Friday, 21 April 2017

Good Grief, New Statesman Edition

Sarah Ditum actually wrote the following in the New Statesman yesterday:
Corbyn, who has led the way in smirking denial of anti-Semitism within Labour, even while one of the greatest threats to the nation and the continent is the creep of the far right.
Never mind that Corbyn set up an inquiry into claims of antisemitism, something no other Labour leader bothered to do.

Never mind that he condemned Ken Livingstone's stupid decision to repeat the stupid statement that lead to his suspension.

Never mind that the New Statesman quoted Corbyn's condemnation at length just a couple of weeks before Ditum penned her spite column:
"Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.

“Labour's independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.

“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.”
Never mind that there is an election on, and Ditum has deliberately decided to start accusing the leader of the Labour Party - without evidence, mind you - of condoning antisemitism.  I'm not in favour of people having to suppress their opinions for party electoral advantage; but I'm equally not in favour of people deliberately timing their phoney accusations to cause maximum damage to the party she is a card carrying member of.

Never mind all that.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist.  She enjoys privileged access to the media.  I had a look over her recent New Statesman columns to see how much time she had dedicated to identifying and targeting antisemitism in the past year.

I did find a passing reference to 20th Century pogroms in one column on the Brexit referendum; but that's it.  (And in it, Ditum manages to repeat the false claim that Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was subjected to antisemitic abuse.  She wasn't.  She was called out for talking to a journalist from the Telegraph.)

Yet in the past year, from what I can see in the index of articles she has published in the New Statesman, she has not dedicated one to the issue of antisemitism, in the Labour party or elsewhere.

Even though she lambastes Corbyn for ignoring the "creep of the far-right" which is "one of the greatest threats to the nation and the continent."

In the odd, self-righteous world of Sarah Ditum, this grave issue - which she attacks Corbyn for ignoring - did not merit a column.

Not one.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Oh, really?

John Woodcock, Labour MP:
"But I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain's prime minister."
Not sure you can really continue to be part of the Labour Party, John, if you are going to refuse to support the leader of that party in his attempt to be Prime Minister.

You're basically saying if - entertain the though for a moment - Corbyn actually won the election on June the 8th, or managed to assemble a coalition giving him a notional majority in the Commons, you would vote with the Tories to deny him that office.

It's interesting to see just how deep this Corbyn-hating runs parts of the Labour Party.  Theresa May calls an election - and Woodcock's first impulse is to attack his leader.  And this has been going on ever since Corbyn was elected leader (the first time, I mean) and the resignations and refusals to serve started to get tweeted while he was giving his (inclusive and conciliatory) victory speech.

The problem is not and has never been Jeremy Corbyn.  The problem has always been the faction that refuses to work with him.  Doesn't just refuse to work with him, but seeks to undermine him, to the detriment of the Labour Party and the undermining of the wider movement it represents.

You won't vote to make a Labour MP Prime Minister, John?

Think about the implications of that, your own words.

Oh, an election, is it? Some random thinks.

So ...

  • Theresa "I won't call a snap election" May calls a snap election.
  • The CPS has indicated up to 30 individuals (including MPs) may be charged with breaches of election expenses laws.

Could these two things be at all related?

Because otherwise May's decision makes no sense to me. She has a majority. She is doing well in the polls and popular. There was an election just two years ago, and a referendum. The boundary changes have not yet gone through.

An early election only makes sense if she is anticipating a major crisis - either substantial charges being laid around the 2015 election, or some massive economic upheaval. Because the annihilation of Labour in 2017 will probably mean the end of Corbyn and his replacement with someone who might (big might, given the talent pool) appeal more to floating voters.

And 2022 is a long way away, and if the parliament elected in 2017 runs its course, the Conservatives will have been in power for 12 years. So even if she manages to see off Labour in 2017, she may have brought forward Labour's return to power closer by a term or two.

But, feck me, these Tories are cynical. Theresa May has been adamant about not calling an early election (inspite of ticking off Gordon Brown back in the day for being un unelected PM). then she decides she needs to have one after all. Because she needs a mandate to be able to give the country "Strong and stable leadership" - a banal phrase she used about 5000 times in her first attempt at an electioneering speech.

Talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words. The soundbite of the nascent Tory campaign may be "Strong and stable leadership." But how does "No election until 2020 ... oops, I've changed my mind" equate to stability?  Or a chancellor who abandon's a key part of his budget about five minutes after he's finished his speech? And how can a leader forced to go to the country three years early, because she can't manage her MPs, claim to be strong?

Someone needs to give Theresa May a dictionary so she can look up what the words she is saying mean.

