Newspaper hack and talking head Stephen Pollard is determined to prevent a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. Some observers have been puzzled by the relentlessness and ferocity of Pollard’s chosen stance toward Corbyn. Are there valid reasons for the deliberate tone and intent of the attack?
Corbyn and his front bench colleagues’ views are well-known. If in government, their probable policies on NHS, wages, tax, welfare, privatisation, housing, defence, education, etc. can be predicted with confidence. On such issues, and others, how much does Pollard’s political stance differ from that of the Labour leadership?
Pollard’s views can be seen easily from the many pieces he has written for various newspapers over several years.
All italicized quotes below are the words of Pollard.
In Pollard on NHS Pollard expressed his glee that patients could be increasingly forced to provide extra payments for vital treatment. Written ten years ahead of the NHS’s 70th birthday (this year) Pollard stated enthusiastically “the introduction of co-payment will lead, inevitably, to a blurring of that divide, as there will be no reason in principle why patients will not be able to top up the care they receive from the health service. By the time of its 70th birthday, the NHS will not look remotely as it does as it celebrates its 60th.”
In 2004 Pollard co-wrote a pamphlet for right-wing think-tank Centre for New Europe that tried to paint the NHS as a NAZI-style project. On Beveridge’s plans for the NHS, devised during the second world war, the pamphlet stated “significantly, after the second world war, two papers marked ‘secret’ and providing a detailed commentary on Beveridge’s plan were found in Hitler’s bunker. One ordered that publicity should be avoided but, if mentioned, the report should be used as ‘obvious proof that our enemies are taking over our national-socialist ideas.’ The other provided an official assessment of the plans as ‘no botch up’ and ‘a consistent system of remarkable simplicity, superior to the current German social insurance in almost all its points.’ “
In Pollard on Unions Pollard launched an angry rant against the power of unions to protect workers’ jobs and money. “It’s easy to think that these [rail] strikes are based on nothing more than greed, bloody-mindedness and union bosses’ desire to throw their weight around and show they’re powers in the land. It’s easy to think that – because that’s exactly how it is.”
Yes, union power and strength is vital. Pollard doesn’t like that power and he expressed his gleeful support for further undemocratic attacks on workers by the (Cameron-led) Tory government. “Yes, they can throw their weight around and cause chaos. But with a Government committed to restoring sanity, that can only last for so long. In the 1980s, Baroness Thatcher changed the law to neuter another bunch of militants and hand unions back to their members. Now David Cameron and Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, are going to deal with the latest bunch of militants.”
Pollard displayed full unconditional support for employers to be free to exploit employees without effective organised resistance led by unions. He criticised the relationship between the Labour party and unions, conveniently forgetting that the Labour party was created by trades’ unions.
Interestingly, in the above 2015 article, Pollard claimed “Mr Corbyn, of course, is unelectable.” If he still thought that now, Pollard wouldn’t be spending so much energy criticising Corbyn.
In more Pollard on unions Pollard said “rail unions RMT and Aslef are calling strike after strike over entirely spurious ‘safety’ issues.” Unions, staff and passengers have proven repeatedly that safety concerns are valid. Pollard’s dismissal of them exposed his political stance bereft of objective analysis.
The rail system is owned by gangs of charlatans and thieves. Tax-payers, passengers and employees are fleeced continuously. The rail unions are trying to fight back against the gangsterism as much as they can, but Pollard pretended to see only unions playing games. “In reality they [unions] are striking for the sake of striking. All three of the unions involved in these two disputes – CWU, Aslef and RMT – take the public for idiots. Because when you strip away their ludicrous explanations, this is what it’s really all about.”
In the same article Pollard dismissed the CWU’s concerns about the future of the postal service. “There is no threat to the Post Office,” he proclaimed before expressing his delight with some selected statistics. Two points jumped out from Pollard’s analysis: 1) He was delighted that the service has been reduced, and 2) he had no understanding, or claimed to have none, of what a public service is supposed to be. “You really don’t need me to tell you that it’s good news that the Post Office is no longer a basket case propped up by the taxpayer.” Pollard’s figures on the postal service failed to include all the buildings and infrastructure that were stolen by the privateers.
