Labour members less likely to be antisemitic than Tories says survey

Despite the ongoing debate about antisemitism within the Labour Party the most recent survey concluded that Labour Party members were less likely to be anti-semitic than UKIP or Conservative party members, however more likely than Liberal Democrats. Tory Party members are 8% more likely to hold antisemitic views than Labour members. Only 4% of  Jews feel that no UK political parties tolerate antisemitism.

The survey conducted by Campaign Against Antisemitism did, however, show that despite Labour holding less antisemitic beliefs than Conservatives, Jews still viewed the party in a negative light. The report stated “Labour Party supporters are less likely to be antisemitic than other voters, so the cause of British Jews’ discontentment with the Labour Party must be the way that it has very publicly failed to robustly deal with the antisemites in its ranks.”

One could argue the way the media portray stories, like the Corbyn scandal and the comment he made about an antisemitic mural in 2012, could also affect beliefs.

Mr Corbyn is facing extremely harsh treatment from the media over his remarks about an antisemitic mural. The comments sparked a protest by the Jewish Leadership council.

However, Jewish Voice and Jewish socialist groups have rallied behind the Labour leader, stating his record in fighting racism is extremely good, and going on to say they have “worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism.” The Jewish Socialist Group pointed out the Jewish Leadership council has links with the Tory party, including it’s former chair Sir Mick Davis who is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

Many Labour supporters have cited the parliamentary report into antisemitism in the UK that stated antisemitism was no more prevalent in the Labour Party than any other party.

A counter protest in support of Corbyn also took place in London. Many members feel that Corbyn’s pro-Palestinian rights stance have caused the dramatic protests seen.

The debate on antisemitism in the Labour Party will continue but has become clouded with other political motives. The facts would state that Labour do not have an antisemitism problem, more than any other party.

You can read more about the Campaign for Antisemitism here.

CrimeStoppers providing safe haven for tax dodging Tory

Crimestoppers is an ‘independent’ crime-fighting charity. They operate largely on anonymous tips from the public and have genuinely been a force for good in tracking down and raising awareness of crime and terrorism. Despite this however, it is alarmingly apparent that they do not chase down financial crimes with the same veracity. This needs to change.

On first inspection of the board of directors, it is no surprise that the charity does not consider financial crimes to be worthy of public attention or criminal condemnation. This is because the board of trustees is packed with Lords and people who have won OBEs/CVOs/QPMs/CBEs/BEMs (i.e. not exactly representative of the country).

 

I have no doubt that the majority of those listed have genuinely good intentions, but I also know that they likely represent the upper echelons of the social classes. This results in an implicit bias towards not investigating ethically dubious financial behaviour such as those committed by the incorrigibly corrupt Lord Ashcroft.

We at The People’s News reported the various tax avoidance schemes employed by Ashcroft in great detail, and the BBC Panorama documentary exposed his activity to the nation. I, like many others, assumed this to be a turning point and that change was imminent. I was wrong, nothing has, or will change, because those who have the means to pursue such contemptible behaviour are also those most likely to be guilty of it. This, in part, is because they do not see what they are doing as criminal, which is technically correct as they are operating within the law. However, the reason this activity is still legal is because figures like Ashcroft donate (legally bribe) millions to the Conservatives, and his polling data is instrumental during election campaigning (e.g. if polls indicate a labour seat is vulnerable, they can channel efforts to the constituency in an effort to flip the seat to Conservatives).

Additionally, the reason the rich don’t feel like they are behaving criminally is because the consequences of their actions are deferred, making it easy for the wealthy to dissociate themselves from any wrongdoing. Alternatively, for example, if violent behaviour results in the death of another person, causation is clear (i.e. the actions of the aggressor were unambiguously the cause of death).

We are all somewhat guilty of overlooking the serious consequences of financial crimes, but I argue that they are far more pervasive than any physically violent crime. To illustrate this more clearly, let us reconsider the hypothetical example of violent behaviour resulting in the death of another person. It is painfully clear that the person who died, died as a consequence of the violent behaviour of the aggressor, and the aggressor will likely be criminally charged.

