Podcast: I Discuss the UK’s General Election, Warmongering, Protest and Julian Assange’s Release with Andy Bungay

The graphic for my podcast with Andy Bungay on July 13, 2024.

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I’m pleased to have just posted on my YouTube channel the full audio recording of an interview I undertook on July 13, nine days after the UK’s recent General Election, with Andy Bungay of Riverside Radio, a community radio station in Wandsworth, in south London. Some of what we discussed drew on the article I wrote just after the election, Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the Tories Lost So Spectacularly.

Parts of the interview were broadcast live that evening, with the full interview subsequently included in a longer version of the show posted on Andy’s MixCloud page, as the latest instalment of a monthly show, the Colin Crilly Takeover, incorporated into Andy’s weekly show, The Chiminea.

It was a great pleasure to chat to Andy about the relief that so many people were feeling about being rid of the cruel, corrupt and incompetent Tory government, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to explain how so much of this derangement was because of Brexit, when, after Theresa May lost her struggle to try and make it work in a rational manner, we were burdened with a succession of dreadful Prime Ministers — Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — who fundamentally gave up on governing, and focused instead on deranged fantasies: treating the UK as a tabula rasa, a lawless blank slate which they intended to remake as little more than a corrupt kleptocracy and an authoritarian nightmare, a place where refugees would all be treated as criminals, and flown on a one-way trip to Rwanda, and any kind of protest was akin to terrorism.

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Radio: I Discuss the Death of the Tories, Labour’s Dubious Victory and Israel’s Guantánamo with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

On the left: Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak, and, on the right, before and after photos of Moazzaz Obayat (also identified as Muazzam Obayat), a Palestinian from Bethlehem, held for nine months in Israel’s Negev Prison, and released as a broken man.

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Many thanks to my truth warrior colleague Chris Cook, in western Canada, for having me on his Gorilla Radio show again to discuss last week’s General Election in the UK, following up on my article, Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the Tories Lost So Spectacularly.

Our interview, available on Chris’s Substack here, took place in the second half of the one-hour show, following his interview with journalist and author John Helmer about Russia and Ukraine.

Chris and I spent most of our half-hour interview discussing the collapse of the Conservative Party — who lost two-thirds of their seats — after the 14 unbearably long years of their increasingly deranged rule, which became noticeably more septic after the vote to leave the EU in 2016, and also discussing the largely empty promise of their replacements, the Labour Party under Keir Starmer, who, because of the vagaries of Britain’s antiquated and anachronistic ‘First Past the Post’ voting system, won a landslide victory, despite securing less votes than Jeremy Corbyn did as Labour’s leader in the General Elections of 2017 and 2019.

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Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the Tories Lost So Spectacularly

A composite image of the outgoing Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and his replacement, Sir Keir Starmer.

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So the good news is easy. After 14 years of cruelty, incompetence and corruption, the Tories were wiped out in yesterday’s General Election in the UK, suffering their worst ever result, and ending up with less MPs than at any other point in their 190-year existence.

Of the 650 seats contested, the 365 seats that the Tories had when Rishi Sunak unexpectedly called a General Election on May 22 were slashed to just 121 (a loss of over two-thirds), with their vote almost halved, from 13,966,454 in 2019 to just 6,814,469 yesterday.

High-profile Tory losses included Liz Truss, the disastrous 43-day Prime Minister, whose vote plunged from 35,507 in 2019 to 11,217 in South West Norfolk, the absurd and offensive pro-Brexit toff Jacob Rees-Mogg, and a number of ministers until six weeks ago including the vacuous Tory pin-up Penny Mordaunt, the empty Grant Shapps and Mark Harper, the far-right ideologues Liam Fox and Johnny Mercer, and the offensive Thérèse Coffey and Gillian Keegan.

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General Election 2024: The Labour MPs Who Oppose Israel’s Genocide in Gaza, and Those Who Support It

A protest against Labour leader Keir Starmer, as he made speech at Chatham House in London in October 2023 (Photo: Guy Smallman).

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Ever since Rishi Sunak announced that a General Election would take place on July 4, some commentators have been suggesting that those of us who are implacably opposed to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza — as all decent people should be — should boycott the Labour Party entirely, because of the unconditional support for Israel demonstrated by Keir Starmer and key members of his shadow cabinet.

Starmer, shamefully, told LBC on October 11 that Israel had “the right” to withhold power and water from Gaza, while claiming that, “Obviously, everything should be done within international law”, even though, as a former human rights lawyer, he must have known that international law prohibits withholding power and water from a civilian population, because it is collective punishment, and a war crime under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which entered into force in October 1950.

Emily Thornberry and David Lammy were also criticised for statements they made in the first week of Israel’s ultra-violent response to the deadly attacks by Hamas and other militants on October 7, and were all included in “a notice of intention to prosecute UK politicians for their role in aiding and abetting Israel’s perpetration of war crimes”, issued on October 16 by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), “an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.”

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Under Rishi Sunak, the UK’s Fourth Tory Brexit Government, Already Obsessed with Austerity, Is Doomed to Fail

How the Daily Mirror, on its front page, responded to the news that Rishi Sunak had been chosen as the latest Prime Minister by Tory MPs.

