Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Former Tory Does The Right Thing

After the decision of the Standards Committee to suspend him from parliament for six months over cash-for-questions allegations, former Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who currently sits as an independent, has just announced his resignation.

Note he only did the right thing after he stopped being a ToRIE SKKKKummM.  Obviously, there is something in the ToRIE DNA which prevents them from ever doing the Right Thing.

The very rightwing and unbiased New Statesman suggests the by-election might offer the UKIP a chance to win a seat.  It looks possible - The ToRIEzzZ polled 53% of the vote, Labour 22%, Lib Dems 20% and UKIP 3%.  A massive tactical vote by the opposition parties, plus some Tory defection and a low turn out, might do it.

The question for Farage would be, would he want to win a seat only to lose it in less than a year, when it almost certainly turns ToRIE again in the General Election?  It isn't natural Yukker territory, and they could only win it through a fortunate combination of circumstance and tactical support, neither of which they can rely on in a GE.  Think of all those massive Lib Dem victories in the Major years, which mostly turned blue in the general elections.  A short term boost, versus the longer term humiliation of very likely being expunged in May 2015?

For Labour and the Lib Dems, the question is whether they run a candidate.  The Lib dems might like to not lose a deposit - not running a candidate would at least allow them to say they didn't!  Labour know they can't win, but might still want to be see to be in the contest.  If they don't it maximises the chance of the UKIP humiliating Cameron.  But it also opens the way to accusations of them acknowleding they can't win, letting the UKIP do their work for them and so on.

I suppose the question has to be asked whether it is worth the ToRIEzzZ running a candidate.

Monday, 28 April 2014

On the left

The strength of the left has been its ability to tear itself to pieces more effectively than the right could ever do.  This is seen all across the world, not just in New Zealand.  I think acceptance of sometimes quite divergent opinion within a unified party is what we need to sort out before we can hope to take the fight to the right.  In Britain in the 80s, Thatcherism triumphed because the left was split between Labour and the SDP.  Because it was a FPTP system, Thatcher was able to win massive majorities on a declining share of the vote.

Obviously, things are a bit better under MMP, but I disagree with the suggestion that the fragmented nature of the left is not really a problem.  If nothing else, it makes welding a coalition together more fraught; it also creates the problem of ideological dilution - there are some elements (and voters) of NZ First that are natural left territory, but the party itself is tainted with right wing madness and special interest pleading as to make it toxic; and there is the issue of perception - even if the dog is not being wagged by multiple tails - that the minor parties are getting undue influence and issue of stability will always be a factor for some voters; and the risk of unwise connections, as exampled by the recent dalliance of Mana and the Internet Party.

So I feel very disappointed when I see people continuing to rave about the supposed malign influence of Mallard-Goff-King, because a) I don't actually believe it, b) these are some of our most effective and recognisable performers, and c) it shows we still haven't learned the lesson and learned to accept the idea that people will have somewhat different ideas of what it means to be Labour, or the best ways to achieve leftwing goals.

This isn't to say the fault is the minor parties on the left; Mana is looking to Dotcom because it has been systematically excluded by Labour. and the Greens were blocked from coalition throughout the Clark years.  To win, Labour needs to accept all strains of reasonable and sane leftism, and all strains of reasonable and sane leftism should be looking to form links with the larger party.  Perhaps formal unification is impossible - but more co-operation and development of joint policy is essential.  This means Middle New Zealand has to accept that Mana and the Greens are not swivel eyed eco-warriors and racial agitators; and the left needs to accept that Middle New Zealand is also part of Labour.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Shane Gones

So, Shane Jones is quitting politics.  The reasons given, according to Polity, are because he wants the Labour Party to embrace a wide range of opinions, and that that too many people have opinions he doesn't agree with, like forming alliances with the Greens.

Not really the open-minded and accommodating attitude you’d expect in a ‘broad church.’  Jones wanted to be included in the ‘broad church’ but wasn’t willing to extend that privilege to others.

His decision to depart now is so badly timed it stinks of deliberate wrecking tactics. Once again all the talk is about Labour’s troubles, not about Labour’s policies.  Thank you, Shane, thank you very much.

All he needed to do was announce he would be standing down at the election. Leaving six months before hand, in a blaze of publicity and self-justification, really seems designed to draw as much attention to himself, and his exit, as possible. I bet he farts just before leaving a room as well.

Jones seems to be of the opinion that Labour uniting with the Greens would alienate Labour's core working class vote.  Reality check, Shane.  I think being out of power - again - will alienate more working class voters than an alliance with the Greens would. Labour are teetering on the edge of total irrelevance as it is, and losing for a third time isn't much of a recipe for success. Labour need to win to actually make themselves important again, because otherwise they will simply fade into oblivion. Which would suit National down to the ground, of course.

