an existential threat to the economic and military dominance of Pindostan. These issues have been raised in comments on the deal. This week, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro circulated a memo under a thinly-disguised pseudonym attacking a phase one agreement and calling on the president to announce no deal until after the election and “ride the tariffs to victory.” The business channel CNBC, which first reported on the memo, said Navarro had taken issue with the shelving of measures on intellectual property and technology that had been in earlier versions of Pindo proposals. The broader issues of China’s economic advances have been raised from both sides of the political aisle. Sen Marco Rubio, a vociferous anti-China hawk, said in a tweet:

A near-term pact would give away tariff leverage needed for a broader agreement on the issues that matter the most such as subsides to domestic firms, forced tech transfers and blocking Pindo firms from access to key sectors.

Leading Demagogs voiced the underlying issues in even stronger terms. An open letter to Trump published yesterday by Sens Schumer, Wyden and Brown underscored their essential agreement with Trump’s trade war agenda, demanding:

For years, Pindostan has failed to hold the Chinese government accountable for its abusive and unfair trade practices, and we commend your administration’s continued focus on this issue. Strength is the only way to win with China, and Pindostan cannot afford to back down now. The President must stand firm in any phase one deal. Any such agreement must go beyond recalibration of the trade balance with China. Failure to extract secure commitments from the Chinese government to enact substantive, enforceable and permanent structural reform will jeopardize Pindo prosperity.

Any “phase one” agreement with China does not mean the bellicosity of Pindostan on the trade front has lessened. In fact this week it went up a gear, with Faschingstein’s decision to follow through on its refusal to agree to the appointment of new judges to the dispute-settling body of the 164-member WTO.
After launching trade war action against countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America, it was a move directed against the rest of the world. The conflict began two years ago when Pindostan decided to block new appointments to the WTO’s appellate body, which hears disputes. When the two judges retired on Tuesday, with no replacements because of the Pindo action, it collapsed. Its demise came after months of negotiations led by New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO, David Walker. On Tuesday, WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo confirmed that the Walker process had failed, saying:

As of tomorrow, the appellate body will no longer be able to review new dispute rulings.

The Pindo actions not only render the WTO’s dispute-settling procedures inoperable but threaten the future of the entire organisation itself. The Pindo hostility to the WTO’s procedures predates the coming to power of Trump, but it has intensified under his presidency. Faschingstein claims that the WTO has made “activist” decisions which make trade laws rather than interpret them, that it oversteps its authority by interpreting Pindo laws, and it has made decisions that discriminate against Pindostan. Professor James Bacchus, a former chairman of the WTO appellate body, told the BBC there was no way of resolving the dispute under Trump in a way that would preserve the independence of the appellate body and the rest of the organisation’s disputes settling system. He said the Pindo actions were an attempt to destroy the rule of law in trade and replace it “with the rule of power.” That has been the essential content of the negotiations with China thus far and will be the basis of the conflicts to come, notwithstanding any “phase one” deal.

in her slightly pompous way, polly toynbee nails corbyn to the wall and lets him hang there, drying slowly

Devoid of agility, charisma and credibility, Corbyn has led Labour into the abyss
Polly Toynbee, Groon, Dec 13 2019

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters

The nightmare has happened. The worst of men is elected prime minister. The hardest of times lie ahead. Unfit in every way for any kind of office, Boris Johnson takes up the reins of absolute power bestowed on any leader with such a majority. This blow has fallen on a country ravaged by a decade of decay in the public realm and a stagnant economy. We have become an embarrassment abroad. Brexit was the wicked weapon Johnson used to dethrone his last two leaders in order to lever himself into their place. Reckless of anything but personal ambition, he has trapped us into the worst Brexit imaginable, withdrawn from the EU by next month and out with a disaster of a “deal” next year. Five crucial years will be lost in the fight against the climate crisis. In search of deals, he will bend to every interest, every lobby, every fossil fuel and fracking pusher, hiding behind his empty 2050 zero emissions pledge. The shriveling of every service is cemented into his budget plans: enough to stop outright NHS collapse, not enough to get schools or police back to 2010 levels, and everything else destined for never-ending decline. Expect no sudden change of heartlessness. We Cassandras have wrung our hands and howled out loud warning of rising poverty, homelessness, collapsing legal and social care systems, living standards in reverse. Yet people voted for all this woe. Who is to blame? There are the lies of the extreme Tory press, echoing around all media, but Labour always faces that injustice. It is the rough sea that any leader must try to navigate. Unabashed by valiant Full Facts and FactChecks, Johnson found he can repeat a lie a thousand times with utter impunity with no one to stop him except the people, and they have preferred the lie. They are not deceived: they call him untrustworthy. Anyone listening hears his plans for revenge on all who thwarted him: he will dilute the powers of the supreme court for defying him. He threatens Channel 4 and the BBC with malevolent “reviews.” Beware any civil servant or regulator who gets in his way, as he curtails the right to judicial review and threatens the Human Rights Act with an “updating.” The pound surges as City folk fear paying higher tax, more than they fear a bad Brexit crippling the entire economy. Given the worst choice in history, the public preferred him to his opponent. How bad did Labour have to be to let this sociopathic, narcissistic, glutton for power beat them? That’s the soul-searching question every Labour member, office-holder and MP has to ask.

