Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Labour Leadership Contest Just Became Much More Interesting

Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader was a classic case of bad timing. Just when the newly elected Tory government is about to force through some of the deepest cuts to public services since the Thatcher era, the Labour Party was forced to engage in an internal dialogue rather than turn and face their apparent enemy. A week after the end of the election, the candidates who put themselves forward for the vacant position of leader were some of the blandest, most right-wing MPs in the party. Liz Kendall was the first to announce her candidacy. Kendall, a self-confessed Blairite, believes Labour came across as “too left-wing”. Hilarious. She was followed in short order by Chuka Umunna (withdrawn), Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh (withdrawn). The words “fag paper” and “between them” came to mind. What a dreary slate, I thought.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, to the surprise of everyone, Jeremy Corbyn threw his hat into the ring. Most political commentators believed that Corbyn, a veteran campaigner, had no chance of getting onto the ballot paper but it happened. Here’s Corbyn making his pitch on Newsnight on 8 June.

Now the Tories are lining up to tell anyone who will listen that Labour has done the wrong thing by allowing Corbyn onto the ballot. By doing this, they reckon, Labour would suffer a massive defeat in 2020 at the hands of the wobbly Tory government. Some Tories, like Ruth Davidson of the nearly defunct Scottish Conservative Party claims that she will join Labour as an affiliate to vote for Corbyn.

Yeah, you go and do that, Ruthie. You’re only in the Scottish Parliament because you’re on a party list. However, The Cat believes the Tories are deluding themselves and in their arrogance, they believe their message of never-ending cuts to public services, anti-working class hatred and fear is a winner with the public. They believe this because they won a slender majority on 24.3% of the vote. Hardly a mandate in anyone’s book. But I think the Tories are secretly frightened that a new narrative will emerge to challenge the primacy of neoliberalism. They under-estimate people’s anger and seek to dismiss it as the rantings of the “extreme left”. This is desperate stuff from a desperate, arrogant and out-of-touch government that is little over a month old.

As Vox Political points out,

You can always tell when Tories are afraid of someone – they produce newspaper articles saying that he’s rubbish.

Let the character assassinations and hatchet-jobs commence, eh? Dan Hodges, who’s become a sort of cross between a pantomime villain and Norma Desmond, was first out of the traps; his kecks round his ankles and shite on his hands, with this smear job titled “Jeremy Corbyn proves the lunatic wing of the Labour Party is still calling the shots”. Jeez, what is it with this guy Hodges?

So he made it. Jeremy Corbyn is on the leadership ballot. Bats––t crazy Labour is alive and well.

The opening paragraph encapsulates the article’s tone. From there it’s a sharp descent into melodrama and paranoia. Halfway down the article, Dismal Dan cites this Tweet from Dizzy Doug Carswell, UKIP’s only MP.

Douglas Carswell MP on Twitter- -Please let_picmonkeyed

Things must be getting pretty desperate for Dan (geddit?) if he has to quote a Kipper for support. Who will he quote next? David Starkey? Paul Kagame? But Carswell’s getting ahead of himself. His party isn’t exactly in the best shape at the moment.What with the infighting, the resignations that aren’t really resignations and the defection of the suspended MEP, Janice Atkinson, to the Euro Parliament’s far-right grouping. Remember her? She called a Thai constituent a “ting tong”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s presence on the ballot paper means an alternative discourse can at last be heard. The media outlets will continue to do their best to smear Corbyn and those who support him, but there is a large body of voters who simply aren’t being represented by the Tories and the Kippers; the two butt-ugly faces of capitalism. Fleet Street and the rest of the mainstream media zombies don’t seem to understand this. Now there is a chance. Now there is a glimmer of hope. Even if Corbyn doesn’t win the leadership of the party, the rest of the candidates will have to listen. If they don’t, they can kiss any chance of a victory in 2020 goodbye.

One thing that you can’t deny is that the Labour Party leadership election just became much more interesting.

