Friday, February 14, 2014
Labour links of academics who denounced Thatcher's legacy
The horrors that took place in the NHS as it degenerated under Tony Blair's Premiership are not mentioned by the class warriors below. Hundreds of thousands of deaths in the NHS were caused by Blair's targets, cash-gobbling Trusts and unwise contracts. And then there is the unspeakable Liverpool pathway for bumping off the frail elderly... JR
Academics behind a controversial paper which found that Margaret Thatcher's policies caused the premature death and suffering of tens of thousands of Britons are Labour Party supporters.
Public health experts from Liverpool University, Durham, Edinburgh and the University of the West of Scotland found that unemployment, welfare cuts and damaging housing policies led to 30,000 "excess" deaths.
They also accuse the governments of Baroness Thatcher of wilfully engineering an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain by dismantling traditional industries to undermine the power of working class organisations.
The research provoked a furious response from Tory MPs, with one describing it as "socialist propoaganda dressed up as academic research".
The paper, published in the International Journal of Health Services, does not disclose that two of the paper's lead authors are Labour supporters.
Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, a senior lecturer in public health at the Liverpool Public Health Observatory, attended the Labour Party conference in 2012 and accused the Conservative Party of "destroying" the NHS.
He told delegates: "It's absolutely clear that the Tory government is hell-bent on destroying the NHS which we all hold so dear. They can't be allowed to have a second term and finish off the job. Let's ensure we do everything we can to have Ed and Andy leading us at the next election."
Dr Scott-Samuel said yesterday: "I don't feel my political participation is relevent in this. Clearly I have my own personal views and my own personal politics, but I would present this as a scientific paper in a scientific journal. What we have presented is supported by a substantial review of available evidence.
"I am 100 per cent saying that Margaret Thatcher's policies killed people. It's not just mortality. What we're saying in the paper is that where there is mortality there is always much more morbidity - sickness, illness and suffering. It's not as easy to quantify those figures.
"Thatcher and her ideological colleagues were really waging a war on the working class. This resulted in an enormous amount of suffering."
Professor Clare Bambra, a co-author of the paper from the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, is a member of the Labour Party. Her Twitter page includes a large number of criticisms of government policies such as the so-called "bedroom tax".
She said: "The data is there, we have given our interpretation of the data. Unemployment did increase, there is a well known relationship between unemployment and mortality.
"There are parallels between the Thatcherist economic and social policy and the Coalition's austerity policy. We've got rising unemployment, cuts to welfare, the bedroom tax, Atos.
"I am a member of the Labour party, but this paper could have been equally critical of the Labour Party in the 1990s."
Conor Burns, a Tory MP and a friend of the late Baroness Thatcher, said: "This is socialist propaganda dressed up as academic research using the cloak of academia to advance dogma. I'm sure Ed Milliband will want to distance himself from any of these people associated with the Labour Party.
"Baroness Thatcher said herself of socialism in 1990, 'It impoverished and murdered nations. It promoted lies and mediocrity'. On the basis of this paper it would appear she was spot on."
The EU can't afford to punish Switzerland
It's called democracy. You should try it, Eurocrats. If the EU did get nasty, a threat from Switzerland to expel their 2 million or so EU citizens should cure all ills
"I will do such things—what they are yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth!"
The EU, like the unfortunate Lear, is issuing furious but unspecific threats. One after another, MEPs and Eurocrats have lined up to tell the Swiss that their vote against unrestricted EU immigration will have monstrous (though carefully undefined) consequences. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, says that Switzerland's other bilateral treaties with the EU might be called into question. The Socialist leader, Hannes Swoboda, hints darkly at economic retaliation: “If Switzerland suspends immigration from the EU, it will not be able to count on all the economic and trade benefits it is currently enjoying." Commissioner Viviane Reding tells us that the single market is "not like a Swiss cheese" (actually, it's very like a Swiss cheese: there are all sorts of derogations, exemptions and other holes).
British Euro-enthusiasts, taking their cue from their Brussels leaders, are slavering at the prospect of anti-Swiss sanctions. By making an example of the Switzers, they hope, the EU will scare the British out of attempting any serious renegotiation of their own. So far, though, the only punishment delivered by Brussels has been, er, the deferral of some talks on cross-border sales of electricity.
