• Brief encounter at Christmas

    From Kath and Mike Poulter

     

    Brief Encounter at Christmas.

     

    It was a frosty-bright morning at Restauffret, in Brittany.

    The valley below me already resounded with the keening and yelping of hounds and the clarion of horns as I settled to cut firewood in the garden. After a while I laid down my saw and went to fetch logs from our wood, trunks already cut and left there recently by our Tree-Fellers.

     

    As I moved through the trees I half caught a sight, a glimpse of a man hidden behind a tree trunk a few yards away, watching me. He was carrying a rifle, intent with purpose. He had clearly been there for some time.

     

    As I contemplated what he was doing there, on our land, in our wood, he came forward as if to greet me………

    So I asked him in my fractured French “Are you with La Chasse ? As he responded pleasantly I asked him what they were hunting – hare, birds or whatever ? His answer was Chevreuil- deer.

     

    The hounds and twenty of his colleagues from St Brieuc ,( 50 miles away) had been out all morning. His post in our wood was that of an Outlier- waiting for any breakaway by deer. He reminisced about his morning. He had really enjoyed being in the wood, watching pheasant, a red squirrel, buzzards, even a kestrel and of course he had watched my woodcutting !

     

    In the valley below as the sound of hounds and the hunt moved closer, I pondered whether to move further into the wood to drag up my logs but decided it might impinge on his field of fire !

     

    Apologising for my execrable accent I, somewhat inanely, said my Italian was much better than my French. He responded by saying that he understood me better than I might have coped with his English !

     

    So, amicably I wished him and La Chasse “Bonne Chance” He wished me, family and friends in Grand Bretagne and elsewhere “Bon Noel “ and I climbed back up to my work in the garden.

    When next I looked, twenty minutes later, he had vanished.

     

    Kath and I pass on his ‘ Bon Noel, Joyeuses Fetes et bonne nouvelle annee ‘ to all our family and friends,

    Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

    Kath and Mike,

     

    Restauffret,Tregornan 22110 Bretagne.

    Decembre 2017.

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  • Globalisation-A Meditation at Christmas

    On Globalisation,

    A Meditation at Christmas 2017.

     

    Jesus the Nazarene was born into a globalised world. Dominated by a Multinational it was very similar to our world today . His country Palestine, riven by debt, credit crises ,destitution and official brutality, was situate in an imperial system terrified of local revolts, terrorist activity and border tensions. This Empire was governed by a tiny elite, its Life President the Emperor and the Senate of 600 Billionaires, who through their client kings and local establishments sucked away the wealth and assets of their subject populations. The ferocious brutality of Roman rule is very much expressed by the horrendous experience of Boudicca, her daughters and the British population at the time of her revolt.

    Both Boudicca and Jesus, two very intelligent and committed people, would recognise the distribution of wealth and power we see in our own world. They would identify the similarity that Roman Globalisation has with our modern globalised economic system. Their world was controlled in the interest of 600 Billionaires and those who serviced their exploitation.

    The similarity between us in 2017 and them is absolutely startling !

     

    Our Planet Earth contains and should sustain its 7.5 billions of inhabitants and the communities in which they exist. But hese people do not control their local and national wealth or the ground resources their communities inhabit.

    So who does ?

    In stark contrast to  those Billions of people,  85 individual persons own and control half of the entire wealth of our world. They are part of a group of 6000 others who own and control 89% of the world’s total assets.  These are the power brokers who rule the world. Made up of Chief Executives, Partners in Hedge Funds/Private Equity, Media Barons and some National, Military, Political and Religious leaders they control Finance , oil, energy ,intellectual property, technology and the Mass Media.

     

    We all see Capitalism as an enormous plethora of hundreds of thousands of financial, industrial and commercial companies functioning worldwide. This is Globalisation .Its sheer massiveness alone makes it difficult to comprehend ! But as in ancient Rome with its 600 billionaires, in our own day we  discover that  85 people and their 6000 colleagues are very much in command!

    Utilising a network of 147 Corporations, their control of 1318 other organisations cascades entirely throughout the industrial/commercial world through which these 85/6000 control 80% of all Transnational operations ! Through this network they forcefully and forcibly drive the decisions of this multiplicity of enterprises world-wide and all the personnel working within them.

    Thus Globalisation is the reality that:

    85/6000 people control our Global resources at the expense of the other 7.5 billion people inhabiting our Planet Earth. Their control of the world’s capital assets is what we call Capitalism and their control of that Capital is what we call Globalisation !

     

    Wealth captures governments’ policy- making. Their collective/individual power,funds and persuasion can control and subvert elected politicians ,relentlessly squeeziing resistance blocking their exploitation of local and national resources world -wide

    Roger Altman, former Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury described the North Atlantic Ruling Class and their world wide allies as the most powerful force on earth The fact is they are the Rulers and the rest of the population are their subjects.

     

    Such distribution of wealth and power has been a problem through-out the history of humankind.

    Recent analysis  explored the interaction between Predator and Prey populations. Apply that analysis to the Billionaire Class and the other 7 Billion of humankind ! The Predator faces peril when it assaults or destroys the economic survivability and social/physical health of the Prey ! The oncoming disaster of Climate Change, caused by their predation, is a major risk to the viability of the subject populations.

     

    Describe our Billionaires as an Oligarchy, then ancient Greece, provides the example as to how the ‘ Rulers ‘ the Oligarchs control the ‘Ruled’

    The Ruled must be divided, so divided that they cannot challenge their oppressors. The Oligarchy uses persuasion,, coercion and co-option to keep Democracy at bay. They use their ‘ collaborators’, their politicians to legitimise the Regime and their Mass Media outlets to powerfully influence the mindset of the People. In the modern age our own politicians , here and world-wide, can become subservient to the dictates and needs of the Billionaire Class! They become responsive to their donors and the interests of people like the Murdochs and the Koch brothers of the world.

     

    It is not only the ancient Greeks who can teach us about oligarchy and power.

