21/06/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

Professor Gus John (image: Gus John Twitter profile)

Professor Gus John is an award-winning writer, educator and campaigner, who was born in Grenada in the 1940s and moved to the UK at the age of nineteen. He received an email from Downing Street inviting him to this Friday’s reception for the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush, the vessel after whom a group of the UK’s Caribbean citizens are named:

Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 6:17 PM

The Prime Minister invites GusJohn to a reception for the 70th anniversary of Windrush at 10 Downing Street on Friday 22nd June, 1300 – 1530

Suggested dress code: Smart attire

Important Information

For security and safety reasons, we would kindly ask guests to note the following important points:

Please print this invitation and bring it with you. On arrival at the gates of Downing Street, the police officer will ask to see your invitation and a form of photographic ID (passport or driving licence). You will be subject to an entry search and therefore requested not to bring unnecessary luggage.

Please email the Events Office if the name on your invitation does not match your photographic ID  

If you lose your invitation please inform the Events Office.

This invitation is non-transferable and is for the named invitee only.

Disabled access

Vehicle access and parking in Downing Street is only permitted for guests with a disability and by prior arrangement. Please contact the Events Office if you require this.

Mobile phones and photographs

The use of cameras and mobile phones is not permitted inside Downing Street. You will be asked to leave your phone in the front hall.

An official photographer will be present and photographs will be available for personal use only.

His response, in which he rejects the invitation utterly and and presents May with some uncomfortable truths, is something to read and share. Emphases have been added by the SKWAWKBOX:

From: Gus John

Subject: Re: Invitation to a reception for the 70th anniversary of Windrush at 10 Downing Street [OFFICIAL]

Date: 19 June 2018 at 01:43:34 BST

Open Letter to Prime Minister Theresa May

Dear Prime Minister

Re:   Invitation to a reception for the 70th anniversary of Windrush at 10 Downing Street

It was with both surprise and utter bemusement that I received your invitation to the above.

We in this country have become used to foreign heads of state and leaders of movements being made international pariahs and being refused entry to the UK.   Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi, Louis Farrakhan, among others.   In my book, Prime Minister, the policies of your government, the incitement to racial hatred that they undoubtedly represent and the denial of fundamental human rights and the right to life itself to citizens of the Windrush generation who devoted all of their adult years to the development of Britain are enough to make you no less a pariah in the eyes of the Commonwealth and of the freedom-loving world than those whom your government over time has sought to ostracise.

In July 2013, with you as Home Secretary,  your government’s own vans were running around London boroughs with a large ‘immigrant’ population and displaying huge billboards targeted at ‘illegal’ immigrants and telling them to ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’.  What is worse is that your government lied not just to ‘illegal immigrants’ whom it wished to flush out, but to the public whom it wished to impress with its ‘zero tolerance’ stance on illegal immigration: ‘106 Arrests Last Week In Your Area’.  It turns out that 106 was the total number of arrests across the 6 pilot boroughs in which the vans had operated over a period of two days.  Arrests, not prosecutions or deportations. In your attempts to create ‘a hostile environment’ for ‘illegal’ immigrants, you placed 4 generations of Windrush arrivants and their descendants in the sight of any would be defender of white Britain and its borders, including racists and neo-fascists who felt they had a patriotic duty to help prevent Britain from being ‘swamped’ by any means necessary, including murder and mayhem.

On 16 June 2016, Jo Cox MP was brutally murdered in a street in her constituency of Batley & Spen in West Yorkshire by the white supremacist, Thomas Mair.  Cox was unequivocal in her support for refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants escaping armed conflict, genocide and hunger and risking their lives in rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.  She was doing this in a country where the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) was focusing the two main parliamentary parties on the anger of the white British population at their failure to control immigration and reclaim ‘Little England’ from the clutches and the legal strictures of the European Union, its Schengen Treaty, free movement of labour and human rights protocols.

