Why Labour Must Prevent A Future ‘Hippo Out Of The Hat’ Situation By Ikechukwu Onyeadi

I have been a member of the Labour party for long enough. Even when the party was hit by a wave of mass-decampings, especially amongst the younger members, I stayed.

I stayed because I know I am a socialist through and through.

I stayed because I had faith that a true socialist would someday come along and present a platform radical enough to warrant a chance with the disenchanted electorate.

Over the years I have watched Labour slowly turn away from what it is; a movement for workers. It suddenly became so engrossed in infiltrating traditional Tory regions that it forgot to properly represent workers.

Of course, Education and wealth are universal aspirations, but when we have Labour politicians that come from Oxbridge-educated, very wealthy, ‘never-worked-ever’, Reese-Mogg type backgrounds; preaching socialism, then the white van, traditional working-class Labour voter cannot help but view them with suspicion.

When Ed Miliband came up with those brilliant, brilliant policies in the run up to the 2015 General Election, voters simply did not trust him in his £1000 suits. I remember one of the numerous polls held in 2014, summarised by Peter Kellner and published in the Guardian by Mathew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo on July 7, 2014, pointing out that although polls showed that The Labour Party was on course to win the 2015 General Election; the major obstacle to that happening was Ed Miliband himself. His image as a ‘posh boy’ just failed to convince anyone, including traditional Labour voters.

The subsequent wipe out of the Labour Party in Scotland and the Tory party’s 328-seat majority win, one that was brilliantly described by Boris Johnson as David Cameron “pulling the most colossal rabbit out of the hat” served to buttress the point made by the pollster.

For Tory Politicians, it seems that the ‘posher’ one is, the more likely they are to advance politically.

For Labour, the electorate seem as though they would like a ‘no-bullshitting’, regular but very ‘street saavy Joe’ that one is highly likely to run into at the local chippy in Swancombe every Friday evening.

That is why, for the Labour party, image should be everything.  

To digress a little from the central discussion here, in the past the Labour Party have used positive inclusion techniques to encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds such as women and ethnic minorities to stand as Labour candidates. Perhaps this approach could be used to encourage today’s disenchanted youth to run for office, thereby injecting more charisma and vigour into the whole electoral debate. If one looked around Labour CLPs in the Southeast these days, they are chuck-full of people who were teenagers when Elizabeth was crowned Queen and who-no matter how hard they try, simply do not understand the world as it is today.

It would perhaps be wiser that those who will decide our future have sound knowledge on Technology in this country and the role of Artificial Intelligence in the future of our species. An idea of who Bixby is would be a great start!

What Jeremy Corbyn brought to The Labour party is nothing short of the breath of fresh air that this country has so badly yearned for since the heartless conservative Government took an axe to social service funds and benefits.

His policies so far seem to be coming straight from the mouths of regular people who go to work every day and go through all the challenges of living in today’s cash-strapped Britain. His policy on nationalising the rail network is direly needed to control the unreliability we have come to expect from the rail network.

His insistence that austerity is just a fiscal choice and not necessity is very economically sound.

A perfect scenario would be to imagine that banks imposed daily withdrawal caps of £200 on its customers because it simply refuses to borrow money to do business, although that option is readily available to it.

Mr Corbyn thus presents as the perfect candidate, with the perfect credentials and the perfect image. The young love him, the old women think he is adorable and his policies agree with any true socialist that believes in a more even system of wealth “redistribution”. His policies also agree with most people in this country who have seen their quality of life deteriorate steeply since the conservatives came into power in 2010 and desperately want something different.

However, we risk another ‘Tory Rabbit’, nay, a ‘Hippo’ this time because Theresa May does not enjoy even half the support that David Cameron did during his premiership, being pulled out of the next General Election Hat!

The reason for my prediction is The Labour Party’s stance, or lack of, on door-step issues. On Brexit. We know we will vote with The Government to make Brexit a reality, according to the wishes of the majority of The British Electorate during the referendum, but we have no clear red lines.

In the negotiations following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, British politicians should band together and present one front, just like the EU 27 is doing. The different opinions and the UK politicians who preach even greater doom than Michel Barnier, create the cracks that The EU is now exploiting.

It is right for Jeremy to whip the Parliamentary Labour Party into supporting The Government on Brexit.

Perhaps this delay on defining a stance on the single market has helped The EU with establishing both the ammunition and the high ground. It is however encouraging that Jeremy seems now to be clear on his stance with leaving the Single Market, despite criticism from Pro- European Labour MPs.

On Immigration, Labour has no clear policies either. The concerns on the doorstep that uncontrolled Immigration suppresses wages, is changing the dynamics in many cities and is pushing the NHS to breaking point, are all very valid and very evidence-based.

