Liberal Democrats continue to be irrelevant, rightly forever condemned by the Clegg/Cameron alliance, and the opponents of Corbyn in Labour continue to fail and to diminish. Consequently, some opportunists deduce, deliberately, that a new centrist party is needed. This deduction is more than false: It is a con.
The two themes that define the intent and strategy of these snake oil salespersons are:
Pretend to be opposed to Tory enabling of free market annihilation of society.
Use opposition to Brexit as a tool to attack Labour.
There is little or no difference between the Tory destruction of society and the true intent of any of these self-ascribed centrists. Variations on a theme. The latter pretend to be different to acquire support from people who are opposed to the Tories; simultaneously, they conveniently distract attention from genuine opponents of Tory criminality.
Opposition to Brexit should focus on the Tory government’s shambolic and lazy progress and on its intent to use Brexit as a tool to further destroy the NHS, human rights, free speech, workers’ rights, tenants’ rights and access to justice while enabling further mass tax avoidance for the wealthiest. Conversely, centrists prefer to object to anything that Corbyn or Starmer say, or don’t say, or might say; these complaints never match the facts of Labour’s plans or statements.
Advance and Grenfell Created by Annabel Mullin, a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Advance follows the normal centrist template described above. She invented Advance to take advantage of focus on Kensington (and on its Tory council) following the Grenfell Tower fire. Her website, Advance, explains how the plans for the “party” (primarily for the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea) have no substance and how they refrain from bold, necessary and effective action.
In Advance education Mullin claimed that Advance wants to “engage young people in the life of our community so they feel they have ownership” because “too many have lost their lives or been scarred for life by gang related violence.” She avoided blaming savage Tory cuts (locally and nationally) to state education and avoided blaming the lack of availability of full-time properly paid employment and apprenticeships for school leavers. Advance’s solutions are “buddy schemes,” “mentoring schemes” and “identifying internship opportunities.” There is a haughty tone to how she views the young residents of Kensington.
In Advance housing there was no mention of council house building. Instead, there was a woolly proposal about part-private newly built affordable homes. The only mention of dealing with the thousands of empty properties in Kensington that are owned by absentee investors as a money-laundering tactic, and who pay no tax in the UK, was a proposal for higher council tax for them. (These houses and apartments should be acquired for use with no compensation for the absent tax-dodging “owners.”)
A letter sent by Mullin to the Tory-edited Evening Standard, Advance letter on Brexit, included typical anti-Corbyn nonsense:
“This is a sign that Labour is being controlled by Momentum and that it is protecting Jeremy Corbyn from the embarrassment of having to take a position on the most crucial matter of our generation. It is an affront to democracy and an abdication of Labour’s duty as the Opposition.”
Such stupidity and misrepresentation have been given the peremptory responses they deserve many times. Mullin’s comments revealed a paucity of cohesive argument.
Her twitter account and the party account are packed full of links to right-wing journalists attacking Labour and nonsense about Russia being to blame for everything. There is also this gem:
Retreat, retract Suspicion exists that Advance is a one person operation. Hollowness of ideas matched by hollowness of membership? However small it may be, Advance was able to acquire TV interviews to accompany its “launch.” A triumph of PR over substance? It is another limp centrist invention bereft of analyses, of ideas and of intelligence. The centre of British politics has collapsed to a singularity. This is welcome news.
The relationship between free market think-tanks and the Tories is embedded and corrupt, and it is often unclear which node of the relationship is the wagging tail and which is the dog.
Some think-tanks were created by politicians – Centre for Social Justice is an invention of Iain Duncan-Smith, some were created by politicians’ advisers – Tim Montgomorie (Centre for Social Justice, Unherd, CapX) was a speech writer for William Hague and Iain Duncan-Smith, some are entirely a forum for politicians’ contributions – Policy Exchange, and some are populated by lackeys of international wealth terrorists – Adam Smith Institute, Tax Payers’ Alliance, Institute of Economic Affairs, Centre for Policy Studies, Legatum Institute.
