The Bradford Spring

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Image © David Martyn Hunt

As the morning dew fell from a Friday Spring morn, the political class awoke to one of the most sensational by-election results in modern history. George Galloway’s election vindicates those who have long argued that Labour’s opposition to the Tory agenda is, to quote Mr Galloway, “feeble to the point of paralysis.” Labour is currently the only established party of opposition, yet is finding no way to even begin to channel the fury voter’s feel about tax increases for pensioners, the privatisation of the NHS and savage cuts to public services to pay for tax cuts for the rich. Labour cannot channel this righteous indignation because it has, in government and opposition, acted as the Tories would. Even now they promise merely a sanitised dose of spending cuts as the answer to Britain’s ails. What of the ever widening gap between the have nots and the have yachts? What of the stagnation of working class wages and representation for the last 30 years?

Galloway’s Respect Coalition proved that by coalescing the united forces of the left, we can alter the corporate media narrative of a servile public willingly accepting the political fantasies of a government of, by, and for the rich. Just look to public opinion and it will show you that dissatisfaction with all three political parties is, quite rightly, at unprecedented levels. Furthermore, Galloway is correct when he contends that he didn’t merely win by tapping into Muslim anti-war sentiment. Rather, the British people at large are repulsed by wars that have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians around the world. People are crying out for radical change and waiting for an alterative to a future of misery, war, and austerity to be articulated.

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For Afghanistan, Apologies are not enough

Dominic Turner

Image © U.S. Army

Last month saw a spate of terrorist atrocities in Afghanistan, a reaction to the unintentional burning of the Quran by American soldiers. I have no reason to cast aspersion on the claims this affront was entirely accidental. It seems it was, President Obama has apologised for the burning, and for this incident it should suffice. But the touch paper for this carnage was not lit merely by the destruction of Islam’s Holy book, however sacrosanct that is. The horror that has engulfed Afghanistan for the last ten years rises out of the fertile, festering swamp that we have created through occupying that land for over a decade. And for that, there is no apology great enough.

Make no mistake, these acts of extreme violence are obscene. But like all resistance to occupations, they are a cathartic endeavour against forces of aggression as we saw in India and Vietnam in the 20th century. It is hard enough for our own Government to cling to some far-fetched justification for the decade long occupation of Afghanistan.  Just think how hard it is for the Afghan people, 92% of them who do not even know of the events of September 11th. How would you react if an invading army occupied your country, flattened your town, and killed your family? This is without even considering the fact that the United States armed and funded Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, leaving the forces that they organised in power to slaughter and rape tens of thousands of civilians, a period that ‘Human Rights Watch’ characterises as the “worst period in Afghan history”.

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DeJa vu all over again

Dominic Turner

Image © Arash Razzagh Karimi

You may be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen this all before. Increasingly ‘crippling’ sanctions.  Whispers of ever-growing weapons capabilities. The pounding beats of the same war drum, of distant threats, from a savage alien culture. We were here almost 10 years ago. This week Israeli ‘intelligence’ asserted the claim that Iran may be capable, in some indeterminate time, to strike US cities with missiles. You may remember similar claims in 2002 about the Iraqi regime being capable of striking the West within 45 minutes. Those claims, like the ones of today, formed part of the propaganda package sold to British public as the reason to illegally invade Iraq, a war that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi’s.

If you search through the pages of British and American media outlets you will see the liberal use of the phrase “strategic strikes” on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The same was said before Afghanistan was bombed into the Stone Age, causing the deaths of around 30,000 civilians. The truth is, Iran’s nuclear facilities are scattered around the country, meaning any war or planned attack would inevitably cause immeasurable casualties to a civilian population that is more than twice the size of Afghanistan’s. 

