My Letter to Wellingborough CLP Contact, Kevin Watts


Dear Kevin,

I have just had the most unpleasant experience with the Labour Party HQ that I have ever encountered. I was ringing to complain about my suspension and have it overturned as well as complain that my letter of appeal, for which their own automated system promised me a reply within a week, has not yet been answered.

Firstly, I was on hold for five minutes before someone even picked up the phone only to  immediately pass me to a different department. I was on hold for another ten minutes (obviously someone hoped I would give up an go away). When somebody finally picked up the phone all they would tell me was that I have been suspended for abusive conduct on Twitter, and with a paltry excuse of going to get further details I was again placed on hold for another five minutes after which the line was cut off.

I am utterly disgusted with this Kafkaesque treatment! How can I defend myself when I have no idea of what it is I am accused? How long will the investigation take? What form will it take and who will carry it out? None of this information has yet been imparted so I am still faced with the prospect of persons unknown trawling through years of tweets trying to find something to pin on me. Even trying to have my complaint and challenge acknowledged, let alone dealt with is impossible, yet the party remains happy to take my money in fees. I have attached yet another copy of the vague travesty of justice which seems to promote the idea that an allegation of a possibility merits punishment without evidence for your reference. (Letter of suspension.)

For years, I have been an advocate of strict anti-bullying policies on social media, and I certainly do not use it to abuse people, yet a great deal is of abuse is fired at me. Under the Data Protection Act, I have a right to know what information they hold on me, how long they have held it, what it has been used for and what they plan to do with it. I know for a fact, that I have never once given them my Twitter details. Do they even have the right Anna Johnstone? There are plenty of us. If you could look into this matter and pass it on to the campaign team for Jeremy, so they know how badly his supporters are being treated and Owen Smith cannot get away with rigging the vote, it would be appreciated.

Regards,

Anna Johnstone

(The number for the Labour Party is 0345 092 2299)

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Backstabbing, Self-Serving, Blairites have exposed their true colours.


Here is the list of traitorous Blairites who only accept the will of the party members when it suits them. I will be retaining my membership of the party for now because his name may be on the next so I may be able to show my support a second time. If he loses or his name is not on the ballot, I will be cancelling my membership immediately and will never vote Labour again.

Mr Corbyn won the leadership with the largest mandate from the membership ever, and scores have joined the party since: because of him. This is a handful of opportunists who have consistently refused to be led, criticised him openly in the media and tried everything they can to obstruct him and distract him from being an effective leader since the moment he took his position.  The imminent revelation of the Chilcot enquiry and Britain’s exit from the EU has merely provided a pretext to make an attempt to unseat a democratically elected leader of the party. For their betrayal, not only of Jeremy Corbyn, but the majority of the party which they are prepared to ignore when it suits them, they deserve to be deselected.  I leave it up to the individual constituencies to deal with their own MPs accordingly.

The List

1) Hilary Benn, shadow foreign secretary (sacked)

