Saturday, March 25, 2017
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News

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
The immediate effect of the Executive Order by the US President was complete confusion and chaos at the airports as approved refugees, valid visa holders, non-US dual citizens and US legal residents were detained, barred from planes or ordered out of the US. A Federal Judge in New York ordered a stay on the deportation of the people with valid visas. Universities, hospitals and tech companies staggered from the order which threatens or has already banned thousands of doctors, students, researchers, engineers and others. Refugees persecuted for their sexual orientation or suffering from medical crises are still in limbo with other people denied entry because the order makes no exception besides for minority religion applicants.

The Executive Order banning entry of citizens of seven Muslim majority countries into the US is being taken as closing the door on the world. Its natural and rebounding effect would be that the world will start closing the door on the US.

There is a growing concern that this policy would throttle the flow of foreign talent, block certain employees from returning to their home offices and harm small businesses that rely on immigrant spending. That is what made some US corporations to decry the immigration blockade. The fears are growing that big foreign investors like Kraft, General Mills and Nestle would scale back foreign investment plans. Thus, counterproductive measures are afoot to stop the government from carrying out the ban. Lyft, a ride-hailing firm has donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union to battle the ban. Uber too pledged a $ 3 million legal defence fund for immigrant Uber drivers caught outside the US.

Many other companies whose professionals are spread out among citizens countries reacted gingerly, in such a way that some declined to comment on the policy altogether, while others expressed mild concern and yet a few others criticised the ban out rightly. For example Ford, the major US automakers openly assailed Trump’s action. Ford CEO Mark Field and Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman told employees in an email: “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

Although Ford said it was not aware of any employees who were personally affected, reports came to the limelight of other organisations that were affected directly. For example, a Saudi-born and Sudanese-passport-carrying doctor at the Cleveland Clinic was reportedly denied entry to the US upon returning and was forced to return to the Middle East.

General Motors sent an email to its employees obtained by the Detroit Free Press, about the travel and immigration policy. John Quattrone, GM’s senior vice president of global human resources said in the memo: “Some of our colleagues operate here with a GM-sponsored work visa and a few are from the countries affected by the Executive Order. Please know that, per our normal business practices, if any GM employee travelling back to the US with a visa encounters difficulties, GM will provide the employee and his/her family with support.”

The US Chamber of Commerce said that some companies are advising potentially affected employees to “simply stay in place and avoid travel until the confusion can be rectified. The Chamber said in a statement: “Companies are understandably confused with regard to the status of green card holders and dual nationals, and we hope the administration can quickly clarify how these will be handled.”

Certain corporations like Exxon Mobil and BP that have significant operations in the Middle East declined to comment. Others were low key, such as Cargill, which employs many immigrants in its meat and poultry plants, said it is working with its travel and security partners to determine what the action means for its workers.

Jennifer Walske, a professor in the school of management at the University of San Francisco says: “It is not surprising that companies are cautious of opening up a Pandora’s Box by taking up the issue when they apparently could be ‘a tweet away from annoying the administration’.

Malissa Arnoff, chair of corporate communication at Levick Strategic Communications says: “In the end, companies need to look at the fundamentals, what their business stands for and where their customers are. Because of that many firms are being cautious of what they say. If you look at a lot of the statements, people are criticising the policy without criticising the President. It’s a fine line, but they are trying to not blatantly say he’s a horrible person.”

Michelle Sternthal, deputy director of policy and government affairs at the Main Street Alliance says: “The ban could undermine American innovation because 25% of science and engineering companies have at least one immigrant founder. The chilling effect is just enormous.”

Several law suits are under way in Federal Courts in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington State challenging Trump’s executive order. Thousands of Americans protested at airports and outside a Brooklyn courthouse in the 48 hours following the executive order. Democrats and civil rights attorneys have criticised the order, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer saying it contradicts the ideals enshrined in American culture and on the Statue of Liberty.

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have stood by Trump praising his executive order. Republicans like senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticised the order.

Barack Obama, ten days after handing power over to Mr Trump, stated that he supports mass protests against the “extreme vetting” orders. It is rare for former Presidents to criticise their successors and certainly not just ten days after they are sworn in. Protests continue across America and around the world – including in Britain.

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The most important national issue of our time – how do we create a country in which economic growth enables the many ‘people who are just about managing’ to feel more economically secure in life, not only across the Northern Powerhouse but across the country – is being debated by leading thinkers and decision makers in Bradford in March.

Theresa May declared on becoming Prime Minister in the context of the Brexit vote: “We will strive to make Britain a country that works for everyone, regardless of who they are, regardless of where they’re from.”

‘Making Inclusive Growth a Reality’ is an RSA Inclusive Growth Commission conference, hosted in Bradford on 6 March, facilitated by Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor and attracting keynote speakers Andrew Percy MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister and Stephanie Flanders, Managing Director of J P Morgan Asset Management and Chair of the Inclusive Growth Commission.

Pioneering work on inclusive growth, led by local authorities working in partnership with business and community partners, across the Leeds City Region will be showcased.

The Bradford event follows a year-long national inquiry to identify practical ways to make local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. It will launch the Inclusive Growth Commission’s ‘how to guide’ which recognises that it is the leaders, businesses and citizens of regional cities and towns that will play the critical role in securing the conditions for economic growth and social inclusion.

On the back of the Bradford conference, the inquiry will publish its final report of recommendations the next day. This is expected to cover areas such as social and physical infrastructure investment, place-based industrial strategies, inclusive devolution and proposals for measuring ‘quality GVA.’