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Smears and Scare Tactics: That’s the Tory Campaign

I bet you feel like a right mug

I wrote this blog during the General Election and didn’t get around to finishing it. The Tories didn’t run a good election campaign. if there were prizes handed out for the best campaign, the Tories would have lost. There, I said it. There was nothing substantive: just the usual half-arsed crap that they tend to write on a hooker’s backside during one of their cocaine binges. Flog off this or that asset (even if it doesn’t belong to the state), and keep beating up the poor and the weak. The public want more of that shit! Yeah! *Sniffs* *Twitches*

Labour’s campaign wasn’t great either. There was the embarrassing immigration mug and the cringe-inducing pink ladies’ (sic) battle bus. But it wasn’t as bad as the Conservative Party’s campaign, which was a dismally negative affair, full of lies, smears and good old fashioned scaremongering. Labour had some mildly social democratic policies like some form of rent control, but the party seemed to suffer from an inferiority complex. This was evident in the way they failed to counter the Tories’ constant lie that they “crashed the economy” and “bankrupted” country.

David Cameron was just as gutless and like all good bullies, he got his friends to do his dirty work. He refused to debate Ed Miliband in a head-to-head interview and it’s no secret that the former was shit scared at the prospect of being found out as a phony and wriggled his way out. The SNP ran a good campaign and their leader Nicola Sturgeon put the three unionists in the shade during the Leaders Debates. Such was Sturgeon’s popularity that many English voters wanted to vote for her as Prime Minister… not realizing, of course, that we don’t have a presidential system. As for the Lib Dems, we never really heard from them much until the final week. UKIP spouted the usual rubbish about immigrants and the Greens ran the kind of campaign that Labour should have been running. That’s pretty much it.

Although it is unfinished, the blog below gives a snapshot of the third week of the election. It’s mainly about the Gruesome Twosome: Michael Gove and Sarah Vine.

Scaremongering. That’s what this election is all about. Forget the policies. Just be afraid. Be afraid of the big bad SNP and Labour walking together through the aye lobby. The Tories and their preferred coalition partners, UKIP, have resorted to scare tactics to win over voters.  The former uses the spectre of communism, while the latter relies on the fear of the Other. The Tories are past masters of the scare tactic and they have access to the best practitioners of political skulduggery. Indeed, they employ people whose job it is to smear their opponents and plant the seeds of fear in people’s minds. The Conservative Research Department (CRD), for example, is well known for its smear tactics, espionage and dirty tricks.

When Michael Gove was moved to the whip’s office in the last cabinet reshuffle, he was apparently given the extra role of chief propagandist. Since the election was announced, Gove has popped up in television and radio studios to smear the Labour Party. He paints nightmarish images of a Labour minority government supported by the SNP that are worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. Gove and wife, Sarah Vine, are a sort of husband and wife smear team. He spreads poison on the airwaves, she spreads poison in the print media and online. Vine recently claimed, with unintentional hilarity, that Britain would become a “communist dictatorship under Labour and the SNP“. But she went further and insulted northerners and Scots too. Her husband’s a Scot, but he’s one of those Scots who’s mair Sassenach than Scottish. Great way to win over voters in the, er, ‘Northern Power House’ too, eh Sarah? How about sticking to what you’re good at? Like accusing the Director of Public Prosecution, Alison Saunders, of being “politically correct”.

In August last year, Judge Mary Jane Mowat, who spent 18 years on the bench in Oxford before retiring, claimed the rape conviction rate would not improve until women stopped drinking so heavily.

 ‘I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken women,’ she added. ‘I’m not saying that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.’

She simply explained that a jury in a case where a woman can’t remember what she was doing ‘because she was off her head’ is less likely to convict.

She was speaking a basic truth. For her trouble she was vilified by the feministas.

Vine is no friend of feminists either, here referring to them as “feministas”. Fuck the sisterhood, eh Sarah?

Then there were the snide jibes about the Milibands’ kitchens (sic).

Not much prospect of a decent meal emanating from that mean, sterile, little box. No succulent joints of beef dripping in juices, no half-drunk bottles of red wine and mountain of fluffy white roast potatoes. It’ll be a quinoa salad with a side of shaved fennel, if you’re lucky. Let’s hope there’s a decent kebab shop around the corner

How petty.

