Labour’s NEC bottle democracy reform by not adopting Open Selection

Labour will not adopt open selection following an NEC decision. Instead they will reform the trigger ballot process to make deselections slightly easier.

Under the old procedure a selection process was triggered should 50% of branches of a CLP vote for it. This included branches of affiliated unions and societies, as well as local party branches. This was viewed as too high a bar to set to trigger a selection process by supporters of Open Selection and also meant that all members were not equal. Branches of 400 members had the same power as branches with 1 member.

Under new rules one third of local party branches are needed to trigger a full selection process or one third of union branches. Under the new system union branches cannot block selection processes if local party branches want one. The main plus alongside the reduced percentage needed.

However, this is still not based on one member one vote so members votes will still have different values, going against democratic principles.

Plans for Labour councillors to be forced to defer to new “local government committees” before publishing their own manifesto, and for council leaders to be directly elected by Labour members were deferred for a year.

The only recent victory for democracy in Labour was Welsh Labour’s decisions to adopt OMOV for leadership elections.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

It’s the wrong decision from Labour’s NEC and while the details will not be finalised till Saturday it is clear that the appetite for democracy at the top of the party is not a reflection of the grassroots support for it.

It is clear Labour members support Open Selection. All 9 elected candidates in the recent NEC election supported Open selection and 3 quarters of delegates to the Labour Party conference backed Open Selection according to Momentum. The NEC should review this decision.

UK’s predicted real wage growth bottom of developed nations as inflation peaks

Inflation spiked to 2.7%, a six month high, in August. The consumer price index was expected to rise at 2.4%. Wages are just growing, as wage growth is at 2.9%. The UK’s predicted real wage growth for 2018 is  -0.7%. This means the average Brit will be earning less, in real terms, than he/she was at the start of the year.

The government has attempted to control inflation by raising interest rates.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation, was 3.5% in August, up from 3.2% in July.

Inflation is not historically high despite the worries about it.

Wages remain lower than they were in 2010 when the Conservatives took power, and whilst wages did drop slightly post economic crash the significant drop in real wages began in 2010 when austerity began.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

A week pound due to Brexit uncertainity remains the cause of higher than normal inflation and whilst the drop in the growth of our labour force did help wage growth the average worker is still seeing wages barely expand in real terms. The average worker still earns less in real terms than he/she did in 2010 when the Conservatives.

The inflation is not historically high though and measures to increase wage growth are more vital.

It bemuses me that the population believe the Conservative government have an economic record than is anything but distrous. We are earning less than we were in 2010 due to austerity and the fiscal policies the Tories have caused. The act of draining the economy of spending is why workers remain so inpoverished post crash and why the UK has had the 2nd worst economic recovery in Europe.

McDonnell’s Corporate Revolution- How Labour will deliver real socialism

In 1600, a revolutionary corporate change occurred – one that was to shape the global economic sphere ever since. Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Charter for the creation of the East India Company gave rise to one of the defining features in corporate history; the limited liability company. Limitations on investor risk led to a flurry of investment into grandiose, capital-intensive industries, from railways to ship building. And here began the era of corporate capitalism.

 

Corporate capitalism dominates the modern economy. Hierarchical structures are imposed on our workplaces, with boardrooms reserved as much for wealthy merchants now as they were at the inception of the East India Company 400 years ago. But whilst undoubtedly serving major benefit, striding us through the Industrial Revolution and into the modern technological age, change is in the wind. Corporate capitalism’s days are numbered. Amidst the storm of economic progress has been an unnerving surge in inequality – with this economic structure enabling bankers bonuses to emerge unscathed from the 2008 crisis whilst average real wages declined 0.3% annually in the decade since.

 

As wealth further accumulates in the hands of the few, opportunities are being skewed away from the working class heartlands not only of Britain, but across the Western world. Yet the Shadow Chancellor may be on the cusp of a corporate revolution.

 

In an echo to Tony Benn in 1980, McDonnell this week called for an “irreversible shift” of wealth and power towards the working class in our society. The corporate model under creation is yet to be revealed in full. But its central premise is a fundamental change in corporate control away from career managers by creating employee funds, into which firms would legally pay a set percentage of their profits. Using this to purchase shares for workers, which would accumulate over time, would enhance their ability to influence corporate destiny – an ability they can utilise for transforming the corporate hierarchy, pay structure and national economic inequality.

 

And with the prospect of a general election before the year end looking an increasing realistic possibility, Labour’s corporate transformation may be just around the corner.

 

Under Thatcher’s corporate restructure plan, workers were allowed to sell the shares they owned in the company, an economically illogical decision – cash-strapped workers with little belief in their ability to individually influence corporate affairs would be totally rational in selling to exactly the people who already dominate the corporate hierarchy. Yet whilst McDonnell’s plan allows for collection of dividends, shares can not be sold. Worker power would be enshrined in law, an irrefutable force for corporate redirection.

 

Yet a central question remains: how much influence would workers have?

 

The magic number lies in the percentage of profits firms must devote to employee shares – for the corporate behemoths of the financial and technological spheres, this could result in a significant ownership stake for the employees. Yet with a threshold of only 250 employees for this percentage to be applicable, too high a number could place the health of smaller enterprises in jeopardy – and as such, a progressive number should instead be used to enable those with smaller profits to continue to sustainably invest.

 

But the more pressing problem lies in the lair of the profit-hungry, tenacious corporate moguls: the boardroom.

 

This is the ultimate goal of the worker, the only realm where true change can be achieved. Whilst McDonnell is yet to state the route to this upper echelon, the most likely answer is that workers with the most shares accumulated will be the chosen ones. Yet this is a dangerous proposal and the alternative could be an elected position, similar to a syndicalist minus the unions. 

