Voices from Russia

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Britain’s Next Prime Minister Could Likely be Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn has much of the Brexit coalition on his side and more. Brexit, which in many ways put British politics on the international map for the first time since the 1960s, wasn’t supposed to happen. The Establishment in all the major parties, the business sector, academia, the mainstream media, and the arts and science community (which still hold some influence in Britain) were all opposed to it. Likewise, on the night of the vote, the polling data was so set against Brexit that a sober Nigel Farage all but conceded defeat. Several hours and several drinks later, he emerged to give a victory speech. The people who voted for Brexit voted for a number of reasons and even more crucially in a key number of geographical places.

Many people voted for Brexit because they seethed with anger over those who opposed it. The élite were unpopular and the élite didn’t want Brexit, this meant that ordinary people in middle and northern England, as well as most of Wales, voted for Brexit. Other issues ranging from European border policy to trade and nostalgia for empire played far less of a factor than many pundits thought. Brexit was a visceral vote, not a calculated vote. The EU is a élitist institution and Britain’s local élite loved it. For most people, that was enough to make them support it.

While the dishonest and discredited élites ran the pro-EU campaign, Nigel Farage spearheaded Brexit from the right, while its most prominent leftist advocate was George Galloway. Both Farage and Galloway are figures one either loves or hates, but few people can legitimately question their sincerity. After all, neither embraced causes guaranteed to get them invited to Buckingham Palace. Many thought that if two straightforward men on different sides of the political divide both embraced Brexit, it can’t be all that bad for honest ordinary people, and furthermore, contrary to what the neoliberal mainstream media said, Farage’s supporters aren’t all racist obscurantists and Galloways’ supporters aren’t “only Muslims”. Such remarks slander both men and their supporters who are ordinary, decent, and normal people of all backgrounds, who for various reasons are tired of a broken status-quo.

Jeremy Corbyn may well be on the verge of achieving something similar to Brexit, only more. Corbyn, like Brexit, is anti-establishment, and like Brexit, the entire establishment is against him… with this notable exception… small, medium, and even some big businesses. Jeremy Corbyn will certainly appeal to working class Brexit voters in England’s north and midlands as well as Wales (AKA Brexit country) who long for a Labour leader that puts bread-and-butter issues first. Corbyn is all about jobs, funding essential services, and putting hospitals before banks, schools before hedge funds, wages for real people over tax loopholes for foreign companies. This is music to the ears of a Labour base, who are alienated from Labour after years of neoliberal policies first instigated by the war criminal Tony Blair.

However, what about business, will they vote for a socialist Labour leader? Many interestingly will. Generally, most businesses of all sizes benefited from some aspects of EU membership, most crucially from the Single Market which non-EU countries Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are a happy part of. Corbyn said he’s committed to getting Britain a deal that involves retaining the benefits of the Single Market and this made many in the business community silently sympathetic to a Labour leader who took a stand on the Single Market, whereas Conservative leader Theresa May has a policy which amounts to little more than “Frankly, I don’t give a damn”. Therefore, this means Corbyn has the working-class and wider Midlands, Northern England and Welsh Brexit vote, the anti-establishment Brexit vote, and, ironically, also the business-minded pro-Single Market Vote.

Then, there’s Scotland. Scotland voted in favour of retaining EU membership. What’s more, when Scotland held a referendum on independence from the UK in 2014, one of the biggest selling points on the “Remain Part of the UK” side was that membership of the UK guaranteed membership in the EU. My, how times have changed! Because of this, Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament want a new independence referendum. May responded to this call with disdain and contempt. Her refusal to engage in a dialogue with Scotland smacks of a colonial attitude when Scotland is a democratic part of the UK. It’s unreal that someone like May can think this way in the year 2017.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn said that he’d listen to Scotland, engage positively with the Scottish people, and, in any case, respect their exercise of democratic self-determination if that’s what they ultimately seek. This means that if the vote in England is a dead-heat, the Scottish Nationalists, who’d almost certainly win every major seat in Scotland, would have the ability to form a coalition with Corbyn and make him Prime Minister. Under this scenario, one sees that Corbyn retained much of the Brexit coalition, with the added bonus of almost all of Scotland’s backing if he eventually needs it, and more members of the business community than many think. Even those in the business community who might not like Corbyn’s tax policies realise that leaving the Single Market is a far bigger problem and one that could take much longer to reverse.