Boris Johnson. Photo: James Veysey/Rex

Labour was disastrously, catastrophically bad, an agony to behold. A coterie of Corbynites cared more about gripping power within the party than saving the country by winning the election. The NEC, a slate of nodding Corbynite place-persons, disgraced the party with its sectarian decisions. Once it was plain in every poll and focus group that Corbynism was electoral arsenic, they should have propelled him out, but electoral victory was secondary. Laugh or cry at Corbyn’s announcement he wouldn’t stand for another election? He should have gone before dawn. Any possible or impossible successor will clear out that Len McCluskey clique: Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and others who propped up the old fellow to secure their own power base, with results worse than Michael Foot. Watch them try to divert blame onto “Corbyn-disloyalists,” “remainers” and ”Blairites.” Corbyn is not an amoral man. He can never tell a lie. Pretending to have watched the Queen’s Xmas message in the morning showed he’s not used to fibbing. He is a man without any of the qualities required of a leader: mental agility, articulacy, strategy, good humour or charisma. Yet his legacy is of historic importance. He did this country profound, nation-splitting, irreparable harm. Had he led his party and the unions full-tilt against Brexit, the narrowly-lost referendum could have been won. But he and his cabal refused outright. When beseeched, they said they were too busy with that May’s local elections. He wouldn’t share any remain platform. Festering Bennite 1970s ideologies blinded his sect from seeing that Brexit was the far right’s weapon of buccaneering destruction. He could have saved us, but he obfuscated. Corbyn came weighted with baggage too heavy for a Hercules to shift: IRA, Hamas, Venezuela. But anti-Semitism was accusation he could not shift. I am certain he sees no stain of it in himself, refusing to comprehend it, and so could not apologise. Failure to purge every case left candidates on the doorstep dumbstruck when anyone said:

I can’t vote for an anti-Semite.

And remember that early refusal to sing the national anthem? Voters’ first impression was his deep-seated aversion to expressing patriotism. The campaign was chaotic, all front-bench talent banished for fear of outshining the leader. Toe-curlingly bad performers and insignificants were punted up as loyalists, while serious heavyweights Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry might as well have been shut in Johnson’s freezer. Even John McDonnell, better by far than Corbyn, was largely kept from the cameras. Corbyn’s sectarian grudges prevented any effort to heal the party’s rift, leaving immense talent wasted on the back benches. Here’s the real tragedy. The manifesto was essentially magnificent. The vision was of a country freed from years of darkness with green investment, growth in places that most need it, salving the many wounds of marrow-deep cuts, restoring pride in the public sphere and hope in a future that was absolutely affordable. Why should we not tax and spend like similar north European countries? But if socialism is the language of priorities, these were lost in a profusion of never-ending promises too easily mocked. The political landscape was never prepared, soil untilled, last-minute policies falling on stony ground. Where was the simple five-point pledge card? Credibility is everything and Corbyn lacked it like no other. Without credibility all was lost. Think on it, every Labour member. It will be a long, long road up from such a fall. There will be days to consider hope: today is for confronting reality.

see how it all links up

Boris Johnson funder JCB aiding Israel’s crimes
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Dec 12 2019

This video shows Israeli occupation forces using a JCB digger to demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank’s Masafer Yatta area in September. JCB is a British-based construction equipment manufacturer that helped fund the leadership campaign of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The video is part of the evidence in a case against JCB that aims to stop the company aiding and abetting Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. According to B’Tselem, 18 people including eight children were left homeless by the Israeli attack seen in the video.

