I am sad to say that we have had no reply to this letter. We should be building bridges not walls

Ian xx

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ian grigg-spall <img2700@gmail.com>
Date: 13 February 2016 at 12:03
To: leader@labour.org.uk

Dear Jeremy,

We met a long time ago through the National Critical Lawyers Group-do you remember??

I have been very concerned that so many activists who wanted to join the Labour Party and Momentum were refused entry.
It seemed such a waste of their energy and experience.

Approximately 10 days ago I set up on facebook an organisation to bring them together.
It is called Movement 2016 and its manifesto is on fb

And we are having a Conference in London on Saturday 19th March-see below

There is some anger among the excluded against the Party and Momentum which I would like to do something about
I have invited Jon to come but have heard nothing as yet.

i think it would be very useful if he came and explained why they were excluded

Here is the Conference draft programme

To try and satisfy everyone i have organised the conference in three separate sessions

2.pm Conference Opening Chair Ian Grigg-Spall
speaker guy brewer (pcs) The tasks of the Conference
and michael roberts the coming slump tbc

a NCLG 2.10 to 4-30pm
speakers confirmed
courtenay griffiths qc
imran khan solicitor
lucy scott moncrieff-former president of law society tbc
prof joanne conaghan hod bristol
prof paddy ireland dean bristol
phil shiner
martyn day
kat craig reprieve tbc
michael mansfield chair and to wind up discussion tbc


M16 4-45 to 7.30
ian grigg-spall chair
michael roberts author of blog the extra recession-city economist/marxist
james heartfield-lenin and 3 conditions for revolution
dennis hayes freedom of speech/academic freedom
WSWS speaker
mick hume author of trigger warnings
plus speakers from floor
jon lansman has been invited tbc


save the syrian orphan children appeal 7.30 pm
party in bar 7.45 pm until late

there will be a creche run by professionals

I do hope that you are well and thriving in spite of all the pressure
I think that you are doing MAGNIFICENTLY!


Professor Grigg-Spall

2016 Video Conference: ‘Truth and Justice’

Unfortunately we have had to cancel the 1st May 2016 Conference as our speakers were finding it difficult to make that date in Whitstable.

Instead we have been video recording their talks and will post these to our new YouTube channel over the next ten days.

We will be organising discussions about each of the talks on facebook and will add these details to the listings once members have had a chance to listen.

  • Chair Ian Grigg-Spall:  Opening Remarks
  • Michael Mansfield QC:  President’s Address
  • Keynote Speech 1  Michael Roberts: ‘The Coming Global Slump’
  • Keynote Speech 2  Patrick Cockburn: ‘The Rise of Islamic State’
  • Practitioner Chair Courtenay Griffiths QC: ‘ Challenges to International Criminal Law and the rule of law’ tbp
  • Khawar Qureshi QC: ”Challenges to civil justice and the rule of law” tbp
  • Imran Khan, solicitor: ‘Challenges to criminal law and the rule of law’ tbp
  • John Hendy, QC: ‘Oppose TU bill – repeal the Thatcher anti union legislation’
  • Leigh Day: ‘The work of radical lawyers’
  • Richard De Friend: ‘Do law clinics radicalise students?’
  • Kat Craig: ‘Reprieve opposes injustice across the world’
  • Lindsey German: ‘Stop the War and the war in the Middle East’

There will be more videos posted as they become available


Palestine’s land surface was approximately 26,320,505 dunums (26,320 km²), of which about one third was cultivable. By comparison, the size of modern day Israel (as of 2006) is 20,770,000 dunums (20,770 km²) (Geography of Israel). The land in Jewish possession had risen from 456,000 dunums (456 km²) in 1920 to 1,393,000 dunums (1,393 km²) in 1945[58] and 1,850,000 dunums (1,850 km²) by 1947 (Avneri p. 224).[59] No reliable figures of private land ownership by Arabs were available, due to the lack of centralized records under the Ottoman Land Code. The 1939 White Paper had imposed prohibitions and restrictions on land transfers to the Jewish citizenry. As a result, 94 per cent of the territory was reserved for Arab use on a de facto and de jure basis. The Zionist Organization had established a similar system under the Jewish National Fund, or JNF, which held its land purchases in trust ‘for the Jewish people as a whole’.[60] The Fund’s charter specified that the purpose of the JNF was to purchase land for the settlement of Jews. This was usually interpreted to mean that the JNF should not lease land to non-Jews.
The UN General Assembly made a recommendation for a three-way partition of Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The two states envisioned in the plan were each composed of three major sections, linked by extraterritorial crossroads. The Jewish state would receive the Coastal Plain, stretching from Haifa to Rehovot, the Eastern Galilee (surrounding the Sea of Galilee and including the Galilee panhandle) and the Negev, including the southern outpost of Umm Rashrash (now Eilat). The Arab state would receive the Western Galilee, with the town of Acre, the Samarian highlands and the Judean highlands, and the southern coast stretching from north of Isdud (now Ashdod) and encompassing what is now the Gaza Strip, with a section of desert along the Egyptian border.
The partition defined by the General Assembly resolution differed somewhat from the UNSCOP report partition. Most notably, Jaffa was constituted as an enclave of the Arab State and the boundaries were modified to include Beersheba and a large section of the Negev desert within the Arab State and a section of the Dead Sea shore within the Jewish State.
The land allocated to the Arab state (about 43% of Mandatory Palestine[61]) consisted of all of the highlands, except for Jerusalem, plus one third of the coastline. The highlands contain the major aquifers of Palestine, which supplied water to the coastal cities of central Palestine, including Tel Aviv. The Jewish state was to receive 56% of Mandatory Palestine, a slightly larger area to accommodate the increasing numbers of Jews who would immigrate there.[61] The state included three fertile lowland plains — the Sharon on the coast, the Jezreel Valley and the upper Jordan Valley.
The bulk of the proposed Jewish State’s territory, however, consisted of the Negev Desert. The desert was not suitable for agriculture, nor for urban development at that time. The Jewish state was also given sole access to the Red Sea.
The plan called for the new states to honor the existing international commitments and submit any disputes to the International Court of Justice. Under the Anglo-French Accords of 1922, 1923 and 1926 Syria and Lebanon had been granted the same rights of access to Lake Tiberias (aka Sea of Galilee and Lake Kinneret) as the Jewish and Arab Palestinians in the British Mandate territory. Under the 1923 Agreement:
“…Any existing rights over the use of waters of the Jordan by the inhabitants of Syria shall be maintained unimpaired…. … The inhabitants of Syria and of the Lebanon shall have the same fishing and navigation rights on Lakes Huleh and Tiberias and on the River Jordan between the said lakes as the inhabitants of Palestine, but the Government of Palestine shall be responsible for the policing of the lakes.[62]
The 1926 Accord stipulated that
“All the inhabitants, whether settled or semi-nomadic, of both territories who, at the date of the signature of this agreement enjoy grazing, watering or cultivation rights, or own land on the one or the other side of the frontier shall continue to exercise their rights as in the past.”
Apart from the Negev, the land allocated to the Jewish state was largely made up of areas in which there was a significant Jewish population. The land allocated to the Arab state was populated almost solely by Arabs.[63]
The plan tried its best to accommodate as many Jews as possible into the Jewish state. In many specific cases, this meant including areas of Arab majority (but with a significant Jewish minority) in the Jewish state. Thus the Jewish State would have an overall large Arab minority. Areas that were sparsely populated (like the Negev), were also included in the Jewish state to create room for immigration in order to relieve the “Jewish Problem”.[64]
The UNSCOP plan would have had the following demographics (data based on 1945). This data does not reflect the actual land ownership by Jews, local Arabs, Ottomans and other land owners. This data also excludes the land designated to Arabs in trans-Jordan (country of Jordan, west of the river Jordan).
Arab and other population
% Arab and other
Jewish population
% Jewish
Total population
Arab State
Jewish State
Data from the Report of UNSCOP — 1947
The UNSCOP Report also noted that “in addition there will be in the Jewish State about 90,000 Bedouins, cultivators and stock owners who seek grazing further afield in dry seasons.”[65]
Iraq & Israel: Double Standards

The Middle East roadmap is another example of how Israel is treated as a special case when it comes to obeying Security Council resolutions. Iraq suffered invasion, allegedly because it failed to obey Security Council resolutions. By contrast, the roadmap process, like the Oslo process before it, allows Israel to negotiate about the extent to which it obeys Security Council resolutions, if at all.