 

The end of the corporate capitalist era is in sight. As our society has transformed from a sea of local rural communities to an eruption of industrial heartlands, our transition to the ultimate goal of a developed modern society is almost complete. Humanity’s next stage of economic progress must come through a redirection of our goals; away from macroeconomic numbers, and towards shared prosperity and equality. Cooperatives number only 6000 in the UK, with 13.6mn members – far behind the OECD average. Yet numbers have been growing across the continental mainland, with the idea gaining traction amongst mainstream political powers.

 

A new corporate structure lies on the horizon. Whilst its details remain to be confirmed, a new model with workers at its epicentre will propel us into a future of shared wealth and greater equality. McDonnell may not have the key; but his solution is certainly one step closer to achieving the corporate revolution that we so desperately need.

Breaking: Welsh Labour to use one-member-one-vote to choose next leader

Welsh Labour will use the one-member-one-vote system to elect its new leader, the same way in which Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the national leader. At a special conference in Cardiff, OMOV won 64-36 over reforming the electoral college, after months of debate over whether all party members votes should be equal. This move is expected to help Mark Drakeford in his bid to attain the leadership, and hinder Vaughan Gething.

The result ends a long running row in the Welsh Labour Party over leadership elections. The Welsh Deputy leadership election was won by Carolyn Harris despite her winning only 35% of the votes of members and less overall votes. Her opponent, Julie Morgan, won the popular vote 54 to 46.

Daniel Metcalf, Chair of the Preseli Pembrokeshire Constituency Labour Party, said

‘It was great to see OMOV adopted by the party after over a year of hard work. We had a great well spirited debate with many notable speeches making excellent cases for OMOV. We can’t wait not to get on with the leadership election and decide our next First Minister’.

The majority of CLPs backed the proposal as well as Unite but many Unions supported reforming the electoral college. Among the leadership candidates Mark Drakeford supports OMOV whilst Vaughan Gething, favours retaining the electoral college.

More follows

Analysis from James Barber- Editor

In a decisive victory for democracy within the Welsh Labour Party, the members have made it clear that they want to elect their leader in the same way that the national party elected Jeremy Corbyn. The decision means that all party members and members of unions/groups affiliated to the party will have an equal vote. After what the outgoing leader Carwyn Jones labelled as a “mature and respectful debate”, its a move that will be seen by many within the party as sensible, and can only serve to benefit the democratic process within the party.

This decisions means Mark Drakeford will be a strong favorite to become first minister. In battle between left and right in the Labour Party this is another victory for the left and may mark a change in the style of governance of the Welsh Assembly. In internal party politics it will most likely mean one more Corbyn ally on Labour’s NEC.

Welsh Labour to have special conference on adopting 1 Member 1 vote for leadership election

Welsh Labour will have a special conference on democracy within the party on the 15th September to decide whether the party should adopt 1 member 1 vote (OMOV) for the upcoming leadership election or a reformed version of the electoral college. This is part of the democracy review that been fast-tracked so the changes can be put in place before the next leadership contest in December.

Previously Welsh Labour used the electoral college to decide their leader but this method has come under increasing criticism that has peaked following the election of Carolyn Harris as deputy leader.

In the old electoral college system, Assembly Members, Party Members, and Affiliated supporters all hold an equal share of votes. Harris was elected to the role of deputy despite winning only 35% of the votes of members and less overall votes. Her opponent, Julie Morgan, won the popular vote 54 to 46.

Morgan started a petition to get the party to change to OMOV before the leadership election following her defeat.

OMOV sees every member to have 1 vote whilst the reformed electoral college would see general members’ votes make up 50% of the electoral college and affiliated members would make up the other 50%.

The reformed electoral college is the WEC’s “prefferred option” following a narrow vote, 15-14.

The Labour Party adopted 1 member 1 vote for its national leadership election in 2014. This change was vital in the election of Jeremy Corbyn.

The electoral college has been criticised for delivering leaders who the membership do not want but also giving certain members a plurality of votes. It also gives AMs ‘super votes’ worth equal to around 400 normal members.

20 out of 27 CLPs backed OMOV last year but the Welsh Executive comitee disregarded this vote.

Mark Drakeford, the leading candidate to succeed Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, supports the change whilst his only other opponent currently on the ballot,  Vaughan Gething, favours retaining the electoral college.

Drakeford in a recent statement said:

‘We cannot go on with a system that means that the person who got the most votes ends up being the loser’

OMOV is thought to favour Drakeford who is backed by the left of the party but his support for OMOV stems back a long way.

Unite back the change to OMOV but many unions feel that a move to OMOV would dilute union control of the party.  GMB, Unison, Usdaw and the Communication Workers are fiercely opposed to the change and in a joint statement stated:

‘The Labour Party was set up by the trade union movement to be the political voice of organised labour, and any attempt to take away the trade union voice in Wales will be resisted.’

The conference will vote to decide whether to make the change. Delegates from all CLPs, women’s forums, affiliated trade unions and socialist societies will be able to vote, provided that their organisations have paid their affiliation fees in time. The vote will be 50% party units and 50% affiliates, and will decide between OMOV and a reformed version of the electoral college.

TPN spoke to Daniel Metcalf, the Chair of  Preseli Pembrokeshire Labour Party and a supporter of OMOV on the likelihood of the change:

‘We were happy to hear the positive news that Unite had decided to formally back OMOV, with union support being vital to our campaign.

I and many other supporters of OMOV feel confident that we can win the vote, with the majority of CLP delegates and Unite who carry significant voting weight, behind us.’

Talking about Union opposition to the campaign for OMOV Daniel said:

‘We made it clear that we are upset at the accusations of some within the party that we are anti-Trade Union when that is simply not the case. Almost all members in our campaign were trade union members, and we believe that a move to OMOV will actually drive up union participation.’

The move would bring Wales in line with nationwide and Scottish leadership elections. Many Corbynistas believe the change is vital to getting Drakeford elected, bringing Wales in line with the views of its membership and the leadership of the rest of the country.

Drakeford is supported by Momentum as well as other left wing figures, including Lee Waters AM, whilst Gething recently gained the endorsement of Owen Smith.

