Saturday, 30 November 2019

Boris Johnson Goes Down

It hasn't been a good week for the Conservatives, pollwise.  All major recent polls are showing their lead shrinking.

Comparing each pollster's current (between 29/11 and 22/11) and previous most recent poll.

  • Panel Base - Conservative lead down 2 points.
  • Com Res - Conservative lead down 3 points.
  • You Gov - Conservative lead down 1 point.
  • Kantar - Conservative lead down 8 points.
  • ICM - Conservative lead down 3 points.
  • Survation - Conservative lead down 3 points.
  • Deltapoll - Conservative lead down 2 points.
All from here.

Like I've said many times, I don't trust pollsters to get vote shares right; some of these polls are still showing outlandishly high Conservative leads. But I do expect them to be able to pick up indications movement. Which is what we're seeing.

I still think there is likely more movement than they are detecting, and things are much closer than they are showing.

So here's a song for Boris Johnson, which captures his arrogant sense of entitlement ("I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie"), his sexual incontinence and his current polling:


Frank Zappa - predicting everything about Boris Johnson before anyone else knew Boris Johnson needed to be predicted.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party - Again

Within quick succession, Countdown maths wizard and twitterer Rachel Riley, alleged comedian David Baddiel and prominent lawyer Andrew Julius have all expressed very similar opinions / ideas:

Riley has been a ferocious critic of Corbyn for a while.  Notably, she recently alter a well know image of him being arrested at an anti-Apartheid rally in the 80s to call Corbyn a racist.


Classy.

It is worth noting that Riley is echoing the sentiments promoted by the billboards on the trucks shown in her tweet.  And those billboards would have had to be prepared well in advance.  They were commissioned by a group called The Community United against Labour Party anti-Semitism (CULPA) who have carried out similar stunts in the past.  I remember doing some vague digging about them and finding ... something ... that I thought was interesting but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

(EDIT - I actually blogged on the earlier parade of billboards at the time.  I'm pretty sharp, I am.  Today's news, yesterday!  It's associated with a character called Jonathan Hoffman, a politicised pensioner who has somehow reconciled his Jewish identity and the racist politics of the English Defence League.  It seems Hoffman has learned something from buddying up with the EDL - in June he was found guilty of a public order offence after threatening a speaker at a demonstration.)

Then Baddiel:
This in response to the surreal debate about whether Corbyn's pronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein's name is some sort of anti-Semitic act.

Baddiel is saying (as explained earlier and drawing on two different comments he made as proof) that he thinks Corbyn is passively / subconsciously anti-Semitic. As you said, it is right there. The word "actively" is the give away.

He isn't accusing Corbyn of wanting to beat up Jews, or shout abuse at them; he is saying Corbyn consistently disregards, minimizes or trivializes Jewish concerns about some of his associations and endorsements; and (important bit) this consistent pattern of behaviour is something that most Jews would consider anti-Semitic.

So passive / unconsious anti-Semitism, not the active, goose-stepping Horst Wessel Song singing sort. But still - in Baddiel's opinion, or at least that of "most Jews" - anti-Semitism.

And finally Julius, responding to comments made by Harold Evans, who he worked with on the Irving libel trial:
To purge the party of anti-Semitism will be the work of a generation. The evidence that the political will exists to undertake this task is not compelling: members are not yet ashamed enough of their party’s anti-Semitism. The driving out of leading Jewish (and non-Jewish) politicians from the party, who cited its anti-Semitism, did not have a substantial impact on party morale, still less commit its officials and elected members to decisive action. We cannot leave the work to the party itself. Supporters have to lend a hand. Depriving the party of a vote is a start.
Three diverse sources all with essentially the same message - that a vote for Labour is a de facto racist act, and that voting Labour is endorsing and accepting the anti-Semitism Riley, Baddiel and Julius claim infests the party.

Julius is the most interesting case.  He is a prominent legal practitioner well known for his involvement in the Deborah Lipstadt libel trial.  He is also - according to Wikipedia - "an advisory editor at the current affairs journal Fathom" - which has published negative pieces about anti-Semitism in Labour - and "a founding member of both Engage and the Euston Manifesto" - the latter linking him to another fervent Corbyn critic, Nick Cohen - and "From 2011 to 2014 he was chairman of the board of The Jewish Chronicle" - which brings in Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle since 2008, another trenchant opponent of Jeremy Corbyn.