Jack Straw told the House of Commons on 25 November 2002:

“Today, Iraq stands in breach of nine separate chapter VII Security Council resolutions. It has completely ignored 23 distinct obligations out of a total of 27. That plainly cannot be allowed to continue. As President Bush said to the UN General Assembly on 12 September, the UN has either to enforce the writ of its own resolution or risk becoming irrelevant. Happily, the Security Council responded to his challenge [by passing resolution 1441].”

President Bush had told the UN General Assembly:

“We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime.”

Today, states other than Iraq stand in breach of upwards of a hundred Security Council resolutions. But, strangely, neither George nor Jack is in the least bit concerned that the UN is risking irrelevance by failing to enforce these. Israel is the worst culprit: it’s in breach of more than 30 resolutions stretching back over more than 30 years, most stemming from its occupation and subsequent colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.

It is widely assumed that these resolutions require action by parties other than Israel, and that is why it is appropriate to have a peace process in which all parties can take part. Israel has done a good job of giving currency to this notion, even though a glance at Security Council resolutions concerning Israel (which are available on the UN website here) quickly shows that it is unfounded.

Even the Prime Minister believes it to be true, though perhaps it is merely a convenient pretence on his part. Defending his government’s belligerent attitude to Iraq for non-compliance with Security Council resolutions, while condoning Israel’s non-compliance, he told the House of Commons on 24 September 2002:

“I think that one thing, however, must be stated clearly: the UN resolutions in respect of the Middle East impose obligations on both sides. They impose obligations in respect of support for terrorism and recognition of Israel as well as withdrawal from the occupied territories. That is why, in the end, the only way of making progress in the Middle East is for all the aspects of the UN’s will to be implemented in relation to the Middle East.”

That is just wrong, as we shall see.

Arguably resolution 242 on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories passed on 22 November 1967 does require action by other parties. The key paragraph of it is:

“[The Security Council] Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

“(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

“(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;”

Certainly, the inclusion of sub-paragraph (ii) has given Israel the excuse not to implement (i) and withdraw from the territories it occupied since 1967.

But this is not true of about 30 resolutions against Israel (see list compiled by Stephen Zunes here). Each of these is an explicit demand for action from Israel, and Israel alone.

Three examples:

252 (21 May 1968) on the annexation of parts of Jerusalem:
“2. [The Security Council] Considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status;

“3. [The Security Council] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem;”

446 (22 March 1979) on the establishment of Jewish settlements:
“[The Security Council] Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories;”

497 (17 December 1981) on the annexation of the Golan Heights:
“1. [The Security Council] Decides that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect;

“2. [The Security Council] Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision;”

Those resolutions place obligations on Israel, and Israel alone, and it is obviously within Israel’s power of Israel to carry out those obligations. None of them require negotiation with other states. Israel doesn’t need to negotiate with anybody before undoing the annexation of the annexed parts of Jerusalem or of the Golan Heights. Nor does it need to negotiate with anybody before dismantling the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

The US/UK invaded Iraq and overthrew its regime, for failing to obey Security Council resolutions (allegedly). If the same standard were applied to Israel, it would be required to obey those resolutions that demand action from it alone, prior to any peace process to bring about a wider settlement in Palestine.

Ethnic cleansing
Double standards are in operation about the implementation of Security Council resolutions. They are also in operation about ethnic cleansing. Palestinian refugees expelled from their lands in 1947/8 and 1967 will not be allowed to return by Israel, and it can be guaranteed that no Western government will say a word of support for their right of return, let alone do something to bring it about.

Compare that the paroxysms of righteous anger that were generated by ethnic cleansing (of non-Serbs, at least) in Yugoslavia; it was unthinkable that ethnic cleansing be allowed to stand there, and the West was even prepared to contemplate military action to reverse it.