Lords plan to send back ERG amendments that stop Chequers and Labour’s Brexit plan

The House of Lords hopes to pull off a political maneuver that will undo key Hard Brexiteer amendments that hope to stop both Theresa May’s and Labour’s Brexit plan.

An amendment in the taxation bill would prevent a customs border in the Irish Sea and collecting taxes on behalf of the EU, ruling out the Chequers plan, and meant the government would have to further legislate to bring in a customs union, hindering Labour’s plan. Due to the nature of this bill, being an “aids and supply bill”, it cannot be amended by the Lords.

However, the lords will attach an amendment to the trade bill that will reopen debate on the previous amendments.

The peers will table a series of amendments including one to reopen the debate on a customs union.

Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords said:

“Given the current state of the negotiations with the EU, we are again looking to give MPs a meaningful role in ensuring the best outcome – and have tabled an amendment to put a customs union back on the table.

“The government’s desperate tactics meanwhile to accept ERG amendments to the taxation bill stopped any effective debate in the Commons. So, we have also tabled new amendments to ensure ministers can’t duck scrutiny on such key issues.”

Whilst the commons have voted down joining a customs union before, now that May’s chequers deal was been rejected by the EU, negoiating a customs unions might now be the preffered option.

The House of Lords has played a key role in helping to strengthen parliament’s hand in the process of Brexit, including by limiting the so-called Henry VIII powers that will allow ministers to make sweeping changes to legislation to prepare Britain’s laws.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty-  Editor in Chief

Despite my objections to the Lords they have proved their worth in the Brexit process and efficently acted as a check and balance on the process. The fact the ERG group have tried to stop the prefferred Brexit of both main parties via parliament when their main initial argument for leaving parliament out of Brexit, almost altogether, was to not tie the government’s hands shows their hypocrisy. The Lords has been villainised by the Hard Brexiteers throughout the withdrawal process and these amendments should pass to allow May and Corbyn to try and vote through their prefferred Brexit when the bill returns to the Commons.

With Chequers ruled out by the EU Labour have a golden chance to make their Brexit policy the government’s Brexit policy, and if not that make sure the government would have to fall back on a customs union, stopping a no deal Brexit. To do this they need to convince Tory moderates that the ERG group won’t be able bring down the government should a custom union become the government’s negoiating target. So far many Tory moderates have been too scared of a General Election to defy the party’s whip.

Project reality: Whose Brexit plan will actually work?

Rumours that Tory Brexiteers might challenge May for the leadership over Brexit it is important to look at each factions plans for post-Brexit Britain, more specifically if their plans are achievable.

Theresa May – One foot in reality

May has problems home and abroad on why her Brexit plan won’t work. Her main problem is how to keep the Good Friday agreement intact whilst trying to control migration from the EU. Her original proposal of a Customs Partnership, that would see the UK collect tariffs on the EU’s behalf was rejected by both the EU and Westminster. Westminster voted for an amendment to the customs bill that killed this idea. The other 2 planks of her Chequers deal is free movement of goods between the EU and UK and a common rulebook on services.

Free movement of goods is an arrangement that could be economically advantageous to the EU, and the UK, but has been rejected by Barnier as it compromises the principles of the Single Market. Free movement of Goods would have gone a long way toward solving the Irish Border problem as well as calming the fears of many manufacturing companies like JLR.

Her common rulebook proposal on services will most likely be accepted to be negotiated on by the EU and should lead to nearly free trade on services between the UK and the trade bloc.

Theresa May still needs to solve the problem of tariffs on goods and the Irish border problem but the government is beginning to address the challenges that Brexit will set the economy. Where May goes next on the Irish border problem will be extremely interesting.

Labour – A realistic starting point for negotiations

Labour’s Brexit policy has been criticised for being vague at times but over the last year the party has built up a comprehensive Brexit plan. Whilst Labour Frontbenchers continue to disagree with each other publicly on Brexit, something that may well be a deliberate strategy, Keir Starmer has provided a clear alternative Brexit proposal that is much softer and more realistic than Theresa May’s. Labour want to negoiate a customs union with the EU and an internal market with the EU. The internal market proposal is similar to Theresa May’s common rulebook in its aims. It aims to make sure services can be traded freely with the EU post-Brexit and it achievability is equal to May’s similar proposal. The advantages of a customs union are detailed here, but just as importantly Michel Barnier has continually said the EU is “open to a customs union”.

Such customs arrangement would allow tariff-free access to the single market for goods whilst its proposals on the internal market hope to achieve free trade on services.

The place Labour may be kidding themselves is on international trade and rule taking. Though Labour want ‘a’ customs union not ‘the’ customs union making deals with 3rd party nations might be hindered or impossible, meaning our international trade would remain as it was pre-Brexit. Though it is worth noting Turkey has free trade agreements with other countries whilst being in a customs union with the EU, however, it sacrifices a say on EU trade deals doing so. Politically Labour would more likely prioritise control, to make sure the UK is not a rule taker, but going into negotiations on a customs unions aiming for both is a competent strategy.

Labour have a realistic plan and should Starmer be delivered into the negotiation chamber in Brussels the grey areas mentioned would be coloured in.

ERG: Tory Hard Brexiteers- Trapped in Fantasy

2 years after the referendum result the hard Tory Brexiteers finally presented a plan to how they think Brexit should be handled. To say it was inadequate is being kind.

Their proposed solution to the Irish Border problem is a smart border that they say would mean the Good Friday agreement would remain intact, citing Norway and Sweden as a good example. Forgetting that Norway and Sweden are both in the EU’s single market meaning there is no need for a hard border anyway and that in August 2017, the Centre for Irish and European Security said suggestions of a “frictionless” border were “complete nonsense”.  Sinn Fein dismissed their proposals as “pure fantasy”, however, a more accurate assessment could be labelled ambitious if other factors play out, impossible if they don’t. It is certainly impossible under a no deal Brexit.

