Sunday, 26 February 2017

Corbyn, Copeland and the Toxic Legacy of 'Nuclear Jack' Cunningham

As the chattering classes spewed out their predictably characteristic response to the Copeland byelection result, little attention was paid to the real political and environmental issues that should have been under discussion. Indeed, as 'The Usual Suspects' launched yet another attack on the Labour leader in what looks like a clear and unrepentant attempt to oust him once and for all, the same stale stories appeared to be being rewritten again and again, as if none of us can remember ever having read them at all in the first place. Whilst Toby Helm and Ewen MacAskill gave Tom Watson an open platform for his attempt to make Jeremy Corbyn shoulder full responsibility for a result that had far more to do with future energy and environment policy in Post Brexit Britain than simple Party Politics, Andrew Rawnsley and Jonathan Freedland, two veteran BBC broadcast journalists, launched vitriolic attacks on the Labour leader void of a single word about the real issue that should have been under discussion in the wake of this landmark byelection result: that of Nuclear Power.

As I pointed out towards the end of last year, when the Guardian covered Jamie Reed's high profile resignation from his former seat, thus triggering the byelection that we have just had, what most of these so called 'experts' appear to have conveniently forgotten, if they ever knew it in the first place, is that we are dealing with the toxic legacy of 'Nuclear Jack' Cunningham: whose Father was jailed along with T. Dan Smith for his part in the Poulson Affair. As I also pointed out at the time in my comments in the Guardian discussion threads, there was, at the precise moment of writing, an interesting picture of Reed with Cunningham, whose Father Andrew was a senior union official before his subsequent fall and incarceration, on the website. Interesting because, prior to his high profile resignation as Shadow Health Minister, on 12 September 2015, 'one minute into Jeremy Corbyn's acceptance speech as leader of the Labour Party' according to his own Wikipedia entry, Reed had previously held the position of Shadow Environment Minister in what had up until then been the old 'Tory Lite' Miliband Shadow Cabinet that had lost his Party the 2015 General Election.

The fact that in the aftermath of the Fukushima Disaster on 11 March 2011 Miliband saw fit to continue to allow a vociferous proponent of nuclear power to sit on his front bench as a Shadow Spokesman on the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, a position Reed held between October 2010 and October 2011 whilst the international outcry over the disaster reached a crescendo, says something indeed about how the Tory Lite version of New Labour has made the Party so infinitely unelectable; whilst simultaneously offering up Jeremy Corbyn as a scapegoat for their own abysmal failings. Of further interest perhaps is the fact that Reed was not the first Pro-Nuclear Front Bench Environment Spokesman to have been appointed to the post at a time when the Party's leadership was busy making itself completely unelectable. In view of this then, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the person who held that very position at a very similar point in time, politically speaking at least, was none other than Jamie Reed's predecessor in his former constituency, Jack Cunningham; who held the equivalent post during Neil Kinnock's disastrous stint as Party Leader back in the nineteen eighties; as Thatcher was still riding high on her post Falkland's War crest of a wave.    

In yesterday's diatribe against Corbyn, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland claimed that since the second Labour leadership election the mainstream media has 'barely bothered' with him, before adding that blaming the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Mainstream Media 'doesn’t quite bite the way it used to.' Interesting then that directly after Theresa May's 'Brexit Bill' passed through Parliament, and on to the Upper House, the publication that he writes for had launched another of its scathing attacks on Corbyn under the heading 'Real fight starts now': Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit tweet prompts bruising response'. More interesting still perhaps is the fact that one of the principal human agencies responsible for the attacks on Corbyn is Peter Mandelson, who makes no secret of the fact that he spends every single day trying to cause problems for Jeremy Corbyn. A statement that has received its fair share of coverage in the Guardian. Meanwhile, attempts by anyone, myself included, to challenge the Guardian's constant sniping at Corbyn are met with the usual barrage of right wing trolling that readers of the on-line version of the publication have become accustomed to seeing on a regular basis for quite some time now.

