The British Vote, Peace, the Environment, and Ariana Grande

June 1st, 2017 - by admin

Environmentalists Against War & Al Jazeera & Associated Press – 2017-06-01 22:47:39

The British Vote, Peace,
The Environment, and Ariana Grande

Environmentalists Against War

A Twitter-storm for Democracy

On June 8, Britain will hold a critical election to determine the next Prime Minister. There is a get-out-the-vote campaign underway to encourage young people to vote. US singer Ariana Grande is supporting the victims of the Manchester terror attack with a benefit concert on June 4, four days before the national election.

The following appeal is being sent to Ariana Grande via Facebook and Twitter. Spread the message. It reads:

Thank you for hosting the June 4 benefit concert for victims of the Manchester bombing.
URGENT NOTE: There is a national election set for June 8. It is critically important that young people get out and vote.
If possible, PLEASE use the occasion to remind the audience of the imminent election and encourage them to vote for politicians who support peaceful solutions, not violence.

UK General Election: A Tory Dystopia in the Making
A Conservative victory on June 8 would bring more poverty,
inequality, indifference to climate change and dead foxes

Maya Goodfellow / Al Jazeera

“We must be brave enough to admit
that the War on Terror is not working.”

— Jeremy Corbyn

(June 1, 2017) — “Strong and stable, strong and stable.” Hate-peddling Tory spin doctor Lynton Crosby has his clients mindlessly repeating this mantra ad infinitum. But beneath the soundbites, the public are beginning to see a party of chaos — one that attempts to U-turn on key manifesto pledges and avoids scrutiny at all costs.

Where Labour offers hope, the Conservatives serve up an array of regressive policies and pledges that will protect vested interests. Cries that Labour poses a threat to the country are a lie. A Tory landslide would be a disaster for the UK.

You only need look at recent history to see their incompetence in action. After most countries have abandoned austerity, the Conservatives pushed ahead with what was widely regarded as an illogical economic programme. Sticking to this path was, the economist Paul Krugman says, “a very British delusion”. It’s had deleterious effects.

Only the very wealthy are doing well out of the current system; in the past year, the richest 1,000 people luxuriated in a 14 per cent jump in their wealth, while wages fell.

But in the face of rapidly rising in-work poverty, a National Health Service (NHS) starved of funds, crumbling state schools and a cruel welfare system, more austerity is all the Tories offer.

Their education plans are evidence of that. They claim they’ll increase schools’ budgets by £4 billion ($5.1billion ) by 2022. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that, when taking into account growing pupil numbers and recent reductions in budgets, this amounts to a real-terms cut to spending per pupil by a huge 7 per cent between 2015-16 and 2021-22.

Slashing budgets will have a disastrous effect on children up and down the country. Some will be forced to clean classrooms, others will get a second-rate education in overcrowded classrooms as heads are forced to cut back on teacher numbers. And many more children will be malnourished under their plans.

The Conservatives will take away free school meals and introduce pitiful 7p breakfasts, leaving children who come from homes where parents can’t afford to put food on the table to go hungry. Where Labour would increase corporation tax to funnel much-needed money into public services, a Conservative government would tell people they simply can’t afford to fund schools as the super-rich watch their bank balances multiply.

It’s not just the young who will lose out. After axing the social care budget by £4.6 billion ($5.9 billion) between 2010 and 2015, old people will be forced to look after themselves through the dementia tax as our elderly population grows.

The Conservatives claim this will deal with generational inequality but they’ve offered nothing for younger generations who’ve seen their pay packets dwindle in size as house prices soar.

Conservatives’ strategy is to give with one hand after taking away with two. The “a” word might have dropped out of the Tory lexicon but they’re still going to cut public services to the bone, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it’s making the country poorer and more unequal.

That’s because their economic programme was always ideological. As Professor Ha Joon Chang has pointed out, economics is not a science, it’s political. Despite what we’ve been told about “scroungers” and “strivers” in recent years, people aren’t forced to use food banks because of chance, laziness or, as Theresa May put it, “complex reasons”.

The Conservatives made a political choice: people on low incomes, the middle classes and our public sector would pay the price for their ideologically driven efforts to shrink the state.

Instead they prioritise the interests of the rich. The Tories will reintroduce the brutal blood sport of fox-hunting, if it made it through a free vote in the Commons; legalise the ivory trade, which sees around 20,000 elephants killed each year on the African continent (an elephant slaughtered every 25 minutes); and put the needs of their donors in the fossil fuel industry ahead of the environment, as ice caps melt at an alarming rate and sea levels steadily rise.

To distract from their failings and duplicity, the Tories turn people against each other through an age-old tactic: demonising migrants. May has more to say on health tourism — a fabricated issue that belies a reality where migrant staff keep the health service going — than funding the NHS.

The raft of anti-migrant policies in the Conservative manifesto will further create a “hostile environment” for immigrants. This has very real effects. Just ask 17-year-old Reker Ahmed, who was beaten within an inch of his life for simply being an asylum seeker.

In fact, the Tories’ migration policy is a mess by their own standards. If they go ahead with their plans to slash net migration down to tens of thousands a year, they will tank the economy. Their Brexit promises will fall into oblivion. Countries with huge economies like India aren’t particularly interested in doing a trade deal with a government that boasts about “bear[ing] down on immigration from outside the European Union”.

