This week’s “exclusives”: 1) Albanese chooses his successor; 2) Boris Johnson plots a coup d’etat; 3) Tommy Lascelles, Palace courtier; 4) US “diplomat” is a spy; 5) Health tip: Don’t eat red meat or eggs.
Future of Anthony Albanese
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has chosen Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne to be his successor in the inner-Sydney seat of Grayndler. Byrne is also on Albanese’s staff as political and electorate adviser.
For someone committed to “inner-party democracy”, Albanese has a hide picking his mate Byrne to take his place in Federal Parliament. What about a proper pre-selection with candidates from all corners of the ALP?
Albanese has told insiders in Canberra that he wants to recontest Grayndler and then hand it over to Byrne. But Byrne has a different view. He is keen to contest Grayndler at the next Federal Election whenever Pastor Scott Morrison calls it.
But if Albanese leaves after the Federal Election that would cause a by-election. Could Byrne win such a by-election? It would be tough.
Albanese sees himself as a latter-day Ben Chifley. He has achieved his highest ambition by becoming Labor leader. Now, in the time-honoured tradition, he wants to “spend more time with his family”.
In the SMH this week, Labor Upper House MP Anthony D’Adam argued that the post of NSW ALP general secretary should be abolished.
D’Adam, a former Sussex Street official, took a swipe at the machine’s leadership. “The root problem is a cultural one,” he wrote. “An unethical culture in the machine has produced people who make bad judgments, and a lack of accountability has meant the party selects the wrong people for the wrong reasons.”
The target of D’Adam’s analysis appears to the party leader, Anthony Albanese. He fits D’Adam’s profile of the career machine bureaucrat who cynically uses factional power to advance his political career.
But “ethics” are not at the core of Labor’s bankruptcy. The leadership lacks a reforming policy agenda which commands respect and popular support.
In his memorable essay on Gough Whitlam’s leadership of the ALP, the late Evan Williams wrote: “If the bureaucracy saw a diminished role for themselves in policy formulation, there was a good reason. The Whitlam Government’s policies had already been formulated in detail by Whitlam himself. He brought with him comprehensive policies on a range of issues – healthcare, urban development, foreign policy, the ownership of natural resources – where most of the work had already been done. No Prime Minister ever came to office with a clearer, more specific vision of what he wanted to achieve.” (“Inside Gough Whitlam’s office” by Evan Williams. Inside Story, 21 October 2014).
Does anyone imagine that Albanese and his sleek staff of flatterers and image-makers have worked on a manifesto with such zeal?
UK-US spy scandal
On August 27, American citizen Anne Sacoolas killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn.
She was driving her Volvo on the wrong side of the road alongside the US spy base at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire where her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, worked. The Sacoolas family lived on the “Top Secret” US spy base.
The US Embassy claimed the Sacoolas family had “full diplomatic immunity” and secretly flew them to the US to escape arrest.
The grieving Dunn family were shocked to learn that their son’s killer had fled the country. They began to ask questions because the media and MPs weren’t. An elaborate cover-up had hidden the true facts.
The mainstream media in Australia keeps referring to Jonathan Sacoolas as an “American diplomat”. He’s not. In fact, he is an American spy.
And the media continues to claim his wife, Anne, enjoys “diplomatic immunity”. She doesn’t. She is not entitled to it. She is the wife of a US spy who has no diplomatic cover whatsoever.
Jonathan Sacoolas is not listed on America’s diplomatic list. He never has been. Why not? Because he is not a diplomat at all. He is a US spy. He works as a US National Security officer on communications interceptions at the spy base.
According to experts on the Vienna Convention, Jonathan Sacoolas and his wife are not entitled to diplomatic immunity. Both have committed crimes in the UK and should be returned to face court on charges relating to the fatal traffic accident and the subsequent cover-up.
As of now, the US State Department is determined to keep Jonathan and Anne Sacoolas out of court in London. The British Foreign Office doesn’t want them back either. They could be asked highly entertaining questions about their workplace at “RAF Croughton” and what spying duties it conducts.
The Australia media blindly accepts the London-Washington concocted narrative. Many journalists know that the current stories are fabricated but they still recycle them. It’s pathetic.
Boris Johnson on the brink
Until now, I have characterised Boris Johnson as a “buffoon”. To me, this accurately summed up his eccentric performance as Tory MP from 2001 to 2008 and again since 2015, as Lord Mayor of London, and Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018.
But time has moved on. Johnson is now Britain’s Prime Minister. As a result, I’ve updated my description to “dangerous buffoon”.
His arrogant vanities and political atrocities are not joking matters. He is an unashamed misogynist and sexist while his xenophobia is borderline racism.
Johnson, a born-to-rule Old Etonian, is now on the brink of the most dangerous venture in his public life. Like a cockroach after a nuclear attack, he plans to emerge unscathed while millions of others die.
In the coming days and weeks, Johnson intends clinging to office even if the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the highest courts in England, Scotland and Wales and Queen Elizabeth II rule against his remaining in office. He will defy them all.
Let’s be clear: he intends treating with contempt all of the so-called “checks and balances” of the UK’s unwritten constitution. Even if a “no confidence” motion is passed by the Commons or the Lords, Johnson intends to soldier on.
The end game for Johnson and his secretive No 10 chums is to call a General Election which they believe they can win by promising to “rescue the economy”, turn Britain into “the greatest trading nation on earth”, release billions of pounds to rebuild the National Health Service (NHS), schools and universities and raise the Union Jack everywhere that “peace and freedom” beckons by spending billions on Britain’s forlorn army, navy, air force and discredited intelligence services.
This stuff is pure fantasy. Johnson is creating a “fake” Britain based on a combination of nostalgia and amnesia.
Rupert Murdoch’s favourite newspaper The Sun told readers in screaming headlines: “BECAUSE I SAID BO BREXIT – Boris Johnson plans to tell Queen she can’t sack him even if he loses no-confidence vote”. (9 October 2019) Written by Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun’s political editor, it carried all the hallmarks of Murdoch’s own brand of journalism.
With no attribution, the story said: “Senior No 10 aides are preparing legal advice for the monarch to ensure Boris Johnson can stay on to try to deliver Brexit on October 31. The extraordinary move is based on 70-year-old rules, dubbed the Lascelles Principles.
“A senior No 10 source told The Sun: ‘Boris won’t resign even if he loses a no confidence vote, and it is not within the sovereign’s constitutional powers to make him. The PM will advise the Queen of that and she must follow her Prime Minister’s advice. That’s how this country works. We said that we will deliver Brexit by October 31 by all means necessary and we meant it’.”
Johnson’s threatened constitutional coup became the story of the day with follow-ups in Murdoch’s Times and other media outlets in the US, Asia and Australia.
Resurrection of “Tommy” Lascelles
Boris Johnson has resurrected the “Lascelles Principles” to justify his sweeping lurch to dictatorship. They were drawn up in 1950 by King George VI’s private secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles, when the Labour Party was returned with the slimmest majority over Winston Churchill’s Tory Party.
“Tommy” Lascelles laid down the King’s prerogative in a letter to The Times under the pseudonym “Senex” on 2 May 1950. Lascelles, an ardent monarchist, designed a code for British monarchs to follow under which they were able to refuse a PM’s request to hold a General Election if the national economy was threatened and the existing parliament was still “vital, viable, and capable of doing its job”.
Johnson’s bid for dictatorial powers depend on judges, courts, MPs, peers and public opinion accepting the long-buried Lascelles Principles.
The Sun article ended abruptly: “No 10 advisers [still no names!] now think the principles can be flipped and used as founding reasons why the Queen must also keep a serving PM in place.
“Tommy Lascelles featured prominently as a character in the Netflix TV series about the monarch’s rule, The Crown.”
A royalist intriguer
“Tommy” Lascelles served four English monarchs: George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. As a devout courtier for most of the 20th century, Lascelles was the keeper of innumerable state secrets during war and peace.