The deal the Hard Brexiteers are aiming for is the one Canada negoiated with the EU, which eliminated 98% of tariffs. They make no commitments on how to maintain free trade of services. These proposals have been achieved by Canada but are unworkable with the political scenario the UK is in considering the Good Friday Agreement and how key the EU is to the UK economy.

When the Hard Brexiteers realise this they will call for us to exit without a deal, as a threat to get a deal, this would be awful for our economy, far worse than it would be for the EU but many Brexiteers believe this is the method to getting such a deal. To slap tariffs on 53% of the countries imports and 44% of its exports would be extremely damaging to the economy. Many corporations would up and leave. Tariffs will be passed on to consumers as price rises meaning the average citizen will be paying for Brexit and this will lead to less spending and decreased growth. The Treasury estimates this would cost the economy £252bn over 15 years and the Chancellor said the government would be forced to borrow £80bn more a year should the UK crash out without a deal.

Rees Mogg says more details of the ERG’s plan will be revealed this week which hopefully will address the issues highlighted.

Labour’s soft Brexit rebels- A Done Deal

A considerable amount of Labour’s PLP wants a Norway style deal with the EU. 75 MPs defied the Labour whip to vote for continuing EEA membership post Brexit. The EU is open to Britain remaining in the single market post Brexit, as it will for 2 years due to the transitional period negotiated by the government. It has stated the UK has until 2020 to decide if it wants to stay in the EEA and customs unions. These rebels are about as far from power as Parliamentarians can be so EEA membership is as far as their plan goes but it is still a realistic alternative that the British Public would favour compared to a no deal Brexit.

British public want to prioritise free trade over immigration controls post Brexit says new poll

A new poll by Survation has revealed that the British public overwhelmingly prioritise free trade with the EU post Brexit over controls over who is allowed to live and work in the UK.

58% agreed with the statement“it is more important for the UK government to make sure companies in the UK can trade freely with companies in the EU after Brexit than to make it harder for people from EU countries to come to live and work in the UK” whilst 28% felt the opposite with 14% unsure.

55% said that tariffs on UK businesses seeking access to the single market was an unacceptable term of a final Brexit, whilst compared to 37% who said freedom of movement would be unacceptable.

Given these results, it might be accurate to say the public desires a Norway style Brexit despite many Brexiteers saying that a Brexit that does not involve leaving the single market and the customs union does not fulfil what the public voted for.

The public also backs a referendum on the final Brexit deal by 45-37.

The Conservative Party remained committed to ending freedom of movement and desire a free trade agreement with the EU, though many believe these 2 positions are incompatible.

A No Deal Brexit would see large tariffs put on businesses trading with Europe, the Treasury estimates this would cost the economy £252bn over 15 years and the Chancellor said the government would be forced to borrow £80bn more a year should the UK crash out without a deal.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

These polling numbers only add to the argument that those who voted Brexit did not understand the economic consequences of leaving the European Union. A free trade agreement with the EU might be achieved but is unlikely. For such a large proportion of voters to say tariffs are unacceptable shows that either the tide has turned to Remain dramatically or the public is still misinformed on the realities of a Hard Brexit, and that tariffs on some goods are likely.

These statistics might be of use to those wanting a Norway style Brexit but also add support to the campaign for a People’s Vote on the terms of Brexit.

 

Boundary Commission Proposals would rig democratic system against Labour

The Boundary Commission has presented its final recommendations which could see the number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600 in time for the 2020 general election to Parliament. Some high-profile names could see their seats lost or merged, including Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbot, David Davis, and Boris Johnson.

The proposals need to secure the backing of MPs and Peers. Parliament has already backed the proposal to reduce the number of MPs in 2011. However, there no longer appears to be the same support in Westminster for the plans, and a cross-party committee does not believe that enough MPs will support the proposal. The idea to reduce the number of MPs was originally formed by David Cameron in 2009 in the wake of the expenses scandal and just before the policy of austerity. The last time the boundaries were reviewed was between 2004 and 2006, in time for the 2010 election.

The Boundary Commission for each nation is supposed to redraw political maps every five years to take into account changing populations. New proposals were supposed to have been put in place between 2010 and 2015 but was dropped in 2013 after the Liberal Democrats, then in a coalition government, withdrew their support. As well as reducing the number of MPs, it is also the commissions aim to make constituencies more equal in size, and the constituency sizes will look more even, but the discrepancy with First Past the Post will remain.

Labour have accused the Conservatives of attempting to gerrymander the democratic process due to the fact the new constituencies massively favour the Conservative Party.

As reported by TPN earlier this summer, the changes could hand the Tories a potential 40 seat advantage, even if both parties won 38% of the vote. Labour would also be disadvantaged in winning majorities under the new proposals Labour would need an eleven-point lead to win a majority, the Tories, just two. Thus, if the government was successful in pushing these proposals through, there would be very little chance of a majority Labour government.

The extra Tory advantage is seen in taking a look at the 2017 election results with the new boundaries. The Tories would have been delivered to power with an 8 seat majority, with the DUP unaffected. In percentage out of the larger parties the Tories and SNP benefit, the two parties that are already the most overrepresented in Parliament.

The proposals may not pass as with the Progressive parties being disadvantages it will only take a few Tory or DUP rebels to defeat the bill. With some Tories set to lose their seat, some might be inclined to vote down a bill that would lose them their job.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said the new proposals would rig the democratic process tweeting:

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

It’s gerrymandering, pure and simple. These changes should not have been proposed. The Boundaries Commission is supposed to be an independent organisation but these proposals are a clear sign that the commision had been compromised by political agendas. Indeed, the sudden way in which the DUP have been excluded from changes since the Tories formed a tawdry coalition symbolises the blatant corruption.

They need to go back to the drawing board and draft proposals that ensure seat totals are representative of the vote share. If these changes were ever enforced, the calls to move away from FPTP would get much louder.

I expected Theresa May to pass boundary changes before calling any election, just as Labour would be wise to pass their ‘Votes for 16s’ bill before the next GE, but that was not the case. She may now face a tricky battle to finalise her gerrymandering. The proposal is an open perversion of democracy.

