Monday, 12 December 2016

Trump

Asked to comment on George W. Bush's victory in the 2000 presidential election, the economist J.K. Galbraith said, "I never thought I would ever long for Ronald Reagan."

I suspect in 4 years time we will be saying, "I never thought we would ever long for George W. Bush."

The Republican barrel is a sort of ghastly reversal of Pandora's Box - just when you think all the horror and misery has come out of it, you find Donald Trump slithering around the bottom of it.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Fidel Castro dies

At the age of 90.

I suppose he figured it was time to go, having lived to see the completion of his life long goal - the utter devastation and humiliation of the United States.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

This isn't funny any more

Looks like the USA is going to have the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate all under Republican control. That means Trump can actually DO STUFF. This never was funny. But now it is really not funny any more.

Thank you, America

For putting this chump in the White House:
We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax! -Donald J. Trump, 2013
This is why we should be very angry with Americans. All of them. Especially the deomcrats, who must have searched long and hard to actually find a candidate who could actually lose to Trump.

Though that is perhaps unfair. Clinton didn't lose to Trump. Clinton lost to Clinton. Her twenty five years of baggage, and twenty five years of smears, doomed her.

If anything, it should be the other way round. The Republicans should be congratulated on finding a candidate in Trump who almost managed to lose to Clinton.

America, what are you doing?

Looks like three very tight races in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. 58 college votes up for grabs across those states, enough to win it for either candidate. Though Trump is ahead, marginally, in three.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, have we told you lately how much we love you?

Come on, Michigan the WORLD expects - nay, requires - you to do the right thing.



The ghost of Warren G Harding will be lookin on with interest, to see if here at last is the candidate who will nudge him off the bottom of the rankings of American presidents.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Guido Fakes

So the other day, the slightly-better-known-than-me-blogger Guido Fawkes aka Paul Staines aka a big fat Tory FIBBER posted a big fat Tory Fib about this Brexit thing that has happened while I have been Otherwise Engaged.

The tl/dr version of his post is that people who didn't like Brexit were big fat liars because they had predicted the end of the world would commence the day after the referendum and when this didn't happen (because in the strange world Staines inhabits, the pound hasn't relentlessly tanked) and now the Remoaner fibbers are trying to say that they never actually said that at all and the End of the World would kick off after Britain actually left the EU blah blah blah, and this was all lies, lies I tell you!

He produces DEVASTATING documentary evidence to back up his claim - a report issued by HM Treasury, no less, assuring us Brexit apocalypse would be 'immediate' and he quotes some absolutely DEVASTATING evidence to PROVE beyond a SHADOW OF A DOUBT that ALL REMAINERS are lying deviants who molest hedgehogs.  To whit:
This paper focuses on the immediate economic impact of a vote to leave and the two years that follow. Such a vote would change fundamentally not just the UK’s relationship with the EU, our largest trading partner, but also our relationship with the rest of the world. The instability and uncertainty that would trigger is assessed. 
The Treasury analysis in this document uses a widely-accepted modelling approach that looks at the impact of this uncertainty and instability on financial markets, households and businesses, as our economy transitions to a worse trading arrangement with the EU. 
I am grateful to Professor Sir Charles Bean, one of our country's foremost economists and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, who has reviewed this analysis and says that it “provides reasonable estimates of the likely size of the short-term impact of a vote to leave on the UK economy”. 
The analysis in this document comes to a clear central conclusion: a vote to leave would represent an immediate and profound shock to our economy. That shock would push our economy into a recession and lead to an increase in unemployment of around 500,000, GDP would be 3.6% smaller, average real wages would be lower, inflation higher, sterling weaker, house prices would be hit and public borrowing would rise compared with a vote to remain. 
He even draws red oval shapes around some bits of it, a skill I have yet to evolve.  But, I mean, why would you need red oval shapes when the evidence is so DEVASTATINGLY PROOFY as that?  The Remainers predicted the End Of Times would be IMMEDIATE after a VOTE FOR LEAVE and - well, the GDP figures released the other day show growth of 0.5%.  GROWTH.

Only, yeah, Paul Staines is a big fat Tory FIBBER so it will come as no surprise at all to learn that this is just a big ol' FIB.

I mean, he didn't invent it or anything, the paper exists.  Though, curiously, Mr Staines doesn't link it on his bloggy-woggy or anything, because that might result in some people stumbling across the truth or something and Ol' Stainy doesn't want THAT.

Unlike Stainsey, I'm happy to linky.

Because here's the thing.  The paper he is quoting is a legit paper released by Her Madge's Gummint and everything.  But the bit he's quoting is a bit written by the former Chief Idiot To The Treasury, Mr Gideon "Call Me George" Osborne himself, a man whose occupancy of the office of Chancellor was somewhat akin to a stalker's relationship to romance - he isn't wanted, he doesn't get it, but he won't go away.

So enough of George, because it isn't nice to kick a man while he's down (a lesson that the Tories never learned) and back to Paul Staines.

Like I said, Mr Staines makes a bi deal of the words 'vote to leave' which are prefaced by immediate and OHMIGOD it looks soooooooooo bad, until you actually look at the original report.  The bit written by the experts who knew what they were talking about, I mean, not the bit written by the Gidiot in Number 11.  Because then you discover that - unfortunately for Stainsey - when grown up economist people (as distinct from moron bloggers) use words like IMMEDIATE they don't mean RIGHT NOW.

If Staines had bothered to read a bit beyond the foreword written by Gideon Osborne he'd have found this out for himself.