Whatever the origin of a free market think-tank, or its age – some are decades old, the purpose of its relationship with the Tory government is a combination of keeping the government in line to serve the exploitative financial elite coupled with presenting the government’s plans as falsely as possible to con the public. The image below encapsulates the think-tank/Tory government partnership.
Free market think tanks are keen abusers of language. At no time in the entire history of the written word have “independent” and “grassroots” been used as frequently and as dishonestly as they are by right-wing think-tanks to describe themselves. Their use of the word “freedom” is always the diametric opposite of the meaning of freedom.
Free market think-tanks are funded by large corporations and financial institutions; they are effectively part of the PR teams and, simultaneously, the sales teams of the latter. However, that relationship is hidden by the largest and most active think-tanks. Transparify Report on Think-Tank Funding is a good account of funding transparency and it revealed that right-wing think-tanks are very secretive.
Every mainstream British TV channel, radio station and newspaper uses free-market think-tanks to supply “experts” for group debate, analysis and opinion pieces. Sometimes these voices are presented by the media as corporatist perspective on the topic being discussed but often they are cast as “independent” voices. The latter scenario is fraudulent and deceitful; the media outlet hosting the think-tank member is sometimes party to this deceit, sometimes not. If the media outlet is unaware of the fraudulent independence claim then sheer laziness coupled with misplaced urgency to get someone to comment are the causes of the error. The think-tanks know that most media outlets are hurried and desperate to get a talking head on quickly to compete with other outlets, and the former have nurtured contacts with gullible staff so that there are always think-tank voices ready and available. The BBC is particularly culpable with the ease on which the free market think-tanks are able to get themselves airtime as false “independent” voices. (see BBC News: Balance and Bias)
Below are links to descriptions of free market think-tanks based in Britain including some examples of how they concoct narratives to help the Tories to con the public. Some of their respective members who may appear in the media are named.
“We are an international think tank and educational charity which seeks to provide evidence-based solutions for those who would see free, just and flourishing societies.”
The Legatum Institute devises and promotes methods of conning the public to make them believe that extreme exploitative “free market” capitalism can help everyone rather than just helping a tiny elite of financial gangsters.
This objective is displayed brazenly throughout Legatum’s literature, speeches and interviews. For example, as a response to a data-driven report Public Opinion Post-Brexit that showed that there is majority public support in Britain for state control of capitalist mayhem, the author, Matthew Elliot, ended the report by stating
“Now, the political class will need to turn its attention to economic attitudes, or face the risk of the ground shifting beneath its feet. And for those who believe that competition, entrepreneurship and free trade are key drivers to make societies more prosperous, it’s time for us to up our game.“
That is a plea for the capitalist elite to fight back against the intelligence and knowledge of the public; by “our game” Elliot meant the game of PR, confidence trickery and fraud. In his comment on the report Elliot displayed utter contempt for the public’s decisions:
“It [the report] suggests that economic attitudes in the country are further to the left than is widely appreciated, posing a challenge for those who have seen at first hand the power of competition, entrepreneurship and free trade to drive prosperity.” “The findings of our polling are concerning for anyone committed to the principles of free enterprise. Competition entrepreneurship and free trade are all essential to achieving prosperity, not to simply generate profit for businesses, but to extend opportunity to all.”
On the same comment page Elliot tried to denigrate left-of-centre politics by equally applying the pejorative term “populist” to the extreme right and to any political stance to the left of Legatum’s. This tactic of misrepresentation was a clumsy attempt to position mainstream left-of-centre politics as an outlier and to position right-wing unrestricted “free-market” exploitation as the norm and as the centre of the Overton window. It also normalised the far right: Elliot discussed “right-wing populists such as Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and the Alternative für Deutschland” but his “populists” Wilders, Le Pen and Weidel are racist extremists. His downplaying of their extremism was deliberate.
Disaster Capitalism In Open Democracy on LegatumPeter Geoghegan explained the history of Legatum Institute and its international umbrella group Legatum Foundation, and he discussed the influence it has on the Tory government. He described the founders of Legatum Foundation as
“disaster capitalists. They created a hedge fund in the 1980s after selling the family department store in Hamilton, New Zealand. They piled into Russia in the ‘shock therapy’ years when the Soviet Union’s state-run businesses were rapidly privatised. Sovereign Global, the brothers’ fund, was by their reckoning the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia by 1994. By 2002 the pair were the fourth largest investor in Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas company.”