The proposals are a joke and must not make it through Parliament, any MP who votes for the changes shows blatant disregard for democracy.

I encourage readers to act to stop this, contact your MP and tell them to vote against any changes to the boundaries of constituencies that act to gerrymander our elections. 

How the news is weaponised by its corrupting influences

A fundamental element of a functioning democracy is a free press. However, due to the increasingly intimate relationship of the mainstream media with financial markets, banks, and politicians, the free-press is not so much the guardian of democracy, but rather the guardian of wealth and the establishment. The insidious betrayal of our free press is then compounded by the monopolistic ownership of our national broadcasters and the conflicts of interest that arise from various shareholders influencing coverage of certain topics to line their own pockets (i.e ITV and Sky). Moreover, to make things even more biased, the BBC, which is supposed to circumvent these shady influences, is habitually omitting news that would reflect poorly on the Conservative government (e.g. BMJ linking 120,000 deaths to austerity), and has a nasty habit of framing news, events, and people in ways that do not adhere to their mission of informing the public in an unbiased way. For these reasons, it is essential that Labour voters are aware of these vested interests and how the powerful manipulate the public by manufacturing outrage, setting the boundaries of debate, and sowing discord in the left leaning electorate.

Before outlining a propaganda model, it is necessary to evidence the claims made in my opening paragraph. The accusation that these broadcasters operate at the behest of the establishment interests is common and widely understood to be generally true. But, this assertion takes on a more concrete platform when addressing the major shareholders of each broadcaster. Below I will list each of the networks largest shareholders and then correlate the share price of a couple shareholders with political events to illustrate the impact of political decision making and why they care who gets elected.

I will begin with ITV;

ITV PLC Large Shareholders Nature of business Total number of shares or interests in shares
The Goldman Sachs Group Investment bank 843,943,939
Liberty Group Incorporated Limited Telecommunications 398,515,510
BlackRock Inc. Investment management 306,303,502
Amerprise Financial, Inc and its group Financial services 206,179,898
The Capital Group Companies Inc. Financial services 404,675,342

Obtained from ITV PLC accounts

The Goldman Sachs Group is the largest individual shareholder for ITV. Since the UK election and the US elections have resulted in Conservative victories (i.e. Republicans and Tories), the share price has steadily been climbing because they anticipate deregulation and corporate friendly policies which are the norm for conservative governments. However, Trump did something the financial sector was not anticipating on March 12th; he issued an executive order blocking the Goldman Sachs led takeover of Qualcomm by its Singapore-based rival Broadcom. As a result of this action, Goldman Sachs share price appears to have dropped 88.21% from 266.70 to 19.47. The reason for this momentary depreciation is not known, but it seems unlikely not to have been in some way linked to the executive order (Since publication the previously hyperlinked site has altered the graph and no longer shows the depreciation highlighted. However, here is a link to a tweet of the original data).

Additionally, The Capital Group Companies Inc. having a significant number of shares in one of our national broadcasters is problematic for a couple reasons. The first is because Theresa May’s husband works for the group as a ‘relationship manager’ and is at the very least disconcerting. The second, and perhaps most alarming, is that Capital Group Companies is the second largest shareholder in BEA Systems and Lockheed Martin. Both of which are weapons manufacturers that saw their share prices rally as UK-US-France attacked the alleged chemical weapons site in Syria.

And now Sky;

SKY PLC Large Shareholders Nature of business Total number of shares or interests in shares
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.* Media 672,783,139
UBS AG Investment management 118,214,436
The Baupost Group LLC Hedge fund 81,650,880
Société Générale Gestion SA Fund management 54,090,720
HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd. Asset management 51,398,615
BNP Paribas Asset Management France SAS Asset management 49,850,900
BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd. Asset management 41,335,605
The Vanguard Group, Inc. Investment management 32,682,094
Legal & General Investment Management Ltd. Investment management 25,011,357
Norges Bank Investment Management Investment management 23,411,457

Obtained from Market screener

BlackRock is not the largest shareholder of Sky PLC, but due to its UK base, it is most relevant to this article. As well as being a significant shareholder in Sky, they are also one of the largest shareholders in BEA Systems (3rd to Capital Group Companies).

Therefore, as significant shareholders in our only main national broadcasters and shareholders in our weapons manufacturers, both Capital Group Companies and BlackRock can influence coverage of the recent Syrian airstrikes and drum up public support for them, while also profiting from their significant shares in BEA Systems after eight ‘Storm-Shadow’ missiles hit an alleged chemical weapons facility, each of which costing the tax payer £790,000 – totalling £6.32 million.

The appearance of a conflict of interest is enough to warrant serious suspicion regarding the motives of these investment companies, but this suspicion of influencing coverage for war profiteering is not without correlational evidence. Two instances immediately spring to mind. First, for example, when Sky News cut short Major-General Jonathan Shaw, formerly a senior officer of the British Army, in mid-sentence while he was casting doubt on the government’s narrative on the alleged Syrian government gas attack in Douma.

For context, the news reporter asked if the Russian denials about the government’s responsibility for the alleged Novichok poisoning would warrant parliamentary approval for UK intervention in Syria. This is setting the boundaries for acceptable discussion (i.e. ‘yes’ or ‘no’), but the former officer defies the attempt and instead responds by saying ‘Quite apart from all that, the debate that seems to be missing from this is… What possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place?’ He goes on to state that even Joseph Votel, Commander of United States Central Command, conceded that Bashar Assad ‘has won the war’, and that Trump had recently announced the US’ intentions to pull its troops out of the conflict. He was then cut off by the presenter saying ‘I am very sorry, you have been very patient for us, but we do need to leave it there,’ before going to adverts.

The second example concerns Kay Burley’s interaction with Craig Murray, Britain’s ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan. In an interview for Sky News, Burley was extremely combative and needlessly impolite to Murray while he was voicing reasonable concerns regarding the Skripals. Moreover, Murray pointed out that the video aired on Sky News was heavily edited and they intentionally cut it down because the effort to discredit him was not going well. Craig Murray posted the original video on his blog.