This is of little concern to a party who have plans to change the rules so they can stay in office. While her opponent Jeremy Corbyn has toured the country talking to voters during the election, May has moved from one stage-managed performance to another. Her response to a decline in political engagement over the past few decades has been to grip tight on to the levers of power.

This stranglehold on democracy will only tighten if she sweeps to power on June 8. She’ll introduce GOP-style voter ID laws, which will disenfranchise about 3.5 million people, most of whom will be on low pay (and less likely to vote Conservative). This amounts to rigging the system to make it easier for them to win.

From a £10 ($13) hourly minimum wage to ruling out tax rises for 95 per cent of the population, Labour is offering positive change in a country that’s crying out for a political party to take on the status quo. The alternative is a Conservative government that would impoverish older people, plunge more children into poverty, ignore climate change and kill foxes — that’s the real threat to the UK.

Maya Goodfellow is a writer and researcher. Her work mostly focuses on politics, and ‘race’ and racism in the UK.

UK Politics Resume after Attack, Corbyn Links Terror to Wars
Gregory Katz and Rob Harris / Associated Press

LONDON (May 26, 2017) — Four days after a suicide bombing plunged Britain into mourning, political campaigning for a general election in two weeks resumed Friday with the main opposition leader linking acts of terrorism at home to foreign wars like the one in Libya.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn risked being assailed for politicizing the Manchester Arena attack that killed 22 people by claiming that his party would change Britain’s foreign policy if it takes power after the June 8 vote by abandoning the “war on terror.”

“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home,” Corbyn said in his first speech since Monday night’s atrocity.

National campaigning had been on hold to honor the victims of the arena bombing.

Salman Abedi, the bomber who struck the Ariana Grande concert, had strong links to Libya. His parents were born and lived there before moving to Britain in the early 1990s. They eventually returned with several of their six children, and Abedi traveled there to visit his family on occasion.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon was quick to attack Corbyn for his comments.

“Jeremy Corbyn could be prime minister of our country in less than two weeks’ time, yet he has said only days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities this country has ever known that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault,” Fallon said.

While Corbyn faces criticism for his comments, he is trying to win back the many Labour supporters who turned away from the party in the aftermath of then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Blair’s backing of US President George W. Bush brought more than 1 million protesters into the streets. When the rationale for war failed to pan out because weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, Blair’s popularity faded badly after a string of election victories.

When home-grown terrorists attacked London subway and bus lines in 2005, some blamed Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war. Corbyn’s speech reflects the view that Britain’s actions overseas are at least in part responsible for the increase in extremist attacks.

The Labour Party under Corbyn has consistently trailed Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives in the polls, but has begun to make gains in the last week. It is unclear how the worst attack in Britain in more than a decade will impact voter sentiment.

British police investigating the Manchester bombing made a new arrest Friday while continuing to search 12 properties.

A total of eight men are being held on suspicion of offenses violating the Terrorism Act. Their ages ranged from 18 to 38. A 16-year-old boy and a 34-year-old woman who had been arrested were released without charge, police said.

Authorities are chasing possible links between the Abedi and militants in Manchester, elsewhere in Europe, and in North Africa and the Middle East. Britain’s security level has been upgraded to “critical” meaning officials believe another attack may be imminent.

Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins said substantial progress has been made but detective work remains.

Abedi, a college dropout who had grown up in the Manchester area, was known to security services because of his radical views. His parents came to Britain early in the 1990s. He reportedly was in contact with family members just before the attack. The names of the people in custody have not been released. No one has yet been charged in the bombing.

London police say extra security is being added for major sporting events this weekend including the FA Cup soccer final at Wembley Stadium.

Chief Superintendent Jon Williams said Friday extra protection measures and extra officers are being deployed throughout the capital because of the increased terrorist threat level.

He said fans coming to soccer and rugby matches this weekend should come earlier than usual because of added security screening. Williams said “covert and discrete tactics” will also be in place to protect the transport network.

British police working on the case have resumed intelligence-sharing with US counterparts after a brief halt because of anger over leaks to US media thought by Britain to be coming from US officials.

British officials say that have received assurances from US authorities that confidential material will be protected. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in London Friday that the US accepts responsibility for the leaks.

At the mosque that Abedi attended in Manchester, director of trustees Mohammed el-Khayat told worshippers that police would be told if anyone shows signs of having been radicalized. “The police will be the first to know,” he said before Friday afternoon prayers. He strongly condemned the attack and said radical views will not be tolerated.

Thamir Nasir, who has attended the mosque for nine years, remembered seeing Abedi there, but said he didn’t know him very well.

“This does not represent Islam,” Nasir said of the concert bombing. “And it doesn’t represent our community, and for sure doesn’t represent this mosque here . . . . This center is one of the most open — open to the community. So everyone here is shocked. We could not really sleep that night knowing that this happened in Manchester.”

Despite the increased threat level throughout the country, and the addition of extra armed police and soldiers, the country’s top counter-terrorism police officer urged Britons not to hide away indoors during the upcoming holiday weekend, which finds much of the country enjoying fine weather.

“Go out and enjoy,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said.

Rob Harris reported from Manchester.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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