When the Eurocrats have finished letting off steam, some brute facts will remain. First, free trade suits the EU as well as Switzerland. Indeed, with the Helvetic Confederation growing economically while the eurozone shrinks, it's the EU that is gaining more. The same is true of free movement of labour. It's not just that a quarter of Switzerland's residents are EU nationals; hundreds of thousands more cross the border from neighbouring countries to work in the cantons. Switzerland, in short, has a strong negotiating hand.
Second, the Swiss have voted as most European electorates would vote. The French, the Italians or the Germans, given a referendum, would also support restrictions on inward migration. Their politicians know it, which is one of the reasons they sound so tetchy.
Third, Switzerland's referendum was far more moderately phrased than you'd think from the coverage. Voters have not demanded an end to all immigration, or even to all EU immigration. All they have done is mandated their MPs to come up, at some stage over the next three years, with some controls.
Will that modest request drive the EU into full-scale retaliation? Will the European Commission, in its final months, embark on a quarrel that could only damage both sides? It makes no sense.
Then again, the Eurocrats have half an eye on Britain. If the Swiss can unilaterally alter their deal with Brussels, why not the British? And if the British why not the Danes? And if the Danes, why not the Dutch? Perhaps a penalty might be found which sounds scary, but which doesn't really matter. There is plenty of precedent. When the Austrians put Jörg Haider's Freedom Party into a coalition government in 2000, the EU responded with what it called "diplomatic sanctions", which involved not nominating Austrians for various international posts. The policy was practically meaningless, and was quietly dropped after a few months.
My guess is that Brussels will find some similarly symbolic way to penalise the Swiss. It might, for example, sententiously announce the exclusion of Swiss banks from elements of the single market. Such exclusion already exists, and suits most Swiss financial institutions, since their business model depends on not being covered by EU regulations. What the EU won't do is prejudice cross-border trade with its neighbour.
The same would apply, mutatis mutandis, to Britain. Our withdrawal from EU institutions would prompt angry speeches and vague threats and maybe some symbolic non-collaboration. But no one seriously thinks that the EU would restrict trade with what would be by far its largest export market – bigger than the second and third (the US and Japan) combined. In any scenario, EU countries benefit from free trade with Switzerland and with the UK – and, for that matter, with Norway, Macedonia, Andorra, Turkey and every other European non-member.
The idea that the EU will harm itself in order to harm Switzerland depends on the notion that it is motivated by vindictiveness rather than self-interest. I don't believe that for a moment. But if I'm wrong – if Eurocrats really would impoverish their own countries out of sheer spite – what are we doing allowing such people to rule us?
”Sweden – Europe’s closest thing to a fascist, hate-based regime”
Englishman Iain Channing returns to Sweden, the country he lived in during the 1980s. What has happened to the safe and well ordered country that was so admired throughout the world? Do people really appreciate the politicians’ radical experiment in social engineering? And what about Malmö – Sweden’s preeminent test tube? Here is Channing’s report – the last of three.
To understand how things have reached this pass—when an ordinary working class guy resorts to a self-censorship gesture used in communist countries—you only need to read the Swedish press. Mass immigration is not quite a taboo, but all criticism of it is censored, distorted or demonized.
An almost daily barrage of hate and slander is directed at the Sweden Democrats (SD), the anti-immigration party that is now shaking up Sweden’s cosy coalition-based politics. “SD are trying to delude the working class.” “SD are still racists!” “How far to the right will [SD leader] Jimmy Åkesson go?”
Every single newspaper story I read about SD in a month in Sweden—and there were a lot, because its rise (to 10 percent in the polls) has become a real headache for the establishment—was negative and often littered with childish, abusive epithets originating in World War II. In such an environment, the party does not list an address on its website, and its three top leaders require police protection.
Referring to an earlier scuffle SD leaders were involved in, a well-known Swedish rapper told the Metro on November 28, 2013, “If I had been there I would have taken the iron bar and put all three of them in a coma.” I read these lines and thought, this is Sweden?
To get an unbiased or critical angle on the immigration crisis, many Swedes now turn to what can fairly be called samizdat sources: the online news-sites such as Dispatch International, Avpixlat and Exponerat. Some stories on these sites attract more comments than major British dailies (and Britain’s population is eight times’ Sweden’s); I know of no other west European country where the alternative media have become so mainstream.