The fact that a European National living in Britain can bring their non-EU family members to join them in Britain with no requirements other than exercising treaty rights but British citizens looking to bring their family members to join them in Britain are subjected to requirements on earnings is simply ridiculous, no matter what one’s political affiliations are.

In addition to Jeremy Corbyn, what the Labour Party needs is re-orientation for its Politicians. We desperately need to move with the times. No matter what one’s principles are, we need to become a winning party again.

Jeremy can have all the best policies but if the Tories are willing to get their hands ‘dirty’ by discussing and addressing the real issues on the doorsteps, whilst Labour continues to abstain from these discussions; they will pull every animal species in London Zoo out of all foreseeable General Election Hats.

I suggest that the re-orientation start from ward level.

Let us try something radical.

Let us-only for one season try to use positive inclusion techniques to council seats to encourage under 40s, especially women under 25.

In doing so we would invariably draw a lot of young people into politics and they will supply fresh ideas to deal with the issues facing us right now.

My young neighbours in my street worry about the fact that the last time anyone saw a street cleaner around our street was 9 months ago! They are grateful for the playground that Tan Dhesi fought for many years ago but are now particularly worried for their children’s safety since some juvenile delinquents have decided to use the playground as a racetrack for their noisy Motorbikes.

They wonder if our Labour Councillors even care as no one ever sees them at the doorstep. They never write their constituents to update them on what they are fighting for and usually make important decisions without consulting everyone in their wards. If we want to win, we must change.

National Labour has labelled Gravesham an “unwinnable” seat or something along those lines but I see this borough as very winnable.

We are not able to win because the reality is that outside London, when people are given the opportunity to choose between a Labour party that is stuck on principles that do not reflect the challenges faced by ordinary citizens in today’s Britain, they will vote a Tory. That is because the Tories have managed to stick The Labour party with several tags including that of “The Borrowing” party and so far, we have had the weakest comebacks.

I am no stranger to criticising our policies within The Labour Party and those of the Government for that matter but the essence of criticism is to point out that improvements are required and not a demonstration of disloyalty.

Above all, I want The Labour party to get back to its winning ways with Gravesham as its Crown Jewel.

To do that we must support Jeremy Corbyn.

We must change our strategies.

We must become more radical.

We must represent workers and

We must encourage Jeremy Corbyn’s advisers from a wider range of candidates with young and vibrant British workers who live in today’s reality and not an elite within the party who all own their own homes and have sizable savings which their children will inherit.

By Ikechukwu Onyeadi

** All views are the writer’s own and do not represent the views of The Avenger

Compulsory Competitive Tendering AKA to the Tories as Council & Community Termination By Sarinder Joshua Duroch

The Tories branded Compulsory Competitive Tendering as efficiency, quality implementation and provided value for money to the local tax payer.

It proved to be the dismantling of the democratic relationship between the citizen, elected members and service provision, which is at the heart of local authority provision.

The Local Government Planning and Land Act of 1980 introduced a block grant and compulsory competitive tendering (CCT). A block grant is the bulk of funding that a local authority gets from Whitehall each year, local authorities can spend it as they see fit to do so, but the amount is determined by central government. Ring fenced grants are also given by central government, but are solely for a specific purpose and the local authority cannot spend as they please.

Savings through CCT would result in savings and less to pay out from a central government viewpoint.

Thatcher’s crusade against Labour councils had begun and the implications certainly made their impact until Labour came into power and changed CCT to Best Value(Local Government Act 1999). Best Value gave far greater consideration to service users and local authorities.

At the time the U.K was the only place in Europe where an act of Parliament dictated that local councils must tender out their services to the cheapest bidder; the Tory governments turned our local authorities into nothing but auction houses.

During the years of CCT local government was only a local authority in name, the services and maintenance that is rightfully meant to be supplied by the people for the people had been sourced out to the cheapest bidder and in many cases the councils had to accept the cheapest bid.

CCT value was only assessed by the cheapest tender and CCT did not consider the employment agenda, the process of the tender submission stage characterises CCT in a nutshell. It is very fair to say that the Tory ethos was to ensure that private industry increased their ability to pay more corporation tax to the government whilst making the corporations bigger players in society.

What employment rights were in place one may ask, they were not expected to be in the submitted tender and more so where was the union in all of this?

The answer is nowhere in sight, because many who worked on tenders were not part of a union, and by working for the private sector they were cultured to participate in the mindset of the cheapest size fits all and profits before people.

The Tories knew fine well that council employees who were blue and white-collar workers were both part of the union movement, and by implementing the CCT strategy it eliminated council worker participation and they were replaced by the ‘profits before people’ ethos. CCT has affected all services across the board from parking to parks, from housing management and home to school transport.

How could the presence of the union, employment rights, legislation and fair opportunity for those in local government service be secured when the services themselves had been tendered out under the legislation of the Local Government Acts of 1988 & 1992?

