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.” 
Source
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.

Theresa May: Going, Going ...

So, Theresa May is in a bit of trouble.  Tories are scheming and plotting - which they do on any day that ends in a 'Y' - and rumour...