Thursday, 25 February 2016

Apple Versus The FBI Shows That The Surveillance Lobby Will Break Any Business, by Loz Kaye

On the face of it, Apple's Tim Cook is a pretty unlikely radical hero.

He is the Chief Executive of a globally dominant company that produces shiny devices and wants a slice of everything that you do.

But Tim Cook's message to customers refusing to cooperate with the FBI in gaining access to one of their shiny devices, is one of the most significant personal acts of defiance of surveillance overreach since Snowden. 

 If you have not already had the news via one of Tim's shiny devices, the FBI has obtained a court order for Apple to hack an iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino shooting suspects.

Reasonable enough, many would say. However, it is the detail of what is being required that is deeply worrying. 

It is about ordering Apple to create a tool to eliminate security protections the company had built in to the phone software to protect customers from, well, amongst others, criminals and terrorists.

This really is not the equivalent of the police checking up on a criminal's phone records as we have seen 101 times on cop shows. 

As Cook puts it: “The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true… The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers”. 

The entire thrust of the US law enforcement has been to suggest wanting encryption that actually works is suspicious and unpatriotic.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons for needing access to secure communications, for both business and individuals.

After all, even the UK Ministry of Defence has released its app to access casualty administration and compassionate leave requests for service personnel for Apple devices.

No doubt the debate on the balance of intercept legal powers will continue to rage. Bill Gates has just weighed in on behalf of the FBI, with about as much authority as a confused Clippy.

What this court order has done is fundamentally to change the focus of that debate. 

Up to this point, the battle has been about the authorities on one side, civil liberties groups on the other, and communications services providers being expected to make sense of it all. 

Now every business is in the frame. What is at stake here is a product that Apple makes, and how it produces information. 

The FBI is willing to break into, and so break, a company's product. And try to break that company publicly, with a vigorous legal and media onslaught.

What the FBI is proposing has profound implications, not only for our privacy, but also for how we manufacture, and for how we do business.

Increasingly, all our things are making data: our car, our thermostat, our solar panels, even the fridge. If Apple can be forced into changing its product, then so can any manufacturer.

If Apple can be forced to act completely contrary to what it believes that its customers want, then so can any business. 

CEOs may think that the FBI is 100 per cent right in what they are doing, but they should still be worried even if they do not think of their business as directly “tech” related. 

This is not just an American debate. Cameron has also been thundering about about companies providing safe spaces for terrorists to communicate in, even while the Government has promised there is no intention of an encryption ban.

Proposed British surveillance legislation in the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was criticised by the Science and Technology Select Committee for lack of clarity on the issue.

That lack of clarity opens the door to what is being proposed by the FBI, and to even more extreme measures than that, in the United Kingdom. A letter such as Tim Cook's would have been illegal under the terms of the Bill.

Many have pointed out that Apple's record on privacy is, at best, patchy. At the end of the day, their job is to sell phones, not to be the champion of civil liberties. That is as it should be.

But if businesses of any kind are to continue to innovate and protect their customers, then they will have to engage in this debate and be bold.

Cook has made the technological and customer service arguments. It is time for businesses to make the political ones.

Monday, 22 February 2016

A London for All, by Nick Richardson

As a Labour Party member, and therefore writing under a pseudonym, I shall be giving my first preference vote for Mayor of London to George Galloway.

Sadiq Khan will receive any second preference that I might express on the day. But I am disgusted at his disloyalty to Jeremy Corbyn, his support for the disastrous neoconservative wars in the Middle East and North Africa, his ties to the anti-working-class property developers who are bankrolling his campaign, and his shocking connections to allies of the literally fascistic Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

More Experience Than All The Others Put Together

George Galloway has been right about every military intervention of the present century, and his is now a lone voice in British politics for, if anything, a real war against Daesh in alliance with the Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Lebanese forces that are already in the field, not the Turkish, Saudi and other funders, suppliers and supporters of the enemy.

His role in the Scottish independence referendum was pivotal, reminding left-wing voters of the Old Labour case for the Union and of the Thatcherite neoliberalism of the "Tartan Tory" SNP, as well as of that party's fairly recent history as a vehicle for sectarianism.

He is the leading political figure in support of fathers' rights, and he is a prominent opponent of the drug use, fixed odds betting terminals, supercasinos, lap-dancing clubs, and hardcore pornography that became so ubiquitous during the New Labour years and which have remained so under David Cameron.

He is now, with Nigel Farage, one of the two main public faces of the campaign to leave the anti-democratic European Union, taking up the mantle of the late, great Tony Benn. Already, the media are having to peddle ridiculous lies, such as that hundreds of people walked out of a recent Grassroots Out rally when he appeared on stage at it.

He is a breathtakingly brilliant orator, with a vast vocabulary and range of knowledge as perhaps the last of the great working-class autodidacts. His world famous appearance before the United States Senate in 2005 made that clear. His unmissable Sputnik programme on RT is a vital counterweight to the British State and corporate media that are blacking out his Mayoral campaign.

He was elected the Labour Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead in 1987 at the age of 32, defeating Roy Jenkins, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, President of the European Commision, and Leader of the media's beloved SDP.

Gallloway's leadership role against the war in Iraq in 2003 saw him expelled from Labour by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. But Galloway continued his political mission, twice defeating Labour in its strongholds of Bethnal Green and Bow in London in 2005, and Bradford West in 2012.

He was born in a one-room attic, with an outside toilet that was shared with five other families. When he was four, his family moved into a council flat. He went to the local school. His father and mother were factory workers, and both were active in Labour and trade union struggles. He was educated at the University of Life, starting work as a teenager in Michelin tyres and working non-stop ever since.

He joined the Labour Party at the age of 13, and he joined the then Transport and General Workers' Union at the age of 19. He was active in both for nearly 40 years, including as the youngest ever Chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland at the age of 26.

He moved to London in 1983. From his election in 1987, he remained in Parliament, with a two-year break, until 2015, representing Glasgow, the East End of London, and Bradford West. In his decades in Parliament for four constituencies and in two countries, and with six election victories, he has been vocal and effective in vital national issues.

From housing to health, railways to race, cinema to music, education to the environment, he has brought more issues before the House of Commons than anyone else in politics today. He has more political experience than all his London Mayoral opponents put together, and many times over.

His prodigious constituency work in more than a quarter of a century has been often praised. Nobody who came to him for help was ever turned away. Nobody ever said that he failed to press their case, win or lose, with all his legendary vigour.

As is very well-known, George Galloway has long been active in international affairs. Reading Laurie Lee's As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, he became enthralled with the struggle against fascism in Spain and Portugal. As a 14-year-old, he marched in the famous Grosvenor Square demonstration against the Vietnam War and was active against the Greek military junta.

He adopted the cause of the Chilean exiles, and became an activist against apartheid in South Africa, even travelling at the behest of the ANC inside the country. There, he witnessed first hand the atrocities and absurdities of racial segregation.

In 1975, he became involved in the struggle for the Palestinian people. He has now been prominent within it for 40 years. He was awarded Pakistan's two highest civil awards, for his work for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, and for his work for self-determination for the people of Occupied Kashmir.

For many decades, he has fought poverty and underdevelopment, oppression and occupation, dictatorship and war, all around the world. His record was summed up by Unite's leading figure Andrew Murray, the Chair of the Stop the War Coalition, thus: "George Galloway has been for many years Britain's leading anti-imperialist."

It is for Iraq, and for his long stand against sanctions and war, that Galloway's political life will be most remembered. He opposed the war on Iraq longest, most eloquently, and most bravely. For this he was slandered, he was smeared, and he was expelled from the Labour Party in which he had spent his life.

His vindication came more quickly and completely than anyone could have imagined. No one now thinks that the Iraq War was right. The Al Qaeda-Daesh mutation that it has spawned is today rightly considered one of the world's gravest dangers.

George Galloway predicted it all. Galloway was right and Tony Blair was wrong. Everyone can now see that. As they will soon see Galloway's blockbuster film The Killing of Tony Blair, which is now in post-production and coming soon to a cinema near you.

In Parliament, on public platforms, on radio, on television, and in print, Galloway's oratory is legendary. Even his enemies cannot and do not deny him that. In his term as Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, George worked on numerous causes for the capital, and achieved many.

George Galloway defended local people against Crossrail disruption, preventing a huge hole from being dug in Brick Lane. He warned of the cost of the PFI project to rebuild the Royal London Hospital, and the terrible effects that it would have on the local health economy, predictions that have come true entirely.

George Galloway campaigned against academies and free schools, and to preserve the successful model Tower Hamlets school family that has produced such great results. He campaigned against gentrification, and for increasing the amount of social housing in building projects. He fought for the victims of the First Solution money transfer scandal.