He hated American divorcee Wallis Simpson whose marriage to Edward led to the abdication crisis; and his contempt for Group Captain Peter Townsend brought to end Princess Margaret’s much-expected marriage to the air ace and royal equerry.
Townsend foolishly confided in Lascelles that he had fallen in love with Margaret. “You must be either mad or bad,” was Lascelles’ response before rushing to tell Churchill to oppose it. The PM was responsive to Lascelles’ advice saying: “Captain Townsend must go. He simply must go.”
Instead Princess Margaret married Bohemian magazine photographer Tony Snowden. It ended in divorce.
Lascelles had little confidence in Edward becoming a successful king telling Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin that the young monarch was “rapidly going to the devil” with his ferocious appetite for women and wine.
He notoriously added that the best thing that could happen to him – and the country – would be for him to break his neck in a point-to-point race. Baldwin replied: “God forgive me, I have often thought the same.”
At the end of WW2, Lascelles organised the secret mission to Germany to recover files, photos, letters and documents which showed the royal family’s pro-Nazi sympathies.
General Eisenhower, the Allied Commander-in-Chief, provided every facility, including transport, accommodation, wartime accreditation to carry out the mission. A memo written by Ike’s staff said private papers must be recovered in total secrecy adding: “It is essential that these papers should not fall into the wrong hands.”
One of Lascelles’ handpicked emissaries was art historian Anthony Blunt, who had just been appointed Surveyor of the King’s Pictures. Blunt was also a member of the KGB’s Cambridge spy network so the royal documents inadvertently went straight into the “wrong hands”. It is inconceivable that Blunt didn’t tell his Soviet handlers that the “Vicky Letters” revealed the Nazi sympathies of the English (German) royal family.
Lascelles persisted with his private war against the Wallis Simpson and her husband, the Duke of Windsor. Noting that the couple insisted on telling French guests to their home in Paris how to run their country, Lascelles called the duke “a hearth rug bore”. Royal biographer Andrew Morton cynically noted: “It was the leaders of the most radical and Socialist government in Britain’s history, an administration that introduced free health care for all, who worked diligently to quarantine the lethal Windsor file.” (17 Carnations by Andrew Morton, Page 276).
Lascelles snorted against Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Phillip dismissing the Greek-German prince as a “hooligan” and “rough, ill-mannered, uneducated, and would probably be unfaithful.”
When young Elizabeth Windsor ordered BBC television cameras into the Abbey to cover her coronation, Lascelles was horrified. Prime Minister Churchill was horrified too: “I don’t see why the BBC should have a better view of my monarch being crowned than me.” To which Lascelles growled: “Quite right.”
In post-war years when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor came under increasing scrutiny for their pro-Nazi views, Lascelles used his influence in Fleet Street to ask proprietors and editors to include a note in their articles saying that “His Royal Highness never wavered in his loyalty to the British cause”. Instead of allaying public suspicions, the gratuitous reference only inflamed them.
Lascelles, who was fiercely proud of his decorations – GCB, GCVO, CMG and MC – is a royalist relic of the last century. Boris Johnson is proposing to use his name and much-ridiculed reputation as the basis for his power grab.
The last time anything like this occurred was in the 1640s when Oliver Cromwell MP closed the “rump” parliament, divided the country between Roundheads (republicans) and Royalists (monarchists), triggered a four-year civil war, publicly executed the king (Charles I) on a chopping block in Whitehall and later declared himself Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Everyone seems to have a magic solution to good health. Bookshops and the internet are full of advice, most of it confusingly contradictory.
However, a friend just back from Asia reckons a top Chinese doctor who is linked to a network of specialists from around the world is recommending a simple diet: Don’t eat red meat or eggs.
A lengthy, global research project in West and East European countries and Asia – not Africa or South America – has concluded that red meat and eggs are being mass produced by factory farming methods.
Cows and chooks are being “force-fed” with pellets which are toxic with growth hormones, antibiotics, steroids and other Big Pharma chemicals. The unfortunate animals are producing steaks and eggs more cheaply at a phenomenal rate to keep supermarkets and fast-food outlets stocked with tons of “product”.