    2.2 billion of the world’s population are Christian. 1.2 billion are Catholic  of whom

    40% live in a Latin America much in the grip of the Oligarchs and their subordinate classes .  The advent of Liberation Theology there has had enormous impact on the Christian approach to Capitalism. Liberation Theology regards Jesus as a revolutionary, executed as a subversive because of his opposition to the mal-distribution of wealth and consequent misery in his day.  Mary’s Magnificat is  a revolutionary prophecy of social justice .Its Greek text was also modelled on Hannah’s song in 1.Samuel referring back to the ancient Hebrew concepts of justice ;

    He has shown forth strength with his arm, Scattered the proud in their conceit, Casting the mighty from their thrones, Lifting up the lowly he fills the hungry with good things and the rich he sends away – Empty !

    Jesus’ statementsfollows his mother’s manifesto ; it is today, here and now that the world must be organised to deliver daily sustenance to its people. The Lord’s Prayer is a bold political and economic declaration,  a concrete commitment to end hunger in a world of inequality. Forgive us our Debt is a statement about avaricious and destructive money lending. Distributive justice is the essential message. Thus  theology adopts the ‘preferential option for the poor ‘ and has been recently reinforced by the South American Jesuit  Cardinal, now Pope Francis

    “ As long as the problems of the Poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of the Markets and financial speculation and by attacking the causes of inequality no solution will be found for the world’s problems and for that matter to any problems.”

    He dramatically attacks “those ideologies which defend that absolute autonomy of the Markets and Finance ! In terms of this essay that is  the power of the 85/6000. or in Jesus’ time ,the power of the 600 who controlled the finance and assets of the Roman Empire

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  • The significance of Corbyn

    As a Labour Councillor in Staffordshire I served as as Chairman of each of these Authorities: Police, Social Services, Fire, Highways, Records/Museums, Personnel and worked professionally in Probation and Prison. I therefore feel qualified to express my anguish at the destruction inflicted on each of those Services by the government’s Cuts, Privatisation and Outsourcing programme. Hence I have investigated its motivation in some depth and offer this analysis for your consideration. You may check my Bona Fides by googling Mike Poulter interview by John Woodhouse or www.michaelpoulter.org.uk profile.

     

    From Alderman Michael Poulter MBE

     

                               The Significance of Jeremy Corbyn .

    Some acquaintances, assuming that I have some intelligence, express incredulity that I have voted (twice) for Corbyn. Since such incredulity needs a considered response several themes came to mind:

    Ownership of the world’s wealth; its relationship to Multi-National  

    Corporations; Why does the Labour Party exist ?

    The Attlee/Beveridge Revolution established the Welfare State, New Labour was part of the Counter-Revolution dismantling it.

    When Working People feel thus betrayed they vote Right as in Brexit and Trump.                                                                                      

    The potential/almost immediate disastrous onrush of Climate Change !

    The significance of Corbyn; convergence of approach with Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders in the USA. Returning State power to the service of the people.

     

    What is reality in the world today ?

    In 1961 US President Eisenhower warned against the growth of Corporate Power http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html ,

    saying “ the rise of an irresponsible Military/Industrial Complex would pose grave dangers. Its “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist”. Others warned “it could subvert, coerce and through funding of politicians and control of the Media undermine democratic and legislative bodies “.

    So who does own the world and the resources situate within it?

    It is that Military/Industrial complex, now known as Multi-National Corporations within which 85 people own half the world’s wealth and the world’s richest 10% account for 85% of the planet’s total assets. David Rothkopf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Rothkopf describes a group of 6000 power brokers who rule the world. Chief Executives, Partners in Hedge Funds/Private Equity, Media Barons and some National, Political and Religious Leaders control Money, Oil, Energy, Intellectual Property, Technology and the Mass Media. Utilising a network of 147 corporations their control of another 1318 organisations cascades entirely throughout the industrial/commercial world so as to control 80% of all transnational corporations and shape the decisions of hundreds of thousands of enterprises worldwide!

    These 85/6000 people, who access the worlds’ wealth for their own use, contrast dramatically to the 7.4 Billion other people who inhabit our Globe.

    Globalisation = 6000 people controlling world resources at the expense of the other 7 Billion . They are called ‘The Super Class’. ’The Transnational Capitalist Class’ or ‘The Network of Global Corporate Control‘. Yanis Varoufakis https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/books/the-global-minoyaur/ describes the functioning of The Global Minotaur.

    Their control of the Mass/Cultural Media shapes the cognitive mindset of us all! They so invitingly persuade us to trust that their Corporate ownership of the world is the only framework which can possibly exist that it is very difficult to disengage from this received world-view. Thus the famous economist J.K.Galbraith https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kenneth_Galbraith ,suggests “the critical study of the activity of Global Corporations in Government and their exercise of power should be part of the education of the young,”

    Hence the challenges posed by Corbyn and his supporters in the UK, Sanders and his followers in the US and indeed Pope Francis in the Vatican are a threat to this received mindset and thus profoundly unsettling !

    The Mass Media, liberal commentators and genuine people within that mindset feel forced to oppose what people such as Corbyn represent. Hence the profound unease within the Parliamentary Labour Party and even The Guardian Newspaper. One can see the almost physical/ psychological distress caused by Pope Francis’ actions and words to the majority right-wing American Catholic Church and indeed to some of his Cardinals. A similar frisson of unease was caused by the Sanders Campaign in the Democratic primaries !

    Pope Francis, the Pope from Argentina, is supremely well-placed to understand the trauma and the damage inflicted by Multi-National power on the South American continent and elsewhere.

    Collectively 85/6000 people through their Corporate Power exploit the world’s habitat and its populations.

    That collective power relentlessly squashes any resistance in their way.

    Evidence of their activities is vividly described by: John Perkins in ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man; Greg Palast ‘In The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’and William Blum’s ‘Rogue State’ which provides a ‘Concise List of United States Global Interventions 1945 to the Present’.

    These interventions quell and smash those national Governments and populations which challenge and resist the power of Multi-National Interest in the struggle to control their own country’s resources.

    This sample list is horrendous; massacres of over 500,000 in Indonesia, 200,000 in Guatamala, Interventions in Iran 1963, thence Dominica, Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela. The US inspired Pinochet coup against Allende’s Government in Chile is a stark moment in history. It shocked the world and resonates today! For Chile, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s moving Story Of A Death Foretold must be required reading ! I do not have to mention Vietnam, Afghanistan and the totally unjustified Bush/Blair adventure in Iraq, let alone other activities elsewhere !