As for social requirements being incorporated into the tender this is allowed in European nations but in the U.K it was outlawed. Citizens of democracy were being treated as consumers and the elected members of the council were simply ‘just there’ for the sake of being there and are not being active participants in the say of the private company’s way of working and service provision.

The key issue is the elimination or severe reduction in democratic control over service provision. Public service safeguarding was completely ignored, and business objectives were put in place. Service provision at the cost of democratic provision is a total capitalistic hostile takeover directed by the Tory machine that will not stop until it is satisfied that society has no or very little say in the process of service provision!  

The nature of CCT took a lot of power away from elected members and officers of the local authority seemed to be the negotiators and acted as the officialdom that the tenders went through.

Traditionally officers have advised members but CCT took the power away from members making officers more involved with the private contractor?

Is this the Tories idea of greater democratic provision? Social and political objectives were outlawed from the tendering process, surely this eliminates the elected member from the electorate, is this the Tory’s idea of greater democratic participation?  

We will obtain better value for money and higher quality services” (Michael Heseltine, Secretary of State for Environment, January 1992).

This statement turned out to be the Cri de Coeur for anyone who believed in local democracy.  

At what cost is there better value for money, direct employees of the council having no employment and facing redundancy!

Direct Service Organisation employees are employed directly, and they cannot be replaced for a cheaper alternative by the local authority.

Private firms know this very well and can easily employ people on low wage, temporary and agency contracts to get the job done as soon as possible. Just how can a local authority compete one may ask the obvious question?

With the exploitation we see today of European workers and others we all know how much employment agencies have managed to get away with!

Making the poor poorer – Is this not a traditional Tory policy?

For many council staff that couldn’t remain employed by the local authority they found themselves being employed by the private contractor. Their wages went down, their hours reduced, their holidays were impacted, and sick pay was non-existent. The nature of the competitive tender resulted in health & safety practices being exploited to cut corners and make savings.

A survey instructed by the Department of Environment discovered that, in those services that fell victim to CCT one in eight jobs had been lost. A further examination of 20 local authorities revealed that CCT caused more than 10,000 part-time jobs to be lost in the lower paid sectors of building and cleaning.

Evidence that the poor and working classes were the victims of the Tory policies that hit that most financially vulnerable in society.

The main objective of the Tories was to increase taxation revenue and take away the powers from the unions and the Labour party controlled authorities. Once again, the working classes in the north of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were badly affected.

Unions were seriously affected, bargaining power was taken away from them, reduced membership and less consultation over management policies and decisions. It really was a major clean up operation for the ‘fat cat’ Tory thus ensuring a comfortable income for the Treasury, company shareholders and the losers, as usual, were the working classes.

What did Heseltine care for the working classes when he made his 1992 statement, he was in the full swing of his political domain and with the income that comes with it. All he had to do was play the Tory tune at every opportunity he could to make enterprise the way forward and local democratic participation a thing of the past and an outdated concept.

Nationally and locally agreed pay structures were ignored and the position of the local authority as a major local employer was clearly undermined or diminished in many cases. Did the Tories consider the fact that people like cleaners and maintenance workers were having to claim for in work benefits and housing benefits to make ends meet due to the treatment they were getting by the private contractor?

In addition to this the job losses that the local authority had to endure were immense and many in ‘secure long term’ employment found themselves with no work at all.

Did the Tories care? No, they did not!

That was not their concern, when was the last time the Tories cared for anyone apart from themselves or their associates and friends in industry.

Remember profits before people and power over society is the main concern and policy of the Tories and their ilk.  

One would believe that the Tories would have least protected themselves and their friends in industry. By the early ’90s The Public Service Privatisation Research Unit discovered that the failure rate of private companies was 4.5 times higher than that of the work carried out by the local authorities.

Complaints relating to the standard of cleaning to the maintenance work carried out in schools was in high occurrence. Work was not completed on time, in many cases incomplete and overall very poor standard.

In 1997 Hilary Armstrong, the then Local Government Minister, changed the agenda of CCT to prioritising Best Value and making consultative changes. CCT was replaced by Best Value in 2000, the TUC welcomed the proposals by the then Labour government and added that pay and working conditions were of paramount importance.

At the time Jon Monks, the TUC General Secretary said, “This is a clear recognition that CCT has failed. Its market-driven approach has failed to deliver improvements in service quality and has driven down pay and conditions for public sector workers.”

The Tory divisions of class and social segregation spared nobody as it usually does. The first wave of victims were blue collar workers and in 1993 white collar workers were targeted.

As usual all services were subjected to phased changes causing uncertainty and insecurity spreading throughout the workplace; fear was the best instrument to select for the Tories as a resource to subdue and control the working classes.  

