Monday, 26 September 2022

THE LABOUR PARTY: 100 YEARS OF WORKING-CLASS BETRAYAL

No-one should be surprised that the Labour Party chose to open its annual conference by singing 'God Save The King', with its Shadow Cabinet members lined-up in front of a massive English Imperial flag (see photo).

The Labour Party was formed to represent the working-class, and give a parliamentary voice to those forced to sell their labour. December next year (2023) will mark 100-years since Labour first formed the government of the so-called United Kingdom. Those 100-years have seen the party totally betray the working-class.

Singing their praise for an unelected, unaccountable, hereditary monarch; asking that God saves this King and allows him to long reign over the working-class, is nothing new for the Labour Party. Nor is Labour's embracing of English imperialism.

At the 1923 UK Election, the incumbent Conservative Government, led by Stanley Baldwin, had fought on its policy of economic protectionism, but the party failed to secure a majority. The Conservatives had emerged as the largest party in the House of Commons, with 258 seats to Labour’s 191 and the Liberals on 159. However, Baldwin considered he had failed to receive the endorsement of the people for his party’s proposals and, as such, he declined to form a government. As the next largest party – and one that had fought the campaign supporting ‘free trade’ as opposed to ‘protectionism’ – Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald was summoned to Buckingham Palace where he accepted King George V’s invitation to form a government.

Reports at the time suggested the meeting between 'socialist' leader and hereditary monarch gave a strong indication of what was to come from the first Labour Government. It was said that King George raised concerns over the singing of the Red Flag at a Labour rally in the Albert Hall, but MacDonald sought to reassure the monarch by indicating that Labour members had simply got into the habit of singing the song, a habit the new Prime Minister, apparently, said he hoped to break.

The election of a government bearing the name of those who made their living by selling their labour had raised great expectations within the working class. But very quickly the hopes and aspirations of ordinary men and women were to be cruelly dashed.

Despite a majority of Labour MPs being members of the Independent Labour Party, including Ramsay MacDonald and five other Cabinet Ministers, the ILP’s more socialist ideology was crushed as the Scottish Prime Minister lost no time in telling Capitalist bosses they had nothing to fear from a Labour Government. On taking office, MacDonald stated, “I want to gain the confidence of the country. I shall suit my policy accordingly.”

One of the first actions taken by the Labour Government demonstrated the chasm between the so-called party of labour and the working class who had elected it. As the Labour Party assumed electoral power, a strike by rail-workers was already taking place. Privately-owned rail companies were attempting to impose wage reductions, a move that, understandably, was opposed by the workers and their trade unions. However, far from supporting the workers, the new government’s Minister of Labour, Tom Shaw MP, stated, “We have no sympathy for this unofficial strike,” and made clear that “all the resources of the Government will be used to prevent the four essential services – light, water, food and power – from being stopped.”

Days later, in February 1924, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald himself showed his Labour Government would not tolerate even ‘official’ industrial action when, referring to a national strike by Dockers, he said, “We will take what steps are necessary to secure transport of necessary food supplies”. Subsequently, when underground rail-workers threatened to take strike action in sympathy with the Dockers, MacDonald announced that “the major services must be maintained”. On March 31st 1924 the Labour Government proclaimed a State of Emergency and, by use of ‘emergency powers’, took action to break the strike.

The disillusionment of the British working class was echoed abroad, where colonised peoples had hoped the election of a ‘socialist’ government in ‘Mother England’ would, at the very least, loosen the controlling grip of Empire.

Instead, MacDonald himself confirmed that capitalist exploitation within the British Empire would continue under Labour. In the face of Indian agitation for independence, Ramsay MacDonald made clear in a telegram to colonial civil servants and British military officers stationed in the country that “no party in Great Britain will be cowed by threats of force or by policies designed to bring Government to a standstill”. Subsequently, the Labour Government introduced detention without trial in Bengal, and put down a cotton workers’ strike in Bombay by authorising troops to open fire on strikers. In addition, Indian communists were arrested and jailed on charges of ‘conspiracy to deprive the King of his Sovereignty’.

In early October 1924, Ramsey MacDonald and the Labour Government lost a ‘Confidence’ motion in parliament. A General Election was set for October 29th.

The first Labour Government had lasted little more than 10 months and had been marked by betrayal of the working-class, at home and abroad. One-hundred-years later, nothing has changed.

As the late Labour MP Tony Benn once put it: “The Labour Party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it – a bit like Christians in the Church of England.”

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

...AND SO IT CONTINUES

Over many years, as an independence-supporting political activist, I frequently made the argument that we didn't just have to beat British political parties, we also had to beat the British establishment, and that would be a far more difficult fight.

Every four or five years, people go through the pretence of democracy that represents elections to the UK Parliament. Usually, England votes for the party Scots reject – the Tories. Scotland then has imposed on us the government for which England voted, because that's the way the so-called United Kingdom works.

However, irrespective of which party forms the UK Government, the British establishment remains in power. The Civil Service and the military do not change just because politicians swap benches in the House of Commons. The Civil Service and the military are constants, they remain in place throughout political change and are crucial elements of the establishment-structure. While the public are told the Civil Service facilitates the smooth running of government, and the military keeps us safe, the actual role of both organisations is simply to ensure the establishment is protected.

