Why We Don’t Want a Corbyn Government… Yet.

Do you really want Corbyn in Government now? Labour Rebels might be helping us Corbynites…

This is a strange time in British Political History, for I am about to say something highly unusual for someone who has supported Corbyn’s campaign from it’s very earliest stages in 2015: I do not want Corbyn to take office right now.

I know. I know. Hear me out.

At the moment, Theresa May is currently ensnared in a trap created by her own party. The problem is that what she demands from the EU as our terms of exit is entirely self-contradictory.

The Irish Border is a nice example: how do you plan to have free movement of people and goods, without having free movement of people and goods?

When you think about it, this is what is being asked of the EU; a soft border in Ireland, but also a hard border (lest it be not a “real Brexit”, whatever that means).

In my article from 22nd June 2016, I warned:

Well, assuming that the UK leaves the EU, it will still need access to the single market. We may be the 5th largest economy in the world, but much of this depends on our membership of the European Union, and our access to the single market. And there is no European country that has been able to gain access to the single market without agreeing to European free movement rules.” [1]

Theresa May hoped to avoid this through a “common rule book.” A bit like demanding your local Gym gives you free partial membership because you agree to use their equipment according to their rules.

It was never going to happen. But now, with Johnson resigning as he realizes that the Brexit fallout is coming for him like a cruise missile of reality, Theresa May looks likely to fall.

Even as he left office, Johnson couldn’t help reinforcing his lies by claiming some nonsense about EU cycling regulations on par with his bendy bananas lies from 2016 [2]. And then he blamed May for being unable to deliver the self contradictory promises that he made to the British people.

After all, when unicorns do not appear, who else do you have to blame but people who don’t think unicorns exist? When “Psychic mind readers” are tested, typically their response is to blame “negative energy” from other people for their lack of psychic powers, which never existed to begin with.

This is, in a metaphor, what Johnson and other Brexiteers are currently doing: calling out the ‘saboteurs’ when their powers do not manifest.

May should have seen this coming.

And Corbyn must see it too.

Even a Customs Union access Brexit will not meet the Irish Border Requirements, or satisfy Hard Brexiteers in their desire for the hardest possible Brexit.

It certainly cannot meet the requirements of Labour’s six demands for a Brexit deal; there is no Brexit deal that gives us the exact same Customs Union and Single Market benefits we currently enjoy [3]. Nor can it deliver for all regions of the UK- Ireland and Gibraltar will inevitably suffer from the red lines on free movement and EU regulations.

That is why Labour rebels offering to help Theresa May are actually helping Corbyn to avoid his own destruction.

Imagine the scenario: Corbyn makes it to number 10. We have less than 3 months to finish negotiations with the EU.

He could postpone, but Hard Brexiteers will blame him for ‘appeasement’ to the EU.

So he presses on, and Ireland uses their veto. He can either leave without a deal (crashing the UK economy) or accept free movement and whatever other terms the EU want.

If he accepts free movement, he’ll be blamed for betraying the referendum result and capitulating to the EU. It is just a recognition of reality, but he will be blamed.

The MSM is undoubtedly anti-Corbyn, and Brexit will undoubtedly cause a terrible economic hit [4].

If you are a Corbyn supporter, could you honestly tell me that you want to put Corbyn in that situation?

My position is patience. Be patient; our time will come, but only after Brexit implodes the Conservative Party, and a Hard Brexit is dead in the water.

[1] https://thecognitivesociety.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/why-i-think-vote-leave-are-talking-nonsense-on-both-the-right-and-the-left/

[2] https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-boris-johnson-lied-about-eu-safety-regulation-in-his-resignation-letter

[3] https://labourlist.org/2017/03/keir-starmer-labour-has-six-tests-for-brexit-if-theyre-not-met-we-wont-back-the-final-deal-in-parliament/

[4] http://www.lse.ac.uk/website-archive/newsAndMedia/newsArchives/2016/02/Life-after-Brexit-new-LSE-report-on-UKs-options-outside-the-EU.aspx

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12 Lies About the White Helmets

The Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) have fallen victim to a vicious campaign of smears and conspiracy theories, which conveniently suit Assad’s narrative in Syria. The White Helmets are irritating to him, because they continue to highlight his government’s atrocities to the rest of the world, mostly though their twitter page, which is filled with more honest depictions of the conflict than can ever reasonably be disputed. [1]
Those who accuse them of being mere “shills” for the MSM forget that the White Helmets were supported by such people as Jo Cox [2], Amnesty International, and the UN has invited them to speak before the General Assembly on no less than four occasions. [3]

If you believe they are a mere shill for the MSM, you also have to believe that the NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and Amnesty international who back the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) have an anti-Assad, pro-Rebel bias. The problem with this belief is that, for example, Amnesty has repeatedly criticised opposition forces for their atrocious human rights record on the ground in Syria. [4] [5] [6] By contrast, most of the conspiracy sites which put out the lies about the White Helmets are not recognised by reputable sites, NGOs, or the UN. These sites never print anything very critical of Assad either, and are unwilling to back up what they do print with the wealth of evidence established by NGOs.

Some examples of these conspiracy sites are:
-Sott.net
-The Duran
-Global Research
-Sputnik
-David Icke
-Zero Hedge
-The Dawn News
-Real Clear Politics
-OAN (One American News Network)

The White Helmets rather forcefully refuted a suggestion that they shouldn’t waste time saving Syrian Soldiers lives, further asserting their belief that they have to protect all lives, even those whom they disagree with. [7] They are ultimately politically neutral.
So, without further stalling, here are 12 conspiracies repeatedly told about the Syrian Civil Defense:
#1 They faked this photo together, and then posed for a selfie.
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This is a photo which keeps being used by pro-Assad websites to “prove” that the white helmets faked a chemical attack. [8] [9] It has even been used by two authors who mysteriously printed the exact same article word for word, two days apart, on Zero Hedge [10] and David Icke [11]. What a coincidence! And yet they claim to be written by a Tyler Durden and a Andrew Cheetham- two noticeably different people.

Somehow, I don’t think they were just very like minded authors. This picture has also been used by anti-war groups [12] and far right anti-EU groups [13] to “prove” that Assad is being victimised by those nasty aid workers.