2) Heidi Alexander, shadow health secretary

3) Lucy Powell, shadow education secretary

4) Karl Turner, shadow attorney general

5) Kerry McCarthy, shadow environment secretary

6) Lilian Greenwood, shadow transport secretary

7) Ian Murray, shadow Scottish secretary

8) Vernon Coaker, shadow Northern Ireland secretary

9) Seema Malhotra, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

10) Gloria de Piero, shadow minister for young people and voter registration

11) Lord Falconer, shadow justice secretary

12) Chris Bryant, shadow Commons leader

13) Steve Reed, shadow minister for local government

14) Stephen Kinnock, parliamentary private secretary to Angela Eagle

15) Diana Johnson, shadow foreign minister

16) Anna Turley, shadow civil society minister

17) Toby Perkins, shadow defence minister

18) Chris Matheson, parliamentary private secretary on the shadow justice team

19) Jenny Chapman, shadown education minister

20) Roberta Blackman-Woods, shadow housing minister

21) Wayne David, shadow minister for cabinet office, Scotland and justice

22) Alex Cunningham, shadow minister for natural environment

23) Ruth Smeeth, shadow minister for natural environment

24) Yvonne Fovargue, shadow consumer affairs minister

25) Neil Coyle, PPS to shadow leader of the house

26) Jess Phillips, PPS to Education

27) Angela Eagle, shadow first secretary of state and shadow business secretary

28) Nick Thomas-Symonds, shadow employment minister

29) Kate Green, shadow women and equalities minister

30) Susan Elan Jones, shadow deputy Wales minister

31) Nia Griffith, shadow Welsh secretary

32) Maria Eagle, shadow culture secretary

33) Lisa Nandy, shadow energy minister

34) Owen Smith, shadow work and pensions secretary

35) John Healey, shadow housing minister

36) Matthew Pennycook, shadow housing team

37) Thangam Debbonaire, shadow culture minister

38) Colleen Fletcher, PPS at DEFRA

39) Luciana Berger, shadow minister for mental health

40) Nick Thomas-Symonds, shadow minister for work and pensions

41) Keir Starmer, shadow minister for the home office

42) Steve Bassam, Labour lords chief whip

Source of list

Edits:
29/6/16

  1. Pat Glass has now resigned from the position that she accepted two days ago

Pat Glass dealt Jeremy Corbyn a new blow today as she quit her “dream job” as Shadow Education Secretary after just two days.

She said on Twitter: “It is with a heavy heart that I have today resigned as Shadow SoS Education. My dream job but the situation is untenable.

2. Alan Whitehead (Voting Record)

Brexit was fueled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances – Vox


This was so brilliantly put, I am going to paste the article in full. The source can be found at the bottom.

Just one day after the results of Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the EU, were announced, we’ve already begun to see some disturbing reports from Britain. Specifically, troubling stories about xenophobic incidents have been popping up across the country.

Protesters with banner "Stop Immigration; Start repatriation" outside a morrisons store in Newcastle

Racists given political legitimacy.

Racists in Birmingham

Racists in Birmingham

This isn’t surprising. The pro-Leave camp claimed that Britain needed to quit the EU to close its borders to more EU migrants, that the country had reached a “breaking point,” and needed to shut its doors. Pre- and post-election polling suggests that this was the pro-Leave argument that most resonated with British citizens, and was in large part responsible for Leave’s victory.

Now some pundits are suggesting that the real lesson of Brexit is that ordinary Britons are bearing an unacceptable economic cost from immigration, and that elites should heed that lesson and think about restricting immigration to other Western countries to prevent a similar populist backlash.

There’s just one problem: this narrative isn’t actually true. Data shows that Britain wasn’t suffering harmful economic effects from too many new migrants.

What Britain was suffering from too much of, however, was xenophobia — fear and hatred of immigrants. Bigotry on the basis of national origin.

That’s not something you give into, and close the borders. It’s something you fight.

British xenophobia is not rational

Immigration has surged in the UK in recent years: the number of foreign-born people living in the UK has gone from 2.3 million in 1993 (when Britain joined the EU) to 8.2 million in 2014. This is a new thing for the UK, as you can see on the below chart:

 (Office of National Statistics)

The surge was a result (in part but not in whole) of EU rules allowing citizens of of EU countries to move and work freely in any other EU member country.

Pro-Leave campaigners, and sympathetic observers in the media, argued that this produced a reasonable skepticism of immigration’s effect on the economy — and Brexit was the result.

“The force that turned Britain away from the European Union was the greatest mass migration since perhaps the Anglo-Saxon invasion,” Atlantic editor David Frum writes. “Migration stresses schools, hospitals, and above all, housing.”

Yet there’s a problem with that theory: British hostility to immigrants long proceeds the recent spate of mass immigration.

Take a look at this chart, from University of Oxford’s Scott Blinder. Blinder put together historical data on one polling question — the percent of Brits saying there were too many immigrants in their country. It turns people believed this for decades before mass migration even began:

 (Scott Blinder)

Brits believed there were “too many immigrants” even when there were too few to have appreciable effects on the British economy. If Britain’s backlash to immigration were really about immigrants taking their jobs, then you’d expect hostility about immigration to be correlated to the actual level of immigration. But it’s not.

That’s not the only reason to believe Brexit was about xenophobia.

Torsten Bell, director of the UK economic think tank Resolution Foundation, set out to test the hypothesis that “areas hardest hit by the financial crisis, or those where migration is said to have held down wages, voted heavily to leave.”

