Political Journalism – Is Fact an essential ingredient?

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I thought so, till i read Sarah Ditum’s article.

Yesterday, one of my good friends forwarded an article by Sarah Ditum in New Statesman, titled “Corbyn’s supporters loved his principles. But he ditched them in the EU campaign”.

As you might have guessed from the title, the article vainly and pathetically tries to establish how Corbyn deceived his supporters, due to his stand to stay with Remain.

First of all, I admire the author’s psychic powers in knowing how Corbyn and his supporters think!  Sarah Ditum “knows” without doubt that Corbyn “never supported Remain” and “Corbyn’s greatest supporters don’t rate him as a statesman”.

These are the abilities – ability to read other’s mind and ability to write sweeping statements which generalize and stereotype common public – that alienate a journalist from facts and their readers.

Authoring “Corbyn must go” and calling him liar are not characteristics of a journalist; instead they are the words of a politically-biased person, who is frustrated and bewildered by Corbyn’s increasing popularity – within Labour and in the country.

I support Labour.

I support Corbyn as Labour’s leader for his stands and principles.

I voted for Leave.

All of above might look contradictory to Sarah Ditum; but not for me.

Why?  There are a two main reasons:

  1. EU referendum was not debated and voted based on party or political affiliations.  Instead there were deep divisions within all parties (bar UKIP, of course) between LEAVE and REMAIN supporters.  Just like Tories, Labour supporters too were divided.
  1. As mentioned by Corbyn in his speech, “Labour party was overwhelmingly for staying IN” and as the leader of his party which believes in democracy, Corbyn stood with majority to support REMAIN. At the same time, a large number of Labour party members were equally convinced that a LEAVE vote was the right choice and went ahead with their Labour for Leave    The Labour Leave were not victimised or thrown out of the party.  Instead, they were respected for their stand.  Why? Refer #1

Does the EU referendum result force Cobyn to resign?  No.  Why?  Refer #1.

Does the EU referendum result, by any chance, a no-confidence in Corbyn as leader?  Emphatically no.  Why?  Refer #2.

If any, Corbyn’s stand to campaign for REMAIN gives more credibility to him as a leader, as he decided to stay with the majority decision within the party – even if that decision is against his will.  Be very clear, I do not have the same psychic powers of Sarah Ditum to say with absolute conviction that Corbyn in his heart and mind “never supported Remain”.  Merely agreeing, just to put forward my point.

Read this along with Corbyn’s apology on Labour’s role in Iraq war.  This is just one example for the true characteristics of a leader who while tirelessly fought against an unjust war in past, in present is apologizing for someone else’s wrong-doings.

The growth in Labour membership after Corbyn’s leadership is another indication how popular Corbyn and his ideologies are.  If I am correct, no other political leader can claim this popularity in UK’s modern political history.  Labour’s membership now stands at 500,000.  That is 100,000 more members after referendum results.  These quantifiable figures are just enough to show the hollowness of Sarah Ditum’s core argument.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not a Corbyn worshiper.  For me, Corbyn is not a demi-god, but someone who represents the wishes, demands, vision, will and political stance of Labour grass-roots.

I admire the audacity of Sarah Ditum that allows to pen statements like “Corbyn supporters should know this: he has failed you, and will continue to fail you as long as he is party leader.”

Thank you very much for the advice! But no thank you, the party has a way to find out who its leader should be, and the party voted for Corbyn as Leader with 60% support, only 10+ months ago.

Ditum continue to write that Corbyn “will achieve nothing beyond grinding Labour ever further into smallness and irrelevance”.   You do not need to be a journalist; any person who is interested in UK’s daily political news can clearly see who is grinding Labour into irrelevance by going against the grass roots.  At a time when the party should be working together to campaign against Tory austerities and the shallowness of current government, it is shameful that some of the Labour MPs are trying to sabotage the party’s will for their selfishness.

Let me repeat:

The “ability” to read other’s minds and to write sweeping statements which generalise and stereotype common public alienates a journalist from facts and their readers. 

Authoring “Corbyn must go” and calling him liar are not characteristics of a journalist; instead they are the words of a politically-biased person, who is frustrated and bewildered by Corbyn’s increasing popularity – within Labour and in the country.

 

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Is “Two-leader” formula a better alternative to Labour’s future?

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Is “Two-leader” formula a better alternative to Labour’s future?

Before proceeding, I want to mention that:

  • Per me, the best possible resolution for current dilemma is: Eagle to step back and let Corbyn – who was democratically elected by more than 60% of the membership – to continue leading the party
  • I no way claim I know the intricacies of party policies, rule-books and inner-party activities.  Instead, this is a novice attempt of a Labour supporter, who just want the party to come out of current deep divisions and focus more on what the grass-roots want and aspire for.
  • In this post, I am just thinking aloud and playing around with the possibilities
  • By no means has this “Two-Leader” formula perfectly answered all open issues.
  • It needs to be ironed-out on how to approach government discussions / decisions on sensitive / security / foreign affairs

With those caveats in place, let me try to explain further!