However, it is important that we clarify the criminal element of this hypothetical. For instance, violence itself is not illegal, and there are situations in which you can be violent such as in boxing and various other contact sports. Therefore, whether a person has committed a crime is predicated upon the consequences of the violence (injury or death), and not the violence itself. This is how the rich and the Conservatives are able to dissociate themselves from the devastating impact of their greed. For instance, it is difficult to argue that the consequences of a psychically violent crime were not the consequence of the violent behaviour by the aggressor because of the temporal proximity of the act and the consequence, whereas the consequences of tax avoidance are more nuanced and deferred, thereby allowing the aggressor (i.e. tax-avoider) to almost entirely dissociate themselves from any wrongdoing. Instead of tax avoidance immediately resulting in the death of another, it manifests slowly due to reduced funding for government support such as that provided by the NHS, and results in countless more deaths. Support for this loosely abstract comparison can be found in recent research published by the British Medical Journal that correlated this cruel application of a proven to be ineffective economic policy to over 120,000 avoidable deaths under during Conservative rule.

It is perhaps a tad inflammatory and hyperbolic to attribute these deaths to the Tories, but it is getting more and more difficult to resist this assertion when educated, non-political, people such as those being published in the British Medical Journal are correlating these deaths to the elite greed and contempt for the working classes. People like Ashcroft can no longer claim blissful ignorance. As of right now, given what we know about the impacts of this draconian understanding of economics, the elite can no longer dissociate themselves from the consequences of their actions.

I feel like this article has been crystal clear, but then again, I think we as a people are often blindsided into downplaying this type of behaviour. Therefore, the rest of this article will focus on trying to contextualise this in a way that I feel it warrants. To do this, consider the definition of the word ‘terrorist’.

We are accustomed to othering terrorists as predominantly Muslim, ISIS related scourges on democracy that use violence to push their agenda. However, no terrorist organisation of any affiliation can boast of killing 120,000 English people. We need to reconceptualise our understanding of the word violence. We all too readily recognise the physically violent behaviour that ISIS use in pursuit of political aims, but because of the deferred relationship between elite greed and the deaths of the most vulnerable in our country, it is difficult to inspire the same emotional response as that from death as a result of another’s violent behaviour. For instance, the 120,000 avoidable deaths reported by the British Medical Journal are not evenly distributed among the social classes, but instead, with almost surgical precision, they are heavily biased towards poor, working class people.  It is important to note that I am not suggesting this is an overarching conspiracy to suppress the working class vote by culling the population, but rather, an unintended, yet convenient, consequence of the greed of the elites.

If we want change in our politics we need to take a more active role in the politics of our country. Whether that be holding to account those that pursue criminal and societally pervasive behaviour such as Crimestoppers, or collectively condemning the legal bribes taken by the government from the likes of Ashcroft.

Finally, as I am sure many of you reading are deeply concerned about the criminal behaviour of those governing our country and those claiming to be upholding the law of the land, I encourage you all to call CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 and air your grievances.

Alternatively, you can anonymously report the behaviour by filling in this online form.

Corbyn is not anti-semitic but he is apathetic

 

Many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters have in recent days repeated the same rhetoric over and over. There is clear truth to the notion that being critical of Israel and its actions isn’t anti-semitic. However, describing all Jews as ‘Zionists’ or ‘zios’ and using this as a criticism is clearly anti-semitic. Many people who hurl these apparent insults do not take into account the person in question’s views or beliefs on Israel. These arguments simply group together all Jews and insult them on the basis that their religion talks about Israel as a homeland, regardless of what they think about the current state of affairs. These sort of messages are deeply hurtful to many Jews and are seen as anti-semitic by most Jews including myself.

I agree that Corbyn himself is not anti-semitic himself, however, he is apathetic to Jewish concerns and anti-semitic allegations within his party. The past few weeks of news stories have shown that Corbyn was and still is a member of several Facebook groups that contained explicit anti-semitic material. The latest story that has initiated the protests is a post regarding a mural. In this mural, bankers are depicted playing monopoly on the backs of the poor. The intention of the painter was to depict the bankers as rich Jews. For those complaining that the mural doesn’t resemble Jews explicitly, Corbyn himself admitted it was anti-semitic. This begs the question why Corbyn initially supported the mural staying up.