All this correlational evidence suggests that there could be some sort of higher up influences pulling the strings, but it also highlights the possibility that the same influences could influence coverage of Corbyn. A Labour government under Corbyn will govern in the interests of those who voted for Labour and regulate these companies that have and continue to profiteer from manipulating the public into endless taxpayer funded wars. Additionally, it is worth contemplating how when we attack other countries, no one ever asks where the money comes from. This question appears to be reserved for spending that benefits ordinary citizens, not millionaries.

Unlike privately owned companies like ITV and SKY,the BBC is publicly owned but the accusation of being an establishment propagandist can be maintained. However, unlike the overt hyperbolic propaganda in the establishment press, the BBC is a more nuanced and subtle proponent of establishment interests and operates on two levels.

The first, for instance, is that despite having the resources (tax payer funded) to fund independent investigations and not being beholden to advertisers’ or shareholders’ interests, they rely on the profit driven free-press to set the agenda, despite the previously discussed shadowy interests and the well documented corruption and criminality of corporate media (e.g., phone hacking, Iraq, etc.). This is not living up to their mission of being fair and impartial. If they were to truly be impartial, they would cover the very popular left-wing independent news sites such as Skwawkbox, The Canary, Evolve Politics, The People’s News, and The Prole Star. Many will scoff at this suggestion and dismiss these sites as left wing trash, but we in independent media are driven by informing the public and not profit. I, for instance, have written a fair few articles and received about £40 in total, alongside working part-time at a supermarket – perhaps I am more representative of the people’s interests than millionaire investment bankers.

The second level is lying through omission. The example that displays this is the explicit choice not to report on the very popular song ‘Liar Liar’ leading up to the General Election. The song topped Amazon’s listing for songs downloaded in Britain and it reached No.2 in Apple’s iTunes UK chart despite receiving no airplay from radio stations. The BBC said, ‘We do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK is currently in an election period so we will not play the song.’ The song is an innovative, and factually accurate, expression of journalism that I can only envy and hope one day the written word can carry so much weight – not to mention the fact that all proceeds were donated to food banks and other charities. However, the BBC had no issue plastering the airwaves with Corbyn sat on the floor of a train in the build up to the GE, or the anti-Semitism rhetoric of the right-wing press during the local elections. If they were truly impartial, they would have aired the song and discussed it giving both sides the opportunity to present their case.

Since the snap election, Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn has awoken a wave of youth participation in politics. While Corbyn is not the only progressive socialist within Labour, he certainly is the driving force behind much of Labour’s new found support, which brings us to the propaganda model used by the establishment and why they are determined to discredit and humiliate Corbyn:

Note, this article will focus on anti-Semitism but accusations of Russian or communist leanings are also potent weapons of political destruction, but these can only be exploited if the current news cycle is dominated by Russia coverage (e.g., during the Skripals poisoning).

The propaganda model in 4 steps

1) Manufacture some sort of outrage regarding an otherwise innocuous event in a national paper. Events or topics related to Judaism have proved effective.

This accusation is an excellent political device because it elicits a visceral response by tapping into current or historical events that are forever present in the collective human psyche. In other words, the accusation anchors the debate as far to the right of the political continuum and exploits genuine tragedy for corrupt political intent. The vehicle for such a story is likely going to be in a Murdoch paper such as The Sun, but it can appear in any of the Establishment press. The effectiveness of this is due to the national reach of these papers and the de facto assumption by the Establishment that these profit-driven enterprises deserve national attention.

2) Wait for national broadcasters to address the story so as to reach a larger and more interactive audience.

*Enter the BBC, ITV, and Sky News*

Because of the de facto supposition that the voice of publications like The Sun is credible and worthy of discussion, Sky News, ITV, and the BBC present the story to the nation and discuss the story with one person from Labour and one from Conservative’s to debate the veracity of the story. However, notice the blatant echo chamber that is being created and largely ignored. For instance, Sky News is owned by Murdoch, who also has a significant stake in ITV, and the BBC acts as a subtle propagandist for the establishment – which Murdoch has in his pocket. Therefore, the story that was planted and inflated by the establishment press is being validated by the same corporate interests, but in more formal and respectable institutions.

3) Divide and conquer.

Due to social media, the issue forces those who don’t read the establishment press (i.e., the left) to respond to the initial story. However, because the story is now in the mouth of respectable ‘journalists’, it takes on a more concrete and authoritative tone.
The left is notoriously self-destructive and will likely fall into these traps:

  • Take the bait and devote all political energy towards refuting the accusation (i.e., get distracted from current events)
    ‘look at the shiny object’
  • Admit fault just to avoid any potential ‘flak’
    ‘we are sorry for any harm caused by our actions and while we deny them, we are sorry’
  • Turn on each other
    It’s not anti-Semitic’
    ‘let’s just put it to bed and avoid any bad coverage’
    ‘NO! This will embolden those with false accusations to continue’

4) Keep the chosen topic in the cycle non-stop for at least 2 weeks so as to cognitively link Corbyn to the accusation. Reintroduce the story into the establishment press in run-up to elections and repeat the cycle; also viable when politically toxic legislation or events are getting a lot of coverage.

Due to the nature of the initial ‘scandal’ there is very little to actually report on. Therefore, instead of discussing the actual event at the origin of the story, the news cycle is then dominated by the voices of those professing moral outrage (i.e., Jewish people) and hyperbolic vitriol (e.g., Alan Sugar photo-shopping Corbyn next to Hitler). However, only the voices of certain Jewish people are taken seriously and elevated in the public forum. These are often members of the establishment with a lot of political (e.g., Lord Sacks – see appendix) and financial influence (e.g., Lord Sugar – see appendix). Note, political and financial influence is the criteria set out at the beginning of this analysis to mark those of the establishment, and usually the fact that they are Jewish is not relevant. However, their heritage is made relevant by the press and used to push a narrative of antisemitism and making out like they are spokespeople for the entire Jewish community, despite the large number of credible Jewish people who disagree. This is made evident by the voices of non-political or financially influential Jewish people not being elevated in a similar manner (e.g., Jewdas, Noam Chomsky).