Three West Yorkshire council leaders, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe from Bradford, Coun Judith Blake from Leeds and Coun Peter Box from Wakefield, will speak about how their councils have been in the forefront of developing pioneering initiatives to try and make sure economic growth benefits everybody in their cities.

Bradford Council Leader, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “I’ll be pleased to welcome the Northern Powerhouse Minister once more and I’m glad that Bradford has been chosen as the national host of this important event.

“Bradford is exactly the right place for it. Government needs to back big cities like Bradford which has massive potential but which has been overlooked when it comes to Government investment for years. In Bradford we need decision-makers to take note of the report’s recommendations and turn them into action.

“Leeds City Region is already making inroads into securing decent jobs and providing the right skills for the local population. We want to build on all that work which will further boost the prosperity of the area.”

Case studies will be profiled at the event demonstrating the progress so far, and attendees will also be able to hear from businesses and residents from the region who will describe their experiences of inclusive economic growth.

Charlotte Aldritt, Director of the RSA Inclusive Growth Commission, said: “The ‘How to guide’ is an important milestone for the Inclusive Growth commission.

“It demonstrates the importance of key leaders in local government, businesses and the third sector working together to tackle challenges and mobilise resources in order to bring quality jobs to a region.”

His entry into the White House was marked with the beginning of an era of pride not only for himself but also for the colour-skinned Americans. He marvelled in certain fields of public service such as marriage equality, expanded healthcare, a renewed economy, federal divestment from for-profit prisons, the Fair Sentencing Act reducing the disparity between crack and cocaine sentencing, the end of the war in Iraq, the appointment of thelandscape-1429889065-obama first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and a lot more.

During this time, it was witnessed that equality is never free. Those who invested in the system of justice make the oppressed pay for any progress they make. Thus, those who were mildly prejudiced became vehemently racist. Rumours of Obama’s “Muslim Identity” during his campaign didn’t dissipate after his election; instead these became a regular part of the Conservative lexicon that fuelled violent Islamophobia.

Thus, with his elevation to the American Presidency, an increase was seen in the hate crime and hate groups nationwide. During the recent US elections, many Americans lamented the angry and sometimes violent rhetoric and actions, frequently demanded by the angry white people to “take the country back” – as if the election of the black president amounted to a coup.

Black Americans had to bear the brunt of getting into the White House of a black president. An email message was circulated among all female persons of colour in an office in Washington that read: “Congratulations bitches! Don’t come crying when you’re forced to wear a burka in a few months”.

Conservative Americans dismissed political views of their fellow coloured Americans as being ignorant; just once in American history their support to a black man was labelled as race-based while none of them ever questioned what must have been their 100% support for white men in all previous elections. Just in one instance of black leadership, the nation stood divided, hate sentiment of whites against the coloured Americans rose to the new heights.

In that climate of unprecedented hatred against the coloured Americans by the white supremacists, President Obama had to make heartbreaking and unforgiveable compromises during his eight years in the White House. The carnage wrought by drone strikes would likely result in paying for the enemies thus made with all the indefensible deaths caused.

Millions of families were torn apart as Obama’s administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in the American history. Obama tried to walk the “middle road” on the extrajudicial killings of black people at the hands of police officers, knowing that if he were to voice too much support for the Black Lives Matter campaign, he would be lambasted by those who would claim that he is anti-white and anti-police.

rt-obama-trump--72-er-170120_4x3_992Today, at the end of his eight years in the White House, the African Americans as well as all other coloured Americans are not the least safe, not the least equal and not the least free. Their children are still knocked out of schools. They are locked up. A third of their men are more likely to be imprisoned. They are still 13 times poorer than their white counterparts. They are still four times more likely to die at the hands of police.

The cloud of glory and optimism with which Barack Obama entered into the White House eight years ago, he has now departed from the White House leaving the nation in a cloud of disappointment, recrimination, and even paranoia.

None of the wars Obama inherited are truly over, and he started or joined several more. If anything, the sense of America’s decline is even more palpable than before. For a sense of that decline, look at the pathetic tantrums that the Obama administration threw in its last days.

After the White House received some criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in the media for letting a non-binding resolution condemning Israeli settlements pass at the UN, Secretary of State John Kerry let fly with speech on Israel and its settlements at a bewildering length. He scolded Israel for having the “most right-wing (government) in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”. It was petty and unnecessary. Letting the resolution pass said everything that the administration hoped to express. This indicated clearly the impotence of administration in the backdrop of no intention to stop economic aid or military aid to that country.

Now comes the treatment meted out to Russia as an omnicompetent rival by the Obama administration. Just before his departure from the White House, his administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families in retaliation for their government’s supposed hacking. But when the Obama administration presented its evidence for Russian hacking to the public, it was so week and circumstantial, it almost invited those perusing it to disbelieve the administration’s claim.

Obama administration has fallen far short of the soaring aspirations in which it began. The wars have not ended. Obama is the first two-term president to be in one war – the war in Afghanistan, the war that even his own “surge” could not end – for his entire presidency. And it’s a war in which Taliban have been making a comeback. Obama hands off American involvement in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and a humiliating wind down of its five-year covert intervention in the Syrian war.

Obama was hailed as a genius and political saviour. Now his Democratic Party has fallen to new lows in the state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country. Instead of handing on the executive branch to an ordained successor, he is passing it onto the man who questioned his birth certificate, a certain Donald Trump. God help America!

By Mohammed Nazir Tabussam

A group of more than 35 cross party British Parliamentarians led by Bradford West MP  Naz Shah, have today co-signed a letter asking for the Prime minister of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) – Farooq Haider Khan – to complete and expand the diaspora support initiative that he has been working on in Kashmir.