It is an insult to Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligence to suggest that he did not realise the content on these groups was anti-semitic and even more insulting to allege that he didn’t realise the content was anti-semitic at the time and only realised this fact 6 years later. It is becoming abundantly clear that Corbyn has the opportunity to distance himself from these groups, their members and their views, yet he fails at every opportunity to do so. Corbyn has become apathetic to the issue and mere public, carefully-worded statements will not cut it anymore. Prior to this month, the issue was Corbyn and Labour not expelling anti-semitic activists. Since then the issue has become personal to Corbyn. That is why many Jewish people protested along with supportive MPs this week. The cry is not to remove Corbyn or stop him being critical of the State of Israel. The call is for him to take firm, proper action on the major issue of anti-Semitism in Labour.

The rhetoric mentioned at the start of this article are damaging and help Corbyn hide from the issue at hand. It is time for people to stop defending the leadership’s apathetic nature.

Corbyn is no Anti-Semite – His record on standing up to racism shows that

 

Jeremy Corbyn has become ‘the figurehead for an anti-semitic political culture.’ So says Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council and headlined in The Daily Mail. He adds that the Labour leader sides with anti-Semites because of “the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism”.

If opposition to Israel is a definition of anti-semitism then add me to the list along with Corbyn’s mum and my dad. She was blocking Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street in the 1930s, while Rothermere’s Daily Mail was lauding Mussolini and Hitler. My dad was one of the first Allied medics to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when it was liberated and the photographs he showed me of the camp’s inmates resulted in my early-in-life street battles with the British Movement, forerunners of the British National Party and the National Front.

If alive today, Einstein, Freud and the leader of the Jewish Warsaw uprising would join us in this so called ‘anti-semitic political culture’.

This is what they had to say about Israel.

Einstein, “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.”

Freud, “I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.”

Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the 1943 Warsaw uprising opened his letter of solidarity with the Palestine resistance, with these words, “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – to all the soldiers of the Palestine fighting organisations ….”

This is all about Israel and the fear of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. More immediately it is about putting the breaks on a Labour landslide in the May local elections.

I have been active on the Left for 60 years and am well aware that fascism and anti-semitism nestles in the minds, actions and words of those who now attack Corbyn and the left.

The Jewish leadership Council should take account of this and read these words from my friend Shirley Franklin, “The anti-Jeremy rhetoric is sickening. As a peace and health campaigner, and as a Jew (whose great great uncle, Herbert Samuel shamefully signed the Balfour Declaration) I know it is utter rubbish to declare Jeremy Corbyn to be antisemitic. To argue for a just world for all in Palestine, Gaza and Israel is NOT antisemitic.”

Cambridge Analytica – Watergate without convictions

Instigated by a report in the Guardian on March 17th, the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica has now been blown into almost astronomical proportions. The scandal first broke surrounding the use of data mining in electoral campaigns; the harvesting of millions of Facebook user’s personal data in order to create personalised and targeted political advertising campaigns, that would influence voter preference. Following on from this, video footage from an undercover report into Cambridge Analytica uncovered admittance by a senior figure in the organisation, pertaining to the use of data mining, political entrapment and even the use of ‘honey traps’; the use of escorts to entrap politicians in sexual scandals.  Since the story broke less than one week ago, the fallout has been significant and international. Facebook itself has come under fire, losing over $60 billion in its stock value, facing lawsuits from shareholders, and with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg being summoned to several judicial reviews into the incident.

Scandals surrounding political influencing are nothing new. Campaign donor scandals, intentional spoiling of ballot papers; where there is democracy, there is the potential for scandal to emerge around elections and voter preference shaping. Where Cambridge Analytica becomes significant, however, is in three ways; its scope, its precedent, and the high likelihood that, when the dust settles, there will be no convictions or real legislative impact on this sort of growing arena. Though the accusations surrounding the use of ‘spies’ and ‘honeypots’ are nothing short of accusations of corruption, blackmail and extortion, it is important not to call for conviction until these charges have clear evidence. Evidence of data mining, however, is more than clear; it is undoubtable and unequivocal evidence of an operation to access, analyse and manipulate private information to produce ‘favourable’ election results for Cambridge Analytica’s clients.

