Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Log 519 June 29 2016

Faites vos jeux, mesdames et messieurs, faites vos jeux: British and American politics in turmoil, as capitalism seems ready to fall into the hands of the clowns

As the smoke has begun to clear from the so-called disaster of the Brexit from Europe, I am finding it easier than I had expected to decide on my view of it.
One helpful thing is the unanimity of the ferocious attack on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by the combined forces of the establishment, including all the stakeholders in capitalism, such as the mainstream journalists, all right-thinking Conservatives (desperately trying to persuade the world not to notice the monumental balls-up created by the Eton-educated, Oxbridge graduated Tory leaders), and by the right-wing members of the Labour party establishment, who, seizing the chance to oust their leader in a pre-planned coup, have betrayed nakedly their support for the neocolonialist agenda that has become the norm in  Western world governing circles.
The pity of it is that Corbyn, who has apparently never been keen on the European Union, no doubt on the grounds that it was set up to be a stronghold of capitalism and its values, succumbed to the intense pressure of his Parliamentary colleagues to support the case for Remaining in the UE. In hindsight one can see it would have been better if Labour, fulfilling its role as Opposition to the Tory government, had plumped for the Brexit, and prepared a solid social plan for managing the changes required to create a new sort of Britain following departure from the Union.  Unfortunately, that did not happen, so there is no point really in wishing it did. But the result of the Brexit has been to leave Britain rudderless, still trying to play its old game of having its cake and eating it too, right up until last weekend, with  even members of the Brexit leadership writing that perhaps Britain could become an associate member, like Norway, only refusing to accept the free movement of peoples from state to state within the Union.  This, it has been made clear from Europe, is never likely to fly, having been denounced by Mme Merkel as “cherrry-picking”, accepting the best and rejecting the worst of the Union rules.
The European leaders wish the British would get on with it. And I am persuaded by the perception of the Dutch journalist I quoted in my last post, that Europe, so desperately in need of reform if it is to advance along a humane and socially acceptable line, will be much better able to achieve such reform without Britain than with it inside the Union  continuing its constant undermining of all change in the only direction that can make sense of the Union.
Perhaps the revolt within the Labour Members of Parliament is the most interesting thing of all. Corbyn was elected by an overwhelming majority of Labour party members: something like 62 per cent with the second place finisher on 19 per cent. But the Members of Parliament  are hangovers from the days of Tony Blair, when the members had little or nothing to do with the selection of their candidates: thus there is an antagonism between the MPs and the party members at large, and it seems that Corbyn might be well-placed to continue in office, even possibly to win an election for leadership, if it comes to that, and to hell with his MPs, whose removal would have to await the next election.  Interestingly on June 13 the Daily Telegraph newspaper, always well informed about right-wing thinking, prophesied that a plot was already planned, regardless of the referendum result, to oust Corbyn by the unconstitutional method of having his Parliamentary colleagues resign from his shadow cabinet, thus literally forcing him to accept a forced resignation.
I doubt that any manoeuvre so nakedly based on blind ambition has ever been pulled in British politics before, and it will be fascinating to see how this all comes out.
Meantime, the battle for leadership of the Tories is already underway: since the Brexiters won the day, surely they should be elected to lead the party? Right?
Wrong. That does not seem to be the plan.  The plan, such as it is, seems to be to reassert the control of those who, like Cameron, led the Remain team, and so to delay any action as to hope, vainly, that they might find a mechanism for turning it all around (and thus rejecting the will of the people.) 
Well, I can’t say much more than that. I will watch this with fascination, almost equal to that of the fight between two widely hated candidates for the presidency of the United States.
Take your pick, anyone….fait vos jeux, faites vos jeux, ladies and gentlemen….

This is one for the books.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Log 518 June 28 2016

Perfidious Albion in full view as it manoeuvres to take the good and reject what it doesn’t like: brilliant article by Dutch journalist welcomes the Brexit