The government of Azad Kashmir have recently legislated for a “Commission for Overseas Kashmiri’s” based in Azad Kashmir. Ministers will report directly to the PM, who will personally chair the Commission. It has been designed specifically to support the Kashmiri diaspora community navigate through processes that they may be unfamiliar with.

Yesterday, Naz Shah met with the PM Farooq Haidar Khan and held lengthy discussions around the continued implementation of the proposals. Naz Shah suggested that this commission would benefit if it had direct designated links to the diaspora communities, via the Pakistan high commission and its regional offices here in the U.K.

The letter also calls for a strengthening of the current proposals, asking them to explore the possibility of separate ‘Diaspora Facilitator Police Cells’. Arm’s length, on the ground, independent policing units within Kashmir.

While commending what the government has done so far these British Parliamentarians are asking the government to go further.

Naz Shah states: ‘’Whilst I am pleased to see the authorities in AJK, and particularly the Prime Minister himself are making visible efforts in rooting out corruption and making legal processes more accessible for the diaspora community in the UK, it can often be a struggle to achieve justice and legal remedies.

“The Diaspora community are vulnerable in many ways to processes that are often opaque, confusing and difficult to navigate without support. The establishment of a Commission represents a significant opportunity and British Parliamentarians have urged the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmiri to consolidate the initiative with a liaison team based in the UK, allied to a dedicated investigative police team in Azad Kashmir. This is not about getting the diaspora a different level of access, it is about ensuring that they get access to due process.

“The diaspora community invests considerably in Azad Kashmir, and these additional initiatives will help secure the legacy and success of the commission.”

It started in March 2011. The West and the western media alleges that it started as a peaceful protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s government but evolved into a complex war involving Jihadist groups and regional and international powers. The coming events, however, revealed that it was pre-planned in the capitals of those Western countries who devised interventionist policies with the end of the cold war era.

Half of the population of Syria has been forced to leave the country. The war that was started at the behest of the Western powers to get Assad, has claimed a quarter of a million deaths so far. In this war, 300,000 soldiers of the Syrian army and the allied forces such as Lebanon’s powerful Shia militia Hezbollah, as well as Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan fighters are pitched against Syrian rebels, a conglomerate of terrorist organisations like Al-Nusra, Free Syria army, ISIL and many other Al-Qaeda affiliates.

Russia, the key supporter of Al-Assad’s government started an aerial campaign last September and has helped Damascus recapture areas in several provinces of the country. The other key ally of Bashar Al-Assad is Iran, who is providing financial and military support. Assad has vowed to retake the whole of the country and will not stand down. But Washington, since the very beginning, perpetually calls on Assad to step down. Contrarily, Russia insists that Assad will not be ousted and seeks diplomatic victories by competing with Washington to shape negotiations between the Syrian government and the rebels. Similarly, Iran seeks to protect Assad and thus assert its role in the Arab world.

Turkish President Erdogan backs opposition but is currently focused on preventing the Kurds from creating an autonomous region contiguous with the Turkish border. Kurdish forces hold around 18 per cent of the Syrian territory including three quarters of the Syrian-Turkish border. They have declared a federal region in areas under their control.

ISIL seeks to expand its self-proclaimed “Caliphate” in territory under its control in Syria and Iraq. Despite setbacks since 2015, ISIL controls around 35 per cent of Syria but most of it is uninhabited. It dominates the Dier Ezzo province on the Iraqi border and Raqqa province. They are also present in a number of other regions.

The Assad government is in control of 35 per cent of the country which includes strategic areas such as the capital, Damascus, central Homs and Hama, the coast, and large parts of Aleppo. More than 60 per cent population lives under his rule.

The struggle to liberate the eastern sector of Aleppo from occupation by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front terrorists continues to make progress, despite the worst efforts of Syria’s enemies. Even the most casual observer of developments in the Middle East cannot fail to have been struck by the way the media have presented recent events in Aleppo. Aleppo is densely populated and was occupied by Jihadi thugs who held innocent civilians to ransom. The Syrian Government of Al-Assad was bent upon ousting the thugs and bringing the city back under government control. The western media and the governments have been treating the battle of Aleppo as a humanitarian disaster supposedly brought down upon the heads of the citizens by the arbitrary bloodlust of the ‘brutal dictator’ President Bashar al-Assad.

There is no denying the fact that the western powers, more specifically, the US, the UK and France have no interest in eradicating Islamic State or al-Nusra, but only in containing and controlling them. A video is currently being circulated on the social media based upon an interview of an independent Canadian journalist, Eva Bartlet, who is quite eloquent in her assertions that the US is financing terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

However, the Syrian Arab Army and its brothers in arms are deadly serious about dealing a death blow to the Jihadist terror gangs infesting Syria. Their reward for their heroic sacrifices in this genuine war on terror is implacable hatred of western interventionists. For the US, the UK and France, skirmishes with the jihadist terror gangs have only been a sideshow. Their serious intention has been and will remain the overthrow of Syria’s legitimate head of the state, President Bashar a;-Assad, and the subjugation of Syrian people.

A commentator on RT channel said:” In Aleppo, the Russians and the Syrians managed to open three passages for civilians to leave the eastern part of Aleppo in a truce…and they opened two passages for the rebels, especially the ones that are affiliated with al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, to leave as well and to prevent an escalation of the situation in Aleppo.”

From the events unfolding currently, it has been revealed that the western powers, the US, the UK and France, are most alarmed by the possibility of the Syrian Arab Army completing the liberation of Aleppo and moving on to bag ISIL’s last remaining stronghold. Both Damascus and Moscow have previously suggested that the US should coordinate the Raqqa campaign with them. Mark Toner, the spokesman of State Department said unequivocally: “There is no coordination. There is no plan to coordinate with either the regime or Russia in going after Daesh.”