In the wealthy parts of Southern England, the Conservatives might be in for another unexpected shock. Most people in England’s wealthiest areas voted to remain in the EU and many are privately shocked that the once pro-EU Conservative party is taking such an undiplomatic and frankly unknowing approach to Brexit. Many such affluent voters might end up voting for the unambiguously pro-EU Liberal Democratic Party, who in most other policy areas are little different from mainstream moderate Conservatives. The polls that got Brexit and Trump wrong are still saying that the Conservatives will win, but only by a small margin. The reality could be very different. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour might capture most of middle and northern England, all of Wales, and find allies in Scotland. May’s Conservatives might end up losing some seats in their own affluent backyard, amongst those who still cherish the EU as much as they did when they voted against Brexit alongside former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

We could be looking at the most unlikely political revolution in British history… since last year, anyway. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of a would-be Corbyn victory is that he quietly managed to build an unlikely coalition without sacrificing his principles. Perhaps, this is the real lesson of the campaign.

30 May 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/britains-next-prime-minister-likely-socialist-jeremy-corbyn/

Monday, 29 May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Outshines Theresa May in the British General Election

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British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s impressive speech on foreign policy and the West’s failed “War on Terror” illustrated an unreported truth about the current British general election… Corbyn is cutting a far more impressive figure during the election than Prime Minister Theresa May is. Before discussing this, I wish to make one important qualification about Corbyn’s speech. Corbyn bravely made the connection between the Manchester terror attack and the West’s foreign policy… enthusiastically supported by the British political class… of waging régime change wars across the Middle East. However, it’s essential to understand that these wars have exacerbated the problem of Jihadi terrorism because they don’t target it, but rather the Arab governments such as those in Iraq, Syria, and Libya that fight it.

Afghanistan is no different. The war in Afghanistan isn’t against al-Qaeda… the Jihadi terrorist group which the USA said carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks… but against the Taliban, an entirely different group, which though Salafi in ideology, never sought to wage a terrorist Jihad against the West before 2001, or has done so since. Suffice to say, the USA identified none of the 9/11 hijackers as an Afghan. I’d add that prior to the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, some Taliban leaders and the Muslim clergy in Afghanistan pressed Mullah Mohammed Omar… the Taliban’s erstwhile leader… to expel Osama bin Laden and his followers from Afghanistan; in fact, there was a proposal to hand him over in return for international recognition of the Taliban’s government and on condition that his trial would be in an Islamic court.

I always believed that, with care and patience, a diplomatic solution that might’ve resulted in Osama bin Laden’s arrest and trial was possible, whilst the Taliban’s two international supporters… Pakistan and Saudi Arabia… lobbied hard for such an outcome. Needless to say, had that ever happened, the history of the following decades would’ve been completely different. In the event, the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, whether intentional or not, meant that this never happened, leading to the disastrous “War on Terror” Corbyn spoke about today. Putting all this aside, Corbyn’s speech showed him ready to challenge Britain’s failed foreign policy orthodoxy, in ways that no other mainstream British politician seems able to do. Of course, he’s done it for years, ever since the so-called “War on Terror” began.

However, foreign policy is only one area where Corbyn cut a more impressive figure during the election than May did. Not only did Corbyn campaign and interact with the media and the public in a genuine way… in contrast to May’s controlled and ritualistic meetings and her stilted language of clichés… but he’s also produced a manifesto that, although left-wing, is coherent and close to voters’ concerns. By contrast, May’s manifesto looks cobbled together, mating contradictory messages of One Nation Toryism with Thatcherite Free Market policies. Unsurprisingly, May has already made an embarrassing U-turn, dropping a manifesto commitment that would’ve introduced costs for the elderly, something that (to my knowledge) never happened in a British general election before.

