A psychiatrist’s damning indictment of 500 years of racism – now revived by Trump and 9/11

Suman Fernando. Pic credit: http://www.sumanfernando.com


Suman Fernando is a gentle soft spoken  consultant psychiatrist, lecturer and honorary professor at the London Metropolitan University.    The 85 year old is not the sort of person at first sight to produce such a searing critique of racism in the UK and the US and the baleful role psychiatrists have had in treating ethnic minorities in both countries.

His book released at  the end of last year and launched by ROTA – Race on the Agenda – looks at both the history of racism which he dates from 1492 when the Spanish finally  removed the Moors from Europe and the role of psychiatry in treating ” mentally ill”  black and brown patients over a very long period.

The book is particularly relevant as Theresa May has  quietly decided to review the UK’s mental health laws  which cover some of these issues – signalling her intent by  holding a meeting of psychiatrists at Number Ten Downing Street.

It also comes at a time when the election of Donald Trump, the rise of Islamophobia in the wake of 9/11 and to an extent, the worst excesses of some people supporting Brexit, has seen a revival of popular nationalism and in the US, white supremacists.

He traces racism from the bloody Inquisition in Spain through the development of the slave trade, the rise of eugenics leading to Nazism,  the Imperialist destruction of other cultures by colonisation to the ” rivers of blood” speech of Enoch Powell as Britain faced an immigration wave in the 1960s and 1970s.

His  thesis is that – mainly because of the 1970s race relations legislation in Britain – overt racism has until recently been replaced with a form of institutional racism and psychiatry is no exception to the rule.

Indeed some of the worse psychiatric theories to treat people as seen by superior whites as ” the other” came from this profession. This was the profession that applied the concept of  ‘Drapetomania’  to slaves in the USA, the primary symptom being a persistent urge to run away.  The implication was Black Afro-Caribbeans were supposed to be happy and content as slaves  and had mental problems if they wanted their freedom.

In Britain the book provides numerous examples of how different ways of dealing what is an obvious imbalance in the number of Afro-Caribbeans being sectioned compared to white Britons. Attempts to change treatment or properly research the issue by black psychiatrists were undermined in a typical British way – their work was subsumed by more conventional psychiatrists or their findings were ignored.

He also reveals  how attempts to change matters politically were undermined. Tony Blair  appointed Paul Boateng – now Lord Boateng- as the first minister for mental health in 1997. At the time he was known to be  strident in wanting to change the treatment of black Afro Caribbeans like himself- but within months he was squashed.

Since 9/11 the danger is that racism is on the rise with Muslims rather than Afro Caribbeans as the main target. That is why the timing of this book is relevant in the context that the mental health legislation is being revised. Already psychological research is being used as a basis in the Prevent programme to decide whether teachers or NHS staff, their pupils and their patients, should be reported to the authorities if they show signs of radicalism.

The next slippery step would be to decide that these people are insane – and should be sectioned rather than prosecuted. This is not as fanciful as it sounds. Under  Labour there was a move to classify stalkers of VIPs as a mental illness and Jack Straw when he was home secretary is said to have considered whether paedophiles should be classified as insane rather than criminals.

That is why this book is so interesting because it tells how deep seated racism is among white Europeans  and how insidious the present system is in dealing with the ” other” – from stop and search to sectioning.

The one sad thing is that the book itself has been “Ghettoised” – it has been pigeon holed by the publisher  as part of ” contemporary black history ” when it is much more of an account of how contemporary British and US society has reached such a view on black and brown people.

The German publisher has created another ghetto by price – Palgrave Macmillan have priced it at a ridiculous £67.99 or £53.99 as an e-book. Amazon have a Kindle version at £45.19. So I suggest you try and get it in a public library or if you are a student make sure your university library has got one.