Labour & Trade Union Review
July 2003

You recall that the USA and UK invaded Iraq for its failure to comply with Security Council Resolutions here are the other resoltutions that Israel and other USA allies have not complied with but no action has been taken!!!
The cases are listed in order of resolution number, followed by the year in which the resolution was passed, the country or countries in violation, and a brief description of the resolution.
Resolution 252 (1968) IsraelUrgently calls upon Israel to rescind measures that change the legal status of Jerusalem, including the expropriation of land and properties thereon.
262 (1968) IsraelCalls upon Israel to pay compensation to Lebanon for destruction of airliners at Beirut International Airport.
267 (1969) IsraelUrgently calls upon Israel to rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem.
271 (1969) IsraelReiterates calls to rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem and calls on Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying powers.
298 (1971) IsraelReiterates demand that Israel rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem.
353 (1974) TurkeyCalls on nations to respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Cyprus and for the withdrawal without delay of foreign troops from Cyprus.
354 (1974) TurkeyReiterates provisions of UNSC resolution 353.
360 (1974) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus “without delay.”
364 (1974) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
367 (1975) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
370 (1975) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
377 (1979) MoroccoCalls on countries to respect the right of self-determination for Western Sahara.
379 (1979) MoroccoCalls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Western Sahara.
380 (1979) MoroccoReiterates the need for compliance with previous resolutions.
391 (1976) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
401 (1976) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
414 (1977) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
422 (1977) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
440 (1978) TurkeyReaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.
446 (1979) IsraelCalls upon Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying powers, to rescind previous measures that violate these relevant provisions, and “in particular, not to transport parts of its civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.”
452 (1979) IsraelCalls on the government of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction, and planning of settlements in the Arab territories, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.
465 (1980) IsraelReiterates previous resolutions on Israel’s settlements policy.
471 (1980) IsraelDemands prosecution of those involved in assassination attempts of West Bank leaders and compensation for damages; reiterates demands to abide by Fourth Geneva Convention.
484 (1980) IsraelReiterates request that Israel abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
487 (1981) IsraelCalls upon Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
497 (1981) IsraelDemands that Israel rescind its decision to impose its domestic laws in the occupied Syrian Golan region.
541 (1983) TurkeyReiterates the need for compliance with prior resolutions and demands that the declaration of an independent Turkish Cypriot state be withdrawn.
550 (1984) TurkeyReiterates UNSC resolution 541 and insists that member states may “not to facilitate or in any way assist” the secessionist entity.
573 (1985) IsraelCalls on Israel to pay compensation for human and material losses from its attack against Tunisia and to refrain from all such attacks or threats of attacks against other nations.
592 (1986) IsraelInsists Israel abide by the Fourth Geneva Conventions in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories.
605 (1987) Israel”Calls once more upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide immediately and scrupulously by the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, and to desist forthwith from its policies and practices that are in violations of the provisions of the Convention.”
607 (1986) IsraelReiterates calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and to cease its practice of deportations from occupied Arab territories.
608 (1988) IsraelReiterates call for Israel to cease its deportations.
636 (1989) IsraelReiterates call for Israel to cease its deportations.
641 (1989) IsraelReiterates previous resolutions calling on Israel to desist in its deportations.
658 (1990) MoroccoCalls upon Morocco to “cooperate fully” with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the chairman of the Organization of African Unity “in their efforts aimed at an early settlement of the question of Western Sahara.”
672 (1990) IsraelReiterates calls for Israel to abide by provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Arab territories.
673 (1990) IsraelInsists that Israel come into compliance with resolution 672.
681 (1990) IsraelReiterates call on Israel to abide by Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Arab territories.
690 (1991) MoroccoCalls upon both parties to cooperate fully with the Secretary General in implementing a referendum on the fate of the territory.
694 (1991) IsraelReiterates that Israel “must refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilian from the occupied territories and ensure the safe and immediate return of all those deported.”
716 (1991) TurkeyReaffirms previous resolutions on Cyprus.
725 (1991) Morocco”Calls upon the two parties to cooperate fully in the settlement plan.”
726 (1992) IsraelReiterates calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and to cease its practice of deportations from occupied Arab territories.
799 (1992) Israel”Reaffirms applicability of Fourth Geneva Convention…to all Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and affirms that deportation of civilians constitutes a contravention of its obligations under the Convention.”
809 (1992) MoroccoReiterates call to cooperate with the peace settlement plan, particularly regarding voter eligibility for referendum.
822 (1993) ArmeniaCalls for Armenia to implement the “immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbadjar district and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan.”
853 (1993) ArmeniaDemands “complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from Azerbaijani territory.
874 (1993) ArmeniaReiterates calls for withdrawal of occupation forces.
884 (1993) ArmeniaCalls on Armenia to use its influence to force compliance by Armenian militias to previous resolutions and to withdraw its remaining occupation forces.
904 (1994) IsraelCalls upon Israel, as the occupying power, “to take and implement measures, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by settlers.”
973 (1995) MoroccoReiterates the need for cooperation with United Nations and expediting referendum on the fate of Western Sahara.
995 (1995) MoroccoCalls for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts to move forward with a referendum.
1002 (1995) MoroccoReiteration of call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts.
1009 (1995) CroatiaDemands that Croatia “respect fully the rights of the local Serb population to remain, leave, or return in safety.”
1017 (1995) MoroccoReiterates the call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts and to cease “procrastinating actions which could further delay the referendum.”
1033 (1995) MoroccoReiterates call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts.
1044 (1996) SudanCalls upon Sudan to extradite to Ethiopia for prosecution three suspects in an assassination attempt of visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and to cease its support for sanctuary and offering of sanctuary to terrorists.
1054 (1996) SudanDemands that Sudan come into compliance with UNSC resolution 1044.
1056 (1996) MoroccoCalls for the release of political prisoners from occupied Western Sahara.
1070 (1996) SudanReiterates demands to comply with 1044 and 1054.
1073 (1996) Israel”Calls on the safety and security of Palestinian civilians to be ensured.”
1079 (1996) CroatiaReaffirms right of return for Serbian refugees to Croatia.
1092 (1996) Turkey/CyprusCalls for a reduction of foreign troops in Cyprus as the first step toward a total withdrawal troops as well as a reduction in military spending.
1117 (1997) Turkey/CyprusReiterates call for a reduction of foreign troops in Cyprus as the first step toward a total withdrawal troops and reduction in military spending.
1120 (1997) CroatiaReaffirms right of return for Serbian refugees to Croatia and calls on Croatia to change certain policies that obstruct this right, and to treat its citizens equally regardless of ethnic origin.
1145 (1997) CroatiaReiterates Croatian responsibility in supporting the political and economic rights of its people regardless of ethnic origin.
1172 (1998) India, PakistanCalls upon India and Pakistan to cease their development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
1178 (1998) Turkey/CyprusReiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.
1185 (1998) MoroccoCalls for the lifting of restrictions of movement by aircraft of UN peacekeeping force.
1215 (1998) MoroccoUrges Morocco to promptly sign a “status of forces agreement.”
1217 (1998) Turkey/CyprusReiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.
1251 (1999) Turkey/CyprusReiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.
1264 (1999) IndonesiaCalls on Indonesia to provide safe return for refugees and punish those for acts of violence during and after the referendum campaign.
1272 (1999) IndonesiaStresses the need for Indonesia to provide for the safe return for refugees and maintain the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps.
1283 (1999) Turkey/CyprusReiterates UNSC resolution 1251.
1303 (2000) Turkey/CyprusReiterates UNSC resolutions 1283 and 1251.
1319 (2000) IndonesiaInsists that Indonesia “take immediate additional steps, in fulfillment of its responsibilities, to disarm and disband the militia immediately, restore law and order in the affected areas of West Timor, ensure safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers, and prevent incursions into East Timor.” Stresses that those guilty of attacks on international personnel be brought to justice and reiterates the need to provide safe return for refugees who wish to repatriate and provide resettlement for those wishing to stay in Indonesia.
1322 (2000) IsraelCalls upon Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying power.
1331 (2000) Turkey/CyprusReiterates UNSC resolution 1251 and subsequent resolutions.
1338 (2001) IndonesiaCalls for Indonesian cooperation with the UN and other international agencies in the fulfillment of UNSC resolution 1319.
1359 (2001) MoroccoCalls on the parties to “abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.”
1384 (2001) Turkey/CyprusReiterates 1251 and all relevant resolutions on Cyprus.
1402 (2002) IsraelCalls for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities.
1403 (2002) IsraelDemands that Israel go through with “the implementation of its resolution 1402, without delay.”
1405 (2002) IsraelCalls for UN inspectors to investigate civilian deaths during an Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp.
1416 (2002) Turkey/CyprusReiterates UNSC resolution 1251 and all relevant resolutions on Cyprus.
1435 (2002) IsraelCalls on Israel to withdraw to positions of September 2000 and end its military activities in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of security and civilian infrastructure.

Explanatory Notes:
This list deals exclusively with resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, a fifteen-member body consisting of five permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) and ten non-permanent members elected for rotating two-year terms representing various regions of the world. The Security Council’s primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, is for the maintenance of international peace and security. For a resolution to pass, it must be approved by a majority of the total membership with no dissenting vote from any of the five permanent members. Since the early 1970s, the United States has used its veto power nearly fifty times, more than all other permanent members during that same period combined. In the vast majority of these cases, the U.S. was the only dissenting vote. The preceding list, therefore, includes only resolutions where the United States voted in the affirmative or abstained.
This list does not include resolutions that merely condemn a particular action, only those that specifically proscribe a particular ongoing activity or future activity and/or call upon a particular government to implement a particular action. Nor does this list does include resolutions where the language is ambiguous enough to make assertions of noncompliance debatable, such as UNSC resolutions 242 and 338 on the Arab-Israeli conflict that put forward the formula of “land for peace,” to cite the most famous. Similarly, it does not include broad resolutions calling for universal compliance not in reference to a particular conflict, particularly if there is not a clear definition. For example, in a resolution that proscribes the harboring of terrorists, there is no clear definition for what constitutes a terrorist. This list does not include nonstate actors, such as secessionist governments, rebel groups or terrorists, only recognized nation-states.
Furthermore, this list does not include resolutions that were also violated for a number of years that are now moot (such as those dealing with Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, and Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon). If these were also included, the number of violations would double. In most of these cases, the United States played a key role in blocking enforcement of these resolutions as well.
Finally, it should be noted that this is only a partial list, since some of the resolutions involved technical questions I was unable to judge, particularly when they involved parts of the world with which we were less familiar. S.Z.