Only, of course, it isn’t true; the picture is actually from a mannequin challenge that the White Helmets took part in in 2016 to raise awareness for their campaign [14]. Even RT was forced to admit that this was an unreasonable thing to use to discredit the White Helmets [15].
#2 Children are rehearsing for a “false flag” chemical attack here

Despite repeated claims from online sources [16], and most notably from the pro-Assad conspiracy site “The Duran” [17] that this was a training video for terrorists to train children to act in false flag attacks, it was in fact an advocacy campaign from back in 2013, which intended to raise awareness of the illegal use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, which is apparent in the full video, which is much longer than the video provided by the Duran [18]. It openly states it was a dramatization for advocacy purposes. There is a certain irony that people are now using it as “proof” chemical attacks never took place, and are being “faked.”
#3 Eva Bartlett’s claims

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian Journalist who is unashamedly pro-Assad, and describes any opposition whatsoever to his rule in unfavourable terms [19]. Her “interview” as an “independent journalist” (she in fact writes for RussiaToday among other pro-Assad sources) before the UN went viral, because she claims the white helmets are part of a conspiracy against Assad (unsurprisingly).

eva-bartlett-un-1024x566

Eva Bartlett

Most of what she refers to has been seen before, and is well known to people who have fact checked the pro-Assad propaganda online. The claim she makes in the video is probably a reference to this young girl, who has been the subject of multiple conspiracies:3 Different Men

The answer, of course is that this girl, like all the other children, was being passed along a line of aid workers. Of course she was pictured with more than one aid worker. That’s standard procedure for getting a small child out of a conflict zone- you work as a team on the evacuation, and don’t let small children walk anywhere that they could be carried more quickly. There are videos of rescue workers doing this everywhere.

But the Bartlett backed conspiracies were not done with her yet, because this montage emerged:BartlettsGirlsTweetLucky

However, we now know that they are 3 different girls, and where the footage comes from. The first girl is unnamed, but was photographed (as mentioned before) being passed from aid worker to aid worker in order to evacuate her [20]. The second girl is named Rawan Alowsh, and she is indeed from Aleppo [21]. The third girl is Aya, from Talbiseh [22].
Their names may not disprove the conspiracy, but when Channel4 FactCheck put them side by side [23] it is easy enough to see that they are 3 different girls, with 3 distinctive face shapes, wearing 3 different, but similar, items of clothing (Rawan has taken her blue jumper off here):20_syria_girls_fc

#4 This is footage of White Helmets Filming a False Flag Attack and Rescue Mission

Despite the usual claims from conspiracy sites that these pictures are behind the scenes footage of some CIA backed conspiracy with the “terrorists” as the white helmets and people pretending to be dead, as Russia 1 and Channel One of Russian State TV reported [24], these claims are false.
In fact, this is behind the scenes footage from a film made in 2016 by filmmaker Humam Khusari about the chemical weapons attacks in 2013 [25]. The film was intended to be a memorial piece, but unfortunately, many people seem willing to use it for the most callous and vindictive purposes.
#5 The White Helmets are Secretly ISIS/Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra Forces

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Despite the apparently compelling evidence that these men, who each posed conveniently with a single gun or machete to remind you that they are nasty terrorists, are ‘white helmet terrorists’, something curious happens when you reverse search these images.

None of them exist. They weren’t publicised by the White Helmets or the Main Stream Media. The only place they exist is in these photos, where they are conveniently posing to show you how two faced they are… a curious thing for a CIA backed secret operation to do, surely? They only exist on websites like the Duran and other conspiracy sites who are expressing a deep hatred of the White Helmets.

The earliest known reference to them is in May 2016, when the photos magically emerged on a set of obscure very Pro-Assad blogs [26]. Right from the start, they emerged only on sites which back Assad. No one has yet been able to trace the original source, but the proof that these men are genuine white helmets is still severely lacking.

The “white helmets are terrorists” narrative also fits badly with what we know about the White Helmets in general; their concern for civilian casualties of bombing campaigns from the 30 countries (including Britain) that decided to bomb ISIS is not typical terrorist behaviour [27].
I don’t know of any other terrorist organisation that runs campaigns to teach schoolchildren about the dangers of unexploded bombs [28]. If the White Helmets were simply a terrorist shill organisation, why would they waste their limited time and resources posing in a school? It makes absolutely no sense, and defies everything that we know about ISIS.
Let alone the fact that they have rescued people from buildings which ISIS bombarded using their artillery [29], and rescued government forces, insisting online that those government lives were worth saving [30]. It seems far too nuanced, subtle, and time consuming to be the actions of people who are also secretly a “terrorist group.”

The more you know about the SCD, the more mental hoops you have to jump through to believe they are a terrorist organisation.
#6 There are no female white helmets
It may seem a curious thing to highlight as a lie about the white helmets, because it may seem to an outside eye to be insignificant. However, it is often used to argue that “they must be terrorists/fighters because none of them are women.”
This is, in fact, not true; the men outnumber the women by far, but there are female SCD workers [31], who were nearly pushed out by radicals, but the White Helmets insisted on holding out with their female members [32].
If you believe that they are a terrorist organisation of radical islamists, you now also have to believe that ISIS has a feminist wing- jihadists for gender equality? This seems unlikely, to say the least.
#7 Vanessa Beeley’s Claims

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Another “independent” journalist with extremely pro-Assad leanings, Beeley was dragged from obscurity and given a platform when she was invited to Moscow in November 2016 [33], after which she started writing articles about the white helmets, largely opinion based, that could be used as “proof” on Russian media that Assad was being victimised by those evil aid workers. Her website, 21stCenturyWire, prints almost exclusively pro-Assad stories, and she regularly appears on Russia Today in her “independence.”

Russia has even written reports to the UN based exclusively on her work [34].
However, Beeley’s claims are spurious and inaccurate at best. A good example would be the video where she claims that the white helmets are “kidnapping” a child in their ambulance while the child’s mother is screaming and crying [35]. Of course, I think any mother would be screaming and crying if their house has been reduced to rubble and their child almost killed- it really is about as far from definitive proof as you can get.

I don’t like to dismiss anyone’s arguments offhand, just because of their biases, as this can lead to ending up like Assad, a man who just claims any and every organisation that criticises his butchery is “not independent.” That’s not a counter. I shall try to provide a better answer to Vanessa’s claims, but I feel that the idea she is independent does have to be rejected right from the start.

Beeley claims, for example, that Syria is not a police state, and she would much rather live in Syria than the US [36]. However, in order to believe this claim, you have to believe that Amnesty International are lying about Saydnaya Prison camp and the thousands of people Assad has executed there, according to multiple victims, medical professionals, and former workers [37]. You’d have to believe that Human Rights watch were lying about the thousands of people that the Syrian Government have quietly disappeared [38]. And you would also have to ignore the fact that the Syrian Network for Human Rights (a reputable organisation recognised by the UN and run by Syrians and leading academics despite accusations that sn4hr was just “a man in a flat” [39]) found Assad’s regime had ordered 6,517 arbitrary arrests in 2017 alone [40].