For 70-years, the head of the British establishment was, of course, the Queen, surrounded by her family of work-shy spongers. Now, though, given the recent death of Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at one of her palatial residences in Scotchland, the eldest of her work-shy spongers has assumed the Crown.

Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to catch the BBC's coverage since the Queen died, will have seen how much every person in the world loved her. At least, that is the message the BBC has been told to disseminate. It has been made very clear that non-idolisation of the royal family is not to be permitted. This message has been brought to you, not by an independent broadcaster, but by the establishment that always controls events in the UK. The BBC does as it is told by the establishment. The BBC is the state broadcaster and will put-out any propaganda it is told to by the people around the royals, the people who are always there, the people who never change, irrespective of who the public elects to form a government.

Slotted below the royals on the establishment-pyramid are the so-called aristocracy, consisting of families that accrued fabulous wealth through exploiting the working class over centuries. The principal functionaries of the establishment – Civil Service and military - are put in place to ensure real and unchallenged power is retained in the hands of the royals and their aristocratic supporters, all of whom owe their wealth and privilege to nothing more than having ancestors who were the biggest murdering bastards of their day.

In the rigid class structure that protects the establishment, media organisations play a vital role, as we have seen with the BBC's output since the Queen died. Even when they don't have a specific issue to focus on, newspapers and broadcasters deliver gushing reports of how wonderful the royal family is, how beneficial they are to 'the nation', and how terrible things would be if we didn't have them reigning over us. These reports are total propaganda, designed to continue the public indoctrination that keeps the 'lower orders' from rising-up and challenging the freeloaders who enjoy an incredible life of obscene opulence, funded by the taxes of the very same 'lower orders'.

It is no coincidence that UK Civil Service mandarins, senior military officers and editors of print and broadcast news – the protectors and supporters of the establishment – all attended the same select schools and universities, where their place in the ongoing establishment-structure was ordained and cemented.

Other core players in protecting the royals and lesser-entities within the establishment are senior officials within the UK security services – MI5, MI6 and Special Branch. Again, those senior officers generally attended the same schools and universities as the Civil Service mandarins, senior military officers and news editors. They all know and accept their place in the structure that protects the establishment, and they all operate to ensure the interests of the ruling 'elite' are not challenged.

For example, this is why your television and newspapers have recently been full of sycophantic pro-royalty stories. It is why no-one with even the slightest inclination towards republicanism has been given airtime. We also only need to look back to the 2014 referendum on Scotland's independence to see a supposedly-impartial UK Civil Service fully operational in the dirty-tricks campaign that operated on behalf of the pro-establishment, pro-British Union. Remember the co-ordinated media reports of how the supposedly politically-neutral Queen would be 'terribly upset' if the people of Scotland exercised their democratic right to govern their own nation, even though SNP policy is to retain the English monarch as Head of State in an independent Scotland.

In the so-called United Kingdom, the interests of the establishment always take precedence over those of the people.

From a Scottish perspective, it should also be borne in mind that there is no Scottish Civil Service. Civil Servants working to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are employed by the UK Civil Service. Having said that, there are undoubtedly many rank-and-file Civil Servants in Scotland who, personally, support an independent Scotland. However, the position of the UK Civil Service and senior civil servants will always reflect that of the establishment, which is to protect their position by retaining the British Union.

The same principle works with the BBC: there is no such broadcaster as 'BBC Scotland'. To be accurate, it should be known as 'the BBC in Scotland'. It is a state propaganda outlet, a tool of the English establishment, used to indoctrinate Scots into believing they couldn't function without handouts from the benevolent English.

So, just how far would the establishment and its supporters go if they felt their position was challenged? As previously mentioned, the 2014 Independence Referendum provided an indication of how establishment-loyalists in the Civil Service, media and the security services were prepared to directly manipulate and influence events. There is, though, much clearer evidence of establishment interference to circumvent the democratic process in the UK.

In 1968 the UK had a Labour Government, led by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Mr Wilson was considered by establishment figures to be ' dangerously left-wing', a situation which, according to former MI5 officer Peter Wright, led to the democratically-elected Prime Minister being the target of an illegal campaign of destabilisation by the UK Security Services. MI5 broke into the homes and offices of Wilson aides, tapped their phones and used the friendly right-wing media to plant anti-Wilson stories, including that he was a 'Soviet asset' and an 'IRA sympathiser'.

With the Wilson Government taxing the rich at 98%, and being seen by Civil Servants and media barons as 'in the pocket' of militant left-wing trade unions, those tasked with protecting the establishment decided to take action. A plot was put in place to carry out a military coup. Intelligence officers, Civil Servants and military officers planned to overthrow the democratically-elected UK Government. According to documents leaked some years later, the initial plan was for the military to secure a protective ring around Buckingham Palace, while seizing Heathrow Airport and the BBC. The Queen was to broadcast to the nation, urging the public to support the armed forces, and naming her cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, as Prime Minister.

Again, in papers subsequently leaked later, it was revealed The Times newspaper had been integral in planning the coup and running fabricated anti-Wilson stories. At the time, the newspaper was edited by William Rees-Mogg, father of the current far-right Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Ultimately, the coup was never enacted, mainly because Wilson subsequently resigned, due to 'ill health'. However, military 'exercises' were carried out around Heathrow Airport in preparation for the coup, and the Shetland Islands were designated to hold 'prisoners' deemed to be hostile to the establishment.