Institutional Racism in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology. Suman Fernando


The Clarion editors

By Amy Robinson, Durham University and Darlington Labour

When New Labour introduced tuition fees in 1998 they also willingly ushered market forces into higher education learning. Since then, the grip of the market on the education sector has steadily increased. The presence of market forces was most visible in 2012 when the coalition government tripled fees to £9,000. The recent UCU strike is simply one more case of the market tightening its grip on higher education.

Students are understandably angry. Just about all UK universities now set their fees at £9,250 whilst the current 14-day strike will affect over 1 million students across 64 universities.

However, this anger should be directed at those actors which further seek to turn universities into businesses and students into customers. The same actors which are complicit in rising tuition fees also want to make academic’s futures more precarious. The insistence of Universities UK to push through reforms to the USS pension will see some UCU member’s pensions reduced by £10,000 annually. This will leave many of academic’s pensions lower than subsistence levels. Whilst just this year the chief executive of the USS received a pay rise of £82,000.

Students should be angry and deserve to be angry. Angry at the unjustness of a system which charges young people up to £9,250 annually to continue their educations; angry at paying an interest rate on those loans of 6.1%; angry at an attempt to undermine the hard work of their lecturer’s and academic staff; and angry at a university system which pays vice chancellors six-figure sums.

Precisely, what students should be angry with is the marketisation of higher education. Therefore, it is important that as students we channel our anger towards the right actors. Don’t be angry with your lecturers be angry for them. Write to your vice chancellor’s expressing support for academic staff and/or reimbursement of tuition fees, post your support on social media using the hashtags #ucustrike and #studentstaffsolidarity or get involved locally on the picket lines. Don’t let the same actors that have been complicit commodifying education use students as leverage against UCU members.

Let us know what you think! Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

The Black and Tans & the Mutiny of the Connaught Rangers

The Black and Tans & the Mutiny of the Connaught Rangers by Aly Renwick

When the First World War – a conflict over trade, territory and empire between Europe’s strongest nations – broke out, Ireland was a united country, but ruled by Britain as a part of the United Kingdom. At this time there were some 70,000 Irish soldiers serving in the British Army. At Westminster, the Liberal Government put their Home Rule bill for Ireland in abeyance, as the establishment concentrated all their efforts on the war with Germany. Desperate to increase their armed forces with Irish recruits they sent separate promises to the two different sections of the Irish population.

Unionists in the north were urged to fight by Sir Edward Carson, telling them it would help stop Home Rule – and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was incorporated into the British Army as the 36th Ulster Division. Elsewhere in Ireland Nationalists were persuaded to fight by the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster, John Redmond, who told them this could guarantee Home Rule.

Recruitment posters in Ireland were cynically tailored for each community. George Gilmore, who was a protestant republican and socialist activist, told how he had seen in Belfast a recruiting poster which said ‘Fight Catholic Austria’. He carefully removed it, then took it to Dublin where he pasted it up again, next to another recruitment poster which said ‘Save Catholic Belgium.’

Across Ireland about 150,000 men enlisted in the British Army, to join the other Irish soldiers already serving – some 35,000 were destined never to return. By the end of 1915, the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions and the 36th Ulster Division had joined other British Army units in the conflict. Many were to die in the great battles, like the Somme or at Gallipoli.

The Freikorps

At the end of the First World War, Europe was full of demobbed veterans who had served at the front and many of these men were left traumatised and brutalised by their experiences. In London in 1922, on the anniversary of Armistice Day, 25,000 unemployed First World War veterans marched past the Cenotaph in remembrance of the dead. To protest about their own plight, many pinned pawn tickets beside their medals. Ex-soldier George Coppard recalled: ‘Lloyd George and company had been full of big talk about making the country fit for heroes to live in, but it was just so much hot air. No practical steps were taken to rehabilitate the broad mass of de-mobbed men.’

Because the politicians’ promises to the fighting men had not materialised, the veterans were left to cope on their own. As Coppard explained: ‘I joined the queues for jobs as messengers, window cleaners and scullions … Single men picked up twenty-nine shillings per week unemployment pay as a special concession, but there was no jobs for the “heroes” who haunted the billiard halls as I did. The government never kept their promises.’

