Saturday, 4 May 2019

Tony (not Tommy) Robinson quits Labour

That's a shame, I've always liked him, but if he quits, he quits. His choice. I am puzzled by his comment about 'duplicity' on Brexit. The policy has always been pretty clear and if he though Labour were supporting Remain after the referendum result, then he is a fool.

It is very disappointing to see him mentioning anti-Semitism as a reason, though I wonder if this might help us understand the reasoning behind the right wing 'anti-Semitism' strategy. It isn't going to have much of an impact on the general voters because they won't pay much attention to it or will generally write it off (correctly) as a hatchet job. But celebrities will be nervous about supporting a party that is continually being described as anti-Semitic, no matter how unfounded the claims. After all, they depend on their reputation and profile for their money, and are likely to be very careful in avoiding negative associations.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Heidi Allen to lead 'Change UK'

So, Heidi Allen is to be leader of the re-branded The Independent Group (Now Change UK - really mining that vacuous, non-aligned, post-ideological, aspirational, sub-Obama seam of meaninglessness.)

At least she is guaranteed a footnote in the history books - Chukka Umuna must be sick with envy at that.

Let's remind ourselves of Allen's voting record:

Anti diversity:
  •  Consistently voted against laws to promote equality and human rights.

Wants people to suffer:
  • Has never voted on allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life

  • Consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Voted against investigations into the Iraq war

Doesn't care about the poor and needy:
  • Generally voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • Generally voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Consistently voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life
  • Generally voted against greater public control of bus services

Serves the rich:
  • Consistently voted for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax
  • Consistently voted against higher taxes on banks
  • Consistently voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity
  • Consistently voted for reducing capital gains tax
  • Consistently voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax

Anti-democracy, devolution and local control:
  • Voted for fewer MPs in the House of Commons
  • Consistently voted for reducing central government funding of local government
  • Voted against a more proportional system for electing MPs
  • Voted against a wholly elected House of Lords
  • Voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament
  • Almost always voted against more powers for local councils

Contempt for young people:
  • Almost always voted against a lower voting age

Little concern for refugees and immigrants:
  • Consistently voted for a stricter asylum system
  • Almost always voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Like snooping:
  • Consistently voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
  • Consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities

Doesn't care about the environment;
  • Consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change
  • Voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods
  • Consistently voted against a publicly owned railway system

Oddly, used to hate the EU, but now purports to like it:
  • Generally voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK
  • Generally voted against UK membership of the EU

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Don't be fooled by her 'bubbly' exterior and her "I'm just like everyone, I eat chips at Nandos" routine.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Chukka Speaks!

Chukka Umunna, de facto leader of the Independent Group (yeah, I know I said that wouldn't happen.  I underestimated the reckless self-aggrandisement of those involved) has poured out his branes in an (inevitable) interview in Guardian.

Highlights include:

"I never felt totally comfortable in the Labour party" - he adds "I’ve never really been a massively tribal politician" as if social justice was just a convenient political badge, rather than a fundamental principle predicating the existence of the party.

"The team who were helping me organise, were told by quite a few MPs that they weren’t going to support me, because they didn’t think their working-class constituents would ever vote for a black man" - an astonishing claim, suggesting the rot Chukka attributes to Corbynism runs far deeper than that.  Calling the people who voted you into office vile racist bigots is an interesting way of winning their hearts and minds over, but - hey - TIG and Chukka aren't willing to be constrained by the old ways of doing things.

(It is worth noting that - in 2017 - almost two out of every three voters in Streatham voted for Umunna, giving him a majority of over 26,000.Vile racist bigots, the lot of them.

(It is also worth noting that he fared well, but not as well, in 2015, winning just 53% of the vote and a majority of 13,000.  It seems fair to attribute the increase in his vote to Corbyn and the 2017 manifesto striking a chord; the leader and the manifesto Umunna has now repudiated.)

If you were thinking that might be a poorly worded phrase or a wilful misinterpretation of his words, he doubles down, opining, "Maybe what we’ve seen happen in the Labour party since the late 1990s and through to 2010, was actually exceptional, and wasn’t what the Labour party really is?"