'coz if he'd read only as far as PARAGRAPH FRIGGIN' FOUR of the Executive Summary (and who really reads beyond the Executive Summary?) the Stainsinator would have learned that when those clever economicky type people use words like IMMEDIATE they have a bit of a special meaning that is lost on both him and on Gideon:
The analysis in this HM Treasury document quantifies the impact of that adjustment over the immediate period of two years following a vote to leave. Such a vote would trigger a redefinition not only of the UK’s economic relationship with the EU and the rest of the world, but also of much of the UK’s domestic economic policy, regulatory and legislative framework. A vote to leave would cause an immediate and profound economic shock creating instability and uncertainty which would be compounded by the complex and interdependent negotiations that would follow.
"The immediate period of two years," GEDDIT??

So, yeah, what do you make of that, Staines, you big fat Tory FIBBER?

Of course, its not Paul's fault that George Osborne was almost as useless a writer of forewords as he was a Chancellor.  But the evidence was all there in black and white and all he had to do was read it and be honest.  He massively failed on one of these counts.  Because if you look beyond the Wise Words of Gideon's foreword, you'd have to be pretty damn thick not to realise that when the EXPERTS (as distinct from idiot bloggers) used the term immediate they meant a two year time scale.

They even have a section called, "Part 3: Modelling the immediate impact on the public finances of a vote to leave the EU," (page 74) which is examining the impacts through to 2018. Which is two years away. 'Immediate' appears to cover the period from the vote up until exiting, working on the assumption that Cameron stuck to his word and triggered Article 50 pretty much immediately after a referendum.

Which possibley suggests a worrying lack of scientific rigour on the part of the authors, because, you know, Tories and their word ...

But, anyhoo, either oor man Stainsey did not bother to read the report before ranting his branes on the interwebs; or he is a klutz who did not understand what he read; or he is a Big Fat Tory FIBBER who understood it and decided to misrepresent it to the readers of his blog, because, you know, the truth isn't much good if it doesn't advance the Tories.

Which was it, Paul?

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, 6 July 2016

Chilcot

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Arse

John Woodcock has confirmed his status as an outstanding arse (and not in a good way) by penning yet another screed against Jermey Corbyn:
A lot of people who voted for Jeremy last year have looked at what’s happened and thought, ‘No, actually it’s not right’. And this has real consequences.
John, we're looking at what is going on just now, and thinking, "That's not right."  We're watching a co-ordinated attempt to destroy the leader of the Labour Party, and we think it looks like the right of the party trying to over-turn the decision of the membership.

You, of course, are too caught up in the Westminster psychodrama to see how utterly repulsive you and your conspiratorial colleagues look.

If you could see yourself as we see you, you would never have written anything as cloth-eared stupid as the lines quoted above.
Jeremy has surrounded himself with people who have never cared about the electoral fortunes of the Labour party ... That not only suggests that Jeremy is wrapping himself in a bubble from which there is absolutely no chance of us being able to change the country and also to allow tacitly that message which dehumanises members of parliament.
Again, John, you are confused.  Or - since I don't think you are stupid - dishonest.

What choice has Corbyn had but to surround himself with "people who have never cared about the electoral fortunes of the Labour party" (a cumbersome code for leftwingers)?  The rightwingers refused to work with him and have continually attacked and undermined him.  You, John, have been outstanding in this regard.  Which does not show much concern for the electoral fortunes of the Labour Party.  Again, you know this.  You just pretend otherwise.

The funny thing is, you've almost certainly lost.  You couldn't push Corbyn out yesterday, so all your faction have managed to do is demolish the party's chances of winning any imminent election.  Well done.  People up and down the country who will have to live with a further term of Conservative misrule will hate you.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Lisa Nandy to stand?

Well this just got interesting.

I think Lisa should have waited. Not quite seasoned enough.

And, bluntly, who would want to be leader just now. There is going to be a massive, very bitter war between the parliamentary party and the membership. If she wins with one, she'll lose with the other. And given the PLP has shown itself to be totally inflexible and self-destructive, I don't see how her brand of mild leftism will be accepted.

They'll scheme and worry her to destruction, like they are doing / did to Corbyn, Milliband and Brown.

Shadow Cabinet Boxing

There are so many resignation letters flying about that everyone is getting confused.

People are resigning from posts they don't even hold. From posts that don't even exist. I resigned myself this morning, twice, from my entirely fictitious post of Head Badger Worrier of the Duchy of Woirthsley.

The odd thing is I received a polite response from Jeremy, each time, and a few minutes later he offered me other posts in his cabinet. He had thoughtfully included a pre-written letter for me to immediately resign from those posts if I accepted them.

Tory ministers, feeling left out, have started resigning as well. But as the Tory leadership has gone into hiding, they don't actually know where to send the letters to, so simply get each other to accept their resignations and give each other new positions.

It's all a bit strange.

Still, inspite of all the confusion, and a rapidly dwindling pool of MPs who haven't already resigned, Corbyn has managed to put together a new shadow cabinet:

  • Shadow foreign secretary - Emily Thornberry
  • Shadow health secretary – Diane Abbott
  • Shadow education secretary – Pat Glass
  • Shadow transport secretary – Andy McDonald
  • Shadow defence secretary – Clive Lewis
  • Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Shadow international development secretary – Kate Osamor
  • Shadow environment food and rural affairs secretary – Rachel Maskell
  • Shadow voter engagement and youth affairs – Cat Smith
  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary – Dave Anderson

Probably a few of them are a bit dazed and still finding their way about Westminster, and Cat Smith WAS BORN IN THE 80s, but they'd better get up to speed quick - they'll be in government soon enough!

(Eyes Lisa Nandy and Angela Eagle suspiciously) Anyone got anything they'd like to say?

Now he's just got to get through the motion of No Confidence and we can have at the Tories, which is what the Labour Party are meant to be doing.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Downfall?

Well, it looks like it is all up for Corbyn.

The whole Shadow Cabinet are reportedly set to walk out, even the ones who didn't want him to quit.  They recognise he can't survive the sort of damage the Benn-Bliar wing are intent on inflicting.