In other words, he tested the exact argument the pro-Leave camp is making: that people who voted to leave made a rational decision based on the real economic effects they’ve suffered from the rise in immigration. If that were the case, you’d expect places that have gotten poorer in the past decade (when mass migration took off) would have been the places that voted most heavily to leave the EU.

But that’s not what Bell found. In fact, he found no correlation at all between areas where wages have fallen since 2002 and the share of votes for Leave in the referendum:

 (Torsten Bell)

“Some areas with big pay boosts voted to leave (such as Christchurch in Dorset),” Bell writes. “Some that have done very badly out of the last decade and a half still voted to stay in the EU (such as Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire).”

Another point. Support for staying in the EU was concentrated among the UK’s young, whose wages were hurt most by the 2008 recession. Support for leave was concentrated among older Britons, who had less reason to fear wage competition from immigrants.

So there are lots of reasons to be skeptical that British voters’ concerns about immigration are a rational response to the effect immigration is having on the economy. Instead, it seems, British opposition to immigration stems from a long-lasting, deep-seated hostility towards new people coming into their country.

The word for that is xenophobia.

Immigrants didn’t hurt native-born Britons

French Border Police Ban 250-Vehicle Aid Convoy To Calais (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Pro-migrant activists in London.

The key assumption of the “rational concern” thesis is that immigrants are actually hurting the British economy. It only make sense to see hostility to immigration as rational if immigrants are actually harming native-born Brits.

But this isn’t the case. Take Frum’s core claim — that immigration was ruining the British housing market. “The median house price in London already amounts to 12 times the median local salary,” Frum writes. “Rich migrants outbid British buyers for the best properties; poor migrants are willing to crowd more densely into a dwelling than British-born people are accustomed to tolerating.”

The logic of Frum’s argument is directly contradictory. He seems to be arguing that rich migrants are raising British housing costs, while poor migrants are lowering it by living in higher-density housing.

But setting aside this weirdness, the truth is that migrants aren’t transforming British housing in any meaningful sense. Most of British housing demand is domestic; foreign born-residents only make up about 13 percent of Britain’s population. And while migrants may live in different kinds of housing early on, that changes quickly. “The longer they stay,” a 2011 London School of Economics study finds, “the more their housing consumption resembles that of similar indigenous households.”

If anything, migrants have a positive effect on the UK housing market — specifically, because they’re both capable of doing critical construction work and actually willing to do it. “The Chartered Institute of Building points out that any caps on immigration will harm housebuilding rates, as not enough British-born nationals are either trained or interested in construction careers, and migrants have been filling the gap,” the Guardian’s Dawn Foster writes.

The debate over housing mirrors the broader debate over migration’s effect on Britons. Leave campaigners, for instance, frequently argued that migrants were taking British jobs. Nigel Farage, head of the far-right UK Independence Party, once infamously proposed a law that would legalize discrimination against foreign-born workers in favor of hiring out-of-work British citizens.

Yet when a 2016 study, also from the London School of Economics, analyzed this specific claim using new data, it found, conclusively, “that the areas of the UK with large increases in EU immigration did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers.”

What about wages? Is Britain being flooded by low-skill workers from EU countries, willing to work for low pay and thus undercutting native-born Brits?

The new LSE study looked at that as well. “There is also little effect of EU immigration on inequality through reducing the pay and jobs of less skilled UK workers,” the LSE authors write. “Changes in wages and joblessness for less educated UK born workers show little correlation with changes in EU immigration.”

This is consistent with international studies on the effect of migration on wages in other places. “Most of…the literature suggests that the effect on native workers’ wages is neutral or positive,” my colleague Dylan Matthews explains.

“The Mariel boatlift, when Cuba unexpectedly sent 125,000 people to Florida, did not hurt employment or wages among native workers in Miami at all. A huge spike in Russian immigration to Israel in the early 1990s appeared to give existing workers a nearly 9 percent raise.”

Finally, Brexit supporters argue that migrants are taxing UK social services. EU migrants were coming to the UK to take advantage of its generous public benefits, they argued, and over-stretching the system. “EU migrants’ access to the UK’s welfare state has dominated debates about the EU membership,” a paper by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, notes.

