Tag Archives: Labour

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.

Brilliant!

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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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Suffer, little children

If you should find yourself musing on the immigration question this election-tide and wondering if we are, in fact, in danger of being swamped, seen as a soft touch or provider of free swan burgers to all the world’s poor and huddled masses, reassure yourself with this story:

M was arrested, and locked up in Cardiff Bay Police Cells, in extreme distress, dwarfed in man-sized padded clothing to protect him from self-harm. His seat was booked on a flight bound for Afghanistan…

In the dark early hours of Tuesday 2nd March, M was taken with an adult detainee by caged van on the 109 mile journey from Cardiff to Oxfordshire and Campsfield House, an adult detention facility run by the government’s commercial partner Serco. He shared a dormitory with seven men.

M is 14.  Except the authorities think he is lying and he is actually an adult.  See what you think of the picture accompanying the story.

You could argue that we can’t take in everyone that wishes to come here.  You could mention that harsh treatment is an essential deterrent.  But if you try to argue that terrified children should be taken from their beds in the early hours, caged and told they are being sent back to the war zone they have fled, I would think that you had lost all touch with what it is to be human.  May you be lucky enough never to be in need of compassion from strangers!

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Questions

Questions that MUST be answered regarding the return to jail of Jon Venables, co-murderer of 2-year-old James Bulger:

1. Does the public’s the tabloid editor’s right to know supercede the importance of not prejudice a pending hearing?

2. Does this right to know also include an element of a right to turn up outside the prison gates brandishing flaming torches?

3. Are we prepared to admit the possibility exists for the rehabilitation of dangerous prisoners anymore?

Perhaps I am slow on the uptake, but these are the questions that I want answered before finding out what Jon Venables has been recalled for.

UPDATE: To note this link to the first Chapter of Blake Morrison’s ‘As If’, his account of the original trial.

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I’m great, me

I realise that blogging is often accused of being a self-referential circle jerk.  But, to those naysayers, I offer a ‘so the fuck what’ because we all need a little external validation now and again.

And so I present to you… a man on t’internet saying how great I am: here.

It is difficult not to agree, of course.  I would love to, except that we had a similar debate at work today and the greater number were indeed outraged by Ms Berger’s perceived crime of ignorance of her constituency-to-be.  This follows the Liverpool Echo’s sterling efforts in catching her out on a couple of questions of local interest.  I can probably forgive her the one about the Mersey Tunnels, as I wasn’t sure how many of the blooming things there were either.

But she didn’t know who Bill Shankley was.  I mean, what the hell?  Surely that information appears on the first page of the important stuff she printed off Wikipedia to read on the train up to her interview.

Or maybe she spent the journey considering what she would say regarding the problems affecting Wavertree today rather than a football manager from our fathers’ time.  I know it might be sacrilege even to suggest it, but the only way knowing Shanks’ name is going to help her as a Labour MP is if she has this quote pinned up on her wall or possibly carved into her arm:

The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life

Labour’s in the fight of its life at the next election.  Fighting for everything it professes to believe in, for all that it claims to have achieved since 1997, facing charges that it has broken Britain and a commentariat that seems to believe the party deserves to be out of power for another generation.

I would like to believe that constituencies deserve dedicated people, no matter where they hail from.  But if picking ‘the Londoner’ leaves such an open goal for opponents to shoot at, that it is as if Reina had gone up for a corner and been beaten to his line when they caught us on the break, then perhaps, this time, I have to concede that it is not worth the risk.

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Justice League

I wrote earlier that Amir Choudhary was ‘wrong, plain wrong’ and was rightly called up on it by this bloke over here in the comments. Rightly because, in one important aspect, Mr Choudhary is right, for reminding us of the non-British war dead, albeit for some very wrong reasons: getting his name in the papers. We lost count as the Afghani and Iraqi body counts increased far in advance of our own, widely mourned, totals. Except that is too kind an analysis, because we didn’t lose count, we decided not to count. Partly out of embarrassment and partly because we found it more convenient to turn the dead into terrorists:

The problem is: in Afghanistan the peasants do suspicious things, too. Some then die because they are indeed Taliban, while others become Taliban for being dead

There is a road safety ad on TV at the moment which shows a man haunted by the mangled body of the dead child he hit with his car. Everywhere he looks he sees the broken, twisted limbs. You have to wonder if that’s what Tony Blair’s dreams are like. Except there’s not just one child, there are hundreds, all eyeballing him through the dark nights, silently demanding to know why they couldn’t be allowed to live.