Which is a fucking shame as it shows the Labour Party have learned nothing rom 2010, the SNP overthrowing them in Scotland, 2015, Corbyn's election, or the Brexit referendum. They have not got clue what their membership wants, far less the general population of Britain.

EDIT - Well, the hammer seems not to have fallen yet.  A lot of fighting talk from Corbyn's team, and only the one resignation so far.  A lot of bitter sniping from back benchers like Chris Leslie.  Interestingly, Hilary Benn refused to say how many resignation he was expecting to happen.  Maybe he's not as sure of his support as he was 24 hours ago.  Maybe those late night calls went unanswered.

Two Down ...

This could get interesting.

Heidi Alexander, Shadow Health secretary, has quit the Shadow Cabinet.

Her reasons are a bit bemusing - apparently Labour should be gearing up to fight an 'increasingly rightwing and inward looking Conservative Party.'  And she thinks this end can be achieved by precipitating a Blairite coup, leading to an extended civil war within Labour.  Seems like it won't just be the Conservatives that will be 'inward looking' over the next few months.

I've always thought the British Labour Party was far more stable and sane than the antipodean ones, which seem to swap leaders every five minutes and are engaged in eternal factional wars.

Clearly, they've just been saving it all up for a massive, massive dust up.

Half of Shadow Cabinet to Resign?

Obviously, Hilary Benn has been busy.


I despair of the Parliamentary Labour Party.  They really don't get it.  Corbyn is not the problem.  They are the problem.  They were dumbfounded by the Brexit result because they have NO F-CK-NG CLUE about anything beyond their self regarding, narcissistic little bubble.

I'm baffled that the political class seem to have been so confounded by this. If I could see it coming from the other side of the world, what the Hell were they doing? What were all those MPs surgeries and local meetings and focus groups and 'soundings' and 'learnings' about? Clearly, not about finding out what people actually thought or wanted.

And their solution to the discovery that people are not listening to them?  "Hey, we've got a leader who actually seems to broadly reflect public opinion on something! Let's try to get rid of him and replace him with some clueless cumstain whose opinions reflect what we think people should think, not what they actually think. Because that will make them listen to us! They just haven't been told what to think by the right person yet! Tony, could you maybe .."

Wankers.

Labour lunacy

I'll assemble some thinks on the Brexit vote ... when my brain comes out of orbit.

But, hilariously, Labour seem to have found a way to make things worse, by trying to unseat Corbyn.

A motion of no confidence is to be tabled, and this could trigger a leadership election.

Hilary Benn's name is being muttered.  But with 60% membership backing Corbyn, I think Benn might be committing political suicide.

The Labour leader is chosen by the membership in a One Member, One Vote election, using the Alternative Vote run off system.

Last time, Corbyn secured 59.5% of that vote, in the first round.  There is no reason to think he has lost substantial support.

The only route MPs may have to stop him being voted back into the top job is by keeping him off the ballot - I think the rules still require 15 MPs nominate him for him to be included.

But if they do that, they will be crucified.

And it might not even work - Corbyn's supporters could just write his name on the ballot.  It would have no legal weight, but if a lot of them did it (and they would) then the new leader would be utterly screwed, right from the start.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Striking


From the Guardian. I'm sure someone can explain how this is nothing to worry about and nothing to do with us.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

The End of Cameron

Cameron really is hopeless, isn't he?

He's arguing that if we leave the EU the world will immediately dissolve into a state of war, famine, plague and Mantovani.

So why did he risk unleashing this apocalypse by offering a referendum as a sop to a few grumpy MPs and UKIP voters?

If he loses (and it is looking, insanely, like he will) he is finished; if he wins, all the problems that made him offer the referendum remain, and are worsened, if anything.  It shows an impressive lack of strategic foresight.

But then, we are talking about the man who could only manage a draw against Gordon Brown, even with the 2008 Financial Crisis to help him.  And could only defeat his coalition partner in 2015, not Ed Milliband's Labour in 2015.

A hopeless clown, a blustering buffoon, strutting and fretting and soon to quit the stage.

The only Prime Minister of the 21st century so far, to whom the label, "As bad as Blair," can be applied.

Anyway, get used to this:


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Good

From the Guardian:
Solar power in the UK produced more electricity than coal across the whole of May, the first ever month to pass the milestone, according to research by analysts at Carbon Brief. Solar panels generated 50% more electricity than the fossil fuel across the month, as days lengthened and coal use fell. Solar generated an estimated 1,336 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in May, compared to 893GWh output from coal.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour and anti-Semitism

It's been a bit interesting watching the current shit storm in Britain.

It reeks of right-wing desperation.  Are they really reduced to trawling through the pre-parliamentary twitter feeds and online wibblings of Labour MPs to find anything that can be spun as dicreditable.

I refer, of course, to the fuss about Naz Shah's comments - made two years ago, before she became an MP - about relocating Israel to the USA as a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem.

In subsequent events, Labour veteran loudmouth Ken Livingstone may finally have gone too far and be forced to retire in disgrace, a sad end to a career in politics that has been amusing, infuriating and only sometimes offensive.

First, Ms Shah.  Yeah, she made some thoughtless comments on Twitter.  Were they anti-Semitic?  I wouldn't have thought so.  Just a bit crass, and only anti-Semitic if you are one of these people who conflate Israel with all Jews.

It was interesting watching how this story was reported.

The Mail's first few paragraphs is a masterclass in disingenuous reporting, making it sound like she did it recently, while in her role as an MP:
A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic on social media that appeared to say Israel should be 'relocated' to America.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image that showed an outline of Israel superimposed on to a map of the USA.