Despite that horrific murder and all it said about Britain and its relentless conflation of immigration and race, the British electorate voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union and ‘claim our country back’.  What is worse, both as Home Secretary and as the post-Cameron Prime Minister, you redoubled your efforts to create a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants, condemning long retired workers of the Windrush generation to uncertainty, misery, physical hardship and denial of the same life saving health services for which they had paid throughout their working lives.

It may well be, Prime Minister, that you would have the good grace to take the opportunity to tell your invited guests how sorry you are for your part in all of that brutal, inhumane and racist treatment of former colonised Africans who have and had no interest other than to serve this nation and do their best by their communities and families.  But, one of the uglier manifestations of whiteness in this society is an unassailable sense of in-your-face entitlement.  I do not believe that you are entitled to the magnanimity of those misguided folk who might well be happy to receive your invitation and to attend your Windrush anniversary celebration.  As far as I am concerned, I stand with those who suffered detention, deportation and mental ill health, some of whom even now face an earlier death as a result of being denied access to health services on account of your ‘hostile environment’ regime.

It would be a shameful betrayal to them all to accept your invitation and join you in Downing Street to mark the arrival of the Windrush 70 years ago and the contribution to British society of those whom it brought and their descendants.

Invite me again, please, when you meet with civil society to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Reparations for African Enslavement which you would no doubt waste no more time in establishing on the back of your government’s Windrush scandal.

Yours, with sadness

Professor Gus John
Equality and Human Rights Campaigner

Revealed: The £200,000 food bank warehouse in Amber Rudd’s Hastings constituency caused by the Universal Credit debacle

Westminster Confidential

amber rudd Amber Rudd- former home secretary and MP for Hastings as the Universal Credit debacle rolls out in her constituency


The  billion pound plus failure of the implementation of Universal Credit is rightly condemned by the National Audit Office in a report published today.

Aimed to save money, get everybody back to work, simplify a complex benefit system and to be easily implemented.  Instead it is going to cost more, is years behind schedule, discriminates against disabled and poorly educated people, and the government has plans to force the elderly not entitled to a pension to have to use it when it  changes entitlement to pension credit ( see my earlier blog here)

But it is also having appalling consequences for food banks, landlords, council and housing association tenants – as the example in Amber Rudd’s constituency ( details down below show).

In the meantime ministers…

View original post 624 more words

Dr Phillip Lee:- Tory Minister resigns over Brexit

Resigning as a minister from the Government is a very difficult decision because it goes against every grain in my soul. The very word resign conveys a sense of giving up, but that is the last thing I will do. I take public service seriously and responsibly. That is the spirit that has always guided me as a doctor and continues to guide me as a politician.

For me, resigning is a last resort – not something that I want to do but something I feel I must do because, for me, such a serious principle is being breached that I would find it hard to live with myself afterwards if I let it pass. I come to this decision after a great deal of personal reflection and discussion with family, friends and trusted colleagues.

The main reason for my taking this decision now is the Brexit process and the Government’s wish to limit Parliament’s role in contributing to the final outcome in a vote that takes place today.

If, in the future, I am to look my children in the eye and honestly say that I did my best for them I cannot, in all good conscience, support how our country’s exit from the EU looks set to be delivered.

As a Member of Parliament, I also have a major responsibility to my constituency of Bracknell. In extensive consultations with local employers, both large and small, I have been warned that they expect Brexit as it is currently being pursued, whatever the negotiated settlement, will damage their business. I have spoken to people, many of whom have lived, worked and raised their family here, whose fears for their futures I am not always able to allay. Regrettably, it seems inevitable that the people, economy and culture of my constituency will be affected negatively, and I cannot ignore that it is to them that I owe my first responsibility.

Sadly, from within government I have found it virtually impossible to help bring sufficient change to the course on which we are bound.

I voted to remain in the European Union and have not changed my view that continued membership would have been the better strategic course. Even so, I believe that it would be impossible and wrong to seek to go back to how things were before the referendum. We cannot and should not turn back the clock.

However, as the negotiations are unfolding, two things are becoming clear.

