Sunday 13 December 2015

Sunday 6 December 2015


Seems they aren't hated and abused enough and have to invent vitriol:
A Tory MP who voted to bomb Syria was criticised today after she doctored an email from a constituent so it read like a death threat. 
Lucy Allan, 51, published a genuine email from a voter who branded her 'an empty shell of a human being' and 'detached from reality' but added the words 'unless you die' and put it on Facebook. 
Sender Adam Watling, 27, who was writing as Rusty Shackleford, claims she deliberately added the final three words to make it appear as though he had sent a death threat. 
Mrs Allan has since deleted the Facebook post, claiming that the three extra words were from another email and the post was an 'illustration' of the unpleasant comments she had received.
Cameron should resign. How can he persist in office when he leads a party of evil hearted lie-mongers? He must take responsibility and show that honour has not been completely extirpated from the Conservative Party. After Shappsgate, Clarkegate and now UnlessyouDiegate, it is clearly impossible for his to remain in office. Resign! Resign!

Seriously, what is happening in the Conservative Party?  they've allowed grand Shapps, a serial spiv and liar, to retain in office until a couple of weeks ago; the party seems to be riddled with corruption, bullying, blackmail and vice; and now 'poetic licence' is being used as an excuse for making stuff up about people.

The whole party seems to be sick.  Perhaps they need to actually seize the opportunity Jeremy Corbyn proffers with his talk of a 'new politics'; but David Cameron's recent return to red-faced yelling and bluster suggests otherwise.  The culture of bullying, threatening and shouting down arguments starts at the top.

Saturday 28 November 2015

If this had been Labour ...

... there would be a slew of conspiracy theories about how it wasn't suicide, but a deliberate act of murder, carreid out with the PM's knowledge and approval.

Still, it's a filthy enough story without that.
Grant Shapps and Lord Feldman should resign over revelations the Conservative party failed to act on complaints about an election aide at the heart of a bullying scandal, says the father of a young activist believed to have killed himself. 
Ray Johnson – the father of 21-year-old political blogger Elliott, who accused the youth organiser Mark Clarke of bullying him before he was found dead in September – said his son would still be alive if the Conservative party and its chairmen had acted responsibly. 
Earlier this month, the Conservative party said it had not received any written complaints about Clarke before August. “We have been checking and rechecking, but have not been able to find any records of written complaints that were made but not dealt with – but we are determined to get to the bottom of what’s happened,” it said. 
Evidence that Clarke had been subject to a written complaint as early as January will increase pressure on the party to reveal who knew Clarke had been the subject of complaints over his behaviour, which allegedly included claims of sexual assaults against female activists, attempted blackmail and intimidation of young supporters. 
Accusing the Conservatives of turning a blind eye to Clarke’s alleged behaviour, Ray Johnson said: “They should have seen this coming but for their own selfishness, their own desire to climb the greasy pole over the bodies of other people.” 
He said this was not the first example of political scandals which could have been avoided if complaints had been dealt with sensitively and seriously.
I'm no friend of the Tories (you may have noticed) but it is sickening to see how the party has become infiltrated with spivs and hucksters. This is the right's version of Militant Tendency entryism into Labour, and these self-serving fellow travels need to be expunged. Or the Conservative party needs to accept that it is no longer a conservative party but a neo-liberal party and rebrand itself appropriately. The Nasty Party or the Party of Blackmailing Selfish Shits would do nicely.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Although I hadn't seen him in more than ten years, I know I'll miss him forever

I interrupt the general political discourse of this blog to announce the recent death of my friend Bob.

Bob always had rather average taste in music.  Neil Young was one of Bob's favourite musicians.  Bob Dylan was the other.

Still, liking music like that is no excuse for dying of meninfuckingitis in some dismal hospital in India.

Cheers, marra.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Mail playing politics with paedophile allegations

In an impressive new low, the Daily Mail has resorted to using the investigation into a allegations of child abuse by MPs and other powerful individuals to attack Tom Watson, one of the people who has pushed the issue into the light.

In a long-on-fulmination-but-short-on-credibility piece penned by Guy Adams and Stephen Wright, they accuse Watson of selectively targeting Conservative MPs in his campaign.

Their 'smoking gun' is that Watson refrained from putting his name to a letter calling on police to invesigate Lord Janner, a Labour peer and Britain's second least convincing victim of dementia after Ernest Saunders, and echoes claims made in the Telegraph that Watson is singling out Conservative MPs for his attention:
In April, for example, he called the Daily Telegraph a ‘disingenuous, lazy’ and ‘failing’ newspaper.

Its crime? To have published an editorial suggesting that party politics meant Watson was not pursuing (Labour’s) Lord Janner with the same vigour as he had gone after the (Conservative) Lord Brittan.

Watson denied double standards. He claimed his differing levels of activity with regard to the two cases were down to a simple fact: ‘I have spoken directly to survivors of Leon Brittan. I have not spoken directly to any survivors of Lord Janner.’ A fair explanation. Or at least, it would be if it were true. But it isn’t. For, as Watson revealed in an interview with the Guardian newspaper last year, he very much has met Exaro’s witness ‘Nick’, in what he called a ‘very, very traumatic and difficult conversation’.

This is important because ‘Nick’ claims to be a former victim of Lord Janner. Earlier this year, Exaro reported: ‘Janner, now 86, sexually assaulted him at several unidentified venues in London between 1979 and 1982.’ It is possible, of course, that ‘Nick’ and Watson never discussed Janner during their meeting, and that Watson was unaware of ‘Nick’s’ allegation against Janner. But still, Watson has met one of Janner’s alleged victims.
Dates are important here.

The Guardian interview took place in 2014, when he refers to talking to Nick.  It can be read here.

The exchange between Watson and the Telegraph took place in April 2015.  The Telegraph editorial is dated 17th of April, 2015.  Watson's response is dated the same day and can be read here.  Amusingly, Watson highlights a tweet he issued on the 16th of April, about the Janner case that makes a joke of the Telegraph's claim that "There was a strange silence in some quarters yesterday".

Only, there wasn't, and the Telegraph would have known this if they'd had the sense to look at Watson's tweets.

Like the man said, a lazy newspaper.

 Nick's claim that he was abused by Lord Janner appears in an Exaro piece by Mark Conrad, published on the 18th of April, 2015.

So the Mail's damning evidence of double standards is that Tom Watson didn't know, six months before the story broke, that 'Nick' was going to implicate a Labour peer.  Tom Watson's statement, when he made it, was absolutely true as far as he was aware.  It's pathetic stuff, essentially a tarted-up version of yelling,  "Tom Watson is a big fat discredited LIAR because he can't see into the future."

The Mail is trying to destroy Watson's reputation, for a political purpose - the very crime it accuses him of.

There are oddities in the column.  It describes a woman who accused Leon Brittan as 'discredited':
The discredited testimony of ‘Jane’ was among the matters detailed in a sensational BBC Panorama documentary entitled ‘The VIP Paedophile Ring’.
In fact, Jane was not 'dscredited,' at least not as a result of any information provided by the Mail. Her claims were not substantiated - not surprising, given the incident was alleged to have taken place in 1967.

'Nick' also described the murder of a school friend that had been staged to look like a hit and run accident.  The Mail blandly advises that, "And no public murder of that nature was reported in the media at the time."

Obviously, the incident would not be described as a murder!

I assume Adams and Wright are intelligent people.  So why are they making such obvious efforts to mislead and confuse readers?

They say they are sceptical of the stories being put out by the likes of 'Jane' and 'Nick'.  Fine.  Then examine their stories carefully and judiciously.  Don't make laughable tenuous aspersions based on Tom Watson's lack of precognitive powers, or attack a claim on false grounds such as their deliberate murder / man slaughter mix-up,

I am also very concerned about some of these stories, and expect that some of them will turn out to be false.  Unlike the Mail, I am less concerned about the reputations of a few MPs than I am about the likely impact it will have on genuine victims of child abuse.

And the Mail's politically motivated attacks isn't making things any easier for them.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Tel-LIE-graph forced to retract evil smear of Corbyn

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has slammed the Telegraph as vile liars and distorters of truth (whodathunkit?) and forced them to RETRACT, CORRECT and GROVEL in apologetic apoplexy before the feet of the People's Darling, Jeremy Corbyn:
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint from Ivan Lewis, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, about a 15 August story headlined “Labour grandees round on ‘antisemite’ Corbyn’”.