Well, here we are, bereft under the blizzard of political change that has overcome that part of the world we had become accustomed to thinking of as stable. Donald Trump, a megalomaniac millionaire apparently without a serious political thought in his head, is contending to become United States President. And Boris Johnson, recently described, with a fair degree of accuracy, as “a clown”, is apparently in line to become Britain’s next Prime Minister. Will wonders never cease?
It now appears that the campaign to have Britain leave the European Union was mendacious in the extreme. But that does not appear to have been the main reason for this surprising decision.
An excellent article published in the last few days in The Guardian by a man who last month completed a 340 mile walk from Liverpool to London, said that after what he had seen en route, the result of the referendum did not surprise him at all. He said that the political policies of Margaret Thatcher had virtually wiped out most of the towns he passed through, whose main streets remain boarded up, shattered and destroyed, the only enterprise having shifted to giant box stores on the peripheries of what once were thriving English towns.  Everyone he asked how they would vote told him, “Out.” And the invariable reason was “immigration.” These people, chronically out of work, complained that foreigners had come among them, willing and able to take lower pay to do the jobs they themselves once held. It was as simple as that.
This reporter was apparently the son of a man who had followed the same route as part of a 1981 march of miners in protest against Thatcher’s policies, which eventually closed not only the mines, but also much of the industry that supported them.
What seems to be the sad result of the referendum is that the Brexit side was not led by a socially-conscious group of reformers with a plan to change these worst aspects of British decline, but by an air-headed group, the worst of the British Tories (and believe me, they can be bad!) who apparently have no plan for future reform in any direction. This suggests that Britain’s future could be parlous.
I heard Alex Salmond, past leader of the Scottish National Party, in an illuminating discussion with the rivetting RT interviewer Sophie Shevardnadze, claim that the only British politician who was keeping her head, not making extravagant promises, and appeared to have a clear path to the future was Nicola Sturgeon, who has already put into play the mechanism for a Scottish referendum to support the overwhelming support given by the Scots to remaining within Europe.  Thus the very real possibility for the destruction of the United Kingdom already is looming on the horizon.
On a more cheerful note is an article in today’s Guardian --- I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I any longer regard The Guardian as a really responsible newspaper, not after the recent scandalous bias in their coverage of the US candidacy of Bernie Sanders, or their root-and-branch propaganda for the Remain solution to the British referendum, but they still do  print the odd informative article ---  an article written by Joris Luyendijk, a thoughtful and experienced Dutch journalist who has lived and work across much of the world, to the effect that the Brexit is a wonderful piece of news for Europe.
His reasoning for this must make hard reading for any Englishman who is proud of his country. For the way Luyendijk sees it, Britain has never wanted to be a full member of the European Union, has always insisted on exceptions, and even the Remain side agued that continued membership would be the best way to ensure that all this foolish nonsense about creating a Europe of shared sovereignty could be nipped in the bud and brought to a halt.  Thus, Luyendijk argues, a European Union that drastically needs to be reformed along democratic lines, would forever be denied that opportunity if Britain were present, ready, able and willing to veto any changes that did not suit them.
He does not mince words in his argument:
“For decades British governments have played a double game: getting all the benefits of EU membership while opting out of its burdens, in the meantime undermining and even blackmailing the club from within. All of this is now over…..  Had Remain won the referendum, the EU would have become hostage to British sabotage. Future British prime ministers would veto any fundamental change involving the transfer of sovereignty, arguing, correctly, that their people had voted only for the current set-up of the EU. Britain would continue to demand ever more opt-outs and concessions – playing to the fantasy that membership is a British favour to the rest of Europe. The British press and Europhobe politicians would go on portraying the EU in the most lurid, mendacious and derisory terms, making us look terrible in the eyes of Americans and English-speaking Asians, Africans and Russians.
“As the referendum debate has shown, the country has not come to terms with its own global irrelevance – hence its refusal to pool sovereignty. It continues to believe that as a sovereign nation it can get everything it had as an EU member, and more. When Europe’s democrats talk about ‘EU reform’ they mean putting arrangements in place to make Europe’s pooling of sovereignty democratic. Britons mean the rollback of that very pooling of sovereignty. For this reason, Britain’s membership would have hit a wall sooner or later.”