What is primarily startling about the scandal is the international scale on which Cambridge Analytica is accused of influencing politics and elections. According to Straitstimes.com, the reach of Cambridge Analytica’s influence has been reported from Malaysia to Kenya; the latter being accusations that the success of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, in both the 2013 and 2017 elections, was due to influence and management by the firm. Rumours have even begun to circulate that the Trump campaign had ties with the firm, with CNN reporting that the firm helped to establish the digital aspect of the campaign that – in Analytica’s own words- contributed significantly to the 2016 election victory. It has been near unanimous that political influencing is a thing of the past in modern liberal democracy. No longer. Here we have a firm being hired by politicians worldwide, accessing online data through the largest social media site in the world, to create personalised campaigns that sway voter opinion significantly – and such data mining is the most reputable thing the company stands accused of.

Focus on the data mining aspect of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, raises a more insidious point. A firm built around electoral campaigning, hired to process voter data and advise on electoral strategy is nothing new whatsoever; firms have been making millions advising in political campaigns for decades. What is scandalous about Cambridge Analytica is the fact that the firm mined millions of Facebook profiles to construct its analytical models. Regardless of whether you believe their attempted justification that all the files were ‘legally and correctly obtained’, what has occurred is that a private firm accessed, downloaded and analysed millions of user’s personal data, online preferences and private information, to create targeted advertising campaigns for politicians willing to pay highly enough. It is perhaps nothing short of the largest invasion of privacy we have seen in the 21st century. With the scope of such invasion of online privacy still unknown, Cambridge Analytica raises serious questions on how secure our private information is; especially with the ever-increasing commercialisation of social media, and societal reliance upon new technology and social media platforms in our everyday lives.

So, what can be done? Apparently, next to nothing. As far as international law relating to such cyber mining extends, it is increasingly difficult to keep pace with the exponential growth of the information sector. Though several criminal investigations in various countries are certainly a good place to start, it is highly unlikely that criminal charges will land on the heads of the senior figures involved. Political campaigns, from Trump to Kenya, have a certain degree of deniability surrounding the extent and maliciousness of the data mining undertaken; the same can be said of Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook group. Co-operation with the criminal reviews may even act to benefit them; though it is impossible to predict or speculate with any accuracy until the extent of Cambridge Analytica’s influence becomes clear. Though the scandal has created waves internationally, it is highly likely that the only real impact the scandal will have, besides the potential for a few arrests within the Cambridge Analytica organisation, is the fall of Facebook stocks.

One thing remains clear, however. With the continuing growth and centrality of the internet in our society, and with the increasing focus of using media platforms for all our personal information, the international community must respond to this scandal with a serious legislative framework; one that protects us as consumers, as individuals and as citizens, from such exploitative and invasive data mining again. We are people; individuals with rights, not data sets available to the highest bidder.

Austerity – Asymmetrical, abhorrent and avoidable

“Unless we deal with this debt crisis, we risk becoming once again the sick man of Europe”. This was David Cameron in 2009, addressing the Conservatives in Cheltenham on how best to deal with the wake of the 2008 global financial crash. More specifically, this was the beginning of the age of austerity in the Conservative party mindset – the treatment of our nation as a failing business that demanded sweeping cuts across the public sector. Cut to the beginning of 2018, and it was announced that Austerity had finally reached its targets of debt reduction – a full 2 years later than the brutalist model of spending reduction was supposed to. But how successful has Austerity really been for the United Kingdom and its future?

With the aim of reducing the national debt to a level that investment could begin again without compounding trillions in national debt, Austerity has been ‘successful’ –  it has finally succeeded in its core promise to reduce the budget deficit significantly.  Indeed, according to UKPublicSpending.co.uk’s estimations, the current budget deficit between 2010 and 2017 has fallen from £99.74 billion to only £14.04 billion. Though this is a considerable reduction in national debt, there are two key issues that prove the truly devastating impact of Austerity on the United Kingdom – the impact on the economic prosperity of the people, and the precedent set by both former and future conservative action surrounding the national economy.