So, Labour suddenly went racist and anti-Semitic in 2010.  You know, year we had not one but two Jewish candidates vying for the leadership?  In the leadership election (under the old rules, with three electoral colleges) the Milliband brothers were first and second in each of the three colleges, in every round of voting.  Such rank anti-Semitism!

But Chukka blunders on, turning is attention to Brexit, suggesting, "I don’t believe it would have happened, were it not for our resignations. We appear to have had more influence on Labour’s Brexit policy out of the party than we ever had while we were in it".  It would seem Chukka is so wrapped up in himself he is unaware that supporting a second vote if an election or an acceptable deal is not possible has been Labour policy since the 2018 conference.

He then returns to Labour and the "he arid, aggressive, bullying culture within the party," which shows (again) a remarkable lack of awareness of the aggressive bullying Ummuna and his fellow travellers have been directing Corbyn's way since he had the termerity to win the leadership in 2015 (ummuna, of course, rather fancied being leader himself but chickened out for reasons he did not make clear at the time but which he now says was the inveterate racism of the British electorate.)

His ability to shoot himself in the foot is quite spectacular.

He really comes across as a whiney, entitled metropolitan-bubble politician, a manque-Blair, without the talent but with the narcissism and the principles so flexible they bend of their own accord, without any pressure being applied. He has nothing to offer, he has not ideas.

If he was your boss, he'd be the sort that talks in vacuous sound bites like 'Blue sky thinking'; refers vaguely to 'paradigm shifts in thinking'; and uses 'Going forwards' a lot, even none of that is current management jargon, because Chukka isn't even good at being what Chukka is.

And he'd be really, really big on 'team building' activities, like taking everyone out to Nandos.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Another MP quits Labour ...

Ian Austin, defending a wafer thin majority of 22 (twenty two) has decided to effectively end his parliamentary career by resigning the Labour whip, and sitting as an independent MP.

He cited a "culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance" as his reasons for quitting the party.

But DOESN'T want to be part of The Independent Group.

In barely a week, TIG has gone from the party everyone wants to join, to the party no-one wants to join.

Good work, Chukka!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

A new 'centrist' party?

It's a day ending in 'Y' so that means there must be some new feverish speculation about the British Labour Party splitting.

Today it comes courtesy of The Guardian, a paper with a proud record of taking any possible negative story about Corbyn and blowing up into a supposed crisis in his leadership:
Intense discussions are taking place at Westminster that could lead to the emergence of a new centrist party consisting of six or more disaffected anti-Brexit Labour MPs along with the involvement of some Conservatives and the backing of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour MPs reported that some of those involved had lobbied backbench colleagues they thought were sympathetic as to how they could “make the shift” away from a tribal loyalty to the party.

The argument put forward was that the set of values that had drawn them to the Labour party, such as European solidarity, free movement, liberalism and anti-racism, could now be found elsewhere.

Those involved in the talks say frustrations over pro-Brexit policies pursued by Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, coupled with Labour-specific concerns about antisemitism, have taken a handful of MPs to the point where they are seriously considering quitting.
Prima facie, it's a totally stupid idea, but we are talking about the masterminds behind the Chicken Coup, here, so who knows what acts of fresh self-immolation they are capable of?

Is there any appetite for a new 'centrist' party ('centrist' generally means right wing, in my experience).  I'd say there isn't much.  We've had the Lib Dems for decades. What can a new party offer that the Lib Dems can't?

The combined vote for Labour and the Tories in 2017 was 82.4%, with a moderately impressive 68.8% of the electorate casting votes. Contrast with previous elections:

2015 - 67.3% (66.4% turnout)
2010 - 65.1% (65.1%)
2005 - 67.6% (61.4%)
2001 - 72.4% (59.4%)
1997 - 73.9% (71.3%)
1991 - 76.3% (77.7%)
1987 - 73% (75.3%)
1983 - 70% (72.7%)
1977 - 80.08% (76%)
1974 (Oct) - 75% (72.8)
1974 (Feb) - 75.1% (78.8%)
1970 - 89.5% (72%)

So I don't think there is any evidence that there is a hunger for a third party, in the form of the Lib Dems or another party. If there was, why would more people be voting Tory or Labour than at any time since 1970?

Just wanting something to be true doesn't make it true.

