Saturday, 3 June 2017

As PM, What Would You Do If Martians Landed?

In the Question Time Leaders Non-Debate, Tory activists had clearly been planted in the audience with three core questions to focus on to try to trip up Corbyn. They were, unsurprisingly, on Ireland, Trident and Corporation Tax.

The Tory who asked about the way Corporation Tax would affect his small business, put virtually the identical question that someone else had put in the earlier Sky News/Channel 4 Leaders non-debate. It was clearly a planted question to which the Tories expected a particular type of answer, and to which they had prepared their spinners to seize on. They expected Corbyn to be dismissive of the small business people putting the question. So, Bojo, who looks more clownish by the day, popped up, last night, to claim that Corbyn had laughed at the small businessman who put the question. Of course, Corbyn had done no such thing, thereby confounding the Tory battle plan. Corbyn had instead, as he had in the previous encounter, said that a Labour government would look to the specific problems of small businesses, and seek to address them with assistance, whilst making the point that small businesses would also benefit from the educated and skilled workers, and the repaired infrastructure that Labour's investment plans would deliver, and which those taxes were levied to fund.

But, of course, the Tories are unable to think on their feet. They have a set strategy planned in advance, as May's non-answers at Prime Minister's Question Time, over the last year, have shown. Generally, it involves killing something or bombing something, or asking ordinary people to pay more for things, whilst giving tax cuts for the ultra rich.

The Tories called him a terrorist too, and attacked all those in
Britain supporting him, whilst the Tories were actively
supporting the terroristic apartheid state, against the people of
South Africa.
The second question, on Ireland and terrorism, the Tories should know is not going to work for them any more. They have used it for years, without effect. It was Labour that brought peace to Northern Ireland, as a result precisely of talking to terrorists on both sides of the divide. But, how on Earth can the Tories even dare to challenge Corbyn for talking to members of Sinn Fein, when the Tories themselves are still the party of Pinochet, still the party that supports and provides masses of arms to the Saudi Royal butchers, which they use against their own people, the people of Bahrain, and to bomb babies in Yemen? How can the Tories still hope to make such attacks work, when if they had their way, Nelson Mandela, who they branded a terrorist too, would have died in jail, and their friends in the apartheid regime in South Africa would still be terrorising the black population of that country? How can the Tories dare make such charges when they are the ones who are visiting and prostrating themselves in front of dictators like Duterte, or Erdogan.

And their final line of attack was on Corbyn's opposition to Trident. In truth, Corbyn does have a problem, as Jonathan Bartlett of the Green Party pointed out, because Corbyn rationally opposes renewing Trident, but he is saddled with Labour's policy of renewing it. But, that is no different than the fact that May said she opposed Brexit, and is now the Hard Brexiteer in Chief!  The fact is that Trident not only serves no useful purpose, but its last century's weapons technology, which is more of a danger to those that possess it than a benefit. Hackers could simply use a country's nuclear weapons against them, in a conflict, by getting computer systems to tell the nukes to blow up in their silos, and on the submarines etc. Satellites which are relied upon for GPS locations etc. can be hacked so as to send missiles on the wrong trajectory and so on. Cyber weapons are far cheaper, and more effective in the 21st century, than nuclear weapons.

The Tory plants, therefore, thought they had a killer point by repeatedly asking Corbyn if he would press the button were Britain under attack. But, there is no killer point here. In fact, it is a non-question. You might as well ask the question posed above - “As PM, what would you do if Martians landed?” Both are non-questions because no one can sensibly answer them. To answer such a question you need, as Corbyn pointed out, far more information. For example, are these Martians friendly or hostile? How many of them are there? What offensive capability do they have? Can we subdue them? Or, if they are friendly, how willing are they to offer us their friendship, and their technology? But, it is a non-question, for the more obvious reason that, there are no Martians, and certainly none capable of landing on Earth, that make the question in any way rational. It doesn't help to posit some other form of alien, because it makes little sense to make such an unlikely event the cornerstone of your political programme.