Some people - like Jones - fail to understand how hopelessly Labour are performing. 30%. THIRTY PERCENT. One in three of the electorate identify with the party that is supposed to represent the interests of the average New Zealander. Instead, almost half of them - HALF - vote for the party that shamelessly pursues the interests of the richest sliver of New Zeland society. It's insane.

The idea that the Labour Party would need the Greens to make up a 15% gap on National is shocking. Even more shocking is the denial and arrogance of Shane "I helped get us into the mess" Jones about the necessity of reaching out to the greens, and hoping they are a lot more forgiving and understanding than Labour deserve.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Attack of the Return of the Revenge of the Night of Boris Johnson

The Great White Shark is circling closer and closer ...
Boris Johnson is to announce he will stand for Parliament at next year’s election – to avoid speculation on his future overshadowing the Tory campaign.
Friends of the London Mayor say he accepts he must make his intentions to return to national politics known well before the Conservative conference in October or risk becoming a distraction at the party’s last major event before the general election next May. 
Allies also fear that his public dithering over the issue is damaging his reputation among the Tory MPs whose support he will need if he eventually launches a leadership bid.
Cameron's only chance of hanging on after the Inevitable Defeat of 2015 was to wage his fingers at the dozen or so Tory MPs left in the Commons and say, "Well, chaps, calm down. I might have led us to defeat against a useless wet-bus-ticket of a Labour leader, just as I almost lead us to defeat against Gordon Brown, but really, can any of you clown hope to do better? Really, Michael, you think you could. Don't be silly. You look like a deviant frog. George? You're nothing without me. Okay, you're nothing with me. But you're less than nothing without me. Zac? You're in the wrong party. Nick? You're not even in this party ..."

 Now the Ego is about to land in a big way, and squash poor little Dave quite quite flat.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Giving Daleks a bad name

Davros is not impressed, apparently, at his children being compared to Michael Gove:
A member of the teachers’ union insisted that the Education Secretary was determined to “exterminate anything good in education that’s come along since the 1950s”.  
Ian Murch launched a scathing attack against Mr Gove, and described the embattled minister as a “parody of an Education Secretary” with a “mad idea for every occasion”. 
He led calls for a replacement who “believes in treating teachers properly and respecting their professionalism”.  
"We are here to do the public a favour, to make sure Michael Gove's days are numbered. Michael Gove you have to go,” he added. 
Michael Gove is succeeding where the Spanish Armada, Napoleon, Kaiser Bill, Hitler, Stalin and Arthur Scargill all failed. Cameron! For the sake of Britain! Sack Gove! Then yourself!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Meanwhile, in Egypt

The Guardian reports allegations that rape by the police is being used as a tool of state terror and 16,000 'dissidents' have been arrested arrested.

Tony "we should be supporting the new government" Blair must be nodding approvingly and wondering why he stopped at ASBOs.

Entrails of chickens

In the good old days, if you wanted to foretell the future you disembowelled a chicken and tried to make predictions based on the shape of its liver and whatnot.  Now, we have polling companies, which is possibly more scientific but a lot less fun, even for the chicken.

I don't know if Roy Morgan are trying to Do Their Bit by recycling polls, but they seem to be producing the same one over and over again.  You could basically pick any poll released over the last 6 months and the same questions will almost certainly apply:

  • Does Labour get more than 33%?
  • Does the 'Labour-Green bloc' (a curious entity that exists only in the mind of desperate lefties) beat National?
  • Does NZ First get more than 5%?
Last week's poll was no exception, with Labour polling a deadly 32% - though given the way the party has been flirting with the sub-30 Fatal Boundary, that is something to be pleased about, the 'Labour-Green bloc' just out polling National and Winston looking chipper on 5.5%.

Given every poll is pretty much irrelevant in itself, what can we say about the longer term blah blah blah?

Next to nothing, that has not been said a thousand times.  Labour are dead in the water, but may enjoy a slight improvement when the campaign proper gets under way.  Meanwhile, there is the continual talk of the 'Labour-Green bloc.'  Think about the history of the 'Labour-Green bloc' for a moment.  1999 - excluded from the coalition.  2002 - excluded from the coalition.  2005 - excluded from the coalition. 

That's not a 'bloc.'

History shows the Greens have been perpetually excluded in favour of NZ First and United Future.  Only once - 1999 - did Labour turn left and coalesce with the Alliance.  Which in itself might serve as a warning to the Greens.

The Greens are victims of a phenomenon whereby they make every correct tactical decision, resulting in strategic ruination.  They have, time after time, done the right thing - arranging confidence and supply agreements, conducting grown up negotiations and the like - and it has got them no-where.

Meanwhile, a man-child like Peters throws his toys and stamps his foot and is rewarded, time and again, by fresh shiny baubles.