George Galloway fought to save the Lighthouse pub against the encroachment of more City Slicker offices. He opposed the spread of sleazy lap-dancing clubs spewing out of the City into the East End, including one almost opposite a mosque. He defended East End boxing at York Hall, working closely with the Repton and other local boxing clubs.

George Galloway fought in defence of local traders in the face of the Whitechapel station development, as part of his commitment to small and medium sized enterprises. He himself is a businessman, being a director of Monchique Films Ltd, of Spice Island Food Ltd, and of Molucca Media Ltd, as well as being about to make his return to commercial radio.

George Galloway defended local residents from being decanted from Robin Hood Gardens, and against Robin Hood Gardens' being knocked down and redeveloped as part of social cleansing and gentrification. He fought against overcrowding and poor housing throughout the East End, and for action to reduce the tens of thousands on housing waiting lists. 

George Galloway campaigned for the Decent Homes initiative, including investment in refurbishment, and including a programme of home insulation, both to lower energy costs for poor families, and for a greener London.

George Galloway fought the Labour Council's cuts to Youth Services. Against the Government's witch hunt and grant cuts, he defended London Metropolitan Universitywhich is not only the birthplace of Blue Labour, but also the alma mater of Sadiq Khan

George Galloway fought for prayer facilities at Queen Mary University. He fought against the Labour Government's cuts to the teaching of English as a second language. He fought to defend Tower Hamlets College.

George Galloway played a leading role in the campaign to stop stock transfer of council houses to private landlords in Tower Hamlets, winning 15 out of 35 ballots during his parliamentary term, which led to the abandonment of the privatisation of council housing by the Labour Council. 

George Galloway campaigned to save the iconic East End George Tavern in Commercial Road. He took the lead, in alliance with the Fire Brigades Union, in saving fire services at Bethnal Green Fire Station, and against the madness of cutting fire services in an area of high-density, high-rise residential buildings.

George Galloway filibustered through the night in Parliament against Margaret Thatcher's attacks on the Dock Labour Scheme. He picketed outside Wapping in defence of London's print workers, when he was kicked by a police horse and treated in an ambulance.

George Galloway campaigned against bendy buses, and for the return and revamping of the Routemaster. He campaigned for the Stairway to Heaven war memorial, honouring those who perished there from German bombing in the Tube station in 1943.

George Galloway campaigned against the victimisation of disabled people through Atos vetting. He campaigned for women who were victims of domestic violence, and in opposition to forced marriage and to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

George Galloway visited Aldgate East and the Royal London in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist mass murder on 7/7, before going in to the House of Commons to place that atrocity in the context of the Bush and Blair wars. 

In 2005, George Galloway led the Respect campaign in East London, winning the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, and coming second in Poplar and Canning Town and Newham East and Newham West. 

George Galloway helped thousands of constituents in a weekly constituency surgery with "no appointment necessary". He maintained a high parliamentary profile on matters of war and peace, public services, opposition to tuition fees, and opposition to racism and Islamophobia.

George Galloway kept his promise to step down after one term as an East End MP so that he might be succeeded by an MP of Bangladeshi origin in an area with the world's largest Bangladeshi community outside Bangladesh. 

In August 2014, while serving as the elected Member of Parliament for Bradford West, George Galloway was viciously attacked on a London street, on account of his political views. He spent the night in hospital, as well as walking on crutches for some time thereafter. Neither the Prime Minister, nor the Speaker of the House of Commons, expressed the slightest sympathy, and most of the media treated it as a joke.

But then, on Galloway's first day back in the House after his election at Bradford West, David Cameron had referred to him from the Despatch Box by his name instead of as the Honourable Member for that constituency, and John Bercow had offered no rebuke.

Maybe It's Because He's A Londoner

George Galloway has lived in London for almost 35 years, in Blackheath, Streatham, Battersea, Ladbroke Grove, and the East End. Three of his four children were born in London, and all four grew up in London. His first child is now a mother of four, all born in London.

London is his home, and he considers it the greatest city in the world. High praise from a man who has been everywhere. He was a London Member of Parliament for five years, for Bethnal Green and Bow. In 2004, he stood for the European Parliament in London, when Respect was just 20 weeks old yet achieved almost 100,000 votes.

Having been elected to the British Parliament six times, and having served there for the best part of 30 years, he wants to bring the political experience of four decades to bear in fighting for us and for London.

