Personal opinions expressed by the current Chairman of Welwyn Hatfield CLP. They may not be shared by other party members. (In fact, some are not). They may even be wrong......... But hopefully,.......they will generate a little reflection and debate.
For many moons now, much of the published media has been feeding us with ‘stories’ that have not really directed our attention what really matter most.
‘ Jeremy Corbyn is a risk to national security’
‘Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters encourage bullying’
‘Labour is at war with itself’
‘Labour caused the Credit Crunch’
‘ The Tories are the best party to eliminate the Deficit’
The Tories are the best party for working folk’
‘The UK is fighting for the Legitimate Opposition in Syria’
‘Russia/Vladimir Putin is a real risk to our security’
‘Immigrants are bad for Britain’
Let's try and examine what these seem to be about - with an unbiased open mind:
1. The Labour Party is, and has always been, a ‘broad church’.
Indeed; so are the Conservative Party; and both the Democrat and Republican Parties in the USA.
That way, in a ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system, sufficient resources are concentrated to achieve election-winning success.
And electoral opponents will always try and make mischief when different views are held by members of their opposing party…. ‘everyday stuff’….so please let's ignore those headlines.
The Tories have very different views on membership of the European Union. Which are, and will continue to be, spun by the published media according to their prejudices.
To my mind the Labour Party would be further strengthened by Green and ‘Real Socialist Worker ….’ supporters returning to the Labour fold…. After all, we believe in about 90% of the same things; the Tories maybe 20% (a bit hard to pin down exactly what…..)
All our national party leaders continue to take actions to encourage Labour Party members and MPs to treat each other with respect and never to resort to bullying. As we have always done in the Welwyn Hatfield Constituency Labour Party . Simple as that.
2 The Credit Crunch, Austerity and the Deficit.
The Credit Crunch crisis started in the USA; caused by a Property Bubble (as many such crises over many centuries; including the 1929/1930s Great Depression).
In 2008, American news programs were showing pictures of long lines outside failing banks. These banks failed and their savers lost their savings.
When the problem spread to the rest of the World the following year, British TV News crews set up outside Northern Rock- and the then Labour Government (Gordon Brown / Alistair Darling) took steps to protect these savers by intervening and taking over the bank. And they continued to take similar actions for Halifax, RBS and the like.
So…. If taking these actions caused the Credit Crunch; then the Tories might have a bit of a case.
But in taking these actions, the UK economy was held together, folk continued largely to stay employed; they paid taxes and the UK did not go the way of Greece, Ireland, Iceland.
So they do not have such a case.
Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown (with Ed Milliband also in the Treasury Team at the time) acted in Britain’s very best interests in very difficult times. We should all thank them.
Now, the Tories and their supporting newspapers (Telegraph, Times, Sun, Mail) continue to preach that ‘Austerity’ is needed to repay the deficit…. And that it will be repaid in short order (their commitment in 2010 was to have it killed by 2015…it is now to have it killed well before 2020).
So how are they organizing it all?
By reducing the highest rates of income tax? – seems counter-productive.
By reducing Corporation Tax Rates? – also runs in the opposite sense
By allowing folk to shield even more of their savings in ISAs? – OK if you have savings; but no use if you do not.
By prohibiting (and/or savagely discouraging) Councils from raising money from Council Tax? – very undemocratic; leading to rising levels of child poverty; greater use of food banks; greater enthusiasm for geographic parts of the UK to break away; etc, etc…….
By spending on big infastructure projects? – well; these can generate economic growth (like they did in the USA during the Democrat’s New Deal in the 1930s; and in war torn Europe after World War II under the Marshall Plan). – This should help. But isn’t that ‘Spend’ (as in ‘Tax and Spend ‘) that is thrown at us? Mind you; stupidly over-priced train contracts with foreign companies (such as the IEP programme) have their own disadvantages.
The deficit is currently showing little sign of falling………lets see what a couple more years show us…
3. The war in Syria is a very complicated mess with many interested parties with very different aims.
The Assad Regime (with the Syrian National Army and Air Force) want to regain control over their country.
Russia’s seems to be to retain their bases in the Country; which currently involves sustaining the Assad Regime in power (after all, they are the legitimate government of the country)... and to sustain their prestige in the World.
Turkey’s seems principally to be to do down the Kurds; encourage and help ethnic Turkish groups in the North of the Country; and generally profit from oil sales… and maybe to sustain the prestige of the Erdegan Regime.
Saudi Arabia’s seems to be to encourage Sunni interests; if needs be with weapons and money.
ISIS/DAESH seems to be to establish a separate geographic zone in which their religious beliefs could be brutally enforced.
The other Syrian Opposition’s interests seem principally to be to overthrow the Assad Regime.
Iraq and Iran probably want to see the country achieve some stability.. and to wipe out rebel Islamic jihadists who they are unable to control.
Israel…. who knows (other than probably to keep the Arab countries on or near their border as week as possible).
The USA seems to have long wanted the Assad regime to be replaced; to support NATO ally Turkey and gain prestige with opposition groups who seem likely to have the best chance of succeeding.
The UK Government’s principal one would seem to be to stay aligned with the USA and France.
So there really is no ‘legitimate opposition’ in Syria; just lots of armed folk with lots of different interests (and descriptions of themselves).
It is very difficult to see how it can all be ended any time soon.. or the next century even.
4. Giving a bad press to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
The Russia of Stalin was not much better than Hitler’s Nazi Germany: - Secret Police; Very poor individual rights or freedoms; woeful lack of democracy… you name it.
So we were right to be very wary of the place for many decades.
Despite the fact that most ordinary Russians were hard working, brave, friendly, inventive and principled .
When all that collapsed in the late 1980s, the West had an opportunity to help Russia convert to a modern society (much as Spain had done after Franco).
But it did not; instead blocking its NATO membership application and participating in an asset grab whilst the Russian economy collapsed.
That process only started to get reversed when Mr Putin became their Leader.
The country remains far from ideal… but it is not a Stalinesque society returned. In fact, it is a more ‘civilized’ place than many countries that are held in esteem as Western Allies. (Think Thailand; Saudi Arabia; Bahrain…….)
We would be wise not to needlessly cross them.
A constant thread running through World History is the fact that immigration boosts economies.
Think the United States - especially in the 19th and 20th centuries.
And the UK…. Which has a very long history of welcoming immigrants – often in a sulky way –and seeing them prosper. The examples are many-fold.
Now immigration puts pressure on local services – Housing, Education and Health in particular – when folk arrive.
In a well ordered society, local authorities should be able to take steps to manage such population increases. But the Austerity – driven laws that have been put in place by the Tories (with Liberal Democrat help from 2010 to 2015) currently make it very difficult.
So if there is a problem with high immigration, it is principally a problem with these laws; not really with the (often young, overwhelmingly decent) energetic folk who leave their families and roots behind to come to Britain.