In Germany, some similar disillusioned veterans were recruited into the anti-revolutionary Freikorps (Free Corps):

‘There was no doubt a ruthlessness, a feeling of desperation, about some of these men who were unable to formulate effective political goals and who rightly or wrongly thought themselves abandoned by the nation whose cause they championed. The suppression of revolution in Berlin or Munich was accompanied by brutal murders, and such murders continued even after the Free Corps had been disbanded, most often committed by former members of the corps. … The 324 political assassinations committed by the political Right between 1919 and 1923 (as against twenty-two committed by the extreme Left) were, for the most part, executed by former soldiers at the command of their one-time officers…’

[Fallen Soldiers – Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars, by George L Mosse, Oxford University Press 1990].

These veteran ‘new men’ saw themselves as continuing the comradeship established among the fighting men at the front. It was mainly their former officers, who now used these veterans to help crush the political Left, who had recruited them into the Freikorps. One member, Ernst von Salomon, wrote that: ‘We were cut off from the world of bourgeois norms … the bonds were broken and we were freed … We were a band of fighters drunk with all the passion of the world; full of lust, exultant in action.’

After a failed uprising in Berlin, revolutionary leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were tracked down and captured by the Freikorps. They were taken to the headquarters of the Cavalry Guards Division, and then murdered by some of the officers. Many Freikorps members later became the shock troops for the Nazi Party, which was led by an ex-corporal veteran of the First World War – Adolf Hitler.

War in Ireland

In 1916, British Army firing squads had been busy in Ireland after frustrated Nationalists in Dublin had rebelled against British rule. Martial law was declared, the Easter Rising was crushed and military courts-martial sentenced 15 of the leaders, including Pearse and Connolly, to be shot. Many of the other prisoners were deported to Britain and confined in special prison camps.

After 1918, in India and Ireland, the mass of the population had become increasingly hostile to British rule. [For details of India see The First World War and the Amritsar Massacre at: http://veteransforpeace.org.uk/2014/amritsar-massacre/%5D

After the end of the First World War, there was a general election in Britain and Ireland. The Sinn Féin party won by a landslide in Ireland and started to set up a republican administration. This was banned by the British and many of the new Sinn Féin MPs were arrested and jailed.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) then began a campaign of armed resistance. Republicans, however, knew they could not defeat Britain’s forces in battle – but set out to make the country un-governable instead. Michael Collins, using information from a network of agents inside the colonial administration, directed a ruthless and highly efficient campaign of guerrilla warfare – that proved difficult for the British forces to defeat.

As the conflict attracted international attention Britain realised that it was in danger of losing the propaganda battle, especially after the ‘Great War’ in which they had claimed to fight for ‘the rights of small nations.’ So, Britain refused to recognise the conflict as a war and, in an attempt to criminalise the freedom struggle, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was increasingly used as the front-line force – with British soldiers, except in areas of high IRA activity, kept in the background.

The Irish Constabulary had been initiated by Sir Robert Peel in the early part of the 19th century and in 1867 Queen Victoria had granted that the prefix ‘Royal’ be added to the name in recognition of the part the force had played in suppressing the Fenian movement. The RIC were recruited from areas outside of the populace they patrolled and they had more than double the numbers of personnel, for the density of population, than any police force in England. Operating from fortifications and under strict central control, the RIC were an armed coercive force furnishing the public face of colonial authority – and they were the prototype for the militia style of police used throughout the Empire:

‘The RIC was from its outset to be controlled by Irish Protestants. It was responsible to the Irish authorities in Dublin who were Protestants or Anglo-Irish. Presumed to be the RIC’s chief challengers were Irish nationalists – mostly (though eventually not exclusively) Catholic – that is, not criminals but political militants. By making control of Irish nationalism a police rather than a military affair, officials in Dublin and London could relegate the nationalists to the category of mere ‘bandits’. The challenge to state security could thus be understated. The use of “bandits” to describe insurgents so long as they were a matter for the police, became conventional in many British colonies which adopted the RIC model…’

[Ethnic Soldiers, by Cynthia H Enloe, Penguin Books 1980].