The tactic seems to be persuading Labour supporters that - if they prioritise social justice (or free cricket and broadband) over confronting anti-Semitism (and thus, perforce, accepting it exists, as defined by Juius et al) - they are akin to Corbyn tolerating his dodgy mates, which means "most Jews" would consider them anti-Semitic.  Most people don't want to be thought of as racists or anti-Semites, so will be deterred.

What does all this mean?  I have no idea.  I do know, if I was inclined to buy into anti-Semitic tropes, I'd be having a field day with all these media tie-ins.  I really don't want to go down THAT road.  David Irving might revoke my honourable standing as a "Traditional enemy of truth."  But there is something going on, some of it clearly deliberate and orchestrated, and some possibly coincidental (I struggle to think why anyone trying to hatch a conspiracy would include the tiresome David Baddiel); but, either way, the previously discussed cynical weaponization of anti-Semitism seems to being deployed once again.

Damn the Polls

So, there have been a bunch of bad polls out for Labour, and even the Leftie's friend, Survation, have recently given the Conservatives a rip-snorting 11% lead.  You Gov's much vaunted MRP poll - which pretty much nailed the result in 2015 - is currently predicting a comfortable majority for the Conservatives.

People have such touching faith in the opinion polls. I think the polls are wildly incorrect, on a 2017+ scale.

They may be right, they may be wrong.  Usually, they are wrong, often significantly so.  Remember, most pollsters had the conservatives winning a comfortable majority in 2017 ... and said there would be a hung parliament in 2015 ... and the Tories would win decisively in 2010.  Not forgetting the Brexit referendum and the Soccish independence referendum (which pollsters were predicting would be close).

In 2017 I had trust in Survation; this year I've lost faith in them. It's a bit like atheism - they say Christian's don't believe in 99.99% of all gods that have historically been worshipped, atheists feel the same, but add one more to the list. My hunch / hope is that Survation have messed up the BXP redistribution. Since the BXP pulled out of contesting Conservative seats, Survation have started showing large Conservative leads.

The bottom line is  - I'm finding it hard to believe that Boris Johnson is as popular as Blair in his heyday. 

I can not comprehend widescale enthusiasm for a blustering fool, liar, cheat and blowhard who gets booed wherever he goes. (But that's enough about me ...)

Nor can I imagine Labour's exciting and ambitious manifesto not catching on.

So inspite of the polls I'm feeling pretty cocky at the moment. At the start of the election I predicted Labour would finish as largest party with about 290 seats. Obviously, the opinion polls are saying that isn't going to happen, but we know they are bollocks. I may have been a bit optimistic, but we'll see. I think another stalemate - perhaps even staler than the last one - is a distinct possibility. And Labour finishing ahead is not out of the question.

Also bear in mind this wisdom from Tom Clark, considering the You Gov MRP poll:

Lesson 1 of 2015 is that it’s no use having more data if you’re data is biased. Back then, inspired by the cult of Nate Silver & his state-by-state stuff, we had loads of constituency polls and seat-by-seat projections that turned out to be tosh

https://twitter.com/prospect_clark/status/1199828481095479296

Good thread, by the way.

I think Labour will rally, and the Conservatives will sink, as people realise how insipid their manifesto is and Johnson continues to come across as an over-promoted dolt. It will be like a crapper version of 2019, with neither side managing to whip up the enthusiasm of two years ago.

I think the final result will be:
37% Con
35% Lab
13% Lib Dem
5% BXP
4% SNP
2.5% GRN
2% Irish
0.5% PC
1% Others
And with numbers like that (depending on how they translate into seats) it is hard to see how Johnson can get into Downing Street.

But I am worried about people feeling demoralised and despairing, which may make the polls self-fulfilling

Monday, 25 November 2019

Some cheap soundbites i thought up while reading about the underwhelming Conservative manifesto

Tory manifesto: big on austerity, low on promise, non-existent on delivery.