When interviewed about the nature of Assad’s regime [41], Syrians refuting Beeley’s claims have stated that the Syrians have phrases like “the walls have ears” (الجدران لها آذان). It is, like most dictatorships, a big brother state, looking to remove any dissent that it hears.

Everything Beeley claims about Syria should be taken in the context of her history with Russia, and her opinions which clash with leading NGOs.
#8 OANN- One American News Network going around the site at Doumamaxresdefault
Escorted in by the Syrian Government, the OANN’s Pearson Sharp claimed he saw no evidence of a chemical attack and “interviewed” people under the watchful eye of his government escort. Persistently, they make unfounded claims about the rebels, yet criticism of the Assad government is lacking- which seems most curious.
Even more curious, though, is that Pearson Sharp claims he was granted access to the Douma site long before the OPCW were granted their access [42]. Why, I wonder, did a pro-Assad journalist feel so safe, but the OPCW was deemed to be at risk?

In a move that shocked no one, he didn’t find any evidence of Chemical Weapons, and even spent time walking round an unverified site in Douma.
It is a safe bet to assume he was working at the behest of the Syrian Regime, and showing exactly what Ba’athist forces wanted him to show.
#9 Omran DaqneeshSyrian-child-pulled-from-Aleppo-rubble

Assad tried to claim that the picture of Omran had been faked to garner support for the Rebel cause, and after Omran’s Father fell under the regime’s control, he suddenly came out as being very pro-Assad, and implied the rebels had been using his son to make Assad look bad [43]. Curiously, this was only an opinion that was expressed after pro-regime sources began interviewing him. Claims that Russian/Syrian forces did not bomb his home are flatly false [44].
#10 Hassan Diab


The key witness in Russian state media to the “false flag” story is young Hassan Diab. However, his story most definitely should not be taken at face value. The story only appears on pro-Assad media, like Russia Today [45], and the circumstances the boy is being held in suggest he is under threat if he does not comply to the narrative the state wants him to give. Soldiers can also be seen ‘coincidentally’ walking in the background.

Investigations by Robert Mackey [46] have confirmed that Hassan is being intervieweed at the Syrian Army Officers Club in Damascus, a full seven miles from his home in Douma?
Just a coincidence? Then why did Poddubnyy (who conducted the interview) actively deny [47] that it was conducted at the Syrian Army Officers club?
The Syrian Army Officers club is next to the Dama Rose Hotel [48], which is clearly visible in the video [49]. The building has a remarkably distinctive look:Syrian Army Officers Club (Damascus)

Given that Hassan has yet to be interviewed by a truly independent source or give evidence to any NGOs like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, it would be nonsense to call this proof of anything. It certainly wouldn’t hold up as evidence in a court- the risk or coercion is far too high.
#11 Robert Fisk Proved it Never Happened!fisk6
Fisk is an award winning journalist, and it would be wrong to simply dismiss his accusations off hand. However, let us examine what Fisk actually claimed [50]; that a doctor, who was (his article states) not an eyewitness, in an area entirely controlled by Assad’s government, believes that he saw someone choking on “dust” and not a victim of a chemical attack.

The first thing to say is the two are not mutually exclusive; the doctor might genuinely be telling the truth and not have seen anyone with symptoms from a chemical attack, but in war torn Douma, this is to be expected.
The second thing to say is that even though the guards left Robert, the walls have ears. The odds are that he knew he was being watched, and the medical staff who treated the victims of this attack have been threatened, and had their families’ safety threatened, if they dare to speak out about what they saw. Multiple sources have confirmed this. [51] [52]

Other journalists from the same convoy as Robert did find victims when they went off into an area not controlled exclusively by Assad’s forces. [53] [54]
It seems that those who were looking for evidence of a gas attack found that evidence, and those who perhaps did not want to find evidence of a chemical attack did not find any evidence. While I wouldn’t call Fisk’s integrity into question, even a slight bias against MSM narratives, which Fisk has expressed (to his credit) in the past, would be enough to give you bias confirmation in an area controlled by Assad’s forces. [55]
#12 Revolution Man

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Revolution man is a 2018 film, commissioned with the support of the Assad government, about a man who sneaks into Syria illegally to photograph the war. When he doesn’t find what he wants, he teams up with a group of terrorists to fake a film about a chemical attack… not that Assad is trying to send you a message or anything…

It is clearly Syrian Government propaganda, designed to suggest that the revolutionaries are frauds, who regularly make fake news stories, when of course Rebel groups are simply not that well-funded. Syrian Network For Human Right Data puts the number of civilians killed by Assad’s forces at 92% of all of the civilians killed in the conflict. [56]
Nonetheless, Assad’s supporters have been using the images from the film (in which the actors are conveniently dressed up as white helmets in one scene and then performing terrorist atrocities in the next) as “evidence” to support their campaign, and claim the White Helmets are performing false flag attacks. [57] [58] [59]
I could go on…

to talk about SCD Member Abdulhadi Kamel, who is believed to have been tortured into making a confession about the “true nature” of the white helmets, and has not been found since. [60] The only thing I want you to take away, however, is this: please check your facts. Human Lives depend on public opinion. Keep yourself informed, and do not take what you hear about Syria and the Syrian Civil Defense at face value.