It Is Time For A London For All

Though London is a great city, life is not great for all Londoners. It is run by and for the metropolitan elite. That elite does very well, while the majority struggles with the high cost of living, shortage of affordable housing, cramped and expensive transport, and savage cuts to our public services.

It is time for a London for all.

George Galloway will fight for your interests wherever you came from, whatever colour you are, however you pray. He is against all racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and he for unity amongst all Londoners irrespective of age, gender or orientation.

Financial services are an important part of London's economy. But the City and other corporate interests in London will have to do much more in the exercise of their social responsibilities to Londoners, who live and work around them and who provide the whole environment in which their businesses are thriving.

For with great wealth comes great responsibilities. As Mayor, George Galloway will campaign relentlessly for the London Living Wage and for a higher London minimum wage to take account of the higher cost of living in the capital.

Neither can we allow the continuing social cleansing of poor and ordinary working people from London. Virtually no social housing is built, while London property has become a safety deposit box for rich, sometimes dubious players, to lock up their assets far from their own countries.

As Mayor, George Galloway will tackle the housing crisis as his Number One priority. He will work to make London the pre-eminent world city, seeking out investments, business and tourism from all over the world including the parts he knows best, which are Latin America, China, Russia, and the Arab world.

He will bring financial transparency to the £18 billion of the annual London Mayor's budget through the revolutionary Mayorchain, blockchain technology that has been developed by London's young and brilliant FinTech sector. Max Kaiser will be his Finance and Economics Czar.

No Developments Without Social Housing

Under this Government and under Boris Johnson's Tory Mayoralty, ordinary Londoners are being priced out of their city like never before, by skyrocketing house prices and rents.

The average house in London costs almost £500,000, and the average rent is £1,600, with no sign of this spiral abating as wages remain stagnant. The working people, who keep London running, are forced to pay an ever-greater proportion of their income in rent, to live in inadequate living spaces, or to move out of the capital altogether.

Or even worse, in the case of housing estates such as Sweets Way in Barnet, whole communities are torn apart by forced relocations, with households moved across the city or away from it altogether; away from their neighbours, friends, family, and workplaces.

At the same time, whole streets in the wealthiest areas of the city lie empty, as speculators from around the globe buy up land and housing as an investment, i.e., as a means to conserve the value of their money, speculating on an ever-increasing house price bubble, and on soft touch British Governments' not daring to tax their wealth or to take back idle properties.

Not only does this mean that the money that we are told flows into our economy from non-resident investors has little positive impact on the economy, as it is swallowed up in speculation and rent-seeking, but it means that in fact the impact becomes negative, as prices of scarce land and housing are inflated beyond the wildest dreams of ordinary working people.

Mayor Johnson has done nothing to enforce the policy, introduced by Ken Livingstone, that 50 per cent of housing on all new projects must be dedicated to affordable housing.

For example, the development currently under completion on the site of the old Battersea Power Station has offered only eight per cent of properties over to affordable housing. And where this policy has been more or less followed, such as the Beaufort Park development in Collindale, Barnet, this has been demanded by the local council, not City Hall.

Likewise, the definition of affordable housing shows how out of touch our political elite is, with the limit being set at 80 per cent of average rent in a given area, which in much of London puts this out of reach for middle-class professionals, never mind working class Londoners.

This situation is not just immoral, since it is a transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest, but it is a drain on our economy: the more of people's income that is taken up by rent (or by transport, for those forced out of the city), the less that can be spent in businesses that actually produce goods and services to sell here.

A recent CBI and KPMG study concluded that 14 per cent of London businesses viewed the cost of housing as London's biggest weakness as a location for their business.

The decision is clear: either we take action to benefit working people, consumers, and productive businesses, or we allow London to continue to be a casino for speculators, buying up scarce land and housing and pricing everyone else out of the market.

Therefore, if you elect George Galloway as Mayor of London, he will ensure and enforce that any housing project submitted for his approval must be comprised of 50 per cent affordable housing. He will define affordable housing as 50 per cent of average rents, not the 80 per cent that is currently the case.

He will fight to introduce legislation to take back idle properties and developments, which are not lived in, rented, or used for business purposes by the owner.

And he will be a voice on the national stage to bring this issue to the centre of our political debate, seeking allies in all parties and all parts of the country to crack down on the speculators, and to make sure that our national priority becomes providing affordable and decent housing for all.

Saving Lives, Limbs and Lungs

London's transport system is a symbol of this great city; the Tube, the red buses, the black cabs. But too often, it feels the strain of a growing capital.