The Tories: the party so big on ambition they couldn't be arsed writing a manifesto.

MLK: "I have a dream!"
BJ: "I'll just have a nap."

Labour: Broadband!
Tories: Narrow minds!

Labour have hope, dreams and ambition. The Tories will save you.

Labour - shooting for the moon and falling among the stars.
Tories - shooting at the ground and hitting themselves in the foot.

Labour: Dare to dream: Tories: Try to stay awake.

If that all seems a bit airy-fairy, perhaps the IFS are more serious and convincing:
The Conservative government had already planned to increase day-to-day spending on public services by £11.7 billion next year with some further increases for schools and the NHS in subsequent years. Their manifesto adds just £2.9 billion to current plans in 2023–24. This is a very modest increase indeed – it would boost spending in that year by less than one-third of one per cent of what was already planned.

The manifesto pledges appear to leave little scope for spending increases beyond next year outside of those planned for health and schools. Even in 2023–24 day-to-day spending on public services outside of health would still be almost 15 per cent lower in real terms that it was at the start of the 2010s.
That's some serious bad shit right there.  Vote Tory for FIFTEEN years of austerity.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Scary Opinium Poll

This, of course, doesn't look good.  Labour have been chucking big, headline grabbing policies left, right and centre ... Well, maybe not right.  Left, left and centre left, perhaps.

But then again, Opinium have always tended to show big Tory leads.  The 16% there isn't too outlandish for them.  Every single one of their last ten polls has given the Tories a double digit lead.  And 5 out of that 10 have given it as 15% or 16%.


Another interesting (for me) feature of Opinium's polling is that they seem to have recently started including the nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales - and this seems to have coincided with the ballooning of the Conservative lead.

What could this mean?

1 - The Tories became wildly popular at that time and it is just a coincidence.

2 - Everyone in Scotland who supported SNP but didn't have the option said they'd vote Labour instead, and that was a lot of people; one they got the option of saying they'd vote SNP instead they did so, and Labour's vote collapsed.

3 - Opinium made some big methodological changes at the time and now their polling is completely bonkers.

Looking back at Opinium's polling pedigree, I find more reasons to be sceptical.  In 2017, their polls in the month leading up to the election gave leads of 15%, 13%, 10%, 6% and 7% - so they did detect a narrowing of the Conservative lead, but seem to have consistently underestimated how tight the race was.

So if Opinium say the lead is 16% it is probably 8%.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Asking for it ...



"I saw a newspaper picture,
From the political campaign
A woman was kissing a child,
Who was obviously in pain.
She spills with compassion,
As that young child's
Face in her hands she grips
Can you imagine all that greed and avarice
Coming down on that child's lips?"

Sunday, 10 November 2019

War of the worms

I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.

In fact, we might just be seeing the start of this trend now:


The Conservative worm appears to be taking a rest, while Labour's is - perhaps - starting to wriggle energetically upwards.

There seems to be a ceiling on support for the Conservatives - in 2017 it was in the mid 40s and now, critically, it is several points lower (due to disillusionment over Brexit, disenchantment over social problems, the rise of the Farage and the Brexit Party, and Johnson being more of a 'difficult' figure to voters than May was).

Meanwhile, Labour's potential will be starting to think seriously about who they want to vote for and - possibly reluctantly at first - opting for Labour.

Importantly, this will create a new narrative - that the Conservatives are 'stalled' and Labour are starting to ;close the gap' and the 'Corbyn effect' is starting to impact on the campaign. That will mostly be twaddle but the media like to sound like they know what is going on and sound clever (like me).  The result will be that they actually start to create the effect they are trying to discern.

This might sound like grave hypocrisy from someone who frequently scorns polls, but the point is not the individual numbers or even where the aggregate lies, but the trend. Pollsters - unless they are completely useless - will tend to pick up shifts of opinion - and how the polls actually can influence the public's perception of what is going on.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Out of the past - Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century

Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?

That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.

Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there to leave the country with just sixteen days grace to do it in, and gave the state the power to seize their property and dispose of it.