In 1987, Civil Servants working to the Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher carried out an enquiry into allegations of an establishment-led military coup to overthrow the Wilson Labour Government. The enquiry found the allegations were 'false' and that 'no coup had been planned'. Of course it did.

It should also be noted that Lord Louis Mountbatten, the person the Queen was to 'appoint' as prime minister, has since been accused of having been a paedophile, with a particular penchant for young boys. Mountbatten was killed in 1979 by the Irish Republican Army. Before his death, it was widely reported he was the favourite uncle of, and mentor to, Prince Charles, the person we are now supposed to call a King.

What the time since the death of Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha has shown, is that the so-called United Kingdom is not a democracy. It doesn't matter who the people elect to form the government, the establishment remains in place, and remains in power. The Civil Service, the military, the secret services and the media will all continue to protect the establishment. Those organisations, which cannot be removed by the people, will ensure the 'lower orders' never rise up to challenge King Charles and his family of work-shy spongers...and so it continues.

Scotland can remove itself from this ongoing situation, but, to do so, we need to get off our knees and re-take our independence. I wish I could believe the SNP was going to do that, but I don't.

The SNP is once again being run by people content to manage a devolved Scotland within the UK, which is why, over the last week, we have seen the leader of the party - Scotland's First Minister - loyally bow in subservience to the King of England, the head of the establishment that keeps Scotland tied within the so-called British Union.

Monday, 13 June 2022

IMMIGRATION: SCOTLAND CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS

The Immigration policy of the current Conservative and Unionist Government in London is nasty, uncaring and unfair.

As things stand, people who have claimed asylum in the so-called United Kingdom could face being deported to the African state of Rwanda, rather than having their asylum claim heard here. Tory ministers make clear that, once in Rwanda, those people can seek asylum there, but will not be allowed to return to the UK.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations agency mandated to aid and protect refugees, forcibly-displaced communities and stateless people, says the UK Nationality and Borders Act will, “penalise most refugees seeking asylum in the country via damaging and unjustified penalties, creating an asylum model that undermines established international refugee protection rules and practices”. In addition, UNHCR states, “The Act is based on the premise that people should claim asylum in the 'first safe country' they arrive in, but this principle is not found in the 1951 Refugee Convention and there is no such requirement under international law, where primary responsibility for protecting refugees is with the State in which an asylum-seeker arrives.”

Currently, asylum seekers, including families, are detained, locked-up and face deportation to Africa. There are ongoing appeals in the English courts in relation to decisions already taken to deport people to Rwanda, and a full legal hearing into the government policy will be held in July.

Of course, such uncaring and harsh treatment in relation to poor and vulnerable people is what we expect from Tories. We know that all Tories care about is money; people don't matter, especially people deemed to be 'foreigners'.

Labour politicians, including party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, have publicly criticised the policies introduced by Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel.

So, if the Labour Party was in power, how different would things be? Could we expect that vulnerable asylum seekers and immigrants would receive better treatment under a Labour government? From personal experience, I doubt much would be different under Labour.

I used to be a Member of the Scottish Parliament, and during that time I had a few cases where constituents asked for help in fighting detention and deportation orders imposed by the UK Home Office. This was the Home Office operated by a Labour Government.

In one case, a Turkish man had inadvertently forgotten to renew his 'right to remain' in the UK. He was working and paying taxes here. He had married a local woman and had a Scots-born daughter. His was a busy, and happy life. Unfortunately, his mistake in forgetting to timeously renew his 'right to remain' resulted in him being arrested in his home, in front of his wife and child. Officers from the local police accompanied Border Force agents in the arrest, and watched as the man was handcuffed and taken away.

When his wife contacted me, I was able to find out her husband was locked-up in Dungavel Detention and Removal Centre.

Immigration is a matter reserved to the English/UK parliament in London, so, as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, I had no actual jurisdiction in this area of legislation. However, I never turned away a constituent, and I wasn't going to leave this woman fighting on her own.

I entered into correspondence with the Home Office, and, I have to say, I have never before encountered such uncaring people in my life. Remember, this was the Home Office operated by a Labour Government.

Officials could have replied, saying I had no responsibility in the area of immigration and refusing to talk to me, so I am at least grateful they did not do that, and answered by letters. However, from the start, they made clear my constituent's husband was deemed to be an “over-stayer”, by virtue of him being late in submitting a renewal application for his right to remain. As such, I was told, he would be removed from the United Kingdom.

I argued that he had been granted leave to remain in the UK, had been working and paying taxes here for a number of years, had a Scottish family, including a Scots-born daughter, and his late application for renewal of his right to remain had been an oversight. This is an extract from the response I received from the Labour-controlled Home Office:

Your constituent is to be removed from the United Kingdom at public expense and his spouse is free to accompany him, also at public expense if necessary, should this be her wish.”