Although Ludendijk does not mention him, this brings to mind Yanis Varoufakis, who quit the Syriza party in Greece rather than surrender to the blackmail of the European money powers, and formed his oddly-named DiEM25 movement to bring about “radical democracy” in Europe, working, he insists, from within Europe.  Ludendijk seems to share this view of the future, one which he says should be much easier to bring about if only Britain would withdraw from the community. It is not without interest to remark that various actors in Europe so distrust British honesty that one official said he would be surprised if Article 50 that has to be activated by any nation wishing to withdraw, will ever be activated. 
Already the European leaders are warning Britain against what seem to be their nefarious tricks, their wish for endless delays.  No negotiation can be a matter for cherry-picking, says Mrs. Merkel, with Britain getting what is favorable and rejecting what is unfavorable. Similarly the European leaders have unhesitatingly rejected the idea floated by Boris Johnson that Britain might become an associate member while rejecting the free movement of people, one of the four pillars of he EU value-system.  Norway is an associate member, but that is a status granted only on condition that they accept the free movement of EU citizens into their country.
Clearly these coming years are going to be full of interest as Europe, founded as a bulwark against the internecine warfare that has dogged the continent since time immemorial, struggles to create a functioning, democratic and successful nation able to exist and compete with any nation on earth.
They seem to be fully aware already of the reputation and dangers posed by perfidious Albion.  I was working as a journalist in London when Harold Macmillan’s government first applied to join the EEC, and as a guy who had never lived anywhere but in what was once the British Empire, then became the British Commonwealth, and then morphed into simply the Commonwealth, I was staggered at the naked effrontery of perfidious Albion,  ready to cast aside as if by magic, all those countries that had supported its wars for generations with tens of thousands of butchered young men, and all because they suddenly realized they could make more money by trading within Europe than in the Commonwealth.   
These are going to be very interesting times.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Link of the day: News release from the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner: EU Trade agreements: UN rights' expert warns against bypassing national parliaments
(With thanks to Nadia Alexan)

GENEVA (24 June 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas today warned that any plan by the European Union to bypass national parliaments to push through controversial trade deals would violate international human rights norms and standards.

“Trade deals prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer associations, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliaments, have zero democratic legitimacy,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

Mr. de Zayas’s call comes as the European Commission is reportedly preparing to treat the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal with Canada as an ‘EU only’ matter which, if adopted, will exclude ratification by every national Parliaments in the EU, according to leaked documents and recent media reports that the Independent Expert discussed with various EU stakeholders. 

“In view of the increasing vocal opposition by civil society organizations, a thorough open discussion should be carried out by national parliaments and referenda should be organized in all countries concerned,” Mr de Zayas said. “Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to peoples’ voice”.

An earlier consultation conducted by the European Commission in 2014 resulted in 97% of respondents from across Europe expressing opposition to the inclusion of asymmetrical investment protection in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. “The same would apply to CETA, but no consultation was ever held,” he noted. 

In the light of the European Council on 28-29 June 2016, the expert called on States to respect their human rights obligations. “The human rights treaty regime entails binding obligations that States must observe,” the expert said recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, and the American Convention on Human Rights. 

“In case of conflict between trade agreements and human rights treaties, it is the latter that prevail,” he stressed. “States must not enter into agreements that delay, circumvent, hinder or make impossible the fulfillment of human rights treaty obligations.” 

The Independent Expert noted that it is not for the State to guarantee profits to investors or transnational enterprises, but to legislate and regulate in the public interest. “The State cannot divest itself of this responsibility to act to protect populations under its jurisdiction by adopting precautionary health and environmental measures, by regulating labour standards and by ensuring food security,” he said. 

“Trade agreements should only be ratified after human rights, health and environmental impact assessments have been conducted, which has not been the case with regard to CETA and TTIP,” Mr. de Zayas said. 

“Ratification of CETA and TTIP would start a ‘race to the bottom’ in human rights terms and would seriously compromise the regulatory space of states. This is contrary to the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and would constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a democratic and equitable international order,” the UN Independent Expert concluded.


The UN Independent Expert devoted his 2015 report to the UN Human Rights Council to the adverse human rights, health and environmental impacts of so-called free trade agreements such as CETA, TPP, TTIP and TISA. Ckeck the report (A/HRC/30/44): 

Mr. de Zayas focused his 2015 report to the UN General Assembly on the incompatibility of Investor-state-dispute-settlement arbitrations with fundamental principles of transparency and accountability. Ckeck the report (A/70/285): 
In his upcoming report to the UN Human Rights Council, to be presented in September 2016, Mr. de Zayas analyzes and rejects the proposal of an investment court system as a rebranding exercise, which maintains the normative asymmetry of one-way tribunals where investors can sue States but not vice versa, and where victims of human rights violations by the activities of investors and transnational corporations have no standing to sue, no recourse and no remedy.


Mr. Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Learn more, log on to:

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 9674 / or write to

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /