Jack Lesgrin’s week: Sleazy does it

by Jack Lesgrin

Sleazy does it

Last week, domestic politics was somewhat dominated by allegations that, as one paper put it, “the chairman of the Conservative Party [Ben Elliott, nephew of Prince Charles] is using his business partner in a secretive company to help manage party donors and arrange access to Boris Jonson.” Journalists had not previously reported the existence of this company. Other companies he is apparently associated with, such as public affairs consultancy Hawthorn Advisers and Quintessentially, a luxury concierge service. A hugely murky picture is painted. It ticks all the mental boxes of conspiratorial journalists and opposition party activists. Lobbying company: tick. Company servicing the high-end whims of UHNWIs: tick. Connections to the Royal Family: tick. Political donations: tick. Access to government ministers and the PM: tick. All sounds awful, no?

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine a range of political pantomime villains guaranteed to tweak the anger sensors of devout Tories (instead of devout anti-Tories, as above). Let’s tell the story again. Mr A, a general secretary of a large and influential trade union, has set up a secretive sub-committee (because it would have to be a sub-committee, wouldn’t it!) of fellow trade unionists. The committee’s purpose seems to be to coordinate fundraising for local Constituency Labour Parties. Since the story broke, some right-wing journalists have alleged that this influence enabled the committee to pressurise local CLPs to select union-friendly parliamentary candidates and CLP chairs. Although this has been denied, the close former union colleague of Mr A, Mr B, has been selected for a safe Labour seat. The sub-committee’s existence and terms were not made public and the members have said that there was no requirement to do so and that nothing they did was illegal or immoral. Sunday’s papers revealed that the sub-committee had also arranged private meetings with the PM and Business Secretary in the run up to Labour Party conference and a contentious new bill on employment rights.

Tories would perhaps find this offensive. But things like it occur all the time. None are illegal. Many don’t particularly like them, but until our system of political funding is reformed and, more broadly, our party system is opened up, through genuine proportional representation, the major parties will continue to have their pantomime villains of access and funding. The noises off are off target.

As this diary often argues and was argued last summer it’s time to look at the fundamentals of the system and reform them, not get worked up about the chaff. But since that would require challenging vested interests, too many people prefer to splutter outrage and then carry on as normal. James Kirkup’s very thoughtful article in yesterday’s Sunday Times assessed such scandals with far more perspective than most bother to provide. He noted that “It is sadly revealing that many people at Westminster have come to see party funding scandals as a little like thunderstorms: dramatic and inconvenient, but also familiar and inevitable. They blow in noisily, then blow out, leaving the political village depressingly unchanged.”

Dig deep for victory

Over the last few weeks, it’s been reported that the Labour Party is so short of money that it has only one month’s payroll in its cash reserves, meaning that up to a quarter of head office staff may face redundancy. This is awful for the hard-working staff whose jobs are at risk through no fault of their own and may have been imperilled due to the costly saga of dealing with legacy anti-Semitism cases that arose under the previous leadership. But for the Labour movement and more importantly, the country as a while, it is disastrous.

More than ever, this country needs a strong, confident, centre-left party to challenge a government over its errors, to connect meaningfully with communities up and down the nation, to develop policies of vision and practicality that can attract voters from all sections of society, and to communicate this with verve and passion. This costs money. With news that major trade unions are cutting their financial support for the party it’s time for Labour supporters to put their money where their mouths are. Irrespective of the merits of the particular case around Ben Elliott, which are not known yet, Labour needs to find a way of reaching sources of funding which are legal, ethical and substantial. The party needs a new Lord Levy figure to encourage wealthy Labour supporters to contribute large sums. Members of former Labour governments who have become well off should also contribute.

The mass membership should be asked to dig deep too. Before people claim that crowd-funding can’t raise sufficient funds, consider that the Jeremy’s Legal Fund webpage has raised £373,000. Imagine how many Labour staffers that would pay for.

A new, ambitious and innovative approach to funding would help solve a short-term problem, but might also go some way to very slightly reducing the dominance of trade union funding and the influence that comes with it. For some Labour members, to say such things is sacrilegious, but if you flip things on their head, it would only be like someone in the Tory party suggesting that they seek to diversify funding away from a few rich individuals! Oh the irony…


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41 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Sleazy does it”

  1. Ann Onnimus says:

    By “the costly saga of dealing with legacy anti-Semitism cases that arose under the previous leadership” you mean “the current leadership’s dunderheaded decision to expensively concede dubious libel claims, against legal advice that the party was likely to win them, for factional political reasons”.

  2. Tafia says:

    4 more regional capitals have fallen to the Taliban over the last 36 hours, plus a dozen or so major towns or cities. Many more are in the process of being over-run with the strategically vital cities of Lashkar Gar and Kandahar reported to be just days away from falling, with the prison in Kandahar being captured over-night and hundreds of Taliban fighters released and re-armed. Overnight, US B-52’s mounted several large-scale raids on Taliban controlled areas.

    In the latest ‘captures’, just as all the others, the Afghan National Guard mostly deserted abandoning all their uniforms, equipment and weapons. Local government offices were demolished along with all records and local government employees rounded-up and executed. Non-islamic places of worship etc are being destroyed along with statues and structures of archealogical importance for breaching strict sharia ‘idolatry’ laws.

    People fleeing Taliban controlled areas have all their documentation removed to prevent the government being able to confirm the identity of refugees and enable suicide attackers to enter government held cities mixed in with ordinary refugees.

    There are now 2m Afghan refugees who have fled the country, mostly to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, where the relevant governments have made plain they do not want them there and give little to no assistance in order to discourage them. There are also a further 400,000-plus moving along the highways to government-held cities (such as Kabul)

    Taliban have now issued an order in their areas for all single females between 12 and 45 to be registered, in preparation for them to be used as sex slaves or married-off to Taliban fighters, dependent on ethnicity and religion.

    In the approaches to major cities still held by the Khazi regime, the government is emptying the towns and villages. The current Taliban tactic is to ‘hop’ along the roads in small groups, then assemble in towns etc i alongside the civilian population in an attempt to nullify the threat of US Airstrikes by making the US scared of inflicting mass casualties. This is thought to be the government preparing them to be carpet-bombed by US B-52s as the Taliban enter them.

    The Taliban now control around two-thirds of the country territory-wise and around half population-wise and every highway leading in to Kabul is now severed in at least one place. Kabul is now the only city in the country not experiencing sustained attacks.

    In the far-north of the country, non-Taliban connected ethnic warlords (mainly Tajik and Uzbek) have commenced attacking both government troops and buildings and also Taliban fighters in their areas in an attempt to ‘liberate’ them and set up their own ethnic ‘mini-states’. (Similar happened under the Soviet time and the subsequent Mujahadeen – v Taliban civil war) with a group of warlords referred to as Northern Alliance trying the same break-away tactic) There are also indications that elements from al-Quada have re-appeared in the east of the country and have started working alongside Taliban fighters.

    The US Government has ‘re-visited’ it’s strategic assessment and says Kabul will start coming under sustained attack within weeks and will fall within 1-3 months. A few weeks ago they were confident Kabul could hold for 6-12 months but the pace and ferocity of the Taliban assault along with the increased sophistication of the Taliban has taken them by surprise. They are shocked that the Afghan National Guard has crumbled in the way it has and the speed with which it happened.

    There are now growing calls in international diplomatic circles that the west start realising the concept of an ‘Afghanistan’ as a cohesive nation and country exists largely in western minds and the very small Afghani middle class centred mostly in Kabul. Most of what the west classes as Afghanis do not identify with either the country or the nationality. It is deeply deeply fractured along tribal, ethnic and religious lines and really there are only 2 viable and realistic options:-

    1. The west and also China, Russia and Pakistan put in a massive military effort on the ground and do what ever it takes to defeat the Taliban, wipe them out once and for all and secure the country on the ground for decades to come.

    2. The west along with Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran hold a conference to dismantle and dismember the country and hand over the Pashtun/Baloch areas to Pakistan, Uzbek areas to Uzbekistan, Tajik areas to Tajikstan, Farsi areas to Iran etc etc, accepting that there will be isolated enclaves of the wrong ethnicity in the wrong place, but by and large for the vast majority they will then be in the country they identify with.

    The Taliban have now broken off all contact with the Doha Peace Talks group in Qatar and renounced the Peace Accord made only a year ago, despite efforts to re-start the talks and warnings they could find themselves international pariahs again.

  3. Tafia says:

    “the chairman of the Conservative Party [Ben Elliott, nephew of Prince Charles] is using his business partner in a secretive company to help manage party donors and arrange access to Boris Jonson.”

    Apparently, similar is happening with Labour and Keir Starmer (remember tennis with Tony?) as Labour struggle with mounting debts and hence why Labour are being largely muted over it (never attract press interest when you don’t need to), and also both Ed Davey (LDem) and the Greens (as both see each other as the immediate enemy and seek cash to ‘do the other in’).

    Meanwhile, north of Hadiran’s Wall in bonny Jockland, Coalition talks between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party are nearing completion, which if succesful will give the ‘independence bloc’ and outright majority in Holyrood by both MSPs and weight of first preference vote from the recent Scottosh elections, alongside the fact that the SNP hold virtually every Scottish Westminster seat and the fact that the SNP remain riding high by a long way in opinion polls. Political commentators are also saying that a formal Coalition between SNP & SGP is the forerunner to a full amalgamation of the two.

  4. John p Reid says:

    The point about wasting money is those who raised the money for Jerremys legal fund are the ones who are happy to spend money in this but want money back for other things such as charging a grand to go to conference without questioning that union members who make a donation to the Labour Party through their levy think it’s going towards helping labour carry out canvassing rather then wasting it on Jollies

  5. Alf says:

    A lot of members on the Tory-lite wing of the party would contribute to a fund; but few of our socialists would. Why thow money at a party that’s almost sure to lose the next election?

  6. Tafia says:

    Khazi’s Afghan Government in Kabul has offered the Taliban a power-sharing arrangement along with total autonomy over the Pashtun areas after the Taliban overrun Afghanistan’s third largest city of Herat.

    The Taliban basically laughed in their faces and responded with a counter-offer that Afghanistan must become a Islamic state ruled by Sharia law.

    The US has tadvised all US citizens – including contractors and aid workers, to leave the country fas soon as possible by any commercial means available, after India removed all it’s diplomatic staff.

  7. Tafia says:

    FLASH – Battalion of British paratroopers to seize Kabul airport with immediate effect to evacuate all British civilian personnel still ‘in country’ plus any Afghan nationals that used to work for British Army. God save the Queen and God speed. Keep your heads down, your powder dry, fix bayonets and sights on 300.

    US advises all US citizens, including any aid/medical workers to get out of the country as fast as possible.

  8. A.J. says:

    Perhaps we ought to invite half a dozen or so semi-employed members of the Taliban to England. They could dispose of any number of nuisances such as Owen Jones, Eddie Izzard and Polly Toynbee then be allocated top hole council housing in exclusive parts of West London. I’m sure money could also be found from the public purse to allow them to open kebab shops or run taxi firms. Some inclusive branch of the Labour Party would surely welcome them with open arms, even inviting them into their homes for green tea and vegan snacks. One or two might find themselves elected to the Council. They might even be allowed to babysit.

  9. Tafia says:

    Overnight, the crucially important city of LashKah Gar – provincial capital of Helmand Province, fell to the Taliban. The ‘spiritual home’ of the Taliban – Kandahar, is also reported to be now under Taliban control. Half of the country’s regional capitals have fallen in less than a week.

    GCHQ Cheltenham are also reporting that certain Taliban commanders and fighters are definately British – possibly ISIS fighters who fled from Syria/Iraq, as they have intercepted mobile phone traffic and that one of the Taliban’s General’s – General Mubeen, appears to have been educated at Birmingham University.

    Greece is warning that there is a massive movement of refugees moving through Iran for Turkey and onwards to Greece, Bulgaria and up into western Europe.

  10. John 0 Reid says:

    Alf
    It’s a moral victory for champagne socialists be they blairite or Corbynite to sit around chatting saying the working class are scum

  11. Tafia says:

    A constituent of Labour MP Jack Dromey has filmed one of his aides calling his own constituency “sh!t” as he leafleted within that constituency. The disgruntled constituent who released the film added: “whilst it isn’t the best area in which to live, this is upsetting and infuriating.” Dromey’s been the MP for Birmingham Erdington for 11 years…

    The man in the video below is Labour councillor Ansar Ali Khan, a member (and former assistant leader) of Birmingham City Council. People will remember Khan as one of the organisers of Labour’s sex-segregated rally back in 2015 in order to keep asian muslims ‘on-side’ despite it being b;atant sexism.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMqFkdL4s4k&t=1s

  12. Tafia says:

    Taliban overrun Puli Alam – the provincial capital of Logar province. Capturing the city closes the southern entrance to Kabuol, severs it’s main southern highway (one of the most vital highways in the country) and they are expected to overrun the rest of the province by tomorrow, taking them to within 10km (6 miles) of Kabul itself – ie close enough to use 120mm mortars and portable 128mm multi-barrel rocket launchers.

    The stupidity and short-sightedness of US polliticians is staggering. They went to Afghanistan to prevent another 9/11. Now they have virtually guarenteed it.

  13. Anne says:

    Raising money is always going to be a problem for the Labour Party. Unfortunately many who donate to a party expect something in return eg cash for questions. However, many do want to see a change of government – maybe try on line funding – every little helps.

  14. If we wanted a well funded party it would be useful not to try and drive members out taking their dues with them. What do Starmer, Evans and Akehurst feel would be the optimum membership level? Remembering under Corbyn we had more than half a million members. Now what number are they looking for. 100,00? Less? We will need a bunch of City millionaires to finance the party then.

  15. Tafia says:

    Overnight, 3 more provincial capitals fell to the Taliban onslaught. Qalat, the capital of Zabul province, Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, and Feroz Koh, the capital of Ghor province.

    British and American troops during the night of Friday, early hours of Saturday started arriving at Kabul airport to set up a safe perimeter to evacuate US & UK nationals along with Afghans and their immediate families who worked for UK/US forces, NGOs and embassy staff.

    Taliban main bodies are now some 50 miles (80km) from the capital Kabul, Vanguard groups 30 miles (50km) and their forward elements 6 miles (10km). Small groups of infiltrators are already in the capital carrying-out assasinations of government officials.

    Because The USA withdrew – basically sinking the military effort, and because far far too many western countries are cowards and would not deploy troops to assist to start with – basically little better than NATO journeymen who don’t pay their fees and pay only lip-service, and because of the hand-wringing whining liberals and Guardian readers bleating about our presence there and continually under-mining the military effort with SWP-inspired protests, you are now going to see women stoned to death for being outside their homes without a male, women beaten for not wearing head-to-toe coverings, gays burnt alive in pits, people strung up in market squares for the evil sin of owning a mobile phone or a TV, young girls – children, forcibly married off to Taliban fighters or if from an ‘infidel’ religion (christians, bhuddists etc), used as sex slaves and traded like cattle. Schools – particulalrly girls schools, are already being destroyed, along with libraries, museums, buildings built with western aid money, teachers and others executed,

    As a General I know said to me at the funeral of a soldier from our Regiment who fell there ‘We only have two choices – we fight them to the death in the dusty fields of irrelevant countries far away or we end up having to fight them to the death on the streets of the western capitals. There are no other options no matter what people may think.’

  16. Tafia says:

    In a massive set-back for Kabul, Afghanistan’s ‘second city’ – the heavily defended and fortified Mazar-i-Sharif, has fallen to the Taliban after a week-long pitched battle.

    In addition, senior UK & US military commanders believe they have no more than a week to evacuate personnel from Kabul before the runway comes into range of Taliban weaponry.

    The UK will be evacuating 500 British government employees and up to 2,000 interpreters, locals employed at the Embassy, and their families.

  17. Wouldn’t it be better if the comments actually had a connection to what the article was talking about, however tenuous?

  18. Tafia says:

    Overnight, the vitally important city of Jalalabad fell to the Taliban. This means that Kabul is not only the only large city left in government hands, but more importantly is now totally isolated with no safe land routes in or out of the city or from the city to any foreign border.

    Also overnight, sporadic gun battles broke out between government and Taliban forces in the suburbs of Kabul itself.

  19. Tafia says:

    And at 0844 sunday morning our time (1214 local Afghan time), the Afghan government confirms that Taliban units have now started entering Kabul.

    A Taliban spokesman in Doha confirmed this and added that their fighters will only fre in self-defence, and that anyne who wishes to leave Kabul is free to do so but all women must cover their heads.

  20. john P Reid says:

    Danny speight this assumes that all those who’ve left never asked for a penny back when they were members

    I knew members who joined in 2015 asked to be party conference delegate charged a grand in expenses to go to conference then quit so at the most they’d only give 250 quid in their 5 year membership

  21. Tafia says:

    And as the casping from Starmer starts (usual amateurish garbage of criticising without making any alternative suggestions), in the real world the UK couldn’t do anything on it’s own there even if it wanted. This was supposed to be a NATO effort but the reality was that the bulk of the work was being done by the USA, then us. We were doing more than all the rest of the NATO members (bar USA) combined. NATO failed both on the ground and as a concept – and I predict the growing US demands for them to puill NATO funding until ALL members do their fair share and pay a fair amount, will now grow considerably,

    Biden press conference from July 8th saying Taliban were no threat.:-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBgVEBuCx68Aa

    (PS – A lesson for all politicians. When you involve the military, do not believe your own garbage. Listen to what the military are telling you and take it on-board, they know, not you – they are the people actually doing the work. UK & US troops directly involved in training the Afghan Army have been saying from the start they were low grade and although achieving the training tests, were not ‘hard’ enough to withstand combat and lacked drive, stamina and desire and will to fight toe-to-toe.)

  22. Tafia says:

    And on the BREXIT front, despite the garbage continually spouted by the Remainers, the value of the pound is up against the Euro by 6.4% in the last twelve months, up by 2.1% in the last 5 years and up by 3.7% in the last 10 years.

    We also now export more to the EU than prior to the 2016 vote. UK firms are hiring at the fastest at anytime in the last 8 years and major UK firms – including major NI firms, are asking the government to scrap the NI protocol as business will be simpler and cheaper if we make the EU frontier the NI/RoI border and not the Irish Sea.

    And Elon Musk is telling everyione that will listen that he made a massive mistake building his factory in Germany as opposed to the UK as it is beset by red taspe problems and over 6 months behind schedule, and advises everyone in the USA planning on building or expanding in Europe to choose UK over the EU.

    And in a display of utter EU lunacy and breath-taking arrogance, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Irish (whom with over 6 million cattle have more cows than people & who represent less than 0.01% of the planet’s population) that it needs to reduce emmissions in it’s farming sector by reducing the number of cattle. Wonder if she’s telling the Germans they must reduce the number of cars they make?

  23. John p Reid says:

    Had Jeremy corbyn not won The leadership , had Galloway not been expelled, I could’ve seen them turning Up to a Few blue labour meetings to back brexit with kate hoey Both are quite conservative on culture stuff

    Now when Corbyn whipped MPs to vote article 50 he obviously wanted it, he was on to a winner and even mps who didn’t really want it like Yvette copper voted for it as they knew they needed to do if to keep their seats on the door step

    Other stuff corbyn wasn’t in favour of ,like George Galloway such as positive discrimination

    Imagine if there was a policy Corbyn secretly believed in but, he couldn’t be open about it like opposing positive discrimination and he as leader tried to get the party to vote ,with the Tories to out law on positive discrimination
    ( Galloway would’ve voted to outlaw it)too

    Now would MPs who secretly supported positive discrimination gone along with the whip

    The problem being that they wouldn’t have the feeling on the door step that they needed to back this policy they didn’t agree with it either. And Voted The way they did with supporting Article 50

  24. A.J. says:

    What is, now, ‘the working class’? I’m at a loss to know. Can it really be defined? I have a mother who remains defiantly Labour living in an ex-council house and a wife who grew up in a house without a bathroom who now votes ‘Conservative’. My late father was a ‘Conservative’ voter but also a solid trade unionist, whilst my brother-in-law now divides his time between the Rockies and California. Another family member is already a partner in his law firm in Dubai. Confusing. Is classlessness creeping in?

  25. A.J. says:

    I deplore corruption – or, if you prefer, ‘sleaze’ – in politics but have come to expect it. I also deplore those who shout the loudest about the NHS and comprehensive schools then quietly use the private sector and deploy blustering excuses when found out.