[1] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/12/jo-cox-white-helmets-peace-prize-coventry
[3] https://thesyriacampaign.org/white-helmets-briefing/
[4] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/syria-abductions-torture-and-summary-killings-at-the-hands-of-armed-groups/
[5] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/syria-armed-opposition-groups-committing-war-crimes-in-aleppo-city/
[6] https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/syria-government-indiscriminately-bombing-civilians-opposition-abuses-escalating-new
[7] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/523168175295594496
[8] http://theduran.com/all-the-mainstream-media-lies-about-syria-in-one-twitter-thread-please-share/
[9] http://www.thedawn-news.org/2017/03/14/the-dark-story-behind-the-white-helmets/
[10] https://www.zerohedge.com/comment/11520598
[11] https://www.davidicke.com/article/469702/take-red-pill-history-syrian-false-flags-exposed
[12] https://original.antiwar.com/david_stockman/2018/04/17/america-first-r-i-p/
[13] http://leaveeunow.co.uk/todays-news-16th-april-2018/#.WuIHJMgvxPZ
[14] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38066791
[15] https://www.rt.com/viral/367775-white-helmets-mannequin-challenge/
[16] http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/08/syria-rebel-trained-children-to-perform-a-chemical-attack-video.html
[17] https://www.facebook.com/thedurancom/videos/670391636625753/
[18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSYR6NoGkD0&feature=youtu.be
[19] https://ingaza.wordpress.com/about-me/
[20] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/airstrike-in-east-aleppo-hits-childrens-funeral/2016/08/27/2917db58-6c69-11e6-91cb-ecb5418830e9_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5f1f9866ad55
[21] https://news.sky.com/story/syria-heavy-bombardment-hits-aleppo-for-second-day-10588993
[22] https://youtu.be/Db2d9B8WuDc
[23] https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-eva-bartletts-claims-about-syrian-children
[24] http://vesti7.ru/video/1781081/episode/22-04-2018/
[25] https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/filming-a-drama-in-damascus
[26] https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://urs17982.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/medizinischer-usa-sams-helfer-white-helmet-und-al-qaeda-terrorist-beteiligt-an-folter-und-mord-khantuman-aleppo/&prev=search
[27] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/512466842955563008
[28] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/596240874473795586
[29] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/786567574679064576
[30] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/523168175295594496
[31] http://syriadirect.org/news/the-woman-in-the-white-helmet-%E2%80%98i-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-be-a-spectator-i-want-to-save-lives%E2%80%99/
[32] https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef/status/536024508939784193
[33] https://thewallwillfall.org/about/
[34] http://russiaun.ru/en/news/sc_maeh
[35] https://twitter.com/VanessaBeeley/status/970791168467525632
[36] https://twitter.com/VanessaBeeley/status/863784768705630209?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.co.uk%2Fentry%2Fvanessa-beeley-syria-white-helmets_uk_5ad9b6cae4b03c426dad48a9&tfw_creator=chrisdyork&tfw_site=HuffPostUK
[37] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/02/syria-investigation-uncovers-governments-secret-campaign-of-mass-hangings-and-extermination-at-saydnaya-prison/
[38] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/30/syria-talks-should-address-disappeared
[39] http://sn4hr.org/wp-content/pdf/A_Profile_on_the_Syrian_Network_for_Human_Rights_en.pdf
[40] http://sn4hr.org/#1523211656304-10d5a051-67df
[41] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/vanessa-beeley-syria-white-helmets_uk_5ad9b6cae4b03c426dad48a9
[42] https://twitter.com/OANN/status/985916682052030464
[43] https://www.globalresearch.ca/journalists-found-boy-filmed-in-white-helmets-douma-chemical-attack-video-he-did-it-for-food/5636811
[44] https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2016/09/01/fact-checking-russias-claim-didnt-bomb-5-year-old-syria/
[45] https://www.rt.com/news/424563-douma-boy-chemical-video/
[46] https://theintercept.com/2018/04/23/russian-tv-interview-syrian-boy-secretly-conducted-army-facility/
[47] https://twitter.com/epoddubny/status/988380451386650624
[48] https://www.google.com/maps/place/Abou+Roummaneh/@33.5139927,36.2814568,746m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x1518e0b52d362313:0xf16d11427d26eeff!8m2!3d33.5140372!4d36.2829113?hl=en
[49] https://twitter.com/RobertMackey/status/988448621585715200
[50] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html
[51] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/17/syria-crisis-medics-intimidated-over-douma-gas-attack
[52] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/russia-accused-of-tampering-with-the-site-of-alleged-syrian-chemical-attack/2018/04/16/5b424dfc-4183-11e8-b2dc-b0a403e4720a_story.html
[53] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m_gpBch0Fs&feature=youtu.be&t=41s
[54] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDey9vvPmlM&feature=youtu.be
[55] https://www.snopes.com/news/2018/04/20/critics-slam-viral-stories-claiming-douma-chemical-attack-victims-died-dust/
[56] http://sn4hr.org/blog/2018/04/06/total-217764-civilians-killed/
[57] https://iamamalaysian.com/2018/03/11/all-fake-white-helmets-busted-using-actors/
[58] https://mikeyy.org/2018/04/14/there-wasnt-a-single-corpse-russia-claims-white-helmets-staged-syria-chemical-attack/
[59] https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/in-photos-white-helmets-al-qaeda-media-studios-producing-evidence-of-assad-regime-war-crimes/
[60] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syrian-white-helmet-fake-confession-filmed-assad-regime-intelligence-prison-344419324

Why Corbyn Should Address Foreign Aid Now, And Turn a Huge Disadvantage into an Advantage

Sometimes, but not always, the far right move in predictable ways and patterns that we can address. They tend to lack subtlety in a great many ways. There are many signs, as such, that the far right are gearing up for an assault on Foreign Aid in the near future; the newspapers have been digging at Oxfam [1], around Brendan Cox’s charity work [2], and the head of Save the Children [3]. The groups have been acting in an inexcusable manner and should be held to account, of course. However, this pattern suggests that media attacks on Foreign Aid may be about to reach a crescendo; a climactic peak that they have been approaching for years [4].

Foreign aid plans for 2019

If Jeremy Corbyn does not address this imminent surge, he will find himself being forced to defend an increasingly high aid budget that has many critics from across the political spectrum, leaving himself open to another anti-EU style surge from the nationalist right. Like the EU, Foreign aid is poorly understood by the general public, and has a great many issues which need addressing. This makes Foreign Aid the perfect target for the far right in the coming years, as they can blame their monetary issues on increasing foreign aid, while moving for it to be scrapped.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

If done correctly, however, Corbyn could make the modern Labour Party the great reformers of Foreign Aid, taking away the far right’s ammunition, and simultaneously appealing to voters from all sides of the political spectrum.

Corbyn has five primary advantages:

#1 The Far Right Understanding of Foreign Aid is actually very Poor
#2 British Aid is already Transparent, has Positive effects, and a Good Reputation
#3 Britain Could be a World Leader on this
#4 Soft Power Potential
#5 Reform has appeal to the left wing and the right wing

#1 The Far Right Understanding of Foreign Aid is Actually Very Poor

The Far Right tend not to understand much about how Foreign Aid actually works, or why so many of the legitimate criticisms of Foreign Aid are laid out as they are.
Typically, Right Wing criticism tends to focus on China and India, and ask why we are giving so much aid to these massive growing economies. A legitimate concern, you might think, until you realise that the UK doesn’t actually send any aid to China at present; the Department for International Development (DFID) has no active projects with China at all, contrary to popular opinion [5].

Where India is concerned, it is one of the lowest recipients of DFID aid, accounting for a mere 0.39% of the budget, but even that tiny amount has done a great amount for many Indians. The DFID has been able to show that it has helped 1.74 million Indian Children into education they would otherwise not have had access to, and helped 2.5 million Indians gain access to clean water and sanitation in their vastly overpopulated and underdeveloped areas [6]. This is something for Britain to be proud of, and the Right Wing are forced to ignore it. As soon as they do, they lose the moral argument, because 2.5 million Indian lives is not a matter of indifference.

In fact, Somalia, Nepal, and Haiti are probably where UK foreign aid has had the largest problems and been most ineffective [7].