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, the British charity bringing the case, say it has gathered “credible, clear and compelling video, photographic and written contemporaneous evidence” of the prolific use of JCB equipment in numerous Israeli demolitions and forced displacements of Palestinians, and in the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, a war crime. The group is filing the complaint with the OECD’s National Contact Point in the UK. The OECD is a multilateral economic body that establishes international norms and standards. The National Contact Point is a government body that handles grievances against companies that violate OECD guidelines for responsible business conduct. Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights is asking the body to find JCB in breach of its human rights obligations. It argues that by selling its products to Israel, JCB knowingly facilitates human rights violations. The group says:

(JCB has not tried) to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations and products by virtue of the use of its machinery by Israeli authorities and private contractors, that it is linked to via a supply chain.

The lawyers’ group is asking that JCB immediately suspend sales of equipment to Israel and establish a human rights policy as well as a mechanism to enforce it. So far this year, IOF have demolished 585 structures in the West Bank, displacing nearly 900 people, according to data compiled by UN OCHA. In the last decade, Israel has demolished more than 6,000 structures, forcibly displacing nearly 10,000 Palestinians and affecting more than 100,000 in other ways. As recently as July, the UK government confirmed:

Israeli demolitions in the occupied West Bank are in all but the most exceptional of cases, contrary to international humanitarian law.

Yet the British government, like the rest of the EU, has taken no action to hold Israel accountable. Notably, JCB donated to the Conservative Party leadership campaign of PM Boris Johnson, who in return has promoted JCB’s products on the campaign trail for this week’s general election:

Johnson is running for re-election on a record of anti-Palestinian policies and promises. Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights says it is bringing the complaint now in part to draw attention to Khan al-Ahmar, a village near Jerusalem that faces Israeli demolition. Israel’s high court last year gave its final blessing for the destruction of the homes of Khan al-Ahmar’s 200 residents but the demolition has been postponed under international pressure. Israel said in June that it would go ahead with demolition some time after mid-December.

the anti corbyn smear campaign

Someone Interfered In The UK Election, And It Wasn’t Russia
Caitlin Johnstone, Dec 13 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, I have here at my fingertips indisputable proof that egregious election meddling took place in the UK on Thursday. Before you get all excited, no, it wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t the Chinese, the Iranians, Cobra Command or the Legion of Doom. I’m not going to get any Rachel Maddow-sized paychecks for revealing this evidence to you, nor am I going to draw in millions of credulous viewers waiting with bated breath for a bombshell revelation of an international conspiracy that will invalidate the results of the election. In fact, hardly anyone will even care. Hardly anyone will care because this election interference has been happening right out in the open, and was perfectly legal. And nobody will suffer any consequences for it.

Nobody will suffer any consequences for interfering in the UK election because the ones doing the interfering were extremely powerful, and that’s who the system is built to serve. As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description. Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day the Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like the Telegraph and ostensibly left-wing outlets like the Guardian. Just as Corbyn’s advocacy for the many over the plutocratic few saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings saw him targeted by the imperialist Israel lobby, as exposed in the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. For a mountain of links refuting the bogus anti-Semitism smear directed at Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of anti-Semitism, check out the deluge of responses to this query I made on Twitter the other day. This interference continued right up into the day before the election, with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg flagrantly violating election rules by reporting that early postal votes had been illegally tallied and results were “looking very grim for Labour.”

The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you’ll get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results. Right. Sure, guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media have no effect on their decisions at all. I guess that’s why that whole “advertising” fad never made any money. I am not claiming here that the billions of dollars worth of free mass media reporting that was devoted to smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party had a greater effect on the election results than Brexit and other strategic stumbles in the party. I’m just saying that it definitely had a much greater effect than the few thousand dollars Russian nationals spent on social media memes in Pindostan, which the Pindo political media class has been relentlessly shrieking about for three years. To deny that a media smear campaign the size and scope of that directed at Corbyn had an effect is the same as denying that advertising, a trillion-dollar industry, has an effect. Which means that plutocrats and government agencies indisputably interfered in the British election, to an exponentially greater extent than anything the Russians are even alleged to have done. Yet according to British law it was perfectly legal, and according to British society it was perfectly acceptable. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable for powerful individuals to have a vastly greater influence on a purportedly democratic election than any of the ordinary individuals voting in it. A free and healthy society would not work this way. A free and healthy society would view all forms of manipulation as taboo and unacceptable. A free and healthy society would not allow the will of members of one small elite class to carry more weight than the will of anyone else. A free and healthy society would give everyone an equal voice at the table, and look after everyone’s concerns. It certainly wouldn’t tolerate a few individuals who already have far too much abusing their power and wealth to obtain even more.