So, rather than allow a man to return to his home, his wife and child, and his job, they were going to deport him, and were prepared to pay for his Scottish wife to go with him to Turkey. The letter continued:

You state that the couple also have a child who is a British citizen, but at only under one year of age she is considered young enough to adapt to life abroad with her parents. Although your constituent's child’s material quality of life in Turkey may not be to the same standard as it would be in the United Kingdom, this is the case with many children brought up in other countries and is not considered a sufficiently compelling factor. When of an age to be independent of her parents she would be able to return to the United Kingdom to take up her right of abode, should she choose to do so.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the couple's daughter was almost 3-years-old, not “under one year of age”, it is shocking that these officials, carrying out the policy of the then Labour Government, were prepared to see a Scottish woman, and a Scottish child, have to leave their home country and relocate to Turkey in order to live with their husband and father.

I argued that the action of the Home Office broke the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, namely the right to a family life. I was referred to their previous response, where they said they were happy to pay for the Scottish woman and child to travel to Turkey, so, the Home Office argued, they could have a family life there.

At that time, while the position of the UK Home Office was that Turkey was a perfectly acceptable and safe country, this is what the US State Department was saying about it:

The Turkish Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, but although there were significant improvements in a number of areas, serious problems remained. Security forces reportedly killed 18 persons during the year; torture, beatings, and other abuses by security forces remained widespread. Conditions in most prisons remained poor. Security forces continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention, although the number of such incidents declined. Lengthy trials remained a problem. Convictions of security officials accused of torture remained rare, and courts generally issued light sentences when they did convict. In politically sensitive cases, the judiciary continued to reflect a legal structure that favors State interests over individual rights. The State and Government continued to limit freedom of speech and press; harassment of journalists and others for controversial speech remained a serious problem. At times, the Government restricted freedom of assembly and association. Police beat, abused, detained, and harassed some demonstrators. The Government maintained some restrictions on religious minorities and on some forms of religious expression. At times, the Government restricted freedom of movement. The Government restricted the activities of some political parties and leaders, and sought to close the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DEHAP). The Government continued to harass, indict, and imprison human rights monitors, journalists, and lawyers for the views they expressed in public. Violence against women remained a serious problem, and discrimination against women persisted. Trafficking in persons, particularly women, remained a problem. Child labor was a widespread problem.”

This is the country to which the Labour-controlled UK Home Office wanted to send my constituents, a young woman and her daughter.

Regrettably, I could not get the Home Office to see sense. My constituent ultimately decided it would not be safe for her to take her child to live in Turkey, which meant that, when the Home Office deported her husband, the family was split. Once back in Turkey, her husband submitted a new claim to enter and remain in the UK. This was refused.

Nasty, uncaring and unfair immigration policies are nothing new in the UK. It doesn't matter whether we have Tory or Labour governments.

This is just one area – one very important area – where I sincerely hope an independent Scotland would take a much more outward-looking and caring position in relation to our fellow human-beings from other countries, and would seek to comply with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Friday, 10 June 2022

INDEPENDENCE THROUGH A SCOTTISH ELECTION


That time a Labour First Minister went further than the SNP and did not expressly rule out that independence could be achieved by the people of Scotland voting for it at a Scottish election, without the need for a subsequent referendum.

What follows is an extract from First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, May 18, 2006.

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Scottish Parliament Official Report

First Minister's Questions 

May 18 2006

Steel Commission
Campbell Martin (West of Scotland) (Ind):
To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Executive‘s Cabinet has discussed the
recommendations of the Steel commission report - 'Moving to Federalism - A New Settlement for Scotland' - and what the outcome was of any such discussions?

The First Minister (Mr Jack McConnell):

I think that when the report was initially published it might have been mentioned in an information report before Cabinet, but we have not discussed the matter at Cabinet.


Campbell Martin:

Does the First Minister accept that the conclusions and recommendations of the Steel commission report indicate that even within the Executive parties there is a strong feeling that the powers of the Scottish Parliament are incomplete? Does he accept that in the Parliament and throughout Scotland there is strong support for an increase in the powers of the Parliament, up to and including full sovereign powers?

I think that all members accept the Executive and the Parliament are ambitious for
Scotland. So, does the First Minister think we can achieve our ambitions without there being any enhancement of the current powers of the Parliament?


The First Minister:

As I think I have said in the Parliament on a number of occasions, I welcome the Steel commission‘s contribution to the debate.

I want to focus on the particular points that Campbell Martin made. There is a debate to be
had on the matter, which I welcome. Indeed, I would welcome more honesty from some parties about their position, because it would be healthy for us to have that discussion. However, it is absolutely wrong to portray the advocacy of an entirely independent Scottish state, which is very much the position of Campbell Martin and his former colleagues in the Scottish National Party, as the gradual securing of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Let us have an honest debate on the matter, in which the SNP, Campbell Martin and others tell us what the impact of a separate state in Scotland would be on our currency, our army - [Interruption.] I hear complaining from the SNP benches, so I give an example. Over the past few years the SNP ran a campaign to save the British regiments, but this week Christine Grahame complained that the regiments are recruiting in Scottish schools. The SNP points this way and it points that way, on regiments, on fiscal powers, on interest rates, on the currency and on every other issue.

I recognise Campbell Martin‘s sincerity, honesty and absolute consistency on the issue and I admire him for those qualities, which I suspect are the main reason why he is no longer a member of the SNP. I wish that the SNP was as consistent and honest as Campbell Martin is. I look forward to having the debate when that happens.


Campbell Martin:

That was almost praise - I don't know if I liked it.