 

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative – Goebbels.

 

Things could be about to get worse – The Cairncross Review

It is no secret that print media is a declining industry which is accelerated by the rise of digital media. This decline is emblematic of the capitalist mantra that the Conservative’s live and die by. However, rather than leaving this to free-market forces and letting online digital media takeover, the Cairncross Review – commissioned by the government – is thought likely to recommend that the tax payer foot the bill to ensure billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere can keep infecting the country with divisive propaganda. Quite tellingly, mention of the review in the establishment press has been rather moot. To be clear, while the government cuts social spending to the NHS and these papers demonise those seeking benefits, it seems that they are suggesting handing out millions in corporate welfare. Additionally, the brazen hubris of a suggestion of a taxpayer funded bailout to these media barons who largely do not pay any tax is unconscionable.

This is all under the guise of protecting ‘quality journalism’ in the era of fake news. The review did not take into consideration very popular independent media sites previously mentioned, which can only equate to the government, and the reviewer, deeming these sites to be lacking professionalism, quality, and likely to be mediums for the propagation of fake news – and recently referring to such independent platforms as ‘the disrupting influence of online platforms on the press industry’. ‘Disrupting’ in the sense that they offer a counter-narrative to the establishment business elites. However, one would think that if the government was truly concerned about fake news and the societally corrosive impact it had, they would have intervened after the Iraq war which was based on faked ‘evidence’ of WMDs and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and thousands of UK and US armed forces (and billions in profits to weapons manufacturers and those investing in these companies). The problem isn’t fake news, but rather that they are losing control of their money-making machine and with it their ability to control the narrative of current events.

It is also important to point out that the legacy (read establishment) press are perhaps the last supporters of the establishment classes, and that by subsidising these ‘failing’ industries, they are in effect ensuring a steady stream of free propaganda that they needn’t report as campaign contributions – since they, the Conservatives, have been implicated in election fraud recently. Moreover, a quick look at the composition of the national newspaper alliances and daily circulation illustrates the motives behind why the Conservative government is assessing options on how to save print media.

National paper Publisher Political alliance Daily Circulation (2018)
The Sun News UK Conservative 1,545,594
Metro Daily Mail and General Trust ‘Neutral’ 1,475,372
Daily Mail Daily Mail and General Trust Conservative 1,343,142
London Evening Standard –          Evgeny Lebedev (63%)

–          Daily Mail and General Trust (24.9%)

–          Justin Byam Shaw (7%)

–          Geordie Greig (5%) DMOE

Conservative 888,017
Daily Mirror Reach plc Labour 583,192
The Times News UK Conservative 440,558
Daily Star Northern & Shell Conservative 391,998
The Daily Telegraph Telegraph Media Group Conservative 385,346
Daily Express Reach plc Conservative 364,721
i Johnston Press Centrist 257,223
Financial Times Nikkei Inc. Conservative 189,579
The Guardian Guardian Media Group Labour 137,839
Daily Record Reach plc Labour, unionist 134,087
City A.M. Conservative 90,569
The New European Archant Europeanist 22,731
Labour Conservative
855,118 5,639,524

 

Of the 15 main national newspapers, the bias is starkly in favour of the Conservatives, and even those that are traditionally Labour are still owned and operated by those expressing establishment interests (i.e., Investment and financial services). In other words, likely to oppose Labour under Corbyn. Additionally, considering the bulk of the national press has the interests of the establishment at heart, then our national broadcasters (which, as outlined earlier, are also owned by investment and financial services) are selecting stories that are largely establishment/Conservative talking points and downplay coverage of things like the culpability of the 2008 financial crash (i.e., the same people who are major shareholders in print news and broadcast networks).

Once again, the proverbial ‘money tree’ has escaped its immaterial non-existence just in time to save the skin of the establishment – heaven forbid it to be used to help those suffering from this all out class warfare.

As detailed, the mainstream media operate as a guardian of wealth and this is because they are owned and operated by wealthy interests. They have been gunning for Corbyn ever since he gained the leadership of the party and pushing the anti-Semitism narrative is not so much an example of their morality, but rather the strongest chance they have of subduing our socialist anti-Establishment agenda.

Clarification on the topic of antisemitism

Preferably, I would end this article here. However, because of the topic of anti-Semitism, I would risk being labelled an anti-Semite and it would be foolish of me to not elaborate on the broader context of the accusations and how the media are intentionally ignoring the nuances of the issue.

Difference between newsworthy Jews and non-newsworthy Jews

Often, but not always – their stance on Israel.

A Zionist is a person who adopts a particular political ideology that believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation state (Israel), whereas being Jewish is a religious affiliation – though non-religious Jews are still classed as Jewish via their heritage.

Due to the idiocy of racists in the far right, however, it is true that they often use Anti-Zionist rhetoric as a cloaked way of being Anti-Semitic. But, it is also true that Israel has been pushing to conflate criticising Israel with anti-Semitism. For example, in 1973, Abba Eban, an Israeli politician, advised the American Jewish community that criticisms of the policy of the state of Israel were Anti-Semitic, Jews who criticise Israel are suffering from a neurotic self-hatred, and non-Jews needed to be condemned for anti-Semitism if they’re critical of the state of Israel.

People do not have the right to hate someone because of their heritage, but they do have the moral obligation to critique policy and actions that violate international law. However, under the new ‘non-legally binding’ working definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), some criticism of Israel, especially to do with its founding, would fall under the definition of anti-Semitism. In other words, silencing genuine policy concerns by hiding behind the very real evil of anti-Semitism.