    So Where is the Labour Party in all this ?

    In 1945 utilising Clause 4 of the Labour Party Constitution (Common Ownership of the Means of Production) and the Beveridge Report, Attlee began a real Revolution. Beveridge himself declared ‘a revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolution not for patching’

    The startling proposition that Major Industries should serve the interests of the whole community led to the nationalisation of Coal, Railways,  Iron and Steel, Cable and Wireless and the Bank of England.

    By means of progressive taxation that great triumph the National Health Service was created—free access to all levels of medical treatment and social care. Then came free access to all levels of Education; a commitment to full employment and affordable housing. Secure Pension schemes sustained citizens in old age and ensured their continued spending should benefit the employment of others both locally and nationally. The entire enterprise became known as ‘The Welfare State’.

    Attlee’s revolutionary achievement was the creation of a new society in which the State served the interests of its people rather than the Multi-National Corporations.

    All this depended on the sustaining presence of Clause 4.

    But Counter Revolution hid in the wings !

    Post WorldWar2, as European Imperialism collapsed, populations were gripped by the sense of promise offered by de-colonisation and the advance of workers’ rights. The spread of the idea of the Welfare State throughout the world sustained the loyalty of electorates against the threat or promise of communism.

    But Multinationals found this profoundly unsettling ! As the welfare state ideal spread throughout the world they lost control of profits from key industries and had to redistribute wealth through corporate taxation and steady improvement in workers’ wages.

    They wanted a Counter-Revolution- narrative to reclaim their control of the State and to proclaim the Benefits of Freedom and Return to the unregulated capitalist economy. They chose Milton Friedman and the Chicago Business School. His ‘Freedom to Choose’ (against the overweening power of Government), was massively underwritten by the largest corporations; among them Getty Oil, Firestone, PepsiCo, General Motors and others. They sponsored a global network of Think-Tanks producing counter-revolutionary economics and disciples worldwide. Everywhere Politicians and other leaders were groomed to respond to this narrative.

    For the UK, Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch launched the ‘British American Project’ to groom ‘successor generations’ of our future leaders.. Among its Alumni were those who became New Labour Glitterati and important members of the Blair Governments.

    Essentially the message was; Dismantle and remove regulation obstructing the ‘freedom’ to accumulate Profit; Sell off Public Assets to enable the Private/Multi-National sector to run them at a profit; Cut and Privatise Public Services; End State Control of Prices, releasing them to be determined by the ‘Free Market,

    And of course, lift the burden of Taxation from the Rich.

    (Remember that the words ‘Private’ and ‘Multi-National’ are inter-changeable !)

    This was capped by the ‘New Public Management’regime. Market ideas/practices were imposed in the heart of the public sector. Managers were instructed to make services and personnel responsive to the dictates of ‘The Market’ rather than the needs of the Public they existed to serve. Hence the disastrous rise of Internal Markets, Outsourcing and Privatisation. We see the damage now caused to our hospitals, schools, prisons, Social Services and every aspect of National and Local Government provision. This became the transfer of wealth and power to the rich via privatisation. PFI and Public Private Partnership in the Public Sector transferred ownership and control of much of our Economy’s infrastructure to private/ Multi-National business. George Monbiot describes it as ‘the Corporate takeover of Britain’. http://www.monbiot.com ,

    The profits from many PFI have actually ended up in Off Shore Tax Havens. Privatisation has massively benefitted firms like Centrica, Amey, G4S, McKinsey et al. Jaques Pirreti’s excellent T.V article ‘Who Is Spending Britain’s Billions’ makes the point explicitly. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0803b0s .Alongside we have seen the destruction of Trades’Union power  and the hollowing out of the Labour Party; turning ‘New Labour’ into a vehicle for corporate interest and the marketisation of local and national government.

    Herein lies the crucial importance of New Labour’s demolition of Clause 4, the attack on Attlee’s Revolutionary Belief – that State and Industry are the servant of the people !

    By demolishing Clause4 New Labour surrendered the ultimate threat and deterrent and sacrificed the protection it gave to the public against the overweening advance and power of the private /Multi- National interest. This Multi-National ‘Freedom to Choose’ was used to wreck the Welfare State. It was adopted by ‘successor generations’ of politicians throughout the world ,  by Thatcherite Tories and notably New Labour in Britain but also much more violently in Chile, South America, Indonesia and elsewhere. Whatever protection workers and their families had managed to win, whatever Service the State provided for its own people ,all public services and nationalised industries must be transferred to the Private Sector on principle !

    Consequent world-wide de-regulation of Banking and Finance unleashed an almost demonic greed. That greed almost destroyed the world’s economy in 2008, a replica of the crisis leading to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    It was only the dramatic use of Public /State financial power (Brown/Obama) that restored the world’s economy by massive input of public money. It was the use of that power in 1945 which created the Welfare State. But in 2009 the Tory-Lib.Dem Government manufactured the false myth that the only way out of the Crisis was an enhanced Austerity programme to further dismantle the Welfare State, to cut, outsource and privatise our public services, even more recklessly pursuing their agenda of support for the Multi-National interest.

    The apparent success of their drive to impose Austerity across the Globe has encouraged the Multi-Nationals even further in their relentless and ruthless exploitation of the world’s habitat and populations. But their reckless opportunism is provoking another gigantic reaction, a far greater threat than that of 2008. Even the Natural World is in revolt as Climate Change threatens the very basis of civilised life on Earth. The Economist Nicholas Stern calculates the economic effect of unchecked Global Warming will exceed that of the Two World Wars and The Great Depression. “Climate Change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has ever seen” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Stern,_Baron_Stern_of_Brentford

    A recent Maryland University study for NASA ‘Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ suggests that we have five decades before everything we know will end. KPMG and UK Government Office of Statistics Reports warn that the convergence of food, energy and water crises could present a perfect storm within about 15 years.