• The practicalities, logistics and implications of leaving the EU are far more complex than was ever envisaged and certainly more complex than the people were told in 2016. The UK is not going to be ready in time, neither is the EU, and both would suffer from a rushed or fudged agreement.

• The outcome that is emerging will be neither fully to leave the EU, nor fully to stay. This is not an outcome for which anyone knowingly voted. In my view, this raises the important principle of legitimacy: I do not believe it would be right for the Government to pursue such a course without a plan to seek a confirmatory mandate for the outcome. And I believe that Parliament should have the power to ask the Government to adjust its course in the best interests of the people whom its Members represent.

In my medical experience, if a course of treatment is not working, then I review it. I also have a duty to get my patient’s informed consent for that action.

If Brexit is worth doing, then it is certainly worth doing well; regardless of how long that takes. It is, however, irresponsible to proceed as we are, so we should:

• recognise that the UK and EU are not ready for Brexit and pause, extend or revoke Article 50 so that we do not leave before we are ready.

• re-engage with our European and international friends to talk about how to achieve the aims that we share for the future in ways that respect individual countries’ interests and sovereignty. Since 2016, electorates in many countries across Europe have expressed similar concerns to those that we expressed in the referendum and so much is changing, and will continue to change, across the whole of our continent.

• empower our Parliament so that its role is not limited to making fake choices – such as between a ‘bad deal’ and a cliff-edge ‘no deal’. Our Parliament should be able to direct our Government to change course in our interests. In all conscience, I cannot support the Government’s decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty. A vote between bad and worse is not a meaningful vote. And I cannot bring myself to vote for it in the bastion of liberty, freedom and human rights that is our Parliament.

When the Government is able to set out an achievable, clearly defined path – one that has been properly considered, whose implications have been foreseen, and that is rooted in reality and evidence, not dreams and dogma – it should go to the people, once again, to seek their confirmation.

I will miss the Ministry of Justice and the enormous privilege of guiding our Government’s work to turn around the lives of vulnerable young offenders and female offenders; to mobilise the remarkable power of sport to transform lives and cut crime; and to improve how we deal with offenders’ health and mental health which drives so much human behaviour.

I have had the privilege to work with inspiring, dedicated people; to be touched by the appalling stories that some of those caught up in our criminal justice system have shared with me – both victims and offenders; and in a small way to bring some influence to bear to help make our society more just and more secure.

The experience has been deeply humbling. For the last two years, I have been completely committed to enabling our criminal justice system to serve our society better. There is so much more to do and I wish the department and its excellent ministerial team all the strength that they need to drive through the necessary reforms. I regret that I feel forced to leave and will remain a strong supporter.

I strongly supported Theresa May’s bid to lead the Conservative Party in 2016. I have great respect for her and still believe that she is the best person to lead the country at this exceptionally difficult time. But the fact is that we have to make many big changes for our country to have a positive future. There is a great deal of work to be done to lead with more strength, vision and integrity. We must be honest and open at all times with each other and with the public. We must renew our effort to bring the nation back together and proceed in our collective national interest, drawing on the best talent our country has to offer.

We must also have an eye beyond our shores, sustaining our European friendships through a difficult time because what is very clear is that, in our interconnected age, it is nations with allies that will thrive.

It is important that individual ministers and Parliamentarians should be able to influence and speak up on these issues. But effective Government in our country also relies on the important principle of collective responsibility. Resigning my post in this Government will allow me to work towards what I believe can be a better future, inside or outside the EU, for my children, my constituents and my country.

That will start today when MPs vote on the House of Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill and I will support the amendment which – if it is adopted – will empower Parliament to reject a bad deal and direct the Government to re-enter discussions, extending or pausing negotiations which are being badly rushed because of the deadline that Article 50 imposes.

We will not change our country overnight – but we can and must hand our children a better legacy.