The story claimed Lewis had attacked Corbyn’s “antisemitic rhetoric”, saying the party must have “zero tolerance” for such views.

It later cited an article the MP had written for Labour List stating “Some of his stated political views are a cause for serious concern. At the very least he has shown very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in antisemitic rhetoric.

“It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of antisemitism, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamaphobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements.”

Lewis lodged a complaint that the Daily Telegraph had misrepresented those comments, and he had not accused Corbyn of antisemitism.
Echoes of the Zinoviev letter, anyone?

Not sure a 'correction' is enough.

Burning an editor or two at the stake might be sufficient, as we leftists are not vindictive or cruel.

Unlike the telegraph.

Well, that didn't last long

David Cameron went all Daily Mail in his conference speech, echoing that rag's infamous "The Man Who Hated Britain" smear on Ralph Miliband.  He's working hard to paint Jeremy Corbyn as a leftist monster:
My friends, we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.
In doing so, he's making himself, not Corbyn, sound like an extremist idiot.

Trying to frame someone as faintly nice as Corbyn as an extremist and hater of anything other than sausages only makes Cameron look like a tool. They managed to frame Ed Miliband as a bit of a weirdo dork but that's because Ed was a bit weird and dorky.

Trying to make Corbyn out as the fifth horseman of the apocalypse only makes an idiot of Cameron because, gosh, renationalising the railways isn't really that extreme.

It's strange how people ... well, the right ... slam Corbyn for 'appealing to his core vote' and yet when Cameron basically does a Daily Mail, it isn't seen as the same thing. It's a pretty nasty bit of bottom scraping.

Of course, blustering about threats to national security and hating Britain doesn't really fit in with the 'irrelevant ... unelectable ... barely worth noticing' theme the Tories are trying to advance. Mixed messages. An unelectable threat to Britian? An irrelevant hater?

Not really a convincing narrative.

Still, interesting to see that Cameron is opting for the strident, imminent-threat-to-our-way-of-living idea. Putting a clear distance between himself and Corbyn, but not - I think - in a way that really flatters him. Makes him look like a silly, spiteful clown.

Nice to see he's really embracing the new, nice, gentle political style Corbyn offered.  Cameron managed to make nice for about three weeks before reverting to type.

Monday 5 October 2015

Fun fact - homelessness soars under Tories!

As an aside at the end of a rare positive story about Jeremey Corbyn, the Independent noted that the number of people sleeping rough in England rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 2,744 last year.

That's a 50% in just four years. Why isn't this a bigger story?

Oh, wait, a Kardashian is not wearing clothes ...

Do we just no care about the marginal? Yeah, that's kinda a rhetorical question.

 Margaret Thatcher supposedly once said that Tony Blair's Labour Party was her greatest achievement - a Labour party that repudiated socialism to get elected, and effectively embraced her market reforms and privatisations.

She under-valued her other great achievement, which was to usher in a new era of gutter press and yellow journalism, where important social issues are ignored because people - created in Thatcher's image - just don't care so much any more.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Labour trounce Tories in by-election STUNNAH!! 6% swing!!

Taking back Britain, one seat at a time:
Jeremy Corbyn has been given a boost in his bid to prove his ability to win over Tory voters after Labour won a council seat off the Conservatives in a by-election. 
It was the first victory at the ballot box since Mr Corbyn won a landslide victory in the Labour leadership election last month. The party won a marginal ward on the Conservative-controlled Cherwell District Council on a swing of more than 6 per cent.
Tories tremble! The International Socialist Supreme Command has identified Cherwell as a crucial battleground in the war to establish the dictatorship of the Corbyntariat. Once Cherwell District Council is in our hands, Downing Street will fall soon after.

This is a body blow to Cameron, in the heart of Oxfordshire. Who says Corbyn can't in the shires? Though oddly, the Guardian - which made no secret of its admiration for Yvette Cooper - did not see fit to cover this remarkable triumph.

Has David Cameron still not resigned? Staying in Number 10 would be like Stuart Lancaster remaining as coach following England's elimination in the pool games! A travesty! A shame on the nation! Surely a public school boy has some understanding of the Proper Course of Action for a man in his position.

Do not hesitate, Dave! Quit now and restore a shred or two of dignity for your family name and the old school!

Saturday 3 October 2015

Thoughts on Labour (NZ or British variety)

The other day I treated The Standard to a long and waffley post about the not-as-similar-as-they-initially-appear plights of the British and Labour parties.  It is all to easy to assume that what will work for one may work for the other; and if that were so, my (very) cautious optimism about Jeremy Corbyn would look to be at odds with my glum response to David Cunliffe's quixotic campaign in 2014.  But there are differences between New Zealand and Britain, and between the British and New Zealish Labour parties.

So it was with some bemusement I noted that great minds think alike, or fools seldom differ, as the New Stateman also publishes a piece of Corbyn inspired navel gaving, covering roughly the same terrain (albeit with out the New Zeal element).

They start off by re-framing some thoughts from that profound left wing thinker, Lord Ashcroft, from his 2005 opus telling Dave Cameron how to get re-elected (helpful advice for which he felt he was was not rewarded adequately, leading to the publication of another, slightly less helpful book in 2015).  The main points identified by are:
  • A party must target their scarce resources at people who are more likely to vote in places which are more likely to decide elections.
  • A party must campaign hardest on the things that matter most to people, rather than things they hope can be made to matter.
  • There are number of parties competing for voters. It should never be assumed that one party’s unpopularity directly translates into support one other single party.
  • A party must not simply indulge the instincts of its core voters. The core is, by definition, not big enough to win an election on its own. By endorsing their views and tactics (e.g. classist, inverse-snobbery) too strongly a party risks alienating wider sections of the public that are needed for electoral success.
  • There are a number of different types of voters that must be brought together under the umbrella one party’s support. They are likely to have some diverging interests but it is the managing of your loyalists with the persuadables that is key to avoiding become an unelectable rump.
Which is all well and good, though I think actually more applicable to New Zealand than to Britain.  They are not the same, you see.

I think Corbyn can succeed in Britain, which may not be quite the same thing as winning an election.  But I’m not sure a Corbyn figure - something some on the left are trying to imaginate - could succeed in New Zealand. They are very different countries and have very different electoral systems.

Britain has a much longer and stronger left wing tradition, where as New Zealand’s left is more of a fickle beast. How many genuine, irredeemable socialists are there in New Zealand? I’m not convinced there are that many.

There are a lot of socially concerned liberals and lots of people who instinctively oppose National’s combination of neo-liberalism and rural conservatism. But that’s not quite the same thing, and moving left tends to make this loose coalition fragment. After all, in New Zealand they can do that – if Labour smells too strongly of Trotsky, the wets can always vote for the fragrant Mr Dunne, or Mr Peters (he looks like he uses Old Spice) or the Greens, depending on their perversion preference. They’ll still get what they want at the end of the day – a government that reflects some of their centrist principles, built on the back of a diluted version of Labour or National.

I think – this is all just opinion – Britain has a much larger socialist / social-democrat demographic. They are, however, deeply apathetic and disengaged. Turn out in British elections is about 10 percentage points lower than in New Zealand – a massive difference. It is unlikely, in my opinion, that there is much to be gained by campaigning for the non-voters in New Zealand. You might get a few more votes, but it would be at a huge cost – and if winning those votes meant moving left, it might also cost centre votes. Whereas in Britain, there are a lot more votes to be gained, and the archaic monstrosity of First Past the Post means there is no-where for votes to go. As a Brit, I’m quite familiar with having to vote for a party that is only vaguely representative of my opinions (take a bow, Tony Blair!) because the only alternative is much, much, worse. That’s less of an issue in New Zealand, for reasons already described.

We saw what happened with a nominal leftie here in 2014. 25% of the vote. The ‘Missing Million’ did not show up. Hell, even many of those committed enough to vote for Goff in 2011 abandoned ship.

Yeah, I know. The media blah blah blah and / or not sufficiently left wing blah blah bah.

Be honest with yourself for a moment. Do you think the media are really, truly that bad here? Look at what Ed Miliband had to put up with, what Jeremy Corbyn has already had to endure. The NZ media are lightweight. And as for trying again even further from the left, I’m not sure repeating the same experiment, once more with feeling, is the best choice anyone has ever had. Corbyn may work in Britain (and it is a big may) – but I doubt he would here. New Zealand just isn’t the sort of country that would vote for a socialist. And voters are clued up enough to know if they vote for an allied party, they’ll likely get something they don’t want.