Even more than this, however, the Right Wing fail to understand that Academic and State criticism of foreign aid centres around how foreign aid is spent, not how much is spent on foreign aid. The House of Lords Committee in 2012 criticised Cameron because he emphasised foreign aid spending and declared himself victorious because of the amount he spent, when in fact he should have based his targets around how many people could be helped, and for how long [8].

By taking the road of a reformist, Corbyn can take on board the academic criticism, and lay out his own criticisms, but repudiate the Far Right’s call for Foreign Aid to be reduced or scrapped entirely. Most importantly, however, he could really help people in developing countries that the Tory administration has failed.

#2 British Aid is Already Transparent, has Positive Effects, and a Good Reputation

The Far Right have quite a challenge ahead of them if they want to argue for the cutting of foreign aid against an organised opponent. British Foreign Aid is ranked as the 4th most transparent in the world according to the Aid Transparency Index [9], and has a very good reputation on the international stage.

The DFID has stated that it has recently [10]:
-Helped 6.71 Million Children be vaccinated against curable diseases.
-Given 64.5 Million People access to Clean Water and Sanitation they would otherwise not have had.
-Aided 30 Million Children and Mothers through Emergency Nutrition Programmes.
-Given 11.3 Million more children access to education that they would have been deprived of.

This is a very good reputation, and something that we can be proud of, despite the flaws, as they may be in our aid projects.

The transparency also gives us a large advantage in budget considerations, in that the general public can see exactly how our aid budget is allocated. The pie chart I created below shows the division of the DFID’s budget based on the figures from their website:

How DFID spends Foreign aid budget

(Bear in mind that the largest portion of this has yet to be allocated for the financial year.) The transparency alone makes it very difficult for the Right Wing to argue for cuts and reductions, and I would urge Labour supporters and officials to learn which areas take up most of our foreign aid.

You can ask the Right Wing: “so would you take that money out of disaster relief projects or healthcare projects?”
However that question is answered, it will be unappealing to the general morality of the public.

A further consideration is that the aid budget is actually a very small part of government spending, compared to say pensions or defence, so the argument for scrapping it is very weak, while reforming it will be very appealing.

Foreign aid pie chart

#3 Britain Could be a World Leader on this

Bearing in mind Britain’s good reputation with regards to aid, it is worth saying that Britain has a chance to be a real world leader. The refugee crisis and global conflict over the past few years have left many in desperate need of aid. Multilateral Aid projects in the UN have “a crying need for leadership.” [11]

The stage has already been set perfectly for Corbyn’s arrival; America is increasingly isolationist, China has a poor moral reputation, and the Social Democracies of the World (Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Norway [12]) are the only countries other than Britain fulfilling their 0.7% target set by the UN since the Pearson report of 1969. They are the perfect allies for Corbyn.

The UN already has a plan which needs reviewing and updating, but the laborious committee work has already mostly been done and concluded in the “Delivery as One” report on multilateral aid from 2006 [13].

It simply requires a reformist leader. Corbyn is perfect for that role.

#4 Soft Power Potential

It is an unfortunate thing that so many people believe that Britain still has the hard power it had back in its imperial navy days. It leads us to self-aggrandise and overstate our potential enormously.

Image result for Foreign aid newspaper headlines

In reality, moral soft power (cultural, social, and moral influence) is actually where the true strength of Britain lies in the modern world. The right wing really do not understand this subtle power, and it could be a crippling disadvantage to them, if utilized properly by Corbyn and his team. The US has used its aid projects in the past to increase its influence in the Middle East and Africa without relying on military projects, hoping that big companies (like oil companies) will have a positive effect, or trading arms with those regimes [14].

By 2050, China’s GDP will be twice the size of the GDP of the USA. The rise of China and India means that the UK cannot compete in hard power terms. They will out-produce us quite easily. In some ways, they already are.

However, China cannot compete with the Soft power of the West, so the need to emphasise that is more vital than ever, particularly after the 2003 Iraq war, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Protectionism and Isolationism right now would damage our international standing irreversibly, and would actually form a barrier to aid money being spent effectively [15].

Corbyn has a real chance here to improve British Foreign aid, in line with evidence from academics and critics, in a way that the isolationist far right both here and in America are simply incapable of doing.

#5 Reform has Appeal to the Left Wing and the Right Wing

British Foreign aid does need to change, and it could be absolutely devastating, a waste of resources, or a success. Only Corbyn’s politics can reasonably deliver the latter- if he takes the reformist approach.

The far right politicians want to cut foreign aid and (in many cases) scrap it entirely, which would do irreparable damage to our international standing and to millions of people who rely on us around the world. It would be devastating.

The centre right politicians want nothing more than to parade around a large figure and say how much they have spent on foreign aid, without any real consideration for how many people are actually helped, and in turn, how open this leaves them to criticism from the far right. It is a waste of resources that could be better handled to make foreign aid more effective.

Corbyn, however, can address the concerns of the far right’s followers about how foreign aid is spent, by moving the focus from the amount that is spent to its actual effectiveness in the field.

A coordinated multi-lateral effort led by Britain could reduce the amount that we have to spend on foreign aid overall, as each pound of investment is spent more effectively and in correlation with the rest of the international community.

In the post-Brexit world, this could be a huge boost for Britain, so has huge appeal from a nationalist perspective; Britain could be a moral world leader, and nationalists could really take pride in this. Some 50,000 Syrians currently need the UK for medical aid, and 9000 Syrian families need it for shelter [16]; anyone who is concerned about the refugee crisis cannot fail to see how this directly correlates with the number of refugees we have to deal with. Better aid, spent more effectively, could help the whole world address the refugee crisis, and the future issues we are likely to face with climate change refugees.

Britain can lead this movement as a moral leader. Nationalists could and should take pride in such an action. Too often, Nationalism has to focus on what Britain has done to make them proud. This way, Nationalists can say what Britain is doing to make them proud. And if they vote for it, they have every right to be proud.

It might even redeem some of the UK’s military standing, as some critics believe that foreign aid is most efficient when distributed and organised by the military [18]. Corbyn should be open to allocating DFID aid funds to the military, but only for use on aid and disaster response equipment, to be distributed to civilians. It has appeal to the military obsessed typical Far Right voter, and moral appeal to the left wing voter, with appeal to academic criticism by efficiency and the potential for transparency.

The UK military needs to regain its reputation as a force for good in the international community after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. We need to show the UK is there to help, not hinder.

Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn already receives huge support from the left, but he might well gain from the feminist vote, as foreign aid has a massive impact for women around the world, and the Global Development Goals (GDGs) set out by the UN strongly encourage spending on the promotion of women’s rights [17]. The more effectively it is done, the more women will be helped.