    Pope Francis’ Papal Letter to the whole world ‘Laudato Si’ describes the “relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment”, for which he blames the “reckless pursuit of profit and political short-sightedness” and warns of the unprecedented and imminent destruction of ecosystems. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html .  .

    Trapped Greenhouse Gases place the entire Population in an unpredictable danger zone(UN Panel on Climate Change). Runaway melting of the Artic Sea; Methane gas release from melting permafrost,  violent hurricanes, Mega- droughts creating deserts in America and China, melting Greenland and Antartic ice sheets posit the inundation of  riverine  cities (such as London and worldwide) washing over Nuclear Power stations and toxic waste dumps in low lying areas. Since 70% of world population lives on coastal plains, the multi-metre rise in sea water will create social disruption and economic consequences of devastating proportions. Mass migration and economic collapse would make the present influx from Africa and the Middle East look puny indeed. Such economic stress could make our planet ungovernable and threaten the very fabric of our civilisation ! In British terms recent devastating floods throughout the country will become repetitively worse ! Riverine villages, towns and cities will face increasing threat.

    We are living on borrowed time !

    The present world order –the power of the Multi-nationals and the Elite 6000 – has unleashed such dramatic extremes in our climate as to threaten the continued existence of our Human Species. ‘Their’ Economic System and ‘our’ Planet’s Eco-System are now at war with each other. But the scale of economic planning and management to re-assert some normality is outside the scope of our ruling ideologies ! The International Energy Agency warns that failure to get emissions under control means that our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock-in’ extremely dangerous global warning very soon ! Trump’s election will worsen that !

    But that dismantling of the Public Sector, the destruction of our military and Naval capacity, the weakening of Police Forces, the Emergency Services; the downgrading of our Health and Social Services provision and the hollowing out of National and Local Government’s capacity, competence and power brings with it fatal weakness in the face of the existential threat posed by Climate Change.

    Naomi Klein asks http://www.naomiklein.org/main  “How can societies provide massive investment in zero carbon public services when the Power of the public sector is systematically dismantled and auctioned off ? How can the Renewable Energy Sector receive support and protection when ‘Protectionism’ is a dirty word ?”

    Action is required to avert the collapse of our civilisation and to build new forms of Society.

    Given that much of our political system owes allegiance to the Multinationals, who is going to provide the catalyst for the change which will challenge their power ? Here I refer to the significance of Corbyn in the UK, Berni Sanders in the US and the multi-national influence of Pope Francis.

    They and others like them can become Beacons, even Lighthouses ,warning of pressingly imminent dangers unless collectively we change our course !

    Out of the shock and debris of the 20th century wars our forbears, (against the interests of the Major companies) created the publicly-owned Welfare State which defended them against unemployment, ill-health, ignorance,environmental and civil disaster and provided supportive care from the cradle to the grave. It was the creation of a new society in which the State served the interests of the entire community rather than those of the Multi-National Elite !

    So too in the face of looming Environmental Cataclysm we must recreate that form of society and its capacity to protect its citizens from disaster through public control of Services and Utilities both nationally and locally. We need to reform and rebuild everything ripped out by Privatisation. All shades of political; social, cultural and religious spectrum; the Greens, Trades’Unions, Liberals and the Labour Party, concerned Tories, small business in our communities, every caring person and organisation need to unite in a major co-ordinated campaign in a Progressive Alliance to awaken the consciousness of the British people to the immediate danger from Global Warning and Climate Change brought upon them by unregulated Capitalism.

    A great example of community activity has occurred in New York where they perceive a grave threat from Climate change. NY Renews seeks a new energy economy to create thousands of good-paying jobs, protect front line communities, strengthen and provide economic opportunities for all New Yorkers and get Law- Makers  to invest in rebuilding infra-structure, expanding public transportation and moving towards  clean renewable energy.

    Clearly this community activity in the peoples’interest must outweigh the interest of any Multi-National. It can be done here.

    New Labour was complicit in the advance of Multi-National Interests at the Public expense !  George Monbiot says “Governments will reassert their control over Corporations only when the people reassert their control over Governments “.

    It is the threat of that reassertion of control that so frightens the Multi-Nationals and those politicians who support them !That is the significance of Corbyn !

    It is people like Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis who Beacon-like show the way to a better, sustainable future. In Britain we need Corbyn and the Progressive Alliance to be given the opportunity to wrest Captive State Power away from Multi-National  interest and return it  to the Service of the People !

     

    Alderman Michael Poulter MBE.

    Stafford,

    ST16 3LT

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  • Politics and Politicians

    To :  Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, Liz Kendall.

    Contenders for the Labour Party Leadership.

    Extinction or Relevance! Does The Labour Party Have a  Future ?

    From: Alderman Michael Poulter MBE

    Staffordshire: 07722078478

     

    In the aftermath of the General Election a highly intelligent, committed but disappointed young person asked me despairingly whether Politics and Politicians really matter? Does the Labour Party have a future if it cannot provide answers to the existential problems he and his generation now face?  His is a question you and our Labour Party have to answer. I promised an in-depth reply which I ask you to consider as you prepare for the Leadership Contest. This was my considered response..

     

    ‘Polis’ has a Greek root pertaining to the City or Town – Who rules it –for whom does it exist; to whom are ‘The Rulers’ accountable? What is Power for?

    The writers of the book of Genesis pondered the question. They identified possessive Greed as The Original Sin, destructive of healthy human relationships and community life. The struggles of Plebs and Patricians in ancient Rome exhibit the same theme. In the Middle Ages Thomas Aquinas stated that a just ruler or government must work for the Common Good. Hilary Mantel has recently explored the lives of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. At the same time as Machiavelli wrote ‘Il Principe’, each pondered the use of power. Cromwell opted for a Machiavellian King but More in his Utopia (1516) concluded that Community and Power exist for the sake of its citizens and the use of all community resources should be directed to the Common Good. His later defiance of the King caused his execution.

    Later British socialists of all persuasions came to similar conclusions which were built on by Marx and Engels in their analysis of Working Class conditions in England.

     

    The question you pose about the future of the Labour Party and its relationship to the post Industrial world must still address the issue of Power, which remains constant throughout history. Whom do Politicians serve?  For whom does the State exist?