All this partly reflects a truth about Corbyn… he’s a far more serious and experienced politician than the British political class and news media care to admit. However, it also reflects an important truth about May. Quite simply, she isn’t the strong and decisive leader her supporters in the Conservative Party and the media repeatedly say. On the contrary, what the election campaign did is expose once more her indecision and insecurity, and her lack of ideas. By way of example, May never provided a truly convincing explanation of why she called the election in the first place, despite previously repeatedly ruling the option out. The best she came up with is that she needs a strong mandate from the British people to negotiate a good Brexit deal. That might have been convincing if May had a Brexit negotiating policy to put to the British people for them to support. However… as I’ve repeatedly pointed out… in reality, she has none. The result is that she’s unable to keep the election focused on the issue, allowing Corbyn to move the debate onto ground closer to his own.

The reality, of course, is that May called the election not because she wanted a mandate to negotiate a good Brexit deal, but because she thought she’d win it. That’s a perfectly good and valid reason for a British Prime Minister to call an election. A genuinely strong Prime Minister… Thatcher, for instance… wouldn’t have hesitated to say it and would’ve laughed off criticism of it, saying she had a right to change her mind. May would’ve saved herself a great deal of trouble and would’ve looked a lot more convincing had she said it. However, as long been obvious, she’s temperamentally incapable of saying it.

As it is, I still expect Theresa May to win. Although the latest opinion poll shows her once-stratospheric lead collapsing to 5 percent with two weeks of the election campaign still to go (Conservative 43 percent, Labour 38 percent). I suspect that some British voters presently drawn to Corbyn will switch back to May as polling day approaches rather than face the actual prospect of a Corbyn government, for which I don’t think Britain is ready. There’s simply no precedent in Britain for an electoral upset on the scale that a Corbyn victory would require, and I can’t believe in the end it’ll happen. My guess is that as polling day approaches, the Conservative lead will start to widen again. However, if I were wrong, then, whilst the credit for such a truly astonishing turnaround would have to go to Corbyn, the major cause would be the failure of May to explain convincingly to the British people what point there is in her being Prime Minister.

26 May 2017

Alexander Mercouris

The Duran

http://theduran.com/corbyn-outsines-theresa-may-general-election/

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Guess Which Country is the Undisputed Champion in Election Meddling?

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With the entire “Russia interfered in US democracy” story collapsing, Jimmy Dore reminded us which country is the undisputed champion in election meddling. The Carnegie Mellon University study does NOT even include coups and attempts at régime change. The study just counts when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. Imagine the results if we added coups, régime change operations, invasions, sanctions, and bombings to the final tally. Here’s a transcript of an NPR interview on the matter:

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This is hardly the first time a country tried to influence the outcome of another country’s election. By one expert’s count, the USA did it, too, more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. That expert is Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. I asked him to tell me about one election where US intervention likely affected the outcome.

DOV LEVIN:

One example of that was our intervention in Serbia (then, Yugoslavia), in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milošević was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power due to his tendency to disrupt the Balkans and his human rights violations (sic). Therefore, we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Koštunica. Moreover, we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. In addition, according to my estimate, that assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win.

SHAPIRO:

How often are these interventions public versus covert?

LEVIN:

Basically, about one-third of them are public and two-thirds of them are covert. In other words, the voters in the target don’t know before the election.

SHAPIRO: 

Your count doesn’t include coups or attempts at régime change. Depending on the definitions, it sounds like the tally could actually be much higher.

LEVIN:

You’re right. I didn’t count and discounted covert coup d’états like the USA did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. I only counted when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. I didn’t discuss other types of interventions. However, if we include those, then, of course, the number could be larger.

SHAPIRO:

For example, how often do other countries like Russia try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the USA?

LEVIN:

Well, for my dataset, the USA is the most common user of this technique. Since 1945, Russia or the USSR used it half as much. My estimate is 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know that the Chinese used this technique; the Venezuelans used it when the late Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was in power, and other countries used it, too.