In Ireland non-cooperation, coupled with small acts of sabotage, took place on a daily basis. Ireland became an armed camp and Dublin and other cities were patrolled by troops with fixed bayonets. Many of the soldiers had fought in the ‘Great War’ and some said that service in Ireland caused greater stress than life in the trenches. But within the RIC there were signs of even greater strain, both from moral pressure and the armed IRA attacks, which had caused heavy police casualties – 400 RIC men had been killed by the end of 1921, compared to 160 soldiers.

The Black and Tans

The British Government then decided to augment the RIC with units of more ruthless men. So, like with the Freikorps in Germany, many British unemployed veterans were recruited by their establishment and were then trained and sent to Ireland in an attempt to crush Irish nationalists. Ex-officers joined an elite force called the Auxiliaries, while ex-rank and file soldiers, desperate for work and adventure, were signed-up and sent to Ireland as the Black and Tans.

In his book Out of the Lion’s Paw Constantine Fitzgibbon described this infamous unit: ‘The Black and Tans derived their nickname from the hounds of the Limerick hunt which are that colour: they were dressed in uniform, some wearing the black jackets of the RIC over the khaki trousers of the British soldier, others vice versa. This sartorial inelegance was symptomatic of the whole corps which was neither a military force – it was not subject to army discipline – nor a police force in any meaningful sense.’ Fitzgibbon continued:

‘All over Europe, in 1920, there were young men who had gone straight from school into the trenches and who knew no life save that of soldiers. This pathetic human debris from a most terrible war provided the men who marched on Rome with Mussolini, fought on the German frontiers with the Freikorps and later became the nucleus of the Nazi Party, served on both sides in the Russian Civil War. In Britain some of them joined the Black and Tans, created to supplement the dwindling forces of the RIC, while a number of their officers joined a somewhat more formidable force, the Auxiliaries, intended to terrorise more selectively and effectively.’

[Out of the Lion’s Paw – Ireland wins her Freedom, by Constantine Fitzgibbon, Macdonald and Co Ltd 1969].

The Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans, once recruited and trained, were shipped to Ireland and billeted in RIC barracks – to provide a cutting-edge for repressive operations. The RIC Divisional Commissioner for Munster, Gerald Bryce Ferguson Smyth, called his men to a meeting at the Listowel police barracks and told them that the British Government had instructed him to implement a new policy, which he enthusiastically outlined:

• I am getting 7,000 police from England.

• If a police barracks is burned, the best house in the locality is to be commandeered.

• The police are to lie in ambush and to shoot suspects.

• The more you shoot the better I will like you … No policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.

• Hunger strikers will be allowed to die in jail – the more the merrier.

• We want your assistance in carrying out this scheme and wiping out Sinn Féin.

Some policemen were against the presence of the Black and Tans and this new aggressive policy. About 500 RIC men tendered their resignations and some walked out after incidents in their barracks. Daniel Francis Crowley, who served in the RIC from 1914 to 1920, explained what happened at the Listowel barracks after Commissioner Smyth had given his men their new orders:

‘Sergeant Sullivan spoke immediately and said that they could tell Colonel Smyth must be an Englishman by his talk, and that they would not obey such orders; and he took off his coat and cap and belt and laid them on the table. Colonel Smyth and the Inspector, O’Shea, ordered him to be arrested for causing dissatisfaction in the force, but nineteen of them stood up and said if a man touched him, the room would run red with blood. The soldiers whom Colonel Smyth had with him came in, but the constables got their loaded rifles off the racks, and Colonel Smyth and the soldiers went back to Cork. The very next day they [the RIC men] all put on civilian clothes and left the barracks.’

[The Irish Police by Séamus Breathnact, Anvil Books 1974].