Over Christmas I watched the film Frost/Nixon, the showbiz and glitz world of the interviewer warily treading onto the unfamiliar territory of dead Vietnamese and Laotians. We all want a Frost/Nixon moment, where the wrongdoer looks at the camera and it hits him, that there is so much blood on his hands he is looking at about 200 billion years in Purgatory. That he caused all this pain because he couldn’t admit to being wrong. It is probably too much to hope for that we get such a moment on Friday afternoon. As Blair realises that he, like Nixon, is now tainted unto death and probably in his obituary too, as a man who waged an illegal, doomed war when all sensible advice counselled against it. Then he looks straight to camera as a single, unwiped tear drifts down his cheek and finally, we have our absolution.

I don’t expect it to end so neatly. Real life has a tendency to be, of course, less dramatic than dramatists would hope. However, the Iraq Inquiry has gone about its work with a calm dedication that, although I almost hate to admit it, has done more good than throwing Blair, Campbell and Straw into the Coliseum and releasing the lions.

Banning dissent, ignoring international law, disregarding Parliament. For a bunch of lawyers, New Labour has shown a strange disrespect for all things legal. Speaking truth to power is never a comfortable job, but good counsel has rarely been at such a low premium, at stages ignored, disregarded and, a final humiliation, ‘encouraged’ to provide more favourable advice. The Guardian’s legal affairs correspondence, Afua Hirsch:

What also came across with fresh clarity was the government’s dismissiveness of the legal expertise in its own departments… In his evidence, Wood said Straw’s dismissal of his advice was ‘probably the first and only occasion’ that a minister rejected his legal advice in this way

So it is all the more heartening to see the forces of justice fight back, not like the superheroes Blair and Bush imagine themselves to be, but via calm reasoning and careful sifting of the facts, the Supreme Court and the Iraq Inquiry have, this week, given a small glimmer of hope that the rule of law still prevails.

Picture from the Hollywood News, with thanks!


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Do it if you must, Labour, but make it quick

So the chickens might be coming home to roost for Gordon Brown. There I was, half-heartedly watching Andrew Marr on Sunday, when the great man himself appeared groaning on about something. It sounded like ‘…targets met… investment not cuts… we offer leadership for the future…’ and then I managed to rouse myself from the early morning torpor in a hurry to switch it off.

The worry for Labour must be if I, a life-long labour voter (yeah, sorry about that now. I’m repenting at length) who learnt at my Grandad’s knee that the Tories were no friends to the likes of us and who didn’t have that notion knocked out by the years at private school and university, can’t watch Gordon Brown on the telly for five minutes without thinking:

  1. what a liar!
  2. … and a bully…
  3. hang on, didn’t you help create our current financial doom?

then what hope do Labour have with the floating voters? The ones who vote because they like the guy’s smile are not going to save him at the polls.

That said, who amongst the intellectual pygmies would you see rule? Milibland Major or Minor? That guy who resigned?* God help us all – Harriet Harman?? Given that those who wield the knife never get the top job it’s unlikely to be Hoon or Hewitt. Again, thank any deities you care to mention because, given the mess they made of Defence and Health, any Labour troops they lead into battle are going to get shot down for lack of body armour and then left to die on a hospital trolley in a corridor while all the doctors fill out forms. Just like real people!