The headline on the image said: 'Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict - Relocate Israel into United States.'
Note 'A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic' - yeah, almost 2 years afterwards she shared it, and a year after becoming an MP. And 'Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image' - the Bradford MP Naz Shah did nothing of the kind, Naz Shah, did, before she became the MP for Bradford West.

Clever, though disheartening stuff.

Whereas Shah's action was not clever, and also disheartening.

Ken Livingstone's intervention is more problematic.  In fact, he should be banished from the party and should be sacked and thrown in the Thames. Not because of what he said, as much as the stupidity of opening his mouth and turning an annoyance into a crisis. Government looking useless and divided, the first polls showing Labour in the lead, a bit of a hint of Corbyn starting to impinge on the public consciousness as something more than a bizarre situationist prank, and then Livingstone goes and shoots his mouth off.

He's actually managed to make things much worse for Shah. Her silliness - two years ago, before parliament - would have been forgotten and after an 'investigation' and a stern talking to she could have been re-admitted. But Livingstone - who should know better, given he's been around for a colossally long time and presumably knows a few things about the right wing media works - should have anticipated what would happen if he started shooting his mouth off.

Now there will be far more swivel eyed attention paid to Shah's case, and it is possible she won't be back in at.

It's monumentally depressing.

Almost as depressing as this extremely depressing article by George Eaton in New Statesman, puffing up a bunch of rumours and snipes from the Labour right.  Not exactly fair, balanced coverage there, George.

The central contention is that Jermey Corbyn is not up to tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Only, he has been.

Post Options Post by lala on 26 minutes ago People are screaming and running around like idiots as if this is a new thing, and Corbyn et al are fumbling to make a response to the scorching searchlight now being shone on them ... When Labour has actually been addressing the issue of anti-Semites and racists in the party before it became a Meja sensayshun:
A Labour councillor has been suspended from the party over anti-Semitic comments on her Twitter account. 
A message on Luton councillor Aysegul Gurbuz's Twitter feed claimed Hitler was the "greatest man in history". 
Another tweet on Ms Gurbaz's account suggested Iran could develop a nuclear weapon to "wipe Israel off the map". 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said anyone who makes anti-Semitic remarks is "auto-excluded from the party" pending an inquiry.
Note that this story is dated the 10th of April, well before the Mail et al became hypocritically excited about anti-Semitism.  But Corbyn's position is quite clear.  Anti-Semitism is not tolerated.  Suspension pending investigation.

Yet still the right wing of his party - more interested in destablizing him, still afflicted by the deranged idea that he can be overthrown, are trying to stir up trouble and make out that he is dithering and is not trying to address the problem.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Fall of Cameron?

It is quite spectacular how Cameron has collapsed.

A few months ago, he was a great man, a modern Churchill, having won the most audacious electoral comeback in recent history.

Then came his hopeless EU 'renegotiation', George Osborne's incompetent budget (which has possibly ended three political careers - Duncan Smith's, Cameron's and Osborne's - which is quite an impressive achievement), the Panama revelations and his shifty, mealy mouthed responses, and now further dubious looking behaviour with inheritance tax, the humiliation of polling behind Jeremy Corbyn and the possibility of LOSING the show referendum that he set up to placate his internal, anti-EU fifth column ... It's like the collapse of John Major's government, only playing at speed.

He indicated he didn't plan on fighting a third general election, but I imagine he planned on bowing out looking like a man leaving at a time of his choosing, not some family embarrassment being bundled out of the house after raiding the drinks cabinet and smashing an heirloom.

Events, my dear boy, events, as Harold MacMillan may have said.

Labour should take heed of this.  By absurd coincidence, they seem to have lighted on the perfect leader for the times.  Not because Corbyn is a great leader, but he actually seems to be morally righteous and incorruptable.  Just as Blair was the perfect leader for the 90s, almost seeming designed to make charges of Evil Red Intentions impossible, Corbyn is one of very few MPs who can (probably) castigate the Tories for their venality and not come across as an opportunistic hypocrite.  No-one can accuse him of adopting left-wing sanctimony as an electoral convenience, or of only being interested in winning power.

(Of course, a Corbyn castigation isn't exactly a terrifying prospect, but I think his unabrasive style is starting to connect with the public.)

Best of all, Corbyn is immune to the tired "Well Labour were in power for eons and did nothing about ..." and "Labour were no better when ..." counter arguments.  His position as perennial backbencher and malcontent gives him protection.  He had nothing to do with any of it.

Interesting times, and all that.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Kasich-Cruz?

So when are KAsich and Cruz going to come clean and announce a unity ticket, with Kasich as the candidate and an Cruz as potential VP?

the 'logic' being that Kasich's supports will not vote for Cruz as the nominee.  They'll probably sit out the election or defect to the Democrats rather than vote for Cruz or Trump.  Cruz's supports might vote for Kasich, especially with Cruz on board and making scary rightwing faces from behind Kasich's shoulder.  But I doubt Cruz's supporters will vote for Trump in great numbers.  If there were inclined to jump to the good ship Trumptanic, they would probably have done so by now.

Kasich is also the only nominee who is polling ahead of Clinton and Sanders.  While there might be a bit of "Who he?" factor at play, it looks like the Republicans have to stop bein silly and nominate somone capable of winning, and there is only one candidate who looks likely to do that, and probably only one combination with a realistic chance of stopping the Trump Self Immolation Juggernaught of Doom.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Sun is ordered not to be so bigoted, hate-filled and rong (sic)

Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper has been ordered to retract a story that claimed 1 in 5 British Muslims supported people moving to Syria to fight for 'jihadi' groups such as ISIS.