To take national debt reduction as evidence that austerity has worked for Britain is almost laughably reductionist. Rather, austerity has led to significant economic hardship, regional economic disparity and a fall in opportunity for many. This is not to argue that societal hardship in times of economic uncertainty is surprising; rather, the extent of such hardship was widespread, brutal and largely unnecessary.  Take women in the national economy, for example. Due to austerity and the severe public spending cuts, female workers in the public sector have been most harshly impacted by this policy of financial subtraction. Due to cuts in tax credits, sweeping redundancies across largely female dominated sectors, and the growth of the casual job market as the only route back into employment, it is estimated that women have been 15% worse off as a result of austerity – equivalent to just over £70 billion lost in potential wealth. Similarly, massive cuts to the welfare system have severely impacted the lowest earners in our society – with a 2016 WBG assessment estimating that the lowest 10% of households will be 21% worse off as a result of austerity.  Austerity has had a similar regional effect, with massive cuts to budgets outside of the regional south leading to a disparity in unemployment. According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment in the North East reached 5.8% in 2017; compared with 3.3% in the South East. It is no complex conclusion, therefore, that the effects of austerity have been not only significant, but wide ranging and unequal.

But it is the failure of the neoliberal consensus that makes austerity not only brutal, but unnecessary. It must be conceded that the wake of the 2008 financial crash demanded a somewhat revolutionary economic response. In a world with families being kicked out onto the streets, Multinational banks closing and national economies such as Greece almost collapsing under the weight of their debt, to maintain the economic status quo would have achieved little else but gradual and unavoidable economic collapse.  But to claim, as the Conservatives did, that Austerity was the only solution is not a problem of debt but of failed foresight. The problem itself relates to the consensus of privatisation and state reduction that has prevailed since the 1980’s. The need for economic revolution after the brutal conditions of the 1970’s, coupled with a political desire to appeal to the electorate, led to a shift in economic models; away from taxation, and towards venture capital and debt. This allowed of economic growth based on lending, debt and speculation, whilst pacifying voters by protecting their ‘hard earned money’ from the evils of taxation. At the same time, the growth in faith that the private sector facilitated economic revolution led to mass privatisation, the shrinking of the state and the sale of numerous sources of government revenue, external to taxation. How, then, does a state fund itself whilst maintaining this ethos of low taxation and sale of its own revenue streams? Any attempt to increase spending through taxation, after the prosperity of the 1980’s, would have been little else but the proverbial bullet-in-your-own-foot; thus, the money must be borrowed or gained from the sale of government assets.

This is where the problem of failed foresight emerges. Austerity was not inevitable, had the neoliberal consensus recognised that privatisation, low taxation and increasing focus on debt was the recipe for economic crisis on an unprecedented scale. Austerity is the product of ignorance to the inherent fluctuations of capitalism; an ignorance that removed any state capability for self-investment, any capability to reinvigorate the economy and consumer confidence, and any ability to enact any alternative to brutal cuts that affected millions. Not only did the population face severe cuts, it also faced negative real wage growth. The UK achieved the 2nd worst economic performance in Europe between 2007 and 2015, only Greece managed worse. The nation sank to the bottom of the OCED wage growth index in 2018.

Perhaps more troubling than this, the rhetoric surrounding austerity removed the decision from the political sphere. The Conservative government made it appear as an unavoidable evil that we, the people of Britain, would just have to grit our teeth and bear the severity of. It is important, now more than ever, to challenge the ideas around austerity as a ‘success’ and those who seek to remove debate and democracy from political decisions. If light is not continually shed on how brutal, unequal and unsuccessful austerity has been for the current and future state of Britain, then we leave ourselves prone to this kind of unnecessary rhetoric again; perhaps even as a cover for more inherently unequal policy.

Lords delay Dickensian changes to free school meals, but they must be overturned

Approximately 30% of children live in relative poverty in the UK, and for most of these, school meals are the only way in which they get a hot meal each day. However, under proposals voted through by the Conservatives last week, which children get Free school meals will be changing in line with the controversial Universal Credit system.