By Two leaders, I mean

  1. Leader of the Labour Party, who is
    • Democratically elected by Labour members
    • Leads NEC
    • Governs day-to-day Labour Party activities
  2. Leader of the PLP, who is
    • Elected by the PLP members
    • Should be member of the NEC
    • Governs day-to-day PLP activities, but limited to PLP.

Some key points that support above formula are:

  • NEC is the ultimate authority within the party.
  • PLP is a subset of party, not over the party.  Think of PLP as an “elite branch” working within Westminster.
  • PLP leader is free from day-to-day party activities, though PLP decisions (with possible exclusions of sensitive items, I mean military, security etc.)  are discussed / endorsed with NEC
  • Party Leader is free from day-to-day government activities, though PLP decisions are still discussed within NEC.

Will try to extend this further, but what is your opinion on it, in its current form?

Let me know your thoughts!

Iraq War, Chilcot Inquiry … and Clare Short

Sir Chilcot has officially released his findings on Iraq war Inquiry along with recommendations on how a similar situation could be better handled in future.

Full report available at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/

Some of the main findings to quote BBC as follows:

Chilcot_Main_Findings

It took Sir Chilcot more than

  • 7 years
  • 10 million pounds
  • 12 volumes and
  • 2.6 million words

to confirm what Clare Short gave as her reasons to resign from Bliar’s Government.

It’s an irony that the person who manipulated the parliament was appointed as the Middle East Peace envoy.

It’s criminal that even after 13 years of Iraq war, 250+ innocent Iraqi citizens died in Baghdad this Sunday.

What peace has been achieved by the Iraq war and the Peace Envoy?

Should the responsible person(s) come out of these offences lightly?

It appears the 12 volumes of 2.3 million words do not contain answer for these queries.

What is your opinion?

 

 

 

 

Is PLP Larger than Labour?

Jeremy Corbyn

It’s a shame what is happening within Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Not only it is shameless, but undemocratic, unrealistic and visibly out of touch of grass-root Labour too.

From when has it become more important for the Labour MPs to be in Parliament than working with its members?

From when has an MP seat become more important than inner-party democracy?

For the Labour MPs who are so disconnected from the party roots and common public, there is only one solution for all issues:  Corbyn’s resignation.

These MPs should remember one thing – Corbyn was elected as the leader of the party by a very large mandate – by a mandate not seen in the recent history of Labour.

A leadership contest is not in question at all, at this point in time.

There were no issues that have raised questions on Corbyn’s leadership in last weeks.  BREXIT vote should not be treated as a no-confidence on Corbyn.  BREXIT was debated and chosen by people from all wakes of lives.  Each political party had vicious conflicts and deep divisions within their own ranks.  Hence blaming Corbyn for a Leave vote by the country is not justifiable.

I take my own example.

I voted to leave EU.  That said, I am aligned with what Corbyn is standing for, for Labour party.

A LEAVE vote was the need of the times, and the country agreed on it.  While I and many others respectfully disagreed with Labour’s official stand on EU referendum and voted for leave, it was not a no-confidence on Corbyn.

Labour had wasted the opportunity to support BREXIT.  Now it should start the damage control as quickly as possible; otherwise vast majority of the working class will sleepwalk in to support racism and nationality- based violence.  Instead of blaming Tories and their austerity measures which generated current plights, working class of this country will blame their comrades from other countries.

Events at NewCastle, Romsford and East London are indications to a dangerous future.  A very dangerous future, where racism and nationalism will brainwash people in to thinking that it is colour of skin that cause their current troubles.

This is the ugliest divide and rule, carefully crafted to divide the working class based on the race and nationality and make them fight with each other.

Labour should not let this happen.

Coming back to PLP and its disgraceful stance.

MP’s do not choose the leader of the Labour Party; instead, the party does.

MPs are first Party members, and then MPs.

If there is a need for change in Labour leadership, it should come up from within party.  Parliament is not a place to play dirty politics.

If the PLP decides to go ahead with their own, selfish, seat-saving tactics, that seat will be safe only till next general election – which is bound to happen in coming months.

Corbyn is not just a person, but a representation of the left ideologies that is prominent in the Labour party.

BREXIT made it clear that the traditional Labour heartlands are not happy with the elite Labour MPs who are miles away from what the common public is looking for. At this juncture, a seat-greedy leader is only going to handover the party membership directly to Nigel Faragae’s UKIP or BNP on English Defence League.