War crimes in Gaza? Let’s look closer to home

If Britain had fulfilled its ICJ obligations in 2004, it could have helped tackle this conflict before it escalated beyond diplomacy
Comments (194)

Phil Shiner
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 January 2009 13.30 GMT
Article history
As reported this week, there are repeated calls for the UK and the international community to condemn Israel’s disproportionate and, therefore, illegal attacks on the civilian population of Gaza. At the same time, David Miliband urges an effective immediate ceasefire while repeatedly emphasising that the “attacks” from Hamas – which he talks about first – and the “military action” by Israel must stop. So far, this diplomatic language has been completely ineffective: the Israeli assault on Gaza continues unabated. However, if the UK and other EU states in particular, had complied with their international obligations, as clearly set out in the advisory opinion of the international court of justice in July 2004, this crisis could have been nipped in the bud at the outset (as could Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon and Gaza in August 2006).
The ICJ’s opinion on the wall could not be clearer. It identifies 11 international obligations breached by Israel by the construction of the wall and the maintenance of the system flowing from it of gates, permits, and illegal settlements on Palestinian land. These included non-derogable rules on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the prohibition on the acquisition of land by force. The ICJ then identify seven separate obligations for other states – in the context of these non-derogable rules – that include two negative obligations that states must not: one, render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation; and, two, recognise the illegal situation. Negative obligations have a lower threshold than positive ones and the burden on the UK and other EU states to meet these negative international obligations from July 2004 has been a high one.
It is noteworthy that the UK, as one such state, has done nothing effective to meet these obligations, and has, in fact, increased its aid and assistance in Israel since the ICJ’s opinion. These are some examples of its positive encouragement of Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories since July 2004:• It has massively increased the value of arms-related products licensed to Israel in recent times (a doubling from 2004 to 2005 and a huge increase again with £20m approved in the first quarter of 2008); • It has resisted all attempts by campaigners that it should apply effective pressure within the EU that the EU-Israel association agreement – of great importance to Israel’s trading figures – should be suspended as the human rights obligations underpinning it have been breached; • It has continued to invite Israel’s arms companies to exhibit at the biannual Docklands arms fair; • It has continued to propagate the myth that the Quartet’s roadmap process is the answer to the humanitarian crisis in the OPTs, which has allowed it to resist any positive action.
The UK has breached its international obligations – so clearly set out in the ICJ’s opinion – as have all the other EU states. Real effective pressure could have been applied by these states from July 2004 onwards. There is no doubt that Israel’s trading figures are heavily reliant on the positive agreement with the EU, and that arms-related products from the UK and other EU states are clearly implicated in attacks on civilians from 2004 onwards. This newspaper, for instance, carried an article in July 2006 that identified all the different UK components in an Apache helicopter, and we all know the role played by these aircraft in the present crisis. Handwringing pleas that both sides should enter into a binding ceasefire agreement have had no effect. However, if the UK and other EU states had ceased some, if not all, of their trading activities since 2004, even if only temporarily to make the point, the hand of the international community at the outset of this crisis could have been strong and effective. Israel could have been told it must immediately cease all attacks on civilians in Gaza on pain of:
• An immediate suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement and other trading and arms related activities with EU states; • A security council resolution under chapter VII of the UN charter obliging all states to follow this lead.
However, once again, the UK government shows that it is willing to publicly flout international law, if the rule of law gets in the way of its political objectives.

‘War on terror’ was a mistake, says Miliband

Foreign secretary argues west cannot kill its way out of the threats it faces
Julian Borger, Amethi, India
The Guardian, Thursday 15 January 2009
Article history
The foreign secretary, David Miliband, today argues that the use of the “war on terror” as a western rallying cry since the September 11 attacks has been a mistake that may have caused “more harm than good”.
In an article in today’s Guardian, five days before the Bush administration leaves the White House, Miliband delivers a comprehensive critique of its defining mission, saying the war on terror was misconceived and that the west cannot “kill its way” out of the threats it faces.
British officials quietly stopped using the phrase “war on terror” in 2006, but this is the first time it has been comprehensively discarded in the most outspoken remarks on US counterterrorism strategy to date by a British minister.
In remarks that will also be made in a speech today in Mumbai, in one of the hotels that was a target of terrorist attacks in November, the foreign secretary says the concept of a war on terror is “misleading and mistaken”.
“Historians will judge whether it has done more harm than good,” Miliband says, adding that, in his opinion, the whole strategy has been dangerously counterproductive, helping otherwise disparate groups find common cause against the west.
“The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common,” Miliband argues, in a clear reference to the signature rhetoric of the Bush era. “We should expose their claim to a compelling and overarching explanation and narrative as the lie that it is.”
“Terrorism is a deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology,” he says.
He argues that “the war on terror implied a belief that the correct response to the terrorist threat was primarily a military one – to track down and kill a hardcore of extremists”. But he quotes an American commander, General David Petraeus, saying the western coalition in Iraq “could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife”.
Instead of trying to build western solidarity against a shared enemy, Miliband argues it should be constructed instead on the “idea of who we are and the values we share”.
He goes on to say that “democracies must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating. It is an argument he links directly with the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. “That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome president-elect Obama’s clear commitment to close it.”
After the al-Qaida attacks of 11 September 2001, the Bush administration presented the threat of a global terrorist onslaught as justification for pre-emptive military action, long-term detention without trial and severe interrogation techniques widely denounced by human rights groups as torture. The incoming Obama administration is expected to avoid using the term “war on terror” and adopt a more multilateral and less military-focused approach to global threats.
British officials are signalling, in increasingly public ways, that they cannot wait for the new team to take office next Tuesday, and wave goodbye to an eight-year administration with which they felt increasingly ill at ease, particularly following the departure of Tony Blair in 2007.
Miliband said last night that the incoming administration’s proposed use of “smart power” meshed with his arguments. “The new administration has a set of values that fit very well with the values and priorities I am talking about,” he said during a visit to Amethi, northern India.
Asked whether he had not left it late in the Bush era to make his criticism, the foreign secretary said British officials had stopped thinking in terms of a single war on terror more than two years ago, and had been putting a “more comprehensive approach” into practice.
British officials said the timing of the speech was dictated more by the Mumbai attacks than Bush’s departure, but added that the transition in Washington meant the language could be less cautious than it might otherwise have been.
UK-US relations have been particular sour in recent days after Washington reneged on a pledge to back a largely British-drafted UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The White House over-ruled US diplomats after a demand from the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