With 1.3 million children claiming free school meals, there is clearly an issue in Britain with child poverty, and we can all agree that for such a developed country this is a disgrace. Under new plans, The Children’s Society and The Labour Party claim that “over a million children will be without a hot meal in schools”.

Under the new proposal, those earning over £7,400 from work and on Universal Credit, your child won’t be entitled to FSM if they’re in Year 3 or above. But by this definition, the government is effectively saying that if you are earning even one penny over the means test threshold (£7,401), you aren’t in poverty and you can afford to feed your child. This, to put it lightly, is atrocious.

With the cost of living increasing, and real wages going backwards, many people who has a household income of £25,000 per year are struggling to cope, let alone £7,400. For example, the Minimum Income Calculator shows that a couple with two primary school age children need to be earning £19,230 per year EACH to have a decent standard of living. Yet the government argue that if you’re earning over £7,400 per year, you don’t need your child to have free school meals. This is nothing short of a disgrace. The reform is yet another example of a Tory government that simply does not understand poverty.

The Government estimate that if earning “around the threshold of £7,400” and on Universal Credit, families would have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 when benefits are taken into account. But with the aforementioned Minimum Income Calculator statistics, its clear that earning in the government estimated amounts per year from benefits and work simply isn’t enough to live comfortably. And once again, it must be emphasised that if you earn £8,000 for example, and are on universal credit, you aren’t going to be eligible for FSM.

So what can we take from this? Well, clearly, less children will be receiving FSM in the future, and this could have a devastating effect on their education and lives as a whole. It’s a known fact that during childhood, proper nutrition is important to academic success. If a child isn’t eating enough, they will struggle in school and in their normal home life as a whole. Free School Meals offer them the chance to eat a hot meal in school and combat malnourishment caused by poverty. The Conservatives clearly don’t care about this.

The Labour party were desperate for these plans to go ahead, this meant the Tory party needed further support. The solution, buying of the DUP. Promising that Northern Ireland would be excluded from the proposals so they got the bill through the Commons. This is, in my view, political corruption, and while not punishable in any way by parliament, it should be by the electorate. So many children in the future will be adversely affected by these horrific changed, and we must fight them. Winning the vote by 312 to 254, the Labour annulment failed, much to the displeasure of the  Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who promised to “continue to campaign for free school meals for the poorest children”. The fact the DUP knew that doing this was wrong, evident by the fact the initiative will not go ahead in Northern Ireland, yet voted for it anyway is disgusting.

I recently wrote to my local MP, Conservative Whip David Rutley, and his response back was simply an attack on the Labour Party, not a justification of the new policy. Claiming that Labour have lied about the policy and that no children will lose FSM in the future, Mr Rutley was insistent that this policy would be beneficial, inserting the claim that 50,000 more children will be eligible for FSM in the future. While this may be true to an extent, we have a rising population so naturally, with more people going into a state of poverty, and his party failing to combat this, of course more children will need to be eligible for FSM in the future.

On 20th March however, the government was dealt a damaging blow, when a motion proposed by Labour Peer Steve Bassam urging the government to halt the changes to its Free School Meals policy, and this motion was won by 167-160 votes. While having no complete power over government policy, this shows that even the Lords don’t agree with the policy. The lack of coverage of this by the Mainstream Media is disappointing, as not only is this a crucial blow for the government, but it also shows that the Lords have some relevance after all.

While they should be a fully elected body, the fact they’ve rebelled against the government shows that they can have a purpose. Obviously, they haven’t stopped the government on this issue, they at least have the chance to influence and stop them from putting forward such a disastrous policy.

The debate on Free School Meals is one that must not be brushed under the carpet. We have a duty to help our vulnerable children in poverty, and the governments careless and thoughtless policy will only serve to damage the lives of these children and indeed, their families, even further. We must stand up and fight the government on this issue or else face the most vulnerable group in society suffering even further.

Exeter University investigates law students’ racist messages

The University is investigating claims of racism among law society members.

The University of Exeter announced after screenshots of “vile, deplorable” racist comments from a students’ WhatsApp group were shared via social media.

The student who revealed the messages said he had reported it to university bosses and the students’ union.

