A case for Jeremy Corbyn

Roger Cohen writes: For a long time I could not bring myself to write about the British election. Trump-coddling, self-important, flip-flopping Theresa May, ensconced at 10 Downing Street without ever being elected prime minister, was going to sweep to her hard-Brexit victory and take the country down her little England rabbit hole.

There were more important things to think about, like the end of the American century in 2017, one hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution. A boorish clown named Donald Trump brought down the curtain.

In Britain, anyway, there was no story: The June 8 vote was a formality. The Labour Party was in meltdown, having exited the Blairite middle ground for leftist orthodoxy under Jeremy Corbyn. The British, their ludicrous vote to leave the European Union gradually sinking in, had morphed into sheep. May would get her mandate to do her worst, with Boris Johnson, a foreign secretary who long since forsook any claim to be taken seriously, cheering her on.

Then came two unspeakable terrorist attacks, one in Manchester and one in London. As I’ve argued before, the Islamic State should be driven out of Raqqa, whatever it takes (and if you have any doubt, watch Matthew Heineman’s new movie “City of Ghosts” about the citizen-journalist group “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.”) Iniquity has its capital. From there it will emanate until crushed.

Of course Trump tried to make cheap political capital from the blood on London’s streets. He quoted London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, out of context in a flurry of tweets aimed at buttressing the case for his bigotry. The president of the United States just felt like insulting a prominent Muslim.

Trump bears about the same relationship to dignity as carbon dioxide to clean air. And this is the man May and Johnson have coddled, in the name of offsetting the Brexit debacle with increased U.S. trade.

Johnson, by the way, assured the world a couple of months back that British seduction of Trump had been so effective that efforts to convince the president not to quit the Paris climate accord “will succeed.” After all, Trump had been offered a state visit, horse-drawn carriage, the queen; all that British pomp for His Neediness. We know what the word of Johnson, who was for the European Union before he was against it, is worth. It’s worth zilch. No wonder Trump’s finger-to-the-planet Paris decision prompted scarcely a British whimper. [Continue reading…]

Polls close at 10pm local time.

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Before austerity does any more damage, Britain needs a plan for growth

Joseph Stiglitz writes: The choice facing the voters in this election is clear – between more failed austerity or a Labour party advancing an economic agenda that is right for the UK. To understand why Labour is right, we first need to look back to the 1980s.

Under Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, there was a rewriting of the basic rules of capitalism. These two governments changed the rules governing labour bargaining, weakening trade unions; and they weakened anti-trust enforcement, allowing more monopolies to be created. In our economy today we can see industries with one or two or three firms with market power. This gives them the power to raise prices – and as they raise prices, people’s incomes fall, in terms of what they can buy.

Changes to how our corporations are governed have allowed chief executives to take a larger and larger fraction of the corporate pie, leaving less and less to be reinvested in the company, and less to pay to workers. Monetary policy has been conducted with a focus on inflation rather than on employment.

Over three decades later, it is clear that the rules were rewritten in ways that slowed our economy. These changes encourage financialisation, with firms chasing only profits; and they promote short-termism, with companies unwilling to invest over the longer term. Both contribute to this slowdown. And as the economy has grown more slowly, it has been divided more unequally. [Continue reading…]

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It’s the voters, not the pundits, who get the final say on who’s electable

Gary Younge writes: At a drinks party in central London, not long after Jeremy Corbyn had been elected leader of the Labour party first time round, a young journalist talked me through the facts as she saw them.

“He’s already lost the election,” she said.

“I think you’ll find he just won an election,” I told her.

“I mean 2020,” she said, referring to what we all assumed would be the next general election. “Are we talking about 2020 in the past tense now?” I asked.

The trouble with received wisdom is that it rarely comes with a receipt. With the provenance of the “wisdom” unacknowledged, the recipient passed it on as though it were the self-evident expression of their own genius: an inarguable fact plucked from a clear blue sky.