Many of those resigning were intimidated, threatened and some were even whipped by the Black and Tans. Crowley, who resigned ‘because of the misgovernment of the English in Ireland’, fled the country under Black and Tan threats after his friend Constable Fahey was shot by them. Despite the disaffection within the RIC the ‘new policy’ was quickly put into operation and aggressive actions were launched against the Irish people, and ‘martial law’ declared in areas, thought to be sympathetic to the IRA and Sinn Féin:

‘Perhaps the biggest single act of vandalism committed in Ireland by British forces, including the police, took place on 11-12 December 1920, when Cork city’s centre was sacked and burned … Cork, of course, was only one of many areas to suffer under the policies which motivated police and military excesses. Florence O’Donoghue noted that in ‘one month these “forces of law and order” had burned and partially destroyed twenty-four towns; in one week they had shot up and sacked Balbriggan, Ennistymon, Mallow, Miltown-Malbay, Lahinch and Trim…’

[The Irish Police by Séamus Breathnact, Anvil Books 1974].

The Connaught Rangers Mutiny

In India in 1920, the 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers were serving at Wellington Barracks at Jullundur in the Punjab. Most men of this Irish regiment of the British Army were First World War veterans and some became disturbed by accounts of the Anglo / Irish conflict back home. The activities of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries, reported by family and friends, were especially resented. These feelings came to a head when a number of the troops refused to ‘soldier on’ till the Black and Tans were removed from Ireland.

The colonel called a parade and made an emotional appeal to the mutineers, recounting the many battle honours won by the regiment, who were nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Own.’ At the end of his speech Private Joseph Hawes stepped forward and spoke: ‘All the honours on the Colours of the Connaught Rangers are for England. There is none for Ireland, but there is going to be one today, and it will be the greatest honour of all.’

It was just over a year since the Amritsar massacre and some of the men were sympathetic to the Indian independence movement. They felt that they were being used to do in India what other British forces were doing in Ireland. To ensure that their protest would be noticed, the men took control of their barracks. Some wore Sinn Féin rosettes on their army uniforms and the Union Jack was lowered and an Irish tricolour, made from cloth some soldiers had purchased from the local bazaar, was flown instead. The first time the flag of the Irish Republic had been raised abroad.

The Connaught Rangers’ mutiny was put down when the men were surrounded by other army units, arrested and then court-martialled. During

the trial Sergeant Woods from England, who had joined in with the men, was asked why events in Ireland should have affected him. Woods, who had won the DCM in France, replied, ‘These boys fought for England with me, and I was ready to fight for Ireland with them.’

Sixty-one men were convicted of mutiny and fourteen were sentenced to death – only one was executed, however. On 2nd November 1920, 22 year-old Private James Daly, who had led an unsuccessful assault on the armoury at Solon in which two of his comrades had been killed, was shot by an army firing squad. The sixty other soldiers received long terms of penal servitude. Some were savagely beaten by NCOs of the Military Provost Staff Corps while in military prison in India. Then, handcuffed and in leg-irons, they were sent by train to the coast, to await a ship to England where they were expected to complete their sentences. As they boarded a troopship: ‘A curious crowd of both Indians and Europeans watched their embarkation from the quay side, and to these, the men of The Rangers addressed ironic shouts of “Freedom for small nations?” and “See what you get for fighting for England”!’

[Mutiny for the Cause, by Sam Pollock, Leo Cooper Ltd 1969].

For the British authorities, the policy of using the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries was killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand it rid British society of a possible source of trouble – disaffected veterans – and on the other, pitched them into direct conflict with another more pressing problem – the rebellious Irish. Their aggressive actions in Ireland, however, had greatly increased IRA support, rather than lessoning it. In the end these units were pulled out of Ireland in ignominy as the war ended in stalemate and compromise.