What is the likelihood of this happening again?  Pretty good and pretty much impossible, is my less than helpful answer.

Pretty good because Labour appear quite happy with the idea of shutting out the Greens if possible.  Cunliffe's recent comments about Labour trying to maximise its vote suggest a degree of hubris - he appears to be intent on eating up enough of the Greens to get Labour within a Winston of victory, without having to draw on the Greens.

Saying the Greens might not be the first party addressed in coalition talks is a clear signal they know Winston is going to have some pretty hefty demands and will want dibs on ministerial folios for himself and his hangers-on.  One of his demmands might even be not working with the Greens - more baubles for him.  hence Cunliffe's comments about maximising the vote.

Pretty much impossible because, I suspect, such a campaign will be unsuccessful.  Labour can no hope to gobble up 10% of the Green vote.  They aren't appealing enough a brand, and the dreams of Standardistas for Cunliffe leading them above the 40% mark have proven to be more than a little bit fanciful.  The party is stuck where it was a year ago, two years ago ... Even seizing 5% of the Green vote - a difficult proposition - will probably leave a putative Labour-NZ First government short.  And Winston has previously refused to work with the Greens.

And, crucially, he has no need to now.  He can always 'Heed the will of the people' and go with National

Which leaves us us no further forward, really.  Last week's Roy Morgan puts the 'Labour-Green bloc' and National pretty much neck on neck (if you add the Green's neck onto Labour's) and Winston as the kingmaker. Wo'dathunkedit?

National will have more baubles to offer Winston and his hangers on, as Labour will already have given a basketful to the Greens.

Robertson or Ardern in 2017?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Tory - a singular noun?

'Tory' might soon be a noun that does not possess a plural form, according to this revealing data speck from Peter Oborne's column in the Telegraph:
Tory membership now stands at well under half the 250,000 inherited by David Cameron in 2005. John Strafford, one of the best-known party activists, tells me that he believes it has fallen below 100,000.
There are more Dodos in Britain than paid up members of the conservative party - FACT.

Monday, 7 April 2014

I may have to reconsider my position on Syria

I've never been one of the wimps who thinks we should just leave the respective sides in the Syrian conflict to get on with it, partly because Russia and China certainly aren't going to, and partly because the Assad regime is a grotesque insult to decency and partly because I fear if we don't, fundamentalist terrorism will colonise the conflict.

I think this stance has been pretty much justified by developments over the last few years that the conflict has dragged on.  But this gave me pause for thought:
Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday, Blair said: "We have not intervened in Syria. The consequences are, in my view, terrible and will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region but for us in the years to come." 
Blair advocated military action against the Assad regime after a sarin gas attack on the Ghouta district, near Damascus, last August killed between 350 and 1,400 people. 
His stance placed him on the same side as David Cameron, who wanted to join the US in launching an attack on the Assad regime, but highlighted differences with Ed Miliband, who was highly sceptical of military intervention. 
Blair, who was speaking on the Today programme to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, made his remarks about the failure to take action in Syria when asked if it might still be right to take military action without domestic support.
Is this one of these rare-if-not-actually-extinct occasions when Blair is correct (like the minimum wage or ... nope, minimum wage is pretty much it), or proof that I've made a terrible blundering in supporting intervention in Syria?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Disgusting corrupt Tories

The heading probably contains several tautologies.
The culture minister, Maria Miller, tried to limit an investigation into her expenses by warning the parliamentary standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, that she was acting outside the law and threatening to refer her to a Commons committee.  
In a sign of Miller's attempts to prevent an investigation into her claims for interest payments on her mortgage, she told Hudson that the commissioner would be acting in a way that was "unwarranted, unfair and contrary to all standards of due process and legality". 
Miller, who was ordered on Thursday to apologise for her conduct towards Hudson and to repay £5,800, even threatened to refer the watchdog to the "supervisory jurisdiction" of the House of Commons standards committee. 
The lengthy and fruitless attempt to limit the investigation emerged in the correspondence between Miller and Hudson over the MP's expenses. 
On Thursday Miller was told by the Commons' standards committee, which issues judgments on the watchdog's report, that she would only need to repay £5,800 – a reduction from the £45,000 Hudson recommended that the minister return for over-claimed allowances on her second home in Wimbledon, south-west London.  
So much for Dave the reformer, the sleazebuster, the new broom. Turns out his lot are as shabby and dishonest and self serving as any other administration; and a bunch of bullies who use their power to threaten and browbeat the people charged with keeping them honest; and when even that fails, look out for their own interests by applying derisory fines instead of proper punishments.

Who would have thought it?

Mutterings about Musk

Going to try to get into the blogging thing again (ha!) what with anew PM, an election coming up and all that. So today I thought I'd st...