What we need is a strong, charismatic centrist figure, someone with a strong social conscience to actually make a real difference (a positive one!) to people’s lives. I don’t think we can realistically hope for more than that at this time.

Which brings us back to the five points identified by Lord Ashcroft.  No-one likes compromise and no-one likes centrist muddle.  We all dream of red flags and revolution and storming the barricades and whatnot.  But the whole point of such shenanigans is that they don't win elections.  Doing that is a grubby, miserable, fraught business of trying to persuade enough people into agreeing with you to let you do more good than bad.  It's not terribly inspiring, but it is reality.

The left need to grow up and stop pining for their own romantic revolutionary hero who will somehow conjure victory of of impossible electoral mathematics.  A pragmatic compromiser, with a dash more charisma and core of principle but an instinct for building bridges rather than barricades, is the best medium term option.

But who the Hell fits that description? And even if we did have such a figure, what’s the likelihood of infighting and factioneering bringing him or her down?

Monday 14 September 2015

Corbyn: so irrelevant the Mail dedicates SIX stories to him

Well, five stories realy - they liked one so much they ran two variation on it.

It looks rather like The Mail is flagshipping (new verb) the Tory strategy to frame Corbyn before he has a chance to frame himself.  The Mail running smear campaigns against a leftwing politician?  Who would have thought such a thing possible?!

Here's today's headlines on politics:
You'd think, if Corbyn was as ineffectual as the right insist he is, they'd expend their ink on something else.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Blairite toy chucking

It started as Jeremy Corbyn was delivering his victory speech - as he was praising his rivals in the leadership contest and praising his opponents for their courage, tenacity and principals.

James 'No, I've never heard of him either' Reed announced his resignation from the shadow cabinet, using twitter to ensure that everyone - well, his family and friends, more likely - knew about it, and so the first question Corbyn faced could be "Do you know James Reed is resigning?"

He even appended a copy of his letter of resignation, to try to increase the possible damage.

A more mature, less destructive response - one that actually acknowledged a duty to the Labour Party - would have been to do it quietly, during the process of establishing the new cabinet.  But this was not the route chosen by Reed.  He preferred to flick two fingers to the new leader and the 59.5% of voters in the leadership election who backed him.  And to the party, and the people who will suffer under the Tories, as disunity rather than ideology 'extremity' has been what has kept Labour out of power.

A decent man would not have acted as you did, Mr Reed.

Also within minutes of the announcement of the result, Rob Marchant, a Labour party blogger and journalist published a near hysterical rant titled, "Jeremy Corbyn becomes Labour leader: Today is our darkest hour – we have become unelectable" and nailed his colours firmly to the mast with a series of what he probably thought were devastating broadsides against Corbyn - a man who was still giving his victory speech at the time, remember:
The harsh truth: this is a disastrous, collective decision made by Labour’s comfort zone, aided and abetted by hard-left dinosaurs leading the big unions, some wide-eyed youth looking for inspiration, a few leftover Trots and some three-pound political tourists. 
It is almost a storyline for a low-budget comedy film, where the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate unexpectedly claims the seat of the Prime Minister. It is something which so hits the party’s credibility, it is difficult to see it recovering by 2025, let alone 2020.
Nothing like unity, eh, comrade?

If this had been posted before the deadline for votes, it would have counted as a valid contribution; a truculent, petty contribution, but a valid one none-the-less.

Posted minutes after Corbyn wins with 60% of the votes cast, this is at best spiteful mischief making. Though a more likely explanation is that it is self promotion. You had this little poison epistle ready to go because you wanted - had - to be the first one to make like Cassandra and pronounce doom thundering down upon us in the moment of triumph.

This is really all about you, isn't it, Jamie? Making youself out as the Fearless Truthspeaker Cutting Through The Hype And Excitement To Deliver Uncomfortable Home Truths To The Deluded Fools.

Because if you though these ... thoughts ... of yours were really that important, you'd have shared them with us before. I suppose we should be grateful that your instinct for self promotion spared us being treated to your wisdom earlier.

Why are you doing the Tories' job for them?

Much has been made - especially by Marchant is his fulmination - of how Corbyn is a throwback, a 1980s relic. Maybe so. But his Blairite opponents then make a specious claim that Labour lost in the 80s because of the policies Foot and Benn imposed on the party.

That's a dubious reading of history. In the 80s, Labour split, with a generous portion of soft-left support forming the SDP. This fatally split the centre-left vote, allowing Thatcher to enjoy a landslide victory on a minority - and a diminished one at that - of the votes cast. History, to paraphrase Marx, tends to repeat, first as tragedy, then as farce. The Blairites, not the membership, are the ones intent on repeating the mistakes of the 80s, retreating to their comfort zone in a fit of pique instead of accepting that, yup, that's what their party is.

(Though if they are going to argue that the Labour Party is essentially Blairite, they then have to think about why they have failed so massively - how come they were utterly drubbed by an old, short wearing 'dinosaur'? The uncomfortable answer is that if Labour is not essentially leftwing, then the rightwing candidates must be really, really bad to have driven so many to embrace Corbyn.)

And in doing so they risk producing the same result - a fatal split allowing a Tory hegemony to develop.

One wonders why they are so blind? Are they so grief stricken at having the reins of power so rudely seized by the man they described as the 'Pied Piper'?

(An interesting analogy - are they suggest the members of the Labour Party are misguided children ... or rats?)

Or is there a deeper motive, a deliberate strategy to try to wreck Corbyn's leadership in time to get a shot at regaining control before 2020?

Corbyn is old, and it is possible he intends to step down anyway, in 2018 or 19 - even if he isn't pushed out befor that. If so, it is important for the Blairites to make it look as if he is being forced out, not going of his own volition. Their greatest fear is not Corbyn, in this scenario, but a Corbyn successor - John McDonnell or Lisa Nandy. To secure the vacant leadership in 2018 or 19, the tem 'Corbynite' needs to be invested with the sort of loathing that 'Blairite' has come to carry.

It would be deeply, unspeakably cynical. But perhaps the prospect of a weak and increasingly unpopular Conservative administration, losing votes over Europe and with its majority whittled away, is too tantalising for the Blairites.

And in their greed for power, they'll deliver Cameron's successor - not Corbyn's -a gift in 2020.

(I think they will fail in making 'Corbynite' a term of abuse, however, as I think they misjudge their party. And it isn't like a peacable cove like Corbyn will be launching any invasions from the opposition benches.)

Cowards, flinch! Accept that maybe, just maybe, the membership know better than you what they and people like them want. That maybe Jeremy Corbyn won't immediately start calling for Das Kapital to be on the school curriculum. And that even if he does harbour such dreams, he's more likely to realise them if he gets to fill his Shadow Cabinet with his mates.

Still, Blairites never seem happy being in the tent, pissing out, unless they own the tent.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Citizen Corbyn

It's been a Long March indeed, but it is almost over.  There's a wee while still to go, so amuse yourself with Robert Lindsay as Jeremy Corbyn Wolfie Smith:

Power to the people!

Odd thing is, I think the only reason Corbyn was put forward for the leadership was because Lisa Nandy was busy having a baby.  So, basically, it is all the fault of some bloke called Andy.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Down with the shine

Tony Blair has intervened, yet again, in the Labour leadership race, clearly oblvious to the fact that no-one likes him any more, and the more he begs people not to do something the more likely they are to do it.  If he truly loved the Labour Party as he he claims, he'd simply shut up and go away.  The Labour Party does not want him.  That much is obvious.

Whether or not we get him again, or rather one of the three dwarves that accompany his Snow White routine, is another matter.  Democracy doesn't always deliver, if the Powers That Be have anything to do with it.  And Tony Blair - once the glistening insurgent against the vested interests of Old Labour - is now undoubtedly one of the Powers That Be.

Anyway, let's play some music so we don't have to listen to his tiresome scolding.  Frankly, I'd drive off a cliff if it meant I didn't have to hear him any more.

"In with the new, and out with the old."  Only reverse it.  Out with the New (Labour) and in with the old (geezer).

Down with the glistening shine!

Sunday 23 August 2015

Jack McConnell says, "I'm stupid!"