The Sun has been ordered to print a statement acknowledging that its claims that one in five British Muslims supported people who have gone to Syria to fight for jihadi groups such as Islamic State were significantly misleading.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said a front page article from 23 November last year – as well as more coverage inside the paper – misrepresented the results of the poll on which they were based because the relevant question in its poll did not support the claim.
Respondents were asked to what extent they had sympathy with “young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”, rather than with those who went to fight with Isis or any other Islamist group.
But, while Ipso upheld the complaint it investigated, the paper was spared having to print notice of the adjudication on its front page. The watchdog said the newspaper had agreed to publish the notice on page two of Saturday’s edition, having been ordered to place it no further back than page five.
“While the newspaper was entitled to interpret the poll’s findings, taken in its entirety, the coverage presented as a fact that the poll showed that one in five British Muslims had sympathy for those who left to join Isis and for Isis itself,” Ipso said.
“In fact, neither the question, nor the answers which referred to ‘sympathy’, made reference to [Isis]. The newspaper had failed to take appropriate care in its presentation of the poll results and, as a result, the coverage was significantly misleading.”
Might take more than a mealy-mouthed correction on page two to stop the Sun being bigoted, hate-filled and rong (sic) but it is a start.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

More Educational Excellence Everywhere

Surprisingly, political interference in pursuit of a myopic vision of 'excellence' in education results in failure, distress and demotivates students. Wodathunkedit????
The government’s overhaul of primary-school assessments has turned into a shambles, according to the teachers who will have to carry them out from next month, with complaints that seven- and 11-year-old pupils find the new standards too hard and too confusing. 
The new spelling, punctuation and grammar tests came in for particular attack from those who responded to the National Union of Teachers’ request for comment, with 86% of those saying that the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, should cancel this summer’s assessments. 
More than 5,000 primary-school teachers in England responded to an NUT request for their opinion, and virtually all agreed that the new assessment levels were inappropriate for the pupils, given their age, and was likely to brand many as failures. 
More than 90% of teachers at key stage 1 and key stage 2 said much of the material in the new spelling, punctuation and grammar tests – nicknamed Spag – was too advanced or inappropriate for the age groups being tested. 
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said many adults would struggle to answer the demands of the new assessments. 
“I can tell you that quite a lot of people who ply their trade by writing in English are incapable of getting 100% on the key stage 2 Spag test,” Blower said. 
One teacher told the NUT survey: “The terminology for Spag is a constant cause of stress for children who find it all confusing. They are feeling like failures because they can’t remember the four different types of nouns, or they are confused by the fact that some things can have several different terms.” 
Another said: “As a year 1 teacher, I am finding myself teaching complicated whole-class grammar in order to prepare them for next year when some of my children still can’t write their names. It’s setting the majority up for failure, no matter how much you prepare them.”
Nothing promotes educational excellence everywhere like setting kids up to hate school and to think of themselves as failures from an early age.

Why is it every government feels it has the God given right to interfere in Education?

Here's a crazy idea. Why not give teachers a bit more freedom and independence to make their own decisions, based on professional experience and with promoting excellence, critical thinking and enthusiasm in their students?

If the Conservatives think the chicken killing and pig slaying industries are competent to regulate themselves, why can't education?

In the Land of the Pig the Butcher is King

I can see no way, no Earthly way, this could possibly go wrong. It isn't like we managed to inflict Mad Cow Disease on ourselves (and cows) by letting the industry decide on its own standards, or anything.
Conservative ministers are planning to repeal an array of official guidance on animal welfare standards, starting with a move to put the code on chicken-farming into the hands of the poultry industry.

Liz Truss, the environment secretary, is overseeing moves to scrap the statutory codes on farm animal welfare and move to an “industry-led” guidance as part of her department’s deregulatory agenda.

In a change that has caused concern with the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, and opposition parties, the government has already quietly tabled a draft order to scrap the official code on farming chickens for meat and breeding.

It is planning to revoke the code on 27 April – the day that new guidelines will be made public by the British Poultry Council, which will in future be in charge of writing and keeping the new regulatory code.

The industry body counts chicken hatchers and breeders as well as meat-processing giants such as Faccenda and 2Sisters among its member companies.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed it will now begin working with other livestock sectors in a staged timetable of reform. Other sectors that could get control of their own guidance include the cattle, sheep and pig farming industries.
At best this will lead to a massive deterioration in the standards of care for the animals; at worst, it may lead to poisonous, disease ridden DEATH FOOD being served.

The post title, by the way, refers to a song from Meatloaf's third Bat Out Of Hell effort.  It isn't very good, and Meatloaf endorsed Romney (and is probably fawning over Trump) but, oh well, past glories and all that.


Skoolz

One minor measure in George Osborne's budget, which has been generally overlooked in the fuss about sugar taxes, is his scheme to turn all the schools in England into academies.  Academies are tax payer funded, independent schools which aren't required to follow the national curriculum.

Given the state of the national curriculum, post Michael "Memorise them Kings!" Gove, that might seem to be not a bad thing.  But it is.

Even Tories realise this.
Leading Tory councillors across the country, dismayed by key elements of the education white paper outlined by the government last week, are calling on education secretary Nicky Morgan to rethink her policy of compulsory academisation for all schools. 
Their concerns echo those of many teachers and parents, who took part in rallies in London and many other towns and cities on Wednesday, to protest against the government’s forced academy programme. 
Around the country, councillors – many of them lifelong Tories who have devoted decades to working with schools in their areas and in many cases improving attainment – expressed profound reservations about the changes. 
The government’s white paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, says all schools that have not begun to convert to academy status by 2020 will be directed to do so under new powers. Councils will lose responsibility for the remaining maintained schools, the majority of which will be expected to join multi-academy trusts, regardless of performance. 
“I feel really angry,” said Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for education for Oxfordshire county council, which covers the prime minister’s Witney constituency. 
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it. I don’t think schools should be forced. We’ve been supportive of the government’s agenda. We were going along quite well, helping schools to convert where we could. Now all of a sudden they are going to force the rest of them. It makes my blood boil. I’m put in a position where I can’t protect schools. One size does not fit all.”
Educational Excellence Everywhere is a great name for a white paper on education.