Boris Johnson has displayed Tory contempt towards the Tube's workforce throughout his entire spell as Mayor of London, refusing to meet union leaders to discuss proposals to close ticket offices and bring in 24-hour Tube services.

George Galloway is in favour of an all-night tube service in a 24-hour capital like London. But he will be making sure that workers are properly consulted on the process, are properly recompensed, and are not forced into working long, unsociable, and potentially dangerous hours.

London's transport system is the most expensive in the world. Galloway understands the difficulties faced in upgrading an antiquated network. But transport is what keeps London moving, and we need a network that is fit for a twenty-first century capital like London.

He is in favour of retaining the Congestion Charge. London is already too polluted and too congested. We do not want to encourage more cars onto the roads when we can encourage other forms of transport. Additionally, he is proposing to ban HGV vehicles from Central London during daytime hours, in a bid to reduce fuel emissions during those hours.

He want to invest in more cycle lanes and initiatives that make it safer to cycle around London. Far too many people are losing their lives this way. We need to be encouraging more people to leave their cars and travel on two wheels.

He is in favour of expanding London's airport capacity. London needs to be able to manage the needs of business and ensure business comes to London instead of going elsewhere. But he is against a third runway at Heathrow when Gatwick offers a better alternative.

Pollution levels are already too high at Heathrow without a third runway, and adding a second runway at Gatwick would cause far less disruption than adding the third at Heathrow. He believes that London can still thrive with two separate airport hubs.

He supports the moves to renationalise the rail network that brings millions into our city to work every day. Commuters are faced with astronomical fares that keep outstripping inflation. It is time to be the network back into public ownership. After all, we have already paid for it.

Standing Up For The Iconic Black Cab and Protecting The Customers

Uber represents everything that is wrong with the zero-hour, tax-dodging, deregulated economy promoted by our political elite. The company has been defended by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, who has condemned its opponents as Luddites.

In contrast, if we elect George Galloway as our Mayor, then he will crack down on Uber, and protect the interests and safety of London's consumers, taxi drivers and small minicab firms.

What is it?

Uber functions as an app which drivers can register with, allowing customers to view and hail them electronically. It argues that is is a market place which brings together consumers and suppliers quickly and affordably, and therefore should not be taxed on its revenues or forced to recognise its drivers as employees.

So what's the problem?

In fact, a better question would be, where to start? Uber's drivers are not classed as employees, but as users of the app, who in return for being listed must pay  percentage of each fare to the company.

This means that they have no employment rights, such as the minimum wage, collective bargaining, severance pay, annual leave, or maximum or minimum working hours. These practices are typical of the low wage economy championed by the Tory Government, and by its cheerleaders or collaborators on the Labour Right.

The most immediate victims are Uber's own drivers, who are forced to work long hours with no rights, while the company takes the lion's share of profits an inevitable results when you have a huge multinational and an unorganised, casual workforce.

However, in the long-run, all working and middle-class people will suffer the consequences. London's taxi and minicab drivers will be increasingly forced to lower their own pay and conditions in order to compete. As this race to the bottom is replicated across the economy, we all become worse off.  Uber is just one very high-profile example, and this is why it is so important for the Mayor of London to take a stand.

Uber is also practising tax avoidance on an industrial scale, according to the London Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA). The San Francisco-based multinational processes its UK operations through Uber BV, a subsidiary registered in the Netherlands, allowing it to avoid UK Corporation Tax on its revenues. The company also uses this as an excuse to not charge VAT, taking advantage of Dutch legislation.

The result of this is that, in a time of austerity, Britain is shamefully allowing Uber to opt out of tax on its profits and revenues. At the same time, the company has an unfair cost advantage over UK registered minicab and car-hire firms, and taxi drivers, who do pay their fair share of tax.

Uber has been criticised for its lack of appropriate checks on drivers, which is made easier by the fact that it presents itself as a marketplace simply connecting buyers and sellers of a service.

This is in contrast to conventional minicab firms or taxi drivers, who have to register all their operations in the local areas where they operate, and are subject to strictly enforced quality and safety standards by TfL and local authorities.

As a result, there are many reported cases of dangerous driving and overcharging on agreed fares, with no telephone number listed on the company's UK and Ireland website. Even worse, many cases of violence or sexual assault have been reported around the world, and serious doubts raised about the safety of passengers placing their trust in the app.