'Baron' (aka Jack) McConnell, the ineffectual former first minister for Scotland, who oversaw the demise of Labour in Scotland, the man who achieved the impossible by losing Scotland for Labour, has decided to weigh in to the Labour leadership debate by offering his brains on the matter:
“This is a ridiculous situation and I cannot believe that when the initial decision was made in May to open up the membership in this way over the summer that somebody at a higher level in the party, or somebody in one of the at that time three main campaigns didn’t express some concerns,” he said.
Yes, Jack.  Only, the decision to open up the membership was not taken in May.  It was taken last year, and was voted on and accepted, and it was endorsed by that other gurning clown, Tony Blair.

I believe the only person on Labour's National Executive Committee who voted against the changes was Dennis Skinner, the intransigent left winger.  But I'm not 100% certain of this.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Campbell and Corbyn

Now Alastair Campbell has weighed into the Labour leadership debate, begging people to vote for any candidate as long as it isn't Jermey Corbyn.

(Note to future left-wing contenders - don't have a family name beginning with C.  It is like having a great big brightly coloured target on your back.  With fairy lights around it.)

t must be galling to Campbell to know that it is lrgely down to his slick, sick inducing spintastic years in Downing Street that Blairism is being rejected by the party.  Whatever the accomplishments of the Blair years - and there were many, at least until megalomania, corruption, sleaze and hypocrisy corroded whatever patina of principle the administration retained in 1997 - they are obscured by the memory of puke inducing, wretched spinnery, dodgy dossiers, David Kelly and Iraq.  And no-one embodies those gut-wrenching qualities better than Campbell.

(Campbell actually comes across as a decent bloke in his memoirs.  But we're talking about perception here.   As with all things Blairite, it is about how things seem, how they play with the focus groups, not how they are.)

Now, ad hominems aside, about Corbyn.

Let's be honest. It is highly unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn will lead Labour into the 2020 election. I doubt Jermey Corbyn imagines he lead Labour in 2020. Not because he won't win (he might, though my gut is that Burham or Cooper will pick up enough 2nd and 3rd preferences to creep across the line) but because of his age. He'll be 70 in 2015.

The likelihood is he'll serve for a couple of years, introduce a few constitutional changes so it will be easier for the leftwingers to get on the ballot in the future, and then step aside for a younger candidate.

His greatest service will be stopping Burnham / Cooper / Kendall winning. In 2018 the likely candidates will be Keir Starmer Dan Jarvis, Lisa Nandy, Michael Dugher and (long shot, but my persponal preferred option from 2010) Jon Cruddas.

The astonishing thing is, none of these names make you want to punch the bearer of it repeatedly. Labour has some good talent coming through, they just have to wait until the Blairite bonehead wannabees in the current leadership round finally get the message that their time has passed.

Alternately, elect Naz Shah as leader, on the principle that anything annoying to George Galloway is a good idea.

Monday 10 August 2015

The Corbyn Clause

Yesterday the Independent published an article that claimed Jeremy Corbyn (inexplicably, they seemed to have omitted the customary 'far left' that precedes his name) wished to restore Clause IV, the commitment to “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”

They published the interview under the not-exaclt-ambivalent headline, "Jermey Corbyn to Bring Back Clause IV."

Clause IV was removed from the Labour Party constitution under Tony Blair.

The Indie interview makes it clear that Corbyn was asked directly if he wanted to restore Clause IV. A direct question.  He didn't bring it up himself, he was asked about it.

He said, in response, “I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring clause IV as it was originally written or it’s a different one. But we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways.”

I think it is bloody refreshing that he answered the question openly, and didn't prevaricate in a Blairite manner.

As for his answer, he said he wants a discussion about how Labour should approach public ownership - whether it is the return of the old clause IV or a new version. He doesn't actually indicate his preference, or even if he supports either the old or a new version of Clause IV, merely saying, "we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways."

That's a long, long way away from a commitment to “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”

A statement has been released from Camp Corbyn to clarify his position following the Indie's insanist headline.  The Mail, of course, immediately proclaimed this to be a 'backtrack'.

The Blairites and the right are gnashing their teeth like anything over Corbyn's popularity.

They must be frustrated that they can't find any other dirt on him.  He's not a hypocrite, unlike Blair; he's not prone to Lear like rages, unlike Brown; even though his climate change denying brother Piers could probably do with a bit of back-stabbing, Corbyn can't be accused of that; and he's scrupulously honest and frugal with his expenses claims.

Even the "terrorist sympathiser" doesn't seem to be sticking.  Because, I suspect, most people are happier with the uneasy compromise in Ulster and would probably have had it sooner; and can see that talking to Hamas, like talking to the IRA, might be an unpleasant but necessary step.  A bit like talking to the Israeli government, in fact.

They must be fuming.

Friday 7 August 2015

Labour's electoral disfunction

John Cruddas - the man I hoped might have been Labour leader in 2010 - has delivered his initial conclusions (if that isn't an oxymoron) about Labour's defeat in 2015.
The first hard truth is that the Tories didn’t win despite austerity, they won because of it. Voters did not reject Labour because they saw it as austerity lite. Voters rejected Labour because they perceived the Party as anti-austerity lite. 58% agree that, ‘we must live within our means so cutting the deficit is the top priority’. Just 16% disagree. Almost all Tories and a majority of Lib Dems and Ukip voters agree.
I'm confused about the idea the Tories are deemed economically competent.

Between 2010 and 2015, they managed to deliver Alastair Darling's economic plan - halving the deficit over a parliament.

George Osborne, you'll recall, wanted to eliminate it. He failed, and also strangled growth.

So I think the narrative is not that Labour lost because flaky on the economy but that Labour lost because of the perception that it was flaky on the economy. If anything, the Tories should have been castigated into atoms because of their failure to deliver their plan, their suffocation of the recovery and their reckless over-promising and under-delivering.

Of course, getting people to understand counter intuitive things - that it's not a bad idea to spend on infrastructure to help tomorrow's tax payers today is not actually a bad idea, and that cutting spending reducing economic growth - in an environment where reasoned argument is stifled by the mad wailing of the Mail, is another matter entirely.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Oh dear

Is this really what we've got to choose from:

It looks like a photo from a particularly awful wedding, as the champagne hits and all the wrong inhibitions are lost.  Come on Yvette, let's dance!

The 2010 leadership pool seems deep, wide and limpid compared to this puddle of muddy stagnant water with a dead vole in it.


Wednesday 15 July 2015

Now, will someone put the NZ Labour Party out of our misery?

Watching the instant-and-completely-avoidable implosion of the Labour Party over the racial profiling of Auckland home buyers is ... bloody awful, actually.

Who could have ever thought this was a good idea?

Let me be clear - I agree that there is a problem.  I support legislation/regulations that limit overseas investment in NZ property/land.  Leaving the door open for foreign property investors is lunacy.  It is impossible to even pretend you want to rectify the housing market when there is a route for off shore, non-resident speculators to pile money into the market.

There are 4 million New Zealanders.  There are tens of millions of potential investors looking for laxly regulated markets to put money into.

But that's bye-the-bye, because any rational debate on the issue has been torpedoed by Phil Twyford's dismal ploy.

Let's give the man the benefit of the doubt for the moment.  Don't worry, I'll take that benefit back in a moment.

The best gloss you can put on this is that Phil Twyford is monumentally stupid.  That it was a hopelessly useless miscalculation of how this would be received by the media, the Asian population of New Zealand, and sane people all around the country of any ethnicity.

So, if we assume the best possible intentions on Twyford's part, the only reasonable conclusion is that he's utterly, abominably useless, dimwitted to the point that he's probably only capble of earning a living opening doors for people, like one of the deliberately cultivated Epsilion minus semi-morons in Brave New World.

He shouldn't be allowed on facebook, be given a mobile phone, cups of hot liquid or anything sharp.  He certainly shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the levers of power, though thankfully he may just have ensured that will never happen.

Now, I don't think Twyford is that much of an idiot.  I do think he has shown himself to be deeply ammoral and unscrupulous.

I think this list was appalling and racist. I further also think it was deliberate.  Stupid dog whistling and pandering to the dim witted idea of what a New Zealander is, a miserable attempt to appeal tot h same democraphic [sic] of knuckle-dragging apemen that Don Brash appealed to with his brown-bashing, beni-bashing, racist sexist trolling of the 2005 election.

