Monday, 3 October 2016

Obnoxious Nicky Cohen

I break my long and mysterious silence merely to draw everyone's attention to an egregious piece by right wing lefty Nick Cohen in The Guardian / Observer:
The Daily Mail might have compiled the far left’s hitlist of Labour MPs. Seven of its apparent deselection targets are women: Angela Eagle, Jess Phillips, Stella Creasy, Louise Ellman, Anna Turley, Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth. Of these, Angela Eagle is an out lesbian and Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger are Jewish. Most are young by the standards of politicians and nasty old men have always enjoyed humiliating young women with ideas of their own. 
The Corbyn gun club does not only have women at the end of its firing range. A list of MPs Jeremy Corbyn claimed had been abusive towards him included many men. But when Labour activists talk of the men most likely to be deselected the list narrows to three: Neil Coyle, Wes Streeting and Peter Kyle. Wes Streeting and Peter Kyle are, since you mention it, gay.
Well, it is nice to see Nick is really making an effort to unite and heal divisions!

Note the language: 'the far left's hitlist'; the 'Corbyn gun club' and women 'at the end of its firing range.'  This is the language of violence, shameful after the murder of Jo Cox.

Note also the mention of a list.  What list?  Does he mean the list of MPs alleged to have been abusive or disrespectful towards Corbyn or his supporters?  It can't be, because that list does not mention Angela Eagle, Stella Creasy, Louise Ellman, Anna Turley or Ruth Smeeth.  What list is it, Nick?  You can't just claim - in the very first line of your article - that there is a hitlist, name the names on it and then not actually produce the hitlist.  If you want to make up any old shit you like, quit the Guardian column and get a blog.  You've said there is a list.  Produce it, please.

Note the description of Corbyn and his inner circle as 'Nasty old men' - is this really the language of grown up discourse, Nick?  And the headline (which Cohen may not have been responsible for) repeats this unjustified, childish smearing.  'Good and Brave' Labour MPs need to be defended.  From the 'Nasty old men' (Why do you hate old people, Nick?) who are presumably also bad and cowardly.

(Nick then goes on to lay into Shami Chakrabarti, writing off the investigation she conducted into antisemisim in the Labour Party as a 'sick joke of an “inquiry” into left antisemitism.'  Sorry, Nick, what were you saying about nasty old men humiliating young women (you patronising fart!) with ideas of their own?

He doubles down on this by commenting how 'the Livingstone left accuses Jews of always raising fake claims of antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel.'  the emphasis on 'always' is Cohens, by the way, not mine.

Ken Livingstone is, of course, a dickhead who has said many stupid things over the years, often about Israel.  But I doubt Livingstone has ever accused 'Jews' (nice bit of elision there, Nick) of 'always' making false claims.  Cohen may have strayed into libel here, if Livingstone is in a litigatious mood.  I'm not sure he will appreciate his name being used in such a manner.

(For what it is worth, the 'Livingstone Formulation' Cohen mentions earlier does not refer specifically to Jews, or claim that it is always being deployed.  In 2006, Livingstone said, "For far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been."  No mention of Jews there, Nick, you naughty boy!  I suppose adding 'Jews' into the paragraph added a bit of emotive colour.  Because no-one, quite rightly, likes people who bash Jews.)

Nick finishes with a curious flight of fantasy where he contemplates what  'Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott and the rest of Corbyn’s prominent women supporters' should be saying. (One would have thought a 'nasty old man' like Corbyn would not have 'women supporters.'  It must be some sort of Stockholm Syndrome.  Why else would they stand by someone who delights in 'humiliating young women'?)  It includes the bizarre claim that deselection of these women must be an act of misogyny:
Even though Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy are my opponents, it would be intolerable for them to lose their seats to misogynist enemies, just as it would be intolerable for antisemites to drive out Ruth Smeeth and other Jewish MPs.
Note how Cohen is deploying his own version of the Livingstone Formulation.  Any criticism of the likes of Eagle, Phillips, Creasy, Ellman, Turley, Berger and Smeeth (the names he mentioned earlier) can not be for genuine reasons around competence or simple dissatisfaction; it has to be the result of misogyny or antisemitism (why not both, Nick?).  Impressively, Cohen manages to libel the candidates replacing these MPS, characterising them as 'misogynist enemies' and 'antisemites' before they have even been selected, or the sitting MPs even deselected, or even before any move has been made to deselect them.  Talk about demonisation.  This is pre-demonisation.  If any of these MPs stand down or are deselected, Cohen has already proclaimed whoever replaces them a misogynist or antisemite.