In 2016 the state owned Calmac ferries won the contract over Serco to run the ferry service in Scotland. The employee centric focus and modern technology commitment was a major factor in winning the bid. An area of attraction was a commitment to maintaining the living wage and boosting local employment including apprenticeships, in addition to this their bid involved communities in the decision-making process.

This clearly has the hallmarks of the Labour changes that were made in 1997 and best value characteristics are evident.

The Scottish Conservative response to this successful bid was in defence of private companies – (Quote from BBC news coverage) The Scottish Conservatives said the tender process had been designed to deter private companies from bidding and winning, and that a number of questions remained to be answered as to why Serco’s bid was ruled out as being non-compliant.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36330479

CCT and other Tory policies were selfishly thought out by Thatcher, she firstly prepared the police to be on side to deal with the miners and any form of protest.

They carried out her physical and brute force agenda, whilst appeasement to the corporations extracted out whatever willpower and strong blood was left in the veins of society and its representatives through taking power from the local authorities.

The very nature of using corporate enforcement and breaking the relationship that the electorate has with elected members in relation to local service provision will always be at the centre of serious controversy.

Greed has no limit and does not know when to stop. However, a mind that is cautious of the implications of greed and puts society first will prevail; that mind belongs to the electorate and they must choose wisely to deal with the crusade that has taken from the poor and allowed the rich to exploit at will.  

Sources: BBC, Unison, EURWORK & The Insecure Workforce (Walsh & Davis report 1993).

Isn’t It Time We Made Homes Fit For Human Habitation? By Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland

The second reading of Karen Buck MP’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill is on January 19th 2018.

We can hardly believe that, in the 6th richest country in the world, in 2018 it is necessary for such a bill to be raised.  

It is astonishing that such a protection is not already in existence for tenants. Tenants have no avenue for redress or means of compelling landlords to make repairs or even secure the safety of the property.

The Bill would empower tenants by giving them the right to take their landlord to court if they fail to take action to resolve a problem.

There are currently around one million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety. This affects over 2.5 million people.

You might think that this lapse in the law is an oversight that just needs to be rectified. But you would be mistaken.

A version of the Bill was first introduced by Karen Buck in 2015 and was ‘talked out’. A version of the Bill was also proposed as an amendment to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and was voted down by the government. Including the 87 Tory MPs who are landlords.  Their argument was that such legislation would burden upon landlords and discourage people from renting out homes.

How did we get in the situation we are in today, one might ask.

Many years of under funding and de regulation of the housing market we could argue.

What could be a greater burden for any person than trying to live in a ‘home’ unfit for human habitation, you might wonder.

Data from the English Housing Survey 2017 found that Almost a third (29 per cent) of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard; meaning they either contain safety hazards or do not have acceptable kitchen and bathroom facilities or adequate heating

Poor housing impacts on children by making them 25% more at risk of ill health or disability, including raised risk of meningitis or asthma and a greater chance of mental health issues.

They are also more likely to miss school through illness.  Almost one million privately rented homes are deemed to be in a state of “substantial disrepair”, while 442,000 have damp in one of more rooms.

Poor housing also places a greater burden on other services and affects society as a whole, not just children.

Substantially more working age adults living in bad housing report fair, bad or very bad general health (26%) than those living in good housing (17%), with adults in bad housing 26% more likely to report low mental health compared with those living in good housing.

Those living in bad housing are almost twice as likely to have their sleep disturbed by respiratory problems at least once a month.

The association between living in bad housing and health problems is particularly acute among those above retirement age; with Pensioners in bad housing a third more likely to have fair, bad or very bad health compared with those in good housing (58% vs 38%).

Almost a fifth (19%) suffer from low mental health compared with 11% in good housing.

Almost twice as many pensioners living in bad housing suffer from wheezing in the absence of a cold, compared with those in good housing.

Not only is this unacceptable and immoral in this day and age but it also undoubtedly places more burden on the cash strapped NHS, including mental health services and schools that are already under so much pressure.

So what can we do about this?

We welcome the second reading of the bill and hope that this can proceed to the next stage. MPs will have a vote on this issue and we the people can apply pressure on our local MPs to vote the right way.

You can find who your local MP is and and how to contact them by clicking on the link below.

http://www.ukpolitical.info/YouandyourMP.htm

The above is taken from Natcen’s 2013 report on People in bad housing.

Has Young Voter Apathy Finally Been Defeated by Jeremy Corbyn? By Sarinder Joshua Duroch

The Labour party has managed to secure well over 500,000 members since Jeremy has been the leader of the party.

“Bland”

“Not appealing”

“Doesn’t look the part”

“He is past it now ”

These were the cries we heard from many people both in the Labour party and from the opposition with their supporters mocking the man. They have all been proven wrong and have been made to hide their faces since Jeremy’s efforts in the last election and the subsequent results which forced the government to turn to the DUP; sorry state of affairs is it not, one may ask?