The Sun’s Great British Brexit Fail

Brilliant brilliant brilliant

Pin Prick

The next 48 hours see a series of crucial votes on Leaving the EU in the Commons and with the whole sorry disaster sitting on a knife edge, Tory Remain MPs have been urged to rally round the PM Theresa May to help destroy Britain (er…. help get our country back). With Brexit beginning to prove about as popular as a bad case of piles on a forced march to a Pyongyang labour camp, The Sun has today printed a front page that looks as if it has been knocked up by an intern who – crucially – failed the photo-shop module at GCSE.

The influence of the once powerful tabloid is waning and with circulation dwindling below 1.5 million the paper is struggling to remain top bully in the media playground.

What better way to assert itself and regain some of that lost influence than by chivvying MPs along…

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Official figures reveal a disturbing rise in right wing extremism among UK youth

Westminster Confidential

maxresdefault Scenes from the right wing demo in defence of extremist Tommy Robinson pic credit: You Tube


The somewhat violent demonstration in London this weekend in support of jailed right wing extremist Tommy Robinson was foreshadowed by figures released under three months ago by the Home Office.

The figures come from the highly controversial Prevent programme which most people see as a plan to catch young people  being radicalised by so called Islamic State and Al Qaeda before they commit atrocities.

What is not  as well known is that the Prevent programme also tackles people radicalised by racist and Fascist organisations who aim to commit violent acts against Muslims, Sikhs and other ethnic minorities, including Africans and East Europeans.

Just over two months ago the Home Office published a reportand analysis of the latest figures of who is being targeted.

These are people who if one…

View original post 525 more words



News, politics, insights, inside information from the left

09/06/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

In a follow-up to his first hard-hitting guest post, South Yorkshire teacher, Labour voter and trade union activist Andy Searson moves from analysis of the working-class Brexit vote and why New Labour lost the working class to what Labour as a radical movement needs to do to reconnect with those communities and win back votes that New Labour’s approach had driven toward UKIP.

‘A drought of hope’

The Labour heartlands sent a very clear message in the EU referendum: we demand change.

Not mere tinkering or tweaking but real, tangible change. Those heartlands saw that the system, both economic and political, was not working in the interests of their people, the working class. That is not just the politics of the Tories, Lib Dem/Tory pact and their austerity, but also New Labour.

All the aforementioned bought into the neoliberal, trickle-down economic model. Well there was no trickle down, not even a tiny drip, drip. The masses were left in a drought of hope. A desert in which the British promise that every new generation should be better off than the one before disappeared like a mirage.

All the gains that were bequeathed to us from our great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ generations were slowly but surely taken from us one by one. Some openly such as the utilities, railways, Royal Mail, our telecoms industry were amongst the best known -imagine what riches a state owned telecoms industry would have brought into the Treasury coffers as the digital age exploded just a few years after Thatcher’s sell off.

Others were done by stealth, such as social care and our NHS. North Sea oil revenues were used to fund the dole queues as Thatcher and her Tories went to war on Britain’s magnificent manufacturing and coal industries – the same industries that had fuelled and enabled the Industrial Revolution and helped put the Great into Great Britain.

A crumbling bedrock

The working class communities that powered those industries were the bedrock and foundation of Great Britain and they were proud to be so. When the time came millions joined the call to arms and fell on the battlefields of Europe while their women rallied to the cause and filled their menfolks’ places in the steelworks and other workplaces to keep the wheels on industry turning.

My grand parents were such people. They also elected the Attlee Labour government to change Britain in favour of the many and not the few. This is the background against which working class people over 35 were born. A proud sense of your community history and your family’s place in the history of Great Britain.

But as the industries in these heartlands began to disappear one by one, so too did the people’s belief that the political elite could change their fate. I lived through the miner’s strike of the 80s and the steel strikes. I remember clearly their slogans. Save Our Steel, Coal Not Dole. These weren’t greedy people. These were people who knew the price of defeat and the cost of defeat to their families and communities and how right they were!

As the steelworks and mines closed so did the wider manufacturing and supply chains. As the dole queues were rising so were the number of shops being boarded up as purse strings became tighter. A whole generation began to realise that they wouldn’t be inheriting the jobs at the steelworks, the mines or within the supply industries of those retiring miners, steelworkers and engineers. You suddenly realised your future had been snatched away from you.