Ordinary people, as opposed to the ones the Tories deal with, have far more pressing issues that affect them here and now, such as healthcare, education, stagnant wages, zero hours contracts and so on, without making the main focus of their thoughts what a Prime Minister might do were aliens to land, or whether the PM might push the nuclear button and consign the country, the globe and all its actual people to oblivion. As the woman in the audience who got the loudest applause said, why is it that the Tories are always so concerned to want to murder millions of people by blowing them up with nuclear or other kinds of bombs?

The fact is, as Corbyn said, if someone has already fired a nuke at Britain, things have already failed. No nuclear weapon is going to stop that nuke from then exploding on Britain, and killing tens of millions of British people. What good would it then do, for Britain to fire off a nuke in the other direction to murder millions of innocent civilians in some other country? In fact, the attitude shows up the Tories for just what they are, narrow minded, vindictive people. Its essentially the same question as with the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

Labour as a moral party says that it would immediately protect the rights of EU citizens living and working in Britain. That is both the moral and rational thing to do. It is the moral thing to do, whatever the EU might choose to do in relation to UK citizens living and working in the EU. It is the rational thing to do, both because Britain needs that 3 million EU citizens who live and work here, and without whom the British economy would tank, and because doing so is the best way of ensuring that the EU will be pressured, by its own citizens, to make the same provision for Brits living and working in the EU.

The Tories take the opposite view. In their narrow minded, vindictive mentality, people are just pawns, bargaining chips to be used as the Tories choose, without any regard for the fact that they are people with emotions, cares, fears, and families to consider. Its why May and the Tories can never empathise with the problems of real people when they come face to face with them, as with May and the woman who had been turned down for DLA. Its why May has studiously avoided contact with real people where possible, and limited her rare appearances to heavily stage managed audiences with tiny groups of Tory activists.

The Tories say they would only give basic rights to EU citizens after some deal has been negotiated with the EU, thereby disregarding any emotional trauma they are imposing on those people and their families. No wonder so many EU citizens are already walking away from such a cruel and heartless Tory Britain, and that will further poison the relations of the EU and Britain during and after any negotiations. But, then the Tories seem to have already decided to walk away from Europe, at the first pretext, within the next six months, and turn Britain into some autarchic hell-hole like Batista's Cuba of the 1950's.

Presumably, if the Tories cannot negotiate a deal with the EU, they would withdraw all of the rights of the three million EU citizens living and working in Britain, showing just how immoral the Tories actually are. But, it would show just how small minded and irrational they are too. Not only would such a prospect lead those people to go back to the EU decimating the NHS and other services dependent on them, but it would also mean the 2 million UK citizens, mostly elderly pensioners, living in Spain, Italy, France and other EU countries, would be heading back to Britain, putting an immediate burden on UK health and social care provision, as opposed to the EU workers living here now, who enable those services to operate!

No wonder the Tories have introduced all the restrictions on use of the NHS etc., if you have been out of the country for more than three months, because when all those British ex pat pensioners head home, they will find they have no right to use the NHS, free of charge, and many of their other rights will not be provided by the Tories either!

And that is exactly the same mentality that the Tories use in relation to nuclear weapons. They basically say if someone were to nuke Britain, they will act equally immorally by murdering millions of innocent civilians in the other country. Its a bit like saying, if a drunk driver mows down and kills a number of your family members, you will respond by getting drunk and driving your car into their family members! Suitably, given the Tories medieval mindset and worldview, it is the approach of the medieval blood feud, not of civilised human beings in the 21st century. The sensible thing to do, if a drunk driver kills members of your family, is to campaign for better policing and measures against drunk driving. Indeed, it will be a benefit of having solely driverless vehicles on the road.

And, the same is true in relation to nuclear weapons. As Corbyn said, rather than the small minded, vindictive Tory approach of waiting until nuclear weapons have been fired, and then firing your own, to murder millions of people, and destroy the world, the more rational approach is to negotiate to get rid of nuclear weapons. But, more rational, in any case, is not to waste money on your own nuclear weapons which can never stop nukes landing on you, when they have been fired, but to use those resources to develop more effective conventional defence, and to develop effective cyber and electronic counter measures against any such nuclear strike against you.