The Cri de Coeur of criticism for Jeremy can now be heard from the Tories and others who clearly judged a very good book by its cover. It’s like your very own boomerang coming back and smacking you between the eyes whilst you are trying to impress a crowd with ego and prowess.

Now Jeremy is the bestseller and the others who were clearly in a perceived first-class seat can’t even get standing space on a replacement bus service.

The falling Tory membership is a clear indication of the present state that they are in and internal critics have had to bow and confess that they were wrong about Jeremy.

So, has he managed to tackle voter apathy? One may ask with eager expectation for an optimistic answer.

There is no doubt that in my mind the Blair years had a lot to do with people just giving up on politics, socialism is what they wanted; spin and the ‘Red Tory’ is what they got according to many opinions on the street.

Did they just hide and not come out to vote, or was it the MP expenses scandal that had a lot to do with the creation of voter apathy?

Younger people historically have never really shown much desire to engage in the political sphere and inner domains of politics; this is changing since Jeremy has become the leader.

Momentum is proving to be very information technology astute, a day doesn’t go by where I do not receive something in my inbox from Momentum HQ or from my local branch via Facebook interaction.

Has this new army of Jeremy Corbyn’s faithful foot soldiers eventually taken over a town called Apathy that was considering changing its name to a town called Malice seeing how fed up people had become of politics?

One can only hope so because of the danger surrounding the embryonic stages of voter apathy growing into voter stagnation.

We truly cannot allow a doubtful or fearful denouement of any election based on low turnout figures.

Obviously, we are not like other nations that require you to vote otherwise fines or imprisonment can be imposed, are we truly reliant on the personality cult to get us out and vote?  

Sadly, the consequences of this has been proven in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections where UKIP relied solely on the personality cult of Nigel Farage and it worked for them, the turnout in the 2014 European Parliamentary election was only 35.6%, whereas in Belgium it was 89.4%.

Is it any surprise that populism won the day and managed to access the open safe for the European Parliament’s salaries, expenses and chauffer driven Mercedes cars for UKIP MEPs?

I am sure Jeremy has learned that voter apathy turns into voter stagnation that in turn creates a recruitment ground for populists and the far right.

The working classes tend to contribute to voter apathy, but when they want to vote in protest it can be a very angry response to the climate of the day.

Where does Jeremy come into this? His members loved him, but an element of his own MPs were not so sure, he stood his ground and brought in an original brand of socialism that totally confused the faithful. No wonder considering the amount of ‘Blair & Campbell intoxication’ found in their blood streams when their levels were checked for spin exposure!

Where does the young vote come into this?

Well, it is blatant that Jeremy may have just overturned voter apathy in our nation. The last election was a total success for voter turnout in relation to the young vote.

For the first time in 25 years the figures hit a high note at 64% for voters aged between 18-24, in 2005 only 7% of voters in this age range came out to vote.

Was it a wake-up call?

Where were these young voters in earlier years?

Is it the case that the British Brexit Referendum result has created a new wall of defence against populism and the rise of the far right with young voters appearing at the ballot box?

With the rapid decline of first time buyers in the nation and the voter behavioural pattern of those in social housing always voting Labour; it is now apparent that the housing crisis may have given Labour the advantage at the ballot box in the 2017 General Election.

Private renters in the last election voted 54% for Labour and 34% for the Conservatives. Jeremy must be doing something right, that is a massive change from the 2010 election where 35% voted Conservative and 29% voted Labour.

Traditionally homeowners have a greater turnout but in 2017 private tenants had the greatest impact where the increase was 8% in turnout to 53% with most voting Labour.

In addition to this the suffering is continuing and the private tenants, mostly young people, are struggling to pay the rent each month. 33% of 25-34-year olds are having difficulties in meeting payments, this is out of a total of 1.3 million enduring difficulties in paying the rent.

Home ownership has been a tradition in the UK, unlike in the EU where renting has been the traditional option. Therefore, there is always living hope in equity; this isn’t happening any longer and young people are clearly turning to Labour to sort this crisis out.

So, what makes them turn to Labour, is it just policy or the clearly visible, plausible nature of Jeremy?

I am going to say it is the plausible socialist nature of Jeremy but what makes me say this? Jeremy made it clear that he doesn’t want to make Question Time a theatre but entails substance with questions that mean something to ordinary people.

He made it clear that he will be ‘resolutely political’ in the way he conducts himself in Parliament, in addition to this he has made it clear that “Political parties had written off young people, but young people didn’t write off politics.”

His view is that young people must be heard, the Momentum movement clearly has managed to encourage young people to engage and play an active role.

The membership of Momentum is just over 30,000 at present and is increasing. This is an indicator that participation at grassroot level is visibly evident in the formation of the many having a say and no longer the few making decisions on their behalf; Jeremy’s mantra chant is being placed in to action “For the many not the few”.

