The killing of George Floyd by police in the US has sparked international debate about ‘defunding the police’. Some voices on the left have been arguing that doing so is an important step. And, of course, some on the right have been issuing ominous warnings about the potential negative consequences of such a move. But things aren’t as straightforward as they appear.
Because Keir Starmer’s latest comments have placed him, and by extension his party, to the right of some conservative pundits renowned for their tough-on-crime stances. By trying to give the image that he’s ridding Labour of the so-called ‘far-left’ legacy of the Corbyn era, he’s ended up landing further to the right than the right itself. Evidently, his leadership has already degenerated into some kind of bizarre Twilight Zone. And this raises questions about whether Labour will now revert back to the dark days of Blairism, or perhaps something even worse.
New Labour leader Keir Starmer recently sacked Corbyn protégé Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s front benches. She was dismissed for the ‘offence’ of sharing on social media an interview published in the Independent that touched on the police killing of George Floyd in the US.
In the interview, actress and activist Maxine Peake commented that US law enforcement learned tactics such as those used on Floyd from training provided by the Israeli military. These comments were subsequently dubbed an “antisemitic conspiracy theory” by the usual suspects from the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, in which bogus accusations of antisemitism were used to derail his leadership of the party and chances of becoming prime minister.
We need to be clear: Long-Bailey’s sacking was completely unjustified. And the comments she supposedly endorsed in the first place don’t seem quite so outlandish after closer examination.
The US has just labeled Iran the “world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism”. This is completely absurd on multiple levels. Because not only is the criteria completely ridiculous, the US applies flagrant double standards to other countries in the region – not least its closest regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, these three countries are themselves the world’s leading perpetrators of state terror. So much so that the label ‘world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism’ applies more to them than to Iran, or any other country for that matter.
Presumptive Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden now holds a double-digit poll lead over president Donald Trump in the US presidential election race. Such an insurmountable lead makes an end to the Trump era seem all but inevitable, even at this early stage of the campaign. But progressives have little to celebrate. Because although the Trump presidency has been a sordid compendium of reactionary policies and shocking incompetence, a Biden presidency would represent a return to a status quo of neoliberalism and imperialism-lite that’s little better than its fascistic Trumpian cousin.
The West’s credibility when it comes to labeling others as ‘terrorists’ has always been highly suspect. Not least because Western nations have aided and abetted plenty of paramilitary groups of which they approve. And they’ve even been involved in the commission of state terror. Now, a furore over funding for a Palestinian political party has highlighted this absurdity once again.
The Isle of Man, a tiny island in the Irish Sea that is one of the UK’s three British ‘Crown Dependencies’, has just become an unlikely focal point in the global debate about Black Lives Matter following the death of unarmed African American George Floyd in the US. Because comments made by a presenter during a broadcast of the island’s local radio station have sparked outrage well beyond the shores of the obscure tax haven.
We shouldn’t be surprised, though. The Isle of Man has a long and checkered past of clinging to reactionary ideas. Throughout its history, it has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the present on issue after issue, including some downright medieval practices long abandoned on the British mainland. Meanwhile, its tax haven status means it has been ripping off the British public as well as serving as a headquarters for all manner of sleazy financial shenanigans.
This sordid record raises big questions about the continuation of its special status.
Countries across Europe and further afield are taking bold legislative action against corporate tax avoiders in this time of crisis. Most encouragingly, governing parties of both the left and the right appear to have signed on to the effort. But there is one government that is conspicuously missing from that list. The reasons why are glaringly obvious.