SHAPIRO:

Arguably, the USA is more vocal than any other country about promoting democracy and democratic values around the world. Does this strike you as conflicting with that message?

LEVIN:

It depends upon if we help the pro-democratic side (sic), as in the case of Milošević that I talked about earlier. I believe that’d be helpful for democracy. If it helps less-nicer candidates or parties, then, naturally, it can be less helpful.

SHAPIRO:

Obviously, your examination of 20th-century attempts to influence elections doesn’t involve hacking because computers weren’t widespread until recently.

LEVIN:

That’s true.

SHAPIRO:

In your view, is technology dramatically changing the game… as we saw in the November election? On the other hand, is this just the latest evolution of an effort that always used whatever tools are available?

LEVIN:

I’d say it’s more the latter. Before, without cyber-hacking tools, I’d say that the Russians or the Soviets infrequently did these types of intervention because one had to use old-style methods such as people meeting in the park in secret giving out and getting information and things like that.

23 April 2017

Alex Christoforou

The Duran

http://theduran.com/guess-which-country-is-the-undisputed-champion-in-election-meddling/

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Trump is a “Fraud” and an Authoritarian: Bernie Sanders

00 Bernie Sanders on buying elections 220815

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Editor:

The Hillybillies are running about and claiming that Russia and Trump are having a lovefeast. Nothing is further from the truth… most media outlets are sceptical of Herr Trump and most government officials are at best cautious (they know how untruthful Anglo Americans are in general and how deceitful Trump is in particular… note well that Trump hasn’t ended aid to the terrorists in Syria or to the illegitimate American-installed Uniate junta in the Ukraine). The Russian media is doing a better job than the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, and Radio Liberty… the American media has degenerated into a cheerleader for Neoliberalism, Wall Street, and Perpetual Warfare. God do preserve us.

BMD

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US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told CNN’s State of the Union:

This guy is a fraud. This guy ran for President of the United States saying, “I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street… these guys are getting away with murder”. Then, suddenly, he appoints all these billionaires. He told us… in fact, it’s in the Republican platform… he’s going to bring back Glass-Steagall, we’re going to be dividing up commercial banks from investment banks to insurance companies. Then, he has all of the big Wall Street guys on his side, and now he’s working for Wall Street.

The Glass-Steagall Act, repealed under Bill Clinton, separated commercial and investment banks. Gary Cohn, who heads Trump’s National Economic Council, was a Goldman Sachs executive; his pick for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, also comes from the multinational financial group that took billions from the US government in its 2008 bailout of “too big to fail” banks. On 3 February, Trump signed an order asking federal regulators to come back to him in 120 days with suggestions on how to change US legislation to allow more money to flow to businesses; Sanders predicted:

Trump would dismantle legislation that protects consumers. I think he’s going to sell out the middle class and the working class of this country.

Trump ran as the only Republican promising not to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, US public assistance programs, but Sanders said:

The makeup of his advisers suggests he’ll do exactly that. He had voters fooled. He’s a good showman, I’ll give you that… he’s a good TV guy.

Sanders, the Democratic primary rival of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, ran a campaign focused on economic inequality in the USA and on challenging corporate power. Sanders noted:

Trump pretended he’d do that, too. You have a president who, I think, in a totally fraudulent campaign said, “I’m going to stand up for the working people”. Look at his Cabinet… we’ve never had more billionaires in a Cabinet in the history of this country. Look at his appointees. These are people who are going to go after the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. That’s called hypocrisy.

Citing the president’s habit of tarring all media as “fake news,” and of consistently putting himself and his opinions as the final authority, Sanders predicted that mainstream conservatives would soon find themselves in a very difficult position and hoped they’d stand up to Trump’s authoritarianism, saying:

We aren’t another Trump enterprise. It’s called the United States of America. We’re not a business run by Mr Trump.

6 February 2017

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/us/201702061050378298-sanders-trump-fraud-authoritarian/

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