Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Asking for it ...

"I saw a newspaper picture,
From the political campaign
A woman was kissing a child,
Who was obviously in pain.
She spills with compassion,
As that young child's
Face in her hands she grips
Can you imagine all that greed and avarice
Coming down on that child's lips?"

Sunday, 10 November 2019

War of the worms

I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.

In fact, we might just be seeing the start of this trend now:

The Conservative worm appears to be taking a rest, while Labour's is - perhaps - starting to wriggle energetically upwards.

There seems to be a ceiling on support for the Conservatives - in 2017 it was in the mid 40s and now, critically, it is several points lower (due to disillusionment over Brexit, disenchantment over social problems, the rise of the Farage and the Brexit Party, and Johnson being more of a 'difficult' figure to voters than May was).

Meanwhile, Labour's potential will be starting to think seriously about who they want to vote for and - possibly reluctantly at first - opting for Labour.

Importantly, this will create a new narrative - that the Conservatives are 'stalled' and Labour are starting to ;close the gap' and the 'Corbyn effect' is starting to impact on the campaign. That will mostly be twaddle but the media like to sound like they know what is going on and sound clever (like me).  The result will be that they actually start to create the effect they are trying to discern.

This might sound like grave hypocrisy from someone who frequently scorns polls, but the point is not the individual numbers or even where the aggregate lies, but the trend. Pollsters - unless they are completely useless - will tend to pick up shifts of opinion - and how the polls actually can influence the public's perception of what is going on.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Out of the past - Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century

Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?

That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.

Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there to leave the country with just sixteen days grace to do it in, and gave the state the power to seize their property and dispose of it.

The act wasn't absolutely successful as a few decades later Mary I passed a follow up act that grudgingly allowed the Romani to stay, as long as they abandoned their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company". In other words, if they settled down, assimilated and started behaving like good christian souls.

If this all sounds a bit familiar it is because it isn't just because Nazi Germany also targeted Romani as one of its gateway genocides.  It's also a new policy proposal from the Conservative Party:
Police will be able to arrest travellers and seize caravans if they set up illegal campsites on private or public land. 
Strict new laws will make it a criminal offence to occupy land with the intention of setting up home there, without getting prior permission. 
Home Secretary Priti Patel has outlined proposals to give police the power to remove unwelcome visitors. 
Currently, trespass is considered a civil matter meaning landowners face a long and expensive legal battle to remove offenders. 
'Unauthorised encampments can cause misery to those who live nearby, with reports of damage to property, noise, abuse and littering,' Ms Patel told The Sun on Sunday. 
She added: 'The public want their communities protected and for the police to crack down on trespassers. 
'Our proposals aim to ensure these encampments can be challenged and removed as quickly as possible.' 
In the Republic of Ireland, 'unauthorised encampment' is a criminal offence. However there is also a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide sites for travellers. 
Ms Patel is aiming to copy the criminal offence system and is seeking views from councils, police forces, travellers and the public on alternative measures.
There is an issue underneath this - I wouldn't like twenty caravans turning up in my garden unannounced and uninvited.  Landowners (private or public) should be able to have unwelcome campers removed without "a long and expensive legal battle".

But the proposal Patel is making is pretty obvious dog whistle politics, playing on all manner of unpleasant stereotypes and bigotries, and cynically timed for the election.  I mean, the Tories have been in power for NINE AND A HALF YEARS.  In spite of their claims to hold the concerns of the Daily Mail middle Britain close to their heart, the Tories don't seem to have been too bothered about the 'issue' (also known as people) - until it became politically expedient to pander to socially acceptable racism.

Also note that the Irish system Patel claims to be using as a model has a legal obligation for camp sites to be set up for travellers.  Patel doesn't seem to be too bothered about that, as it is "the criminal offence system" she is interested in copying, while only seeking "views" on other aspects.

Musical aside - Scotland, alas, had similar legal prohibitions against Romani.  The Scottish outlaw / folk hero James MacPherson and some of his band were sentenced to death for the crime of "being Egyptians," commemorated in the Song MacPherson's Rant, supposedly composed by MacPherson himself the night before his execution:

Friday, 8 November 2019

Let this never be forgot

In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.