The First Minister knows that I no longer have any party-political affiliation. I genuinely ask such questions because we need to learn from seven years of devolution and think about where we are and where we go from here.

Does the First Minister agree that it will ultimately be for the people of Scotland to decide,
through a Scottish general election, what level of enhancement to the powers of the Parliament there should be, and that if they vote for full sovereign powers - or independence, as some of us like to call it - nothing should be put in the way of their democratically expressed will? Does he think that decision would still have to be endorsed in a referendum?

The First Minister expressed a desire for honesty. Can we have an honest debate in the
Executive‘s time in the chamber on where we should go in building the Parliament‘s powers?


The First Minister:

I will happily consider the suggestion that there should be a debate in the chamber on an independent Scotland. I am sure that such a debate would be a pleasure. It would be interesting to try to eke out the SNP‘s ideas on independence.

Campbell Martin has made a valid point. I agree that the people of Scotland should ultimately decide what Scotland‘s constitutional position should be, but the matter has been resolved for the moment by the referendum in 1997, in which a massive majority voted in favour of the establishment of the Parliament and its current powers. I would welcome a debate on what the future might hold for Scotland and would be happy to participate in it, but say to colleagues that we must get on with the business of using the powers that we currently have and making the settlement work.


Friday, 20 May 2022

NAZI HISTORY OF NORTH AYRSHIRE PPP COMPANY

 

In June, 2005, North Ayrshire Council announced that First Class Consortium (FCS) was the preferred bidder for its Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal to build four new schools.

The Council subsequently issued a press release, advising that FCS had been awarded the contract. The press release gave the value of the contract as £80m. However, this figure actually only represented the capital cost, the amount it would take to build the schools. In another press release, the German construction company Hochtief announced it had been awarded the North Ayrshire contract, and gave the total value as £380m.

Hochtief was the main component-part of First Class Consortium, and the figure it gave represented the £80m construction cost plus £300m for a 30-year contract to maintain the school buildings.

Before this stage in the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project was reached, the Council had embarked on a procurement process that has since been recognised as Scotland's biggest PFI/PPP scandal.

PFI stood for the Private Finance Initiative, a system of procuring and paying for public contracts, initially introduced by the Conservative UK Government led by John Major. The system was rebranded as Public Private Partnerships by the New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It was under New Labour that PPP was massively expanded. Councils and health boards seeking to build new schools and hospitals were not only encouraged to use PPP, they were effectively told it was 'the only game in town', the only way they would receive central government funding to help pay for construction projects.

The shocking truth of what actually happened during the procurement process for the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project is told in two documentaries – 'The Only Game In Town' and 'The Only Game In Town 2 – The Cover-Up'. Both films are available on YouTube: links to them can be found at the foot of this page.

Two key outcomes of the process, however, are that the procurement saw First Class Consortium awarded the multi-million-pound contract without ever facing any competition. Also, the figure of £380m, quoted by Hochtief in its press release on FCS being awarded the contract, is an understatement of the total cost to the public purse. The detail of the contract shows payments to the private-sector companies within the consortium increase year-on-year. At the moment, taxpayers are forking-out over £1m every month to service the North Ayrshire PPP debt. In total, by the time the contract ends in 2037, the public will have paid considerably over £400m for schools valued at just £80m when new.

Much of the content in the two documentaries mentioned above relates to the 'second bid', which North Ayrshire Council claimed provided genuine competition for its multi-million-pound Schools PPP contract. Watch the films and decide for yourself about that claim. This article, for the first time, focuses on the successful bid, the one from First Class Consortium. More specifically, it focuses on the consortium's largest component-part, the German construction firm Hochtief, and on the man who provided financial backing for the company.

Hochtief has been a very successful company in the field of construction since the early part of the 20th Century. At the time of its successful bid for the North Ayrshire PPP contract, one of its major shareholders was a German businessman called August von Finck, who inherited much of his wealth from his father, also called August, who died in 1980. The family wealth originated with August senior's father, Wilhelm von Finck, who, in the 1880s, co-founded the bank Merk Finck and Co, and the Allianz Insurance company.

August von Finck senior was one of Germany's most successful businessmen during the 1930s, and poured money into backing Adolf Hitler's rise to power. In 1931, August von Finck and other like-minded businessmen met with Hitler in Berlin's Hotel Kaiserhof. They promised the Nazi leader 25m-Reichsmark to help his campaign to become Chancellor of Germany. This figure, today, would be the equivalent of around £85m. In February 1933, a month after President von Hindenburg had appointed Hitler as Chancellor, von Finck and the other businessmen provided the Nazi leader with another sum, equivalent today to around £2.5m.

August von Finck was rewarded by Hitler for his financial support, benefiting greatly from what the Nazi's called 'Aryanisation', which was where Jewish property and wealth was seized and handed-over to prominent members of the Nazi Party. One significant 'gift' from Hitler to von Finck occurred following the Nazi annexation of Austria, with the businessman handed control of the Jewish bank, Rothschild.

August von Finck's construction company also benefited from its close links with the Nazis. In a recent statement, Hochtief said, “In the 30s and 40s of the last century, Hochtief, as a large German construction company, was involved in construction projects of the Nazi period. Hochtief is aware of its historical and moral responsibility.”