The only real deterrence, against a nuclear strike on your country, is to either have an effective shield to shoot down the incoming nukes, such as Patriot missiles, effective satellite based laser weapons, or else to have effective electronic and cyber weapons that will stop the nukes, at source, or whilst on track towards you. That, together with large-scale nuclear bunkers, for the whole population, and not just the elite, are far more effective than a few, very expensive nuclear weapons platforms of your own, which could only ever be used to attack someone else, not to defend your own country.

Its a bit like the NHS. The Tories far prefer to allow the conditions at work, and with poor housing and environments, that cause ill-health, to persist, and then to allow big companies to make huge profits by selling expensive treatments for those ill-health problems to the NHS, than to spend money on providing people with decent homes and environments, decent jobs and working conditions, that would prevent a lot of ill-health in the first place, along with the resources into Primary Care, that would help prevent minor ailments becoming chronic.

If we really wanted to deter nuclear war and attacks on Britain, the first place to start, as Corbyn said, is here and now to begin to deal with the potential causes of conflicts, and of nuclear attacks. And, it would also be far better to spend money on cyber defences than nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are already outdated, and it is symptomatic of the fact that the Tories live in the past, that they do not recognise that fact. Its like their promotion of HS2, which is really a 19th century technology of rail transport, as opposed to their failure to provide even a 20th century level of broadband infrastructure.

But, the questions put by the Tory plants in last night's audience were non-questions for another reason. That is they were totally removed from reality. The questioners asked what would you do if a mad man in North Korea or Iran fired a nuke at Britain. Well firstly, as stated above, unless you have invested in effective counter-measures, there is nothing you could do about that resulting in millions of Britons dying as the nuke exploded. What those questioners could not answer was how, Britain then firing a nuclear weapon at North Korea or Iran, and thereby killing millions of innocent North Koreans and Iranians would improve that situation!

But, what they first should have told us, is why North Korea or Iran would have fired such a missile at us in the first place. To say simply that those in charge are mad is no answer. If that is the case, why haven't they already fired nuclear weapons at someone who doesn't have nuclear weapons already – besides the fact that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons, in the first place! In fact, on the basis of their argument, Iran should develop nuclear weapons to prevent being blackmailed by nuclear armed Israel, or the United States.

But, assume that Britain had no nuclear weapons, as is the case with 250 of the other countries in the world, why does the questioner think that North Korea would fire this nuke at us? Why not any of the other 250 countries that do not have nuclear weapons. Indeed, if the reason the North Korean dictator fires these nuclear weapons is because they are mad, the possession of nuclear weapons yourself is not going to be any deterrent to that, any more than a suicide bomber is bothered about dying in their own bomb blast!

So, the questioner needs first to answer this practical question before their question has any meaning whatsoever. Why would North Korea simply fire a nuclear weapon at a non-nuclear Britain in the first place? Without that information their question is as meaningless as asking what you would do if Martians landed. And, the fact is that the only reason that North Korea, or anyone else would fire a nuclear weapon at Britain, rather than any of the other 250 countries in the world that do not have nuclear weapons, including many in Western Europe, as well as Japan, that have faced no such dilemma, is if Britain had itself been interfering in the affairs of North Korea, and in some way threatening it, leading up to some kind of conventional conflict.

The answer to that is simple. If Britain focussed its resources on a defence of Britain, rather than on offensive weapons geared to sending British military personnel to interfere in the affairs of countries on the other side of the globe, it would give no cause for such attacks to be aimed in its direction. As the woman in the audience said, why are the Tories so anxious to always want to fire off nuclear weapons at somebody and thereby kill millions of people, and destroy the planet? The answer is that the Tories have always been the same. They see every problem as a nail, because the only tool they have is a hammer. It has been the case throughout their history. There answer to everything is either to thump it, kill it, jail it, or bomb it. If none of those things works they are stumped.

Its why people like May are so brittle – not just in how she walks on those expensive high heels – and why they avoid answering questions other than with pre-scripted answers. Its why so often in the past, the Tories have led us into unnecessary wars, that cost the lives of millions of ordinary people, because they cannot think flexibly, and continually live in a long gone past.

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