Aware of the threat they pose, major daily Expressen recently teamed up with far-left cybersnoops and launched a campaign of “outing” their donors and even Disqus commentators, hoping to get them “hung out” publicly, as the delightful Swedish term has it, and fired from their jobs. There is a rumpus at the moment about “opinion lists” (åsiktsregister), blacklists allegedly being drawn up by major media and other organizations. Yep, I’m not making this up. This is Sweden today.
And still the issue of immigration will not go away. On the contrary, the unmentionable topic has become a national obsession. According to columnist Hakelius, “[people who send me letters now] are interested in one thing: immigration. The discussion can begin wherever it likes, but it always ends with immigration. Immigration, immigration, immigration, immigration, immigration.”
There is one aspect of the crisis that cannot be censored, and it is one for which Malmö has become notorious. Mass immigration has led to a massive increase in crime in the city, and a massive decrease in that most cherished of Swedish values, trygghet. Every office door seemed to have “Be sure to lock up” or “No valuables here” sign on it. I have never seen so many locksmiths in any city, nor such huge locksmiths. A Låscentral store near my flat was the size of a small supermarket—and all it was selling was security devices.
The depth of the burglary crisis was clear from a single headline that autumn: “Today 16 Skåne families were victims of break-ins; Skåne is the worst affected län.” But it is rape and murder that have really ravaged Malmö’s reputation. The rape crisis has been officially swept under the carpet, but the city also has a less easily smothered gang problem. Between 2002 and 2008, crime-related murders in Sweden nearly doubled (compared to seven years in the 1990s) to 71, according to Sydsvenskan, and of these, 18 happened in Skåne and eight in Malmö alone, which makes it the murder capital of Sweden on a per-capita basis.
The December 4 Metro reported that there were about 100 shooting incidents in 2013 in the city – mostly at cars and other objects, but including a couple of teenagers shot in the leg, a 25-year-old shot at a car wash, a 31-year-old man severely injured by three shots in Bergsgatan, close to where I was. OK, it’s not Chicago. But twenty-five years ago, this wasn’t Sweden either.
How does the Malmö press handle all this bad news? By pretending it has nothing to do with resident immigrants (or blaming slack Danish border police – seriously). In this, they are greatly abetted by the Swedish police, which do not publicize the ethnicity of perpetrators and suspects, though they do not censor personal names. A local paper ran a story warning parents about a suspected rapist hanging around two local schools: “Three children were exposed to rape in September and all three have said that the perpetrator was a man in his 20s. No suspects are currently under investigation.” A man in his 20s? In a city with well over 100 nationalities, that does not exactly narrow the field.
Metro ran a story about a woman abducted and forced by thieves to get money for them from a cash machine. She reported that the pair had a pistol and knife and disappeared in a dark blue Audi – no mention of perpetrator race, accent or appearance. I saw stories like this, with gaping holes, every day. But all facts that make the open-door immigration policy look bad are simply suppressed.
At the same time, the local media bend over backwards to present multiracialism as a boon for Malmö. “Enterprises that employ foreign-born people succeed more easily overseas,” ran a particularly unsubtle headline. Needless to say, they are very sensitive about the city’s image. After an Odense school cancelled an exchange trip with a Malmö school citing the Danish parents’ security fears (such is the city’s reputation all over Scandinavia), Vårt Malmö (Our Malmö), published by the city, ran a puff story in which residents were asked if they felt safe in their areas. “Yes, I do,” said Darwin Celebre, the ethnic interviewee. “Yes, it’s safe, with lots of families with children,” said Eric. “I feel very safe,” said a third. Added Tove: “I feel really safe, very quiet streets.” In truth, I had some sympathy with this pathetic piece of propaganda. It isn’t that bad. Danish schoolkids are not going to get hurt here.
But overall, the media aroused in me a new emotion towards Sweden, one I never dreamed I would ever feel: contempt. Things aren’t quite as bad as East Germany, as dissident Swedes are wont to say, but this country no longer has full freedom of speech. The far left – that is to say, the Swedish media and establishment – is not interested in “debating” mass immigration. They are ideologically committed to imposing it, come what may, for the greater good, and anybody who disagrees is a “hater,” a “fascist,” a “nazi” or a “racist.”
I’m not exaggerating. You see those words over and over in the Swedish media. Which is to say, Sweden itself has become the closest thing western Europe now has to a fascistic, Nazi-like, hate-based regime – only it is wrong-thinking ethnic Swedes who are its victims, at risk of assault, home-trashing and media humiliation for voicing opposition to state immigration policy.