The statement reads as if Hochtief accidentally found itself doing a few building jobs during the “Nazi period” that it now, with hindsight, regrets. This is far from the truth. Hochtief was Hitler's favourite builder, constructing, among other things, the massive Nazi arena in Nuremberg, at which Hitler addressed thousands of his followers during mass rallies. Hochtief also built Hitler's personal alpine retreat, the Berghof, and was so favoured and trusted by Hitler that the company was employed to design and build the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, the underground building to which the Nazi leader retreated as allied forces entered the German capital towards the end of the war.

As the Nazi's expanded the Third Reich by invading countries across Europe, Hochtief continued to benefit from its close links with Hitler. The construction company was awarded contracts to build infrastructure for the Nazis in occupied countries. Many of the contracts saw Hochtief use slave labour, which consisted of local men rounded-up, transported to Nazi 'camps' and forced to work for meagre rations of food. Today, this is how Hochtief describes its close involvement with the Nazis and its use of slave labour: “On some building sites, Hochtief employed forced labourers and thus incurred a burden of guilt for the wrongs committed during the Third Reich.”

At the end of the war, August von Finck temporarily stood down from some of the senior business positions he held, including management of the family bank, which was handed to a trustee. He did, however, retain his great personal wealth, which had massively increased during his time working closely with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis as they committed atrocities across Europe. By 1948, just three-years after the war ended, von Finck had resumed full control of his businesses.

In 1980, August von Finck died: his enormous wealth passed to his son, August junior, who also inherited his father's stakes in a number of major German companies, including Allianz insurance, the Loewenbraeu AG brewing company and Hochtief construction.

It is now clear that von Finck also inherited his father's fascist political outlook. The rise of the far-right political party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is largely credited to the financial support of August von Finck. Much of the money from von Finck was directed through a 'middleman' organisation called the Association For The Rule Of Law and Civil Liberties, which funded a poster campaign and free newspapers urging a vote for AfD. It is estimated the posters and newspapers would have cost in the region of €10m. The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, has reported on the close-ties between the Association For The Rule Of Law and Civil Liberties and Ernst Knut Stahl, director of August von Finck's financial and property holdings.

Alternative for Germany has been characterised as a German nationalist party, which opposes immigration, is anti-Islam, anti-European Union and denies that climate change is caused by humans. In 2021, German media reported that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) had placed AfD under surveillance as a suspected extremist organisation.

When Hochtief was bidding for the multi-million-pound North Ayrshire Schools PPP contract – without any opposing bids – August von Finck personally owned a 25% stake in the company. Two years after Hochtief won the contract, von Finck sold his stake to the Spanish construction firm Actividades de Construccion y Servicios. The deal netted him €1.3bn.

August von Finck died in November 2021.

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THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paLSPNPfQXM


THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 2 – THE COVER UP

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19kng8RjBXg


Sunday, 17 April 2022

'NEW LABOURISATION' OF THE SNP

Four weeks before the Independence Referendum in 2014, an Independent councilllor in West Lothian received national newspaper coverage when he voiced his intention to vote 'No' in the referendum, to vote against Scotland re-taking the status of a normal, independent nation.

Why did the view of one Independent councillor merit national media coverage? The 'No' voter was a man called Stuart Borrowman and, while he was an Independent councillor at that time, he had previously been a member of the SNP. Still, did the view of one ex-SNP member really merit national coverage of his intention to vote against independence? The reason why the Labour-supporting Daily Record jumped on Borrowman's anti-independence position was because he had once been a close ally of John Swinney, during the Perthshire MSPs time as leader of the SNP.

Borrowman came from a Labour Party background in West Lothian, but Swinney saw him as the perfect man to oversee the entire SNP operation at the Scottish Parliament. In October 2001, Swinney created a new Chief of Staff position and Borrowman came from nowhere within the party to take the the most senior staff role.

With Swinney's backing, Borrowman set about trying to impose his way of working, which included indicating he intended to carry-out 'assessments' of every SNP staff member at the Parliament. This was despite most of those staff members being directly employed by individual MSPs rather than the SNP. The move was seen as Swinney, through Borrowman, interfering in the working relationships of staff members and their MSP.

At that time, I was employed as the SNP Whips Administrator: I had two direct employers – Kay Ullrich MSP (the SNP Chief Whip) and the SNP Parliamentary Group. Kay made clear to Swinney that under no circumstances would Borrowman be carrying out an assessment of my work. The Chief Whip's view was accepted, and Borrowman never tried to assert authority over me as a staff member. However, Swinney's man - the recent convert to the SNP - did set about 'assessing' the work and suitability of lifelong SNP members and activists who were employed by MSPs.

It was around this time I had a conversation with John Swinney, where he told me he admired what Tony Blair had done to the Labour Party, creating the centre-right New Labour, and how his vision was of recreating this with the SNP. Swinney also asked me if I had seen a TV documentary about the operation of Labour Whips at Westminster. I had seen the programme, which showed Labour Whips using personal information about individual MPs to force their compliance with party instructions. Swinney indicated he wanted to see the SNP Whips get tougher and emulate the New Labour operation at Westminster.