Even the anti-feminist who so often says “I could understand if you were campaigning for women in Somalia or Saudi Arabia!” will find themselves tied up and forced to say that they support Corbyn’s aid reforms. It is the natural moral conclusion, and the only way that the international community can move forward sustainably.

Jeremy Corbyn is the perfect leader to deliver a truly effective Foreign Aid policy, and if he takes the initiative now, he could own the debate before it has even begun.

References

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/16/oxfam-boss-baffled-ferocious-criticism-claiming-critics-gunning/
[2] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/save-the-children-did-not-report-sexual-misconduct-claims-against-brendan-cox-0vbgffg8n
[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/20/save-children-boss-quit-admitting-sending-inappropriate-texts/
[4] https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/01/rights-next-target-foreign-aid
[5] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/location/country
[6] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/IN
[7] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), pp.42-44
[8] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), p.61
[9] http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/donor/ukdfid/
[10] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/
[11] Anstee, M.J. Millennium Development Goals: Milestones on a Long Road -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.29
[12] http://www2.compareyourcountry.org/oda?cr=20001&cr1=oecd&lg=en&page=0
[13] Anstee, M.J. Millennium Development Goals: Milestones on a Long Road -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.29
[14] Browne, S.  Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder? (Earthscan 2006), p.115
[15] Browne, S.  Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder? (Earthscan 2006), p.11
[16] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/SY
[17] Harman, S, Women and the MDGs: Too Little, Too Late, Too Gendered -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.98
[18] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), p.201

“National Capitalists”: A Thought Experiment

It is often stated that the National Socialist (Nazi) party of the 1930s, were socialists because their name contains the word “socialist”, and their policies were centred on wealth distribution.

This is categorically false. Naziism has never been a socialist movement, nor leant towards the left wing in any real way. It was a far right movement.

Not only were the Nazis the allies of most of the non-socialist parties, but the Freikorps militia (which would become the Sturmabteilung or SA, whom Hitler would purge and replace with the notorious SS) were targeting left wing groups, murdering figures like Rosa Luxembourg in 1919. [1] Socialist groups were their main opposition, so the Nazis adopted the name to make potential socialists warm to them.

Image result for Hitlers Germany

If you can imagine this in reverse, it is like having a left wing group here in the UK which calls itself the “Union Capitalists” who ally themselves withal the left wing political parties, and violent communist militias. They declare that they oppose the free market except in the cases of efficiency (to keep some of the middle class on side), and support total trade union control of the markets.

You would struggle, I think, to declare that these “Union Capitalists” were any kind of Capitalists, and it would be nonsensical to call them right wing.

Suppose they went further, then, and outlawed Capitalism, Libertarianism, Neo-Liberalism, and Liberalism once they had assumed power. This would reflect the way that the Nazis outlawed socialism and communism after assuming power in 1934. [2] Would you still call these people “Capitalists”?

Image result for nazi anti communist propaganda

Even during their rise, “anti-socialism and especially anti-communism played a large role in Nazi success.”[3] If then, we apply the same standards to our National Capitalists; let’s say that being anti-free market played a large role in the success of the National Capitalists, would we be justified in still referring to them as Right Wing Capitalists?

Suppose then, that these National Capitalists murdered three times as many right wingers, to ‘protect’ themselves from Right Wing Violence, taking three times as many lives as the Right Wing took in the process, just as the Nazis took three times as many lives in Hungary, as communist militias did after the First World War. [4]

85 years later, imagine that the supporters of National Capitalism in Germany had allied themselves with German Communist Extremists, just as supporters of National Socialism in Britain (the British union of fascists) became the modern day BNP with consistent values. [5]

At what point would you have to admit that National Capitalism was not Capitalist at all?

When anti-free market religious allies helped to bring them to power, just as anti-socialist religious groups did “the most to bring Hitler to power”? [6]

Even if the National Capitalists used business centric language and supported investment projects in the military industrial sector, no one in their right mind would call these people right wing. Why then, do so many on the Right insist on calling Nazis left wing, just because they have “socialist” in their name and provided some welfare to the Aryans, who they were encouraging to breed in the hopes of creating “racial purity”, not out of some sense of duty to the working classes or hopes of a worldwide communist revolution. The Nazis hated communism.

Even parts of the German industry that were nationalized were done so under a corporate flag, reversed a few years later, and mostly nationalized with the express aim of making the Reich State more efficient in preparation for war and a speedy command structure. [7]

Suppose then, as one final proof, that no modern Historians agreed with you that the National Capitalists were Right Wing Capitalists, and some of the best had given opinions to the contrary. Renowned Historian Richard J Evans, for example, has stated that “it would be wrong to see Nazism as a form of, or an outgrowth of Socialism.” [8]

To argue that these National Capitalists were Capitalists would be as futile as trying to argue that Nazis are socialists today.

[1] Hood, S. Jansz, L. Introducing Fascism (Icon Books 2013), p.37
[2] Hood, S. Jansz, L. Introducing Fascism (Icon Books 2013), p.42
[3] Grand, A.J.D. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: The Fascist Style of Rule (Routledge 1995), p.12
[4] Kershaw, I. To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 (Penguin 2016), p.107
[5] Reeves, S. Seward, E. From BUF to BNP: Chronology of Racist Extremism and of Opposition to it (Racial Equality West Midlands 2006), p.19
[6] Stone, N. Europe Transformed 1878-1919 (Fontana 1983), p.126
[7] Bel, G. Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatisation in 1930s Germany –in- Economic History Review (Vol. 63, No.1 2010)
[8] Evans, R.J. The Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin 2005), p.173

Is Corbyn Right for Britain?: Why I’m Tired of Being Called “Naive” as a Young Corbyn Voter

It’s probably the most tired line in British politics of late outside of the Brexit debate. It’s a line which has many different forms, but usually manifests itself as something like “oh, young people just vote for Corbyn because they are gullible and he promises them lots of sweets.”

It really does make me laugh when these views are expressed by people who believe that their regurgitated Express and Mail headlines count as educated political opinion. Especially as the current millennial generation is the most educated generation there has ever been [1]. Actually young people have a much greater chance of being well informed on these issues than older generations.

jeremy-corbyn

To clarify: I am not digging at Older generations here, but rather stating that dismissing the opinions of young people on the grounds that they are young is extremely foolish. Assuming that we voted for Corbyn because he promised the impossible goals of free education, affordable housing, and job creation through central investment does ignore the problematic paradox that this is asking no more than previous generations had.

James O’Brien put it very well [2]: why should my generation support a capitalist system which gives us no hope of ever accruing any capital?

We put forward an alternative, and we would like that view to be respected. With that said, this is the fully referenced version of my article written for my University Newspaper on Why Corbyn is Right for Britain. Please note that, unlike any Express articles you will find, the following views are backed up and grounded in a few reliable academic sources.