The attraction for young people is the digital technologies that Momentum has embraced, there are other activities such as political debates and greater interaction with the local branch where socialising and integrating where voices can be heard and acted upon are encouraged.

This movement is clearly a different way of doing politics and is not exposed to the traditional hierarchy structure of the local branches. People have been given roles with full trust to do so whereas, in the past these roles were designated to inner circles and paid staff.

Young people love the informality of Momentum and most of all it is grassroots, for once grassroots has been made to matter and this is where I believe young people have accepted and invested their trust in Jeremy Corbyn.

No young person seems to be a number but a force for change at grassroots level and an active participant with tons of interaction with technologies, in addition having the chance to vote for internal decisions.

The option to have information readily and quickly available is also another attraction like the ‘My nearest marginal’ site that gives activists knowledge on how to mobilise resources both human and practical in the event of an election including by-elections.

Momentum has clearly played a role in the rise of young participation in the electoral process.

However, there are factors like housing and poverty that are clearly linked to the higher participation of turnout and participation.

There is no doubt that Jeremy has managed to embrace the mindset of the young voter, how many past and present politicians can make that claim holding their head up high?

The answer is not many, that is a fact.

Sources: Ipsos Mori, Shelter & BBC Newsbeat.

I Am A Former UKIP Adviser. I Left And Joined Labour And These Are The Reasons Why… By Sarinder Joshua Duroch

From Nigel’s clutches to Jeremy’s trusting embrace.

We asked Avenger readers that voted for Brexit to submit a question to Sarinder. This is the question we chose:

Question:

Why would you leave UKIP for labour when at the time they were against us leaving the EU?

One of the main reasons we wanted to leave was immigration and labour was against cutting down on immigration numbers.

I used to vote UKIP until conservatives offered a vote on the referendum. As they were the only major party offering us the vote. So to me UKIP served their purpose to get us out of Europe.

Answer:

The fact remains that UKIP has clearly diminished off the face of British politics. The causes for this is evident in policy formation and implementation, there was no doubt their impact on the Brexit result is blatant for all to see with the personality cult of Nigel Farage and the full flow of the populist debate in action.

One may ask why I moved to the Labour party, I moved because even though 47 Labour Members of Parliament voted against igniting Article 50 there was no serious maliciousness or dehumanisation of foreigners or destabilising of communities. If one asks why the sudden shift or complete change of mind, I ask the question, ‘Was I really different to the many working-class voters that were disillusioned with Labour because of the Blair and Campbell years?’ The answer is yes, I was.

However, since Jeremy has become the leader and the faith that he has restored in a brand of socialism that I agree with, it is safe to believe that this Labour party under the leadership of Corbyn is far more plausible and credible than that of what we were subjected to under Blair and Campbell. Under so much pressure he stood his ground and lead the party to a resurrection in the last election. Even Owen Smith had to admit that he was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn; people change in politics don’t they just!

Yes, it is a fact, I was an adviser to the UKIP party, but I wasn’t willing to engage with the far right of European politics for UKIP and their group expansion with the EFDD group. The desecration of our British and Commonwealth war dead was something that I certainly was not willing to do by engaging with political parties that were involved in national socialising.

There was no way on this God’s green Earth that I was willing to dehumanise not only refugees but also those who believed in a fairer and more equal society. Earning the wages of sin in Brussels was something I was not willing to do, especially when one is convinced to believe that associating oneself with holocaust deniers and parties such as the Swedish Democrats with their Islamophobic and anti-Jewish agenda is only a marriage of convenience to keep the group together and to get EU funding.

One soon discovered that EU Parliamentary funding to the tune of nearly 6 million Euros depended on such political associations. The intention of UKIP and their friends in Parliament was to create a Far Right Pan European Alliance, I have to say that being associated with this school of thought is clearly abhorrent.

The question relating to Labour being pro EU and the historic issues that the EU has caused within the creation of causing divisions in British politics is immense. Two well known Members of Parliament, Enoch Powell and Tony Benn both had serious concerns about the EU and greater cohesion with Europe. We don’t have a constitution in the U.K like most EU nations and the Common Agricultural policy suited the French a lot more than it did us British. The closer harmonisation of standardising everything in law and principle was also something that was not applicable to this nation. So, one can ask about Labour’s credentials, but it is obvious that most Labour Members of Parliament voted for Article 50.

They had to there was no other option, would they have taken us out of the EU initially; I don’t believe they would have initially but eventually the immigration debate was something they couldn’t have kept on avoiding.

So why did I join, I come from a working-class background and Jeremy Corbyn and his plausible nature and old school values were far better than the years of spin that I and many others were subjected to. UKIP had failed me and others especially with the far-right connections they were creating and developing at speed, they were also blowing the trumpet and playing the tune that their far-right friends in Europe wanted them to do so.