The act wasn't absolutely successful as a few decades later Mary I passed a follow up act that grudgingly allowed the Romani to stay, as long as they abandoned their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company". In other words, if they settled down, assimilated and started behaving like good christian souls.

If this all sounds a bit familiar it is because it isn't just because Nazi Germany also targeted Romani as one of its gateway genocides.  It's also a new policy proposal from the Conservative Party:
Police will be able to arrest travellers and seize caravans if they set up illegal campsites on private or public land. 
Strict new laws will make it a criminal offence to occupy land with the intention of setting up home there, without getting prior permission. 
Home Secretary Priti Patel has outlined proposals to give police the power to remove unwelcome visitors. 
Currently, trespass is considered a civil matter meaning landowners face a long and expensive legal battle to remove offenders. 
'Unauthorised encampments can cause misery to those who live nearby, with reports of damage to property, noise, abuse and littering,' Ms Patel told The Sun on Sunday. 
She added: 'The public want their communities protected and for the police to crack down on trespassers. 
'Our proposals aim to ensure these encampments can be challenged and removed as quickly as possible.' 
In the Republic of Ireland, 'unauthorised encampment' is a criminal offence. However there is also a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide sites for travellers. 
Ms Patel is aiming to copy the criminal offence system and is seeking views from councils, police forces, travellers and the public on alternative measures.
There is an issue underneath this - I wouldn't like twenty caravans turning up in my garden unannounced and uninvited.  Landowners (private or public) should be able to have unwelcome campers removed without "a long and expensive legal battle".

But the proposal Patel is making is pretty obvious dog whistle politics, playing on all manner of unpleasant stereotypes and bigotries, and cynically timed for the election.  I mean, the Tories have been in power for NINE AND A HALF YEARS.  In spite of their claims to hold the concerns of the Daily Mail middle Britain close to their heart, the Tories don't seem to have been too bothered about the 'issue' (also known as people) - until it became politically expedient to pander to socially acceptable racism.

Also note that the Irish system Patel claims to be using as a model has a legal obligation for camp sites to be set up for travellers.  Patel doesn't seem to be too bothered about that, as it is "the criminal offence system" she is interested in copying, while only seeking "views" on other aspects.

Musical aside - Scotland, alas, had similar legal prohibitions against Romani.  The Scottish outlaw / folk hero James MacPherson and some of his band were sentenced to death for the crime of "being Egyptians," commemorated in the Song MacPherson's Rant, supposedly composed by MacPherson himself the night before his execution:


Friday, 8 November 2019

Let this never be forgot

In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.


Lades and gentlemen, the true face of the Conservative Party - inhumane, arrogant, blinkered and contemptuous. And utterly unapologetic.

Vote for them at your peril.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Media impartiality

Sky's economics editor, Ed Conway has posted a Twitter thread responding to a claim that - as far as I can see - Labour never made:


Note, "All time high."

The tweet that provoked this, from Jonathan Ashwoth, Labour's Health and Social Care Secretary:

Nothing there about cancelled operations at an all time high.

The Ashworth tweet links to a statement put out by Labour which also does not make the claim Conway (using the weaselly "the impression you might have been left with") inveigles into the debate:
New data obtained by Labour through FOIs has revealed a huge increase in the number of cancelled operations because of staffing issues and equipment failures.

Last year, 78,981 operations were cancelled. These operations were either classed as urgent or were elective operations cancelled at the last minute – either on the day the patient was due to arrive in hospital or after they had already arrived.

The number of operations cancelled because of staffing issues and equipment failures have each increased by a third in two years. Last year, 10,900 were cancelled because of staffing issues and 4800 were cancelled because of equipment failures.

There are currently over 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, with shortages of 10,000 doctors and 43,000 nurses. Cuts to NHS Capital Budgets have left the health service with a £6.5 billion repair bill.
Again, nothing in there to justify Conway's disingenuous claim.  It's odd he would put these words into a Twitter thread where he then goes onto do some really detailed statistical analysis ... Unless, of course, he was just trying to create a false impression about what Labour were claiming, or wasn't very good at his job.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

My loyal readership of ... Cam girls and Pornbots?