In other words, organised crime on a grand multi-billion rouble scale. Former public-owned services were stolen from the Russian people and continue to be a revenue stream of unearned income for the so-called ‘oligarchs’ and their overseas partners in crime.
In a different article, Legatum Connections, Peter Geoghegan revealed that Legatum Institute’s income has increased hugely in the last five years with most of that income from Legtaum Foundation.
“The foundation is registered in Bermuda and controlled by a company in the Cayman Islands. The Legatum Institute’s income has grown significantly in recent years, from £35,000 in 2012, to more than £4m in 2016, with around 90% coming from the Legatum Foundation.”
It is no surprise that two notorious locations for mass tax-dodging house the Legatum Foundation.
Post-Brexit Britain The new target for the Legatum disaster capitalists is post-Brexit Britain. As part of the process of departure from the EU the Tory government intends to remove all restrictions on exploitation including workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, access to justice and free speech as well as removing dampeners on financial recklessness and on tax avoidance. The Tories intend to rapidly privatise police, fire and health services. All such changes provide opportunities for the most disreputable and immoral wealth terrorists, and the Legatum Foundation and its associates are salivating in expectation.
“Historically, the British system of free trade made Britain, Europe and the world richer. The EU system that has replaced it—of protectionism and harmonised regulation—has constrained economic growth for Britain and the world. There is now a brief opportunity for Britain to restore her freedom to trade, liberalising the global trading system itself.”
Legatum’s support for “free trade” for Britain, free from the EU’s “protectionism,” is the same con as that perpetrated by the Institute for Free Trade: “The IFT’s real objective is not “free trade.” Its objective is to make it easer for international capitalists to exploit more widely. The IFT yearns for the days of imperialist colonialist empires” is a summary from Institute For Free Trade and it apples equally to Legatum.
“Historically, the British system of free trade made Britain, Europe and the world richer” is a grotesque misrepresentation of Britain’s vicious colonialism and spotlights Legatum’s intent clearly.
Legatum Institute people The report author mentioned above, Matthew Elliot, was the director of Vote Leave, the main lobby group for exiting the EU during the EU referendum campaign. Vote Leave is being investigated by the Electoral Commission for alleged overspending during that campaign: Electoral Commission investigation.
Danny Kruger is a former chief speechwriter for David Cameron, the chief leader writer at The Daily Telegraph and the director of research at the Centre for Policy Studies, a curriculum vitae that displays proudly both his commitment to feeding the elite wealth terrorists and to presenting his arguments dishonestly. As Legatum Social Policy explains, Kruger’s role will be to create false excuses for savage cuts to public services:
“If we are to reform our own economy and public services and negotiate with the EU and with other nations, we need a vision of who we are as a country and a clear-eyed assessment of how far we live up to that vision currently. This requires a brutal analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, and a plan for making the vision a reality.”
“Reform,” when used by extreme free-marketeers, always means cuts for those who can least afford it. The “brutality” will be felt by the same people.
Christine Odone is another former Centre for Policy Studies “research fellow.” Her role at Legatum is to devise new methods of confidence trickery to assist “great institutions – including business, media and politics,” to reverse their respective negative (but accurate) public images, explained in Cultural Transformation:
“In recent years, a number of these institutions have suffered a loss of public confidence, as many have questioned the ethics that govern them.” “We aim to support leaders in their field to strengthen and reform current practice by promoting a greater sense of good citizenship and civic responsibility.”
Businesses like G4S, media like Murdoch’s empire and politicians like the Tories have never had, and will never have, any interest in “good citizenship and civic responsibility.”
Philippa Stroud, Legatum’s CEO, founded the Centre for Social Justice alongside Iain Duncan-Smith, to whom she was a special adviser for the entirety of the 2010-2015 Tory/Lib Dem government; in that role she was one of the architects of Universal Credit and of other devastating cuts to welfare provision. Thus, the thousands of deaths caused by the Tories’ continuous assaults on the lives of the poorest people, particularly people with disabilities, are the responsibility of Stroud. She is as culpable a mass murderer as Duncan-Smith is.
Shanker Singham‘s interesting history of political and business connections was discussed by Peter Geoghegan in his Open Democracy article mentioned (and linked to) above.
Among Legatum’s fellows is think-tank hopper Tim Montgomorie. As a co-founder of both the ConservativeHome website and Centre for Social Justice, Montgomorie’s experience as a charlatan is plentiful.
Another fellow is James Mumford whose speciality is to write a long-winded article that contorts itself as it tries to absolve devastating Tory cuts for the effects they cause. For example, in Mumford on elderly carehe is aghast that anyone should blame a lack of state funding for poor care for the elderly and then he pretends to propose a solution to poor care that is more costly; his mode of argument is one reason why Tories have considered dementia tax and stealing people’s homes as means of funding elderly care.
Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks
Day 1 As a distraction from the shambles of the Tory government’s mishandling of Brexit, from the dispiriting economic forecasts of the budget, from the life-threatening consequences of the introduction of Universal Credit, from the ongoing life-threatening cuts to police, fire service and NHS and from every other current Tory crime, a royal announced his engagement.
The media, most notably the BBC, plunged themselves into odious fawning, including a mind-numbing, but carefully scripted, “interview” with the happy couple on primetime BBC.
While the nation was bombarded with a deluge of anodyne obsequiousness designed to induce catatonic states, the Tories craftily sneaked out a few policy details that might normally have received some negative media time, including another benefits freeze and a further lie and obfuscation about documents that examine the impact of Brexit on various services and businesses.
Next spring or summer there will be another royal wedding, paid for by those who can least afford it, alongside another royal birth and, given the ages of some of the royals, there will probably be a funeral or two, and those are the most expensive.
Day 2 Details of the location of the wedding were made public as part of the continuous drip-feeding of information as a tactic to keep the royal wedding in the news. The royal family brazenly claimed that they will pay for the wedding. Not one penny that any of the royals has, not one brick in any property and not one blade of grass on any land belongs to the royals. Everything they have is stolen from the public and belongs to us. So, if “the royal family will pay for the wedding” that means we will be paying.
Day 5 Today, the twerps visited Nottingham for a ‘walkabout.’ More accurately, they went to a random city to get more media coverage in news bulletins and photos in newspapers. The newest member of the royals is a trained actress and so she has already perfected the dead-eyed rictus grin. Jason Willamson from the excellent Sleaford Mods wrote a good account of the visit in the Guardian: Notts welcome here.
Are they going to be touring the UK like the sodding Olympic flame?
Day 19 The date of the wedding was revealed today. It will be on the same day as the FA cup final. The president of the FA is the brother of the groom and he would normally attend the cup final, meet the teams prior to kick-off and present the trophy. The date has been chosen deliberately to create a drama about the FA president’s “busy day.”
Day 25 ‘Engagement photos’ were handed to the media today who obediently posted them prominently. Markle must be a very successful actress if she can afford such a famous photographer. They are posed photographs made to look like snapshots taken randomly.
The empire of tax avoidance is outside of the connected national and regional economies of the world. Tax havens are effectively on another planet. That’s how the wealth terrorists like it: They impose restrictions on all of the people of the world and then they operate off-world. It is a worldwide racket, the biggest mass theft in the history of mankind. It is a continuous war against 99.9% of the world’s population.
Some remaining outposts of the decayed British empire exist solely as fake locations to dodge taxes that should be paid to the British exchequer. The current Tory government has no interest in addressing this multi-billion pound per year theft; the Tories exist to feed the financial gangsters not to take from them.
Any later British government that is sincere about fighting the tax-dodging gangsters will not achieve success just by changing laws in the UK. Such a UK government will be unable, on its own, to effect sufficient change in the non-British tax havens, such as Panama, but it could force the British tax havens to halt their participation in the global racket.
British tax havens: Deliberate creations by venal British governments The extents of the respective separations of British overseas territories from Britain vary but they are not independent states. All of these territories rely on Britain for military defence and all of their permanent residents have access to British passports. Their separate tax systems steal billions every year from the people of Britain but their residents do not benefit; the stolen money just disappears.