The anti-Semitism accusations against Corbyn: A witch-hunt in the service of imperialism
Jean Shaoul, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

In the final days of the election campaign, Labour’s right-wing ramped up its fraudulent anti-Semitism campaign against party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The aim of this political destabilization operation has been to prevent an election victory that would take him to No 10 and to then engineer his subsequent removal. It followed a relentless campaign that started as soon as Corbyn became leader in 2015, when the Blairites, acting with the Conservative Party, the media, the military and intelligence establishment and the Israel lobby, denounced not only Corbyn’s but all left-wing opposition to Israel’s brutal suppression of the Palestinians as anti-Semitic. The witch-hunt centres on a concerted attempt to equate opposition to Zionism and the colonial policies of the Israeli state with hatred of the Jewish people in general and the infamous and reactionary anti-Semitism of the Nazis in particular. The Netanyahu government does not represent the Jewish people who live in Israel, let alone the Jewish people all over the world. It is the political voice of a section of Israel’s financial elite, and a proxy of the Trump administration in Pindostan. Similarly, the Jewish organisations that back the anti-Corbyn frenzy have no claim to represent Jewish opinion in Britain. The campaign is spearheaded by Labour’s Blairites, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), the Community Security Trust (CST), funded by the Conservative government to the tune of £65.2m since 2015, the pro-Tory Jewish Chronicle and their allies.

Last week, the JLM, a pro-Israel affiliate of the Labour Party, leaked its own 53-page submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), accusing Labour of the “corrosive disease” of institutional racism and being “a welcoming refuge for anti-Semites.” It alleged that the Corbyn-led Labour Party was “no longer a safe space for Jewish people or for those who stand up against anti-Semitism” and that 47% of British Jews would consider leaving the country if Corbyn was elected. Backed up by a corporate media aided and abetted by the BBC, the JLM has for four years mounted a ferocious campaign over an alleged “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” to the extent that, as academics Greg Philo and Mike Berry noted in a survey they undertook for their book Bad News for Labour, on average respondents estimated that 34 percent of Labour members had been accused of anti-Semitism, more than 300 times larger than the true figure. According to Labour Party records, there were few accusations of anti-Semitism among its 500,000 members, just 0.08% of the membership. Anti-Semitic views, held by 4% of Britons, are far more likely to be found in right-wing than in left wing circles, a recent Economist survey noted. The campaign escalated after the pro-Israel lobby forced the Labour Party to adopt a highly controversial—and non-legally binding—definition drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), whose examples of anti-Semitism included criticism of Israel. Last August, the EHRC opened an investigation into whether the Labour Party had broken the law in relation to anti-Semitism, the degree to which the party had implemented the recommendations made in the reports on anti-Semitism by Baroness Royall, the Home Affairs Select Committee and in the Chakrabarti Report, its processes for handling discrimination and the appropriateness of its responses to complaints of unlawful acts. The EHRC is not expected to report until the beginning of next year. The pro-Tory Daily Telegraph obligingly gave over five pages to the JLM’s allegations conflating opposition to Israeli policies towards the Palestinians with anti-Semitism.

The JLM repeated numerous anti-Semitic remarks and accusations whose authenticity and origins have never been substantiated. It asserted that anti-Semitic abuse had become a common experience for Jews attending local party meetings, citing an unbelievable claim by one person of experiencing 22 separate instances of abuse at constituency meetings, including being called “Tory Jew,” “child killer” & “Zio scum,” and being told that “Hitler was right.” In another equally unbelievable incident, said to have occurred at last year’s Labour Party conference, a Jewish member reported sharing a breakfast table with two other delegates who both agreed Jews were “subhuman” and should “be grateful we don’t make them eat bacon for breakfast every day.” Targeting Corbyn, it reported that a former Labour Party staffer, who left before Labour established its procedures for investigating anti-Semitism, had stated that the party’s complaints unit had failed to act independently of the leaders’ office and alleged that his advisors had leaned on the unit to “take a lenient approach to anti-Semitism.” None of this constitutes “evidence” but hearsay that any court of law would dismiss out of hand. The phrases used are not common parlance anywhere other than in the lexicon of Britain’s far right, certainly not in the Labour Party. Crucially, the JLM said, this was because the Labour leader and his coterie “were guilty of similar behaviour.” While previously Labour’s right-wingers had claimed that Corbyn, a lifetime anti-racism campaigner, had tolerated anti-Semitism, now they are openly slandering him and his immediate circle as anti-Semites, citing 11 instances that relate to his pro-Palestinian stance.

The JLM has refused to campaign for Labour as long as Corbyn remains leader. This should come as no surprise. The JLM functions as a lobby group for Israel that works with the other pro-Zionist organisations such as the Labour Friends of Israel, the Community Security Trust, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation of the UK. Its members were implicated in the undercover plot by Israeli embassy staffer Shai Masot, revealed by Al-Jazeera ’s “The Lobby,” to discredit figures associated with the pro-Palestinian camp, to “take down” senior Conservative government minister Alan Duncan—perceived as hostile to Israel, and use allegations of anti-Semitism to blacken opponents of Israel’s brutal suppression of the Palestinians. Last week, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, told IOF Radio:

I personally hope that he won’t be elected, with this whole wave of anti-Semitism. I hope the other side wins.

Israeli officials have frequently attacked Corbyn’s positions on Israel, the Palestinians and the BDS campaign. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs has held discussions on whether to allow him into the country if he is elected, in line with Israel’s law banning entry to proponents of BDS. Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is much more acceptable to Israel. It was Johnson who, when foreign secretary, helped Israel cover up the plot by its embassy staffer Shai Masot, declaring the matter closed after an apology by the Israeli embassy. His action is in sharp contrast to his supposed outrage over unsubstantiated accusations of Russia’s attempts to interfere in Britain’s elections and plant fake stories in the media. Johnson’s Home Secretary Priti Patel is a former vice-chairperson of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). In 2017, she was forced to resign as a Sec State for International Development after reports emerged of 12 secret meetings she held with Israeli officials while supposedly on a family holiday. The meetings, arranged and attended by Stuart Polak who for 25 years headed the CFI, were a state mission that could not be publicly acknowledged. Patel visited the Syrian Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since its capture in the 1967 War and lobbied to divert part of Britain’s international aid budget to support IOF operations in the Golan. In a further unprecedented development, in an editorial, the New Statesman, the house journal of the Fabian right, adopted the same stance as the JLM, writing of Corbyn:

His reluctance to apologise for the anti-Semitism in Labour and to take a stance on Brexit, the biggest issue facing the country, make him unfit to be prime minister.

The Jewish Chronicle has backed the anti-Semitism witch-hunt to the hilt, giving prominence to attacks on Corbyn by Johnson and former Labour MP and former JLM parliamentary chairperson Luciana Berger. Berger quit the Labour Party in February over Corbyn’s supposed support for anti-Semitism, to co-found the Independent Group, which she then left to join the Liberal Democrats. This week’s Jewish Chronicle included a lengthy interview with Johnson in which he declares that the “threat” from Corbyn is “very real” along with a full-page advert in which Johnson calls for a vote for the Tories. In addition, 15 former Labour MPs, more Blairite defectors who now form the Mainstream campaign group, published a full-page advert in regional newspapers across the north of England Wednesday, targeting marginal constituencies where Labour could lose seats. They urged voters to reject Corbyn, calling him a threat to national security and saying:

Despite what Jeremy Corbyn says about anti-Semitism, we need to accept that most Jewish people have well-founded fears about what Labour has become.

A few weeks ago, the Murdoch-owned Times published the accusation by Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, a Johnson supporter, that Corbyn was “unfit for high office,” the first time a serving chief rabbi has ever publicly voiced his opinion about the contenders in a general election. He warned that the election result would serve as a measure of Britain’s “moral compass.” Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, entered the fray, tweeting about the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.” This McCarthyite campaign is orchestrated directly by the Trump administration in Pindostan. Last June, Sec State Pompeo warned that Washington would not allow a Corbyn-led Labour government to take office and would “push back” to prevent it. He was caught on tape telling the CPMAJO, in response to a question about whether, if Corbyn was elected, he would be willing “to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” Pompeo replied:

It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best … It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.

This anti-Corbyn campaign is “push-back” in action. None of this would have been possible without Corbyn’s craven submission to Labour’s right-wing in the name of preserving party unity. Despite hundreds of thousands of people joining or rejoining the party in the belief that he would bring about a change in Labour’s policies, he has refused to mobilise workers and youth behind any of the causes he formerly supported and given in on every occasion to the right-wing’s demands, without even the semblance of a fight. Never once did he defend his own supporters, including Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker and Chris Williamson, who were expelled or forced to resign from the party over false accusations of anti-Semitism. Instead, he has now apologized repeatedly for a supposed failure to deal rigorously and speedily with anti-Semitism. This must be a wakeup call for the working class and youth to intervene directly, not to save the Labour Party, which is beyond saving, but to wage ideological war against the right-wing political conspirators and their attempt to portray opposition to Israeli repression and war crimes as anti-Semitism.

against stupidity, even the gods fight in vain

‘Johnson unleashed’: what the papers say about the Conservative election ‘landslide’
Warren Murray, Groon, Dec 13 2019

Front pages of the UK papers on the day general election results pointed to a major victory for the Tories.

