A roundup of progressive news…
1.The Americanisation of Reactionary Politics in the UK-Byline Times
The influence of the American right on British politics is far greater and more pernicious than many of us realise, Rachel Morris writes for Byline Times, setting out how dark money and reactionary ideas lurch from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
To give one example: “When Roe v Wade was overturned last week, Conservative MP Scott Benton retweeted – though subsequently deleted – a Republican Party tweet celebrating the reversal of US abortion rights. During the 2019 General Election campaign, Benton’s opponent raised his links to the homophobic, anti-abortion faith group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
“Benton said that he was no longer linked to SPUC, because as a gay man he remains anti-abortion but supports same-sex marriage. SPUC is British, but received more than £72,000 between 2020 and 2022 from US donors using an agency to make the transactions opaque.”
The article also takes a look at how another Tory MP, Rehman Chishti, is being paid £22,400 a-year to work part-time for a religious pressure group in the United States linked to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ efforts.
A must read for those interested in learning more about the links between the American and British right.
2. Government Advisor Repeats ‘Russia Funded Anti-Fracking Protests’ Myth-DeSmog
DeSmog looks at how a trade advisor to the UK government has repeated a baseless claim that protests against fracking were funded by the Kremlin.
Catherine McBride is a member of the government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission and who advises on trade deals, told GB News this week that Russia has given “billions of pounds” to green groups to “go and protest against fracking”.
The claim has no evidence behind it and has been previously promoted by opponents of climate action.
3. 20 MPs took staff from anti-abortion group seeking to replicate US backlash –openDemocracy
A UK anti-abortion group that wants to replicate America’s backlash against reproductive rights has placed more than a dozen interns in MPs’ offices since 2010, openDemocracy reveals.
The site states: “Christian Action, Research, and Education (CARE) has provided free researchers to 20 MPs as part of its Leadership Programme, which offers 11-month placements in Westminster – and all-access Commons passes – to recent university graduates.
“Of those, 13 continued to take the interns despite revelations about the charity’s position on LGBTQ+ rights in 2012. It emerged that CARE had sponsored a conference about homosexuality that promoted gay ‘conversion therapy’ and included sessions on “mentoring the sexually broken”.
“The group has said its internship scheme puts participants in “real positions of responsibility”, and boasts that former interns have gone on to become cabinet ministers and senior civil servants. Tory MP Stephen Crabb, an alumni of the scheme, credits it with giving him “a grounding of the Commons, politically”.
4. Firefighters Are Fighting Back-Tribune
Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), writes for Tribune Magazine about how his members are fighting back against poor wages and on why the Fire Brigades Union rejected a two percent pay offer.
With inflation running at just over 9%, Wrack writes: “Firefighters and control staff, like everyone in the public sector, have seen years of attacks on pay, driven by central government policy. Fire Brigades Union members have been treated appallingly by their employers. Firefighters’ salaries have been cut by nearly £4,000 in real terms if you compare 2009 and 2021—equivalent to about a twelve percent cut.”
Wrack also says that the FBU is willing to consider strike action.
“The Fire Brigades Union and its members do not take industrial action lightly. But our members will now, inevitably, begin to discuss all options, including strike action.
“We are some way from that at this point in time. We will always look to ensure that all efforts to resolve an issue have been exhausted before we consider or take industrial action.
“In line with this we will be writing to national fire employers, and seeking confirmation they have written to and met with the Westminster fire minister to request the additional funding needed to properly boost pay. We’ll also be writing to ministers and government departments in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.”
5. Sarwar backs House of Lords abolition in favour of ‘senate of nations and regions’-LabourList
LabourList features a piece on how Anas Sarwar has called for the House of Lords to be replaced with an “institution which better reflects the make-up and the identity of the United Kingdom” and proposes a “senate of the nations and regions”.
Sarwar made the comments while speaking at the Fabian Society this morning, where he said that the House of Lords in its current form “had no place in 21st century politics”, declaring that it is “unacceptable” to have unelected representatives “wielding such power”.
He said: “The House of Lords must be abolished and replaced with an institution which better reflects the make-up and the identity of the United Kingdom.
“In calling for its abolition, we must recognise the vital role that members of the House of Lords have played as the revising chamber of the UK parliament. We shouldn’t forget that it is Labour Lords who have stopped some of the worst excesses of this Tory government.
“But we need something that is more reflective of modern Britain. And which gives Scotland and other parts of the UK a greater say in UK-wide legislation.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward