Category Archives: Government & politics

They’re Behaving/Pretending Like They’ve Won The Election!

As the dust settles  on the General Election result, one thing is obvious: no one won an outright majority. The Tories lost their majority after their leader’s high stakes gamble in calling a snap general election, and Labour came second. Those facts are inescapable.  But why call the election in the first place? The reason given by many political hacks was that, apparently, May took one look across the dispatch box and perceived a weak Jeremy Corbyn, and thought she could walk it by uttering a few idiotic soundbites. How wrong she was. She and her party thought the landslide was in the bag. How wrong they were. Remember, this was a landslide widely predicted by the great and the good of Britain’s media. Their oft-repeated prediction was intended to achieve one aim: to intimidate Labour supporters, and convince them to stay at home rather than vote for the unelectable Labour Party led by the unelectable Jeremy Corbyn (who’s actually won every election since 1983).

Since the election the complaint from the Tories and mainstream media has been “They’re behaving/pretending like they’ve won the election”! This complaint reveals an ignorance of how parliamentary politics and the constitution works. It also demonstrates a weak grasp of history, particularly of hung parliaments and minority governments, and the role of the opposition in a hung parliament. More importantly, the complaint itself is puerile and serves to further undermine our limited and deeply corrupted democracy.  But it also underscores the Tory Party’s authoritarian tendencies: in other words, you can have an official opposition as long as it’s supine and scared of its own shadow. Thankfully, we don’t live in a Tory one-party state – yet.

I have already talked about two hung parliaments in December 1923 and February 1974, which resulted in hung parliaments and minority governments. It is clear that this latest hysterical outburst from the Tories and their media allies is designed to convince gullible members of the public that Labour is out to destroy the country by not playing ball with May’s apparently serious and adult government (sic), which is supposedly acting in “the national interest“.

Labour has the right to say that it is waiting and ready to form a government. Why? Because:

  1. The role of the opposition in a hung parliament is to use every opportunity to defeat the government. You can guarantee that if the situation were reversed, no one in the media would say “They’re (the Tories) pretending they’ve won the election”. Instead, the media would actively encourage the Tories to find ways to defeat a Labour minority government as The Daily Mail  – with the connivance of the secret state – did in 1924.
  2. Labour is the second party and could form a minority government if the Queen’s Speech is defeated. That’s how the constitution works. This is what happened in January 1924 and February 1974.

It’s annoying to see even seasoned political commentators like Andrew Neil resorting to this kind of bullshit. He’s supposed to know how the constitution works. It’s his job. Mind you, he is a Tory after all.

This is the latest manifestation of an ongoing campaign to smear the Labour Party and, by extension, Jeremy Corbyn, because the previous smears failed. Indeed, the party did better than expected in spite of the tow year long smear campaign in much of the media.  Unable to comprehend the election result, Tories and their media allies have misrepresented Labour’s rediscovered sense of confidence for arrogance, but it’s a projection.  I mean, how dare they feel confident? They lost, didn’t they? Well, yes, but the Tories didn’t win either despite being the largest party and besides, it looks as though they’ve been caught cheating again.

Finally, the Tories are weak and they know it, so they lash out like wounded animals. In 1974, Ted Heath attempted to form a coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberal Party. The talks broke down over the weekend. May’s Tories are trying to form a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party and, by all accounts, it isn’t going very well.  The DUP have accused the Tories of being poor negotiators. We’re also told that this deal has to happen because, according the the Tories and the media, the DUP “doesn’t want to see Corbyn as PM”. So what? We don’t want to see the Tories continue to drag Britain into the abyss, nor do we want to see the DUP pull May’s strings – she’s weak enough as it is.

The sooner this useless and cruel government is dispatched, the better.

 

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Filed under General Election 2017, Government & politics

Don’t Get Too Excited. Sinn Féin Are Not Taking Their Seats At Westminster

Some of you may have seen reports in The S*n, The Daily Abscess and The Scotsman that Sinn Féin will be taking their seats in the Westminster parliament. It isn’t going to happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next year. Forget it. The party has a longstanding policy of abstention in the British parliament and that isn’t going to change.

In the 1918 General Election, sometimes called the ‘Coupon election’, Sinn Féin led by Eamonn De Valera, were the third party with 73 seats. They refused to take their seats and so, by default, Labour became the third largest party.  This would be the last time that Sinn Féin would contest a general election until 1983 when Gerry Adams was elected as MP.  Instead, Sinn Féin took its seats in the first Dáil (Irish parliament).  As for De Valera, he left Sinn Féin and formed Fianna Fáil in 1926 after the Civil War, and focussed his efforts on the nascent Irish Free State.

Sinn Féin’s reason for abstaining has something to do with the oath that all new MPs have to swear before taking their seats but that’s only part of the reason.