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In the ongoing farce that is Britain’s Tory government, we now have our third Prime Minister in seven weeks — Rishi Sunak, the first Asian to hold the top job, but also the richest PM in British history, with a £730 million fortune via his marriage to Akshata Murty. The daughter of the Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, who founded the technology company Infosys, she has a 0.91% stake in the company, which constitutes most of the Sunak family’s wealth. Sunak himself was a banker from 2001 until his election in 2015, working first for Goldman Sachs, and then for a number of hedge funds.

Promoted to the role of Chancellor under Boris Johnson, Sunak is credited with successfully preventing a total meltdown of the economy during the Covid lockdowns, primarily through the furlough scheme for workers, although, to be honest, any Chancellor in place at the time would have had to do the same. Defeated by Liz Truss in the leadership campaign in the summer, he is now seen as a credible leader by the majority of Tory MPs who backed him over the last week — many, no doubt, pressurised to do so to prevent the choice of leader going back to the untrustworthy Party members who elected Truss — instead of the other contenders, Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson, who somehow thought that he could miraculously return from the political grave into which he had dug himself.

Nevertheless, the painful truth for Sunak is that no one — not even the 81,326 Tory Party members who voted for Liz Truss — voted for him, and it will be hard for him to claim any kind of popular mandate as a result. Hopefully, the calls for a General Election that increased throughout Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership will not fall away now that Truss has gone, because the only way for Sunak to genuinely claim any legitimacy is to ask the public to support him — and not merely to claim that the result of an election nearly three years ago, fought solely on Boris Johnson’s risible claim that he would ‘Get Brexit Done’, has any relevance.

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Brexit: Inspiring New Polling Analysis Shows Majority of Constituencies Now Support Remaining in the EU

A No Brexit badge, available via eBay.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.




 

There was some rare good news in the Observer on Sunday, when, two years and two months since 37.47% of the eligible electorate voted to leave the EU (17.4m people, compared to the 16.1m who voted to remain), the impossibility of this proposal, and the realisation that the government tasked with implementing it is spectacularly, almost inconceivably incompetent, has finally led to a situation in which support has swung back significantly for staying in the EU. 

Just to be clear before I proceed with explaining why this is good news, I’m no enthusiast for the EU’s neo-liberal tendencies, or for the way the Euro project was used to strangle Greece, but pragmatically we are tied to the EU through 43 years of laws and treaties, and our economic health depends on our involvement in the single market and the customs union, which allow the frictionless trade with the EU that makes up by far and away our biggest trading market. In addition, the free movement of people across the EU is, in general, a positive development, and not the righteous target of the misplaced fears of those with a tendency to insularity, racism and xenophobia. We are all nations of immigrants, and immigrants have an overwhelming tendency to assimilate.  

Focaldata's analysis of the constituency shift from Leave to Remain since the EU referendum in June 2016 (via the Observer).The Observer’s headline that encouraged a surge of optimism on my part, and on the part of so many other Remain voters, was “More than 100 seats that backed Brexit now want to remain in EU”, and its tagline explained, “Major new analysis shows most constituencies now have majority who want to Remain.” Further spelling out the change, the text of the article confirmed the study’s conclusion that “most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU.”

The research was undertaken by the Focaldata, a consumer analytics company, which “compiled the breakdown by modelling two YouGov polls of more than 15,000 people in total, conducted before and after Theresa May published her proposed Brexit deal on 6 July”, itself an unworkable “soft Brexit” proposal, which nevertheless enraged the evangelical Brexiteers on the right of the Tory Party, whose arrogance and capacity for self-delusion apparently knows no bounds. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally! Theresa May and the Tories Suffer a Major Defeat on Brexit as MPs Secure a Meaningful Vote on the Final Deal

The Theresa May Brexit float, set up by campaigners for the UK to remain in the EU.

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Congratulations to MPs, who, yesterday evening (December 13), voted by 309 votes to 305 to give themselves a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal that Theresa May and her small clique of dangerous and deluded Brexit fantasists were planning to pass without including MPs at all.

In the end, the Labour leadership persuaded all but two of its MPs (Frank Field and Kate Hoey) to vote for the amendment, in a move that was obviously difficult for those from constituencies that voted Leave. The amendment was tabled by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and its supporters in the Labour Party, and all the smaller parties except the DUP, were joined by eleven Tory rebels — as well as Dominic Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Robert Neill, Antointette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Hammond, a vice chairman of the party, was almost immediately sacked, and the Daily Mail proceeded to damn the rebels on its front page, causing Keir Starmer to comment, in a tweet, “When judges uphold the law, they are branded enemies of the people. When MPs uphold democracy, they are branded traitors. Never has it been more important to reassert our values.”