People whose diets are saturated with red meat, eggs and egg products (quiches etc) are unknowingly ingesting all the chemicals that are fed to cows and chooks in industrial proportions.
There are two caveats:
- If the cows are from grasslands on local farms which don’t use chemical sprays, insecticides or growth hormones, then the meat will be OK to eat a couple of times a week.
- If the chooks run wild in backyards and eat grain, grass and food scraps then the eggs will taste better and actually have a coloured yolk!
I have adopted the advice – with the caveats! – and now pursue a largely vegetarian diet on doctors’ advice.
Greens offer different way
My conversion to a vegetarian diet coincided with Meat Free Week recognised in Federal Parliament on 18 September by Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi from NSW.
A former scientist and accomplished academic, Senator Faruqi tabled a motion asking Australians to give up meat for seven days arguing that “reducing the amount of meat we consumed is better for our health, better for animal welfare and better for the environment.”
The annual week of meat abstinence is organised by Bowel Cancer Australia. This year it ran from 23 to 29 September when millions of Australians were eating burgers at Grand Final barbecues. At the same time a few hundred died from cancer.
Professor Faruqi was indefatigable telling Oz Guardian readers:
“Meat Free Week encourages people to reduce their meat consumption to improve their health and for the good of animals and the planet.”
Scientist turned politician
In May 2017 when she sat in the NSW Upper House, Dr Faruqi introduced a Bill to decriminalise abortion. It was rejected by parliament’s reactionary “god squad” but it was passed – with amendments – in recent weeks at a second all-party attempt.
Dr Faruqi, a migrant from Pakistan, still burns with fury when she recalls the defeat of her abortion room Bill two years ago.
“The anger and disbelief of those present in the public gallery that day is etched in my memory,” she recalled. “Women of all generations were overcome with emotion, outraged that even in the 21st century, politicians would vote to deny them their reproductive rights.”
She continued: “When I introduced my Bill I was told, as other reproductive rights campaigners before me had been told, that it was not the right time for abortion law reform. But the situation is untenable, abortion is a crime, access is limited, expensive and privatised; and the stigma and shame that criminality creates around abortion follow us around.
“Personally, it has been a difficult journey at times. I’ve sustained many attacks for taking the unapologetically feminist view of abortion law that women and all people reproductive healthcare should have full and unambiguous bodily autonomy.
“I have been sworn at on the street and sent horrific, graphic images and abusive messages. In our campaign to decriminalise abortion, the aims were clear from the start – to pave the way for abortion law reform and end the taboo that kept the issue off NSW Parliament’s agenda for a century. Nothing more, nothing less.
“We must move, then, to swiftly address issues of limited abortion access for women, especially in rural and regional areas and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women, migrant women and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.”
Sadly, Dr Faruqi’s final pledge to extend the free abortion campaign to Aboriginal, migrant, outback and poverty-stricken women is being ignored by scores of middle-class women who seem to believe that abortion is a white woman’s issue in metropolitan Australia.
Greens politician to watch
Once named among the Top Ten Most Influential Engineers in Australia (2015), Senator Faruqi won the Grand Stirrer Award at the Edna O’Brien Awards in 2017 for her parliamentary campaign to decriminalise abortion in NSW.
She is now in the Greens shadow cabinet with responsibilities for education, local government, housing, industry, animal welfare, gun control, international development, employment and workplace relations. It is a bagful of portfolios but the Greens don’t have many members federally.
Whenever she receives media publicity – which isn’t very often – Senator Faruqi gives a stellar performance. I await the moment when she replaces the walking-talking coalitionist Richard Di Natale who appears to support anything in the news cycle that is deemed “popular” and oppose anything that is deemed “unpopular”.
Di Natale is driven by “hits” on the internet to gain “popularity”. That’s no way to run a political party based on ideas, science and changing the system.
Appointment of the month
Lucy Turnbull, wife of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Mrs Turnbull is also chair of the Greater Sydney Commission and supports the transformation of the Art Gallery into a corporate entertainment palace. Any conflict of interest?