For the past two years, it has been received wisdom that, when put before the national electorate, the Labour party under Corbyn was unelectable. Not simply that it would lose, but that there was no plausible way it could compete. These were not presented as opinions but as facts. Those who questioned them were treated like climate change deniers. Those who held the wisdom were the scientists. To take Labour’s prospects seriously under Corbyn was to abandon being taken seriously yourself.

The political class imparted as much to the media class, and the media class duly printed and broadcast it. The political class, drawn for the most part from the same social class as their media counterparts, then took those articles and bulletins and presented them as evidence. The wisdom was distributed to all who mattered. Those who did not receive it did not, by definition, matter. Within this fetid ecosystem the air was too stale for new ideas to grow.

With days to go, Labour now sits between one and 12 points behind the Tories in the polls. One projection has the Tories failing to gain an overall majority; most predict they will get a majority of between 30 and 70. None have Labour winning. Most have Corbyn getting a larger share of votes than Ed Miliband or Gordon Brown. The polls have been wrong before. [Continue reading…]

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More than 130 imams refuse funeral prayers for ‘indefensible’ London Bridge attackers

The Guardian reports: More than 130 imams and Muslim religious leaders have said they will refuse to say funeral prayers for the perpetrators of Saturday’s attack in London.

In a highly unusual move, Muslim religious figures from across the country and from different schools of Islam said their pain at the suffering of the victims and their families led them to refuse to perform the traditional Islamic prayer – a ritual normally performed for every Muslim regardless of their actions. They called on others to do the same.

They expressed “shock and utter disgust at these cold-blooded murders”, adding: “We will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.” [Continue reading…]

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On Thursday, a Labour win in the UK elections is no longer an impossible dream

George Monbiot writes: How they mocked. My claim, in a Guardian video a month ago, that Labour could turn this election around, was received with hilarity. “Fantasy Island”, “pure pie in the sky”, “delusional”, “magical thinking”, “grow up” were among the gentler comments. The election campaign, almost everyone agreed, would be a victory lap for the Conservatives. The only question was whether Theresa May would gain a massive majority or a spectacular one. Now the braying voices falter.

Could it really happen? No prediction, in these volatile times, should carry much weight. But this we can say: a Labour win is no longer an impossible dream. It is certainly a dream, for those of us who have been waiting, longer than my adult life, for a government beholden only to the people, rather than to the City or the owners of newspapers. But it is now a plausible one.

And why not? On policy after policy, the Labour manifesto accords with what people say they want. It offers a strong and stable National Health Service, in which privatisation is reversed, clinical budgets rise and staff are properly paid. It promises more investment in schools, smaller class sizes, and an end to the stifling micromanagement driving teachers out of the profession. It will restore free education at universities. It will ensure that railways, water, energy and the postal service are owned for the benefit of everyone, rather than only the bosses and shareholders. It will smoke out tax avoidance, and bring the banks under control. [Continue reading…]

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London mayor calls for cancellation of Trump visit to UK

The Hill reports: London Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling on the British government to cancel a state visit from President Trump after Trump criticized his response to this weekend’s terror attacks in London.

“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan said in an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News.

“When you have a special relationship it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they are wrong. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong.” [Continue reading…]

Sadiq Khan’s comments about Trump come at the end of this interview:

 

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World leaders should give Trump the cold shoulder

Bloomberg reports: Prime Minister Theresa May said she thought Donald Trump was “wrong” to attack London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of Saturday’s terror attack in London.

After avoiding several attempts by reporters to get her to condemn the U.S. president for openly criticizing Khan in a series of tweets hours after the attack at London Bridge that killed seven people and left dozens injured, May was asked what it would take for her to criticize Trump. She reiterated her disappointment over his decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, before being eventually forced to defend the capital’s mayor.


“Sadiq Khan is doing a good job,” she told a press conference in central London, when asked if Trump was wrong to attack the mayor’s call for calm in the wake of the attacks. “It’s wrong to say anything else.”


