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


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