I remember thinking we were seeing a paradigm shift in the Scottish National Party, where a moderate centre-left, membership-led organisation - with everyone working together towards the goal of securing independence for Scotland - was changing to top-down control of the party, and to the entire independence movement being circumvented to operate in the interests of the small, centre-right leadership-clique around John Swinney.

I set-out in my book, 'Was It Something I Said?' [available from Amazon Books], that the SNP under Swinney's leadership adopted a 'devolutionist' approach to Scotland's future. The 'New SNP' ideology was to secure an SNP government in the devolved Scottish Parliament and, if at some point in the future, independence fell into their laps, then that would be nice. However, independence was no longer the priority: managing devolution, securing ministerial positions and salaries for the leadership-clique was the aim.

As it turned-out, Stuart Borrowman didn't last too long in the SNP Chief of Staff position. Just eight-months after being appointed by Swinney, Borrowman quit the role, with the Sunday Mail reporting that he blamed, “infighting among the nationalists”.

The infighting to which Stuart Borrowman referred was the grass-roots membership fighting-back against Swinney and the direction in which he was taking the SNP.

Another of Swinney's appointments to a senior position within the party around this time was Gordon Archer, a Glasgow councillor who had defected from Labour to the SNP. Archer was handed the role of special advisor to Swinney, based in the leader's office at the Scottish Parliament.

Again, someone with a long-time commitment to the Labour Party was chosen by Swinney to hold a very senior position in the SNP. Again, long-time SNP activists noticed the 'New Labourisation' of the SNP under Swinney's leadership.

Gordon Archer left his role at the heart of New SNP when Swinney resigned the leadership in June 2004. Just two months earlier, Stuart Borrowman had defected from the SNP to Labour.

In August 2014, when Borrowman went to the press to say he would be voting against independence, he was quoted saying, “I know a huge proportion of SNP members do not support independence”.

I wonder how Stuart Borrowman could have gained the impression there were any SNP members, never mind a huge proportion, that did not support independence? I suppose it would come down to who he was close to in the SNP.

John Swinney's 'leadership' was a disaster for the SNP: again, the subject is covered in more detail in 'Was It Something I Said?' Swinney's devolutionist 'New SNP' almost killed the independence movement. Thankfully, though, on Swinney's resignation, Alex Salmond was persuaded to return as leader, turning-around the SNP's fortunes, leading the party into government and delivering an Independence Referendum.

Sadly, times have once again changed. The Independence Referendum was lost by a 10% majority – with the complicity of John Swinney's former Chief of Staff - and Alex Salmond felt he should resign in the aftermath of the poll.

It is clear to any objective observer of Scottish politics that the current leadership of the SNP is not exactly gung-ho on the idea of delivering independence. Mandate after mandate for a new independence referendum has been delivered to the SNP by the electorate of Scotland, but the party leadership always seems to find a reason to delay. The devolutionists are again in control – with Swinney still central and influential – and it looks like we are back to having a Scottish National Party that is happy managing the devolved British region of Scotland, happy to hold ministerial office in a government subservient and answerable to the English parliament in London.

That said, the independence movement was always greater than the SNP, which is still the case. The major difference from the previous period when devolutionists controlled the SNP is that the independence movement now has more than one established political party. The SNP no longer has the field to itself. Alex Salmond, the man who saved the SNP the last time devolutionists had control, now leads the Alba Party.

If the SNP continues to fail the independence movement, they could find themselves replaced by the same grass-roots members who fought-back against Swinney in 2004, and who now form the activist-base of the Alba Party. So called 'fundamentalist' independence supporters will not tolerate SNP inaction for much longer.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

END THE INSANITY

This week it was revealed that a woman called Akshata Murty was a 'non-dom', which means she officially had 'non-domiciled' status within the UK. Having this status meant Ms Murty avoided paying tax on the estimated £11.5m in annual dividends she receives from her personal stake in an Indian company called Infosys. The company is owned by her father, who is a billionaire.

I'm sure you are aware of the significance of Ms Murty's tax-avoiding position: she is married to Rishi Sunak, Tory MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the man who imposes taxes on all of us.

After days of negative press, Ms Murty announced she would now pay some tax in the UK. In a press statement, the multi-millionaire said: “I do this because I want to, not because the rules require me to.” Can you imagine the reaction of the UK's tax authorities if the rest of us adopted the same position? How do you think they would respond if we told them that, irrespective of what tax laws require of us, we will pay some tax, but only what we choose to pay?

Of course, the actual reason Akshata Murty decided to pay some UK tax was because the negative publicity over her tax-avoidance was damaging her husband's plan to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. Given her accumulated wealth, the amount she will pay in UK taxes is a drop-in-the-ocean, and is seen as a small price to pay if it helps Rishi Sunak secure the top job.

Newspapers carried the story about Akshata Murty and her decision to not pay UK tax on her income, despite living in the UK – technically, given her husband's position, living in Downing Street. To be honest, though, a story about tax avoidance by the rich is nothing new. It happens all the time. We live in a capitalist society. Capitalism is an economic system that allows a small group to become extremely wealthy through the exploitation of the majority - that’s you and me – while not contributing financially to the society we share.