The election results make it clear that Tory MPs will comprise the many and Labour will be the few in the next parliament. Here is how the papers cover it this morning. “Labour in meltdown as Johnson seizes majority.” That’s the Guardian after a calamitous election result for Jeremy Corbyn. The paper gets into its final edition the Labour leader’s speech saying he will not lead the party into the next election, but intends to cling to the helm to oversee a “period of reflection.”

Guardian final edition, Friday Dec 13 2019.

“Johnson unleashed” says the i, adding:

Brexit in 49 days after Midlands and North tire of delay.

“Exit polls point to vindication for Johnson with huge Tory majority” says the FT, which also reports that the SNP is on course to take 55 of 59 Scottish seats.

“The British lion roars for Boris and Brexit,” the late edition of the Express, which in its earlier editions hailed “Victory for Boris AND for Brexit”.

Daily Express late edition, Friday Dec 13 2019. Photo: Daily Express.

“The Dog’s Bollox” says the Sun in early editions, with the X done as the cross on a ballot paper. Its final version has “Carrie on Boris” picturing the returned PM and his girlfriend.

Sun final edition, Friday Dec 13 2019. Photo: Sun

The Times says:

Election poll points to Johnson landslide.

In its late edition the Telegraph goes with “Johnson’s historic victory,” dropping the “landslide” headline it ran in earlier versions.

Photo: Telegraph

The Mail in its final edition enthuses:

Rejoice! Boris surges to landslide win.

Daily Mail final edition, Friday Dec 13 2019. Photo: Daily Mail

But the Mirror calls the outcome a “Nightmare before Xmas” as it laments the “worst Labour result since 1935.”

And we’ll leave you with the Metro’s 3 am edition: “Landslide for Boris.”

strong stuff

Warrant targeting Assange supporter reveals scope of Pindo government campaign against WikiLeaks
Oscar Grenfell, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

On Dec 2, graphic designer and WikiLeaks supporter Somerset Bean revealed he had received a letter from Google informing him that the company had complied with a DoJ warrant “compelling the release of information related to your Google account.” The letter did not indicate what information had been handed over. It stated that Google had been subject to a now-expired gag order which had prevented it from previously disclosing the existence of the warrant. A cross-reference of the case number with the publicly accessible DoJ database showed that Bean was targeted as part of the FBI probe headed by Robert Mueller into purported Russian interference in the 2016 Pindo election. More than 500 subpoenas similar to that relating to Bean had been issued. These facts alone demonstrated that the Mueller investigation, which ended without finding any proof for its bogus conspiracy theories about Russia, was used to carry out mass spying on supporters of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and political dissidents. The targeting of Bean, who produces graphics, posters and flyers defending Assange and explaining the significance of WikiLeaks’ revelations, pointed to the indiscriminate nature of the dragnet. Many questions remained unanswered by Google’s letter, however, including the scope of the surveillance measures targeting Bean. They have now been answered. Bean received the full text of the Pindo subpoena earlier this week. Dated Sep 27 2018, it is a document worthy of the McCarthyite witch-hunters of the 1950s, or the pseudo-legal edicts of openly authoritarian regimes. Attachment B of the subpoena demonstrates that the government wanted access to literally all information associated with Bean’s Google account. This included all emails, even if they had been deleted. Moreover, the government demanded:

All records or other information regarding the identification of the account, alternative email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, methods of connecting, means and source of payment (including any credit or bank account number)…

Google accounts track a user’s activities across the internet. Accordingly, the DoJ demanded Bean’s entire internet browsing history, along with his “address book, contact and buddy lists, calendar data, pictures and emails.” It also covered a host of apps related to Google accounts. Most ominously, the warrant requested “All location and maps information associated with the account.” It also demanded access to information about mobile phones related to the account, including “International Mobile Equipment Identities (IMEI).” Possession of a mobile phone’s IMEI enables it to be hacked. The following section of the document makes clear that the DOJ investigation was a catch-all fishing expedition. It asserted is was seeking evidence regarding crimes as diverse as “aiding and abetting,” “accessory after the fact,” “misprision of a felony,” “conspiracy,” “wire fraud,” “attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.” The document makes clear that Bean was targeted as part of an investigation into Assange over these supposed offenses. Its stated demand was as follows:

All records that related in any way to communications regarding hacking, release of hacked material, communications with persons or entities associated with [redacted] including but not limited to Julian Assange…