I dipped into a book on contemporary Sweden, almost the only title I could find in the leading bookstore chain that even touched on the issue of mass immigration. It was called Partiet : En olycklig kärlekshistoria (The Party, an unhappy love story), by Eva Franchell, Aftonbladet leader-writer. It was about the decline of the Social Democrats, the party of Palme, the party most associated with the golden era of nice (and largely homogenous) Sweden. Towards the end, a single line stuck out: “It is 2012, and one in 10 Swedes can think about voting for a racist party.” Is it surprising that there is no real debate on immigration when one side refuses to even acknowledge the concerns of the other, and simply resorts to slander?
It would be wrong to portray Sweden as a country in crisis. At the moment, Malmö is the exception. Most of Sweden (and Scandinavia generally) is still overwhelmingly ethnic Scandinavian. Countries that have been diluting their populations for longer than Sweden, like Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, are much closer to losing their ethnic identity. In some ways, Sweden still lags these pioneers of multiracialism. The loaded term “ethnic Swede” is still commonly used in public to discriminate between native and “new” Swedes, though this kind of classification has become controversial in the UK.
The country is too rich and comfortable for systematic unrest (as opposed to local outbreaks like the Rosengård riots). And it differs from nearly all other western countries swamped by Third World immigration in one key respect – there is no pressure on resources. Sweden is huge and rich in minerals, but suffers a falling birth rate. Unlike, say, Belgium, it could easily absorb another million immigrants. (Having said that, its major cities still manage to suffer severe housing shortages; Sweden’s wealth masks a great deal of bad government.)
Divisive as it is, the race-blind, open-door immigration policy is supported by many Swedes, who seem to believe that they have a mission to be the world’s nicest country. I’m not just being snide about that. The fact that Sweden did not participate in World War II and has virtually no citizens who have experienced war has left it with something approaching a very mild version of the German guilt complex. At a subconscious level, the utopian immigration policy is partly a gesture of atonement for not opposing Hitler. It is also a product of the highly left-politicized nature of Swedish society.
Tiny, vocal far-left parties abound, young people are far more likely to go to demos about Palestine or women’s rights than in, say, France or Scotland, Marxist terms like “class conflict” are still standard parts of the political lexicon, and you see hammer and sickle graffiti now and then. I don’t think there many free countries in the world where people paint that symbol on walls and mean it.
To me, all this is political self-indulgence. Sweden is not affluent because it is socialist; it is socialist because it is affluent – because it can easily afford the very considerable cost of trying to build an egalitarian model state, where every public building with a staircase also has a hundred-thousand-kronor lift for wheelchairs. It is affluent for two simple reasons: the practical, hardworking Lutheran traditions of the people, who, being homogenous, were long spared ethnic conflict, and its ideal population-resource balance. With few people and abundant timber and iron-ore reserves, Sweden was quickly able to develop an advanced manufacturing economy, which has remained strong to the present. To this Englishman living in a depressed Yorkshire city, Malmö and the rest of the country looked awash in money.
Despite everything, I think multiracialism has added some positives to Malmö life. Twenty-five years ago, eating out in Sweden meant a hotdog or icecream at a Sybilla stand or paying half a day’s wage for a mediocre pizza and a low-alcohol beer. Today, Malmö must have one of the richest ranges of restaurants in northern Europe. Because the restaurant business is the only option for so many immigrant jobseekers, competition is fierce and prices for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean meals are often very low. For better or for worse, Malmö’s streets are more lively than the average Swedish town centre – more shops, more stalls, more music, more noise, but also more panhandlers and less security.
But integration has clearly failed. In Britain, the universality of the English language and the old colonial links with migrant countries of origin have made the whole process much smoother and deeper than it is anywhere in Scandinavia. But Sweden, like a misguided Marxist aristocrat trying to give his mansion away, has simply opened its doors to a huge range of countries it knows almost nothing about, expecting its supposedly superior social model to be automatically internalized by all comers. “Can’t speak Swedish? No matter. Can’t find work? Don’t worry, here’s the cash. Can’t fit in? You’ll come round. Hostile to Christianity and prone to rioting? You’ll grow out of it.” Isn’t there something not merely naïve, but even patronizingly racist, about Swedish expectations?