Students targeted fellow students as well as political figures like Sadiq Khan, in simply horrific racist language. Racist and offensive comments were also made towards the Muslim faith as well as references to slavery. Some may find the language in these images offensive.

The group chat was created in the summer of 2017 and the student who revealed the messages said one vivid message he remembers is when one student specifically stated “I wish the jabs finished him”, in regards to his peer Ikenna Henry Onyebuchi who was stabbed earlier in the year.

The Law Society has taken action. Removing those involved from the committee, banning the candidate from the ongoing election and indefinitely banning all those involved from the Society. The society stated it does not condone or tolerate such behaviour.

Recently Nottingham Trent was gripped by its own racist scandal. Two men were arrested earlier this month after subjecting a woman to a tirade of racist abuse. Neo-Nazis forces have also protested at Royal Holloway over the sacking of 2 cleaners who attended anti-Semitic rallies.

The university stated, “we unreservedly condemn any act of racism”. This is not the first racism scandal the University has dealt with in recent years, with problems regarding antisemitism been widely reported.

More follows

Tory East Cheshire Council face six police investigations

Currently facing SIX ongoing police investigations, the Conservative led Cheshire East Council has been in the firing line recently for its perceived corruption. It all started when it was revealed that the Executive had controversially awarded contracts to a company belonging to the physiotherapist of former Council Leader Michael Jones £70,000 for an academy in Crewe, bypassing normal procedures to do so. In addition Jones is also being investigated for falsifying air pollution figures and his conduct as a Councillor. Another senior figure, Mike Suarez, is under investigation for allegations of bullying.

Earlier this year, it was reported by the Macclesfield Express that police had opened two further investigations into the council, while further bullying claims have since arisen from staff members at the troubled council. The government considered placing the council under special measures, however since the investigation by the government, nothing has changed, and the council remains in a state of utter chaos.

Popular satire magazine Private Eye named the council as ‘Filthy Liars of the Year’ last year on the basis of their falsification of air quality figures, and this title couldn’t be more appropriate. A failure to pay some staff the National Minimum Wage sparked one of the many police investigations into the group, with it being revealed that the council were ‘fully aware’ of the fact that care workers within the local authority were being paid below the minimum wage.

In September 2017, 10 of Cheshire East’s Independent Councillors called upon the Cabinet to resign or face special measures. No action was taken. The cabinet remains as it was, and the Secretary of State Sajid Javid has since taken no action at all, despite a petition of over 2,000 signatures at the time.

So why has no action been taken by the government? Residents of the authority argue that it is down to the fact that the Conservative Government don’t want to acknowledge the problem facing the council, so they are choosing to ignore them. With police investigations piling up, many residents argue that it’s time for action to be taken.

Laura Smith, MP for Crewe, has also contacted the Secretary of State, voicing her concerns, however it’s clear that these concerns aren’t shared by the government, perhaps as a result of the fact that at the end of the day, the council has proven to be very loyal to the Tories ideological pursuit of austerity and other policies, with Smith passionately campaigning for more funding for the care sector from the council.

The inaction of Macclesfield MP, David Rutley, to address the public concerns into the council only further shows the lack of concern that the Tories have about Cheshire East. The council is failing residents, with austerity policies affecting areas such as the buses in the local authority and the care sector, and calls for meetings to be closed to the public.

Councillor Laura Jeuda of Macclesfield South Ward recently claimed that council staff are ‘too scared to speak out’ regarding the bullying that is claimed to be going on at the Council, with anyone who threatens to blow the whistle on the practices and treatment of staff being told they will be dismissed according to the councillor. Many have linked the rumours surrounding the aforementioned Mike Suarez scandal to the bullying accusations, so its entirely possible that this abuse of staff is a long-term issue embedded into the group.

This week it was also reported that the Council had contracted the group ‘Orbitas’ to oversee the continued care of Macclesfield Cemetery, however pictures on social media revealed that the area had fallen into a state of disrepair. Contractors were accused of ‘recklessly damaging’ memorial stones after car tracks were found to have driven over memorial stones. While the council has since come out and denied any involvement in this, the fact that they were accused in the first place demonstrates the low regard the council is held in.