The world saw green surrender buses leaving out of Aleppo last month as Russia brokered the deal with Turkey. There is a criticism about the divergence of interests of the two backers of Al-Assad – Russia and Iran. It has been stated that the liberation and evacuation of Aleppo has resulted in the rise of Russian influence but the real winner is Iran. It is said that since the Islamic revolution of 1979, this was the most assertive moment for Iran.

While these lines are being written down, TV channels are breaking the news of chilling attack on Monday (19th December) evening. The Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger. At first sight it appears to be a backlash against Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said: “The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran. “

Putin said that Russian officials would be dispatched to Ankara to investigate the killing. “We have to know who directed the hand of the killer,” he said.

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

The elections in the United States of America, the most powerful nation of our times, are over. These elections, according to many observers, were most controversial and unpredictable. In nearly two years of electioneering, both parties were fiercely engaged in naming and blaming each other so much so, that the FBI had to intervene and investigate the allegations against Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party’s candidate.

Although she was vindicated twice, but her last clearance was only two days before the ballot. On the other hand, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate continuously spit venom on all visible minorities and xenophobic, scapegoating them for the country’s socio-economic problems conducted his campaign in the most reprehensible manner. His emotionally charged language often with overt racist slurs, created enormous fear and insecurity among Black, Latino, Mexican and Muslim communities. His rhetoric to restore the American past glory and greatness by protecting and promoting its cultural and religious values and repatriating all the illegal immigrants and to ban Muslims to enter the country, helped his campaign to sway the opinion of voters in his favour. Still it was expected that Hillary Clinton might just win by a small margin.

6360139435793044861461393096_donald-trump-prune-faceBut on 8 November, Donald Trump triumphed with a more than comfortable majority. The elections results were clear evidence of his divisive tactics which he used to woo the support of those who believed in white supremacy. These white supremacists included the Ku Klux Klan and other neo-fascist outfits, who openly supported Trump. His assertions that all non-white Americans are a serious threat to the so called core values of the country and to whip up racial animosity, is justified to protect the interests of white Americans. He told frustrated voters what they wanted to hear same as BREXIT campaigners in our country. Trump’s stance in support of racial and religious hatred was frank and unambiguous. His nefarious, vile and evil beliefs in supremacy of white race can not only be dangerous for visible minorities in America but the entire world.

America generally is hailed as one of the best democracies of the world, and yet anyone aspiring for the office of the president has got to possess enormous wealth. It is ones beyond comprehension the huge amount of money spent on building images of candidates in the press and media irrespective of their political experience, ability or level of their intelligence and intellect. The only exception to this well protected tradition was Abraham Lincoln.

The ruling elites (wealthy land owners, big businesses and the establishment) over the years have kept the ordinary Americans rendered incapable of independent thinking and thus, the two party system has managed to maintain the status quo except the introduction of some reforms from time to time.

Trump will find it difficult to fulfil his promises of creating jobs for jobless as the country’s economy has been plummeting over the last few decades. The globalisation and outsourcing has seriously dented the manufacturing industry with the exception of armaments and aerospace. This segment of American industry is well protected as the sale of this arms to war torn countries has always been the major part of its economy. American governments have been deliberately creating wars or invading weaker nations with a view to maintaining its political hegemony and steeling their resources. Also, causing havoc and destruction in these countries. This kind of policy of the USA can only be described as international political thuggery which it has pursued for many decades with impunity.

Trump desires to bring some radical changes in the foreign policy. He announced to work in close co-operation with Russia to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and to withdraw some support from NATO. This must be the most contentious commitment he seems to have made. Whether the Congress and Pentagon will swallow this bitter pill, only time will tell. But worse than all this is that he has caused serious schisms, fractures, rifts, fear and insecurity across the width and length of the country through his utterances full of contempt, hate and intolerance.

By M Nazir Tabassum

The Presidential elections take place in the US after every four years. Today is the day that American’s decide between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

According to the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution, an incumbent president cannot contest presidential election a third time, that is, the term of the president is limited to only two terms. The presidential primaries and caucuses took place between February and June 2016 in 50 states and the District of Columbia and US territories. As a result of these, Donald Trump, a real estate businessman and reality television personality, became Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and former US Senator from New York, became the Democratic Party’s nominee.

6360139435793044861461393096_donald-trump-prune-faceBoth the contestants have been in the headlines with their good and bad points since the campaign started. FBI, the American spy agency is after Mrs Clinton for her alleged emails relating American interventionist policies. Donald Trump, since he came to the limelight as a presidential candidate, has become a highly controversial figure because of his political naivety. In the very beginning, he earned notoriety for using foul language against Muslims. He confuses Iran’s Quds Force (a US adversary) with Kurds (by and large US allies) and does not seem to care. He has almost never met a Middle East problem that he hasn’t at one point suggested could be solved by force.

Now Trump denies that he backed the Iraq and Libyan wars too. “We‘re gonna get rid of ISIS … fast”, he says. He will “bomb the hell” for not hitting the Syrian leader with “tremendous force “after he used chemical weapons against the rebels. He would have Iranian vessels that taunt American ships “shot out of water”.

There is unanimity of thought and action among most of the Americans that Islamic State must be destroyed. They think that the weak states in the Middle East, if allowed to fail completely, they could become havens for the extremist groups. Therefore, they agree that America needs to stay in the Middle East for its oil production that keeps the global economy afloat. In spite of all that, they do not want any new commitment of military force because of the bitter war going on in Iraq, a less disastrous but more unpopular intervention in Libya and a failed democratic revolt in Egypt which is a key American ally.