Gove’s appearances on television have been nothing short of cringeworthy. Here he is attempting to explain his party’s manifesto commitment to extend Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants. He and his fellow ministers failed to tell the voracious Housing Association chief executives, who each draw down six-figure salaries about this, er, plan.

The plan… yes, that’s it. The Tories have a plan. So we’re told. It’s been given a name too. It’s the ‘Long Term Economic Plan’ or LTEP. Really trips off the tongue, doesn’t it? But it’s not a plan; it’s a slogan. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was coined to give the impression the Tories actually have something worth voting for. They don’t. They’re still recycling what’s left of Thatcher’s policies. Do you really want to go back to the 1980s? I know I don’t.

The Tories are hoping that many voters will internalise their scaremongering and lies. I watched a segment on Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Politics which had Giles Dilnot interview three workers in a Northamptonshire shoe factory. Two of them claimed they weren’t going to vote Labour, having voted for them in the past. Like an ‘I speak your weight’ machine (ask your grandparents), one said, bang on cue “I don’t have any faith in Miliband”, the other repeated the silly sub-Cain and Abel story, “He stabbed his brother in the back”. The former Labour voters told Dilnot they were going to vote UKIP, while the other claimed he was going to vote Tory. Gove was probably rubbing his hands with glee when he heard that. But these three workers (if indeed they were workers rather than managers) were not a representative sample of the nation’s voters and seemed to have been chosen for the purpose of claiming Labour’s fortunes were in the toilet and the Tories were now going to cruise home to victory.

Back to Gove. Yesterday, he told The Scotsman that his party was “closing the gap on Labour” and claimed that the Tories would win “three seats” in Scotland. What’s he smoking? Let me tell you something: it ain’t crack.

Here’s Gove talking up his party’s chances in Scotland last week on Newsnight. He also gets a chance to do some scaremongering. Gove repeats the “coalition of chaos” slogan while, at the same time, ignoring his own government’s chaos. The so-called “Omnishambles” budget, anyone?

There’s clearly too much of Gove on Newsnight. Gove is a dismal, unpleasant, obsequious, slimy, spiteful, repellent little creep twerp man, not content with smashing up our education system, he has been unleashed on the nation’s viewers and listeners as the Tories’ number one attack dog.

After the Leaders Debate a couple of weeks ago, Gove appeared on Question Time claiming Nicola Sturgeon would “hold the whip hand” over Ed Miliband and then repeated the lie that the last Labour government “bankrupted the country”. He wasn’t challenged by Andy Burnham. Huh? Then Gove tangled with Parker lookalike Peter Hitchens. The man in the audience who claimed Farage was “having a proper conversation” with the nation had clearly internalized the crap he’d read, seen or heard in the media. At one point he enters into a dialogue with Hitchens and claims that Farage “looked real”. I thought he looked sweaty and spoke a load of nonsense. What do I know? When pressed on a possible deal with UKIP, Gove squirmed, wriggled and fudged his reply. When the man in the orange shirt tackles Gove on his lies about the country “being close to Greece economically”, he squirms again. Then Hitchens, who’s no left-winger by any stretch of the imagination, steps in and finishes the job… and then goes on to claim the UK “encourages mass (sic) immigration”. Sigh.

So there it is: the third week of the nastiest general election since 1992, which ended much the same way as that election. Anyone would think…

This isn’t the end of the matter. There’s more to come.

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Corruption Rules UK

Yesterday, Radio 4’s Today programme told its listeners that David Cameron was going to urge the leaders at the G7 beano summit that they must do more to stamp out corruption. The FIFA corruption scandal seems to have acted as a spur for him to cast himself as the world’s anti-corruption champion. As we all know, this is all an act with Dave, the flim-flam man. Look, the guy wants to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a cheap imitation. Doesn’t that seem like an excuse to further legitimize other forms of corruption?