     

    During two world wars in the 20th Century, our grandparents and parents experienced slaughter on an industrial scale. Such industrial organisation was pre-shadowed by the  industrial herding of the Proletarian/Plebeian classes into slum conditions in the towns to service the looms, the mills, the mines and factories organised by their employers, the possessing class.

    From that industrialised squalor and exploitation grew the angry defensive power of the Workers, organised by the Trades’ Unions and the Labour Movement.

    Later from the destruction and profound social, familial and personal trauma  inflicted  by the Wars  grew a shared consciousness  and conscience  between some of the Possessing Class and the Labour Movement.

    Thus in 1942 Beveridge produced his Report. All shades of opinion and all sections of the community welcomed it

    William Temple, that fine Archbishop of Canterbury, declared that it was the first time anyone had set out to embody the whole spirit of the Christian Ethic in an Act of Parliament!

    Beveridge declared “a revolutionary moment in the world’s history is the time for revolutions not for patching”

     

    Thus a real revolution started in 1945. The Attlee government began the assault on the ‘Five Great Evils’ caused by Industry and the ravages of war; Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness and Disease.

    Hence was formed the Welfare State, not that people received ‘welfare’  but that via  progressive taxation  the welfare of its people to whom it was accountable was the essential function of the State! The startling proposition that major industries serve the interest of the whole community, not those of their shareholders, led to the Nationalisation of Coal, Railways, Iron and Steel, Cable and Wireless and the Bank of England.

    The NHS was created, followed by free access to all levels of education  and  commitment to full employment and social housing.

    Even the unemployed should be supported, not just for humane reasons but because their continuing spending power was of great importance to local and national economies. Similarly, secure pension schemes were introduced to sustain citizens in old age—again to ensure their spending benefitted the employment of others locally and nationally.

    This was not a drag or detriment but an invigoration of community life and wellbeing and an investment in other people’s employment.

    What a real revolution the Welfare State created!

     

    But Counter Revolution hid in the wings.

    For a while ‘power to and for the people’ was accepted through gritted teeth by the Possessing Class. Countries in Europe, the Far East, the Americas and Africa were gripped by the sense of promise offered by anti–colonialism and the advance of communism. The Welfare State and its benefits countered that promise and sustained the loyalty of electorates throughout the Western World.

    The U.S Multinationals and their allies found the post World War settlement very unsettling! The spread of Welfare States cost them dear as they had to redistribute wealth through corporate taxes and workers’ wages.

    They wanted a counter-revolution narrative to proclaim a beneficial return to unregulated capitalism. They wanted an antidote to Keynesian economics.

     

    Their chosen vehicle was Milton Friedman and the Chicago Business School. They funnelled their Corporatist views via this Academic institution imbued with quasi scientific impartiality. Their funding spawned a global network of right wing Think- Tanks to churn out counter- revolutionary economics and disciples world wide.

    Alongside this, President Reagan supported by Rupert Murdoch launched the ‘British American Project’ to groom ‘successor generations’ of future leaders in the American interest. Among Alumni of the BAP were a galaxy of people who later became New Labour Glitterati and ministers in the Blair Government. Similar ‘successor generations’ were clearly groomed throughout the world.

    Friedman’s message was simple. “Everything went wrong when Roosevelt used public money to rescue the American economy during the Great Depression!

    The solution was simple. “Drop Roosevelt and Keynes!”

    Governments must:

    “Remove all regulation obstructing the accumulation of profit,

    Sell off any public asset so that the Private Sector could run them at profit,

    Cut and privatise public services

    Allow no protection for local industry or ownership,

    Finally all Prices must be determined by the Market!”

     

    This theoretical framework was used to wreck the Welfare State. It has been adopted by ‘successor generations’ of politicians throughout the world – notably by Thatcherite Tories and New Labour in Great Britain; in Chile, South America, Indonesia, Russia and elsewhere.  Sometimes the intervention was violent as in Chile . The medicine is still being applied as in Spain and Greece! Whatever protections workers and their families had managed to win, whatever services the State provides for its own people- public assets must be transferred to private hands on principle !

     

    De-regulation of the Banking and Finance unleashed the demonic greed which almost destroyed the western economies in 2008, an almost exact replica of the lead-in to the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  In 2008 the Labour Government, like Roosevelt and  Keynes, restored the economy by massive input of public money. But out of that crisis grew the myth that the Deficit was a devastating and shocking problem. The Tory Coalition used the scam/Shock of the alleged Deficit Crisis to advance even more the Privatisation agenda in which we are still embroiled.

    All this forms the background of my letter to Ed Miliband in 2013 (www.michaelpoulter.org.uk)Blog

    So -where do we go from here?

     

    I believe that out of the present we have a duty decisively to shape the future.

    History shows that Empires fall and Civilisations collapse. As Beveridge indicated the 20th Century was one of Revolution. Revolutions occur when the log-jam of problems left by previous generations become so glaringly apparent to a next generation that drastic solutions have to be devised or burst forth violently.

     

    One can cite 1789, the 1840’s, Russia1917 and the spread of revolutionary activity in the Near and Far-East, China and indeed the Latin Americas throughout the 20th Century.

    Despite Capitalism’s near collapse, saved only by Public Funds, the relentless , greedy power of the Multi-nationals (with the military support of their allied politicians) still seeks to extend its profitability across the Globe – enhancing its ‘private’ freedom to profit at damaging expense to local populations.

     

    Who owns the World?  Who owns the resources situate within it?

    At present 85 individual people own half the World’s wealth. Their colleagues own most of the rest They are part of an elite group of some 6000 people made up from the CEOs of major corporations, Partners in Hedge Funds/Private Equity and some national, military and religious leaders. Together they control Oil, Energy, Money, Intellectual Property, Technology and the Media. They create a group mindset into which they invite their chosen politicians. Collectively they and their predecessors have ruthlessly exploited  the World’s habitat and its population. But now it becomes glaringly obvious that the structural damage they impose is provoking a gigantic reaction. Even the Natural World is in revolt as Climate Change threatens the very bases of civilised life on earth. How has this occurred?