This new definition has caused a lot of pseudo-controversy in the media and political spheres and Corbyn’s rejection of the Israel clauses are being portrayed as a rejection of the UN bill of human rights. However, the media has largely ignored the fact that it has been widely criticised by groups such as the ACLU and Jewish Voice for Peace. Moreover, it was also criticised by an all-party Select Committee for the UK Parliament earlier this year. The definition is too vague and allows it to be used to silence those supporting the rights of Palestinians.

 

The history of the Israel-Palestine conflict is long and beyond the scope of this article. However, the current situation we are in is one in which one group of people are oppressing another. The international community is overwhelmingly in agreement that there should be a two-state solution (i.e., a Palestinian state and an Israeli state). However, for geopolitical interests the US refuses to join the world in their condemnation of Israel and subsequently allows the far right government to continue oppressing and murdering occupied Palestinian’s– along with donating around $60,000,000,000 in military aid over 20 years to one of the most developed nations in the world, while ignoring much poorer Muslim nations genuinely in need of life-saving aid. Additionally, the US has pulled funding from the UN for Palestinian aid which further disenfranchises those suffering under Israeli authoritarian rule.

In a recent ray of light, however, a recent UN report concluded that ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.’ U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the ‘first of its type’ from the U.N. and that it ‘clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people.’

The report was authored by Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories. Before leaving his post as U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories in 2014, Falk said Israeli policies were comparable to colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.

Rima Khalaf has now resigned after the UN had pressured her to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid over its treatment of Palestinians – further demonstrating the concerted effort to silence criticism of Israel.

As well as the oppression occurring within the state of Israel, Israeli lobbyists have influence in foreign affairs aim to promote views friendly to Israel.

In a stunning documentary, Al Jazeera exposed the activities of Israeli embassy officer Shai Masot, and how he plotted to ‘take down’ democratically elected officials, and worked with pro—Israel lawmakers in the Labour Party who exaggerated and faked anti-Semitism in the party, amid plots and coup attempts against leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The exaggerated and faked anti-Semitism was levelled at Jean Fitzpatrick – a Labour party member – by Joan Ryan who is an MP and Chairperson of the Labour Friends of Israel group. At the Labour party conference, Jean Fitzpatrick approached the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) stall which was headed by Joan Ryan when the alleged episode occurred. Fitzpatrick was interested to know how the group intended to promote a two state solution when the Israeli government continues to expand the settlements into the occupied territories. Joan Ryan avoided answering the question and instead just parroted meaningless slogans.

Before continuing, allow me to explain what a two state solution is advocating for. Supporters of this believe that a peace deal that is based on the 1967 national boundaries is the most viable way to establish peaceful co-existence. However, continued violation of international law by expanding occupation has made an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible to achieve.

After Ryan avoided and ignored the genuine concerns of Jean Fitzpatrick, she chose to abruptly end the conversation and go on to blow her nose and disregard a Party members concerns. After Ryan’s rude and dismissive demeanour, Fitzpatrick went on to say ‘You’ve got a lot of money, you’ve got a lot of prestige in the world’ and that being a member of LFI can open a lot of doors for people and went on to say ‘A friend of mine’s son’s got a really good job at Oxford University on the basis of having worked for Labour Friends of Israel’, to which Ryan shut her down and called it an anti-Semitic trope. After leaving the stall, Ryan reported Fitzpatrick to the Party because of ‘anti-Semitic harassment’ because Fitzpatrick said ‘join you lot and you get into Oxford or you get into working in a bank’ – which is categorically false, but it didn’t stop the press from capitalising on it and reporting it as fact. Moreover, Ryan ‘convinced’ her parliamentary assistant, Alex Richardson, to report the incident. Undercover video recording finds that he didn’t actually think anything anti-Semitic was said, but he said he was ‘sure there were undertones’ of anti-Semitism.

In response to the documentary, Israeli officials accused it of being biased and anti-Semitic. However, Ofcom ruled that the documentary was ‘factually accurate, correctly observed rules on fairness, impartiality and privacy, and was not anti-Semitic. The documentary comes in 4 parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

So when Corbyn and the left complain about Israel, it is not like we are just fabricating nonsense in some sort of veiled anti-Semitic attack. We have good reason to oppose Israeli policy due to its actions to oppress and kill Palestinians.

Israel has the right to exist. However, the way it is governed needs to change, and the Palestinian people, just as much as their Israeli counterparts, deserve the right to self-determination and Statehood.

‘Never again’

It is understandable that people are vigilant over even the slightest hint of anti-Semitism, but never forgetting is about what can happen when the most vulnerable in society are marginalised based on stereotypes and racism. However, in recent times, Jewish people are no longer vilified in the same way they were throughout pretty much all of documented history – this is not to say that anti-Semitism is extinct or that there aren’t still Jews being persecuted to this very day. But, thankfully, we no longer have the Daily Mail stating things like ‘The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage.’ It is also worth pointing out that Lord Rothermere was a friend of Mussolini and Hitler, and even went as far to praise the Nazi regime’s accomplishments in an editorial, which was subsequently used as Nazi propaganda. In the editorial, Rothermere predicted that ‘The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany’ minor misdeeds being violence against Jews.

However, as time has progressed, the far right tabloids have focused on a new sect of vulnerable people to vilify – Muslims.

It is an absolute travesty that the Daily Mail and others lionised fascist leaders and vilified the desperate people fleeing Nazi persecution, but it is perhaps even more egregious that we vilify the millions of Muslims fleeing their home countries largely because of illegal Western intervention that has devastated their countries (while lining the pockets of investment banks, weapons manufacturers, and media moguls) and taken upwards of 4 million civilian lives.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are against all forms of racism, especially those of the powerful elite – whether they are Jewish or not.

Although this article may seem to have gone off on a tangent, due to the nature of the topic at hand I felt it was necessary. The goal of this article was to inform Labour voters of the shadowy interests of the mass establishment media that have for too long dictated the lives of normal working-class people, and anti-Semitism is just the latest weapon the Establishment are using because they are terrified of the socialist movement that is taking British politics by storm.