But that doesn't get around the fundamental massive stupidity of all this.  Twford and the Labour leadership did not see how this would play out.  They did not see the wave of revulsion - both genuine and affected - that broke upon them.

Did they learn nothing from Dirty Politics and the 2015 election? The media would never give this a fair hearing (not that it deserved one). Never mid that it faux outrage voiced by smug biased hypocrites. If Labouy didn't realise how this would play out, they are fools.

Obviously, they didn't realise how it would play out, as they wouldn't invite this sort of opprobrium on themselves.

So they are fools.

Oh well, there is always 2021.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Kendall speaks her branes

Liz Kendall has supported Harriet Harman's position that Labour should stop, you know, supporting working people and trying to share the wealth of the nation about a little bit more evenly:
“I think Harriet was right to say that we have to provide a credible alternative.  You said to us, we don’t trust you on the money, we don’t trust you on welfare reform,” Ms Kendall told BBC News.

“If we carry on making the same arguments as we have over the last five years we’ll get the same results. 

“I want to support what Harriet said, we have to listen to have people have said to us, that they didn’t trust us, and we have to change as a party.”
"Credible alternative."

That's the problem, Liz. You aren't providing an alternative. You're just agreeing with the Tories.

Alternative doesn't mean the same as agreeing.  If you have two things that are the same then one is not an alternative to the other.

Providing a credible alternative would involve describing and entirely different way of dealing with the problems facing Britain, rather than just indicating sheepish agreement.  It would involve speaking up in defence of the idea of redistribution - saying something simple and sane like, "Because it makes our society better and we all benefit from that."

You say that people don't trust Labour on "on the money" and on benefit reform.  You're response is to fall into line with George Osborne's plan to slash benefits to children.

That isn't offering a credible alternative.  A credible alternative would involve defending the positive legacy of Labour's years in power - and tax credits is one of them.

It would involve attacking the Conservative scaremonger on 'benefits' by exposing their benefits reforms for what they are - tools designed specifically to pauperise children, which will increase hardship and all the attendant social problems that accompany it.

You could mention that in your fantasy "credible alternative" speech and point out that "We all suffer from that" - a simple rhetorical device that has the advantage of being a truth, unlike your preposterous claim that aping Tory attacks on the poor - and the working poor at that - is offering a credible alternative.

Incidentally, you are wrong to suggest that carrying on having the same arguments will lead to the same results.  I'm sure you, Liz, are familiar with Schopenhauer's suggestion that "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Political parties - even socialist ones - can be right about economics.  People - even those who vote Tory -- can be wrong.  If you think Labour pursued good and valid policies in supporting the welfare state and redistributing wealth and in making work pay, then that should be defended, even in the face of ridicule and opposition.  Because it is true and events will show it to be true.

Embracing incorrect thinking as a means to power is surely some sign of madness, or (worse) Blairism.

By refusing to defend credible economic positions, you're either revealing that you thought they were wrong (i.e. you disagree fundamentally with the ideas of the welfare state, re-distribution and fairness) or you are too craven to defend them because you're afraid of the ridicule of the Daily Mail.

Neither makes you a very appetising prospect as a Labour leader.

Even if I thought hammering the poor and working poor was a legitimate means to gain power (it isn't, it's just being a shit) I'd still say it wasn't a smart move because - here's a blinding truth for you - the Tories will always do it better.  You see, Liz, Labour can not beat the Tories at this game.  They are always going to be willing to cut further and cap more ruthlessly than Labour, because it's what they believe in.

And if you believe in it, then you rally need to think about why you want to lead the party that is supposed to support and represent the workers, the poor and the disadvantaged.

Because at the moment it sounds like you don't give a fuck about those people.

Monday 13 July 2015

British Labour - what's the point of it?

So, Harriet Harman has indicated that the British Labour Party should not oppose the government's programme of cuts and caps, which are designed to leave the poorest - even the working poor - worse off.

Let's just pause to consider that statement again.  The first unalloyed Conservative budget in 19 years. And the Labour Party will accept it without demur.  Even though it is calculated it will hack over 10% out of the income of a family on £20,000.

Harman's justification is that the voters have rejected the alternatives offered by Labour twice, with catastrophic defeats in 2010 and 2015.
Labour will not vote against the government’s welfare bill and should not oppose limiting child tax credits to two children, the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, has said, provoking a storm of criticism including from some its leadership candidates.

She said Labour should also not oppose certain conditions in the planned cap on household welfare benefits.

The party simply could not tell the public they were wrong after two general election defeats in a row, she said, adding it had been defeated because it had not been trusted on the economy or benefits.

In what was clearly designed as a watershed interview on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, Harman seemed intent on shaking the party out of what she fears is a reversion to its comfort zone after election defeat. “We cannot simply say to the public you were wrong at the election,” she said. “We’ve got to wake up and recognise that this was not a blip; we’ve had a serious defeat and we must listen to why.”
Only, of course, the voters did no such thing.  In 2015, two thirds of the electorate cast a ballot, and of that two thirds, just over a third cast voted Conservative.  Three quarters of the electorate either passive or actively refused to endorse this government, and the Labour Party would do far better appeal to them, rather than competing with the Conservatives for a sliver of the quarter that did.

If Labour was seriously defeated, so was the government on an ideological level.  Thatcher commanded 44% of the vote in 1979. The share won by Cameron is almost the same as Ted heath won in 1974, when the Conservatives were DEFEATED. If Labour is a spent force, so is Conservative.

After all, in a fight over the 'floating voters' in the Conservative camp, the likes of the Mail and the Sun are going to support the Tories in almost every situation.  And if the Labour Party does manage to ape the Tories sufficiently well to win the support of the right wing media ... well, we saw how that ended up.

A decade of Blairism was a de facto Tory hegemony for 18 years, followed by the facto version from 2015.  The biggest loss of the Blair years, democratically speaking, was the failure to revitalise and energise their voters as a social democratic force, voting positively for a strong, fair and just society.  Instead it was taken for granted, neglected and frittered away, until in the end it simply refused to turn up or looked elsewhere for representation.

Three of the leadership candidates have voiced opposition to Harman's attempt to drive the Labour party further into oblivion - Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have signalled disagreement, though they might be more convincing if they were to stand by these principles and quit the Shadow Cabinet, rather than remaining in.  After all, it is easy enough to say you oppose something, far harder to actually do something about it.  We've really had enough of politicians mouthing platitudes, chaps.  Hitting the poor is not something the Labour Party should be doing, and if you are really opposed to it, then quit the Shadow Cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn, of course, has the advantage of being the perennial outsider here, and has spoked pretty forthrightly about it:
If it is proposed that Labour MPs are being asked to vote for the government’s plans to cut benefits to families, I am not willing to vote for policies that will push more children into poverty. Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake.
Frighteningly, the perennial outsider os starting to sound more and more like the voice of sanity in the shambles that is the Labour Party.

I think opposition to child poverty would be a profoundly good thing to campaign on. People actually understand fairness when it concerns children. Not many people - not even the 1 in 6 of the electorate who voted for the government, are in favour of child impoverishment. They voted for the Conservatives because they thought it was the better option for Britain; no-one thinks pushing children into poverty is good for the country, however.

Perhaps, in a way, Harman is right. Perhaps she - and several others - should heed her own advice. Labour has been twice rejected. On both occasions they were campaigning as Tory lite, the nicer version of the nasty party. They were rejected,by their core vote, for being too like the Tories, and by the contestable vote for loking like a bunch of hollow, hypocritical chancers.

Maybe Harman should go, and take the revenants of the Blair / Brown years with her and let that strategic blunder fade from memory. Maybe more people will be inclined to vote for the party if they aren't constantly being reminded why they grew to hate it in the first place.

Saturday 11 July 2015


It seems the unthinkable is happening and Jeremy Corbyn's quixotic bid for the leadership of the British Labour Party is gaining momentum.

Of course, this is being met with howls of gless rom the right, who are portraying Corbyn as some species of dinosaur that has emerged into the sunlight of the modern world, blinking confusedly and roaring ghastly doctrines of ages past.

Many are claiming (I suspect mendaciously) that they have coughed up the three quid to register as Labour Party supporters with the intention of voting for Corbyn to sabotage Labour's chances in 2020.