Sinn Féin sees itself as an Irish republican party that represents the Irish people. It is opposed to the British occupation of the Six Counties and as long as that continues, it will refuse to take its seats. Moreover, it has no interest in British affairs unless they impact on the island of Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s Danny Morrison writing on Eamonn Mallie’s blog, says:

Many arguments have been advanced in defence of abstentionism including that the oath or affirmation of allegiance to a foreign monarch and her heirs presents a difficulty and is inimical to one’s republicanism; or that one’s influence is miniscule and dwarfed by the major parties with few from the North able to demonstrate worthwhile achievements commensurate with their attendance.

These arguments, whilst valid, are not at the core of abstentionism. For example, the oath could be completely removed. Or, imagine Britain a republic. It might well be possible for some of the parties which take their seats to point to pieces of legislation that they have influenced or initiated. In the circumstances of a hung parliament it is undeniable that a tail might be able to wag the much bigger dog for a time.

Even if the oath was removed and I was an MP I would still not take my seat.

Even if Britain was a republic I would still not take my seat.

Even if I held the balance of power and could get through bits and pieces of legislation (while flattering myself as to the magnitude of my importance) I would still not take my seat.

For me, it is quite simple.

How can I object to Britain interfering in Irish affairs if I go over and interfere in theirs?

Once I took my seat, with or without an oath, I have lost the moral high ground on that question of Irish sovereignty. I have already conceded Britain’s right to govern on this shore – a claim that was demonstrably rejected in December 1918 by the majority of people in Ireland in a democratic election.

Even though for reasons of pragmatism I support Agreements which were passed into law in the House of Commons, this does not mean that I recognise Britain’s claim to rule over me as being legitimate.

You can read the rest of Morrison’s article here.

The British press has a terrible reputation for propagandizing  and stirring up trouble, and anything it says with regards to Ireland and Irish sovereignty should be taken with a ton of salt – especially if its in The S*n, a paper that lied about Hillsborough and hacked people’s phones.

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Filed under General Election 2017, Ireland, Northern Ireland

The UK, The European Union And The Golf Club Analogy

Historically speaking, Britain has been the European Union’s worst member. It constantly demanded special treatment and blamed almost everything it could on the institution.  Now it’s leaving.  In one sense, Britain’s relationship with the EU can be likened to its joining a swanky golf club and abusing its membership privileges.  Below is a short story about that relationship.

For ages,  a man (we’ll call him ‘Tommy’)  wanted to join this really exclusive golf club, but each time he applied, his application was rejected. This happened for 20 years. Then, finally,  Tommy’s allowed to join. So what does he do? First, he celebrates by getting hammered on bottles of  Gold Label barley wine in The Dog and Duck. Then he walks down the road to the club, waves his membership card at the concierge and promptly relieves himself  in the potted plants near the front door. Then as Horst walks past, he shouts “Oi! Jerry! Faaaack off”! [makes lewd gesture]. “Remember the faaaaacking war? I faaaaaacking do”!

Staggering towards the pro shop, Tommy proceeds to fill his pockets with golf balls, tees and whatever else he can stuff into them. “I wish I’d brought a faaaaacking bag for this shit”, Tommy mutters as he grabs a wad of cash from the till. “What are you faaaaaacking looking at, froggy?” he demands, as Jacques looks on disapprovingly.  From there, Tommy, worse for wear, walks into the club’s swanky restaurant and proceeds to take a dump in the middle of the room to gasps of astonishment.  Pulling up his pants, he shouts “I don’t want to be a member of this shit-hole any more. You can all faaaaaack off” and stumbles out of the golf club swearing as he goes down the road. Minutes later, Tommy falls into the gutter dribbling and mumbling something about cancelling his direct debit.

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Macron Versus Le Pen? Not A Great Choice

The first round of voting in the French Presidential Elections is now complete, leaving the two final candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. One is a neoliberal populist, the other represents the friendly face of Vichy-style fascism. For le peuple de France, it’s not a great choice.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Macron will continue in the same vein as Hollande.  He’s a former banker that served as Ministère de l’économie et des finances under Hollande and has the support of Manuel Valls, the Blairite former Première Ministre.  It was because the Parti Socialiste government moved so far to the right that the party now faces liquidation.

Les Républicains, formerly the UMP, formerly the RPR, which is the Gaullist continuity party, also faces an uncertain future. Their candidate, François Fillon polled a pathetic 19% and was almost level with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Insoumise, who performed well but whose vote was split due to the presence of other Left candidates in the field.

Meanwhile, the British media coos and makes bedroom eyes to Le Pen’s fascists. To call the FN ‘populist’ is to ignore their history and their reactionary politics.  A Le Pen presidency would drag France back several decades. People of colour, Muslims, Jews and women would find themselves seriously disadvantaged by her party’s policies, which call for restrictions on immigration, withdrawal from the European Union and possesses a narrow-minded view of culture. The FN’s new look is nothing more than an attractive (for some) shop front. Behind that are shelves stuffed with the old attitudes of disgust for the Other and a deeply reactionary Catholicism.  It’s the same old shit in a slightly altered package.