Just as you can tell a country that ostentatiously includes the word 'democracy' or 'democratic' in its name is nothing of the sort, you can tell straight away that these measures will not foster educational excellence anywhere.

Friday, 25 March 2016

UK Polling

Another poll showing the Tory lead has evaporated:

CON 37
LAB 35
LDEM 7
UKIP 9

(And there was another one as well, showing pretty much the same thing)

So either the worthy yeomen of Britannia are falling in behind Corbyn and his Red Guards; or the Tories are so awful that people are willig to vote for anything; or we are entering that magical period where the polls diverge from reality.

Interestingly, in the perceptions of leaders, Corbyn now leads Cameron, though his numbers aren't exactly great:

Cameron -25
Corbyn -11
Farage -2
Farron -12

This is interesting as it was these metric, rather than the actual poll numbers, that held up in 2015. The Conservatives were always ahead of Labour in the economic competence ratings, and Cameron always beat Milliband as preferred leader. But things are getting messy.

Oddly, I think this might make Corbyn more vulnerable in some ways. Once it looks like Labour might be in with a shout, people will start to think about how much they want to be Prime Minister.  Suddenly Corbyn will find plenty of Cassius's seeking to plant knives in his back.  Even more so than he's had to put up with already, I mean.

I suspect his enemies will view this as a starting pistol for more scheming and plotting.  They will look for an opportunity - the Scottish elections, where Labour might be pushed back into third place BEHIND the TORIES might afford it.  Corbyn has smartly not involved himself in the problems of Scottish Labour, but it is a strategic problem the party is going to have to face up to.

(Though the first question any aspiring replacement needs to have yelled at them, loudly, is "What are you going to do about Scotland, you tube?")

I actually do wonder if the recent resurgence in Labour - oh, my giddy aunt, 35%! - might actually be because of, and not in spite of, Corbyn.  Having weathered a miserable first six months, and with an operation that is slightly less amateur than it was before, perhaps he is starting to register with the electorate.

Which might mean if he is pushed out in favour of a blandly electable Blairite, we might see those promising numbers slump once again.  And we'll certainly see a Hell of a civil war beak out.  And the right wing won't be able to so much as whimper, having schemed and plotted and conspired against Corbyn from the start.

As for the other side, obviously the Conservatives have had a dreadful couple of weeks, with the Worst Budget Evah from George Osborne, the Iaian Duncan Smith resignation and the continual, ongoing problem of Europe.  It is likely they will find the next few weeks even more trying.  And if it does drag out, the calls for Cameron to go will get louder.

Whoever thought a leader who delivered an outright majority would collapse rapidly and utterly?  Clearly, ten months is a very long time in politics!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The one that got away

This so should have been the flag of New Zealand.



Jeong Hyuk Fidan from Canterbury, I salute you.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Musical Interlude: Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young

The 80s weren't all bad.

Pretty much, this all the songs Jim Steinman wrote all being played at once.  Absolutely fantastic.

Seems appropriate for the Greatest Day In Recorded History.



If Dumbarton can beat Morton on Sunday, it will be the Greatest Weekend Of All Times!

And while we'll at it ...

I could watch this all day ...


Good news just keeps on coming today:
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, has agreed to repay more than £11,000 in expenses after saying he made an error in claiming extra accommodation costs for two children who did not “routinely” live with him. 
Danczuk said he had made the claims on what he believed at the time to be an accurate interpretation of guidelines from the parliamentary expenses watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). 
“Regrettably, due to the vague wording of the rules, I inadvertently claimed 10% more than my annual living allowance, money which was paid directly to my landlord in London and not to me. I hold my hands up and admit that this was an error on my part,” the MP said in a statement.
The "vague wording" the slimy little toad is using to justify his rip off claims:
A supplement of up to £2,425 a year for each dependant you care for. You will need to certify that the dependant routinely lives with you.
Labour ahead in the polls, Iain Duncan Smith has fallen on the trusty British sword of truth and fair play, and Danczuk revealed to be a turd.  Already, this is the best day of my life.

Iain Duncan Smith resigns, immolating George Osborne in the process

It's a sign of how mental George Osborne is that even IDS has quit rather than impose his plans to harvest organs from beneficiaries and put taxes on breast milk:
Iain Duncan Smith has resigned from his role as Work and Pensions Secretary complaining of Treasury pressure to make cuts to benefits.

In a statement to the media, Mr Duncan Smith said he "incredibly proud of the welfare reforms that the Government has delivered over the past five years" but said he is "unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self imposed restraints that I believe are...distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest".
Even Scrooge can't stomach what Osborne intends for the proles!

it is an impressive piece of political shafting by IDS.

IDS might have been a dreadful leader, an awful minister ... but quitting like this just days after the budget, and calling the budget a piece of ideologicaly motivated national sabotage must have put paid to Osborne's leadership hopes.

Nothing in his political life became him like the leaving of it, as Shakespeare almost said.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Tory Leadership Slow Motion Apocalypse Underway

Get in now for front row seats as the Best Show On Earth After The American Election And Most Other Shows Even Cats gets underway.

Who will replace the red faced non-entity bumbler when he finally buggers off the political scene, having accomplished nearly nothing other than squandering a recovery, prolonging a recession and making Britain look stupid for the whole of Europe - even Greece (GREECE?!) - to laugh at?

Will it be Boris, effectively upping the buffoon quotient?

Or George 'Why did 80,000 people boo him' Osborne?

Or someone thing else?

Who will turn out to be the brightness in this dullness of Tories? The fastest in this loiter of sloths? The sternest in this gutter of wet bus tickets?