Dismantle zionism

The December 2008 Gaza Massacre
John Docker and Ned Curthoys
We are part of an increasing number of people around the world of Jewish descent who are sickened by the coldly calculated massacre of the Palestinians of Gaza and who utterly repudiate Israel’s claim that it acts in the name of Jews the world over. Like Antony Loewenstein we deplore the ‘myth of Israel’ as perpetual victim and rational peace seeker, and its stranglehold over media reportage of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The massacre in Gaza cries out not only for immediate condemnation but for historical explanation. As scholars working in the fields of genocide studies and research into the long history of European colonization, it seems clear to us that Israel – as in the history of white Australia since 1788 – is a genocidal settler colonial society that since its founding in 1948 continually seeks to destroy the foundations of life of the indigenous Palestinians, their health, dignity, livelihood, personal security, access to education, and political organisation, so that the Palestinians can be replaced by colonizing Zionist settlers. Recent genocide scholarship has highlighted how much the original definition of genocide (by Raphael Lemkin in chapter nine of his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe) linked genocide and colonization as a two stage process of destruction of the home society (not necessarily by physical annihilation qua Nazism) and replacement by the incoming colonizers. Such has been the continuing historical pattern of Israel in relation to the indigenous people of the land. In 1948 the Zionist forces violently drove out over 700,000 Palestinians by deploying ‘admonitory massacres’, as the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has evoked in horrific detail in his recent The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006). Pappé details the continuous series of massacres in 1948-49 and sporadically thereafter that the Zionists perpetrated against the Palestinians in order to ‘Judaize’ ethnically-cleansed Palestinian lands. In 1967 the Israeli state conquered the West Bank and Gaza and has aggressively continued a genocidal pattern of replacement and destruction, creating and expanding Jewish settlements, stealing Palestinian land and ghettoizing remaining Palestinian communities, attempting, through a brutal military occupation, to make life humiliating and unbearable for the Palestinians.
What we are now witnessing is a form of settler colonization reminiscent of nineteenth century Australia, in which a settler colonial ‘logic of elimination’ (to quote historian of settler colonialism, Patrick Wolfe) combines massacre and population sequestration (reserves) to incapacitate the sovereign self determination of an indigenous people. Yet indigenous peoples have always resisted the genocidal processes of destruction and replacement that settler colonialism enacts. The indigenous peoples of Australia have magnificently resisted and still do, despite all their historical sufferings. The indigenous Palestinians as a people are also resisting the disaster that Zionism and Israel have brought upon them, thereby providing the continuing possibility of a future coexistence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
The December 2008 Gaza massacre by Zionist Israel poses an intense dilemma for Israel’s organized Jewish supporters and much of the Jewish diaspora, who have for decades cooperated with and been complicit in the ongoing, incremental Israeli genocide of the Palestinians. Israel is guilty under article II, part C of the UN Genocide Convention, in that it intends to destroy, in whole or in part, an ethnic group by ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part’. Will the Jews of the world continue to be so supportive, or will they historically disavow genocidal settler colonialism in the Middle East and question their own previous support? Historically, Israel is the imposition of a European nation state, founded on the notion of one people, one religion, one ethnicity, in an area of the world, the Levant, which through the centuries has been a space where Jews, Muslims and Christians have lived together in the same societies. The very idea so precious to Zionism, of Israel as a Jewish state, is absurd, as the great Jewish jurist and Australian governor-general Isaac Isaacs pointed out in the 1940s. What if Australia called itself a Protestant state, immediately making all non-Protestants second class citizens systematically facing abuse, discrimination, and state violence, as Palestinian Israelis do to the present day? Israel/Palestine should become a democratic state, a democracy where all who live in that land are full citizens whatever their religion or ethnicity.
The Australian government not that long ago in its apology over the Stolen Generations extended sympathy and understanding to the indigenous people of Australia. Why doesn’t it extend a similar sympathy to the indigenous people of Palestine?
Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism

Generation crunch

They did everything right: studied hard, prettified their CVs with internships, and bounced out of university – only to find themselves the recession’s first victims
Patrick Barkham and Polly Curtis
The Guardian, Saturday 10 January 2009
Article history
The bafflement in the voices of young graduates is like that of someone who is suddenly smacked in the face by a friend. Teachers, parents and most of all politicians told them a university education was the key to getting a good job. Careers advisers chivvied them to get work experience. So undergraduates dutifully studied for decent degrees, prettified their CVs with useful internships and bounced out of university last summer. The world, and the job market, was their oyster. And then: thud. They were floored by the sucker punch of recession.
A generation of young people – Generation Crunch, perhaps – is experiencing unemployment for the first time, a sinking, scarring sensation that completely escaped the generation above them. David Blanchflower, the influential economist and member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee who predicted the recession, believes that 3 million people will be out of work by the end of this year. Of these, more than 1 million are likely to be under 25. The latest labour market survey shows unemployment growing fastest among 18- to 24-year-olds: of the 137,000 rise in unemployment in the three months to October, 55,000, or 40%, were aged 18 to 24. “That scared me and everyone else,” says Blanchflower. “A spell of unemployment when you’re young has a very different effect than when you’re older.” Economists such as Blanchflower talk of “permanent scars” against “temporary blemishes”: the evidence is that prolonged unemployment permanently damages the young.
Facing a youth unemployment crisis, Gordon Brown has already this week promised £140m to increase the number public and private apprentices by 35,000. It may be harder, however, to help jobless graduates. If the victims of earlier recessions were the millions of skilled manual workers, will bright young graduates bear the brunt of the latest economic crisis?
Last summer Bea Carter, 21, finished her English literature degree and decided to stay in Manchester with her university friends to “live together, like young professionals”. She thought it would be fun. “But I’m even struggling to get a job I don’t want, let alone one that I do.” She settled for a job at a branch of Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food. “Working in a supermarket wasn’t really what I expected to be doing at all, but since I can’t even get admin or office work, I had to take it.” A week before M&S announced it was axing 1,200 jobs, Carter’s contract came up for renewal. Her managers let it expire. Shocked, she tried registering at temping agencies but was told she couldn’t because she didn’t have administrative experience. “I always thought my degree would help me in the long-term with a career, but it certainly hasn’t helped me with the first step. A lot of agencies don’t care if you have a degree, they just want to know that you can type a certain number of words a minute,” she says. “Right now, job-hunting for me is about money, not about a career.”
Graduates being forced to take non-graduate jobs is not a new trend. The expansion of higher education, driven by the government’s target to put 50% of young people into it, has happened too quickly for the labour market. “There are more graduates than ever and there are more graduates now in less vocational subjects from ‘less prestigious’ universities than there used to be. We have a much higher proportion of social science and arts graduates which is why a third or more of graduates don’t get graduate jobs,” says Prof Peter Dolton of Royal Holloway, University of London, and the London School of Economics’s Centre for the Economics of Education. He says this trend will be exacerbated by the economic downturn. “When you have rising graduate unemployment, the effects are felt worst by graduates of non-vocational subjects and graduates from less prestigious universities. That’s going to get even worse in recession.”
The crunch on graduates began in earnest in September, according to Mike Hill of Graduate Prospects, the graduate careers service. “In August we were thinking ‘things are going well’. By September we were thinking ‘oh shit’. Immediate vacancies disappeared,” he says. “Graduate recruiters might say they are going to be recruiting but what they mean is very many fewer than last year. Students aren’t going to be as cocky.”
If things are bad for the class of 2008, they will get worse for the classes of 2009 and 2010, according to Dolton, as traditional big graduate recruiters pull out of the “milk round”. According to Graduate Prospects, these recruiters are changing, so while M&S may be laying off workers, Aldi, Asda and Netto are “very actively recruiting”. The few openings at conventional recruiters are now desperately competitive: KPMG’s 2009 graduate jobs are nearly all taken, months ahead of schedule, as students scramble for the top jobs.
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, suggests that young graduates should keep busy. “It’s going to be a shock to the class of 2009. But it’s far better to consider a temporary job than to sit at home and feel sorry for yourself. Why not do bar work? It involves skills you need for lots of jobs – working with people and perhaps negotiating tricky situations.”
This is greeted with hollow laughter by many graduates and undergraduates, who are struggling to pick up the most menial of jobs, let alone something to burnish their CVs. In recent months, Stephen Greatley, 18, a student from Liverpool, has applied for more than 40 holiday jobs to help fund his Oxford University degree and has not found any work. “There was a job advertised at the Royal Mail. The job description warned it was tedious, repetitive work; I applied and didn’t hear anything back,” he says.
Oliver Brand, 21, graduated from Birmingham University last summer with a high 2:1 in political science. Since then, he has applied for more than 35 jobs and 75 unpaid work placements in advertising and marketing. “I wasn’t cocky at uni but I had high hopes for myself,” he says. “I was head boy at school, I thought I had quite a lot going for me. I’d always expected a bit of rejection but after the 100th, I thought ‘Oh God, what’s going on here?’
“I’ve even found bar work hard to come by now. They want people who can guarantee to work there for a year and I’ve been honest and said I hope to get a full-time job.” As well as seeking work experience, he’s joined local job agencies near his home in Somerset. The rewards for all this endeavour? Two weeks’ work experience with a London marketing company and occasional cash-in-hand labouring for a neighbour.
It is “completely demoralising,” he says. “My mates have found it exactly the same. We’re all pretty down. We meet up regularly. All we are doing is trying to find a job every day.”
As Blanchflower warns, this demoralising effect could turn into long-term “scarring” if this new generation of unemployed people are out of work for more than a year. There was a sizeable group among the young unemployed in the 1981 recession who were still out of work in their 40s. Studies show that young long-term unemployed people find it difficult to reconnect with stable career jobs. “It’s important to get a foothold in the labour market,” says Blanchflower. “If you don’t get in, life becomes very hard.”
Young graduates are hit by a “double whammy” according to David Willetts, the Conservative higher education spokesman: companies freeze recruitment and then there is the last in, first out principle. Recent graduates lucky enough to get work have found themselves turfed out as the recession bites.
Dirren Patel, 25, got a degree in business management from the University of Leicester and quickly picked up work for a City firm specialising in IT mergers and acquisitions. Since being made redundant in September, he has found it “impossible” to find similar work in the City. Living at home with his parents near Woking, Surrey, Patel has been able to take the long view: he is now looking for a graduate job that will start in September. He has 20 months’ experience working in the City and he is competing against new graduates with none. He knows 30-year-olds who are applying for entry-level graduate jobs. He says new graduates have very little chance: “2:1s are not worth anything anymore because everyone’s got them.”
Blanchflower believes more education and training is vital for the young unemployed. But Richard Reeves, director of thinktank Demos, says the government’s instinct seems to be to encourage well-qualified (and often heavily indebted) graduates to take on more study (and more debt). Reeves says a government minister recently told him unemployed graduates will probably end up doing master’s degrees. “‘Let them do master’s degrees’ is the modern equivalent of ‘let them eat cake’,” says Reeves. “You just worsen the problem. Doing an MA should not be an economic policy, it should be a broader social policy.”
Reeves is not surprised graduates feel angry and betrayed when they have no job to show for years of study after obeying the urgings of the government. “The sell has always been ‘go to higher education and you’ll get a better job’. The sell should be higher education is a way to expand your horizons, discover more about the world and yourself and help you get a better life, as well as a job,” he says. “This vocational assumption is being destruction-tested by the recession.”
Have young people funnelled into the higher education factory been misled? “There is a growing debate about the ‘return’ of a university degree,” says Willetts. “The conventional model has been supply for graduates and the number of graduates has risen in happy tandem. But if that falls out of sync then students will ask themselves whether it’s all worthwhile.”
According to Dolton, the government’s target of getting 50% of adults into higher education was based on influential research looking at adult earnings over an entire career. Much of this studied generations born in 1958, and found each year in education over the age of 16 added 15% to earnings. But this, argues Dolton, was an exception: a uniquely privileged generation who enjoyed an elite education and a smooth labour market. To suggest modern degrees would add a similar value – called “rate of return to education” in academic circles – is “errant nonsense” he says. The government assumed further education would boost earnings by 8-15%. “Parents and kids have been sold a lie in the sense that the rate of return to education is not that,” says Dolton.
What should be done? Skills minister John Denham is drawing up an action plan to tackle unemployment among 18- to 24-year-olds, which aims to help thousands of graduates. The government needs to act quickly, says Blanchflower. “We don’t want these spells of unemployment to get long. A spell of unemployment is bad when young and the longer it is, the worse it is. We want to do everything to prevent it becoming long-term unemployment.”
Reeves warns it may prove harder to assist graduates. Keynesian-style public works – generating jobs through public sector infrastructure projects – are ill-suited to most graduates because skills sets do not match. “Would you want someone with a degree in media studies to lag your loft? I wouldn’t,” says Reeves. If the government wants to create new graduate jobs, it could invest in cultural and creative industries, suggests Reeves, which should be seen as part of the country’s infrastructure and as something which would reap profits and economic growth in the future.
If things are tough for young graduates, however, they will only get tougher for less skilled young people. “So far, it looks as if it’s the unskilled who are suffering the most. In the short and long term being unskilled is much worse than being skilled,” says Reeves. Paul Gregg, a professor of economics at Bristol University, predicts that the number of unemployed graduates will rise “and the length of time it takes them to connect with the labour market will lengthen but they will get in, although with lower wages than in the past.”
In other words, graduates will lower their sights and end up taking the jobs of less skilled workers. “Graduates are very mobile. They are more likely to move around to find work,” says Ian Brinkley, associate director of the Work Foundation. “For a while at least it’s going to look a lot less attractive to go to university. But a degree will still help you get a job if not a well-paid job – and that takes that job away from someone else.”
Additional reporting by Huma Qureshi

Manufacturing scacity

Book Review from the December 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard
Green Capitalism. Manufacturing Scarcity in an Age of Abundance. By James Heartfield. www.heartfield.org .2008
James Heartfield is associated with the former Trotskyist (British) Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) which used to publish Living Marxism (LM) and has moved on considerably since “the collapse of Communism” at the end of the 1980’s and the dissolution of the formal RCP organisation in 1997. These days the so-called “LM network” produces the edgy www.spiked-online.com website and organises debates and events under the auspices of the Institute of Ideas and a myriad of propaganda campaigns expedited largely through a robust, sometimes entertaining, and not ineffective style of media entryism.
One area this current has been particularly interested in over the last two decades is in promoting a full-on critique of the reactionary imperatives of the politics of “Environmentalism”. In Green Capitalism James Heartfield reminds us that the profit system is essentially a system of rationing, which is now, in certain circles and in a variety of ways, being dressed up as “greenwashing” by Big Business and Governments – as the contemporary ruling elites reinvent scarcity in an age of abundance.
Heartfield rightly presents the capitalist mode of production as an epoch in which the force of human ingenuity has sought to ameliorate the exigencies of life through technical breakthrough with the result that happiness is the condition for most of us in Western societies. I do, however, take issue with the notion that one out of any of the 300 workers at the Lombe silk works on the Derwent in 1721 or the 5000 wage slaves at Arkwright’s Mill in Cromford in 1771 woke up for work every day with a sense of unmitigated joy. Whilst those long deceased exploited workers are no longer “variable Capital”, my modern-day neighbours don’t seem to enthuse much about the conditions of their means of living whilst having a sup on a Friday night in the local pub, either. Nevertheless, the material gains we have made in the interim between the first factories and 21st century capitalism are impressive.
In a summation of capitalist economics Heartfield tackles the neo-classical economists and suggests they were in effect “Rationers by Trade” (my phrase not his) but you get the point. Notwithstanding that, the book opens with a great sense of optimism and opines succinctly upon the gains made by the working class under capitalism. The author explains carefully the concomitant progressive and destructive forces at play within the profit system and hints at transcending towards a more rational form of society founded upon technological progress.
This work sets out to show how modern Environmentalism came about as a consequence of ruling elites ideas about scarcity. Heartfield’s argument is that, in Western society, the myth of the “fragile” planet emerged as a consequence of the retreat from production in the original heartlands of industrial capitalism.
Much of the Green Capitalism provides an excellent exposition of the fools’ errand of “Environmentalism” and the levers of power behind that aspect of the moribund profit system. Meanwhile, at times the prose is poor and plodding, and some of the referencing is both points-scoring and unnecessary to make the more essential issue clear. Do we really need to be lectured about Trotsky’s ideas on production? Some of this stuff would leave the general reader all at sea in very short order. Whilst a final extraordinary point is clearly made: the world population grew from 791 million in 1750 to 5.9 billion in 1999, as a consequence of advances in agriculture, transport, sanitation, industry. Many of that number exist at the level of subsistence – and it should not be that way! So, from an editorial perspective the narrative simply peters out – a bang and a whimper! Where is the alternative?
Notwithstanding that, this book has much to recommend it, not least for cocking a timely snook at both the modern-day misanthropes who see mankind as a plague upon the planet and the long-dead ‘dismal scientists’ of neo-classical economics who could not comprehend a theory of productive growth through collective endeavour. Heartfield puts a well aimed, populist boot into the modern-day Green Capitalists – Branson, Goldsmith, Charles Windsor, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Lord (Peter) Melchett, and makes reasoned argument that Western Capitalism has got to go Green for the sake of exploiting new sources of profit.
There is an argument that modern socialists need to take on the Green catastrophists and promote technology and real democracy to face down the spectre of Austerity Capitalism in the 21st Century – in order to kill the pernicious profit system once and for all.
-Andy P. Davies