Is Jeremy Corbyn Right for Britain?

It seems to be a rule of British politics today that people will underestimate Jeremy Corbyn. I will admit that he appears unimpressive, as I discovered meeting him last year, yet here is a man who defied all odds to be elected Labour Party leader on a vote share larger than that of Tony Blair in 1994 [3] be re-elected the following year on an even larger share [4], and then provide Labour’s largest increase in popular vote share since 1945 [5]. The textbook mistake is to underestimate him.

Despite undergoing obtuse character assassination by the media[6], which has led to a division in popularity between Corbyn and his policies, it would only be right to say that Corbyn’s politics are right for Britain. Britain needs delicate and subtle negotiators as it deals with Brexit, which the Conservatives seem unable to provide. It is far easier to picture Barnier working with Corbyn than May, because Corbyn is simply much more mainstream on the continent.

Media rep of JC from LSE Source

Figures showing main stream newspaper’s average antagonism towards Corbyn’s politics demonstrate why the public are so opposed to Corbyn despite agreeing with most of his policies on average [Source: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.pdf]

Far from being Venezuelan, Corbyn’s politics are far more European and a touch Scandinavian in their design. The Keynesian approach is hardly a Bolshevik revolution.

And this mainstream left is exactly what we need; the best of Britain is built on a Keynesian economic model, not a free market one. Economically speaking, there is sound reason behind Corbyn’s policies, and the role of the state in markets. Neo-Keynesian economists have pointed out that the state has the ability to be flexible in creating market opportunities with tools not available to private enterprise [7], and invest based on what Britain needs, which is often different from what businesses can gain from in the short term.

For example, a company cannot invest in cancer research without state aid (or the whimsical backing of Charity, which is both unreliable and dependent upon the generosity of the rich) if the breakthrough they are seeking could take a decade- they need profits to sustain themselves.

Often it is not appreciated how much state investment went into producing companies like Apple[8], and how state investment banks (which Corbyn supports) like the German KfW managed to generate a $3billion profit in 2012 while most other banks were still “in the red zone.”[9] Remarkably efficient.

Austerity will fail because you don’t run an economy like a household budget- you have to invest to grow, and when even Cameron’s director of strategy begins criticising May’s cuts [10] you have to question a policy strategy which, by contrast to Corbyn’s, is heavily unpopular. Support for an increase in minimum wage (80% support), rent caps (74%), and nationalising railways (60%) and Royal Mail (65%) are hugely popular with British voters [11] and attainable, if only they can get past this “he’s a bloody commie” mentality, and realise that Corbyn is right for Britain. Right for our future.


[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/19/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/ft_millennials-education_031715/

[2] http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/james-obrien/james-obrien-absolutely-nails-the-reason-for-jerem/

[3] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.112

[4] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.122

[5] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.130

[6] http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.pdf

[7] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.195

[8] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.94

[9] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.190

[10] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.127

[11] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/19/nationalisation-vs-privatisation-public-view/

This is the Detail Which Everyone Misses about Propaganda

On why we need to change the way we read absolutely everything.

 

It’s astonishing, is it not?

How easily people seem to fall for plain lies in the post-truth era. Even the most ardent Brexiteer, has had to disassociate themselves from the promises of their campaign like the £350m per week for the NHS that we were supposed to be getting after Brexit [1], and admit that Brexit will be a net loss to the UK regardless of how it is conducted [2].

And what about Trump’s wall? Theresa May’s entire manifesto; from fox hunting to free school meals for children, appears to have vanished into thin air as soon as she had the votes she needed. No questions asked.

That is usually how I define ‘post-truth’ to other people in political discussion; where something only needs to be ‘true’ for as long as you need it to get the public to swing your way. The Daily Mail do it all the time- publish lies on their front page and then do microscopic corrections weeks later, when the damage has already been done [3].

Adam-Rabalais-Star-Wars-Propaganda-Book-poster-2

But how did we get to this state of affairs? Where people believed the monotonously repeated Tory slogan about Theresa May being “strong and stable”?

Theresa May is fast becoming famous for her U turns [4] and seems to have an understanding of trade negotiations that is mediocre at best, and yet still people bought her “strong and stable” mantra. Hook, line, and sinker.

So why does it work so well? And in almost every instance in history. If you just repeat something enough, people start to believe it. It worked in Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, the US, Stalin’s Russia, the UK, North Korea… anywhere you go, it works.

How? Well, actually, the answer is that “how?” was your next question.

Everyone reacts that same way: How? I could never be that stupid!

And that’s why it works. No one thinks they are vulnerable to it, so everyone is, without exception. Everyone falls for propaganda because frankly we think we are completely invulnerable to it.

If you try to warn people about this, they assume that you are calling them stupid- saying that they won’t know their own mind, and aren’t intelligent enough to see tricks which are actually fairly simple. Their ego gets in the way. My ego does it too, and I’ve no doubt that yours does it.

Propaganda doesn’t care how intelligent you are- it will get you regardless of your age, experience, IQ, gender, cultural identifications, or anything else.

Take the example of David Irving- a man whose work on Goebbel’s diaries is universally acclaimed for its brilliance and Historical analysis [5], but also harbours doubts about the holocaust which I and other Historians find issue with. He is wrong about the holocaust being faked, and many Historians have heavily criticised him for it. So how did such a brilliant mind fall for such gutter propaganda?

Well, he believed himself invulnerable, but also likely viewed ‘bias’ as an addition of false information, rather than an omission of true information. This is a problem which ensnares many people, but to take a simple example, if I say “don’t worry, there are no cars coming” and you step out into the road and get hit by a bus, you can see how one can omit details without having to lie in a far more effective bias than attempting to construct a web of lies.

The misconception that bias means lying, combined with our egos on propaganda is why we fall for it so easily as a society. Simply rephrasing the question as “how vulnerable am I to propaganda?” makes us realise that it is not a matter of intelligence, but a matter of general education, research, and to some degree chance, whether or not we fall for propaganda.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/10/brexit-camp-abandons-350-million-pound-nhs-pledge
[2] http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/post-brexit-leaving-customs-union-no-brainer/
[3] https://infacts.org/front-page-corrections-needed-to-stop-press-errors/
[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/10-most-astonishing-u-turns-10475812
[5] http://www.fpp.co.uk/reviews/JG_Richard_Cohen.html

 

Dogma Driven Policy Making: The Big Myth Surrounding Corporation Tax

Since the 1930s when the idea of a “tax haven” (as we would understand them today) first came into being, taxation policy has broadly been adjusted under the assumption that lower corporation tax rates are how to attract investment into your country.