In a day of passionate debating in Parliament, which often saw the Tory right attacking their colleagues, as tends to be the way with Brexiteers, who are prone to threats and hysteria, Dominic Grieve gave a passionate half-hour speech regarding his amendment. He “warned that the bill as it stood would unleash ‘a form of constitutional chaos’”, as the Guardian described it. He “said he had sought to engage with ministers to find a compromise, but without success: ‘The blunt reality is, and I’m sorry to have to say this to the house, I’ve been left in the lurch, as a backbench member trying to improve this legislation.'” Labour’s Yvette Cooper said, “This is an important moment. The House of Commons has tonight voted against the government’s attempt to concentrate power and against letting a small group of ministers take crucial decisions on the details of Brexit without Parliament having a meaningful vote.” Read the rest of this entry »

Message to Jeremy Corbyn: You Represent Hope Not Just Because You Oppose Austerity, But Because You Must Save Us From Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU prior to last June's EU referendum.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.





 

It’s over a month since the General Election, which destroyed Theresa May as any sort of credible leader. Having called an election, despite repeatedly promising not to, she then showed a startling inability to meet ordinary people and to connect with them, in complete contrast to Jeremy Corbyn, and ended up losing her majority, instead of increasingly it massively, as was forecast, forcing her into a humiliating deal with the backwards religious fundamentalists of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party just to keep her government in power.

Corbyn, meanwhile, thrived on the campaign trail. Finally freed from the liberal media’s shameful negative portrayal of him (which had been pretty relentless for two years), because of the liberal establishment’s accepted need for something more closely resembling objectivity on the campaign trail, he was revealed as a leader with the common touch, able to connect with and empathise with ordinary people effortlessly. His supporters always knew this about him, but it had been suppressed by the media — and by Labour rebels — since his election as leader two years ago.

Some of Corbyn’s success came about because of Theresa May’s uselessness. She scored a huge own goal by refusing to debate with him on live TV, and she made colossal errors of her own beyond her woodenness and her apparently very real fear of actually meeting people: the so-called “dementia tax”, for example, an effort to address the costs of care for elderly people that was immediately seized upon — by Conservative voters and the right-wing media, as well as almost everyone else — as a classic “nasty party” attack on the security, savings and assets of the elderly. Read the rest of this entry »

As Brexit Talks Begin, It’s Clear That We’re Doomed Unless We Ditch the Tories

Brexit alphabet: a photo from the Unite For Europe march and rally in London on March 25, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.





 

What an embarrassing and disgraceful position we find ourselves in, as the deluded representatives of an illegitimate government (the shambles that is the minority Tory government headed by “dead woman walking” Theresa May) begin official negotiations for our departure from the EU, following last year’s EU referendum, when a slim majority of those who could be bothered to vote, in a referendum whose outcome was not legally binding, and that didn’t meet the threshold for referendums on issues of major constitutional change, voted for us to leave the EU.

Crucially, the referendum failed to ask voters what they felt about how we should leave the EU and what damage to our economy was acceptable. Can we, for example, stop free movement, as voters seemed to indicate they wanted? Is it feasible, and if it is, would it be damaging to the economy? (the answer to the latter question is a resounding yes). What about the role of the free market and the customs union? Largely ignored in the Leave campaign’s lies, but explained here by the Economist, both are an essential part of our trade with the EU, which is our main market — not just in goods, but in people, services and ideas — and leaving either will almost certainly damage our economy significantly. Is that worthwhile for some spurious notion of regaining “sovereignty,” which in reality, is nothing more than the anguished, meaningless cry of backwards-looking isolationisists?

As Ian Dunt, author of the very necessary Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? explained in his column for Politics.co.uk on Thursday, aptly entitled, ‘Brexit talks start on Monday and we have no idea what we’re doing,’ the start of negotiations has once more brought the suicidial pointlessness of Brexit into sharp relief. “We are now about to go into the most challenging negotiations since the Second World War,” Dunt wrote, “with no government, no overall aim, no plan to achieve it, no functioning department to deliver it, no confidence at home or abroad with which to pass it, no trade expert capacity to negotiate it, and no time to manage it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Corbyn Rises, Theresa May Falls; Hard Brexit Now Looks Untenable

A Jeremy Corbyn 'Hope' poster by Posterrity.com on Deviant Art.

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What a great, great, great, great, great day for the fundamental decency of so many of the British people, after seven long years of cruelty, mean-mindedness and division.

Last night was, undoubtedly, Jeremy Corbyn’s night. Vilified by the media since winning the Labour leadership contest in September 2015, he nevertheless survived a cynical coup implemented, insanely, the day after the EU referendum by the Blairites in his own party, when Labour should have been focusing all their energies on discrediting the Tories, and two months ago, when Theresa May cynically called a General Election, he finally got to shine.

In complete contrast to the Prime Minister — shifty, aloof, paranoid, disdainful, dismissive, invisible — Corbyn staged an honest and heartfelt assault on the disgraceful and horrendously damaging “age of austerity” the Tories introduced in 2010 — pretending that the bankers’ 2008 crimes were the fault of Labour’s investment in public services, and using it as an excuse to try to destroy the state provision of services almost entirely, to remove the safety net of the welfare state, and, for good measure, to relentlessly kick those who then fell into abject poverty and misery; primarily, the disabled and the unemployed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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