Britain was forced to withdraw from most of Ireland, but held on to six of the nine counties of Ulster – by partitioning Ireland and creating Northern Ireland. In which, after 1969, several new decades of ‘The Troubles’ were to reoccur. The use of the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans in Ireland was an early example, in the modern age, of an imperial powers using special units, outside of the usual command structure, in an attempt to intimidate a population. Foolishly, rather than learn the lesson from Ireland – that oppression often breeds resistance – this practice, of using special units to carry out state terrorism, would be used more and more in future conflicts.

In June 1922, the Connaught Rangers and three other Irish British Army regiments, recruited from areas that were now part of the new Irish Free State, were disbanded. The mutineers were released from jail a year later.

Joseph Hawes, a Connaught Rangers veteran, who was one of those imprisoned for mutiny, had witnessed the actions of the Black and Tans in Ireland. He later said:

‘When I joined the British Army in 1914, they told us we were going out to fight for the liberation of small nations. But when the war was over, and I went home to Ireland, I found that, so far as one small nation was concerned – my own – these were just words.’



14/02/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

A homeless man who was seen every day at the tube entrance to Portcullis House (PCH) Westminster underground station has died. Police have cordoned off the entrance and Transport for London has reported ‘access issues’.

Those are the bare facts of the ending of a life.

Not much is known about the man, but Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘LOTO’ (leader of the opposition) team regularly used to take him hot food from the PCH canteen. He had an engaging personality in tragic circumstances but was often heard vocally complaining that the buskers kept him awake.

Another victim has fallen to the scourge of homelessness and poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.

Corbyn’s team are said to be devastated. A LOTO spokesperson told the SKWAWKBOX:

He died outside the very building that should have saved him.



06/02/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

Since events in Bristol on Friday night during a Jacob Rees-Mogg appearance and the SKWAWKBOX’s revelation of the identity of the white-shirted Rees-Mogg supporter who initiated physical contact with protesters, rumours have been circulating that the man, Paul Townsley, was acting as Rees-Mogg’s bodyguard.

These rumours have centred around video showing Rees-Mogg being escorted by an employee of security firm Eyewitness Protection during a public appearance in Cheltenham – and a promotional photograph in the ‘close protection’ (i.e. bodyguard) section of the company’s website that bears a strong resemblance to Townsley:

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Eyewitness Protection for comment. ‘Craig’, speaking for the company, insisted that he had searched the company’s records and it does not have a Paul Townsley on its books. The image on the website – also used in the company’s brochure – is, he said, a purchased stock photograph. However, a Google image search returns no hits for other iterations of the image as might be expected of a commercial stock image.

Coincidentally, the Security Industry Authority does have a Paul Townsley licensed as a security operative. However, the SKWAWKBOX was able to track that registration to a completely different Paul Townsley who runs Sussex firm named Classic Security. The licence is for standard security-guard work, not for close protection. The company was eager to put on record that it has nothing to do with the Bristol Paul Townsley.

In a further twist, there is also a Paul Townsley in the north of England who bears a slight resemblance to the Bristol man. The northern Townsley, however, runs a company that helps people with addiction and housing problems. Where his Bristol counterpart is a Rees-Mogg fan, the northern Townsley has written warmly about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the company website.

The question whether the Bristol man might have been at the Rees-Mogg event in a professional capacity is not fully settled, but the information above will hopefully be useful to those searching for more information in avoiding misunderstandings.

f‘to read the rest of the post, click here’ ⤵️⤵️⤵️


Unpublished on the NHS


This one failed to get published in The Indpendent but we shall persevere.

In speculating that leaving the EU would be the biggest threat to the health service your cross -party alliance (

Brexit is ‘biggest threat’ to the future of the NHS, say 100 MPs, MEPs and peers from five parties Indpend net 5 February)

are ignoring the real and present danger the NHS faces from a privatisation driven as much by the EU as Tory, Lib Dem and New Labour enthusiasms for big business.

The pace of market-driven healthcare ‘reform’ has speeded up since capitalism’s 2008 crash as neo-liberal governments – with both conservative and social democratic labels – have imposed the costs of saving the banks on working people.