(If any are really doing this, they are naive - the knives would be out for Corbyn long before that if he was not succeeding - and the Tories might find themselves confronting the sort of candidate they are trying to block just now.  ALso, frankily, if I wanted to sabotage Labour, I'd vote for Andy Burnham - a bit slow, tainted with Blairism, the man rejected in 2010 in favour of Ed Miliband, short ... the opportunities Burnham affords are endless!)

Corbyn would likely appreciate his position in a way Blair did not. He would understand he is at odds with his party. After all, he has been for his entire political career. That's why a Corbyn lead party would not be 1983 all over again.

The Blairites would know they can't stage another SDP style spilt - the example of what has happened to the Lib Dems will warn them off that. Corbyn, if he is smart (and no-one thinks he's stupid, for all some think he's wrong-headed) will run a party based on consensus and finding common ground, rather than imposing the leadership's diktat.

(Though bear in mind 1983 saw the Conservative vote decline, and the combined Labour-SDP vote topped 50%. And Thatcher's 42% of the vote in 1983 seems like a fantasy figure to Cameron and his cabal of unappealing oiks.)

He would not immediately impose collectivism, the nationalisation of corner shops and underwear sharing on the nation. He would have to seek a consensus between the competing ideologies in Labour, which the right wing of the party never had to do after it seized control of the party in the 90s.

It would be a return to a 'first among equals' style of leadership, rather than centrally controlled by a tight clique obsessed with imposing its will on the party.

He wouldn't be able to purge the right, the way Blair purged the left. He'd need to find accommodation and common interest. While a lot of people in Labour disapprove of his opinions, most seem to like the man - so he might well be able to forge such an alliance.

He will of course be vilified in the right wing press. But he's pretty used to that. The problem for the right is that the things they will attack him for are actually solid principles. People will recognise that.  And, bluntly, some of the things he'll be attacked for may backfore spectacularly on the Mail and Sun. I imagine he could deal with the Sinn Fein supporter smear simply and directly: "What I advocated in 1984 was policy in 1994. Because of those ten years of intransigence, while mainstream politics caught up, about 850 people were killed. That isn't something to be proud of."

We like principles, even when we don't agree with them. The reason people came to loathe Blair was the perception of hypocrisy - the equivocation on his faith, the wealth, the influence peddling and money worship.

That said, it still seems unlikely he will win.  Support for the three neo-Blairite candidates will coalesce as the field of candidates narrows down.  And he'll be offered the Deputy Leadership of the party as a sop to the left, as Blair did with John Prescott.

Hopefully, Corbyn would tell them what to do with their sop.

Friday 10 July 2015

Put the Labour Party out of our misery, please

From The New Statesman:

The tighter household benefit cap (cut from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere) was similarly crafted with the “welfare party” in mind. The speed with which Labour endorsed the measure reflected how Osborne has moved the political centre of gravity to the right. Shadow cabinet ministers told me that they had moral objections to the policy but believe they cannot allow themselves to be outflanked by the Tories again on such an emotive issue.
Good Lord. What the Hell?

Are Labour really as awful as all that? I'd have thought hungry kids in rags getting shovelled out of their homes by bailiffs would have been precisely the sort of thing Labour would have wanted to be 'outflanked' on?

Because it is just the sort of stuff that drives home to people what these polices mean to the people affected by them.

Almost everyone opposes $26000pa handouts when it is just a number. Most of us don't actually want to see degradation and hardship that it means, however. Why we continue to allow the right to define this as an issue of 'benefit scroungers' and not an issue of insuring all Britain's children are well looked after is beyond me.

Is the only 'strategic vision' possessed by Labour really the desperate desire to avoid negative headlines in the Mail and Sun? Truly pathetic.

The current Labour PArty, transported back to the late 80s, would have endorsed the Poll Tax because they feared being 'out flanked' on it. This is the same issue. We've got a budget that will pauperise children and reduce the income of the working poor by $2000 a year. And Labour are endorsing these cuts, rather than using them to fight back against this colostomy bag of a government? Are they too craven, or to unprincipled, or just too thick to make a fight on it?

I'd vote Lib Dem, if I could find one.

Only joking.

But I can't think why anyone would vote for anything so un-utterably useless as the current incarnation of the British Labour Party. It would seem Ed Milliband - who suddenly seems like a colossus in comparison to the pretenders to his throne - took the party's spine on holiday with him. He's been criticised for that. But you can understand why he would do it. I couldn't want to be around such a bunch of repuslse, supine sell-outs either.

Making Work Pay, George?

I do wish people would make up their minds.

Half of George Osborne's budget seems to consist of ideas nicked from Labour's manifesto.

A few weeks ago, we were told these policies were at best likely to be totally ineffective, at worst wildly irresponsible, veritable communism, class warfare, the politics of envy and pandering to the voter base. Now here we are, with the Times and the Mail and the Sun and Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, cheering on virtually the same policies as brilliant.

But brilliant this budget is not. The Daily Mail, in same moment of madness, has published this rather telling summary of how the measures will affect different groups of people:

Paltry increases for some, and a whopping hit for the working poor. The only thing worse than this budget is Labour's response to it.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

China Crisis

I've been predicting the imminent collapse of the Chinese economy for a while now, and it seems I might finally be proved right:

Minutes after opening, the Shanghai Composite Index fell by just over 8%. while the Shenzhen Component was down almost 5%.

Within ten minutes of trading, more than 1,000 shares across China’s two stock markets had dropped by the daily limited of 10% and had their shares automatically suspended. About 1,400 companies, or more than half of those listed – filed for a trading halt in an attempt to prevent further losses.

China’s securities regulator said there was “panic” in the stock market with irrational selling off increasing and “leading the stock market to a situation of intense liquidity”.
 This lends itself to some impressive visuals:

And some Doom Filled Graphs With Big Arrows and dramatic text in case you miss the significance of the Big Arrows

Whether this does develop  into a proper crisis, as opposed to a bit of a wobble in an overall upward trend remains to be seen; though there is a whiff of genuine panic, and even some moderate concern expressed on National Radio.  If this is the real thing, then it puts all the excitement around Greece into perspective: Greece, profoundly, doesn't matter.  It's a small country, a long way away.  Even for the Eurozone countries, its only a minor nuisance.  To the rest of the world, it's a soap opera.  China going to the dogs, on the other hand, is the complete works of Shakespeare and Wagner getting played simultaneously on the same stage: a bit too much to take in, even for those who can claim expertise.  Suffice to say, Chinese demand keeps our economy ticking over.  Chinese supply keeps our lifestyles comfortable (our meaning New Zealand, and the rest of world).

If either part of that equation is jeopardised, and we'll feel it, massively.  If both are affected, we'll be staring into an abyss that makes the situation in Europe seem like a light farce.

But on a lighter note, many may not know (and few care) that China Crisis were / are a somewhat obscure New Wave British band.  While I don't think I've had cause to think of them in about 30 years, that has not detered them - Wikipedia informs me they are still going.

Here's one of their songs, to while away a few minutes while we wait to see just how doomed we are.

The artful dodger

Greedy Tories raking it in, as usual, courtesy of Channel 4 News:
Chancellor George Osborne's family business made £6 million in a property deal with a developer based in a tax haven, a Channel 4 News investigation has found.

Wallpaper firm Osborne & Little teamed up with a secretive corporation in the British Virgin Islands, to draw up plans to redevelop its former London headquarters into housing.

The companies jointly applied for planning permission for around 45 flats and houses, and once given the go-ahead, Osborne and Little sold its site to the offshore firm for £6,088,000.

A legal expert shown contracts obtained by Channel 4 News said Osborne & Little must have known the developer was based offshore, and had the potential to avoid millions in tax.

At the time, the Chancellor was the beneficiary of a family trust that owned at least 15% of Osborne and Little, so would have personally benefitted from the sale.
Now, it must be noted that the article goes on to state that "There is no suggestion the Chancellor, or Osborne & Little avoided any tax in the deal, or that they or offshore property developer Nightingale Mews Inc. did anything illegal."

Of course, I'm sure it's easy to do nothing illegal when you get to write the rules.

Just look at the man.  He must be guilty of SOMETHING.

Dickens, even if he'd had the imagination to envisage such character, would have decided not to include him in any tale because he would have seemed to grotesque.


I haven't seen it, of course, but I reserve my right to express my opinions categorically before seeing it.

But as there aren't enough things for us to worry about in the world, we might as well take a few minutes to get upset about a pop video.