Pollard returned to the rail network with an attack on Aslef. “Not one employee will lose his or her job over Southern Rail’s plan to introduce driver only operated (DOO) trains,” he said randomly. “Aslef says, in desperation to find a cause to justify its strikes, that DOO trains are unsafe.” People being attacked or falling ill on trains without guards are not a problem for Pollard.
“This [strike action] is what the hard Left do. Playing political games with the public services on which we all depend is the core of their ideology. And they’re not alone. Guess which politician is backing them? Yes – you guessed right. Guest speaker at last week’s Aslef Christmas dinner was Jeremy Corbyn.”
Pollard’s closing comments in the above article revealed his economically hard-right political stance very clearly and demonstrated without doubt why he vehemently opposes the politics of Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues:
“So what do we do about this madness? As so often, the answer is provided by Ronald Reagan. In 1981 President Reagan sacked 11,000 striking air traffic controllers when they refused to return to work. At a stroke it destroyed the union wreckers, showing they would no longer be able to get away with it. We now need equivalent action. That will almost certainly mean legislation barring strikes in essential public services – and then sacking those employees who refuse to work. As a first move, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling should strip Southern Rail of its franchise and replace it with an operator who will face down the unions. The time has come to put the union militants in their place.”
In Pollard on welfare Pollard attacked the centrist Fabian Society for daring to suggest that vicious Tory cuts have caused child poverty to rise. Summoning the verbal dexterity of Donald Trump, Pollard said “let’s be clear about this. Even if every figure in this report [by Fabian Society] is true and every calculation flawless, it’s rubbish.”
As DWP minister and via his Centre For Social Justice, Iain Duncan-Smith orchestrated Social Murder with his vicious cuts to a variety of benefits. The cuts purposefully caused homelessness, destitution and death, with the greatest effects suffered by people with disabilities. However, Pollard said “to those on the Left, Iain Duncan Smith is a bogeyman.”
“He [IDS] is portrayed as some kind of lunatic Right-winger who enjoys nothing more than stamping on the poor. But the caricature, along with the premise of yesterday’s Fabian report, says far more about those who make the attacks than they do about IDS.” What the “attacks” on IDS say is that his critics have qualities he lacks: Humanity, generosity and a sense of society.
Pollard continued with the deceptive analysis favoured by the economically hard-right. This included the familiar false claims that many people prefer to be on benefits and that enough available jobs is insufficient to reduce unemployment. He noted that the number of people claiming benefit had reduced but failed to mention that many were in zero-hours jobs or sub-minimum wage jobs or had simply been sanctioned to starvation.
His disgusting analysis included all the usual vindictive and fraudulent presentations of arguments about unemployment that are popular with hard-right think-tanks and their puppet politicians including “dependency culture,” “cycle of dependency” and “it’s no longer an attractive or even feasible option to opt for a life on benefits.”
In Pollard on child benefit Pollard emphasised his contempt for people receiving benefits and reused the directional language mentioned above.
“Welfare has become, for many, not a helping hand in times of need – the help in need that almost everyone agrees we should offer to the vulnerable and those in temporary difficulties – but an alternative way of life. Welfare is thought of as an entitlement, so that those who choose not to work to support themselves can rely on the rest of us to pay their way. And that is not just financially reckless; it is morally reckless, promoting an entirely new and warped model for society itself.”
Pollard’s bigotry and dishonesty shone in a diatribe against child benefit. Child benefit, and its predecessor Family Allowance, has existed for decades. It is not a new benefit. Also, high earners benefit hugely from procreation via income tax cuts. But, Pollard choose to ignore those facts.
“We tell parents that the rest of us will simply hand over our hard-earned income to them every time they choose to have children. Now it’s certainly not for the state, or anyone else, to tell us how many children we should have. I have two, but it’s a matter for me and my wife if we want to have any more. But just as no one has the right to tell me how big my family can be, I equally don’t have the right to expect the rest of society to hand over cash to me if I decide to have more children. And that is doubly true if I am not even working, and am already living on benefits at the expense of the rest of society.”
Clearly, Pollard has no concept of society, or of humanity. “Capping child benefit is a modest change, that will save money and change behaviour,” he concluded. The change in behaviour that Pollard spoke of appears to be social eugenics.
Kissing Murdoch’s backside
Stephen Pollard is a big fan of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. In Pollard on Murdoch he said “the real Murdoch is a man who has done more to democratise news, sport and leisure than any of his opponents.” “Democratise?” That’s an odd way to describe something that is a product (Sky TV channels) that is bought.