With regards to the outcome, the problem with FPTP is that there is very little correlation between votes cast and seats won at a national level.  Majorities of seats are won on pluralities of the vote.

It's hard to see the Conservatives losing, but maybe Corbyn has authentic video footage of Theresa May beheading kittens or something. Equally, I can't envisage the Tories winning a majority of a hundred, in spite of what the polls say. They just don't feel right to me. It's entirely gut based but I suspect the pollsters have over compensated for 2015's screw up.

I think Labour will hang on to a lot more than people realise. Remember, Labour DOOM was predicted at the local elections last year, and failed to materialise. It might, but I think they will hold onto about 220 seats.

It is also important to remember that the result in 1983 was distorted by a split in the left vote - Labour + SDP/Liberal Alliance polled more than the Conservatives, but as they were often stealing votes from each other, they were both thrashed. There isn't that factor as the Blairites have (thankfully) not gone nuclear and split. So the Tories will need a much bigger swing to produce anything like a 1983 result.

I think the Lib Dems will enjoy a bit of a renaissance. They had 50+ seats up until the 2015 election and will be eyeing them again. As the official anti-Brexit party, they can expect to draw a lot of support from Remainers of all sides.

Scotland will more or less stay the same. The SNP may lose a couple of seats and the the Tories and Lib Dems pick up a couple there.

The problem for the Tories is that for every seat the Lib Dems win back (assuming they win any back!), the Tories need to take one somewhere else.

If Labour is a bit more robust than expected, suddenly increasing May's majority becomes very difficult. If Labour cling on to 220 seats, and the Lib Dems reach 20, suddenly May may even be looking at a REDUCED majority.

I can't imagine that happening, but unless Labour go into a meltdown and the Lib Dems don't surge, it is hard to see how she can make significant gains.

So, some predictions (Bearing in mind I got the 2015 election completely, utterly wrong):

  • Conservative - 345 ... Well done, Tessa, you put us through that, for a few extra seats. LOSER.
  • Labour 215 - This leaves Corbyn in a precarious position. He's avoided the apocalypse, but has lost a lot of seats. He'll hold on to get the leadership election changes passed at conference, and then step down in 2018, which was pretty much the plan all along. WINNER, surprisingly.
  • Lib Dems - 20. Just enough to stoke talk of a revival, but not enough to actually be one. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WINNERS AND LOSERS, appropriately.
  • SNP - 50. They maintain ther stranglehold on Scotland, but the support for independence is clearly ebbing. PHRRYIC VICTORS, again appropriately. Us Scots don't do outright victory.
  • Ireland and others - 20.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Useless Idiots

The madness seems to run very deep in Labour at the moment:
But some Labour MPs suggest even more drastic remedial action is required. 
“In order to convince the public that you’ve moved on, you have to have a Clause Four-type moment,” one member told me. “Which would probably involve kicking John McDonnell out of the Labour Party or something like that. 
“You have a purge. Ken Livingstone gone, maybe even Jeremy [Corbyn] gone. That’s the only way that you can persuade the public that you’re not like that.” 
So Labour MPs are fantasizing about purging the man who has been overwhelmingly elected and then re-elected as leader.  And they think that will help make things better.  Fucking demented loons.

Here's an idea, Labour MPs!  Stop being dicks, start co-operating.  Make Corbyn effectiveley irrelevant by doing such a fantastic job of running all the shadow portfolios that.  It.  Stops.  Being.  About.  Him.

So suddenly being leader is really almost a ceremonial role.  Christ, Attlee was deried as being a little man surrounded by a cabinet of giants.  Corbyn has a different problem.  He's a little man surrounded by a party of microbes.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Twitter down?

Must be why Donald Trump hasn't been bragging about his job approval numbers.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Nurse Ban

Canadian nurses working at Michigan hospitals were shocked last week when border security officers stopped them from entering the U.S. because of changes to their working visas under new immigration policies. 
Staff at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital heard reports of nurses unable to renew their working visas.  
Last week, a new Canadian hire at Henry Ford tried to go to work, but was turned away at the Windsor-Detroit border. She was told advanced practice nurses and nurse anesthetists no longer qualify for the working visas because of policy changes under U.S. President Donald Trump. 
"We really question the motives," said immigration lawyer Marc Topoleski, whose firm is retained by the hospital. "All of the immigration executive orders and all the things being rolled out have been focused on national security first, and this is clearly not an issue of national security whatsoever."
Good.  Isn't Kenyda where that commie Muslim Saddam Hussein Obama came from?