Hillary Clinton who has a long experience of structuring America’s foreign policy is in favour of a low risk plan little different from the one perused by Barack Obama. She favours the use of Air Force to support Kurdish and Arab allies slowly moving in an IS stronghold and special forces to train the local troops, preferably with origin in IS-held regions, to garrison the cities after they have been taken back. She vows an “intelligence surge” to hunt Jihadi leaders, rules out any big commitment of American ground troops, and offers no time table for success.

A number of women have come forward who accused Donald Trump of assaulting them sexually. Thus, there were protests in no less than 15 states across the US against the presidential candidate. One of the largest protests was at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York.

A Survey Monkey poll of 15 battleground states conducted with the Washington Post and released on Tuesday the 18th October showed Clinton leading in enough states to put her comfortably over the 270 majority needed to win the presidential election on 8th November. Top Republican leaders are now worried that Trump’s irresponsible behaviour is going affect their elections of Senate and House of Representatives.

Polls say that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the final Presidential Debate. The CNN/ORC poll named Clinton the winner for the third time. During the debate, the two candidates sparred over Supreme Court, abortion policies and immigration, among others. Trump notably declined to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding that he “will keep you in suspense”. The answer prompted strong criticism from many who argued it threatened democratic principles. Hillary Clinton’s response was succinct.

Trump seems jittery while facing his doom today, that is why he is becoming more and more controversial by claiming that the election is being rigged. In the third and final Presidential Debate, Donald Trump twice declined to say whether he would accept the results of the 2016 election. As a result, leading Republicans disowned Donald Trump’s claims that the US election is rigged. President Obama said: “One way of weakening America and making it less great is if you start betraying those basic traditions that have held it together for well over two centuries.” The President also accused Trump of irresponsible “whining” and said there was no evidence at all to support his allegations.

The Daily News, a New York Tabloid, published 14-chapter editorial that rallied against Donald Trump and everything that he stands for. Its front page on Friday (21 September) morning:

NEWS TO AMERICA: BURY TRUMP IN A LANDSLIDE. Restore US honour with giant defeat of the fear mongering demagogue.

Because Trump refused to say at the last Presidential Debate that he would accept the election result, the Daily News urged the public to deliver an unequivocal message on Election Day. The editorial offers a point-by-point takedown of Trump across 14 chapters that question his policy positions, his business record, his fitness to serve and even his sanity: “TRUMP THE DEMAGOGUE,” “TRUMP THE FRAUDSTER,” “TRUMP THE HEAD CASE,” “TRUMP THE FAKE PHILANTHRPOPIST,” “TRUMP THE LIAR,” “TRUMP THE FLIP-FLOPPER,” “TRUMP THE IGNORAMUS,” “TRUMP THE CONSPIRACY THEORIST,”TRUMP THE TAX EVADER,” “TRUMP THE DIVIDER,” “TRUMP THE AUTHORITARIAN,” “TRUMP THE SECURITY RISK,” “TRUMP THE MISOGYNIST,” and finally, “TRUMP THE ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY.”

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by M Nazir Tabassam

A British politician of Indian origin rose to the horizon of prominence like an evening star and fell into the mire of ignominy like a leaden ball. Born in Aden in 1956 with a birth name Nigel Keith Anthony Standish Vaz, drove his name from a distant relative of 17th century missionary Saint Joseph Vaz, has been creating ripples in the British politics since the good old days of New Labour. When he was 9-years-old, he moved along with his family to the UK in 1965 where he attended Latymer Upper School in London before joining the University of Cambridge for a degree in law. He practiced law as a solicitor before entering the House of Commons.

keith-vazHe found himself in the headlines in 1987 when he was elected as an MP for Labour in Leicester, the first Asian for whom the Commons opened up their doors. Controversy and self-contradiction have been his hallmarks during his political career. He has been a Eurosceptic as well as a Euro-enthusiast. In 1990, we saw him marching along Muslim protesters against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses; and yet it is on record that he offered words of support for the author.

When Labour came to power in 1997, Vaz rose to prominence in 1999 becoming the first Asian minister in the Lord Chancellor’s department before being promoted as minister for Europe. In 2000, an investigation began into whether Mr Vaz had taken payment from a solicitor. He delayed investigation for months, refusing to hand over information and refusing to answer questions. However, most of the allegations were not upheld in these investigations, but unusually many allegations were listed as “not completed” rather than rejected.

As said earlier, Keith Vaz, like a cat, has many lives, and at every turn of the tide he reinvents himself. In 2001, an investigation against him reopened. This time the allegation was that Mr Vaz helped process the UK passport application of one of the Indian billionaire Hinduja brothers, who gave £1million towards the Millennium Dome. It was shown that Hinduja had paid Fernandes Vaz – the legal firm run by Mr Keith Vaz’s wife – for work on visa. Keith Vaz married Maria Fernandes 23 years ago in 1993. Maria is a former barrister and Principal of the law firm Fernandes Vaz, established in 1995.

In 2001, Keith Vaz’s tenure as Europe minister came to an end when he resigned on “health grounds”. In 2002, the investigation committee concluded that Mr Vaz had provided misleading information to the first investigation and he was suspended from the parliament for a month. But the central allegations made against him remained unproved. He was not found to have illicitly received money from outside sources that had not declared. However, his suspension from the Commons for a month was a humiliation that made his decline and fall look absolute.

Time went on and by 2007, Mr Vaz slowly and gradually became more influential in helping to prop up the increasingly significant Asian vote, firstly for Tony Blair and secondly for Gordon Brown. In June 2007 he was promoted to Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Select committees have limited formal powers and resources. But with a keen eye for a passing bandwagon, and by ensuring committee grilling are theatrical enough to get on the television news, they can put themselves to the centre of the political action.