Of course, local Tories haven’t kept totally quiet about the council’s issues, and the leader, Rachel Bailey has said that given that the executive had delegated investigations to the police, it was clear that the Conservatives were taking necessary action to combat allegations. However, twitter account CheshireEast Exposed claims that “everything that is wrong happened when she sat in cabinet or was Leader of the council”.

Buses have been a dominant topic for local residents in regards to the shortcomings of the council. Cuts to local bus services have been brutal, and as reported by The Crewe Chronicle, a Crewe bus campaigner said planned cuts to bus services were ‘unbearable’, pointing out that bus users would suffer while suspended officers were being paid full wages for example, when the buses bore the brunt of austerity.

With the council clearly not listening to its residents, and the Vice Chair of Macclesfield Constituency Labour Party, Rob Vernon, calling it ‘the most shambolic, most corrupt council in the United Kingdom’, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Cheshire East is suffering. While the outcomes of the ongoing police investigations are obviously unknown currently, residents have been left expecting illegal wrongdoings by the council leading to judicial action. The current regime seems unable and unwilling to fix the issues, and Labour/Independent councillors last year called for an executive made up of people from all parties. This proposal was thrown out by the Tories, who are clinging onto power. But with the local elections for the borough in 2019, and more citizens of towns like Macclesfield and Crewe coming forward to speak out against the council, could Labour stand a chance of finally restoring order to the council in disarray? Early signs look positive for Labour candidates, and in turn, Cheshire East residents themselves.

Retraction: We stated previously that “Jones’ successor Mike Suarez is also under the spotlight for allegations of bullying.” This was incorrect. Mike Suarez did not succeed Jones as leader of the council and is instead the chief executive of the council. We also stated “with leader after leader resigning, from Jones to Suarez” again Suarez did not lead the council and nor did he resign. Suarez was suspended and has not resigned.

The Salisbury incident benefits Putin, whether he did it or not

 

The recent attack on Russian defector Sergei Skripal has thrown up significant debate over the true perpetrators of the act. Many see it as a direct Kremlin attack, many as an attack by Skirpal’s personal enemies, and a significant minority cry false flag. Were it ordered by Putin, it is seemingly illogical, a blatant act of aggression that will gather nothing but hostility for little real gains. But those that see this as a reason to absolve Putin of the act fundamentally misunderstand the peculiar style with which he rules.

Putin’s rule is in ways paradoxical, he is often lauded for the stability and security he brings to Russia, and indeed this is the main argument of his supporters. But for him to be such a stabilizing pillar of state, there must be threats, external and internal, to the stability he provides. Were there no threats to Russia’s stability, it’s unlikely his oppressive rule would be tolerated.

The relatively recent annexation of Crimea for example, incurred harsh economic reprisal from the EU and NATO, being felt most severely by the common Russian, yet it only strengthened Putin’s support. Most Russians saw the sanctions as nothing but a naked act of western hostility on the state, no doubt a view encouraged by the Kremlin. Therefore, Putin can commit these controversial acts with impunity as in the end, any retaliation likely benefits him; it is not a stretch of the imagination to suppose he commits such actions with the controversy as an intentional goal. A line from 1984 springs to mind. For Putin War is peace, and peace is war. These foreign threats help him suppress his opposition.

Does this categorically mean the Kremlin was responsible for the Salisbury attack? Essentially, the question is irrelevant.

If he did do it, he certainly knew the possible outcomes, and was possibly even banking on the international retaliation to push fearful Russians into his camp during his recent landslide election. If he is innocent of the order, it’s in his interest to act as if he had committed the act anyhow. London’s Russian embassy certainly wants us to think he did it, with provocative tweets followed by half-hearted alibies.

A defector is dead, his people vote him back into power amid international sabre rattling, and the UK parliament is in turmoil over the incident; all in all, its been a productive few weeks for the Putin.

As it stands, the game is rigged in Putin’s favour, his geopolitical agenda necessitates chaos and international hostility, and with these sideffects he props up his domestic regime. Unless the British leadership wises up to these realities, he will continue to run rings around them and continue to be able carry out acts like the Salisbury attack with impunity.