Only a Labour leader who stands firmly on left of Labour politics could:

  • Pacify and keep the Labour members firmly within the party.
  • Unite the BREXIT-voted ordinary worker – and general public – who are fed up with the current capitalistic ideas unashamedly carried out by the Tories.

At this critical juncture of EU-vote-shocked country, Corbyn is the only leader who could unite Labour Party.

Next steps:

  1. Fight against the unnecessary leadership contest that is being forced up on Labour members
  2. Accept the deviation party had to go through during Blair/Brown era.  Present an alternate path
  3. Stand together with Corbyn to unite the Labour party.

All of above will ensure a better prospect for Labour in next election – not a leadership contest.

If a leadership contest is brought on Labour, full consequences of the same will be on the PLP.  It is very clear that Corbyn will win with even more mandate than last time.  The time lost on this futile exercise will only alienate or delay Labour’s re-connect with its disgruntled membership.  Period.

BREXIT – What Next?

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We are in a shock, even at end of the weekend.

I will say a good, pleasant shock.

Shock from realizing the fact that it is possible to be strong to stand for what we believe in.

Strong enough to say no to establishment, no to the disconnected politicians, no to banks and economic institutions, no to the world politicians who want to impose their selfish decisions on us.

Against all these massive, imposing establishments we strongly replied with a “No, thank you”.

We, as a country, have spoken to stay away from EU.  The verdict is in.  Let us respect the verdict and move ahead.

The question is how?  How should we move ahead?  What are the immediate steps?

I could think of the following:

1. Heal the wounds

First of all, heal the self-inflicted wounds.  The referendum was not less than a fierce war.  Cabinet members against each other, party members against each other, friends against each other; people in all wakes of lives trading verbal – and even physical – blows against each other.  In hindsight, the referendum war could’ve been fought with much less animosity and hatred from both sides.

It is now time to remove the hate and anger against each other.  It is time to realise that democracy has spoken and we are in this together to move forward.

2. Give time for reactions to calm down

Currently, the fear, doubt, anger and frustration of all who stood against the Leave vote are in full play.  These emotions results in the reactive, negative responses.

Whether it is

  • rest of the world (market / pound crashes, negative ratings),
  • the Remain supporters (fear, resignations, unbelief, sarcasm)
  • European Leads (demands for quick action),
  • Countries participating in the UK (Scottish/Irish referendum asks to get out of UK) or even

Let us give them time to express their emotions and fears.  After the initial reactions, the emotions will calm down.  Once done, the brains and minds will regain control.  Once in control, logic will eventually kick-in.  The logic will shed light to facts on what UK is, and how much is in stake for all involved.

3. Give ample time to think what we want and how best we could achieve it. 

Ignore the warnings, threats and demands from the EU leaders on quick actions.  Heck, it is this arrogance and aggressive behavior we voted to come out of!  Are they trying to scare us with the same trick again?!

The Remain / Leave referendum was an internal affair to find out what we think as a country.  We have not yet given any formal information or notice to the “EU-elites”! Per books, UK is still where we were before 23rd June.

So take this period to think – all possibilities, circumstances and ways forward.

4.  Change the Government, cabinet and thus it’s through process.

The current lot stood too strongly for Remain and they are defeated.  It is not logical, fair or viable to expect that the group who were dead against an action will work towards fulfilling the same – against their wills.

At the very least, there should be a leadership change.  David Cameron, his Exchequer and the EU-supporting cabinet members SHOULD step aside.  Even better will be a general election, through which the public can elect a new lot to kick-start the next actions.

5.  Once all of above are in place, it is time to take each debated item, one by one.  

Once we are ready, it is time to take each debated item, one by one:

(a) Immigration: Debate, discuss and put in place a comprehensive immigration policy that is global based, controlled based on requirements and skills, at the same time compassionate on asylum seeks from war-torn countries and others with humanitarian requirements.

(b) Re-allocation of EU contributions to

  • NHS
  • Farmers / Fisheries
  • Education / science / research
  • Businesses  and industries that need support

I am not an expert.  It is the job for economists to explain how this can be achieved.

But I am sure of one thing.  If EU were able take money from us and give a fraction of it as giveback and satisfy above group of our fellow country-men, then we could surely be able to use the whole contribution to make their lives even better.

(c)  Co-operation with rest of the world – including EU

(d)  TU working rules, facilities and benefits

(e)  Industries, businesses and economic institutions.

I have a lot to write on each of these items!  On that in coming days/weeks.

6.  Invoke Article 50

Once we are ready, then – AND THEN ONLY – invoke article 50.

Per me, these are the immediate next steps to convert the SHOCK to STRENGTH.

There is nothing to lose, but a lot to gain, if we are TOGETHER.

We can successfully accomplish what we voted for, if we stand TOGETHER.

We can see the UK getting stronger, powerful in not very distant future – if we work for it, TOGETHER.