In 2009, the Telegraph disclosed that Mr Vaz had claimed more than £75,500 for a Westminster flat despite his valued at £1.15 million family home being just 12 miles from parliament. Although his actions were not illegal, he was asked to pay back a four figure sum. Not only to suffice that, he was accused of writing to a high court judge trying to halt proceedings against a solicitors’ firm which had lavished hospitality on him. The lawyer has since been struck off after being found guilty of 104 breaches of the rules governing solicitors’ conduct.

In 2008, Vaz backed the government at a crucial moment for the 42-day terrorist detention without charge. During the debate on 10th June 2008 Keith Vaz was asked in Parliament whether he had been offered an honour for his support. He said: “No, it was certainly not offered – but I do not know; there is still time.”

Vaz led efforts to curb Britain’s cocaine trade by heading up a Government inquiry into the drug. A subsequent report – The Cocaine Report – was published by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Vaz argued against a proposed ban on amyl nitrate, also known as poppers. His Parliamentary support came during a Commons debate on the Psychoactive Substance Bill.

Now, in 2016, Mr Vaz stands down from the Home Affairs Select Committee following allegations involving male escorts and their use of amyl nitrate. The tales of prostitutes, drugs and suspicious cash are bubbling around. Two years ago he was caught on CCTV camera meeting a young man at a hotel. And an ex-worker at a London hotel said: “the married MP often arrived at short notice, sometimes with young men. There were a number of times when he did not stay the whole night. He would stay for just a few hours before checking out”.

Keith Vaz has all the while been a great survivor. We have yet to wait and see if he could reinvent himself once again after this huge ignominy.

by Maryam Ansar

With rising tensions between Pakistan and India in recent days over the Uri attacks, it comes as no surprise that Kashmiri civilians have been caught in the middle of a tug of war between both countries.

Whilst the two nuclear powers battle out their differences in stalemate over the security and future of Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control; the human right abuses towards its people have been brushed under the carpet – such disregard is catastrophic. Attempts to bring the Kashmir conflict to light on the international platform have been pitiful to say the least. Reports have surfaced suggesting Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs advisor, Sartaj Aziz, has requested an ‘impartial’ international probe into the Uri attacks; his 7e3de5fd-f686-45ca-abcf-d31a1a086eb5attempt at diplomacy is credible, but not nearly good enough, it is diverting away from the real issue at hand, the plight of the Kashmiris and their biddings. The response of our world leaders in isolating the Kashmir conflict has allowed individuals to take matters into their own hands, and raise awareness towards this devastation as a unified front.

Three wars have been fought over Kashmir’s territory in nearly seven decades, yet the use of systematic torture in Indian administered land is rife, with prospects for improvement looking bleak in the current climate unless the international platform is properly informed. It has been less than six months since news erupted of pellet guns being used against Kashmiri protestors by the Indian Army, in an attempt to supress their voices for peace and justice. T

he images were shared by thousands, and refuted by even more, yet the back story and facts remained in the background; the Indian army were blinding peaceful protestors with pellets of lead, the result was one hundred surgeries in four days- a terrifying number when analysed on a larger scale. The term blinding certainly isn’t being used metaphorically here, the pellets have caused victims to lose their eyes and sight in one or both eyes, a horrific price to pay for envisioning freedom.

The firing of lead pellets at protestors is just one example of the torture Kashmiris suffer on a daily basis, an example that was fortunate enough to gain some momentum in mainstream media. However, for the most part, the torture inflicted on innocent civilians goes unnoticed, with virtually no coverage on well-known outlets.

Perhaps this is why a dreadful majority of an apparently well informed society is clueless towards the one in six Kashmiris who undergo suffering at the hands of its so called safe-keepers, the Indian Army. On one hand we witnessed the use of lead pellets, but on the other, we are veiled from the harrowing accounts of rape suffered by the women, and often men, of Kashmir, deserving of an entire investigation of its own. The extent and severity of these abuses is still not apparent, and to revisit Sartaj Aziz’s proposals for an impartial investigation into the Uri attacks; it would be far more fitting, as many would agree, to launch critical investigations into almost seventy years of unrest, abuse and criminality; to raise awareness within the international community instead of isolation.

 

Jim Greenhalf reports

On September 24 Labour Party members will decide whether they want Jeremy Corbyn to carry on as leader or Welsh Labour MP Owen Smith to replace him.

Jeremy-CorbynIf the dark horse Smith is first past the post the Parliamentary Labour Party will breathe a collective sigh of relief. They think he represents the best chance of making the party electable in 2020. After the June 23 Brexit Referendum was lost, more than 40 of them resigned from shadow ministerial and other positions. It was their way of saying that Corbyn had not done enough to persuade voters of the merits of remaining in the European Union.

A very different view of a Smith win is likely from the host of three-pounders, the people who flocked to join the party for a few quid to secure an emphatic victory for Jeremy Corbyn. They were able to do so because Ed Miliband, party leader until the 2015 General Election defeat, had lowered Labour’s annual membership fee from £25. Only another convincing Corbyn win will satisfy them that they have not been stitched up by the Parliamentary party establishment.

It was ever thus. Eighty-five years ago there were riots in Glasgow and Manchester after Ramsay MacDonald turned his back on the party to form a coalition government in the Great Depression of 1931. King George V was said to have asked the moustachioed Scot to play the role of wicked Sir Jasper. The subsequent General Election victory for the National Government decimated Labour, reducing the Parliamentary party to just 56. Ever since then Labour’s rank and file have mistrusted their leaders.