Interestingly enough, Mandelson's former involvement with the very EU institutions that stand most to lose if, in the wake of Brexit, other countries such as Holland choose to follow suit, was the ultimate cause of his second political demise. As I myself was swift to point out, in an earlier posting on this blog, during his time as a European Commissioner Lord Mandelson became involved in a scandal over his links to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose United Company RusAl had benefited considerably from the former Minister Without Portfolio's two decisions to cut aluminium tariffs.

So, in view of the fact that the Guardian chose to use the Copeland by election result to give Tom Watson a soap box from which to launch yet more attacks on the Labour leadership, it is perhaps of relevance that Mr. Watson has himself been linked in the press to a series of financial transactions which many Labour members see as totally inappropriate. The payments in question, which have amounted to some £500,000 in total if the Telegraph website is in any way to be believed, came from Max Mosley, son of the Wartime British Union of Facists leader Sir Oswald Mosley, who was himself implicated in the first major New Labour Sleaze Scandal generally referred to as the Bernie Eccleston Affair.  

Another equally interesting anecdote is that Jamie Reed, who is the person who should be being blamed for the situation at Copeland instead of Jeremy Corbyn, is the grandson of the late well known union boss, Thompson Reed, who, having moved from the Communist Party to Labour, then gravitated to the SNP in 2005; just a short while before the picture of Reed in the company of 'Nuclear Jack Cunningham' referred to in paragraph two was taken. Given his family's longstanding tendency towards political shape shifting then, I can envisage a time when Mr. Reed rejoins the political fray once again. This time as a Pro Nuclear Conservative.

For those who think that this is a far fetched statement to make, it should be pointed out that Reed is now Head of Development and Community Relations for Sellafield Ltd. The company that acts as the principal hub of nuclear industrial employment within Jack Cunningham's old constituency. For those who are still sceptical with regard to what I have just said, it is perhaps of further relevance that the Poulson Affair that saw Jack Cunningham's Father jailed brought together a wide range of vested and political interests that ranged right the way across the political spectrum. Just like the Eccleston Affair, which involved high profile former Tory donors ingratiating themselves with 'New Labour', by means of similar financial donations to those that they had previously been giving to the Tories. Indeed, Max Mosley is cited as having worked for the UK Conservative Party with a possible view to becoming a parliamentary candidate back in the nineteen eighties. Previous to this he had served as an election agent for his father's post-war fringe political party the 'UM', or Union Movement, which advocated a Far Right United Europe along similar lines to that espoused by Hitler and the Nazis.

But to return to the toxic legacy of Nuclear Jack, in 1972 the then Tory Home Secretary Reginald Maudling was forced from office as a direct result of the John Poulson Corruption Scandal. Maudling’s involvement with Poulson’s Leeds based firm of architects, at that time the largest international practice in Western Europe, was to lead to the jailing of former Chair of Durham County Council Andrew Cunningham: Jack Cunningham's Father. Others jailed as a result of the Police investigation that was to follow the winding up of Poulson’s company after the latter was declared bankrupt, and the firm’s books fell into the hands of the receivers, was Cunningham’s Newcastle City Council counterpart T. Dan Smith. In spite of the fact that Poulson’s company had clearly been involved in widespread corruption, throughout local government and a number of inter-connected departments, comparatively few people were actually jailed. Those who were imprisoned on the other hand appear, for the most part, to have had involvements with the Labour Party. Whilst those who were allowed to slip silently away into the shadows seem to have been affiliated to the Tories. The faction who had most to gain from this symbiotic relationship from the outset.

In view of the weekend's developments then it is perhaps of further relevance that Jamie Reeds's original reason for his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet, following Jeremy Corbyn's elevation to the Party Leadership, was wholly on the grounds of the latter's stance on Nuclear Energy, and in particular his stance on the country's Nuclear Deterrant. Indeed, in relation to this specific issue he has been quoted as describing Mr. Corbyn as 'reckless, juvenile and narcissistic'. Taking into consideration the recent high profile political scandal over a number of key issues linked to the cover up over a failed Trident missile test, coupled with the emergence of a controversial dossier detailing the consistent under reporting of dozens of nuclear alerts by the British MoD, it is by no means impossible that Mr. Reed's words may well end up turning into radioactive ashes in his own mouth at some point in the near future.  

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