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Monday, 5 June 2017

Sugar, Hunger Bonds and a Sour Thought

British  Sugar has undertaken a survey of the nation, which shows that two-thirds of us do not know that sugar is grown in the UK. It is also noted that during the emergence of the 'obesity pandemic' the UK's consumption of sugar has gone down by 1.5%, notwithstanding the growing population. It is far too simplistic to blame 'sugar' for the obscene sights that now infest our streets.

Goldman Sachs, the 'vampire squid' of Wall Street, has recently bought a very large tranche of Venezuelan state bonds at approximately one-third of their face value. Although the bank did not buy the bonds directly from the Venezuelan authorities, this purchase has bolstered the whole market in such bonds and thus has eased the situation of the violent and incompetent 'socialist' government. Within Venezuela there are shortages of food and medicines, and the government is increasingly dependent on the security services as it ignores election results which have produced a 'dissident' parliamentary majority. At least sixty demonstrators have been killed this year. Given the already awful reputation of the bank in humanitarian circles, the description of this asset as 'hunger bonds' has elicited a great deal of adverse comment. Whether it can have any impact on the future behaviour of the giant squid is problematical.

And now to the main point, the 'sour comments'. Theresa May rushed back to Downing Street after the London Bridge/Borough Market terror event, to appear 'prime ministerial' at the lectern on Downing Street. Over six years as Home Secretary she cheerfully administered the full measure of cuts in the police service that was required by the Osborne austerity programme. She presided over the control of spending on information gathering on and surveillance of 'radicalised' suspects. Now she recognises that some flexibility needs to be given to increase the capability of the police and security agencies; but she apparently intendeds to go ahead with damaging cuts in the armed services.

Donald Trump recognises that jihadist groups must be rooted-out of the middle east, as far as is feasible, even though that raises the prospect of retaliatory measures being brought to Europe and the US; with Europe more obviously in the firing line than the US. If Britain does not have armed forces sufficient - and sufficiently well equipped - to take part in external operations, that will not protect the UK from the 'vengeance' of jihadically-inclined people who are already living comfortably as UK citizens. Britain is firmly lodged in its 'special relationship' with the USA, and this includes taking a share of the comeback for American interventions in Islamic states.

Islamist groups described the children killed in the Manchester suicide bombing as 'crusaders'. The demonology that has been formulated among these people is deeply rooted, and platitudinous verbiage about 'British values' and 'our way of life' will have no mileage at all with the zealots. Mrs May's grand words have no weight, because she has no back-up to offer within the context of her policy horizons.

Jeremy Corbyn has a shameful record of giving aid and comfort to virtually any terrorist group that has emerged in the past thirty years. He has opposed almost all measures to contain terrorists, on the clever but indefensible pretext that such measures are 'administrative' devices which do not create a judicial process that would enable the would-be terrorist to legitimate his [or her] status. His personal standing in such matters is deeply in the mire; but he and his party have a more rational proposal now for dealing with the terrorist threat. They are proposing a significant enhancement of the resources for police and security, and they oppose the cuts to the armed services. Labour does this in the context of policies to expand the economy, and thus the country's capability to pay for the forces. The fact that much of the investment would be undertaken by the state, using borrowed funds, is no exception to the long history of policy that enabled the country to finance two world wars and the equip for the cold war.

The Conservatives stand against historical experience, while Labour is concordant with it. That is not their popular image, but it is the contemporary fact.

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