Relevant stuff:
Earlier this week there was a new YouGov poll of Conservative party members in the Times or, more specifically, two new polls of Conservative party members: YouGov polled the same party members before and after Boris Johnson came out in favour of leaving the EU to see what impact it had on the leadership race. Results are here.

At the simplest level Boris was ahead before, and was ahead afterwards, but there were some interesting shifts. Boris’s approval rating among Conservative party members dropped significantly after he came out (from 83% approval to 76% approval), but his position in the leadership race improved. Presumably he annoyed some members who saw his actions as disloyal or disagreed with his stance, but he consolidated the support from those who did not.

Almost unavoidably Boris coming out was going to upset some members – he has carefully avoided having many fixed political opinions over the years, so I expect many pro-European members would have assumed Boris agreed with them, many anti-EU members would have assumed Boris agreed with them. For once, he is forced off the fence and forced to upset some people – so his overall approval rating among Tory party members fell. However, in the race to be the next Tory leader his position has improved. 
43% now say they’d back Boris, up from 38%, with support falling for Theresa May and Sajid Javid, both of whom were seen as potential “outers” and both of whom ended up supporting Remain. Asked how they’d vote in a match up between Osborne & Boris the figures don’t change as much (Boris 55%, George 36% before, Boris 56%, George 38% after) – the broader balance between those party members who want Osborne as the next leader and those who don’t hasn’t changed much, it’s just Boris is now more clearly the “not-George” candidate.

Only a quarter of Tory party members said that the leadership candidates’s stances on the EU were an important factor in picking the next leader – 4% said they wanted the next leader to be someone who had campaigned for the UK to stay, 20% wanted the next leader to be someone who campaigned to leave, three-quarters picked other criteria as their main considerations. Far and away the most widely picked criteria was someone who will make a competent PM, picked by 67%, followed by someone who has a good chance of winning the next election on 52%.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but if only Anthony Wells was a girl and there was a sort of heterosexual equivalent of being Gay Married, I'd do that with him in an instant.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Oregon 'Militia' Killing

Sadly, it looks like the very stupid situation in Oregon will be resolved in the traditional American way, with a hail of bullets.
US police say they have arrested the leader of an armed militia which has occupied a wildlife refuge in Oregon, with one person killed in a shootout. 
Ammon Bundy and four others were arrested during a traffic stop. One person was injured. Three others were held in separate incidents. 
The militia occupied the refuge on 2 January to support two ranchers jailed for setting fire to federal land. It says the government has taken land illegally from ranchers for decades. 
Other members of the group were reportedly still at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, where the FBI was setting up a cordon around the perimeter. 
Only ranchers who own property in the area will be allowed to pass. Journalists have been leaving the scene following advice from the FBI it was no longer safe to stay. 
Oregon Public Broadcasting "was told by FBI that we were on our own - essentially stuff is going down and we need to move," tweeted John Sepulvado.
People being killed, even American fundamentalist bampots, is generally sad.

I'm not sure there are any 'good guys' or winners here, between the imbecile 'freedom fighters' and the bloodthirsty government storm troopers.

In an odd way, both sides are right. The 'militia' are idiots; the US state is an out-of-control, repressive monstrosity.

An apology to the nations of Norway and Sweden

Yesterday, in my post on Alexandra Mezher, I confused Sweden and Norway, not once but repeatedly.  I could explain that this happened because just before the post I was pondering this blog's unsettling popularity in Norway, and had been about to post a whimsical musical clip featuring the Norwegian band DumDum Boys just before I read about Ms Mezher's terrible death.

But the real reason is that I am stupid.

So here's the song.  It's called Englefjes.

It's by DumDum Boys.

Who are from Norway.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Alexandra Mezher

This is, of course, completely horrible:
The mother of the young social worker who was allegedly stabbed to death by a 15-year-old asylum seeker at a shelter for refugee children today spoke of her anguish as the family blamed Sweden's migration crisis for her death. 
Alexandra Mezher, 22, was working alone with ten youths aged between 14 and 17 when she was attacked at the home for unaccompanied young refugees in Mölndal, near Gothenburg. 
She later died of her injuries in hospital. Chiméne Mezher, 42, today told how she had lost her 'angel', as a close cousin said: 'It is the Swedish politicians' fault that she is dead.'  
Sweden is one of the main destinations for refugees and migrants entering the EU and police warn they cannot cope with the tide of migrant-related crime.
The Mail et al have been quick to bang their drums to a very predictable tune.  But I think Ms Mezher - who wanted to help refugees - deserves more than to become another right wing tidbit, a poster-girl for Europe's violated womanhood (even though her family was actually from Lebanon).

She obviously didn't think we should be stopping refugees from coming here.  She worked with them to try and help them recover from the trauma of what they had endured - which included being separated from their families.

It is unspeakably tragic that she died, violently, at the hands of one of the people she was trying to help.  It is disgraceful that she was left alone on a night shift at the centre.

It is also disgraceful that Sweden has had to take in so many refugees while other countries try to avoid sharing the load.  Sweden has the highest number of asylum seekers, per capita, in the OECD.  Last year, according to the Mail article, it accepted 160,000 new refugees.

In contrast, Britain has a TOTAL of 116,000 refugees (as of 2014).

And bear in mind that Sweden's population is 9.5 million, about a seventh of Britain's.

Sweden is doing more than its fair share in addressing this crisis.  So was Alexandra Mezhert.  David Cameron - and most other European leaders - desperately tried to avoid doing their bit.  Cameron, you'll recall, has pledged to take 20,000 Syrian refugees.  Over five years.

It is possible Alexandra Mezhert would be alive if other European counties had not tried to avoid taking in their own share of refugees - because then Sweden would not have been so desperately over-extended that it left a 22 year old woman alone on duty at night.