Would I continue to be part of the rhetoric of someone else’s political agenda; certainly not.

Yes, UKIP certainly changed a lot and the threat of populism in its embryonic stages is still there, it starts with a plausible argument and people will follow the debate. They offered us an option to tackle political correctness and question immigration in the early days without the silhouette of the Rivers of Blood speech.

However, from the embryonic stages it developed into a monster that was out of control and it lead to the Brexit campaign only being a conduit to irrigate, plough and harvest hatred into our society.  

Labour always implemented immigration rules, it wasn’t an open-door immigration policy to non-EU nationals under a Labour government in fact under Labour the rules were stringent. This is the argument about EU immigration, what has the present government done about EU immigration; the answer is nothing in reality. One can say the same about Labour because it was bound by Article 45 of the Lisbon Treaty. Where the Labour government imposed, and controlled immigration was on non-EU nations and that had an impact and very strong element of unfairness towards our Commonwealth. The Conservatives did the same, this shows us the problems that both parties had with continuing membership of the EU.

The main issue was and still is immigration and Article 45, however the mess that we are in now due to the Conservatives not having a Brexit plan is clearly visible for all to see.

Sarinder Joshua Duroch left UKIP in 2016. Please follow these links to read his articles about what he experienced and what led him to leave UKIP.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nigel-farage-saw-picture-drowned-8193892

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/as-a-british-indian-and-ukip-adviser-i-believed-in-brexit-but-what-its-done-to-the-country-has-a7127461.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3366656/SEBASTIAN-SHAKESPEARE-Nazi-bully-row-threatens-5-6million-funding-Ukip.html

Children Listening To Political Debate: Wrong or Necessary? By Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland

Broadening Children’s Political Horizons? Some may say it’s wrong but it didn’t do Michael Rosen any harm.

This week we, accompanied by our children ages 13 to 8, went to an event at Conway Hall: ‘Michael Rosen In Conversation With Daniel Hahn.’

Michael was there to speak about his early life, which he chronicles in his new memoir, ‘So, They Call You Pisher.’

He spoke about parent’s running Communist Party meetings in the front room, being involved in campaigning and his acts on anti-establishment rebellion at Oxford University. Cheekily in the question and answers section we asked for a poem and, to the delight of ourselves and everyone in the room, he recited ‘Hot Food.’

Before the book signing, which we gladly joined, Michael came over and chatted to the children and commented that he hoped “they were not bored by the political talk” to which we responded that “they are used to it.”

Growing up with parents who are political activists, our children are well versed in left wing arguments, being dragged to campaigning activities and listening to furious arguments.

Is this right or wrong?

Growing up listening to arguments about football, no one ever commented on that as being anything unusual; so it is interesting to see politics often portrayed as something ‘not for the interest of children.’

Michael talked about the culture he was exposed to as a child by his parents. This was felt empathetically by our children who are regularly dragged from political rally to watch an author on a book tour, or to the theatre.

Why do we do it?

Well we think there is so much to see, so many sides of life that a person should experience in order to experience the diversity of life.

Daniel Hahn himself said to Michael ” With all the education and culture you were exposed to, it must have been difficult for the school to match this” to which Michael replied that education doesn’t have to end at the classroom.

Thinking about how restrictive the curriculum has become in the last few years with the new reforms in 2014, we think that now more than ever we need to enrich the cultural lives of our children outside of school.

With the Arts being watered down in Secondary and with Primary school children spending the majority of their time working on Maths, English and Handwriting; it is worrying that their creative abilities and critical thinking wings are being clipped before they’ve even been allowed to grow.

Some may say that teaching your children the subject of politics is wrong, or that it is indoctrinating them, but I beg to differ.

Letting them hear arguments from left wing ideology can’t be a bad thing when those arguments teach our children basic human values like sharing and social responsibility.

Of course not all parents can afford to take their children to the theatre or have the time to go to events such as these. But we feel that all children deserve to have a broad education that covers the arts, politics and other subjects not normally covered in the curriculum.

So we hope that a Labour government gets elected soon and fulfils their promise of bringing back the creative arts and broadening the educational experience of all children, not just those whose parents can afford extra curricular activities.

We are, after all a nation with a strong cultural heritage.

Without an education broader than what is currently being delivered by the curriculum set out in 2014, how do we expect to produce the future Shakespeare’s, the future David Bowie’s and the future Michael Rosen’s?

Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland are the Co Founders of The Avenger UK

A View From Kurdistan By Cllr Karen Constantine

By Cllr Karen Constantine 

It seemed to me that there was scant coverage in the UK on the critical situation emerging in Kurdistan.

This was a surprise given its global importance and that independence referenda are a current ‘zeitgeist’ issue (Brexit, Scotland, Catalonia, etc ). 

