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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 March 2015

Man of straw - is cut to size

Peter and Kay Harris were among six supporters of Militant (forerunner of the Socialist) who were witch-hunted out of Blackburn Labour Party at the behest of local MP Jack Straw back in the early 1980s. Straw, together with Neil Kinnock and later Tony Blair, expanded these purges of socialists and swung the party to the right, turning it into an out-and-out pro-capitalist party.

Peter and Kay say they were "absolutely disgusted, but not surprised" to find out about former Labour cabinet minister Straw and Tory bigwig Malcolm Rifkind's 'indiscretions', ie putting themselves up for hire to big business.

On Straw they comment:

"This MP is 15th in the list of highest outside salary earners on top of his parliamentary wage. His use of his former high profile cabinet positions has clearly made him a very wealthy man on the back of the labour movement.

How such a man can demand 5,000 a day to give speeches on behalf of business ventures is obscene, particularly when that is compared to the miserable salaries or benefits that his working class constituents in Blackburn have to survive on.

Blackburn Labour controlled council is also making savage cuts to the most vulnerable sectors in the town, cutting even services for the elderly and disabled.

Straw uses the word "integrity" a lot! Yet here is a man who should be ashamed of his political history. His record includes helping force through the war in Iraq, covering up the Hillsborough catastrophe and aiding the extraordinary rendition of suspects (many of them totally innocent) from one country to another. Such a record would earn him a place in a political hall of notoriety.

Straw recently apologised to the six Blackburn Militant supporters for outrageous, unfounded allegations in his recent autobiography. Blackburn Labour Party members who rallied to Jack Straw's support 30 years ago when he was a key figure involved in expelling six hard working Militant supporter activists, should hang their heads in shame.

One former key Straw supporter, an ex-Labour mayor, has joined Ukip! It is these people who used the Labour Party to further their careers and bank balances. Time has shown that they were the real infiltrators and wreckers!

Compare their actions to the policies put forward by Socialist Party members in TUSC concerning MPs' salaries and right of recall.

In the 1980s and 1990s Militant-supporting Labour MPs Dave Nellist, the late Terry Fields and Pat Wall, only took the average wage of a worker.

Jack Straw in our eyes epitomises everything that is wrong with the main political parties and their representatives."

Peter and Kay Harris
Peter Harris challenging the Labour leaders' witch-hunt of Militant supporters, photo by John Chapman

Peter Harris challenging the Labour leaders' witch-hunt of Militant supporters, photo by John Chapman   (Click to enlarge)

In his autobiography Last Man Standing, published in 2013, Straw made up some more lies about Peter and Kay, which were answered in full - see

Advisors to the rich and despotic

Aside from pursuing their greedy business interests, both MPs Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind happen to be keen advisors to the Global Strategy Forum - a cosy club for the rich to have chummy debates on foreign affairs, defence and international security issues.

Another advisor of this elite debating society is Tory former Chancellor Lord Lamont, who also serves alongside Straw on the Eurasian Council of Foreign Affairs, funded by the despotic regime of Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazerbayev.

In 1998 former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet visited Britain to obtain medical treatment. He was detained by the then Labour home secretary Jack Straw pending extradition to Spain to face human rights charges.

Lamont rallied to Pinochet's defence describing the ex-torturer as a "good and brave and honourable soldier". Straw was moved to ignore the extradition request and returned Pinochet to Chile on the grounds of "ill health".

Thanks to Mike Barker

Ukip dumps toxic 'cash-for-questions' Hamilton

The first 'cash-for-questions' scandal involved anti-trade union, pro-Apartheid, pro-NHS privatisation, Tory MP Neil Hamilton.

He was branded "a liar and a cheat" after his libel case against the Guardian collapsed in 1996.

A 1997 parliamentary inquiry found Hamilton guilty of soliciting money from rich magnates and big business to influence government policy. He also lost a libel suit against Mohammed al-Fayed after the Harrods owner reported that Hamilton had accepted his cash stuffed into 'brown envelopes'. In the 1997 general election Hamilton was defeated.

Hamilton resumed his political career when elected to the ruling national executive of Ukip in 2011. However, further alleged financial scandals weren't far behind and late last year the hapless sleazeball quit as a prospective parliamentary Ukip candidate.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 4 March 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing crisis: Build Homes - Cap Rents

Socialist change to remedy climate change

Man of straw - is cut to size

Forbes list gives the lie to austerity - join the Socialists!

Them & Us

International Women's Day

Women and new unionism: lessons for today

International socialist news and analysis

50,000 march in Moscow after shooting of Nemtsov

2015 elections

TUSC councillors table 'no-cuts' budgets

The Green Party has no answers

Brighton council stuck in budget stalemate

Discussion in United Left on stance in general election

Donate to fight the 'grand coalition'

Socialist Party workplace news

Firefighters march though Westminster

Stop the Crossrail sackings!

More unions join Lewisham anti-academies strike

ICO staff on strike for fair pay

Build the left in CWU elections

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Newcastle united against far-right bigots

Campaign victory saves ten children's centres

Campaigns news in brief

May Day greetings in the Socialist


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