What has actually happened in Malmö is population replacement, with an exodus of ethnic Swedes to the country. I tried but was unable to get historic demographic data relating to the city. One helpful woman schooled here in the 1960s guessed that the total foreign population was between 2,000 and 3,000 when she was a child—mainly Yugoslavs and other East Europeans, who were later joined by Latin Americans in the 1970s before the tidal wave began.
In other words, Malmö has gone from being nearly 100 percent ethnic Swedish to 50 percent in 50 years. If this pace of replacement is sustained, it will be effectively be a foreign enclave on Swedish soil within a few decades, a crime-ridden grab-bag of minorities with little in common except Islam and a heavy reliance on the restaurant business. Kebabland. Is that really what Swedes want whole swathes of their homeland to become?
American Presbyterian group Declares War on the Jews
In the last decade, several mainstream American Protestant denominations have flirted with resolutions endorsing boycotts of companies doing business with Israel. Most of these efforts have been defeated, albeit narrowly, by strenuous efforts by Jewish groups determined to preserve good interfaith relations as well as by Christians who wanted no part of a movement dedicated to waging economic war on a democratic state. In most cases, these battles have involved a small cadre of left-wing activists involved in church leadership groups that had little support among ministers, and even less among rank-and-file church members. Thus, even the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), a church that has a particularly virulent group of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists working in positions of influence, failed to pass a divestment resolution in 2012. But despite that defeat, those anti-Israel elements have now regrouped and launched a new initiative that threatens to escalate the battle within the church and to undermine any remnant of good will that still exists between this Presbyterian group (the PCUSA is just one among a number of groups that call themselves Presbyterians) and American Jews.
As the Times of Israel reports, the Presbyterians’ Israel Palestinian Mission Network (IPMN) has issued a “study guide” about the Middle East conflict that will forever change the relationship between the church and the Jewish people. The 74-page illustrated booklet and companion DVD entitled Zionism Unsettled was published last month for use by the church’s 2.4 million members. Unlike other left-wing critiques of Israel, the Presbyterian pamphlet isn’t content to register disapproval of Israeli policies and West Bank settlements or to lament the plight of the Palestinians. The booklet is a full-blown attack against the very concept of Zionism and seeks to compare Zionism to the Christian anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust and other historical atrocities. Its purpose is to brand Israel as an illegitimate entity and to treat its American Jewish supporters as having strayed from the values of their religion. Zionism Unsettled not only swallows the Palestinian narrative about Middle East history whole, it is nothing less than a declaration of war on Israel and American Jewry.
As a work of political science or history, Zionism Unsettled is unworthy of serious discussion. Its argument rests on the prejudiced assumption that the Jews are the one people on earth that are unworthy of self-determination or the same rights to a homeland as any other on the planet. It smears those who sought to create the Jewish homeland and whitewashes those who have waged war and engaged in terrorism to destroy it. Ignoring history and the reality of virulent anti-Jewish prejudice in the Arab and Muslim world, it claims Jewish life would thrive in the region if there were no Israel. If that absurd assertion were not enough to strip it of even a vestige of credibility, it goes so far as to claim that the tiny, intimidated remnant of Jewish life in an Iran ruled by a vicious anti-Semitic regime is a model of coexistence.
With regard to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, it sees only black and white. In Zionism Unsettled, the Jews have no right to Israel and no right to defend themselves. On the other hand, it rationalizes and even justifies violence against Israel.
But the argument goes further than anti-Zionism. The pamphlet actually criticizes the Catholic Church for its historic efforts at reconciliation with the Jewish people, saying the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate that rejected the Deicide myth against the Jews “raises as many questions as it answers.”
Unlike past controversies in which Jewish groups sought to bridge the divide between the two communities, the distribution of a publication that is driven by sheer hatred and a determination to see Israel destroyed requires a more forthright response. The response to this screed should be unequivocal. Any Presbyterian Church USA that chooses to distribute it is not merely offending supporters of Israel. It is endorsing hate speech and seeking to spread a doctrine that seeks Israel’s destruction and views Jews who do not reject Zionism as guilty of complicity in the “crimes” of the Jewish state. With this publication, the PCUSA has crossed a line that divides people of good will from those who promote racism or anti-Semitism. The many decent members of congregations affiliated with the PCUSA can no longer stand by mutely while the good name of their church is sullied in this manner. They must either actively reject this ugly publication or forever be tainted by association with the vile hatred to which their leadership has committed them.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.