Uber also practises surging, which means that the app uses algorithms to detect when there are fewer drivers on the road and raise fares accordingly. Imagine the outcry if London's cabbies would get together and agree such a practice! Perhaps this is an indication of what we can expect if Uber ever corners the market as it intends to.

What can be done? Countries such as Australia have already taken measures, such as ordering Uber to pay Goods and Services Tax, its equivalent of VAT, on revenue in that country. The French and Canadian Governments are also looking into similar measures, after protests from taxi drivers in those countries.

Transport for London has belatedly followed suit, after a long and hard-fought campaign from the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and the LPCHA. But so far, we have seen no results.

That is hardly surprising, given Boris Johnson's instinctive Tory support for tight-fisted corporations. In contrast to Johnson, as Mayor Galloway will work together with taxi drivers, minicab firms, private car-hire firms, and consumers groups, to do everything within his power to ban Uber from London.

Transport for London has already looked at enforced waiting time and banning the listing of available cars for hire on a mobile application, and he will pursue this vigorously, as well as all other available channels. If this is not possible, he will force Uber to comply with the same quality, customer care, employment and safety standards as all other minicab firms operating in London.

This great city must offer the highest standards of quality and safety to tourists, and we cannot build that on deregulation, cutting corners, and precarious working conditions.

Mayor Galloway will be a leading voice on a national level for our Government, MPs and local authorities, to take this problem seriously. We should not only follow Australia's example of forcing Uber to pay VAT, but we should take the international lead in requiring Uber to pays its fair share of corporation tax.

A Friend of the Police Force, With Fair Policing Everywhere

Policing in London needs a complete overhaul.

We cannot continue to have a two-tier system in our capital. If you pick someone's pocket in Liverpool Street station, then you can be pretty sure that the Police will be onto you like a flash. Yet our law enforcement has turned a blind eye to gigantic crimes involving the theft of millions of pounds in the same Square Mile.

There are many fantastic Police Officers out there. George Galloway has needed them on many occasions. But the Metropolitan Police is not working for everyone in London. Too many people are unable to trust our Police Forces. There are undoubtedly deep problems of racism and discrimination in parts of the Police. We need a Force that will treat everyone in London equally, whether they have a black face or a white collar.

London's Police also needs to look like the city that it is protecting. The number of black and ethnic minority Officers is still unacceptably low. George Galloway will be making sure that London's Police starts to look a lot more like London itself.

He is proposing to merge the existing forces of the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police. A substantial increase in the recruitment of BME police officers. A zero-tolerance attitude to racism within London's Police Force.

An end to the scandal of stop and search, which has marginalised our minority communities. Greater powers for the police in dealing with hate crime. And greater spending to ensure the protection of places of worship such as mosques, synagogues and churches.

The World Will Be Your Oyster Card

The use of the Oyster Card will be massively expanded under George Galloway. It will become an interest free debit card used in shops and restaurants, and for other services, and for the transfer of money abroad, either in family remittances or just mums getting emergency money to their kids abroad. In that sense, City Hall will become a publicly owned People's Bank.

The £18bn annual City Hall budget will be online in real time, absolutely transparently. Every expenditure, by every department and official, including the Mayor, will be visible to the public, and will be able to be criticised instantly. To achieve this, Galloway will use the BlockChain technology developed by London's red hot FinTech industry, currently based in the Shoreditch Corridor.

Fire Brigade Policies

The Fire Brigade is an essential part of London's public services and has suffered terribly under severe cuts and closures from Tory austerity. As Mayor of London, George Galloway will end immediately all fire station closures, and all cuts to London's fire services.

He will reverse the cuts already made to this lifesaving and vital public service. He will further endeavour to use his close working relationship with the London Fire Brigades Union to ensure that Londoners get the world class fire service that we deserve.

NHS Policy 

London is unique within the UK in terms of both its contribution and requirements. George Galloway will therefore campaign to have a "London NHS", with its own budget run directly by City Hall. That will allow him as Mayor to ensure Londoners have access to a healthcare service suited to the unique pressures and challenges faced by a global city in the twenty-first century.

How To Win

The success of the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party demonstrates what is possible against all the odds and media scorn, as did George Galloway's elections to Parliament in 2005 and 2012.

Furthermore, all Labour and at least most Green first preference voters ought obviously to give their second preferences to George Galloway. It is now highly likely that most UKIP voters will do likewise; they certainly should.