In October 1981, for example, during another civil war in the party over the election of a leader capable of standing up to Margaret Thatcher, Joe Ashton MP told a Solidarity Campaign meeting at Dudley Hill Socialist Club: “I don’t agree with the method of voting for the leader of the Labour Party, it was rotten and corrupt and needed to be changed, but don’t tell me we have changed it for something better. Nothing makes me spew more, and I choose my words carefully, than when I hear members of the party attacking the last Labour Government on the grounds that it betrayed the manifesto.”

He gave the audience of more than 60 a summary of that pre-Thatcher Labour Government’s achievements: the nationalisation of the ship-building and aircraft industries; the scrapping of hospital pay beds; and equal pay for women. The party had to unite and stop the in-fighting if it was to offer itself as a credible alternative to the Thatcher Government. “We have got to get back to deciding if we are going to have an incomes policy, if we are going to come out of the Common Market and how we are going to create one-and-a-half million jobs,” he added. Thirty-five years later the Labour Party is now all in favour of membership of the European Union. Some things change but evidently not the party’s predisposition for civil war.

Is it coincidental that Labour’s internecine battles over the leadership in 1931, 1981 and 2016 occurred during times of economic turmoil? When Joe Ashton came to town unemployment in the Bradford Metropolitan District had shot up to more than 30,000 – nearly three times what it is now. Industrial recession across the country was one consequence of the hike in the price of crude oil imposed by the members of the Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in retaliation for Israel’s crushing military victory over an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The revenues from North Sea oil coming ashore – worth more than £40 billion – benefited the Thatcher Government especially during the year-long stand-off with the National Union of Mineworkers in 1984. By that time Labour was in serious conflict with Left-wing elements of the membership – hard-line Trotskyites to some – intent on raising Socialism’s red flag above town halls in Greater London, Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester, against the austerity policies of hard-line Thatcherism.

The clash with the Government culminated in a dozen Labour-run local authorities refusing to set a rate, which was illegal. Lambeth, led by ‘Red’ Ted Knight and Liverpool, led by Derek Hatton, were singled out for retribution. The councils had to pay substantial penalties and its leaders were disqualified from holding office. The clash with the Labour leadership culminated in the party conference at Blackpool when party leader Neil Kinnock tore into the activities of what the Press called ‘the Loony Left’. To jeers from Militant Tendency members at the back and cheers from moderates in the middle of the hall, he described the antics on Merseyside as “the grotesque chaos of a Labour council, a Labour council, hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.” Labour’s National Executive Committee followed up by suspending the Liverpool District labour Party and expelling all of a Militant Tendency persuasion.

The leadership election crisis that convulsed Labour in the early 1980s turned out to be a catalyst for change, for out of it emerged the Social Democratic Party. Comprising largely of defecting Labour MPs and former Cabinet Ministers, the SDP was an attempt to shift the battleground of British politics away from the extremities of Left and Right to the centre – a move that Tony Blair’s New Labour was to emulate so spectacularly in 1997. In effect it was a move towards European-style Social Democracy against Democratic Socialism and Conservatism.

Some SDP recruits said they were disillusioned with the Labour’s attitude towards the European Economic Community, as it was then called, the dependency on trades unions’ money and national economic policy. Others were alarmed by the in-fighting over the selection and de-selection of MPs (still an issue today) and the election of the party leader. Former Cabinet big guns Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Dr David Owen and Bill Rodgers, otherwise known as ‘the Gang of Four’, were joined by long-serving back-bencher Labour moderates such as Edward Lyons QC, who represented Bradford West.

Just as many thousands of three-pounders joined the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn, more than 60,000 people signed up for the SDP. Out of the misery of the recession and the warfare in the Labour Party, the SDP was more than a breath of fresh air; the new party offered many the chance to breathe freely again without fear of being challenged by some officious party ‘committee of public safety’ ideologue. Evidently they liked what they heard from former Foreign Secretary David Owen in his book Face the Future:-

“Both parties are locked into dogmatic, doctrinaire, divisive policies which many of their supporters deplore. Yet their leaders appeal to blind loyalty – party first, country second. Adversary politic s thrives on polarisation, polemic and fear…We do not believe in the politics of an inert centre merely representing the lowest common denominator between two extremes. We want more, not less radical change in our society, but with a greater stability of direction.”

Two days of the SDP’s first national conference took place at Bradford’s St George’s Hall, an event welcomed by city centre hotels but snubbed by Labour and Tory councillors on Bradford Council perhaps because for some of them the Gang of Four represented the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who had come to lay waste the two-party system of Lab-Con politics. For all the talk of freshness and fairness the conference was carefully stage-managed with announcements of new defections timed to coincide with media deadlines. Hopes were high. Among the senior members of Bradford Labour Party there was an air of gloom at what might happen and contempt for the traitors who had brought about the uncertainty.

Constituency Labour Parties and the wards that made up each CLP had been infiltrated by the Corbynistas of their time – activists who wanted to change things, who wanted to make Labour MPs directly accountable to their constituents and who wanted those constituents to have an equal say in the election of the national party leader. Most of them wanted Michael Foot to lead the party rather than former Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey. Under Foot, so to speak, they believed the party would win the country for Socialism and kick Margaret Thatcher and her possee of privateering monetarists out of office. Constitutional hard-liners in attitude, they believed that Labour MPs were delegates mandated to carry out the instructions of their CLP, Labour’s National Executive Committee and, of course, the all-important annual party conference – very different then to the tame show-piece affairs they subsequently became. Edwards Lyons thought differently. He said MPs were representatives, not delegates, and as such had the right to make their own judgements on serious policy matters. He denounced what he rather weakly described as “yah-boo politics”, the aggressive, doctrinaire dialectic espoused by those of a more militant tendency.

