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.


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