As the years rolled on you realised that drugs were on the rise, cheap alcohol consumption was increasing as people began to self medicate through the despair. Crime soared and for some became the only visible career option. Community cohesion began to crumble as the solidarity brought about by the trades unions & communal workplaces were replaced with the day to day grind of survival.

New Labour walked away

The politicisation via the work place was gone and the politics of the centre became bland. No one was speaking for the Labour Heartlands any more. It was as if these regions weren’t needed any more!

As New Labour began a charm offensive on Tory voters they distanced themselves from the Trades Unions. In doing so they walked away from the working class who made up this movement. Then they began a love-in with big corporate sponsors and donors so the ordinary members who had built the party weren’t needed.

The final insult was the top-down restructuring and elitism of parachuting careerist politicians into ‘safe seats’ in the Labour heartlands. These people had no connection, no shared life experiences with the local people or even a connection to the local area. The disconnect had begun. It was like a cirrhosis eating away at the political voice and representation of the working classes.

When you visit these areas now you will often be met with disdain and a deeply-felt anger at the Labour Party. Many of these people feel betrayed. Their loyalty had not been reciprocated by the party for nearly forty years.

From the mid Eighties, when the people were rising, the Labour leadership walked away from the fight. On every occasion, from the steelworkers to the miners, from Liverpool city council to the Poll Tax – the Labour Party leadership settled for centrist appeasement and used each battle as an opportunity to hammer its own support.

In short, the Labour Party walked away from its working class roots and embraced its elitist, liberal right-wing. The years that followed sowed the seeds of its demise in Scotland and to some extent in its English and Welsh heartlands. To understand this, you have to have lived it.

Disenchantment and the rise, then fall, of UKIP

This disenchantment, as mentioned earlier,  was a result of nearly forty years of disappointment and frustration at having no political voice or authentic representation in Parliament. Let us not forget a large amount of these people had been activists in their communities and workplaces. They had been the beating heart of the Labour movement for generations. With a political mind and a latent willingness to engage in politics, where could they go? No party was listening. No party was speaking for them.

Then, along came UKIP. A populist party, willing to tackle the issues of the ‘left-behind communities.’ Plain-speaking and demonstrating a willingness to offer a voice for the disaffected. They played to the emotions of the working classes, especially the white working class in the industrial wastelands of northern England. They tapped into the sense of nationhood and camaraderie that are common to working class communities (relating back to the sense of pride in their shared history) and they also created and built a false feeling of being under attack (from immigration, multiculturalism and loss of sovereignty).

The Tories quickly moved right to avoid UKIP encroaching onto their xenophobic base but Labour were slow to act. They dismissed UKIP and failed to see their appeal to the working class. Their own liberal, detached view of working-class areas didn’t allow them the necessary insight into the attractiveness of UKIP’s offer.

Surprisingly, UKIP were allowed to set a narrative that Labour’s immigration policy under Blair and Brown (and recent Tory failures in this area) were to blame for the plight of those living in the Labour heartlands. All the social problems in these communities were blamed on immigration and especially the EU’s freedom of movement rules.

The Labour Party centrists, always with one eye on an opinion poll, ran away from the mere mention of immigration and failed to put forward a robust argument to shift the narrative onto UK government’s austerity programme.

This could easily have been proven to be  the cause of social breakdown but in the silence, UKIP prospered. They offered solutions – no matter that they were false – to everyday problems faced in the run down communities of the forgotten, voiceless working class. At last someone was going to solve the housing crisis, they were going to stop the waiting lists and overcrowded NHS, they promised an end to under cutting of wages, they were going to fix law and order, they represented a chance to return to having a stake in a Britain that was great again.

In short they offered hope that things could be made better for these areas. Many flocked to the UKIP cause mainly out of desperation to have a political voice. Then Brexit happened. I talked at length about why many in working class areas voted for Brexit in my first article, which you can read here.