 

EU vote: #2 Working Hours

Not getting much time to read on EU referendum topics, and hence not in a position to do justice on the subject.

A quick update on working hours for the day.

Working hours

From what I understood, it seems that on working hours policy there is not much difference between the UK and Europe, though just on one point, paid annual leave, UK offers a better deal for the workers.  Refer the table for more details.

The working hour rules in UK were obtained independent of EU.   That said, in a EU-free UK – controlled by Tories – it is easy for them to do a Thatcher’s re-enactment of oppression on trade unions and working rights.  Cameron and Jeremy Hunt are already attempting the same on Junior doctor’s ask for decent working hours and corresponding pay.

The advantage of better paid annual leave could be protected only under a stronger presence of Trade Union in the country.

Only from the additional days of paid annual leaves, exiting out of EU seems a better option.

Let us say it’s now 1-1.

EU vote: #1 UK contribution to EU and NHS

UK_Contribution_to_EU

I am yet to make up my mind on how to vote on 23rd June.

While the heart says a “No” vote will be good for Britain’s long term future, brain points to the uncertainty involved, at least in the short-term.

Over the next coming weeks, the plan is to go through the pros and cons of each topic and reach a decision; my personal decision on how to vote.

OK then; the first item in the list is from “Vote Leave” to vote out and re-allocate UK’s EU contribution to NHS.

I think this is just an eye wash argument of Vote Leave campaign.

After a quick look, it is easy to vote in support of EU, based only on this topic.

Why?

Look at the facts on the table:

  • Per BBC, UK’s net contribution (after removing what UK gets back) is approx. £8.39 billion per year.
  • Per NHS website, “for 2015/16, the overall NHS budget was around £116.4 billion. NHS England is managing £101.3 billion of this.”

I agree £8.4b is a lot of money; that’s approx. 9% boost to NHS, if the entire amount is re-allocated (which, will not happen) to NHS.  it could solve a number of current open issues.  Improve front-line services, decrease waiting times, employ more doctors/nurses instead of forcing junior doctors to work long hours; list is endless.

I also agree NHS is close to Britain’s heart and conscience.

That said, even if we re-allocate the entire UK contribution to NHS, it is only a fraction of NHS budget.  Comparing this with the benefits UK receives as investment in UK Research and Developments, I think it is safer to say that being in Europe appears to be have more benefits than a monitory boost to NHS.

So, after the first discussion, it is 1-0 in favour of EU.

What is your opinion?

Pinnacle of Privatisation?!

The best joke I read today is from the BBC:

Downing Street said the issue of whether the Cameron family still had funds in offshore investments was a “private matter”.

Of course it is!

It’s only the money of Prime Minister’s family!  why should the public have an interest in the same?

Should running the country too, ideally, be a “private matter”?  Is this the pinnacle of privatisation?!

On a serious note, BBC says “More than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians are also implicated.  Also mentioned are the brother-in-law of China‘s President Xi Jinping; Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; Argentina President Mauricio Macri; the late father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and three of the four children of Pakistan‘s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.  The files also reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russia‘s President, Vladimir Putin.”

“The documents show that Iceland‘s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, had an undeclared interest linked to his wife’s wealth. He is now facing calls for his resignation.”

Does this news mean anything to UK Government and Cameron in particular?  May be, not.

While there could be nothing illegal in using offshore companies, more details should emerge to clarify – followed by further activities to reform – the operations of tax havens.

More details should come out.  While the Prime Minister is not named in the leaks himself, this should definitely not be a “private  matter”.  At least “private matter” is not how UK politics is projected to rest of the world.

What is your opinion?

 

 

 

Resgination? or a re-unite with lost conscience?

The major UK political news this weekend was that of the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith from the position of Work and Pensions Secretary. I caught up with The Andrew Marr Show only this evening; it was amusing to see the frustration in face and words of IDS.

No doubt this was a “puzzling” and “disappointing” weekend for the Prime Minister and his Chancellor. Even a hard-core Tory like IDS have realised that this Government, in its desperate search for savings, is marginalising people who are sick and vulnerable.  On one hand, the agents of elite filthy rich heading this Government are cutting tax for the better-off, while on other hand, they are cutting benefits for the disabled people, branding them as people who “don’t vote for us”.

Resigned IDS is no saint. It was he who proposed and voted towards slashing £30 per week from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), along with a number of other high-profile Tories.  It backfired so much, so that MP Kit Malthouse had to resign as patron of Multiple Sclerosis Society; it’s members accused him of not being an “effective patron”, seeing his voting position.

That IDS too has found this budget to be totally unfair and immoral. While it is nice to see that IDS has suddenly re-found his lost conscience, it is high time Cameron and his Chancellor take a pause and analyse how their policies and positions are not only dividing this nation and its people but also their own party, its leaders and supporters.