Public health services with their massive property holdings, substantial staff numbers and massive cost streams are a tempting target for cuts and privatisation.

Even the pro-EU European Trade…

View original post 213 more words

The importance of letters to the editor

Posted by Nick Wright

February 1, 2018


Words of advice to any lefty who, rather than railing against the mainstream media, is prepared to make the arguments.

Challenge reactionary or wrongheaded arguments whenever you read them. Currently the liberal media are engaged in a sustained campaign to lock Labour into a lifetime submission to the EU’s single market and customs union. The bottom line here is that the Labour right wing and the Remain tendency in the media would rather compromise Labour’s chances with its core working class vote than give support to Corbyn’s leadership on this question.

The Guardian only publish longer letters from the great and good. They prefer to publish letters which deal with issues raised by their own contributors. After a period when they seemed open to challenges to their liberal, New Labourish editorial standpoints the Guardian now seems to have stopped publishing my letters.

On most days I just can’t bring myself to read anything other than Steve bell, Adita Chakrabortty and Larry Elliot….but I must steel myself for the struggle.

The Guardian seems happiest with witty, sharply worded and funny letters. So keep them short. I also detect a certain impatience among Guardian staff with the more intransigent of the New Labour ideologues and less reflexive of Israel’s partisans on the payroll. So feel free to take potshots at their more brazen idiocies.

I also detect a new accommodation to the realities in the Labour Party. Shamelessly erasing their earlier support for policies like Gordon Brown’s infamous PFI schemes Guardian journalists follow the example of those Labour politicians and trade union leaders who did everything to bury the warnings the left, and especially the communists in the unions, gave about the consequences of the surrender to the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties and the austerity which flowed from the cuts in public spendinhg which ensued.

Now they are silent about their earlier errors. No one nowadays seems prepared to back up their earlier defence of PFI or the outsourcing of public services to dodgy firms like Carillon and Capita.

Happily the Independent have started publishing stuff from me. Two in two days in fact.

The first challenged Rabbil Sikdar’s shamefaced defence of Blairism. The second took issue with Chuka Umunna’s farcical bid to ingratiate himself with the left. Here they are:

Dear editor

The mistakes that (New) Labour made, as detailed by Rabbil Sikdar (Independent 29 January), cannot be separated from its ‘successes’. It was the embrace of the public expenditure limits that flowed from the Maastricht, and later, the Lisbon treaties that led to Labour making the Tory PFI scheme its signature policy.

Brown’s policies enabled increases in social spending principally by taxing City revenues but this cannot be separated from the consequences of the finance sector deregulation which permitted these enormous flows and led to the 2008 bank crisis.

The consequences of New Labour rescuing bank shareholder value has been a decade of austerity.

This austerity is irredeemably attached in the minds of millions of voters to the policies which flowed from membership of the EU.

Nick Wright   Communist Party

Dear editor

We always learn more from our defeats than we do from victory and after the decades in which the fiscal orthodoxy and top-down managerialism which guided New Labour ended Chuka Umunna (Labour needs to stop pretending it’s a party of Marxists versus neoliberals) has now found the insight to celebrate the broad nature of the Labour family.

We don’t have to dig back much further than the immediate post-war years to see evidence that comrade Umunna is in tune with Labour’s better instincts. Labour’s 1943 conference came within a hair’s breadth of agreeing a motion which would have restored the rights of communists to speak, vote and stand for Labour Party office which were lost in the carnival of reaction following the betrayal of the 1926 General Strike.

Where he is wrong is in the suggestion that ‘dependency’ on the state denies individual agency. The main lesson from the reforming Attlee government is that even limited command of state power and ownership of the means of production, exchange and distribution shifted a measure of power and agency to the people. Labour didn’t complete the socialist project but now, under new leadership, we can envisage a state which enables us rather than the wealthy.

Nick Wright   Communist Party