He praised the two cheeks of the same ordure-packed backside, The Times and The Sun: “The Times, which Murdoch has for many years not merely propped up but lavished with care. And, yes, the Sun —sneeringly dismissed by bien pensants but a newspaper of genius in the way it presents stories with flair and accuracy.” “Accuracy?” Ask the families of the ninety-six victims of Hillsborough about The Sun’s “accuracy.”
Pollard’s hatred of trades’ unions’ ability to protect workers’ jobs and rights was displayed again: “It is ironic that one of the causes of the hatred for Murdoch is his role in breaking the print unions in the Wapping dispute. But their corrupt and damaging grip on Fleet Street had to be broken if newspapers were to have a future.”
Arms industry profits
Pollard backed Donald Trump’s assertion that some NATO members do not donate enough tax payers’ money to the arms industry. In Pollard on NATO he claimed to fear an imminent Russian military attack on a NATO member. He tried to justify his fear by mentioning the Novichok attack in Salisbury, which was aimed at British spy Sergei Skrypal, and he described the “annexation” of Crimea as “brutal.” It was the most non-brutal “annexation” in the history of the world.
Pollard’s brief historical analysis of the “cold war” and beyond was laughably stupid. “The Nato concept of an attack on one member being treated as an attack on every member was pivotal in keeping the Soviets at bay.” Firstly, a “Soviet” is a governing assembly not a person; secondly, the USSR invaded many countries between the dates of NATO’s creation and the demise of itself, and the members of NATO invaded many countries during that time. The exclusivity of NATO membership has always negated any claims it has had to being a force for good.
“Our feeble response to the invasion of Ukraine sent a bad enough message to Putin.” The conflict in Ukraine began due to interference from NATO members who encouraged a non-democratic change of government, which has led to a Ukrainian government full of far-right extremists.
Pollard had a particularly uninformed perspective on Eastern Europe: “Russia still smarts from the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and believes those countries that turned to freedom, such as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are naturally part of the Russian sphere of influence.” The Warsaw Pact’s relationship was with the USSR, not Russia. The countries Pollard named have no desire to be in a “Russian sphere of influence.” Like Sarah Palin and her Russian air force jets seen from Alaska, Pollard has confused geographical proximity with political interaction and listed some countries that he saw on a map close to Russia.
The depiction of Russian troops on the verge of driving across Europe and rocking up in Kent was a daft idea during the “cold war” and even dafter afterward, and was a very clumsy method to try to justify more taxes being handed to arms manufacturers.
Bad Bootle Meff
Pollard’s expertise in political prediction was glowing in his assessment of the electoral prospects of UKIP when Paul Nuttall was appointed leader in 2016. In Pollard on Meff he gushed that “the announcement of Ukip’s new leader could turn British politics on its head in ways that will make even that mad fortnight after the referendum look positively dull. The real threat Ukip poses is to Labour. If Paul Nuttall plays his cards right – and the evidence of his campaign is that he knows exactly what to do – Ukip could be the final nail in Labour’s coffin.”
He justified his theory by insulting working-class people who Pollard believes would be easily led by UKIP’s dishonest rhetoric and by its xenophobic rabble-rousing. (To be fair to Pollard, many centrists in the media made the same stupid predictions about Nuttall.)
Pollard took his analysis of what he claimed was Labour’s demise further from reality.
Fidel Castro was mentioned: “Nothing better illustrates the parallel universe in which they live than the reaction to the death of Fidel Castro. Most normal people can see that he was a monster who locked up and murdered his opponents and impoverished his country.”
Immigration: “Labour leader believes that any cap on immigration numbers is racist.”
Defence: “And on defence, not only does he [Corbyn] want to ditch Trident, his – and his allies’ – sympathies lie with all the West’s key enemies.”
These bizarre Farageist utterances from Pollard were pitched as a reason for his perception of Labour losing the working class vote. More accurately, they were propaganda comments designed to fool people.
The article ended with an acutely dishonest appraisal of Theresa May’s political stance and her intent. “Lazy commentators have peddled the line that the Tories have tacked to the right under Mrs May. The opposite has happened. She wants to move the Conservatives towards becoming a more continental-style Christian Democrat party.” That’s the same Tory party that has conducted a campaign of Social Murder, particularly at people with disabilities, and is systematically destroying the NHS.