It is reasonable to suspect that the redacted word is “WikiLeaks.” The following clauses indicate that encryption activities and keys, credit cards and many other pieces of information relating to Assange and the redacted entity were requested. The subpoena is further confirmation that the Mueller probe, and the entire “Russiagate” narrative of the Demagogs, the intelligence agencies and the corporate media, has been used to carry out surveillance of alternative and anti-war websites and organisations, above all WikiLeaks, in an attempt to concoct false charges. The claim that WikiLeaks’ 2016 publication of leaked emails from the DNC was the result of a “Russian hacking operation” has never been substantiated with a shred of evidence. The claim was used to divert attention from the contents of the publications, which showed that the DNC has illegally sought to rig the Demagog Party primaries against self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton. It was used to distract from WikiLeaks’ damning publication of Clinton’s secret speeches to Wall Street banks, in which she assured them that many of her public statements were lies and that she could be counted on to do the bidding of the financial elite. The Mueller investigation did not interview Assange, who has always insisted that Russia was not the source of the emails. It did not reply to an offer of testimony from former British ambassador Craig Murray, who claims to have direct knowledge that the emails were leaked from within the DNC. As WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and others have explained, even if Russia was the source of the material, it would have no bearing on whether or not it should have been published. The DNC emails and related material were true, newsworthy and in the public interest, providing the Pindo sheeple with unprecedented insight into the machinations of one of the two parties of the Pindo oligarchy in the lead-up to an election. In comments to the WSWS this week, Bean said:

Russiagate has become a parody of itself, a Red Scare 2.0 campaign rolled out by top Demagogs in Pindostan to distract from their corruption, and eagerly embraced by those cheaply smearing Corbyn in the UK.

Asked for his response to the revelation that he had been spied upon, Bean said:

In short, my response is to do even more to help the campaign to win Julian Assange’s freedom. This is a disturbing insight into what is no doubt going on all the time without a friendly email from Google. Especially now, the extent of the Pindo spying on Assange and all his visitors in the Ecuadorian embassy has been revealed, one would be naive not to believe that a wide net of Assange and WikiLeaks supporters and collaborators are being monitored. Our democratic rights are being ground into dust, not only on a national level but as revealed so many times, from this small case up to the far more significant cases of Lauri Love and Julian Assange, at a global level with imperialist Pindo overreach and mass surveillance. But we stopped Lauri’s extradition and we can save Julian, with overwhelming pressure on the UK government.

The WSWS asked Bean to elaborate on the comment in his initial tweet revealing the spying in which he stated:

You think the Assange case is just about Assange? Think again.

The graphic designer responded:

Assange is the canary in the coalmine. The increasingly poisonous air is the oncoming dystopia. We save Assange and we provide a breath of fresh air to counter the growth of state tyranny. If we lose Julian Assange, we risk the atmosphere becoming poisonous for all of us. First they came for…

there’s a lot of jews worldwide who show they know they are above the laws of the lands they are in and here is one of them

BBC reporter accused of breaking law by revealing postal vote and commenting negatively on Labour
Robert Stevens, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

The BBC’s most senior political journalist, political editor Laura Kuenssberg, has been accused of breaking the law and longstanding rules of conduct governing general elections. On Wednesday, Kuenssberg, while travelling in the back of a car in north Yorkshire, held an interview with BBC “Politics Live” presenter Jo Coburn, broadcast from a London studio, and revealed what she said were results from postal votes. Kuenssberg ditched any notion of the BBC’s nominal responsibility to be politically impartial, stating:

The postal votes, of course, have already arrived. The parties are not meant to look at it but they do kind of get a hint, and on both sides people are telling me that the postal votes that are in are looking pretty grim for Labour in a lot of parts of the country.

Kuenssberg should have been immediately suspended by the BBC pending an investigation. Such was the breach of the law involved, occurring just hours before millions of people went out to vote in what was widely reported as an election too tight to call, that the Electoral Commission tweeted:

It may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed. Anyone with information to suggest this has happened should report it immediately to the police.

It added later:

Anyone attending a postal vote opening session has a duty to maintain secrecy. Ballot papers will be kept face down throughout a postal vote opening session. Anyone attending an opening session must not attempt to see how individual ballot papers have been marked and must not keep a tally of how ballot papers have been marked.

The BBC’s own guidance about electoral law and the broadcasting of information on polling day states:

Whilst the polls are open, it is a criminal offence to publish details of how people have voted in the elections.