  26. john P Reid says:

    Gap between tory vote and labour vote in elections

    1987 11.6
    1992 7.1
    1997 (-13.4)
    2001 (-10)
    2005 (-3.2)
    2010. 7
    2015 6.5
    2017. 2.3
    2019. 12
    Present. 7

  27. A.J. says:

    Tafia, some will never believe we’re better off outside the EU, that’s quite clear. Their position reminds me of that of my late mother-in-law, who had convinced herself that England – yes, England – won the Second World War. Nothing could shift her. I doubt if she had ever heard of Stalingrad, Kursk, Omaha or Utah.
    Oh dear, says Keir Starmer, finger in mouth, Afghanistan is in danger of falling to the Taliban. I wonder if he has asked Lisa Nandy what Labour’s official stance ought to be, for now if not in the future. Perhaps current Taliban leaders will shortly be attending diversity classes in such groovy places as Wigan.

  28. A.J. says:

    Will it really be such a wonderful idea for Europe to attempt to absorb thousands of Afghan refugees? Or will it be merely storing up more trouble for the West, for – let’s say – British society, which is moving very quickly in a Woke direction? Isn’t there pressing evidence of conflict already existing in certain places, like parts of Birmingham?

  29. Tafia says:

    John, think your numbers have gone a bit awry mate.

    Gap between Tory & Labour millions of votes, turnout, opponents.

    1979 – +2.2m 76.0% Thatcher/Callaghan
    1983 – +4.6m 72.7% Thatcher/Foot
    1987 – +3.7m 75.3% Thatcher/Kinnock
    1992 – +2.5m 77.7% Major/Kinnock
    1997 – -3.9m 71.3% Blair/Major
    2001 – -2.4m 59.4% Blair/Hague
    2005 – -0.8m 61.4% Blair/Howard
    2010 – +2.1m 65.1% Cameron/Brown
    2015 – +1.9m 66.4% Cameron/Miliband
    2017 – +0.8m 68.8% May/Corbyn
    2019 – +3.7m 67.3% Johnson/Corbyn

  30. Tafia says:

    Defeated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul just hours before theTaliban took control with an eye-watering $150m (£123m) in cash, stuffed in four cars.

    Today it emerged that far from fleeing with just the clothes on his back, the politician stuffed as much as possible into his helicopter.
    Russian embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko also revealed that he took four cars stuffed with money with him. “Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it would fit and some of the money was left lying on the tarmac.”

    Mr Ghani reportedly flew to Tajikistan, but was diverted to Oman after officials refused permission to land, before travelling on to Dubai. He has now been offered sanctuary in UAE.

    In other news, China has announced it will commence re-opening the second largest copper mine in the world – situated in Afghanistan, “within days”.

  31. john P reid says:

    Tafia
    I should have put percentages, not votes

    AJ
    i’d say they were all working class, the only ones who aren’t working class are the Ash sarker ,owen Jones, Jess philips types who pretend to be working class so they can tell the plebs when they visit council estates they should be voting labour to have the guardian tell them what scum they are

  32. john P reid says:

    matter of interest, is it ever o.k to heckle a labour party member with different views who’s been invited to a labour party meeting to talk? my local party use to be fairly Blue laobur and the middle class guardian remain Corbynite liberals and the middle class guardian remain voting blairites both form london came together decided it didn’t need working class votes its better to only appeal to yuppies who’ve moved in the area
    and consider ‘Blue Labour’ to quote progress magazine not be able to move Beyond motherhood, apple pie and the frequent use of a dog whistle politics, it offers little to the party moving forward. , a new way of doing Labour politics based around family and place is pointless try to be a version of orange book libdems instead
    and if i’d invited a blue labour speaker to a meeting they’d get heckled by people who won’t even listen they’d prefer to zoom chat owen Jones, so i don’t see the point of asking someone to come talk about trying to get working class votes back

    there’s a video made by Corbynite labour
    of tories saying the reason the country is crap isn’t due to the state of the economy its blaming immigrants as that’s a easy thing to do
    irony is not lost on them it’s like why is the labour party in debt and why did it have it’s worse ever defeat is it corbynites no let’s blame every other wing of the party

  33. Tafia says:

    US President Joe Biden claimed there was no way of getting out of Afghanistan “without chaos ensuing” and pledged to keep troops in the country beyond his August 31 deadline if necessary.