Capitalist exploitation takes many forms – poverty-level wages; zero-hours contracts; slashing Social Security support to levels that leave families penniless for long periods; transferring the greater tax burden from the wealthy to the poor; imposing taxation on people earning so little they can barely afford to feed themselves and their family; the most draconian anti-trade-union laws in the so-called developed world; legislation that makes it extremely easy for workers to be sacked. All of which has the purpose of creating a cowed and desperate workforce for bosses to further exploit. Who is going to agitate or strike for better wages and conditions when such action is likely to see you out of a job and unable to support yourself and your family?

A few years ago, the Labour administration of North Ayrshire Council – the same one that signed-up to a Public Private Partnership construction scheme now costing local taxpayers over £1m every month [see documentaries at the foot of this page] - used its Economic Development website to ‘promote’ the local area’s “flexible workforce”, which the council pointed-out was paid, on average, at 12% below the UK figure. North Ayrshire’s Labour councillors and senior council officials saw the low-pay of local people as a selling-point to attract businesses. The message was, ‘Our workers are exploited, why don’t you come and join in?’

This is how the capitalist system works.

The media – so-called ‘mainstream’ newspapers and broadcasters – are owned and operated by capitalists: they tell us there is no alternative to capitalism. Anyone pointing-out a genuine and workable alternative, such as socialism or social-democracy, is branded as being insane: how many times have you seen headlines referring disparagingly to the ‘loony’ left?

What actually is insane, is allowing a situation to continue that impoverishes whole sections of society, while a small, already-wealthy group gets even richer. What is insane, is a society where a handful of wealthy individuals controls the media, resulting in attempts to indoctrinate the general population with incessant stories depicting as spongers and work-shy skivers those unfortunate enough to be without work. Many will remember 'poverty porn' TV programmes, such as 'The Scheme' and 'Benefits Street', which were designed to turn the supposedly 'deserving poor' – those with a job – against the 'undeserving poor' – those without work and reliant on Social Security.

To change this insane situation, we must start putting the needs and interests of people before the profits of multi-national corporations and wealthy individuals.

We need to start electing politicians who will challenge the capitalist elite, who will introduce a fair taxation system – forcing the rich to pay their fair share – and who will use the revenue raised to create a society that delivers hope and opportunity for everyone.

Poverty, austerity, inadequate wages, zero-hours contracts, benefit sanctions, slashed spending on public services do not happen by chance, they are not the result of an evil spell cast by bad pixies. All of these things happen because people elect politicians who choose to introduce such measures. Those politicians are capitalists: they work in the interests of the wealthy – which is why people like Akshata Murty, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's wife, do not break UK law when they pay no tax.

Then there is the Scottish dimension to this insanity. Scotland has not voted for the Conservative and Unionist Party since 1955, but for the majority of years from then until now, we have had Tory governments imposed on us by the people of England. It must, surely, be a form of insanity for the people of Scotland to meekly accept Tory governments – the party of rich tax-dodgers – even after we have rejected them at every election for 67 years.

Obviously, there is a clear and democratic way for us to end the situation where Scotland's electoral wishes are ignored, and where we have imposed on us the government for which England voted. All we have to do is re-establish Scotland as a normal, independent, sovereign nation. However, that option is proving more difficult to deliver than it should.

Since 2007, at Scottish Parliament Elections, the people of Scotland have elected Scottish National Party (SNP) governments. The SNP still has delivering independence as its core policy, so why are we not independent?

There was, of course, the Independence Referendum in 2014, where Scots were asked if they wanted Scotland to become an independent country. By a majority of 10%, we, as a nation, said we would rather stay as a region of the so-called United Kingdom and have Tory governments imposing on us their poverty-creating austerity, while facilitating a system that allows the rich, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer's wife, to pay no tax while racking-up multi-million-pound profits. Is there really a better word than insanity to describe that situation?

In the years since the Independence Referendum, the people of Scotland have given the SNP a series of mandates to deliver independence, but the party is now run, largely, by 'devolutionists', content to play England's game, by England's rules, while that game allows them a good living and, for many, the status of government ministers, albeit in a Scottish Parliament subservient to the English parliament in London.

I have always argued that a majority of seats or a majority of votes for pro-independence candidates at an election should constitute a mandate for independence, provided those candidates fought the election on a manifesto commitment to deliver independence if elected. On that basis, no-one could legitimately argue that those pro-independence MSPs or MPs did not have a mandate to deliver their manifesto commitment. I believe an 'are you sure' referendum would only be required if a pro-independence government in Scotland, or a majority of pro-independence MPs at Westminster, sought to implement independence when no commitment to deliver it had been in their manifesto.

So, what we require to end the insanity of having imposed on us a political system that works for the rich and punishes the rest of us, and a constitutional system that allows the people of England to impose on us the Tory governments we reject, is for every pro-independence candidate at Scottish Parliament or UK elections to state, unequivocally, that a vote for them is a vote to deliver independence. Pro-independence candidates elected on that basis should move immediately to deliver their manifesto commitment. No 'are you sure' referendum is required if the Scottish people have endorsed independence by either electing a majority of pro-independence candidates or delivering a majority of votes for pro-independence parties.

Of course, this would require the SNP to stand for election on that basis. Is it really too much to expect 'the party of independence' to stand on a manifesto commitment to deliver independence if elected? It would appear so...and the insanity continues.

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THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paLSPNPfQXM

THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 2 – THE COVER-UP

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19kng8RjBXg