All the British overseas territories have been independent and have been part of the British empire; some have been components of other imperialist empires. The common factor for each of the territories is that, within the last half-century, its structure of government has been changed deliberately to turn it into a tax haven. The instructions for these changes have come from British governments.
The respective histories of the British territories are now irrelevant. They are created locations for the wealthiest to use as tools to steal billions, the result of which directly affects the livelihoods and lifespans of British people. They are safe locations for war against British people. That is all they are and they should be dealt with exactly how any ‘safe’ location for war should be tackled: By force.
Destroy the fake autonomy of British tax havens Artificially created tax havens have no right to autonomy or quasi-independence because British governments (re)invented the current status of these territories as tax-dodging cons. A British government that is genuine about ending this racket should not waste time with requests for change in the British tax havens and it should not try to come to a woolly compromise. The only successful option to take is to erase the fake autonomy and impose British tax laws on the territories. Any resistance to such imposition should be moved aside by whatever means are necessary. Each set-up of a tax haven was an act of war against British people and its removal should be of the form of defence against an act of war.
Replacing the fake administrations and removing the criminal tax-dodging systems would not be a difficult physical challenge because none of the British tax havens has the physical capacity to defend themselves and none can call on other countries for assistance.
If a new government is sincere about tackling tax avoidance then it shouldn’t shirk from using whatever tactics are needed.
“Reform the European Arrest Warrant. Time and again it has been shown that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system does not adequately protect human rights. We demand reform.”
Due Process claims to focus on modifications it thinks are needed to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) after Britain leaves the European Union. Its (slim) website contains links to some imported articles that raise reasonable concerns regarding extradition procedures: Due Process EAW articles.
But, the inclusion of the links to these articles appears to be a misdirection. One simple test of intent of a newly formed political group is to examine which other political organisations it chooses to align itself to, and one method of examination is to see what are the first social media accounts with whom the new group connects. An example is to see which political twitter accounts are the first that the new group ‘follows.’
As the Due Process Follows On Twitter page reveals – (scroll down as far as possible to see the first ‘followed’ accounts) – the first fifty accounts it ‘follows’ are predominantly right-wing libertarian think-tanks and the members thereof, including all on the list below,
and some right-wing agitators and professional screaming heads, namely Arron Banks, Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan.
The above were the first, and, therefore, the most obviously like-minded accounts Due Process ‘followed.’ That gives a clear unambiguous indicator of where Due Process sits politically. (Eventually, whoever manages its twitter account realised that they had better ‘follow’ Amnesty as well.) Perhaps, later, some legal experts or other human rights organisations may be added to the ‘followed’ list 😐, but the first choices are a huge signpost. The direct connection with right-wing think-tanks was exposed further by the fact that the deputy chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies, Tory MP Graham Brady, presented the ‘launch’ of Due Process at the House of Commons.
Another alarm bell sounded with the inclusion on the Due Process ‘follow’ list of a ‘bluehand’ account – @bluesmokinghand. All ‘bluehand’ accounts on social media are extreme right-wing, are extremely racist and are vehemently opposed to human rights and to correct legal process.
Due Process is just another tool of the usual gang of right-wing confidence tricksters. Its alleged interest in the EAW is just a ruse to acquire media access.
The purpose of liberal and centrist politics is to attempt to suppress revolutionary opposition to exploitative capitalism. A potential challenge to the wealth terrorists is and always has been ever-present and it is the role of the centre to con the budding revolutionaries, to distract them and to ultimately suffocate them. This strangulation is not a new phenomena; it has existed since the first cod democracy.
Liberal politics is borne of careerism and of misplaced self-congratulation. It is useful only to its practitioners. It is of no use to anyone suffering the consequences of destructive capitalism. It suits the beneficiaries of said destruction that the liberals and centrists exist: The con trick that casts them as opposition to conservatives is mutually beneficial to both. However, that con trick is now exposed. Gormless politicians in a variety of ‘Western’ democracies have failed to elucidate or practice their pseudo-opposition sufficiently coherently. People who are genuinely opposed to a world run by financial gangsters are no longer willing to be directed or silenced by supercilious liberal fraudsters.