May has been attacked by both the opposition Labour Party and the media for her reluctance to publicly criticize Trump. As well as mocking Khan, Trump sought to turn the London attacks to domestic political advantage by renewing his call to ban travel from some Muslim-majority countries. May’s criticism Monday follows her openly complaining last month about U.S. security agencies leaking details of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, which British police said hurt their investigation.

While she used her disapproval of Trump pulling out of the Paris accord to illustrate that she was “not afraid to say when President Trump gets things wrong,” her name was notably absent from a joint statement last week by her European counterparts condemning the withdrawal. [Continue reading…]

An editorial in The Guardian says: Unlike other world leaders, Mrs May has made an art of avoiding public confrontation with the US president. But – in the words of her initial response to the London Bridge attack – enough is enough. She should make clear to Mr Trump how offensive and unhelpful his extraordinary intervention was, and rescind the invitation that has been extended to him for a state visit later this year. [Continue reading…]

Political leaders who persist in exercising diplomatic restraint when commenting on Trump’s behavior, are, through their timidity, becoming his enablers, reinforcing his sense that he can get away with anything.

At some point it’s going to take something much stronger than a mild rebuff to demonstrate to Trump that his words have consequences.

So far he has been treated like an obstreperous brat who has to be tolerated out of respect for his office and in spite of his inexcusable behavior.

The treatment Trump deserves, however, is the cold shoulder.

Every head of state who represents a democracy should refuse direct communication with Trump.

During his first months in office, he has amply demonstrated that he has neither the capacity nor the willingness to engage in foreign affairs in a manner that befits his position.

This isn’t just a matter of decorum; it speaks to his basic competence.

Freezing out Trump doesn’t require any form of public diplomacy. It simply means that if or when the White House places a call to a foreign leader, said leader simply declines to make themselves available. “The Prime Minister is out right now. Would President Trump like to leave a message?”

Trump is the one who has chosen a path of isolation. Let him have it.

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Two of London Bridge attackers named

 

Khuram Shazad Butt, appears in the Channel 4 documentary, The Jihadis Next Door, at 14.50:

 

The Guardian reports: Khuram Shazad Butt, one of the three jihadi attackers who killed seven people in London on Saturday, was a supporter of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun who only last month was spotted urging people in east London not to participate in the general election.

The 27-year-old was described by locals in his neighbourhood of Barking, east London, as the son of parents from Jhelum, a town in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Butt, who was born in Pakistan but brought up in Britain, was a keen supporter of Arsenal football club, whose shirt he wore during the attack, and spoke with a London accent.

The Metropolitan police admitted on Monday that he was known to the police and MI5 and they had opened an investigation into him in 2015. A few months later detectives received a call from a concerned member of the public on the anti-terrorism hotline with information about his extremism. But inquiries established no intelligence or evidence to suggest any terrorist activity or that an attack was being planned, according to assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer. Butt’s case was moved into the “lower echelons” of the 500 most active counter-terrorism investigations.

“I have seen nothing yet that a poor decision was made,” Rowley said. [Continue reading…]

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Former senior officer says government is lying about UK policing

 

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Sadiq Khan has more important things to do than respond to the troll in the White House

Buzzfeed reports: Donald Trump has criticised London mayor Sadiq Khan for saying residents of the capital city have “no reason to be alarmed” in the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack.

The President of the United States also attacked “politically correct” responses to security issues and called for US courts to support his proposed travel ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

Trump implied Khan – who is one of the first Muslim mayors of a major Western city – was playing down the severity of the attack following the deaths of at least seven people in Saturday night’s terrorist incident.


Khan’s quote appears to have been taken out of context, with the relevant passage referring to the increased presence of police on the streets.

“Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days,” Khan told the BBC earlier on Sunday. “There’s no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we’re as safe as we possibly can be. I’m reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city, but we always evolve and review to make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be.”

Khan’s spokesperson dismissed the US President’s comments: “The mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city. He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police – including armed officers – on the streets.” [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, Lew Lukens, acting U.S. ambassador in the UK, tweeted:

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Trump uses London attacks to promote his Muslim ban

The Independent reports: Donald Trump has been criticised for tweeting out unconfirmed information about the London Bridge terrorist attack and using the incident to argue in favour of his so-called Muslim travel ban.

