Tag Archives: Labour


If it is true, as H. L. Mencken suggests, that ‘no-one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’, perhaps it is equally true that no-one ever lost power in the UK by underestimating the stupidity of our electoral system.

The Tories attempt to win an election with a leader who is their own version of Blair-lite, then the leadership election looks likely to throw up the possibility of Labour fighting the next one with a version of Cam-light: David Miliband.

Still, at least there is going to be a contest this time, the powers behind the various Labour thrones having realised there is no sense in allowing another leader to be anointed, after how well that worked out for Gordon Brown.  Yet it is undeniable that Miliband the Elder is the front-runner.  Can I be the only one to find this strange?

David Miliband voted very strongly for the last parliament’s anti-terrorism laws, a stricter asylum system and for replacing Trident.  He was very strongly for ministers being allowed to intervene in inquests, brought in after the Kelly and Menezes inquests caused a few blushes on the government benches.  He was both strongly for the Iraq war and strongly against any kind of inquiry into the Iraq war, an exact reversal of the feelings of many Labour Party members on the subject.  He has some very interesting views on the torture of terrorism suspects and the public’s right to know what its government is up to.

In short, there is a real possibility that, once again, the party established to act for the interests of working people via left-wing principles and ideals may end up with a fairly right-wing leader.  How, one wonders, can Labour have the brass balls to call itself a left-wing party any more?

(For comparison: Nick Clegg was anti the terrorism laws, replacing Trident, ministers intervening in inquests and a stricter asylum system.  David Cameron was against the anti-terrorism measures and ID cards, for the war but also for the investigation and flip-flopped a bit on asylum, as you would expect with the right-wing press breathing down his neck.)

The party of the workers has always been slightly ashamed of its lowly routes, the first Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was also arguably the first ‘champagne socialist’, much preferring hanging out with Duchesses at their country seats to sitting in pubs singing the Red Flag.  But at least the ‘s’ word did appear then!  Now Dave Semple wonders if Labour and socialism can have anything left to do with each other, while Obsolete sees this attempt at debate as a postponing of the inevitable.

It appears that as we head into our ‘future filled with cuts‘ those alleged to be fighting on ‘our’ side will be arguing straight from a Daily Mail editorial for the shrinking of the welfare state, tougher immigration laws and freeing business from pesky regulation.  As Chicken Yoghurt notes, the dividing lines between our rulers will be shaved until wafer thin.

Still, at least it gives me an excuse to post this intriguing insight into the future of British politics:

Three parties, in different coloured rosettes, with a broadly similar aim of shafting the electorate helping hard-working families.  Four legs good, two legs better!

*Or if I didn’t write the post myself would it be Milivanilliblogging?


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Hang ’em high

So… I bet you are glad you paid attention in constitutional law now, right?

In case, like 80% of the people being interviewed across the media this morning, you have next to no idea what comes next, here is a brief outline of The Rules.

First and most important, it is the incumbent who gets the first crack at trying to form a government.  Fortunately, there is no ‘moral right to govern’, except in the wettest dreams of a Tory-boy fantasy.

In the First Past the Post system, someone actually has to make it past the post and, for all their grandstanding, the Tories haven’t quite managed it.  This is like one of those Grand Nationals where all the riders fall.  The Conservatives will now be trying to do some deals, although with the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists, UKIP and the BNP so far failing to win any seats, it looks like they will need the now leaderless Democratic Unionist Party to make it happen.  These are the ones that don’t like gay people much and have doubts about evolution, so it is difficult to see how that will fit with the idea of ‘compassionate Conservatism’ that Cameron has been peddling, and we will all have to watch how the situation develops closely.

There have been some blows, but also some good things: the Greens won in Brighton, the odious Philippa Stroud failed to win.  Nor should Nick Clegg be as disappointed as he sounded on the radio this morning: electoral reform which should assist the Liberal Democrats in bringing about their vision of a fairer Britain must now be on the cards to a greater extent than it has been for generations.  That is a victory, even if it appears a small one.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have had years to change the electoral system to avoid this mess.  They failed.  Most of us learn that you can’t start changing the rules to suit yourself midway through the game in the playground at about the age of 6.  It is testament to the playground nature of British politics that our politicians never did.

So it is important now, more than ever, to keep up the scrutiny.  Back-room deals will be taking place all over Westminster but we need to resist attempts by the parties to make us all go back to sleep for another five years.  If this is the first election to grip you, don’t turn away now.  There will be a demonstration for democracy in London this weekend and the many other campaigns for electoral reform will continue.


Books picture from Travel Webshots

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E-Day minus 1

Some good things for you to read as you wait for tomorrow to make your mark.  First, I could probably have written every word of this piece by Gary Younge, just nowhere near as well:

I don’t have a phobia about Tories. That would suggest an irrational response. I hate them for a reason. For lots of reasons, actually. For the miners, apartheid, Bobby Sands, Greenham Common, selling council houses, Section 28, lining the pockets of the rich and hammering the poor – to name but a few. I hate them because they hate people I care about. As a young man Cameron looked out on the social carnage of pit closures and mass unemployment, looked at Margaret Thatcher’s government and thought, these are my people. When all the debating is done, that is really all I need to know.

Try and hold that in your minds as you stroll polling station-wards in a belief that Call Me Dave is a tree-hugging almost social democrat.  I am barely old enough to remember the 80s and it was terrifying.  Less Ashes to Ashes and more Escape from New York.  Let’s not go back there again.