    The simple explanation –The Sun’s rays previously bounced off the Earth back into Space. Gross exploitation of the habitat has created a layer of greenhouse gases trapping reflected rays in the lower atmosphere and returning trapped heat back to Earth! As a result the World’s population now exists in an unpredictable danger zone (UN Panel on Climate Change) in which it will face the runaway melting of the Arctic Sea, massive methane gas release from melting Permafrost, violent hurricanes, mega droughts in China and America, creating deserts and through the melting  of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets the very probable inundation of coastal cities(like London),threatening nuclear power stations and toxic waste dumps sited in low lying areas. The current world order; the economic and financial activity of the ‘6000 Elite Group’ is unleashing such dramatic extremes in climate as to put at risk the existence of the human species! We are living on borrowed time.

    So what should be the function of Politics now?

     

    All life on Earth is threatened. The economic system and our planetary system are now at war with each other. The scale of economic planning and management required to re-assert some kind of normality is entirely outside the scope of our ruling ideologies. The International Energy Agency warns that failure to get emissions under control by 2017 means that our fossil fuel economy will “lock-in” extremely dangerous Global Warming.

    Thus action is required to prevent the collapse of our civilisation and to build new forms of global society.

     

    Multinational Companies and their puppet politicians used real, apparent or indeed manufactured crises as shocks to mask and excuse the Austerity Programmes and Privatisation, which have dismantled the public sector and destroyed the public ownership of resources.

     

    The real and threatening environmental crisis is looming. This existential fact must become our own “Shock Doctrine”.  Out of the shock and debris of 20th century war our forebears created the publicly-owned Welfare State in control of its own resources and industries. So too, in the face of  a much worse environmental cataclysm with which the private, privatised, profit-orientated  sector cannot cope we must re-create and reformulate the Politics of a Citizenry which owns and produces its assets and uses the public estate as a means of economic and social advancement.  The Welfare State has been wilfully destroyed but from its shining example and experience we should create what I might call “The Citizen State”, every resource devoted to the building of humane and creative community life.

     

    Ancient Greek States adopted the public meeting of all citizens in the Market Place. In Athens all administrative decisions were made by this Assembly or Ecclesia.  It amounted to government by Mass Meeting.  Modern technology and social media are already laying the basis for such Mass Meetings in modern and real time.  38 degrees whose Internet campaigns are chosen and led by its 3 million members is an example of the potency of the technologically empowered ‘meeting of minds’ on vital community issues.  Such conversations escape the control exercised by the Media.  Thus social media can utilise and evoke/provoke the power of protest with immediate repercussion.

     

    Constructive local initiatives abound and can be spread.  The Bristol Pound, shortly to be adopted by Exeter, Liverpool and perhaps Barcelona mean that local populations can take on the power of national and international currencies and retain the value of their money within their community.

     

    Politicians exist in every community – the Parish, the Town, County, National, and International Governments.  Personal engagement and use of social media can now engage each one of them in sometimes distressingly direct ways.  The question – to whom are you accountable/whose interest do you serve? – cannot be avoided and the answers can be publicised.

     

    So this technology creates a new form of the Assembly or Ecclesia.  However, ‘people-power’ is only Power when organised. Existing forms of organisation must be built upon and transformed.  New Labour gave its soul to Capitalism and so we need a revolution in the Labour Party to reform and recreate everything ripped away by Privatisation. Every would-be- politician at whatever level should, before selection, be questioned on his/her approach to the looming Environmental Catastrophe and the need for Public Control of Services and Utilities locally and nationally so as to combat Climate Change and to create the Citizen State. The same questions should be addressed to the leadership of every other organisation both at local and national level. The use of the word Ecclesia brings to mind the Churches which should face similar interrogations from their Congregations. All shades of Green, Liberal, Trades’ Unions, the Labour Party, every caring organisation and person need to unite in a major co-ordinated campaign to awaken the consciousness of the British people in the face of the cataclysm that unregulated and uncontrolled Capitalism is inflicting upon them.

     

    There are real grounds for optimism. There is a groundswell of understanding across the Globe. Out of the destruction of war, committed and optimistic people created the Welfare State. Given similar commitment and courage we in our generation now have a real opportunity to create the ‘Citizen State’.

     

    Should we fail to provide such a solution in the nearer future, then as with volcanoes, repressed forces will blow, unpredictably and with great power!

    From the Labour Leadership Contenders we must demand a response proportionate to the scale our national and international populations  face !

     

     

    Michael Poulter MBE

    Stafford

    9th June 2015

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  • Letter to Ed Miliband

     

     

    From: Alderman Michael Poulter MBE

    60 Corporation Street ,

    Stafford

    ST163LT

    07722078478,

    8th January 2014

     

    Mr Ed Miliband MP,

    Leader of the Opposition,

    House of Commons.

    London

    SW1AOAA

     

    Dear Mr Miliband,

    Osborne’s Deficit Scam

    The Excuse to Privatise, Outsource and Dismantle Public Services and the Welfare State

     

    In his New Year Message the Chancellor again exploits the alleged Deficit Crisis to trumpet a still imperative need for extended austerity and more severe cuts in Public Spending.

    In William Keegan’s words (Observer 29.12.2013) “Coalition Ministers still proclaim the ‘Big Lie’ that it was all down to ‘Labour’s Mess’ “.

    From its inception the Coalition claimed the National Debt was overwhelmingly large.It must therefore cut public spending and public services dramatically in order to restore the economy to health.

     

    But the Government’s claim is false. The Deficit Crisis is a fiction and the British Public are being subjected to one of the bigger scams in British history.

    There exists an impressively intellectual array of wise, educated and expert advice which tells us so.

     

    Professor Robert Nield of Cambridge University is the foremost historian of the National Debt.

    He analysed the Coalition’s claim and in effect rubbished it! He authoritatively states that for the last three centuries the UK has maintained a National Debt without difficulty.Much of that debt was higher than when the Coalition took power.It did not look alarming let alone abnormal ! He says that the application of Government policies justified by alarmism is leading into unnecessarily deep recession.