Direct criticism of Corbyn and his colleagues
Pollard has attacked Jeremy Corbyn and other members of Labour’s leadership team often. A year ago in Extreme Corbyn Pollard said “Mr Corbyn is electorally toxic because he is by far the most extreme leader any mainstream party has ever put forward as a potential prime minister.” The general election later last year disproved that assertion.
Pollard revisited a recurrent theme of his which is to attack socialism and communism as ideologies. His abject ignorance provided no barrier to an opinion. “We sometimes need to remind ourselves that communists are not pie-in-the sky idealists but proponents of an ideology that leads to mass slaughter and the destruction of freedom and democracy” was followed by a comparison of Hugo Chavez (not a communist) to Idi Amin. Chavez was mentioned because Corbyn has applauded some of his actions.
“He [Corbyn] hero-worships tyrants and proudly proclaims his friendship with terrorists. It is no wonder that Labour is now on course to electoral oblivion.” Similar fraudulent claims were rammed down the throats of the readers of all the right-wing rags during last year’s election, with no adverse effect for Labour.
Pollard’s hates socialism. This ensures that he is opposed to Corbyn. Pollard wants everyone else to follow his line of (un)reasoning. But, rather than prove an argument, he assumes he is correct and states that everyone agrees with him, rendering proof unnecessary. It is Lewis Carroll logic. “As the election [GE 2017] campaign progresses, Labour’s current dire poll figures are likely to be a ceiling, not a floor. When voters are exposed to Mr Corbyn’s views they will recoil in horror.” “Recoil?” Because Corbyn quite liked Chavez?
In Unpatriotic Corbyn Pollard opened with “it has become a cliché to say that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to be the leader of the Labour Party, but it’s worse than that. He is barely fit to be an MP. Corbyn doesn’t just hate America, Nato and the West. He appears to hate Britain itself. Every one of his foreign policy positions involves supporting our enemies and attacking our friends.” “Our enemies” and “our friends?” It is an indictment of Pollard’s outlook on life that he sees the world divided between enemies and friends with direct correlation to nationality. He tried to justify his opinion on Corbyn by objecting to the latter’s view that international law and human rights should have a role in warfare.
“When Putin invaded Ukraine last year, he was not demonstrating Russian imperialism but acting defensively against US and Nato provocation, says Corbyn.” Did Corbyn say that? Did he try to offer a balanced objective intelligent analysis rather than just taking sides? Pollard demanded complete subservience to a particular directional opinion, or else be branded as unpatriotic and biased against ‘the West.’
“The point is that in the Corbyn world view, any enemy of the West is worthy of support. Any ally is opposed.” Clearly, that isn’t true. What is true is that Pollard uttered such stupidity as a response to some opposition to actions by Britain and NATO. Deliberate raving blind support is what Pollard demanded.
At the end of the article there was a box that highlighted some of Labour’s positive manifesto pledges. Everything there seemed very reasonable. It would be fair to assume the box was not inserted by Pollard because, if he had inserted it, then he would have looked even more ignorant and illogical.
In McDonnell the revolutionary Pollard got confused between replacing capitalism and ending democracy. He noted that John McDonnell had said, more than once, that he would like to replace capitalism with socialism but Pollard appeared to think that such a scenario would mean the end of democracy. He tried to justify that abstract jump in logic by mentioning McDonnell’s support for the government of Venezuela. But, Venezuela is not a communist country, it is a democratic country with a socialist government. As noted earlier, Pollard never lets facts derail his train of thoughtlessness.
Stephen Pollard’s political position is hard-right economic libertarian similar to the Tea Party in the USA, the current Australian government, Dan Hannan, Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and a variety of right-wing think tanks – Adam Smith Institute, Tax-Payers’ Alliance, Institute of Economic Affairs, Centre for Policy Studies, etc.
He is opposed to the NHS and to workers’ rights, he supports fully the Tory government’s policy of Social Murder and he is keen to finance the arms industry. His hatred of socialism throbs. He has no concept of what a public service is and he has no concept of society.
His political analysis is ignorant, illogical, dishonest and petulant. He is a very poor writer and is as thick as mince.
It is no surprise that he is very fearful of the possibility of a left-leaning Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn because such a government would enact policies that are diametrically opposed to Pollard’s demands.
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