Then, Septic Isle reaches ‘the desperate hours’:

Even if you have to accept that the media were always going to focus on the debates to the detriment of everything else, the ultimate blame for this sorry campaign has to be laid at the parties themselves. For politicians that constantly bang on about and obsess themselves with the almost mythical “aspirational”, hard-working voter, the poverty of thought and strategy over the last month should have been expected. As both Cameron and Brown went to the umpteenth supermarket or school, achieving absolutely nothing but delivering a few pictures which the newspapers and broadcasters would be able to fleetingly use that night or the next morning, you just might have imagined that someone might have reconsidered how they were attempting to reach voters.

Read the rest of his post for the most pertinent commentary on this election, much more astute than anything you will see from any other news source in the next 48 hours.


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May madness

So it is decision time.  Not for me, of course, mine has already gone in the post which means, as it does for Mr Vowl, that I can ignore all the wittering and squarking of the next two days in favour of (hopefully) more meaningful discourse.

But in case you are not so fortunate as to be able to tune out the demented rantings of ‘change… fairness… change…’ because you are in two minds about where to mark your ‘X’ – or even whether to bother marking the thing at all – here is the ten minutes hate round-up of where to turn in order to make sense of the madness.

First, the ever-excellent They Work For You has surveyed candidates on local and national issues.  You can bung in your post code and check to see if you agree with candidates on the really important stuff like extra bus lanes and a pre-emptive bombing of Iran, rather than basing your vote on which leader had the least creepiest smile during the TV debates (answer: none of them!)

Next, head over to Democracy Club, where they have also surveyed candidates and are looking for volunteers to contact others who have still to reply.  Democracy Club are pals with The Straight Choice, who have built up a database of election leaflets from all parties.  They are now looking for volunteers to help them with their analysis of the dodgy pie charts and graphs, ludicrous claims and outright porkie-pies contained within.

If you live in a marginal and like the idea of a hung parliament, Hang ‘Em has the info on how your tactical vote could help to bring it about.  And if you are hoping that whatever happens on Thursday we get real electoral reform, Power 2010 is the place for you.

As for Julia’s vote, never let it be said that she would violate the sanctity of the ballot paper, hard-fought-for by previous generations.  Still, it is safe to say that her main concern about a hung parliament is:

will there be enough rope?


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And they’re off…

Except it seems that this is going to be perhaps the most stupid election in history rather than ‘the most important one for a generation’ that we have been promised.  By the time Sky News had followed every second of Gordon Brown’s journey to the Palace, as neatly skewered here, I was already losing the will to live.

Still, I managed to banish the urge to take a daily overdose of mephedrone for the duration of the campaign as quickly as it arrived.  After the last couple of months (or even years?) of Phoney War, it is impossible not to feel a little frisson of excitement now the real crapshoot has begun.

So let us not be distracted by the parties’ bells and whistles, including but not limited to their fragrant wives, the gratuitous shots taken while riding public transport they are too grand to use at any other time and the block types of newspaper front pages trying to fudge our brains with a shitstorm of fear.  Instead, let us make this election about what we want it to be about: real reform of our electoral systems; honesty and transparency from our MPs and – above all – a sense of irreverence and humour not seen since the far-off days of the Monster Raving Loonys.

Make sure you are registered to vote, there are details of how to go about it here.  Then join in the fun with Power2010 and Democracy Club, both non-partisan groups running campaigns to keep candidates focused more on the things that bug us and less on how their hair looks on the telly.  Can we chuck some spanners at their carefully-crafted media onslaught?  YES WE CAN.


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Julia fixes Parliament!

You guys, I just thought of something!

There’s MILLIONS of us right? Must be at least a few that are hacked off with all this corruption. So why don’t we all throw a quid in the pot until we’ve got a couple of grand and then we can buy our VERY OWN MP. They’ll have to listen to us then!

And after we’ve paid up, we can force them to bring in lots of really cool stuff, like Lords reform, making sure our banking system can’t bankrupt our country, not degrading refugees (especially kids!) and not making it illegal to take photos in the street. (Those are mine, when you chuck in your quid you can add others…)

Then we’ll REALLY have someone in Parliament who listens – because WE’RE paying them. Great, no? Makes you wonder why no one else thought of it in all the years we’ve had a Parliament.



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Politics drops its drawers

The best party is but a kind of conspiracy against the rest of the nation

– Lord Halifax, 1750

It is difficult to judge how far the effect of this latest scandal extends outside Westminster.  I suspect that many people had their suspicions confirmed, before shrugging their shoulders and getting on with their days, while supporters of the parties allowed themselves to imagine that their point scoring and juvenile tricks were having near-seismic effects on the voters.

In truth, if this weekend marks anything, it must be the final victory of the legions of management consultants, PRs and other snake-oil salespersons over the weakened, bedraggled and under-supplied forces of democracy.  This is the true legacy of Blairism: a world based on nothing more substantial than scratch, kickbacks and the brutal hit of Dopamine felt when getting someone else to pick up the tab, be that shareholder, taxpayer or some other poor fool.

And I, who as a sweet, wide-eyed innocent in 1997 voted idealistically in my first General Election, cannot believe that this is all that remains of those golden May days when it truly seemed as if life would get better for all of us, instead of for a cabal of paunchy middle managers who must remain achingly aware in the darkest moments of their prostrate-troubled nights that they wouldn’t be getting laid any other way.

Which only leaves me wondering: if they’re the prostitutes, why are we getting screwed?

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