I mean, nurses, terrorists, they're basically the same. Where ever you get nurses or terrorists, you get injured and dying Americans. Think on!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Saturday, 11 March 2017


I'd normally ignore everything to do with Katie Hopkins, on the principle of not feeding trolls, but this is a special occasion; she has just been found guilty of defaming and damaging Jack Munroe's reputation.

Horrible bully gets her comeuppance.

Wonder if the Mail will mention this detback for their star columnist?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Post-Copeland post

So the by-elections have been and gone, and as Labour managed to win one and lose one, I suppose we're in for another round of leadership self-smiting by Labour.

I don't think Corbyn was the real problem. But note the tense. Before the Brexit referendum, Labour's vote share was increasing - they were starting to show parity with the Conservatives in polls. Two things happened. First, the chicken coup. Second, the elevation of Theresa May. Labours ratings immediately plunged.  The combination of Labour's public self mutilation and the Conservatives managing to look unified and vaguely competent in the face of a completely unnecessary disaster they precipitated, was potent.

I think May's boost will fade - she's a horrible person leading a horrible party and people will come to loathe her.  But the constant schisming in the Labour Party looks like it will continue. As long as significant, experienced MPs are refusing to serve, or grandees like Mandelson are bragging about how they try to undermine Corbyn on a daily basis, and as long as MPs are merrily briefing against him and leaking, then they are going to look like a seething mess of worms with delusions of being vipers, unworthy of power, or even being in parliament.

I think that Corbyn may have been irredeemably damaged by the constant smears and poor poll ratings. Perceptions can become reality.

But I doubt he's got the strength of character, or the resources or support, to overcome the public's perception that he's a useless loser.

Unfortunately, there are about 229 other useless people in the Labour Party, not one of whom has the charisma, competence or popularity of Gordon Brown.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Corbyn Wanings

I was a defender of Corbyn ever since his election but even I am now weary of trying to argue his case.

I think he may be viewed as a stage Labour had to go through, to demonstrate the total disconnection between the PLP and the membership.  I also still think he is more sinned against than sinning - he's been consistently attacked and undermined for the last two years, by the media and his own party.  The refusal to support his leadership and the coordinated resignations were unforgivable.

Unfortunately, we can't just blame them for it.  He was not the man for the job.  Given the opportunity, he has failed to do anything with it.  In part he has been hampered by the lack of cooperation and backstabbing (he must have a huge back, there are so many knives planted in it) but his own weakness, and the weakness of his team has not helped.  As remarked below, the three line whip fiasco was a completely foreseeable, avoidable and utterly unnecessary disaster.  A conscience vote would have kept a lot of people onside, avoided the charge of hypocrisy and not affected the outcome of the vote.  Arguing the media would portray it as weakness or 'ignoring the will of the British people' (what happened to the 48% - have they been stripped of their citizenship?) is to overlook that whatever he did would be portrayed negatively by the media.

So fairness, consistency and avoiding unnecessary damage should have been the consideration.  Instead, all three were sacrificed and the result is a disaster.  Nothing good has come of it, and a lot of bad has.  After facing front bench rebellions against a three line whip - even some of his whips voed against the party line - Corbyn realises he can't really do anything other than issue a 'written warning' to the rebels, asking them not to do it again?

And it was all utterly predictable and foreseeable.  Anyone could have seen this coming. Except, it seems, Corbyn and McDonnell.

Maybe someone should reactivate the old 'Corbyn Warnings' twitter account ... only this time, to warn Corbyn of the bleedingly obvious consequences of some of his more mutton-headed decisions.

De ja vu

Friday, 27 January 2017

Tam Dalyell has died

Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP, who served in parliament from the early sixties through to 2005, has died, aged eighty four years old.

Famously awkward and persistent in being awkward, and a man with no time for cant or the all too common mealy-mouthed political flim-flam - hence his infamous "West Lothian question," concerning the voting rights of Scottish (and other non-English) MPs in Westminster on English matters - a query that has never been satisfactorily answered.

As often happens with contrarian figures, he sometimes took it too far, endorsing the Lockerbie con-man Lester Coleman.

But a remarkable figure in Scottish and British politics.

Corbyn's final blunder?

So, it turns out (hideously) that the Guardian was right and I was wrong.  Jeremy Corbyn has told his Shadow Cabinet that a three-line whip will be issued over the triggering of Article 50.

It's like he resents how the media have been - just ever so slightly - focusing on Conservative woes recently, and wants the spotlight back on his own troubles.

I've been pretty supportive of Corbyn up until now, but I'm done with him. This is madness.

Imposing a three line whip is politically stupid as it generates negative headlines for Labour at a time when they really, really can't afford them.