Centrists’ fear of socialism Like all supporters of exploitative capitalism, centrists fear the end of their supply of unearnt wealth but they also fear the end of their own existence as a political group. They fear their irrelevance. Thus, particularly in European and US mainstream liberal media circle jerks, there is never a shortage of half-baked attacks on socialism. The theme is usually mock horror about the ineluctable brutality of totalitarianism coupled with insipid horseshoe theory extrapolations; such arguments are tired, have been refuted completely and easily on an uncountable number of occasions, and are necessarily insulting both to the listener/reader and to the people being discussed.
The centrists’ arguments against socialism rely on the their perception of ignorance among their target audience. Any political argument that relies on its listeners to be ignorant is doomed to fail eventually and the success of liberal political confidence trickery has now expired. All that are left are plaintive cries to the remaining liberal centrist politicians, beseeching them to think of some new trick before it’s too late. Thankfully, it is too late. However, the professional trolls keep on beseeching, because it is all they know and the only job they can do.
Bloodworth’s Fear James Bloodworth is a typical example of a careerist professional troll who, randomly, aligned himself to the venal centre of politics. In Bloodworth’s fear he criticised some recent liberalarguments that have equated the left-of-centre politics of Corbyn, Podemas, etc. with historical socialist revolutions. He claimed that such comparisons are not taken seriously by people who are enthused by the appeal of left-wing politics. Bloodworth’s criticism of liberal attacks on left-wing politics is criticism that is a cover for an attempt to sever the connection between left-leaning politics and socialism. The supporters of Corbyn, Lucas, Podemas, Syriza, etc. can see what next steps to take. So-called “democratic socialism” is a gateway to real socialism unencumbered by cod democracy. The greatest fear that the centre has is that more people will easily recognise these obvious next steps. Thus, Bloodworth asks his fellow liberal voices to keep quiet about it.
His lament is that the centre has failed to develop a useful method of conning people who are tending leftward:
“Instead of wringing their hands and crying ‘totalitarianism’, liberals would do well to examine the growing problems facing the young in Western democracies today.”
Bloodworth knows that the “growing problems” he refers to are all direct consequences of ever-increasing exploitation of the public by wealth terrorists and their lackeys. He knows that centrist politicians can offer only deceptive crumbs. His forlorn cry is for a new method of deception.
An imperialistic aroma permeates Bloodworth’s piece: When, correctly, stating that early twentieth century Russia is not comparable to early twenty-first century USA or Western Europe as motivation for inevitable revolution, he omits the whole of the rest of the world.
“[Russian revolution] was made possible by economic and military collapse. As Victor Sebestyen writes in his new biography of Vladimir Lenin, prices of some basic foodstuffs had “quadrupled” between February and September 1917. ‘More than 500 factories in Petrograd and Moscow had closed down and over 100,000 workers had lost their jobs in the capital since February’. Beyond that, more than a million Russians had by this point been slaughtered in the First World War, and only Lenin can be said to have consistently opposed the war. The point here is not to directly compare the fortunes of British and American youth in 2017 with that of their Russian counterparts a century ago.”
His comparison of difference, related to living conditions, personal wealth and war, does not apply to every country in South America, Central America, Asia and Africa. For many countries on those continents, current living conditions are much worse than 1910s Russia. To perceive revolution as exclusively ‘Western’ is a bizarre take on the imperialist outlook of the world. Of course, the over-riding reason why many people around the world have not be able to alter their political system is due to murderous corrupt dictatorships, funded and militarised by the marvellous liberal democracies in Europe and North America.
Bloodworth attempted some weak dismissiveness mixed with condescension and insults:
“The Russian Revolution does offer a useful reminder that, when people feel they have little stake in the existing system, they are liable to throw their lot in with an alternative – sometimes any alternative.”
A tiny elite of people have a “stake” in the “existing system.” The majority of people want a good viable alternative. It is Bloodworth’s job to try to obscure a good alternative. The “existing” system is the current system, nothing more.