And keep in mind there is not one victim at the centre that night.  There were eleven - Ms Mezher and the ten youths she was supervising.  It has been said the killer is a fifteen year old boy from Somalia.  It is hard to imagine how much horror he, and the others at the centre, must have endured in their short lives.  The effect this has had on them.  The loss of their families.  The issues and mental illnesses corroding their minds.

Ms Mezher understood, and wanted to help.  European politicians stood back and did nothing, and contributed to her death.

It will be a travesty if this tragedy was allowed to become another 'reason' for refusing refugees.  A more appropriate response would be for European countries to agree to take their fair share.  Honour Alexandra Mezher by trying to help, not smashing the door closed.

Good Grief (Global Warming Edition)

So, Michael Bastach deigns to Share His Branes with the rest of us, gravely informing us that without el Nino's help, 2015 wuld not have been the warmest year on record:
Last year would not have definitely been the warmest on record without an incredibly strong El Niño warming the Pacific Ocean, according to analyses done by two climate scientists.

Government scientists declared 2015 to be the warmest on record in early January, reaching 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 20th Century average. But scientists admit some of that warmth would not have been possible without El Niño — a naturally-occurring warming event.
From here, Mr Bastach argues that, perhaps - because of margins of error and so forth - 2015 wasn't really the warmest year on record, really, not properly, because even though discounting el Nino, it might not have been the hottest year, because he doesn't want it to be.

This leads him to say all sorts of silly things, like "NASA and NOAA were heavily criticized for claiming 2014 as the warmest on record when they were so unsure."

A proper commentator would have taken the opportunity to explain why, in fact, the criticism was not justified, and how margins of error work, and why it doesn't really matter when almost all of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century, because it is the trend that matters.

Of course, he doesn't do that because his goal is to make people think, "Hmmmmm ... maybe it wasn't so hot last year after all."

Probably, we'll see people suggesting that climate peaked in 2014 and 2015 was really cooler, inspite of being hotter, and marks the start of a new cooling trend.  Only, because scientists were only 38% sure 2014 was the warmest year at the time, it probably wasn't, and so on, so forth.  All the way back to 1998.

Which was also a massive el Nino year, of course, but I think that fact might be conveniently overlooked.

If George Orwell lived today, he'd be penning a novel called 199, in which Hot = Cold.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Tree Frogs Return From Extinction

The Tree Frog, declared extinct for a hundred years, is back.  And it wants revenge.  Perhaps.

Quite what the fuss is, I do not know. I imagine it wouldn't be that difficult to put a frog in a tree, if you had the urge to.
A group of scientists, led by renowned Indian biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju, has rediscovered the frogs and also identified them as part of a new genus – one step higher than a species on the taxonomic ranking. 
Not only have they found the frogs in abundance in northeast Indian jungles, they believe they could also be living across a wide swathe of Asia from China to Thailand. 
“This is an exciting find, but it doesn’t mean the frogs are safe,” Biju said, adding that he hopes the discovery leads to more awareness of the dangers of unfettered development to the animals. 
The frogs were found at high altitudes in four northeast Indian states, underlining the rain-soaked region’s role as a biodiversity hotspot.
Still, I welcome back the mighty Tree Frog, and hope this bodes well for the rediscovery of other supposedly extinct species such as Mastodons, dinosaurs, and David Bowie.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

British Polling

The still invaluable Jeremy Wells at UK Polling Report has offered us some You Gov London polling.

It's worth noting London was one of the areas where the pollsters generally got it right (another was Scotland, rather annoyingly).

Polling companies have been making adjustments to methodology polling companies have made following the election debacle; I wonder if this means the London polls are now all wrong.

CON 37%(+2)
LAB 44%(nc)
LDEM 4%(-4)
UKIP 11%(+3)
GRN 2%(-3)

London mayoral voting intentions:

KHAN 45% (Labour)
GOLDSMITH 35% (Conservative)
WHITTLE 6% (Who?)
BERRY 5% (Sadly, not a fruit)
PIDGEON 4% (Sadly, not a bird)
GALLOWAY 2% (Sadly, not a human)

Assuming the polls are at least a wee bit accurte, there is still no sign of the must-trumped 'Corbyn Collapse.'

Sweet Baby Jesus Wept: The Mail

Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail has been having a fine old time with the horrible accounts emerging from Cologne.

What better way of stirring up bigotry and hysteria (the Mail's stock in trade when Kim K is not showing us her arse) than running dozens of stories about Muslims molesting European women?

Even better when it is being claimed that the perpetrators are asylum seekers, ungrateful refugees repaying German generosity by sexually assaulting and robbing vulnerable women?

Today the Mail reached a pinnacle of irresponsibility, running a story headlined, "18 Cologne sex attackers were asylum seekers". The implication is pretty clear - 18 people charged with sexual assaults were refugees.

The juxtaposition is pretty clear, leading the reader to think, reasonably, that 18 people who committed sex attacks at Cologne have been revealed to be asylum seekers.

Only, no-one has actually been charged with a sexual assault in relation to the events on New Year's Eve.

So far, 31 people have been arrested.  As the Mail admits, far down the article, "None of the 31 has been accused of specifically committing sexual assaults, the aspect of Cologne's disturbances that attracted most public outrage at home and abroad."

So the 18 "sex attackers" were - based on what they have been charged with so far - likely thieves and brawlers.

But let's not miss a chance to smear refugees and drum up a bit of hate, eh?

This whole story has been horribly exploited by the neo-fascist right.  Social media has been brilliantly manipulated.  Rumours and unsubstantiated claims have been spread, supposed conspiracies exposed and continual conflation of any Arab or North African involved in criminality with 'refugees' .

It is depressing - though not entirely surprising - to see the Mail following this lead with such gleeful insouciance.

Power without responsibility, and all that.

Prediction

There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going...