So there it is: a choice between continuity Hollandisme or fash.  Whichever way French voters decide to cast their ballots, it’s either business as usual or a new era of isolationism that awaits.

 

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Hero or villain? The Livingstone question

A thoughtful and refreshing analysis of the Livingstone Affair. Ken’s a goshite and that’s something on which we can all, hopefully, agree. He is not, however, an anti-Semite. David Rosenberg was there at the dawn of the GLC Rainbow Coalition under Livingstone and is witness to some of the key events that have helped to shape the discourses surrounding Livingstone Affair.

rebel notes

My favourite political image among the protests and street activism that has marked the first three months of 2017 is a banner held on the St Patrick’s Day parade. It proclaimed:”More Blacks! More dogs! More Irish!” – mocking the daily racism of the 1960s when people looking for homes were confronted by openly discriminatory window signs rejecting applicants from these categories. The first Race Relations Act of 1968 finally knocked that appalling behaviour on the head, but not the sentiments behind it. It took another 20 years of grassroots campaigns led by victims of racism, finally aided by another layer of government, to normalise anti-racism and explicitly promote multiculturalism.

58e42cc61500002000c7dfa7 GLC leader Ken Livingstone addressing  GLC London Against Racism rally 1984.

That layer of government was the Greater London Council (GLC). Under a visionary Left Labour leadership from 1981 it railed against continuing inequalities and discriminatory practices and the mindset supporting…

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Filed under Blairites, Government & politics, Labour

Streeting’s Twitter Tantrum

Wes Streeting, the nominally Labour MP for Ilford North doesn’t like critics. Apparently, they’re “oxygen thieves”. That’s nice. I guess it could be worse: they could be ‘anti-Semites’.

Streeting's twitter tantrum

And you’re reading the previous tweet correctly. He really did ask someone “Why don’t you support our leader”?

He has no sense of irony.

I’ll probably be accused of anti-Semitism (sic) for typing that.

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UKIP: The Only Way Is Down (Hopefully)

Say what you like about UKIP  but they’ve always been good comedy value. If they wanted to remain a serious force in British politics, the events of the last 8 months have conspired against them.

Once the referendum delivered the result it had longed for, UKIP’s raison d’etre expired. Within days, Nigel Farage resigned and like the rest of the Tory Brexiteers, he cut and ran. He flew across the Atlantic post-haste to prostrate himself before Donald Trump and accept a well-paying job as a political analyst for Fox News (seriously).

Farage’s departure plunged the party into a leadership election, which was won by Diane James, who resigned after 18 days in the job. She then joined the Tories.

UKIP attracted more negative coverage when two of its MEPs were involved in an altercation in the European Parliament, involving the appropriately monikered Mike Hookem and Steven Woolfe, which put the latter in hospital. The party cleared Hookem of punching Woolfe.

Woolfe himself had been tipped to succeed Farage but his hopes were dashed when he failed to deliver his nomination papers on time. He later admitted that he had “been in talks with the Tories”. No one was surprised.

Farage returned as interim leader to no one’s surprise.

With Woolfe out of the way,  UKIP’s second leadership election was won by Paul Nuttall, who immediately announced that he was going to “challenge Labour in its heartlands”. His chance to shine came in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. He even had the BBC talking up his chances of winning and he still lost. The accumulation of his lies and deceptions having conspired against him.

But last week, things went from bad to worse for the Kippers. Arron Banks, one of the party’s biggest donors, announced he was leaving after allegedly falling out with the leadership. He invoiced them for his last donation of £200, 000. It isn’t personal, you see. It’s business.

Then, over the weekend, UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell resigned and became an independent. Carswell, a maverick and self-confessed Ayn Rand fan (sic), had always been at odds with his party leadership. UKIP’s deputy leader, Peter Whittle,  even claimed that Carswell’s resignation was “a breath of fresh air”. A bizarre admission, for sure.

Carswell, for his part, has denied that he will return to the Tories. He told the Evening Standard:

“I’m not going to rejoin the Conservatives — I’d need to call a by-election, my wife [Clementine] would kill me and my constituents wouldn’t be too happy.

There’s always 2020.

In spite of its posturing, UKIP was never a serious anti-establishment party; it was a project for disenchanted Eurosceptic Tories and like-minded ethno-nationalists and Empire Loyalists Its leadership is dominated by former Tories and many of its major donors are former or current Tories. It railed against elites but is controlled by elites.

After the referendum and Farage’s resignation, UKIP was on life support. That isn’t the case any more. It’s lying lifeless on a cold slab in the mortuary waiting to be buried.

UKIP: the only way is down.

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Filed under Government & politics, Political parties, UKIP