Kuenssberg gave details of how people had voted hours before polling day! As of Thursday, the BBC had still issued no sanction against Kuenssberg, with a spokesman for the state broadcaster saying in an off-handed manner:

BBC does not believe it, or its political editor, has breached electoral law.

Such was the anger generated as Kuenssberg’s comments were shared on social media that the “Politics Live” show was later removed from the BBC iPlayer and is no longer available to watch. Kuenssberg signed off with a tweet after the incident, Wednesday night, stating that she would be back on air at “10pm tomorrow,” when polls close in the election. The BBC, and Kuenssberg in particular, have been heavily criticised for their pro-Conservative media coverage throughout the election. Last month, the BBC edited a clip of its Nov 22 current affairs show “Question Time” to cut out audience laughter when Johnson was asked by an audience member:

How important is it for someone in your position of power to always tell the truth?

The following day, in a BBC News Channel report, the laughter was edited out with only applause heard and then Johnson’s answer. The BBC refused to apologise, saying it had made a “mistake” and “there was absolutely no intention to mislead.” On Monday, Kuenssberg tweeted a false statement that a Labour activist had punched an adviser of Conservative Health Secretary Matt Hancock outside Leeds General Infirmary. Earlier in the day, ITN reporter Joe Pike had tried to show Boris Johnson a picture of a four-year-old child sleeping on the floor in the hospital for the lack of a bed. Kuenssberg tweeted:

So Matt Hancock was despatched to Leeds General (sorry not just Leeds Hospital), to try to sort out the mess, hearing Labour activists scrambled to go + protest, and it turned nasty when they arrived. One of them punched Hancock’s adviser.

Kuenssberg and senior ITV journalist Robert Peston, who said the adviser had been “whacked in the face by a protester,” were both forced to apologise later—with Kuenssberg deleting her tweet when video footage showed that no punch was ever thrown and the adviser had walked without looking into the outstretched arm of someone looking the other way. Kuenssberg’s false reporting has produced the hashtag #SackLauraKuenssberg, with one Twitter user putting up her photo alongside a caption “Secretary of State for Propaganda.” On Wednesday, BBC Political Correspondent Alex Forsyth gave an overview of Boris Johnson’s campaigning message and spoke of Johnson winning the “the majority he so deserves.” The BBC called this “a slip of the tongue.” Kuenssberg’s comments have a still greater possibility of influencing the general election result. Over 8 million people voted by post in 2017. Kuennsberg’s providing information about this year’s postal vote results, whether true or not, could only discourage Labour voters from turning out the following day by claiming the party was unlikely to win anyway. As pointed out by numerous members of the public, it is illegal to do what Kuenssberg did. Rather than breezily informing everyone when she would be back on the airwaves, she should be in a police station answering questions regarding her comments. Former British ambassador Craig Murray tweeted Wednesday of Kuenssberg’s action:

It is a fully blown specific criminal offence to reveal details of postal ballots. It is also a criminal offence to attempt to ascertain the voting pattern during verification (counting does not happen till tomorrow). Maximum sentence 6 months imprisonment.

He cited sections of the Representation of the People Act 1983 that covers UK elections, adding:

A serious criminal offence. Yet Dominic Raab, Laura Kuenssberg and other Tories can ignore the law with complete confidence. Impunity of the elite a sure sign of descent towards dictatorship.

Section 66, Clause 4 (d) of the Act stipulates:

Every person attending the proceedings in connection with the issue or receipt of ballot papers for persons voting by post shall maintain and aid in maintaining the secrecy of the voting and shall not attempt to ascertain at the proceedings in connection with the receipt of the ballot papers the candidate for whom any vote is given in any particular ballot paper or communicate any information with respect thereto obtained at those proceedings. If a person acts in contravention of this section he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

Kuenssberg says she was provided with information “on both sides,” meaning probably from Labour Blairites as well as Tories, after acknowledging, “The parties, they’re not meant to look at it.” Electoral law allows candidates and agents to observe postal votes being verified before polling day, but the ballot papers are placed face down and cannot be counted until polls close on election day. Kuenssberg is a Tory, and her hostility to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and bias towards his opponents is a matter of record, leading to the campaign group 38 Degrees organising a petition signed by tens of thousands in 2016, calling for her to be sacked from the BBC. In Jan 2017, the BBC’s own watchdog found that Kuenssberg inaccurately reported Corbyn’s views in the aftermath of the Nov 2015 terror attacks in Paris. Earlier this summer, she presided over a BBC Panorama programme, “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” that fuelled the bogus claims against Corbyn and his supporters and which has been used extensively during the election campaign in an attempt to prevent Labour being elected.