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Jan
2016
Saturday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in Features

The Morning Star sorts the good eggs from the rotten scoundrels of the year


Heroes
 
JEREMY CORBYN
 
After May’s general election Britain faced years of majority Tory rule with perfunctory opposition from a Blairite Labour Party. 
 
Then left-wing backbencher (and longtime friend of the Star) Corbyn threw his sensible cycling helmet into the ring for the Labour leadership, and everything changed. 
 
Buoyed by a vast groundswell of public support, he won — and has since defeated vicious tax credit changes. Establishment hacks were flabbergasted, but our parliamentary reporter Luke James had called the result weeks before, leading to calls of: “It was the Star wot won it.”
 
MICHAEL MEACHER
 
Just as one Star supporter made extraordinary strides, another stalwart was lost. 
 
Labour’s Oldham West and Royton MP died in October after a short illness. 
 
One of the first MPs to start a blog, he continued writing right up until his death. His insightful posts exposed ruling-class economic incompetence and financial cabals. 
 
In his long and distinguished parliamentary career he fought for the rights of the ordinary and the vulnerable, and against inequality and climate change. He will be greatly missed. 
 
SHAKER AAMER
 
After 13 years’ illegal and baseless detention at US concentration camp Guantanamo Bay, Aamer was finally freed and flown back to Britain in October. 
 
However years of hunger strikes and abuse from guards left him in such a frail state that on touchdown he was rushed to hospital without seeing his wife — or his youngest son, who was born after his imprisonment. 
 
After settling back into family life he used his platform to denounce extremists and says he will continue to campaign for the camp’s closure.
 
BREE NEWSOME
 
When nine black churchgoers in the US were massacred by a white terrorist who hoped to ignite a race war, the hated Confederate flag outside the South Carolina statehouse became an unbearable affront. 
 
Newsome rose early and donned climbing gear to tear down the symbol of slavery and racism. 
 
She was arrested and the flag was reinstated, but the worldwide euphoria that greeted her gesture ultimately led to it being removed from the building and placed in a museum.
 
HELEN STEEL
 
One of the women tricked into a long-term “romance” with a police spy, Steel’s body and mind were violated for years as a state-sanctioned operational tactic. 
 
Far from an enemy of the state, she was an environmental justice campaigner. 
 
After exposing this profound emotional and sexual abuse, she organised other victims and in November they won an apology and compensation from the Met. Now she is determined to prevent any other woman suffering what they suffered.
 
THE LIONESSES
 
The England women’s football team did millions proud by coming third in the World Cup in Canada, beating old rivals Germany. As the big-money men’s game began to implode amid the tawdry Fifa revelations (more of which below), the Lionesses were a model of dignity, sportsmanship and athletic prowess who brought a much-needed spotlight to women’s sport in this country. 
 
Let’s hope that the media begins to give our sportswomen the prominence they’re due in 2016. But we won’t hold our breath.
 
SWEETS WAY RESISTS 
 
Following the staunch example of our 2014 heroes, the Focus E15 mothers, residents at London housing estate Sweets Way fought back against “regeneration” plans which made them homeless. 
 
After Barnet Council left them with nowhere to go, evictees protested outside council buildings. 
 
Campaigners and former residents later occupied and refurbished one of the empty homes. 
 
Clashes with bailiffs only delayed the inevitable, and the last residents were forced out in September. But their struggle will embolden future ones — and as social cleansing continues apace, there will be many more.
 
Villains
 
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
 
The Work and Pensions Secretary has liberated thousands of disabled people from the Independent Living Fund (ILF) this year. 
 
The ILF was a tedious thing that let them manage some of their own care. With that burden of choice lifted, they now get what they’re given — which, as it turns out, is not much. 
 
And our Iain got a bit of a ribbing this summer after his department published a leaflet showing how benefits sanctions help jobless claimants — but forgot to find any real people they had actually helped. 
 
Still, we’re sure that had she existed, “Sarah” would indeed have been “really pleased” that sanctions gave her the gumption required to find a non-existent job.
 
SIMON DANCZUK
 
If it thinks like Ukip, acts like Ukip and quacks like a duck, it’s probably ... the reprobate Rochdale MP. 
 
The faded Blairite took time out from his busy schedule of Daily Mail Corbyn-bashing and failed coups to comment on the north’s flood disaster, revealing himself as something of a Farage fanboy. 
 
“Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in Great Britain?” he asked, echoing the Ukip leader’s tweet on the subject — and showing that concepts such as history and economics elude him.
 
In a delectable comeuppance, the Sun newspaper turned round to bite him on the arse with its front page story alleging he’d been sending filthy text messages to a 17-year-old girl. The man who likes to lecture the left has now been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
 
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN
 
When Turkey shot down a Russian military plane at the Syrian border in November, the world held its breath. 
 
A military response to the provocation might have drawn Nato members including Britain into a “third world war” in defence of our Turkish allies — who also stand accused of assisting unparalleled maniacs Islamic State (Isis). Fortunately Moscow chose not to meet Turkish President Erdogan with his own brand of asinine militarism. 
 
Yet Erdogan continues to persecute Turkish Kurds and offer Isis his tacit support by purchasing and trafficking its oil pillaged from Syria.  And that was before yesterday’s Hitler love-in With friends like these...
 
DONALD TRUMP
 
Loath as we are to give this lesser-tufted twit any further publicity, the businessman and US Republican presidential candidate has been under constant attack — most enjoyably by an American bald eagle irked to find itself in his recent photoshoot. 
 
The whole world willed on Trump’s feathered nemesis as it gave him some serious side-eye, and we wondered whether a well-placed jab from its talon would puncture the inflatable imbecile who mocks women and disabled people and wants Muslims to be banned from the US. 
 
Here’s hoping that in the upcoming election the Republicans’ trump card is revealed to be the joker in the pack.
 
FIFA
 
No evil mastermind is complete without a cat. Fortunately for Fifa, former official Chuck Blazer had a New York flat just for his feline friends.
 
It has been a rough year for football’s world governing body. Days after leader Sepp Blatter was re-elected, he was forced to step down. After a brief stint in hospital he claimed to have seen “angels singing and the devil with the fire” — and well he might.
 
Over the coming months many officials were arrested by the FBI and Swiss authorities on a number of charges, including bribery, corruption and extortion.
 
The man set to replace Blatter has been banned from all football-related activities for eight years (so was Blatter).
 
With the next World Cup hosted by racist and homophobic Russia, and the 2022 one bound for Qatar — known for enslaving and killing migrant construction workers — it seems Fifa is firmly fixed on this list.
 
TIP-SNATCHING RESTAURANT CHAINS 
 
Happy eaters we were not after it was revealed leading restaurant chains including Pizza Express and Las Iguanas were charging staff to work by snatching their tips. 
 
The appalling policy forcing low-paid workers to hand cash to their bosses at the end of each shift left a bad taste for many customers. 
 
Firms including Giraffe promised to stop gobbling the gratuities, but others continue to defy public opinion. 
 
Unions including GMB and Unite have taken up the call for change and are pressing for the practice to be banned.
 
CO-OP BANK
 
Bad was followed by worse for the once ethical bank this year, after it suddenly closed the bank accounts of left-wing groups including the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 
 
It said the move was designed to meet “anti-money laundering obligations,” but offered no evidence of wrongdoing by affected groups. 
 
Many saw the influence of its new US hedge fund masters in the decision after they bailed out the troubled bank two years ago, stripping it of its mutual status. 
 
Last year saw its disgraced former boss the “Crystal Methodist” Paul Flowers make our villains list after a drugs and fraud bust, but now it seems the rot has set in for good.



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