There is lots more.  Berserk religious imagery (Corbyn is Pilate.  Does this make Owen Smith Jesus Christ?), references to the French revolution and Stalinism.  It is a genuinely strange piece of vitriol, more appropriate to some obscure little blog (unlike Cohen, who comes across as a rather nasty old man himself, I have a trace of self awareness), not the pages of a major newspaper.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

"Invoke Article 50 now!" - Corbyn

One of the persistent criticisms encountered about Corbyn is that he surprised his own party by calling for article 50 to be invoked immediately.

I assumed he actually had done so, but digging around, it is hard to confirm. There are lots of places saying he said it, but the actual video evidence has proved elusive.

Labour List gives a transcript of what he said:
“The British people have made their decision. We must respect that result and Article 50 has to be invoked now so that we negotiate an exit from European Union.

“Obviously there has to be strategy but the whole point of the referendum was that the public would be asked their opinion. They’ve given their opinion. It is up for parliament to now act on that opinion.

“Quite clearly negotiations must take place. There must be the best deal possible in order to ensure strong industries in Britain stay strong and strong industries that have big export markets protect retain those export markets. But we are in some very difficult areas. That’s obvious to everybody."
Interestingly, Labour List glosses his remark as calling for Article 50 to be trigger "immediately."

But I am not sure that is actually what he says at all.

I suppose it depends on if he said that crucial 'now' with emphasis. But it reads like he means, "Now we have to invoke article 50," rather than, "We have to invoke article 50 immediately."

I am a bit surprised that the evidence of his evil ways are not being replayed constantly, a sort of British Zapruder film.  But I can't find it anywhere, thus far.  It's almost enough to make you wonder if there is something afoot, a desirable impression to be created which awkward reality doesn't quite fit with ...

In other words, yet another one of the endless spin operations being deployed by his enemies within the party?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Divine Right of Kings

I think it is important that who has the power to invoke Article 50 is given due consideration.

It is a concern that the Royal Perogative is being suggested as a means to avoid having to put a bill into parliament. This isn't the 15th century. Our elected parliament should be making these decisions.

The more we use administrative conveniences like the Royal Perogative, the more likely they are to be abused. The limits of the RP need to be clearly defined and in ALL OTHER CASES, parliament should be consulted.

As usual, people are seeing their own short term advantage in abusing the system, and not worrying about the consequences of the abuse. What if, in the future, an unscrupulous PM decided to take us back into the EU, or implemented some other massive change, invoking the Royal Perogative and without reference to parliament? As long as they could point to an opinion poll favouring their position ...

I think the Conservatives are playing a dangerous tactical game here. Their manifesto commitment was to 'honour' the referendum result. Before the 2015 election, they were not anticipating a majority, so 'honouring' the referendum result could mean putting up a 'Trigger Article 50' bill into parliament, anticipating it being shot down by the opposed majority.

They now have the majority, so can pass the trigger bill.

Damned by their own success - or by Labour and the Lib Dems' unspeakable failure.

As it is, their majority is small and if they did put a bill before the house, it could dangerously split the party. They haven't got the luxury of being able to tolerate a few rebels. And the rebels won't tolerate being whipped. Schism beckons.

I suspect they don't want to do it, and are treading water, hoping for something to happen. Perhaps they are waiting for their small majority to erode naturally (i.e. for MPs t die off and for seats to be lost in by-elections) or for some realignment on the centre left and a split int heir own party ... or for the consequences of imminent exit to sink in and people to change their minds ... But by not simply putting a bill before the house and invoking the Royal Perogative immediately slows everything down, as endless constitutional quibbling and argument seems inevitable.

Or, of course, I might be wrong and the Tories might not care about the potential dangers of using the Divine Right Of Kings to deal with issues.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A wail from the darkness

Maybe because it 1a.m. and I can't sleep, but thinking about the travails of the British Labour Party, I'm almost in despair. The whole situation is such an Augean stables scale mess. It is actually - if we're honest - impossible to really blame anyone for it.