Reconnecting and the rebirth of hope

I want to explore how we can reconnect with those Labour heartlands. The referendum delivered the decision to leave. Now UKIP were a spent force, Brexit had been achieved, we were leaving the EU. UKIP had no purpose now and subsequently cannibalised itself. What these working class people wanted now was a party who would deliver on the democratic will of those that voted to leave the EU.

In 2015 something incredible happened. Through their arrogance and ignorance, the right wing members of the PLP allowed Jeremy Corbyn onto the ballot paper for the leadership election. This demonstrated how ignorant they were in relation to the mood in the country and how arrogant they were that it would be a victory for business as usual.

This should have changed everything for the Labour heartlands. Suddenly, there was someone speaking honestly about austerity and the lie that this is how things have to be. Corbyn went on the attack, challenging and shining a light upon UKIP’s Big Lie.

It wasn’t your Polish neighbour or the Spanish nurse causing the issues but the Tory government’s austerity. It wasn’t the immigrant coming in search of a better life driving down wages, it was the employers and greedy businesses exploiting the rules that were to blame. It isn’t immigration putting our social care and NHS under stress it is chronic underfunding and privatisation.

The new Labour leader has smashed every argument that had been propagated during the previous years. That said, there is still a long way to go to stop the UKIP vote switching to Tories, who are seen as the party most likely to deliver Brexit. Why is this mistrust of Labour still there? To answer this question look no further than the small but vocal minority in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

The people who were so badly let down over the last forty years want what is best for their children and grandchildren. They believed in and benefited from the British promise that every generation would be better off than the one before. For the first time in generations, this will not be true.

The only way to reverse this is a transformative Labour government. The 2017 manifesto was a start. It replaced UKIPs false promises with real, tangible policies that would solve Britain’s social ills. That said, to truly secure the Labour heartlands the party MUST ensure Brexit happens. A Brexit that will benefit the majority of ordinary working people.

Not an ‘Uberised’, Neo-Con hard Brexit but a common-sense withdrawal that ensures state intervention, nationalisation and provides a fair but rigorous immigration policy that meets the needs of our economy.  Only this will rebuild trust within the communities that have been left behind by New Labour.

We need to reconnect the people in these Labour heartlands to their proud history and past battles within the Labour movement. We need to remind them of how our forbears dreamed of a better future for us in 1945, all the struggles that they fought to deliver the NHS and the safety net of the welfare state.

We need to shout from the rooftops the message that Labour is under new management. We now have a leadership team who will work tirelessly in the interests of our working-class communities. There will be no more betrayals like the Kinnock or Blair years.

Saboteurs and dreamers

Regardless of the dying throes of the New Labour die-hard saboteurs in the PLP,  Labour will honour the Brexit vote and will use Brexit to work tirelessly to rebuild the 1945 covenant between the party and the British people.

To do so we need those voices from the past, the miners, the steelworkers, those brave strong women who fed their villages in the Women Against Pit Closures groups to speak up. Re-engage with these people who can tell the younger generations about our history, the need to come together and rebuild what the Tories have taken from us.

Yes, we were the dreamers, but together we ALL can become the builders again. Let us face the future as we did in 1945. Let us unite, be fearless, be proud and create the Britain and future that our children and grandchildren deserve.

Theresa May’s risky gamble with reforming an ” institutionally racist” mental health act

Westminster Confidential

Professor_Sir_Simon_Wessely Sir Simon Wessely, chair of the mental health review


With very little publicity and dwarfed by Brexit  Theresa May has committed herself to a major reform of the Mental Health Act. Last year she convened a meeting at Downing Street and appointed a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Sir Simon Wessely. to conduct a review.

This month it published an interim report with a lot of warm words, some constructive proposals and a public admission that far too many people were locked up and a disproportionate number were from  the black and ethnic minority communities. A report in the Guardianon  May 1 highlighted some of the issues.

This Friday the charity Race on the Agenda  will host a conference at the University of East London on the  Stratford campus tackling the issues head on by addressing the issue of institutional racism in…

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