That same Oxford paper actually examined some of the claims — and found little evidence that EU migrants were coming over to take advantage of British benefits.

“EU migrants are less likely to claim out-of-work benefits, such as Jobseekers’ Allowance and incapacity benefit, compared to their UK counterparts,” the Oxford scholars write. “In February 2015, people who were EU nationals when they registered for a National Insurance Number made up 2.2% of the total [Department for Work and Pensions] working-age benefits caseload, but were about 6% of the working-age population.”

The bottom line, then, is that there is no good evidence that immigration was doing serious harm to native-born Britons. British attitudes towards immigration once again appear untethered to a rational assessment of the costs and benefits of migration.

Brexit is xenophobia, and we should react as such

Political Leaders Respond To The UK's EU Referendum Result (Mary Turner/Getty Images)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Over the past 20 years, the percentage of Britons ranking “immigration/race relations” as among the country’s most important issues has gone from near zero percent to about 45 percent. Today, 77 percent of Brits believe that immigration levels should be reduced.

The best explanation is that Britain’s xenophobia over immigration is being activated. They see immigrants around them, and they start looking for ways to prevent more from coming in. It’s not about assessing the harm immigrants are doing to Britain; it’s about being terrified that they’re changing the “character” of Britain to be more “foreign.”

You can see this fear in the the language of anti-immigrant campaigners like Farage. Much of it is downright bigoted against immigrants of all kinds, from Muslims to Eastern Europeans.

Farage has called some Muslims a “fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us.” He once warned Britain of a “Romanian crime wave” sweeping the nation. His party officially debuted this poster to warn of the dangers of letting in more migrants, which was actually reported to the police for resembling Nazi propaganda:

 (UKIP)

This is not the language of a rational immigration skeptic. It’s the language of a fearmonger.

The rhetoric became so heated that some native-born, non-white Britons are now worrying that xenophobia whipped up by Farage and others will end up targeting them.

“After an appalling referendum campaign, dominated by daily front-page scare stories regarding immigration, we’re wondering if people will again be questioning if we should be going back to our ‘own country,’” Joseph Harker, the Guardian’s deputy opinion editor (and a black man), writes. “It seems only a matter of time before the intolerance that has been unleashed, reinforced and normalised, looks for the old, easy targets of people who look different. People like me.”

Its perhaps understandable why xenophobic rhetoric appealed to some Brexit supporters. Resolution’s Bell found that even though pro-Brexit voters weren’t from places that had recently gotten poorer since the mass immigration wave, they were from places that had historically been poor — going back to the 1980s. These people have good reasons to be angry about the status quo. They’re looking for someone to blame, and immigrants are an easy scapegoat.

But the fact that their bigotry is comprehensible doesn’t make it any less bigoted. Nor does it excuse the politicians who catered to it — nay, encouraged it — over the course of the debate over Brexit.

Understanding this as bigotry matters. If the issue were that immigration hurt native-born populations, then it might make sense to talk about restricting immigration as a way of preventing this kind of destructive sentiment from rising to the fore again.

“Is it possible that leaders and elites had it all wrong?” Frum asks, rhetorically. “If they’re to save the open global economy, maybe they need to protect their populations better against globalization’s most unwelcome consequences — of which mass migration is the very least welcome of them all?”

But if the Brexit vote was rooted in xenophobia, rather than rational opposition to immigration, then the conclusion should be very different.

Civil rights prompted a racist backlash from Southerners, yet nobody seriously believes the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 1965 Voting Rights Act were mistakes. You don’t give in to bigoted pressure to restrict people’s rights — in this case, the right for people to live where they want. You fight it.

That, not Frum’s kowtowing, should be the real response to the Brexit vote. British voters made an unjustifiable and irrational decision, grounded in fear of people who spoke different languages or whose skin was darker than theirs. The response shouldn’t be to restrict immigration further. It should be to figure out how better to make the case for the fundamental human right to migrate.