The President re-tweeted a headline about the deadly incident at London Bridge and Borough Market from the Drudge Report, a right-wing outlet.

“Fears of new terror attack after van ‘mows down 20 people’ on London Bridge…” the headline read, which he re-tweeted on his personal Twitter account.

NBC responded with its own tweet, warning its audience not to rely on the President’s social media. [Continue reading…]


The morning after the attacks, America’s troll-in-chief is back on twitter:


“Our people” — there’s the dog whistle to Trump’s racist supporters!

And it’s swiftly followed by an attack on London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan:


As a pathological liar, it’s hardly surprising that Trump would twist Khan’s words. What London’s mayor actually said was this:

Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed.

Khan made this statement today:


Donald Trump should study Sadiq Khan’s statement carefully — he might learn a thing or two about how political leaders need to respond responsibly to acts of terrorism.

Even so, the notion that Trump has the capacity to learn anything is probably fanciful.

Rather than ask how or if Trump might rise to the occasion in a time of crisis, it’s time for the GOP establishment to face reality.

Come the day that instead of turning to Twitter to find out what Trump thinks, we are instead turning on the TV to watch an unscheduled presidential statement, just imagine what will come after this:

After the horrific attacks we have witnessed, I have directed…

At which point we then get to see exactly how dangerous it was for a man this ill-prepared and uninformed, lacking in sound judgement, discernment, intelligence, and intellect, to assume the responsibilities of commander-in-chief.

How much longer America must suffer Trump’s presence in the White House is impossible to predict, but Britain can at least save itself the indignity of having him ride through London in a golden carriage. Buckingham Palace merely needs to relay the message that the Queen will remain “indisposed” for the foreseeable future.

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The murderous consequences of xenophobia

Decca Aitkenhead writes: Every night, for almost a year, Brendan Cox and his wife sat up discussing the rise of the far right. He was conducting a major study of populist extremism across the western world and, once the children were in bed, the pair would talk through its implications and analyse the threat.

The contrast between the couple and the darkly angry ideology could scarcely have been more acute. His wife was a young, smiley, idealistic new Labour MP whom he had met when they both worked for Oxfam. They loved camping and mountain climbing, lived on a houseboat on the Thames and spent weekends at their cottage on the Welsh border, without electricity or water, where they’d celebrate the summer solstice each year with a party for 100 friends. Their son, Cuillin, now six, was named after a mountain range on the Isle of Skye; their four-year-old daughter, Lejla, after friends Cox had made while volunteering for a children’s charity in Bosnia. Liberal and internationalist, they worried about xenophobic hate – but their concern was political, not personal.

Brendan Cox spent the morning of 16 June 2016 working on the research project as normal, for an international campaign organisation called Purpose, and was on his way to lunch with his colleague when his phone rang. It was his wife’s parliamentary assistant. “Jo has been attacked. Get to Leeds as fast as you can.” Racing to the station, he called her constituency office and was told she’d been shot and stabbed. He was alone on a train, hurtling north, when the call came from Jo’s sister: “I’m so sorry, Brendan. She’s not made it.”

“Do you mean Jo’s died?”

“I don’t know what to say … but yes.”

As Cox broke down in tears, a man sitting across the aisle fetched him tissues and water. “If there’s anything I can do …” he offered kindly. Cox wiped his eyes, thanked the man and thought: “Is this what you are meant to do when your wife has just been murdered?”

The horror awaiting him in Yorkshire defied all comprehension. Thomas Mair, a 52-year-old Nazi sympathiser incensed by Jo’s support for refugees, had calmly approached the MP outside her constituency surgery in the Yorkshire village of Birstall, shot her with a sawn-off shotgun, pulled her to the ground and stabbed her repeatedly with a dagger. A 77-year-old pensioner who tried to stop him was stabbed. Cox’s last words were to her two assistants were: “Get away, let him hurt me, don’t let him hurt you!” Mair’s last words, after shooting her twice more, were: “Britain first. Britain will always come first.” [Continue reading…]

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Nigel Farage is ‘person of interest’ in FBI investigation into Trump and Russia

The Guardian reports: Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” in the US counter-intelligence investigation that is looking into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March.