    In a tense first interview since Kabul was seized by the Taliban, Mr Biden on Wednesday night defended his handling of the situation, saying it wasn’t a “failure” and that it couldn’t have been conducted any better.

    Mr Biden said he was left with “a simple choice” once Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country – send in more troops or commit to leaving.

    “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” he told ABC News.

    Critics of Mr Biden have pointed out that just last month he said the troop drawdown would be “secure and orderly”.

  34. Tafia says:

    Data released by the European Banking Authority shows that of the 4,963 European bankers on salaries over €1 million in Europe, almost 71% of them live in the UK.

    This is an INCREASE on the previous year despite repeated claims that Brexit would lead to an exodus of top earners across finance and commerce.

  35. John P Reid says:

    I can remember when labour in 2018 put up a picture with the statement

    the first black woman on Labour’s national executive (diane abbott) meets the second (kate Osamor)
    I pointed out Oona king was on it in 2010-2011 and Jackie walker said she (Oona) wasn’t politically black

  36. A.J. says:

    So, Blair turns upon a Democratic President. Highly amusing – in a horrible sort of way. He’s being given a soapbox and megaphone in every rag from the ‘New Statesman’ to the ‘Sunday Express’. Is any of this giving Keir Starmer pause for thought? Perhaps it would be better to remain in Opposition, chum, and let those silly old ‘Tories’ carry on making abject fools of themselves.
    Tafia, at my elder daughter’s wedding yesterday I got into conversation with an ex-RSM. He said Britain now tries fighting at arms length. Would you agree?

  37. A.J. says:

    I thought Simon Jenkins’ piece in ‘The Guardian’ – not a newspaper I normally favour – was rather thoughtful. But, then, very often if not always, Jenkins is their best journalist.

  38. A.J. says:

    Starmer calls upon Labour to ‘modernise’. What exactly does that mean in practise? Didn’t Wilson and Blair both say something rather similar? Wasn’t Tony Crosland attempting to get that message across while I was still at junior school? How can it be done? The so-called ‘Conservative’ Party will always have the edge here – sufficiently so to keep pushing themselves over the line at most GEs. Starmer cannot be Attlee and Blair simultaneously. Nor should he even try.

  39. A.J. says:

    Nice to see that Vice-President Harris has found something to laugh about. I like a good laugh myself and rarely stopped when Tony Blair was Prime Minister – albeit for the wrong reasons. One or two on this site refer to something called ‘Blairism’ and suggest the Labour Party reinvents it (or something of that kind). I’d much rather it didn’t. Someone in the ‘Mail On Sunday’ suggested Blair ‘wind his neck in’. Not an elegant phrase but I know what the chap was getting at. In short, when will World Leader Blair ever learn to keep his trap shut?
    Rawnsley in the ‘Observer’ noted Harold Wilson’s ‘shrewd’ decision to keep Britain out of Vietnam. I’m no great admirer of Rawnsley but he made a good point on that occasion. Was Wilson going to risk the wrath of the Left – and not just the Labour Left – in the volatile sixties? Besides, what would we have been exporting to Saigon that the Americans couldn’t manage? HP sauce?
    No more intervention. No more immigration.

  40. A.J. says:

    Blair: tough on the Taliban, tough on the causes of the Taliban. In fact – all together – Taliban, Taliban, Taliban. And, gosh, you ought to see the scars on his back. Perhaps he could persuade an SAS snatch squad to frogmarch selected Taliban leaders to cash machines in Kabul, else get John Prescott to punch them on the jaw. He could even threaten to dish out the odd ASBO or, instead of waterboarding them, force them to listen to the Collected Speeches of Gordon Brown before taking them on a trip to Clapham Common in search of their car-keys. I expect he’ll be offering accomodation to any number of refugee families at his London residence. No?

  41. A.J. says:

    Apparently the non-Taliban Afghans were working for an organization calling itself the ‘Tory government’ (letter in ‘The Guardian’). Oh. So that chap Blair and his chums had nothing to do with it after all. Quite a relief to learn that.

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