The LDTA and LPCHA have pretty much endorsed Galloway. The RMT, which remains unaffiliated to the Labour Party, ought to do so, bringing with it the coalition that it assembled as the No2EU list at the last two European Elections, as well as the letter calling for withdrawal from the EU that was published in The Guardian last Thursday.

No2EU was endorsed by the Morning Star, the Editor of which signed that letter. So should Galloway be. Unite, ASLEF and the TSSA are affiliated to Labour, but there are still things that can and should be done. The same is true of the FBU.

As an anti-war and anti-imperialist opponent of the EU, opponent of Scottish separatism, defender of Julian Assange, critic of global warming policy, victim of physical assault for his exercise of free speech, and walking advertisement for working-class self-improvement, Galloway deserves the support of spiked, with its considerable reach into the right-wing papers, the BBC (especially Radio Four), and Channel 4 News.

And several of those causes, among other aspects of Galloway's work, ought also to commend him to a number of traditionally conservative commentators such as Peter Oborne, who has appeared on Sputnik and who alone distinguished himself when Galloway was assaulted, and Peter Hitchens, who has spoken and written many times of his admiration for Galloway.

There are many who wish to open up the political process itself, and not only comment on it, to voices from outside the Liberal Establishment. They should all consider that, even more than the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, that cause would be furthered by the election of George Galloway as Mayor of London.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Further Measures to Assert the Sovereignty of Parliament, by David Lindsay

Jeremy Corbyn was voting against the Single European Act when David Cameron was still at university. He sounded scarcely keener when responding to Cameron’s statement today. He needs to propose several interrelated measures to be enacted regardless of the outcome of the referendum, and if at all possible prior to it.

The economic, social, cultural and political power of the British working class, whether broadly or narrowly defined, cannot exactly be said to have increased since 1973. Any more than Britain has fought no further wars since joining a body as successful as NATO or nuclear weapons when it comes to keeping the peace. 

We had full employment before we joined the EU. We have never had it since. No job in the real economy is dependent on our membership. Or were trade with, and travel to, the Continent unheard of, because impossible, before our accession to the EU?

Not for nothing did Margaret Thatcher support that accession, oppose withdrawal in the 1975 referendum, and go on, as Prime Minister, to sign an act of integration so large that it could never be equalled, a position from which she never wavered until the tragically public playing out of the early stages of her dementia. “No! No! No!” was not part of any planned speech. 

In anticipation of Cameron’s Single European Act on speed, Labour needs to get its retaliation in first. Corbyn needs to demand immediate legislation. 

First, restoring the supremacy of United Kingdom over European Union law, using that provision to repatriate industrial and regional policy as Labour has advocated for some time, using it to repatriate agricultural policy (farm subsidies go back to the War, 30 years before we joined the EU, and they are a good idea in themselves, whereas the Common Agricultural Policy most certainly is not), and using it to restore the United Kingdom’s historic fishing rights of 200 miles or to the median line.

Secondly, requiring that all EU legislation, in order to have any effect in this country, be enacted by both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or the other of them. Thirdly, requiring that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard

Fourthly, disapplying in the United Kingdom any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament. That would also deal with whatever the problem was supposed to be with the Human Rights Act. 

Fifthly, disapplying in the United Kingdom anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs who had been certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons. Thus, we should no longer be subject to the legislative will of Stalinists and Trotskyists, of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis, of members of Eastern Europe’s kleptomaniac nomenklatura, of people who believed the Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, and of Dutch ultra-Calvinists who would not have women candidates. 

Sixthly, reducing in real terms the British contribution to the EU Budget; that is another longstanding Labour policy. And seventhly, pre-emptively disapplying in the United Kingdom any Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, thus making any such Agreement impossible in practice. Outside the EU, would Cameron just negotiate something even worse with the United States? Not before 2020, when he would need to be replaced with Corbyn. 

All regardless of the outcome of the referendum. 

After all, which privatisation did the EU prevent? Which dock, factory, shipyard, steelworks or mine did it save? If we needed the EU for the employment law that, since we do not have it, the EU is obviously powerless to deliver, then there would be no point or purpose to the British Labour Movement. Or have the trade unions disbanded, their job done?

Far from preventing wars, the EU has done nothing to prevent numerous on the part of, at some point, most of its member-states, and not least this member-state. It was a key player in, and it has been a major beneficiary of, the destruction of Yugoslavia. It is now a key player in, and it seeks to be a major beneficiary of, the war in Ukraine, which is the worst on the European Continent since 1945, and which is a direct consequence of the EU’s expansionist desire to prise a vital buffer state out of neutrality and into the NATO from which the EU has become practically indistinguishable.