By contrast, here we were, in Kurdistan, post referendum as part of the UK election monitoring delegation saturated in news, digital media and surrounded by people of all nationalities intensely absorbed and totally preoccupied with every twist, turn and nuance of this moment of political and social history. 
My companions, other delegation members, were a mix of MPs, MEPs, Peers, political analysts, trade unionists, Kurds, reporters, and more. 

A substantial number from around the world were evidently deployed across Kurdistan to ‘monitor’ the referendum to see if it was free and fair. Our League of Kurdish Nations delegation comprised 18 people. 

It’s an often overused hyperbole, but this really was the ‘trip of a lifetime’. Not just for the obvious thrill of discovering a captivating country – Kurdistan is mesmerising – but the immersion into the referendum was like nothing else I have ever experienced, nor frankly, do I expect to again. 

We were divided into several teams in order to cover as many polling stations and areas as possible. My own team, which included seasoned political activists that know election process inside out, spent an arduously long day observing 6 polling stations and monitoring the close of the vote and the beginning of the count on 25th September.
We were a formally accredited group, registered and carrying credentials. We were assigned a protocol car* and driver, a polling station list and after that we were absolutely free to go as we pleased. We joked Python-style “no one expects the independent monitoring team”. Nor did they. Our arrival at each station was unannounced. We swept in. Of course we were looking for obvious signs of a well run polling station, no coercion of people, a regular and systematic process, an adherence to key polling principles and conformity across the piece. This we found. 

With regard to unfettered participation of citizens we noted, women with children, young and old, refugees, Yazides, Muslims, Turkmen and Christian’s. Kurds leave you in no doubt of their pride of being peaceful and inclusive. They are proud of their religious tolerance and inclusivity. 
At the IDP polling stations (displaced person camps – there are 240,000 refugees in Kurdistan in 52 camps, 41 are from Iraq and the rest are from elsewhere in the Middle East) we came across those people who have refugee status, mainly from the camps of Mosul. 

These polling stations were overwhelmed

Demand had not been adequately calculated, resulting in far, far too few staff to cope. This meant that what had started as optimistic and patient queues were becoming increasingly fractious in the face of 5-6 hour wait in the slowly snaking queues. A late afternoon decision to extend polling station hours was wise. As far as I’m aware all those that wanted to vote and who were registered to vote, voted.
As a substitute delegation for the UN, who could not facilitate this unrecognised referendum, we enjoyed unprecedented political access. We were invited to all the key forums and meetings with High Commission, Electoral Commission and the Governor of Erbil. I met with and questioned Hushar Suwaley of the KDP and the Head of the foreign relations bureau for the PUK. I also met and questioned members of the KRG (A Turkman MP Dr Mohammedali Yaseen Taha ) and KRG staff member Rezan Kader currently ‘acting’ as Consulate equivalent. We even had an opportunity to meet with the Bazarni foundation which provides support to 17,000 orphans among other amazing work. 

A mix of formal and seemingly informal gatherings gave adequate opportunity to share observations and ask occasionally thorny questions. 

What are the Thorny questions? 

Was this a ‘proper’ referendum? 

Well, no. Under the control of Iraq, at odds with the will of the Iranians and clearly incurring the wrath of Turkey’s Erdogan, it was ‘all but’ a legitimate referendum. Well conducted, sincere and overwhelmingly precise in its outcome. 93% of the vote, some 72% of the population voted ‘yes’ to independence. 

However the legal status of such a quasi legal process is analysed it cannot be dismissed. 
The will of the people is clear. 

Will Turkey now cut off its nose to spite its face? 

The threat to starve the Kurds by withholding £8-10 Billion of trade from Turkey to Kurdistan seems at best ill thought though as its this line of business and trade, including facilitation of the lucrative oil pipeline which feeds Ceyhan 550,000 barrels of oil per day the KRG’s main source of income. But clearly also revenue stream for Turkey. 

Iraq’s threats to close down air space have manifested with Erbil and Sulaimaniya closed. But for how long? 


Meanwhile UKs Foreign policy is a joker card in Boris Johnson’s clumsy hands.
Those of us that support the Kurds, both politically and emotionally – because it feels like the right thing, must do what we can do to apply political pressure. 

The patience of the Kurds throughout their decades of oppression is remarkable. They are the last group in the world without a ‘state’. This has been a battle of hearts and minds. Despite stating otherwise I wonder if they will move to a unilateral Declaration of Independence. After all, if it’s good enough for the Catalonians…

There’s an old Kurdish saying ‘Soup cannot be eaten at the same temperature it’s cooked at – you have to let it settle down.’ We’ll all have to wait … and hope…

*’protocol’ was the support team put into place to facilitate our fact finding. 


Karen is a Labour Councillor and was in Kurdistan for the elections.

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