WikiLeaks published troves of hacked emails last year that damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and is suspected of having cooperated with Russia through third parties, according to recent congressional testimony by the former CIA director John Brennan, who also said the adamant denials of collusion by Assange and Russia were disingenuous.

Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or a target of the US investigation. But being a person of interest means investigators believe he may have information about the acts that are under investigation and he may therefore be subject to their scrutiny. [Continue reading…]

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Yorkshire-born trauma surgeon racially abused after saving Manchester bombing victims

The Guardian reports: A surgeon who had helped save the lives of victims of the Manchester bombing was racially abused on his way back to hospital, it has been reported.

Naveed Yasin, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon – who had spent the previous two days in demanding surgery, was driving back to the Salford royal hospital to continue to help blast victims when a van driver pulled up beside him and hurled abuse, according to the Sunday Times.

The surgeon was stuck in traffic when he saw a van veering towards him, horn blaring. The white, middle-aged driver then lowered his window and yelled obscenities at Yasin.

The van driver said: “You brown, Paki bastard. Go back to your country, you terrorist. We don’t want you people here. Fuck off!”

The incident shocked the surgeon, who was born and brought up in Keighley, West Yorkshire and lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters especially after two such gruelling days at work.

He told the Sunday Times: “I can’t take away the hatred he had for me because of my skin colour … and the prejudices he had associated with this. Manchester is better than this. We Mancunians will rebuild, we will rebuild the fallen buildings, the broken lives and the social cohesion we once had.”

He and his family could have been caught up in the bombing themselves as they had considered going to the Ariana Grande concert as his eldest daughter is a big fan. In the end they decided not to because the event was on a school night. [Continue reading…]

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Theresa May accused of being ‘Trump’s mole’ in Europe after UK tries to water down EU climate change policy

The Independent reports: Theresa May has been accused of being Donald Trump’s “mole” in Europe after leaked documents showed the UK attempted to water down EU policies designed to tackle climate change.

While other European politicians have made clear to the Republican billionaire that his denial of climate science is a problem, the Prime Minister has remained resolutely silent on the issue.

Her visit to Washington – when the two leaders were pictured holding hands – was widely regarded as an attempt to build a strong relationship with Mr Trump, despite concerns about his attitudes towards women, migrants, Islam, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and other issues.

The leaked documents, obtained by Greenpeace’s Energydesk, show the UK tried to make a policy designed to improve energy efficiency – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making goods cheaper to run for consumers – voluntary rather than mandatory.

It also essentially argued EU member states should be allowed to make no progress at all towards a 2030 target on renewable energy until the last moment.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow International Trade Secretary, who speaks on climate change issues as a result of Ms May’s decision to scrap the dedicated climate change Cabinet post, told The Independent: “After the G7 [meeting], the word was put out that six countries were on track, pursuing the objective of the Paris Agreement. Only one country, America, was out of step.

“That simply has been proven not to be the case by this leak, which shows Donald Trump actually has a mole within the EU and that mole is the UK.

“The UK is, behind the scenes, trying to water down the commitments and make them voluntary instead of mandatory.”

He said the changes proposed by the UK were not “cosmetic” – to make targets “aspirational”, rather than legally enforceable, was “ridiculous”. [Continue reading…]

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‘Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands,’ says Merkel

The New York Times reports: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s reluctance to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common European positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

Her strong comments were a further indication that Mr. Trump’s trip did not go down well with major European leaders and seems to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminished them.

“This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO who is now the director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.”

Ms. Merkel, who did not mention Mr. Trump by name, also spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which means the bloc will lose its second-largest economy and one of its two nuclear powers. Britain’s departure, or “Brexit,” will also weaken trans-Atlantic ties and leave the Continent more exposed than before.

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel said, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.” [Continue reading…]

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