But do these policies actually have an evidential basis behind them? It would appear not. The broad consensus that corporation tax rates have a correlation with the level of investment (commonly phrased as “the rich people will take their money elsewhere”) appears to be built on utter fallacy. Bogus logic.

images

Nor are tax havens an inevitability, it must be said, since the two are always brought up in partnership.

Right wing commentators often like to play down the significance of the “shadow economy” that moves through offshore funds and tax havens, but with the IFS estimating in 1994 that half of cross-border lending is conducted through offshore accounts [1], it is clear that the amount of tax evasion conducted through these accounts makes it a considerable sum of money to ignore.

Although we can’t know the exact amount of assets stored in offshore accounts worldwide, because the definition of a “tax haven” is contested, it is broadly agreed that this figure is in the trillions of pounds [2]. The economist Richard Murphy estimates the figure lost through tax avoidance in the UK at about £25,000,000,000 per annum, and the amount the UK loses to tax evasion at £75,000,000,000 per annum [3]. Although this is hotly contested by HMRC figures, which put it much lower [4] it is almost universally estimated to cost the UK billions of pounds per year.

Between 2000 and 2006, Murphy conducted a study into the top 50 largest UK companies for the British Trade Union Congress, and found that they paid an average of 5% less of their profits in tax than they actually declared [5]. A small amount in percentage figures, but an absolutely staggering sum of money in real terms.

Why should we care though?

Well, to put it quite simply, the fact that companies are getting away with this is nothing short of criminal. That is money which should be going toward infrastructure projects and developing our country so that we can run our public services. Educating the next generation. It should be being invested to keep people fed and to keep our economy growing. Money put in tax havens is not flowing through the British economy, and so is wasted in every sense of its growth potential.

So why did David Cameron water down our Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules [6] which allowed us to tax profits which MNCs moved outside our jurisdiction as though they were still on British soil? This is encouraging tax evasion, far from being concerned about it.

And tax evasion has many other consequences beyond just being a theft from the duty which should be paid for access to our society (the taxes pay for the education and wellbeing of the workforce that these companies use, and investment in the markets that they will operate in); NT Naylor has expressed concerns that terrorist groups could be using anonymous offshore accounts and tax havens to protect their funding [7] in the same manner that the CIA have done in covert operations. It is a security concern, in every sense of the word.
An OECD report in 1998 on the harmful nature of tax competition also found that tax havens are eroding the tax basis of other (and importantly, developing) countries, distorting trade and investment patterns, eroding the fairness of the tax system, and diminishing global welfare [8]. The current trajectory of our tax system has to be stopped before it crumbles in on itself. It is not just a matter of justice for the country, but justice and security for the world. We have a duty to tackle this issue, I would argue.

oecd_logo

So again, why do Cameron and others seem to be encouraging tax evasion, and bending over backwards to please the world’s corporations demands for low taxation?
Is it perhaps, because we have little power over the most common tax havens? How can this be, when 7 of the world’s most notorious tax havens (Bermuda, The Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, and Montserrat [9]) are old colonies which we retain a great deal of control and influence over?

The answer lies in the common fallacy that companies invest in low taxation areas. Actually, the rate of taxation and the level of greenfield investment (genuine investment as opposed to mere dummy mergers for tax purposes, which actually bear little economic benefit to the host country) have little correlation. The truth is that they simply do not affect each other.

Investigations be Reuters, for example, found that only 13 businesses could be found to have relocated to the UK for tax purposes over the period 2010-2015, despite the corporation tax rate in the UK being relentlessly cut by the conservatives from 28% to 20% in the same period [10]. The correlation between low tax rates and the level of investment simply isn’t there.

Similarly, the faux exodus claimed by the right wing media surrounding France’s tax hikes in 2013, (which right wing ideologues have been perpetuating as though France has lost billions in potential investment [11]) have equally been found to be bogus claims [12]. The correlation is not there once again.

But what about Ireland? They have some of the lowest tax rates in Europe, and as a consequence have grown faster than most other OEDC countries, haven’t they? It is a popular myth amongst the right wingers, but once again, completely wrong. A simple look at the figures in this growth show that the investment in Ireland, and the growth it has seen, is much more to do with its language and the access it gives to European markets than its level of corporation tax [13].

It works the same way across all countries, and even in the case of tax havens, it is not necessarily those havens with the lowest regulation which receive the most interest: Sharman and Rawlings (2006) found that some of the least regulated tax havens, the Pacific atolls, were some of the least successful at attracting money to their shores, because banks, companies, and hedge funds did not want to risk attracting attention by having their names associated with disreputable, poorly managed tax havens [14]. Exploiting reputation, with this information in mind, could be a potential solution to tax evasion in years to come, and the ‘Publish what you Pay’ campaign is one way which has been suggested for us to go about the task of cracking down on tax havens [15].

Far from investment being driven by low corporation tax and deregulation, the OECD has actually stated that average income and market size, as well as skill levels, infrastructural investment levels, and macroeconomic stability are what drives businesses to invest in a country [16]. Despite the ludicrous arrogance of Boeing threatening to refuse to carry out safety checks on their aircraft if they didn’t receive adequate tax breaks [17], the threats of corporations like this, in real terms, are nothing more than lobbyist hot air. The reality is that they go where the markets are and this is unlikely to be affected by tax rates.

A 50 year study into US tax incentives which concluded in 2013, found that “there is no conclusive evidence from research studies conducted since the mid-1950s to show that business tax incentives have an impact on net economic gains… nor is there conclusive evidence from the research that taxes, in general, have an impact on business location” [18].

It can therefore be concluded with certainty that scaremongering about “rich people leaving the country due to corporation tax” is an utterly ridiculous line of argument for right wing ideologues to use, without even getting into the fact that (even if it were the case that there was a correlation between low corporate taxation and investment) the UK has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe [19].

There is no truth to the bogus line of argument whatsoever.

[1] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.50
[2] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), pp.61-63
[3] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.66
[4] https://fullfact.org/economy/tax-avoidance-evasion-uk/
[5] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.66
[6] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.276
[7] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.208
[8] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.212
[9] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.124
[10] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.274
[11] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2292189/Two-MORE-executives-join-French-exodus-including-Moet-champagne-empire-boss.html
[12] http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2013/03/-huge-flight-of-rich-after-french-tax-hikes-nope.html
[13] http://foolsgold.international/did-irelands-12-5-percent-corporate-tax-rate-cause-the-celtic-tiger/
[14] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.160
[15] http://www.publishwhatyoupay.org/about/
[16] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.281
[17] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.267
[18] http://origin-states.politico.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/files/131115__Incentive_Study_Final_0.pdf
[19] https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/corporate-tax-rate