Is it:

a) an artistic statement with a strong feminist pedigree challenging conventional notions of acceptable female behaviour and allowing a woman to defy patriarchal stereotypes and resists the sexualised objectification of her body according to those paradigms and thus act as a nexus for resistance to misogynistic repressive gender prejudices, effectively decolonising her body in an act of reclamation of both her sexual and racial integrity from a racist and sexist patriarchy?

b) a negative example of the issues around intersectional oppressions, where Rihanna's racial identitiy as a coloured person visiting violence on a white person breaches the notion of solidarity with another female, posing questions as to the viability of a feminist movement in a society where class and race are still significant barriers to advancement, possibly more so than sex is?

c) a cunning appropriation of and satire on the misogyny and violence typical of mainstream media, in which male-on-male violence is the stock in trade, raising questions about the viewer response by confronting the audience with the hypocrisy of a situation where male-on-male violence is celebrated, but female-on-female violence and criminality is deemed troubling and somehow wrong?

d) Mostly just a bit of attention seeking by a third rate celebrity who - like most other pop stars - will do pretty much anything to claw even more money into her already bloated coffers. Rihanna's videos are not advancing any message, merely Rihanna's bank account. Controversy sells, so she is controversial. She's Fox News and the Daily Mail.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Sunday 28 June 2015


It has been brought to my attention that the all powerful, many tentacled Doom Hydra of the Left has - rather than claiming complete eternal power - decided to make kids toys politically correct

Why the hive-minded hordes of left-wing attack drones (of which hordes I am a proud member in good standing) have decided to do this, rather than seizing the levers of power and sending our enemies to the guillotine is not made clear; but I am sure our leaders know what they are doing.  The battle for the future starts now, and it seems the battlefield will be the appearance of little toy cars.

Obviously, our opponents will not expect this and will swiftly be outflanked by this deft thrust, a daring assault comparable to Lee's march to Gettysburg.  And we all know how that ended.

An appropriate comparison, for I am thinking about what can only be called Evilracistflaggate, the huge fuss that has blown up around the use of the 'Confederate' flag, following the horrid events in South Carolina.  'Confederate' in inverted commas used because flag we commonly think of as the Confederate flag - the Starry Cross - was never the flag of the Confederacy.  It was used by General Lee's Army of North Virginia, but the design most of us recognise as the 'confederate flag' is just a detail from the second and third flags adopted by the Confederacy. The second one had a big white bit as well as the 'starry cross' and the third one had a red stripe.

(One wonders if things might have gone better for the Confederates if they had spent less time worrying about the best bit of cloth to die under, and more about winning wars.  Probably not.)

The Starry Cross, it seems, has suddenly become as socially unacceptable as anti-Semitism and owning people.  Totally reliable and unbiased sites like assure us that America is losing its mind in a rush to remove the flag from absolutely everything, ever, even things it might actually be appropriately displayed on:
Today, Apple decided to start yanking games that use the Confederate flag in any way (via TouchArcade). For example, you can now no longer buy the strategy iOS games Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, and Civil War: Gettysburg, which, as you might guess, use the Confederate flag because they’re video games about the Civil War.
Meanwhile. it seems, the evil liberals and PC leftists (is there any other kind?) are busy trying to take toys from children and re-write pop culture history by deleting the Starry Cross from General Lee - no, not the real general Lee, things haven't got that bad yet - but the car in The Dukes of Hazard:
Warner Bros, which owns the licensing rights to the 80s series, announced Wednesday it will no longer manufacture miniature replicas of the souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger, which featured a giant Confederate battle flag painted on the roof. ‘Warner Bros. 
Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the confederate flag on its roof — as it was seen in the TV series,’ the company told Vulture. ‘We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.’
The snag here is that neither Apple nor Warner Bros are actually far left revolutionary communist-gay rights-environmentalist-PC-feminNAZI collectives that the howling madpots of the right seem to think.

They ARE capitalist enterprises intent on making a profit. If they decide to drop or change a product, its down to their desire to protect their brand and maximise their profits. The forces driving these decisions are profit related, and nothing to do with 'the left' or some supposed politically correct agenda. If you want to blame anything, blame market forces, which are all about shifting product and profit. I guess there is no profit to be made from sanity and accuracy.

Which tells you everything you need to know about capitalism.

(For what it is worth, I'd agree the Apple decision to remove the Confederate flag from civil war computer games IF it would have been correct to show it there (i.e. for Lee's army) is barmy. But I think it often gets used inaccurately, as a symbol many of us associate with the Confederacy.  I doubt many people would recognise the first flag of the Confederacy, the historical 'Stars and Bars' and the other two would only be recognisable because they contain the 'Starry Cross' as a element.  So changing it might actually just be making things a bit more accurate and correcting the assumption that the 'Starry Cross' was the flag of the Confederacy. Surely we're all in favour of historical accuracy?)

And it seems that the vile liberal-communists aren't just intent on banning cars and pixels, but films a well.  Truly, first they came for the General Lee, then they came for Scarlett and Rhett:
When it comes to the Left, it is always only a matter of time before they show their fascist colors. We’re seeing it all over the place in a media frenzy that began with a cause I agree with (removing Confederate Flags from state capitols) into what is now a full-blown mob waging a bullying witch hunt to completely memory-hole the flag. 
Wednesday, the thing that you believe could never happen, did happen: a New York film critic has called for the banning of The Greatest Movie Ever Made. 
In just three days, the left’s mob mentality took us from removing the Rebel Flag from a state capitol to banning “Gone with the Wind.”
Only, of course, it is not as simple as Breitbart would like to make out.

The critic in question, Lou Lumenick, is not actually calling for Gone With The Wind to be banned. He is simply wondering if audiences should pay more attention to the racism and slavery that underpins the movie, rather than venerating it as a quaint and charming piece of romantic melodrama.

Of course, the howling hate mob of the right - the true enemies of rationality, sanity and reason - deliberately misrepresent this, because truth is poison to them.  The tragedy of South Carolina has prompted some people to wake up to the hatefulness of some of the things too often taken for granted.  That's progress.  The right doesn't like progress and stirs up a vicious cauldron of lies about it, blaming everything on this cabal of leftist witches and demons; witches and demons who seem to be all-powerful, but mysteriously interested only in using this power to achieve petty ends.  No flags on cars - that'll teach the Right!

A part of me wonders if this is a deliberate ploy to move the debate away from where it really should be - the easy availability of guns - onto something (anything) else.  Because flags, sanity and honesty are far less important to the right than every racist lunatic being able to get his hands on a firearm.

Monday 25 May 2015

Who is Charlie? And where are you going?

I didn't say anything about the Charlie Hebdo killings at the time because some things are so bloody obvious they shouldn't need to be spelled out.  You don't kill people over drawings is one.  For the record, I'll spell it out:


Beyond that, my limited awareness of Charlie Hebdo was a bit more ambiguous.  Their humour was always juvenile and I didn't like the enthusiasm with which they seemed to portray minority ethnic and cultural groups.  But I wasn't too fussed either way as it was an obscure French publication and unlikely to impinge upon my consciousness, far less my life.  That changed, of course in January.

Like all sensible people, I was horrified by the mass murder.  Refer to the golden rule above.  You don't kill people over drawings.  Not even bad one's which (to my untutored eye) most of the CH cartoons were - crudely executed. look-at-us-being-daring-and-challenging-and-pushing-the-boundaries stuff.  Like many things french, you couldn't escape the feeling that the cartoonists had never really left the senior common room at school, and weren't really aware tht they now lived in the real world, and their deliberate crudities and 'iconoclasm' was being published for all to see.  Though of course we allow any sort of vulgarity as long as it calls itself 'satire.'

I was angry about the Charlie Hebdo shootings, because you don't kill people over drawings, even if you really, really like the person in the drawings and think no-one should draw him.  People of all ilks need to understand their conscience terminates at the outer layer of their skin; they don't get to impose it on anyone, not even with bullets.

At the same time, I was angry at Charlie Hedbo as well, basically for entirely selfish reasons.  Their juvenile desire to push boundaries and be offensive to as many people as possible has managed to make the world a slightly more dangerous place.  Let's not exaggerate this.  Publishing a picture of Mohammed is not quite the same as funding militant groups in the 1980s or invading Iraq.  But it was a gratuitous attempt to stoke controversy and a fairly obvious appeal to the broad streak of racism and cultural xenophobia the imbrues Europe and to which the left is not immune.  As a result, the fanatics and haters were gifted ammunition (metaphorically - though the metaphor was tragically crystallized in a literal form in January) and the world is a slightly more angry, divided, us-versus-them place than it was.

Which brings me to an interesting profile of Charlie  Hebdo as it is now, published in the Guardian.

I recall, speculating at the time of the shootings, that I thought Charlie Hebdo would be gone within a year - while everyone wanted to be Charlie immediately afterwards, no-one would actually want to work there or have them operating out of their premises.  That still remains to be seen, but the portrait sounds a bit grim.

The other scenario I envisaged was a sharp move to the right, as Charlie's new found audience - those that stuck with it after the initial solidarity surge - would mostly be drawn from the Pam Gellar, mad-about-Muslims fringe of lunacy.  According to the profile:
Charlie Hebdo had a print run of between 24,000 and 50,000 copies a week. But its “survivors’ edition” published after the attacks sold 8m copies and weekly sales are expected to stabilise at at least 100,000. It now has 200,000 pre-paid subscribers, compared with 8,000 before the attacks, and sales profits since January stand at around €12m before tax.
That's a big, new audience, and their political persuasions are unknown.  But I would be interested in knowing how many of them are actually French, and how many overseas; how many actually read it because they are passionate supporters of free speech, or very interested in the satirical portrayal of French and European politicians and issues, and how many are buying it in the hope CH will say something rude about Muslims.  In other wards, a rough parallel with the Islamic hate-mongers who circulated the originate obscure and naff cartoons and kept impinging them on the consciousness of the unhinged.

I suspect the long term prospects for CH are not good.  Even if they manage to resolve their internal differences (and they won't, I suspect, as there is too much money involved, and they didn't before when there was less money to squabble over), there is still the nagging issue of going to work every day wondering if today is the day for rough three of Charlie vs Allah.  And even if it does survive - and I've been wrong about most of my postulations this year, so I don't see why I should break my remarkable run of form - the magazine may have to change to meet its audience, shedding whatever left wing credentials it ever had to pander more and more to the mad hater bigots that are buying it.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Truly Depressing

Yesterday a thought crossed my mind that was so appalling that I decided not to mention it to anyone for at least 24 hours so I could b sure it was a real notion and not just an emanation from a heat oppress'd brain.  Unfortunately, the grisly phantom refused to depart, in fact it seemed to grow more substantial.  And eventually I saw it clearly.  It was Alan Johnson, bearing the crown and septre of the Labour leadership.

Because, given the current crop of wannabe hopeless hopefuls, he really is likely to be the best choice as an interim leader while the Labour Party pulls itself together and works out its problems.

Still it is early days. Johnson isn't even a contender yet, and quite likely won't ever be. But given how Burnham and Cooper seem to be hoovering up the nominations of the (pitifully small number) of MPs, it seems unlikely any fresh face can hope to garner enough backing.

Whoever ends up as leader, they need to deal with the myth of overspending.   He or she must not be trapped into mealy mouthed condemnation of public spending that was quite justifiable. Labour did not wantonly overspend in the years up to 2008. Labour invested in schools and hospitals and infrastructure to make the lives of British people better. Tories can not attack Labour for this when the George Osborne said, in 2007, his party would match Labour's spending.

Not a word from Osborne then about the need to mend fiscal roofs and austerity. No prophetic warnings about imminent financial apocalypse. Just a pledge to spend as much as Labour, happily demolishing the roof - if you accept his new improved post GFC stance - to let more sunlight in.

Just as Tories can't complain about Labour's failure to adequate regulate the city when the same George Osborne - in 2006 - complained in a letter to the Telegraph about 'burdensome' regultion that 'threatens the global competitiveness of the City of London'

So let us hear no more hypocritical, disingenuous palaver about over-spending when the Tories were pledging to do exactly the same, or about failure to regulate the City when the Tories were arguing the regulations were too onerous.

Or - since the Conservatives will no doubt continue to bleat that chorus like the sheep in Animal Farm - at least let us not hear Labour leaders trying to deny that they over spent. Simply tell it like it was. Labour invested in the means for making Britain a better country and achieved far more than the current government of antediluvian dingbats, Europhobic madpeople, ideologically crippled malcontents and Ken Clarke can ever hope to do.

As for the myth of Conservative confidence, bear in mind the opposing plans to respond to the 2008 crisis.  Recall, if you will the Tory pledge to eradicate the deficit in a single term, and contrast Alastair Darling's more measured target of halving it in the same period.

The Tories failed to deliver their planned austerity, though. Osborne failed, but - wittingly or not - DID manage to achieve Alasdair Darling's goal of halving the deficit in 5 years. Which goes to show that the Darling Plan was the sane, sensible and honest one, if you must go down the austerity route. The country is still here, in spite of the right wing howls that Britain could not afford another five years of Labour.

In essence, Britain re-elected the Tories because Labour's plan worked.

Go figure.

Which brings us back to the mess of the Labour leadership.  Perhaps the biggest argument against Johnson (other than the fact he's a Blairite relic) is strategic. Cameron will likely seek to repeal the Fixed term Parliaments Act, giving him the choice of when an election is held. he - or his post-EU successor as leader - can then 'go short' and hold an election before his majority is whittled away, rather than hang on Major style in the hope that something will turn up.

So is no guarantee this parliament is going to last five years and allow a successor to emerge to fight in 2020. I imagine the EU referendum will mark the end of Cameron's reign. If he wins, he'll pronounce His Work Here Is Done and resign as PM. If he loses, he'll proclaim a new leader is needed to energise the party. Assuming BoJo or Georgie wins it, they call a snap election if they think they can win, "Too confirm our mandate," rather than making the mistake that Callaghan and Brown did.

So suddenly the 'interim' leader is fighting an election - which Labour will probably lose otherwise the Tories wouldn't call it - and Labour is back in the same situation - carry on with Interim Alan for another three years, or start the whole sorry process again.

Still, even Johnston would be better than Burnham or Cooper.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Avaunt, and quit my sight!

From the Indie:
Ed Miliband pitted “one half of the nation against the other” in a “class war”, one of the masterminds of New Labour has said.

Writing for the US newspaper the New York Times, Lord [Peter] Mandelson said he believed Labour lost the general election because Mr Miliband abandoned the ‘one nation’ rhetoric of his earlier speeches.

“The bigger reason Labour lost the argument is that the British, on the whole, do not like income disparities being turned into class war,” the former business secretary said

“Earlier in his leadership, Mr Miliband fought on a platform of social justice and fairness, using the language of ‘one nation.’ In the campaign, he seemed intent on pitting one half of the nation against the other.”
Mandelson is a massive sucker of privilege so probably does feel he is the hapless victim of some communist inspired class war revolution fantasia. A ghastly spectre of an ancient era that will not let itself be consigned to the dustbin of history.  An unquiet spectre forever shaking its chains and gibbering.  He is also, of course, an idiot.

A mildly rightwing programme such as Labour proposed at the election - basically a slightly less vicious version of the Tory austerity fetish - is not class warfare.

Mandelson is a relic, and almost always wrong. In office, he achieved nothing more than exposing - multiple times, and unintentionally - the contemptible, despicable, power and money worshipping side of the New Labour project.

Why does he feel the need to carry on sticking his irrelevant oar into the business of a party that he has little real understanding of or interest in any longer?

Monday 11 May 2015

Oddly, I don't recall seeing them much BEFORE the election ...

But here they are, crawling out of the wood work immediately after their vote-shedding faces are no longer likely to jeopardise Conservative prospects.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr Michael Gove:

And by 'charged' I mean 'told to by David Cameron' not 'in legal trouble because of'!  Though you'd think taking a blow torch to the legal protection of British citizens might merit the latter sort of charging.

And here is Mr Iain Duncan Smith, showing Ed Miliband that there is life after losing the leadership:

Iain is clearly very happy.  And who can blame him for feeling chipper?  He's just been charged (again, in the 'told to by David Cameron' sense) with hacking a further £12 billion out of the welfare budget. Obviously, Iain isn't going to be feeling any of these cuts, otherwise he might not be looking quite so smug.


 From the Guardian : The  Observer  understands that as well as backing away from its £28bn a year commitment on green investment (while sti...