I checked my traffic stats:


I was intrigued by 'monica29' - who was this very dedicated individual?  I clicked on the link, to be greeted with ...


Ho, hum.

Spreadin' the word, spreadin' the word.  Doesn't matter who hears it, as long as it gets out there.

Worth repeating forever

There have been three polls since the election was announced, and I will shamelessly steal YouGov / UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells' summary of them:
Survation – CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 19%, BREX 12%, GRN 1%
Ipsos MORI – CON 41%, LAB 24%, LDEM 20%, BREX 7%, GRN 3%
YouGov – CON 36%, LAB 21%, LDEM 18%, BREX 13%, GRN 6%
I'll also shamelessly steal from his commentary on these polls:
It’s worth noting that that Tory lead is largely down to a split opposition. Even in the MORI poll the Conservatives have lost support since the election (in the YouGov and Survation polls they’ve lost a lot of support). This is not a popular government – in the MORI poll, their satisfaction rating is minus 55 – it’s just that the main opposition have lost even more support. The healthy Conservative lead is down to the fact that the Conservatives are retaining the bulk of the Leave vote, while the remain vote is split between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid and so on. 
For as long as this is the case, the Conservatives should do well. If it should change they’ll struggle. If the Brexit party manage to get back into the race and take support from the Tories it would eat into their lead. The other risk for the Tories is if the Remain vote swings more decisively behind either Labour or the Liberal Democrats (or that there are signs of more effective tactical voting, winning seats off the Conservatives despite a split vote). Essentially Boris Johnson needs to keep the Leave vote united and the Remain vote divided.
The 'Vote stupid, get Tories' message can never be hammered home enough.

That said, I am feeling pessimistic today.  My hunch is that we will wait ... and wait ... and wait for the 'Corbyn surge' that never quite materialises.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope it is just early morning glumness following a late night (there was a rugby match) and the prospect of a Sunday afternoon spent doing frustratingly dull work.  I hope all the Conservative voters decide to stay at home because they are too sickened of all this nonsense to turn out to vote.  I hope Momentum organise furiously, target their resources well and get the vote out where it matters.

n.b. The bit that is worth 'repeating forever' is the bit about the dangers of splitting the vote, not the bit about me feeling a bit doubtful.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Rabbi urges congregation to vote against Corbyn

Though Jonathan Romain is a fairly high profile Rabbi, writing in several papers and popping up on TV and the radio, this story doesn't seem to have made it to the Guardian yet, so I'll take the unusual step of linking the Stephen Pollard edited Jewish Chronicle:
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain has taken the unprecedented step of writing to his congregation urging them to vote for whatever political party stands the best chance of beating Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour candidates in the forthcoming general election.

The Maidenhead synagogue minister revealed he had sent the letter to 823 families who are members of the Berkshire shul across 16 different constituencies suggesting that “a Corbyn-led government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it.”
The source article notes that it is unusual for a Rabbi to be issuing political advice like this, then continues with a lengthy Romain's letter.
"I should stress that the problem is not the Labour Party itself, which has a long record of fighting discrimination and prejudice, but the problem is Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn-led Labour, has at best, let antisemitism arise within its ranks, or at worst, has encouraged it.

“This has never happened under any previous Labour leader, whether under Tony Blair on the right, Neil Kinnock in the centre or Michael Foot on the left, so the finger of responsibility really does seem to point to Jeremy Corbyn.

“I am therefore suggesting we should each put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour in whatever constituency we are in - even if we would never normally vote for that party.”
I am quite happy with Rabbi Romain expressing his opinion.  I can't see the point of religion that isn't engaged in social and political activity.  Religion is a political activity, and religion that tells its members not to be political is an inherently political act.  Quiescence and silence are de facto support for the status quo.  You can't be neutral or disengaged.

That doesn't mean I agree with what the good Rabbi says, of course.  I hate what you say but I defend to the death the right to et cetera, et cetera.  It's a ridiculous mish-mash of nonsense.

It's absurd to say "Corbyn-led Labour, has at best, let antisemitism arise within its ranks"; 'let' implies a degree of quiescence and apathy.  Labour has not been passive.  It might not have done as much as the Jewish Chronicle or, it would seem, Rabbi Romain would like, but it has not ignored the issue with the passive indifference that 'let' suggests.