Now let's look at there reasons for wanting to split.  Disatisfaction over Brexit is mentioned by the Guardian.  This certainly sounds like the reasoning of the Chicken Coupers.  Never mind the referendum result, clearly the British people got it wrong and - just like the Labout party membership in 2016-7 - have to be told to think again.  And not the heroic refusal to accept realities.  Somehow, half a dozen 'centrist' MPs will stop Brexit, although somehow they can't from within the Labour Party.  Perhaps their powers will be mysteriously amplified when they find themselves a new name and logo.  Perhaps they imagine they will see off the overwhelming hordes, like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

(Only, as nay fule kno, the Spartans didn't do that; they just got killed.)

Recall, of course, that these turbulent MPs were elected on the 2017 manifesto, which accepted the referendum result and sought a soft Brexit.  Were they lying when they endorsed the manifesto and stood for election?

If so, why should we trust them now?

Any attempt to resolve Brexit has to be one that Parliament will support; half a dozen MPs calling themselves 'centrists' can't achieve anything unless they have a plan that will win the support of large numbers of Labour and Conservative MPs.  I don't think they have such a plan.  I don't thin they have any idea at all.

As for anti-Semitism ... Under Corbyn's leadership there has been the Chakrabarti Inquiry; anti-Semitism is now, for the first time, mentioned in the party rule book as an expellable offense (previously it only mentioned the much vaguer 'bringing the party into disrepute'); the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted in full, including the flawed examples.  Hundreds of members have been suspended, investigated and many expelled for anti-Semitic acts.  Yet still the claim that Labour is not doing enough is repeated.  So what does 'enough' look like?  What do they actually want the party to do.

The answer to that is, of course, what ever has been done, plus some more.  Because this isn't about anti-Semitism in Labour, any more than it is about Brexit.  It's about a particular strand of the party that is still struggling its way through the stages of grief.  After almost four years stuck in denial, now we seem to be entering the angry phase.  Denied the power they think is theirs by right, denied by those pesky members who think they know better than the PPE graduate inheritors of Blair, they are taking their toys and going home.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage has set up a new political vehicle to drive his ego about in. With startling originality, he's called it The Brexit Party.

 Interesting timing. You'd have thought they would have waited until after Brexit to see if it was necessary. Doing it now suggests some people of the ERG-Farage persuasion don't think an acceptable (i.e. hard-as-nails) Brexit is going to happen and are getting things 'in hand'.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019


So, that worked out well for Theresa May.

I wonder if she is anticipating a discrete visit from some men in gray suits?

The woman has more lives than a cat. She should have gone after the 2017 election disaster. After Grenfell. After the conference fiasco. After failing to put her deal before parliament in December last year. Somehow she manages to cling on to office, if not to power. That slipped through her fingers quite some time ago.

This is an entirely self inflicted calamity, from beginning to end. A better deal was available. Endless better deals were available. The EU have been perfectly aware that there is a real risk their 'problem child' might actually follow through on its threat; they have negotiated in as much good faith as one possibly can with people who think that "Brexit means Brexit," "No deal is better than a bad deal" and "Red, white and blue Brexit" are useful contributions to any sort of a debate.

It didn't help when May painted herself into a corner with all her red lines and - as yesterday demonstrated - has signally failed to actually convince her own party of the merits of her case. May's peculiar genius has been to craft such an awful deal that even her own frit party can't bring themselves to support it.

I think it is hysterically funny that she delayed voting in the hope of avoiding defeat. Clearly, she has no idea about the mood of her party, and neither do her whips. They actually thought they would be able to argue, bribe or bully a few rebels into line. They had no idea just how utterly without credibility she is, and how despised her deal is.

The woman seems to have a remarkable ability to make things worse for herself by wasting time. In 2017 she triggered Article 50, then decided to lose time with her vanity election; now, facing defeat on her deal in December, she prevaricated, delayed, and finally went down to defeat. I feel a bit like Corbyn's internal enemies must have felt in the second half of 2016, in the throes of the Chicken Coup: "Why the Hell won't you just take the hint and go?"

Don't ever, anyone, accuse Corbyn or Labour of wasting parliament's time with the Motion of No Confidence. We could have done all this before Christmas, if May had the guts and any sort of awareness of what was actually going on in her party.

Tony (not Tommy) Robinson quits Labour

I’ve left the Labour Party after nearly 45 years of service at Branch, Constituency and NEC levels,partly because of it’s continued duplic...