The Leader of the Labour Party has been saying all of this all along, since even before he voted against the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Bernie Campaign: The Democratic Party’s Biggest Insurrection in Decades, by Norman Solomon

Forty-eight years ago, a serious insurrection jeopardized the power structure of the national Democratic Party for the first time in memory.

Propelled by the movement against the Vietnam War, that grassroots uprising cast a big electoral shadow soon after Senator Eugene McCarthy dared to challenge the incumbent for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

When 1968 got underway, the news media were scoffing at McCarthy’s antiwar campaign as quixotic and doomed.

But in the nation’s leadoff New Hampshire primary, McCarthy received 42 percent of the vote while President Lyndon B. Johnson couldn’t quite get to 50 percent -- results that were shattering for LBJ. 

Suddenly emboldened, Senator Robert Kennedy quickly entered the race. Two weeks later, Johnson announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election. 

Although the nomination eventually went to Johnson’s vice president Hubert Humphrey -- a supporter of the war who was the choice of Democratic power brokers -- the unmasking of the party’s undemocratic process led to internal reforms that aided the Democratic Party’s second modern insurrection. 

It came four years later, when Senator George McGovern won the presidential nomination, thanks to grassroots movements involving young people and activists of color.

But any sense of triumph disappeared in the wake of President Nixon’s landslide re-election in November 1972.

The third major insurrection came in 1988, when Jesse Jackson led a dynamic, multiracial “rainbow” campaign for president that had major impacts on the national stage. (His previous campaign, in ’84, had been relatively weak.) 

The 1988 primaries and caucuses were hard-fought, state by state, with rainbow activists working shoulder-to-shoulder, whether focused on issues of class, race or gender.

Back then, Jackson was a gutsy voice for social justice, for human rights and against war -- much more willing to confront the Democratic Party establishment than he is now.

At the contentious Democratic National Convention that summer in Atlanta, where Jackson delegates were highly visible as 30 percent of the total, the old guard closed ranks behind nominee Michael Dukakis.

Now, as February 2016 gets underway, we’re in the midst of the first major insurrection against the Democratic Party power structure in 28 years.

The millions of us who support the Bernie Sanders campaign -- whatever our important criticisms -- should aim to fully grasp the huge opportunities and obstacles that await us.

Of the three previous insurrections, only one gained the nomination, and none won the presidency. 

Corporate capitalism -- wielding its muscular appendage, mass media -- can be depended upon to take off the gloves and pummel the insurrection’s candidate to the extent that the campaign has gained momentum. 

That happened to McCarthy, McGovern and Jackson. It’s now happening to Sanders. 

The last days of January brought one big-daily newspaper editorial after another after another attacking Bernie with vehemence and vitriol.

The less unlikely his winning of the nomination gets, the more that mega-media assaults promoting absurdities will intensify.

Meanwhile -- at least as long as her nomination is threatened from the left -- Hillary Clinton will benefit from corporate biases that wallpaper the mass-media echo chambers.

The Sunday New York Times editorial endorsing Clinton could hardly be more fanciful and hagiographic if written by her campaign.

Many of the same media outlets and overall corporate forces that denounced Eugene McCarthy in 1968, George McGovern in 1972 and Jesse Jackson in 1988 are gunning for Bernie Sanders in 2016. 

We shouldn’t be surprised. But we should be ready, willing and able to do our own messaging -- widely and intensely -- in communities across the country.

At the same time, we should not confuse electoral campaigns with long-term political organizing.

Campaigns for office are quite different matters than the more transformative task of building progressive infrastructure -- and vibrant coalitions -- that can endure and grow, year after year. 

Genuinely progressive candidates can inspire and galvanize -- and sometimes they can even win. But election campaigns, especially national ones, are almost always boom/bust.

Sometimes they can help to fuel movement momentum, but they aren’t the engine.

Election campaigns are distinct from movements even if they converge for a while, no matter what pundits and campaign spinners say. 

Candidates often want to harness social movements for their campaigns. But our best approach is to view electoral campaigns as -- at best -- subsets of movements, not the other way around.

The Bernie campaign could be a watershed for progressive organizing through the rest of this decade and beyond.

That will largely depend on what activists do -- in the next weeks, months and years.

Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of