But Corbyn's Labour party has taken far more action against anti-Semitism and anti-Semites within Labour than any previous iteration of the party in the time frame laid out by Romain.  Setting aside Corbyn's long history of engagement and expressions of sympathy for British Jews, following the Chakrabarti inquiry anti-Semitism is now something you can specifically be expelled from Labour for.  Previously, it was fudged under the heading of 'bringing the party into disrepute'; the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by the party, controversial examples and all; and many, many cases have been processed, and at a faster rate than previously.

It has been alleged - by Jon Lansman - that the delays in processing of anti-Semitism cases was not due to indifference by Corbyn and his team but by politically motivated neglect by anti-Corbynites on the NEC, who delayed processes in order to generate negative headlines about anti-Semitism.

On this troubling issue, where justice is being delayed and anti-Semitism used as a prop in political theatre, Rabbi Romain appears silent.

That was his 'best case' scenario, remember.  He suggests that, at worst, "has encouraged" anti-Semitism with in the party.

I think claiming Corbyn has "encouraged" anti-Semitism is someone wanting to be martyred. He's either hoping for a libel writ or (more likely) fishing for abuse so he can jump up and down and say, "See! Anti-Semitism!" and Pollard can write more articles bloviating about the wickedness of Corbynites and Corbyn.

I hope people will observe the distinction between criticism and abuse.  It is not wrong that Rabbi Romain has used his position to make a political point; it is wrong that his point appears not to be based on facts and the genuine interests of his congregation but political animus seeking a means to its end.  But he does not deserve to be shouted down, threatened or abused for that.

First, because it would be utterly wrong to do that.  Second, because it would be utterly wrong to do that.  Third, (and a distant third) because it would play into the hands of the sort of people who don't have the interests of Labour or of British Jews in their hearts.

I wonder if any journalists will interview members of his congregation to find out what they think of the Rabbi's letter?  Find out what actual Jews think, rather than just disseminating the utterances of their leaders.

Of course, that would require a bit of journalism, something of a dead art in 2019.

My absurdly optimistic prediction

There's an election afoot, and that is when noted opinion formers such as myself get to make wild fools of ourselves by pretending we have the faintest idea what will happen.

So, here is my absurdly optimistic prediction:
Labour - 285
Conservative - 262
SNP - 53
Lib Dems - 20
PC - 5
Ireland - 18 (probably 7 abstentions, and the DUP taking a hit.)
Greens - 1
Independents - 6
Meaning a Labour-SNP coalition, possibly with Lib Dems lending a bit of support here and there.

"Absurdly optimistic?" I hear you ask.  "You've only got Labour on 285!  I thought you'd have them down for an outright majority.  What's absurdly optimistic about 285?"

The optimism is that any prediction will withstand contact with reality.  Elections are inscrutable beasts.  They defy augury.  They confound expertise.  Anyone pretending to know how it will end is guessing and hoping.  Consider the last three:

2010 - Tory victory expected. Result - hung parliament.
2015 - Hung parliament expected (or even a Labour victory). Result - Tory majority.
2017 - Tory landslide expected. Result - hung parliament.

So, yeah, any prediction is absurdly optimistic.

Corbyn the Mighty vs BoJo the Clown

Interesting contrasting pictures in the Guardian:


Corbyn gets the classic positive shot - low angle and a clear background, making him look authoritative (of course, being Corbyn, he doesn't do authoritative very well).

Where as Johnson gets pictured with children at some sort of mad-hatters' tea party:


Begging the question, who is the adult in THAT room?  ANd who is the odd large blonde child in the comedy suit?

It shows impressively poor foresight by the Conservatives. They KNEW there was an election coming and they let their candidate who looks like a clown at the best of times - sit down with a bunch of school kids.

What is more interesting, though, is that the Guardian decided to use these pictures, suggesting a more positive attitude towards Corbyn than I might have anticipated.

I am still here.

 I am still here.  I haven't gone away.  I'm just trying to shame you all into better behaviour through my disapproving silence.