If you wanted to be unfair, you could blame Corbyn for it. But he didn't really want to be leader and I doubt he does. But he's caught in a trap, because he is leader, and he is going to be the last even vaguely left wing leader elected for a very long time. There won't be any more sympathy votes from the PLP to broaden the debate. They might be useless coup-ers, but they aren't stupid enough to fall for that again. So he has to cling on, until ... Well, I doubt he knows what his end game is any more.

If you wanted to be unfair, you could blame the PLP for it. After all, they made Corbynism happen, by being so utterly useless and unappealing and at odds with their membership that said members voted en masse for the Monster Raving Loony candidate. And for being so stupid as to turn this into a desperate fight to the death between the wings of the party. Aren't Blairite's meant to be the great compromisers and triangulators? Couldn't they have finessed a better solution than the current mother-of-all-messes? Can anyone actually conceive of a bigger mess?

You could, if you wanted to be unfair, blame the unions. But the unions are in an insane position. Traditionally they have been on the right of the party. Earnest Bevin was a union man and he was one of the right wing voices in Attlee's government. But the Labour party - which is meant to be their party - has drifted so far to the right that they find themselves ideologically supporting the furthest left (though not, in fact, very far left) Labour leader in recent history.

If you wanted to be unfair, you could blame the membership, for being so ridiculous as to vote for Corbyn. But can you blame them, after Blair, after Brown, after Milliband, and alongside Burnham, Cooper and Kendall? After decades of slimily polished Oxbridge nabobs who had never had a job that wasn't Politics and who had their careers and their slithery route up the ladder planned from BEFORE THEY WERE CONCEIVED, can you blame them for voting for someone who profoundly wasn't like that?

If you wanted to be unfair, you could probably blame the media, for being hysterical and partisan and rubbish; but that is like blaming water for being wet or fire for being hot. It is just in their nature. They are always going to scheme up a good story if they can. If it happens to bear some slight resemblance to something that might - if you squint at it - resemble the truth, that is a bonus, but hardly a pre-requisite. From their point of view, it would be a waste of a good boot if it wasn't being used to kick someone.

So, I blame you all, individually, 100% responsibility to each of you. It is entirely your fault, each of all five of you. Because 500% blame is the least this big a mess warrants.

I suppose the next step might be to stop worrying about blame and start trying to imagine a solution ... But can anyone conceive what that would look like?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Cologne attacks - a quick comment

A lot of people are getting a bit excited over a news story about a report into the assaults on women that took place in Germany over the New Year:
At least 2,000 men sexually harassed women on New Year’s Eve across Germany, but it will be impossible to track them all down, police said, adding that the attacks have been linked to mass migration. 
Police said there were cases involving over 1,200 women, adding that apart from Cologne, sexual harassment was reported in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and other cities across Germany. 
The report from the Federal Office of Criminal Investigations (BKA) was seen by Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR. 
According to the report, at least 642 crimes of a purely sexual nature were reported in Germany. Plus, police registered 239 other “combined crimes” that involved both sexual assault and theft. 
Of the 2,000 alleged attackers, only 120 have been identified so far, according to police reports. Many of the attacks were carried out in large groups. 
“We need to assume that many of the perpetrators will not be investigated,” BKA President Holger Münch said, as cited by the paper. 
According to police estimates, most of the identified offenders came from North Africa and over a half of the attackers had spent less than a year in Germany.
This actually tells us nothing new.

Of the 2000 attackers, only 120 have actually been identified.  The statement that "According to police estimates, most of the identified offenders came from North Africa and over a half of the attackers had spent less than a year in Germany," has to be read with that in mind. "Most of" refers to the 120 identified offenders, not the 'gross' figure of 2000. The identity of 94% of the perpetrators is simply unknown. They might be white, black, brown, yellow or green.

I don't suppose that will stop the anti-Muslim, anti-refugee making a predictable unpleasant fuss about it, though.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Old Soul For The New World Order

Ditty for Jeremy "I'm on the ballot, eat that" Corbyn:

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


From the Grauniad's live blog:
Blair is planning to hold a press conference to deliver a robust response to the findings. He will insist the Shia-Sunni split in Iraq, one of the driving forces of the continuing violence, preceded the invasion and was not the result of the disruption created by the war.
It is good to know that 1400 years of history have not entirely sailed past Tony without making any impact on him. He's aware that there were Sunnis and Shias before 2003. Outstanding awareness, Tony!  If pushed, he might even be able to say he knew they didn't like each other much.

Which makes it all the more curious, Tony, that you did not foresee the possibility of sectarian violence.