Lades and gentlemen, the true face of the Conservative Party - inhumane, arrogant, blinkered and contemptuous. And utterly unapologetic.

Vote for them at your peril.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Media impartiality

Sky's economics editor, Ed Conway has posted a Twitter thread responding to a claim that - as far as I can see - Labour never made:

Note, "All time high."

The tweet that provoked this, from Jonathan Ashwoth, Labour's Health and Social Care Secretary:

Nothing there about cancelled operations at an all time high.

The Ashworth tweet links to a statement put out by Labour which also does not make the claim Conway (using the weaselly "the impression you might have been left with") inveigles into the debate:
New data obtained by Labour through FOIs has revealed a huge increase in the number of cancelled operations because of staffing issues and equipment failures.

Last year, 78,981 operations were cancelled. These operations were either classed as urgent or were elective operations cancelled at the last minute – either on the day the patient was due to arrive in hospital or after they had already arrived.

The number of operations cancelled because of staffing issues and equipment failures have each increased by a third in two years. Last year, 10,900 were cancelled because of staffing issues and 4800 were cancelled because of equipment failures.

There are currently over 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, with shortages of 10,000 doctors and 43,000 nurses. Cuts to NHS Capital Budgets have left the health service with a £6.5 billion repair bill.
Again, nothing in there to justify Conway's disingenuous claim.  It's odd he would put these words into a Twitter thread where he then goes onto do some really detailed statistical analysis ... Unless, of course, he was just trying to create a false impression about what Labour were claiming, or wasn't very good at his job.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

My loyal readership of ... Cam girls and Pornbots?

I checked my traffic stats:

I was intrigued by 'monica29' - who was this very dedicated individual?  I clicked on the link, to be greeted with ...

Ho, hum.

Spreadin' the word, spreadin' the word.  Doesn't matter who hears it, as long as it gets out there.

Worth repeating forever

There have been three polls since the election was announced, and I will shamelessly steal YouGov / UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells' summary of them:
Survation – CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 19%, BREX 12%, GRN 1%
Ipsos MORI – CON 41%, LAB 24%, LDEM 20%, BREX 7%, GRN 3%
YouGov – CON 36%, LAB 21%, LDEM 18%, BREX 13%, GRN 6%
I'll also shamelessly steal from his commentary on these polls:
It’s worth noting that that Tory lead is largely down to a split opposition. Even in the MORI poll the Conservatives have lost support since the election (in the YouGov and Survation polls they’ve lost a lot of support). This is not a popular government – in the MORI poll, their satisfaction rating is minus 55 – it’s just that the main opposition have lost even more support. The healthy Conservative lead is down to the fact that the Conservatives are retaining the bulk of the Leave vote, while the remain vote is split between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid and so on. 
For as long as this is the case, the Conservatives should do well. If it should change they’ll struggle. If the Brexit party manage to get back into the race and take support from the Tories it would eat into their lead. The other risk for the Tories is if the Remain vote swings more decisively behind either Labour or the Liberal Democrats (or that there are signs of more effective tactical voting, winning seats off the Conservatives despite a split vote). Essentially Boris Johnson needs to keep the Leave vote united and the Remain vote divided.
The 'Vote stupid, get Tories' message can never be hammered home enough.

That said, I am feeling pessimistic today.  My hunch is that we will wait ... and wait ... and wait for the 'Corbyn surge' that never quite materialises.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope it is just early morning glumness following a late night (there was a rugby match) and the prospect of a Sunday afternoon spent doing frustratingly dull work.  I hope all the Conservative voters decide to stay at home because they are too sickened of all this nonsense to turn out to vote.  I hope Momentum organise furiously, target their resources well and get the vote out where it matters.

n.b. The bit that is worth 'repeating forever' is the bit about the dangers of splitting the vote, not the bit about me feeling a bit doubtful.

Asking for it ...

" I saw a newspaper picture, From the political campaign A woman was kissing a child, Who was obviously in pain. She spill...