It’s tempting to think that corruption is the sort of thing that only happens in other countries like Egypt, Zimbabwe and Guatemala, where human rights abuses are an everyday occurrence. Corruption goes against the British ‘sense of fair play’. It simply isn’t cricket.  After all, we’re told by mainstream politicians and our [less than] free press that Britain, unlike some other countries, has something called ‘the rule of law’. And that makes everything just peachy and kopesetic. I mean, so what if free speech isn’t enshrined in statute or The Daily Mail traduces your name on its pages? You can always sue them for libel. Can’t you? Well, the best you can hope for is some mealy-mouthed apology buried on page 45. That’s it. Only those with substantial sums of money can sue someone for defamation in this country. That’s how satirists in this country are silenced. Not through violence and intimidation but through the courts. It’s the rule of law. It’s so terribly English. No one cracked George Cruikshank’s skull for painting immoral caricatures of the George VI, he was given a hundred nicker and told never to do it again. So civilized.

People will often say that politicians are corrupt. I wouldn’t go that far. However I would say that some politicians are certainly corrupt and that Tory governments, in particular, tend to abuse their power. Remember, this is the party that abolished the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London Council because the people didn’t vote the way they wanted them to. Now apparently unrestrained by the Liberal Democrats, the Toerags want to impose a 50% turnout threshold on strike ballots with 40% of eligible members supporting strike action. This is from a party, when it was in coalition, that allowed many Police and Crime Commissioners to be elected to office on an overall national turnout of 15.1%. Dude, where’s your mandate?

The present Tory regime intends to redraw the electoral boundaries because it claims that it’s fair (sic). Their chief complaint is that the electoral boundaries “work against” them. Yet, they managed to win in the 1980s with more or less the same electoral boundaries, albeit with some modifications. There were no complaints back then. So what’s changed? Nothing. They want all the power. They will not stop until they have created a one-party state modelled along the lines of Pinochet-era Chile. Any change in the electoral boundaries will be categorically unfair, since such changes will effectively ensure the Tories hold power indefinitely. Redrawing electoral boundaries without including the necessary reform to the antiquated voting system amounts to little more than gerrymandering. But the Tóraís also want to reduce the number of Commons seats from 650 to 600. Guess which constituencies won’t disappear? Uh huh. Not many Tory seats. Remember this is the party that benefited from the Rotten Boroughs. Therefore the very idea of playing fairly and according the rules (as opposed to the rules they’ve rigged or reinterpreted) is alien to them. It’s like a foreign lingo.

Consider also the change in the voting rules the took place under the Coalition regime: around one million voters (many of them students) were simply erased from the electoral registers, ostensibly in a move to prevent voting fraud. This had the intended or unintended effect (depending upon your perspective) of helping to provide the Tories with an admittedly slender majority. It was a victory that apparently had surprised them as much as those of us hoping for something better than five more years of cuts and wanton cruelty. Would you like another shit sandwich, sir/madam?

Corruption in Britain isn’t confined to governments and political parties. Consider the close relationship between the state and private capital. Britain’s privatized railways are an instructive example of a form of licensed corporate corruption, and the government will bend over backwards to keep them sweet. According to Channel 4’s Dispatches, the train operating companies are legally permitted to bend the rules of time (and possibly physics) to avoid claims for compensation. There are apparently two different timetables: one is called the public timetable to which the public has access, and there’s the working timetables that the train companies use. If this sounds confusing, then you should have look at the fares: it is often more expensive to buy a ticket from a machine than a ticket office and even if you purchase a ticket from a ticket office, you may not get the cheapest deal. Split-ticketing in another peculiarity of the privatized system. Buying singles in stages to your destination is sometimes cheaper than buying a single or a return, but booking offices often keep this secret. The Dispatches documentary is worth watching. Just click on this link. Sadly, you may have to register to watch it (available for 26 days).

Corruption, far from being something that happens in other countries, is alive and well in the United Kingdom. Sustained and protected by the law and the institutions of the state, corruption perverts democracy and impedes justice. Corruption is what allowed Jimmy Savile and his gang groom and rape children with impunity. Corruption is what allows privatized companies to slip out of their obligations to provide a service. Corruption is the glue that holds the union together and keeps the people subjugated.

So Dave, before you lecture others on the subject of corruption, how about you deal with it closer to home?

You can visit Transparency International UK’s website for more information.

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