    Dr William Keegan ( Cutting welfare to ‘aid recovery ‘ is just a big lie ),quotes Brian Henry on ‘ Coalition’s Economic Strategy ‘. His careful analysis of the so-called structural deficit states it was no worse at the end of Labour’s pre-crisis years than it had been under the Conservatives and that the Coalition seized the opportunity to impose a protracted fiscal contraction with the aim of reducing the Tax Burden. Dr Keegan recalls John Le Carre’s powerful phrase about Coalition Welfare policy being tantamount to ‘planned penury’.

    I think the emphasis here must be on “the planned ”

     

    George Osborne and the Reinhard-Rogoff thesis.

    Before he took office Mr Osborne used this paper as key to his intellectual argument for the austerity programme.”Should Public Spending be cut to control deficits or should States pro-actively rekindle economic growth?” Their deeply argued analysis said Public Spending should be cut! Mr Osborne suggested that they offered perhaps the mosr significant contribution to understanding the origin of the financial crisis. But an authoritative study by Herndon, Ash and Polin found their conclusion was based on faulty maths and spreadsheet error. The assumptions and calculations (on which Mr Osborne based his policy) did not stand up.

    This criticism of Reinhart-Rogoff is also supported by Larry Elliot an economist of international repute. The intellectual basis for the Deficit Reduction policy is deeply flawed.

     

    Nobel PrizeWinner Paul Krugman explicitly denounces the Coalition Myth that the Deficit is unmanageable without cuts and great austerity! He quotes Keynes “The Boom not the Slump is the time for austerity”

     

    Robert Skidelsky, foremost commentator on Keynes also supports the view that Britain’s public debt was far from from crisis point.

     

    Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College Oxford and public intellectual of great repute,comments “we need Government not to cut but which steps in to halt the plunge in private demand.We need public investment and job creation to survive as an economy”

     

    Joseph.E.Stiglitz is a Nobel PrizeWinner and former Chief Economist of the World Bank. In his book ‘The Price of Inequality ‘ he powerfully criticises “Deficit Fetishism” of the kind exhibited by the Coalition and the risks to the Public Good inherent in the advance to Privatisation. His is a powerful critique of Free Market Ideology.

     

    What conclusion might now be drawn ? On the basis of these expert views the Coalition Polcy is a sham !

     

    I go along with John Harris (Guardian ,28.02.2011)

    ”Coalition has sneaked a coup on a sleeping public” He says that what is occurring throughout the Western World is the planned dismantling of Welfare States.

     

    The alleged Deficit Crisis is being used as an excuse-(as in Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’) to shock/persuade people that the Public Sector and the Postwar settlement must be swept away as unaffordable!

     

    Following Polly Toynbee’s excellent article in The Guardian ‘ Tory outriders reveal the party’s direction of travel’, I wrote to her quoting the authorities I mention above. Her immediate and personal response acknowledged their wisdom and suggested that Cameron had intended all this from the outset !

     

    Cameron and Osborne use this ‘Fiction’ of an overwhelming budget deficit to justify pre-planned privatisation and cuts in Public Spending (The Politics of Privatisation in Western Europe,1988) .

    Their cuts of 25-40% are thus causing the dismantling of our universally available Health, Social Service, Community Care, Education Services, LegalAid as well as Pensions, Retirement and Benefits Provision and entitlement for which fair and proper taxation policies have paid in the past.

    At the same time they impose the headlong drive towards Privatisation and Outsourcing thus threatening not only Health and Education but Prisons, Probation, Policing and Court Services.

    They enhance the interests of the large Corporate, Commercial and Financial organisations at the expense of the Public interest and the Public Purse rather than the majority democratic interest of all living in our communities. Cuts in Flood Protection are a recent case in point.

     

    The Deficit Strategy ( “Lie” as described by William Keegan) underpins the Coalition’s entire political, economic and social/welfare policy. As described above it is clearly based on complete misrepresentation designed to mislead and confuse the Electorate and to blame Labour for the damaging policies being forced through.

     

     

    Labour is thus unfairly and unjustifiably labelled as the cause of a Deficit Crisis which does not actually exist. A lack of rebuttal seems to encourage the Chancellor and Ministers, in Parliament and out in the country, continuously to make statements about “the financial mess they inherited.”

    Everywhere groups of people, in meetings, social gatherings and pubs, friends and acquaintances have all been imbued with the mindset of Deficit Fetishism .

     

     

     

    But there are now within the country profound stirrings of support for a concerted challenge to this Coalition Lie.This resides not only among intellectuals, economists, journalists and the Trades and Labour Movement but nationally and locally among many other people of good will concerned about the impact of this fixation on Deficit Reduction ( in part the cause of the Cost of Living Crisis) and about the disastrous and dangerous direction in which the UK is being taken. Their frustration and alarm could well be mobilised.

    Notable among them must be the recent positions taken by both Archbishops,Justin Welby of Canterbury and Vincent Nichols of Westminster ; ably supported it must be said by Pope Francis ! The significance of their Faith communities and their range of influence should not be underestimated!

     

    I write this letter to suggest to you that the tide is beginning to change and thus brings a challenging opportunity for Labour,

    .

    You have a network of Constituency Parties, MPs, Parliamentary Candidates, Leaders and Councillors , Party Members and their friends within our Counties, Cities, Towns, Village and Rural communities -all of whom could be mobilised to counter the Coalition Lie and to demolish the mindset of Deficit Fetishism. Should this mobilisation occur the ground would be well prepared for a much more healthy and constructive debate about the future direction of our society and the kind of ‘people-based’, democratically- orientated economy ; for the reconstruction of which so many would vote in the next General Election,

     

    Yours Sincerely,

     

    Michael Poulter

    email;mike.poulter1729@yahoo.co.uk

    www.michaelpoulter.org.uk

     

    As a courtesy I have sent a copy of this letter to each expert person quoted within it.

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  • Letter to ACPO 19 Nov 2013

    From Alderman Michael Poulter MBE. 60 Corporation Street

    2001-2009 Chairman, Stafford

    Staffordshire Police Authority 07722078478

     

    Sir Hugh Orde,

    President,

    Association of Chief Police Officers.

     

    Dear Sir Hugh,

     

     

    Cuts in Policing Budgets and The ACPO Conference

    The Need for Austerity and The Deficit Crisis

    Fact or Fiction?