In July of 2007 41% of Americans still believed the bald faced lie that Saddam Hussein was personally involved with the attacks of September the 11th, a central facet in selling the war to the American people, three years after it was proved false. Today, Sky News is sowing the same seeds of destruction, proclaiming that Iran and Al Qaeda are plotting a joint attack in Europe. The fact that Al Qaeda are Sunni whilst the Iranian leadership is Shia nation, and are sworn enemies, is an inconvenient fact that cannot get in the way of the war mongering of the Murdoch owned media. The success of the propaganda mill can be demonstrated by the fact that 71% percent of Americans believe Iran possess a nuclear weapon when even US defence secretary Leon Panetta has admitted that Iran has not yet decided whether to build nuclear weapons. Any strike on Iran would not be an act of self defence but an act of war.

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The Object of Torture is Torture:10 years of Guantanamo Bay

Dominic Turner

Image © U.S. Army

In the South-Eastern periphery of Cuba lies the province of Bahía de Guantánamo. Unlike the rest of the Caribbean island, its vegetation does not grow green and abundant. If only the signs of American imperialism were limited to the Cuban mainland’s only McDonalds and Starbucks. If only the crimes perpetrated in this naval base concerned the validity of the United States’ occupying lease, obtained under the threat of force.

Ten years ago, Guantanamo Bay received its first detainees and began an unending tale of human suffering and degradation for children as young as 13 and men as old as 98. Eye witness accounts detail a nightmarish existence of systematic beatings, torture, and humiliating treatment. But its not just the physical abuse that destroys the victims of Guantanamo. Its in every spiteful action, in every callous deed, the breaking up of families by denying prisoners even the right to exchange letters. By desecrating copies of the Quran and imposing unimaginable periods of solitary confinement.
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Winter of Discontent: Labour isn’t working

Dominic Turner

Image © Murdo Macleod

As we enter 2012, we have a Government perceived as out of touch and elitist, ramming through a failing, unpopular, and treacherous economic agenda. The government has been mired in phone hacking scandals, rising unemployment, outbreaks of riots in the capital, and the likely prospect of another recession in the new year. The very least that one expects in the midst of such a storm is that the sails of the opposition might be filled. But as we enter 2012, the Tory Party has once again regained the lead in most opinion polls. Because of the media’s pathetic obsession with the intrigues of party political gamesmanship, this coalition is not judged by the ideal but by the alternative and the established alternative, the Labour Party, is proving woefully feeble at standing up to coalition.

The public remember that 13 years of Labour weren’t substantially different than what came before or after it. People remember Peter Mandelson proclaiming that Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.” They remember Blair and Brown praying at the altar of Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the right wing, corporatist ilk that is laughably called the ‘free press.’ They remember the butchery of Basra, the folly of Afghanistan, and the Prime Minister of this country following a neo-con cowboy into wars of oil and treasure. The killing abroad was coupled with the repression of civil liberties at home, with the government attempting to impose mandatory ID cards on the population, and the eradication of ‘habeas corpus.’ They remember PFI, tuition fees, the introduction of the profit motive into the NHS, all of which lay the groundwork for the Coalition’s malevolent schemes. But most of all, they remember it was a Labour government who increased the gap between the rich and poor and instituted the biggest transfer of wealth from the needy to the greedy with the bank bailout, to be paid off by cuts to public services.

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London or Brussels? Ça ne fait rien

Dominic Turner

Image © harry_nl

In the week that David Cameron returned from Brussels, posturing as the protector of Britain, what is most distressing, albeit predictable, is the reaction of the establishment ‘left.’



Make no mistake, the binary calculus in David Cameron’s mind was: who controls Britain’s economic policy? Bankers in Frankfurt or the bankers in London who bankroll his party? He chose the neighbourhood bully.



But there does exist a Pan-European Austerity agenda. An insane, centralising elite in the death throes of Europe’s most right wing regimes, striking whilst the iron is hot, before the voters of their respective countries throw them out of office. The brazen arrogance of the plutocratic elite of Europe is exhibited in countries like Italy and Greece who are no longer just practically run by the banks (like the UK) but literally governed by ex-bankers who are exacting savage cuts on ordinary people, the receipt for their own bail out. 

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