In March 1981, after more than 30 years in the party, Lyons left Labour’s den and defected to the SDP. For a while the SDP frightened Labour stalwarts and radicals alike. In the summer of 1981 Ken Livingstone, Left-wing leader of the Greater London Council that was, said he could see the Tories vanishing and the SDP becoming the New Right. In April 1988, during an interview with Mr Livingstone, I picked him up on his failed prophecy. He replied: “The projections for the SDP at that time were very favourable. If it hadn’t been for Thatcher’s come-back through the Falklands War, the SDP might have broken through.” Instead, they joined forces with the Liberals to become, after much wrangling, the Liberal Democratic Party. The SDP was dissolved in 1990.

One Labour stalwart who saw the conflict from the inside was Barry Seal, formerly leader of Bradford Council’s Labour Group and for 20 years from 1979 the Yorkshire West Member of the European Parliament. Days before Angela Eagle dropped out of the current Labour leadership race, Dr Seal told me she was just a stalking horse for the real alternative candidate coming up fast on the outside, Owen Smith. Which of the two candidates is he backing to win the leadership and does he think Labour will split as it did on that cold January Sunday in 1981 when the Gang of Four assembled to publish the Limehouse Declaration and announce the creation of the Council for Social Democracy?

Barry Seal, now chairman of Age UK, Leeds, has his money on Jeremy Corbyn. If Owen Smith wins he said he would leave the party after more than 50 years as a member. Although he admits that the divide between the Parliamentary Labour Party and the membership at large is dangerous and may lead to a split of some kind, he believes that the party, like the country, is in need of radical change away from unregulated corporate Capitalism.

He said: “The situation now is similar to 1981 but the big difference is that for 13 years Labour had people like Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair screening the party and changing the make-up of MPs. They pushed Labour more towards the centre to make it a social democratic party where the issue wasn’t the ownership of the means of production but the management of them. Instead of members having a say in policy formulation in ward and constituency parties and the conference, policy forums were set up to discuss ideas passed down by Blair and Mandelson. The present policy forums don’t discuss things from members. Instead of bottom up it’s top down.

“My perspective is that Parliamentary Labour Party members forget the membership who put them there. They are not the same as the membership. They’ve come into politics from university and then working as political research assistants. The majority of the PLP, a lot of them, don’t know what it’s like to have a dead-end job with not enough money to live on.”

The three-pounders who fired Jeremy Corbyn from the obscurity of Labour’s back-benches to the front bench as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, regard him as a democratic socialist, not a social democrat. The difference, as Barry Seal outlined, lies in the ownership and management of the means of production and distribution. A democratic socialist believes that the state should have a controlling interest in fundamentals such as the NHS, power and water supply, transport, housing and education. Social democrats, said Dr Seal, believe in academies, NHS foundation trusts, private finance initiatives and allowing global corporations to own water, power and transport.

He regards Owen Smith as a social democrat because he’s not sure what he stands for. “He’s trying to look as Left as Corbyn but more reasonable in the way he presents things. If he wins I will leave the Labour Party, so will a lot of other people. Under him Labour won’t change, it will become more like the SDP. Corbyn’s opponents say that to win the next general election Labour needs to move to the centre; but I think people are getting fed up with the capitalist system where some people are very rich and others don’t have a job. If Corbyn is confirmed as leader the problem will be with the Parliamentary party. It may split, with a group of MPs declaring UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence); but it won’t necessary split the membership in the country. There would be a battle over the selection of MPs.”

Significant differences between today and 1981 include the role of social media. Thirty-five years ago politics was media driven. Television journalists such as Robin Day, Vincent Hannah, Andrew Rawnsley and Brian Walden, to name but a few, made politics interesting, as did newspaper journalists such as Alan Watkins, Ann Leslie, Polly Toynbee and Peter Jenkins. The public was more engaged in argument; more of them turned out to vote in local and national elections. Today the public dimension has changed out of all recognition. George Galloway, at the Bradford West Parliamentary by-election in 2012, and Jeremy Corbyn in his Labour leadership battle last year, by-passed the usual mass publicity routes with spectacular success. Smart phone technology became the means of organisation and communication, leaving the mainstream media trundling along behind, out of touch and unaware of what was going to happen. More recently, the Brexit Referendum went completely against the expectations of media experts and politicians, mainly because of social media exchanges and blogging.

Barry Seal thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of democratic socialism has broader public appeal than the media allows. “Socialism isn’t communism,” he said. “We had socialism in the post-war Attlee Government which brought in the NHS and the nationalisation of the railways. I used to be regarded as Right-wing in Bradford because I said you couldn’t nationalise everything. You can have small companies running enterprises; but what you can’t have is big corporations running the country’s railways, the water and power industries, the NHS. They can’t be allowed to close down something because it’s not making a big enough profit.”

The turmoil in the Labour Party in the early 1980s sustained the Conservative Party’s grip on power, in spite of its own convulsions over Europe, until 1997 and the age of Tony Blair’s New Labour. Unlike 35 years ago, Labour Party members today, Jeremy Corbyn’s three-pounders, have the means to publicise and assert their wishes and desires irrespective of what the party establishment wants and what well-paid, self-regarding media opinion-formers say. The technology may be unique to this age but rolling dialogue involving friends and strangers is reminiscent of the mid-1840s when the Chartists drew up their six proposals to reform Britain’s Parliamentary democracy. The demands, including secret ballots, payment of MPs, no property qualification for prospective candidates – were the equivalent of Loony Left proposals of the time. However, all but one of them – annual Parliaments – subsequently came to pass.

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