     

    On a recent visit to Cheadle Hulme Conservative Club Teresa May justified her cuts to Policing Budgets by citing the Deficit left by the last Labour Government.(M.E.News 2.10.13)

    From its inception the Coalition claimed that the National Debt was overwhelmingly large.

    It must therefore cut public spending dramatically in order to restore the economy to health.

    Hence the massive cuts being imposed on Policing and the the Public Sector and their consequent impact on the spending power of our local populations and repercussively on private businesses.

     

    But what if the Deficit was not the problem the Coalition declared it to be?

    What if the Goverment’s claim is false?

     

    Let us examine some facts and opinions.

     

    Professor Robert Nield of Cambridge University is the foremost historian of National Debt. He studied the Coalition’s claim and in effect rubbished it! He authoritatively states that for the last three centuries the UK has maintained a National Debt without difficulty. Much of that debt was higher than when the Coalition took power. It did not look alarming let alone abnormal!

    He says that the application of Government policies, justified by alarmism, is leading into unnecessarily deep recession.

     

    The Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman explicitly denounces the Coalition Myth that the Deficit is unmanageable without cuts and great austerity! He quotes Keynes “The Boom not the Slump is the time for Austerity”

     

    Life Peer Robert Skidelsky is the foremost commentator on the great economist John Maynard Keynes. He supports the view that Britain’s public debt was far from crisis point!

     

    Will Hutton of The Observer ,Principal of Hertford College Oxford and public intellectual of massive repute,comments- We need a State/Government not to cut but which steps in to halt the plunge in private demand. We need public investment and job creation to survive as an economy.

    This essentially is the view proposed by Keynes during the Great Depression and which still has enormous resonance today

     

    George Osbourne and the Reinhard- Rogoff Thesis: Before he took office Mr Osbourne used their paper as key to his intellectual argument for the austerity programme.

    ‘Should public spending be cut to control deficits-or should States (pro-actively) rekindle economic growth ? Following intense and deeply argued analysis they said Public Spending should be cut to control Deficits. Their conclusion was manna from heaven for those urging immediate and tough action to reduce the public sector. Osbourne suggested they offered perhaps the most significant contribution to our understanding of the origin of the financial crisis.

    An authoritative study of Reinhard-Rogoff undertaken by Herndon,Ash and Polin found their conclusion was founded on faulty maths and basic spreadsheet error.. The assumptions and calculations did not stand up. This analysis is supported by Larry Elliot,an economic expert of national repute.

    Thus George Osbourne’s intellectual analysis of our economic situation is based on a very shaky foundation.

    John Harris (Guardian28.02,2011) “Coalition has sneaked a coup on a sleeping public”He says that what is occurring throughout the Western World is the planned dismantling of Welfare States.

     

    What conclusion might now be drawn?

    Given these expert views the rational behind Coalition Deficit policy might be described as suspicious!

    The alleged ‘Deficit Crisis’ is being used as an excuse,as in Naomi Klein’s’The Shock Doctrine’ to shock/persuade people that the Public Sector should be swept away as unaffordable!

     

    The Government uses ‘This Fiction’ of an overwhelming Budget Deficit to justify cuts in public spending of 25-40%, attacking Police Budgets as well as causing the demolition of our universally available Health, Education, Retirement, Pensions and Benefits entitlements, for which fair and proper taxation policies have paid in the past.Then follows the headlong drive towards Privatisation and Outsourcing in the interest of large Corporate commercial and financial organisations at the expense of the public interest and its purse.

     

    On the basis of the analysis I and others have deployed this Austerity programme was not what our national situation required.

    The cuts you have been forced to make should not have been necessary.

    Thus Police Commissioners and Chief Constables have been forced to make massively severe Budget Cuts (31,000 job losses by 2015) based on a false prospectus!

     

    I write this letter in the context of the forthcoming Association of Chief Police Officers’ Conference ‘Leading Change in Policing in Northants on 20-22nd November.

    I refer specifically to Sir Hugh Orde’s letter of invitation ;- Conference “to prepare ourselves for the next General Election with specific focus on our budgetary needs”.Thus Sir Hugh provides the immediate forum within which Police Commissioners and Chief Constables can begin to engage in the National Economic Debate.

    There is legitimate ground for you and all your colleagues throughout the Police Service to analyse the present economic situation and the needs of Policing within it.

    .
    .I hope you and your colleagues will feel able to commit yourselves to this debate.This might re-assert the continuing need for more investment in those essential services which sustain and support healthy social and community life. Notable among them must be Policing!

     

    Yours Sincerely,

     

    Michael Poulter

     

    This letter is sent personally to each Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner. www.michaelpoulter.org.uk

    email:mike.poulter1729@yahoo.co.uk

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  • Letter to Stafford Newsletter 29 March 2013

    Dear Editor

    If Stafford Hospital Staff  have caused 400 – 1200 avoidable and unnecessary deaths, then we face possibly the biggest manslaughter/murder enquiry in English Medical History.

    Recent analysis by SKWalker  maintains that no such numbers of deaths occured.  Th figures quoted are wrong and hence the data has been mis-interpreted.  During the relevant period, proper coding was not in place – the Coding Manager being absent on long-term sick leave.  Price Waterhouse Cooper say the proper coding would have placed the figures 25- 30% lower.  Later an authentic coding regime gave Stafford a score of 88.  The average number of deaths in English hospitals is given a score of 100 against which every hospital is compared.  The score of 88 put Stafford well below the national average, particularly when the wrongly coded deaths gave scores of 114 – 127.  On this basis, and given the Price Waterhouse Cooper discount, the alleged 400 – 1200 deaths could not have occurred.

    Should this analysis be correct then an “avoidable, unnecessary” even a malicious stain has been cast on the reputation of all who work in the Mid-Staffs Trust. This damaged reputation is now being used to force the dismantling of Hospital Provision in the Stafford and Cannock communities.

     

    I ask that we lift this stigma of shame from our hospital. All who care for and seek cure for the NHS should now unite in the vigorous fight to retain essential health provision and as SKWalker puts it

    Save Stafford Hospital from Unnecessary Death.

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