Capitalism in crisis

The turmoil in global financial markets has finally forced Labour’s smug Chancellor Alistair Darling to face up to reality. In a short period of six months, Britain, according to Darling, has gone from being best placed of the G7 major capitalist countries to withstand global economic turbulence (March), to facing an economic downturn that looked set to be more profound and long lasting than initially expected (mid-July), to confronting an economic climate that is ‘arguably the worst in 60 years’ (end of August). DAVID YAFFE reports on the impact of the financial storm now hitting the British economy.
To prevent the global financial system going into meltdown, over an extraordinary period of ten days from 7 September, the most right-wing neo-liberal US government ever nationalised the two giant mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; refused to bail out the fourth largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers; helped direct the takeover of investment bank Merrill Lynch by Bank of America and rescued the world’s biggest insurer AIG, by lending it $85bn in return for an 80% stake, to prevent it going bankrupt. In addition the world’s central banks injected some $550bn into the money markets in an effort to get them functioning adequately again. Finally came a last-ditch US government plan to create a $700bn fund to buy toxic assets – value unknown – from the banks in an attempt to ease the credit crunch. This is a desperate effort to socialise the unsupportable debt of a parasitic and decaying capitalism.
British economy rocked by global financial stormIt is the particular parasitic character of British capitalism – its reliance on the earnings of its overseas assets, particularly its bloated and usurious banking sector, and the ever growing importance of financial and business services in the domestic economy – that makes it the imperialist country most vulnerable to external financial shocks.1 Britain’s overseas assets in 2007 were a remarkable £6,486.5bn, 4.7 times its GDP, with ‘other investments’, predominantly bank loans and deposits by UK banks, 2.74 times GDP – a gigantic usury capital. These assets are exceeded by the UK’s liabilities of £6,836.9bn, leaving a net external debt of £350.4bn, 25.4% of GDP. US overseas assets and liabilities, in comparison, are only around the size of its GDP. Despite its net external deficit Britain still has a positive investment income on its international investment account – it shares this feature with the US. However as funding costs for lending to the UK will increase significantly with the credit squeeze, these earnings will fall significantly, with serious consequences for Britain’s rapidly deteriorating balance of payments deficit. This deficit will grow and the pound will continue to fall against other currencies, reducing economic growth and the standard of living of the British people.2
Rescuing the banksThe need to defend the interests of Britain’s financial sector and the City of London’s vast international assets is central to Labour’s economic policies and that of any British government in power. The belief, now widespread in sections of the left, that the financial crisis has forced a change in Labour is risible. Larry Elliott believes the ‘Prime Minister has belatedly discovered his party’s social democratic roots’ (The Guardian 20 September 2008). Seumas Milne (The Guardian 25 September 2008) argues ‘Ministers such as Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander have gone out of their way to attack “greed and excess” in the City and call for tougher regulation and greater boldness’. Brown’s promise to regulate the City was a real sign that he ‘will throw off the shackles of New Labour’ said Derek Simpson, joint General Secretary of Labour’s biggest trade union affiliate Unite. Fine words butter no parsnips. Ed Balls, two and a half years ago, was telling us that the government has to fight the City’s corner not just in Brussels but in New York, India, China and other centres around the world (Financial Times 23 May 2006). That was confirmed by Gordon Brown in his speech to the Labour conference on 23 September. Brown also said he wanted transparency, responsibility, sound banking and managed risks in financial transactions, with bonuses not based on speculative deals. But he claims this is to ensure ‘London will retain its rightful place as the financial centre of the world’. As we said two years ago: ‘Any Labour government elected to run British capitalism has to defend the interests of British imperialism and, in particular, take measures to promote the financial interests of the City’ (FRFI 194). The rest is hot air.
The Labour government has representatives of the parasitic banking corporations at every level of government, as ministers and advisors directing its social and economic policies and, in the heart of Downing Street itself, running the office of the Prime Minister. City businesses fund Labour-supporting think tanks such as the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Social Market Foundation’s policy forums. The payback has been a comprehensive opening up of public sector provision to private firms – estimated to be a £79bn industry. Business minister Baroness Shriti Vadera, a UBS Warburg investment banker, for example, forced through the disastrous £16bn Public Private Partnership financing of the London Underground. The influence of the City is all pervasive. The government will always look after City interests, first and foremost, in its increasingly ineffective efforts to stave off the unfolding crisis.
The Northern Rock crisis broke out just over a year ago and it took five months of frantically searching for a private sector takeover of the bank before the government was forced into a last resort nationalisation in February. Thousands of bank employees lost their jobs while loans and guarantees of around £87bn from the government keep the bank in operation.
The Lloyds TSB £12.2bn takeover of HBOS on 18 September unequivocally demonstrated the government’s priorities. HBOS was in deep trouble as its share price plunged around 70% in a week, falling at one stage to 88p, compared with 892p in September 2007. A Northern Rock-style run on the bank could not be ruled out. Its market value had fallen from £32bn a year ago to £7.75bn on 17 September. Yet its total income in the first half of 2008 was £6.5bn. The bank has 22m customers, over 1000 branches and 74,000 employees; it accounts for 20% of the domestic mortgage market and around 16% of the savings market. HBOS has wholesale funding requirements of £278bn which it must renew on the capital markets, 59% of which is relatively short term, lasting less than a year. The credit crunch makes financing these funds increasingly difficult and expensive. In addition its £236.5bn mortgage book is endangered by falling house prices and growing arrears in mortgage payments. This is why its share price plummeted. It was not, as some have made out, primarily the result of short selling by corrupt speculators, but is the result of the financial crisis hitting the capitalist system. The government banning of short selling is a cynical move to win the popular vote. It distracts from the root cause of the financial crisis – the unwinding of the unprecedented debt throughout the British economy (FRFI 204), which can no longer be postponed.
Lloyds TSB offered 0.83 of its share price for one HBOS share, valuing an HBOS share at takeoverat 232p. Cost savings of at least £1bn, the closing of 500 branches of the new bank and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs are being planned. The new merged bank will have links to 40% of homes, a retail deposit base of half the savings market, have around 35% of current accounts, 28% of the mortgage loans, 25% of small business banking, and a huge general insurance and investment business. This is the creation of a banking monopoly.
The government made it clear that it would disregard competition rules to allow this takeover, creating the largest retail banking group in the UK. It regarded a banking monopoly as far preferable to a Northern Rock-style nationalisation. Lloyds TSB chairman, Sir Victor Blank, thought it a ‘wonderful’ deal and said it was ‘landmark day’ for the financial services industry. He held out the prospect of using the new group’s financial muscle to expand overseas (The Observer 21 September 2008) – a more powerful addition to British imperialism’s parasitic banking sector.
Still the financial crisis intensified. On 28 September the government was left with little choice but to nationalise Bradford & Bingley, break up the bank and sell its profitable assets to another banking monopoly, Santander. Can anyone seriously call socialising the debt of failing banks and creating new banking monopolies a return to Labour’s ‘social democratic roots’?
Heading into recessionThe UK economy finally ground to a halt in June. The pound fell to its lowest level against other currencies for more than 11 years. Gross mortgage lending in August was £21.8bn, down by 36% from a year ago. This deterioration in the housing market will feed back on economic activity, with the banks cutting back their lending and raising mortgage rates. Public finances went deeper into the red with the August deficit at £10.2bn, the worst figure for that month since records began in 1993. With the debt of Northern Rock’s nationalisation now brought onto the books for the first time, the national debt has reached 43.3% of GDP, well above the government’s 40% ceiling. With the addition of the cost of Bradford & Bingley’s nationalisation, the budget deficit this year could reach £110bn, more than two and half times the budget forecast in March. There will be a severe squeeze on government spending.
Unemployment is rising rapidly. The number of claimants rose by 32,000 to more than 900,000 in August. This was the biggest rise since December 1992, having increased for seven months in a row. The total number of unemployed rose by 81,000 to 1.7m, the highest level for nine years. It could reach 2 million before the end of this year. The crisis in the financial sector is worsening the jobs outlook, with 19% fewer job vacancies in the finance and business service sector in the three months to the end of August compared to last year. Redundancies have risen by almost 15% overall and 31% in the construction industry since last year. This situation will rapidly deteriorate as the financial crisis hits home. Inflation has reached 4.7% while real earnings rose 3.5%, so most workers are facing significant pay cuts.
This then is the ‘real’ economy in which financial services’ share of GDP has risen to 9.4% from 6.6% in the mid-1990s and 8.5% in 2005. It accounted for 10.4% of gross value added in 2007 and was the second fastest growing sector of the British economy after oil and gas. 1.04m people work in banking, finance and insurance. The much broader financial and business services sector has grown by 57% since Labour came to power. It accounted for 33% of the gross value added in 2004 and employed more than 6 million people in 2005. Manufacturing has been close to recession throughout the last ten years and its share of GDP is now 13% compared to 21% ten years ago. These are the features of a parasitic and decaying capitalism. The Labour Party is never going to change this but, on the contrary, as the party in power, can only reinforce these developments.
1 See ‘Britain: parasitic and decaying capitalism’ in FRFI 194 December 2006/January 2007, available online: http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/frfipages/194.html2 See David Yaffe ‘On the road to recession’ in FRFI 204 August/September 2008. Online at http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/frfipages/204/FRFI_204_cri.html