It is morally stupid because Corbyn has always been a bit of a rebel and telling other people how to vote smacks of hypocrisy.

It is democratically stupid as it leaves the 48% who voted remain unrepresented and alienated.

So, pretty stupid.

One member of the Shadow Cabinet, Tulip Siddiq, has already resigned over this:
Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the Labour frontbench, telling the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that she could not reconcile herself to the party’s three-line whip to vote for triggering article 50.

In her letter to Corbyn, the shadow minister for early years said voting to start the process of leaving the EU would be a betrayal of her north London constituents, three-quarters of whom voted to remain in the EU.

“I have always been clear – I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster,” Siddiq wrote in her resignation letter. “I feel that the most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.”

Siddiq said she had made the final decision to resign after Corbyn confirmed to the shadow cabinet on Thursday morning that Labour MPs would be expected to back the article 50 bill and a three-line whip would be imposed. “I do not support the triggering of article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the frontbench position,” she wrote in her letter to Corbyn.
A few days ago I said he just needs to keep things quiet and let the Tories endure a bit of bad publicity. I dismissed the rumours of a three line whip as unsubstantiated trouble making by the Guardian. Now this.

Corbyn, of all leaders, should understand the importance of conscience. And he's picked a silly, needless, divisive fight which will alienate the last few MPs who support (or at least tolerate) his leadership. And it was completely unnecessary, as there was no prospect of the trigger bill failing.  To win, he didn't need to do anything - he would have avoided the negative headlines, kept his cabinet intact, made his opponents looks mean spirited divisive. The handful of votes against Article 50 he would have countenance would be unlikely to make a difference to the result.

Now he has to endure the resignations (and probably several more triggered by those trying to destabalise him, again) and still face the rebellions at the vote.  Possibly even more as he has put his authority - such as it is - on the line.

The only way this makes any sort of sense is if he is looking for an excuse to resign. But that would suggest more cunning than I credit him with.

Corbyn allowed free votes over blowing up Syrians and potential nuclear annihilation - is Brexit really more important than either of these issues?

Friday, 20 January 2017

Oh, the (unintentional) irony

The Guardian is running an article about how the BBC 's Laura Kuenssberg has been found to have been impartial in her reporting of a statement from Jeremy Corbyn:
The broadcaster’s regulator concluded that a Laura Kuenssberg report for the News at Six in November 2015 breached the broadcaster’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines, in a ruling that triggered an angry response from the corporation’s director of news.

The News at Six item included a clip of the Labour leader stating: “I am not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive.”

Kuenssberg had presented that as Corbyn’s response to a question put to him on whether he would be “happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack”, but the Trust concluded that Corbyn had been speaking in a different context. sdsd
Which is hilarious, coming from the Guardian, with its ignoble history of inaccurate and anti-Corbyn coverage. Even today, they are running a report titled, Corbyn to order Labour MPs to vote for article 50 trigger; even though he has said no such thing:
Jeremy Corbyn will order Labour to vote in favour of triggering article 50 in a move likely to prompt a rebellion of around 30 MPs, including several frontbenchers.

The Labour leader signalled on Thursday that he would impose a three-line whip if the government lost its supreme court challenge and brought a Brexit bill to parliament.

However, dozens of Labour MPs, especially those with largely urban constituencies that voted to remain, are known to be agonising about whether to defy the party line.
If you read further down the article, you discover that Corbyn did not actually say he was going to issue a three-line whip:
Asked by Sky News how he would handle any legislation in the Commons, after the Guardian revealed that some shadow cabinet ministers were considering voting against it, he said: “It is very clear. The referendum made a decision that Britain was to leave the European Union. It was not to destroy jobs or living standards or communities but it was to leave the European Union and to have a different relationship in the future.

“I’ve made it very clear the Labour party accepts and respects the decision of the British people. We will not block article 50.”

When asked if that meant a three-line whip, an order to MPs to vote for the bill, he replied: “It means that Labour MPs will be asked to vote in that direction next week, or whenever the vote comes up.”
Notice how "ask" morphs into "order" in the headline.  The Guardian might argue that Corbyn is talking in euphemisms, and if it was another politician they might have a point; but Corbyn doesn't tend to do that.  When he says hell ask them to vote for Article 50, he probably means that.  He is not an authoritarian leader.  He allowed a free vote over Syrian air strikes and on Trident.  As a life long rebel against the party line himself, it does not seem to be in his nature to impose strict discipline on matters of conscience.

Presumably, when he doesn't actually issue said whip, they Guardian will accuse him of backing down in the face of pressure ...