Source: Brexit was fueled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances – Vox

Updated by on June 25, 2016, 4:07 p.m. ET

Why I do not indulge in the hypocrisy of ‘Remembrance Day’…


Allied War Cemetery Germany

Allied War Cemetery Germany

poppies

Such a symbol, so taken for granted…

You will not see a poppy in my profile nor on my person.  The whole circus has lost all meaning when you consider we are STILL at war. It might not be Europe imploding on itself again, and call me paranoid if it doesn’t seem to you like a reunified Germany is going for the [economic] hat-trick but it has become a debacle has become consisting of nothing more than a nation-wide display of ostentatious sentimentality: a popular affectation of imagined grief over soldiers and civilians killed in a pointless war while more people on both sides die in pointless wars that we started. I refuse to involve myself in hypocrisy.

This article by Robert Fisk probably says it perfectly.  Remembrance Day is not mourning the passing of servicemen and civilians.  It mourns the passing of the Imperialist British Empire, for which we are reaping the consequences even now. A war which ended which the forced peace of the Treaty of Versailles on the 11th November 1918 to end an unwinnable war: a treaty so punitive against one part of the Central powers that it resulted in another world conflict 28 years later.

We may wring our hands at the horror of it all but how many of us, without a special interest, truly comprehend the context of what went on?  The class-politics and strict social hierarchies, or Germany’s struggle as a new nation in 1871, for ‘elbow room’ and fear of being surrounded? The British Empire was still fairly strong but the the Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires were struggling to hold on to power at all costs. Serbia wanted independence and the Austro-Hungarian empire had from around 1912 been determined to end the matter. With assistance from Germany and a promise that Germany would prevent Russia from involving themselves (thus keeping Russia’s allies France and (indirectly) Britain out as well), all they needed was an excuse. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand (July 1914) by one member of a single terrorist (NOT STATE ENDORSED), provided that excuse. however, Germany betrayed the Austro-Hungarian Empire by declaring war on both France and Russia at the last moment, subjugating the Serbia to a secondary concern.

France also wanted Alsace Lorraine-back from Germany, so previous grievance existed between them. A European arms race and the complex arrangement of treaties and alliances (The Triple Alliance and Entente Cordiale) made the First world war, not inevitable but not avoidable either, at least not in Britain’s case: we should not assume a universal experience.  With each party pledging to attack another nation in ‘defence’ of the others, as well as the general attitude toward warfare and glory, WW1 was  highly likely given the mood, but they did not have the hindsight of two global wars not to mention other bloody and drawn out conflicts. School history lessons barely scratch the surface, and the nationalist twaddle of the tabloid press at this time of year really does bring to mind the last verse of a poem by John McCrae, ‘In Flander’s Fields’, which is thought to have been inspired by the death of a Canadian 2nd Lieutenant in 1915 (Ypres) when prior much of the war was yet to occur.

“…

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

Even now, while at war in the Middle East can we not now see that the ‘War to End All Wars’ has not lived up to expectation. The best way to remember the fallen servicemen of a pointless war is not to gather round a stone monument and cover it with paper flowers, muttering prayers and singing hymns (when many don’t even believe in God let alone go to church) and pretend that it makes the slightest difference to what is actually happening.  The best way to honour those men (1914-1918) is to not send yet MORE men and women to die in wars, adding to the body-count.

WE HAVE NOT LEARNED A THING…

DULCE ET DECORUM EST(1)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)  
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.(15) –  Wilfred Owen, 8 October 1917 – March, 1918

How will the benefit cuts affect your children? | BabyCentre Blog


How will the benefit cuts affect your children? | BabyCentre Blog.

The cuts to family benefits and tax credits are a punitive measure against middle-income families which will not save a penny and only cause hundreds of families hardship.

We are on a single income of £35k (pre-tax) with a 3yr old, a 1yr old and another due in 5 wks. We were informed that not only will our tax credits will stop (forcing us to cut back £140 a month) but have been sent a letter saying we now owe them £577! I don’t work because we can’t afford child care and we both believe it’s our responsibility to care for our children ourselves.I don’t know how we are going to manage this unexpected bill but I would sincerely like to thump the money-grubber who decided that we are ‘undeserving’ despite the amount of NI and tax we paid prior to my giving up work to have a family. This is a stress I could really do without.

I have written to HMRC to question where they got that figure from.