Generation L and its fearful future

By Gideon Rachman
Published: January 12 2009 19:11 Last updated: January 12 2009 19:11
Pop sociologists like to divide people born since 1945 into different groups. There are the baby boomers, there is Generation X, we may even be on to Generation Y by now. But, as far as I am concerned, we are all members of Generation L – that is, L as in lucky.
Those of us born in western Europe or the US have never really experienced hard times. Our parents and grandparents lived through world wars and the Great Depression. We have had decades of peace and prosperity.
Could that change? Perhaps Generation L has just had the luxury of an extended “holiday from history”, which is now coming to an end.
There is no doubt that people are panicking. The flow of dire corporate news is so relentless that Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has complained that: “Spending an hour with the FT is like being trapped in a room with assorted members of a millennialist suicide cult.” A CNN poll found that almost 60 per cent of Americans expect the current recession to turn into a depression.
If we had Depression-era economics, would we also get Depression-era politics? That would mean new extremist parties and ideologies, rising nationalism, the growing irrelevance of international organisations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations and – ultimately – war.
Amid all the gloom and the hype, it is worth remembering just how far we still are from the Great Depression – when unemployment hit 25 per cent in the US and 20 per cent in Britain, and hunger and homelessness were commonplace. But the return of mass unemployment is not impossible. Last year, the US experienced its biggest annual job losses since 1945. Imagine the impact on the wider American economy if General Motors and Ford really did go out of business this year.
We are told that our current leaders have learnt the lessons of the 1930s. Ben Bernanke, head of the US Federal Reserve, is a historian of the Great Depression and mainstream economists believe that their discipline has made real progress since the 1930s. Like modern doctors, modern economists have a whole range of new tools available to them that were unknown back then. Economic diseases that would once have proved fatal can now be effectively treated.
That is the theory. But economists largely failed to predict the scale of the current crisis. Since they did not diagnose the disease, there is little popular confidence that they know the cure. What if economics is, actually, at the same level as medicine was when doctors still believed in the application of leeches? Or what if economics has indeed made great progress, but we are facing a new type of economic virus for which we have not yet identified a cure – the H5N1 of economic crises?
A similar question applies to the politics of the current crisis. Does our knowledge of what went wrong in the 1930s make it less likely that we will make the same mistakes again?
There are some worrying signs. At the Group of 20 leading countries’ summit in November, all 20 governments solemnly promised to avoid protectionism, which is widely believed to have worsened the crisis of the 1930s. Yet within days of returning from Washington, India and Russia had pushed through new tariffs. One lesson of the 1930s is that international co-operation – so sorely needed in a global financial crisis – can disintegrate in a depression.
In the past, periods of economic dislocation have reliably led to the rise of new radical political and social movements. The only important democracy to have held an election since the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September is the US, and it voted for Barack Obama, a liberal internationalist. But in recent months there have been riots in Russia’s far east, in southern China and in Greece.
It is still a huge leap, however, to go from a little light rioting and some international trade tensions to the rampant nationalism and war of the 1930s. For my generation it seems almost unthinkable that we could return to an era of armed conflict between the world’s main powers.
But previous generations have felt the same way. In 1911, towards the end of another long period of peace, prosperity and globalisation, G.P. Gooch, an eminent British historian, wrote that: “We can now look forward with confidence to the time when war between civilised nations will be considered as antiquated as a duel.”
Some contemporary political scientists take a similar view. John Mueller, an American academic, crunched the numbers a couple of years ago and concluded: “Within a very few years there may be no war at all anywhere in the world.”
With bombs whistling down on Gaza as I write, that seems a little premature. But contemporary optimism about the disappearance of war between the world’s leading powers may be more sensible than it proved to be in the years before the first world war. It is almost 60 years since American and Chinese forces clashed in Korea.
The balance of terror did not exist in 1914 and it has made war less feasible. But so has the long period of economic integration and increasing wealth that now threatens to come to an end.
Long periods of peace and prosperity, however, are not always terribly interesting. Amid all the economic gloom, I do not think I am alone in feeling an odd excitement at the sense of living in uncertain and historic times. As Philip Larkin, a gloomy British poet, once wrote: “Life is first boredom/Then fear.” We have had the boredom. Now it is time for the fear.