Maybe Labour goes down without a fight or maybe they should be concentrating on the opposite benches. But either way, it’s probably too late. A hung parliament would be the best they could hope for but even the Libbies don’t want to cuddle up to them. In addition, the scheming required to work around an inconclusive result in the election will mean that key financial decisions which are likely to be unpopular will be ducked. Aged relatives who remember the late Seventies and early Eighties are offering this advice: get out now if you can, because it’s going to get painful.  Not least because you’ve got six months more of this to look forward to!

* Just saw him on Channel 4 News. His name’s Parnell. Oh yeah, you don’t say.

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Wrong

Cartoon from the ever-excellent xkcd

Ok, so I know I should know better than to bite.  I know I should just move on.  I am trying to, honest.  There I was, innocently reading an eminently sensible and thought-provoking post by David Osler about how to today’s youth it is Labour who are the evil ones and the Tories who are to play at being the saviours, while to anyone who grew up slightly ahead of this generation, it will forever be the other way around.  Perhaps this is just the way the pendulum swings, I thought.  You grow up under one set of bastards, vowing never to vote for them as soon as you have the power.  Then the other lot gets in, they screw it up so badly that the next bunch of kids makes a similar vow and the cycle is repeated forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

And then I got to the comments.

‘ZanuLiebour are like Nazis!’  ‘The Tories will put poor people in camps!’

‘You want to privatise the NHS!’  ‘Your lot already have!’

And I want to say, grow the fuck up.  I want to point out that people are being left behind, whole lives chucked on the scrapheap, just like the 80s, while a bunch of professional idiots scrap over who gets to play with the levers of power and their respective gangs of cheerleaders yelp encouragment across the ‘blogosphere’.  I want to, but it is impossible to get a word in edgeways.

Meanwhile, the news gets more ridiculous by the day: Alistair Campbell is tipped for a return; the Tories will sell the BBC when they get in; Gordon’s on the happy pills; Mandelson would work for a Conservative government if they tickled his chin when they asked. As if any rational human being outside of SW1 gives a flying one for any of it, they would rather just be left alone to try to clear their credit card debts before they lose their jobs.

And I don’t know if it is better to add to the chatter, or instead to ignore it all in the hope that it will go away and focus instead on nice things, like this:

(found via It’s Nice That, again)

So I can’t decide.  You tell me, in the comments below.  Just remember to play nice because, I promise, the first mention of Liebour and you’re banned…

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Pick a pocket or two

Gordon Brown taught Cameron and Osborne everything they know

Gordon Brown taught Cameron and Osborne everything they know

When the recession started last year, most British households cut their cloth accordingly. Reduced unnecessary outgoings, started to pay more off the credit cards and, despite rates that are the lowest since the Bank of England opened its doors, they even began bunging cash into the savings accounts.

But not the Government.

The Government couldn’t act like us because, if they had, we would now be looking at something much closer to the Great Depression than the Vera Lynn revivals and fascist outrages on the streets would have you believe we are. The taps had to be turned on. But even accounting for the bank rescues, the guaranteeing of the bonuses and the increased welfare costs, it is impossible to escape the fact that our debt as a proportion of GDP is growing to astronomical ‘chop-the-credit-card-with-the-kitchen-scissors’ levels and that, worst of all, we have next to no intention of paying it all back, preferring instead to let deflation take care of it and no matter if that screws the savers and the pensioners.

Still, at least our leaders and would-be leaders are, at last, pledging to get to grips with our free-wheeling, high-spending public services, because – you know – it was those hospitals with all the crazy drugs they were buying and the spendthrift social workers that caused the meltdown, not a bunch of over-paid coke heads in bad suits acting like their nations’ economies were a roulette wheel, right?

So, much as a couple argues the toss over classing spending on a holiday or that new plasma screen TV as ‘essential’, our politicians are now trying to convince us that the other side will do the evil cutting. Emotive accusations that they will stop paying to educate the leaders and wealth-creators of the future while they won’t be able to afford to have the bins emptied weekly will drive us all mental between now and Election Day. Meanwhile, each will be spinning that they are the only ones able to rid us of all the troublesome bureaucrats and unnecessary ‘costs’ that we won’t miss when they are snipped.

Instead of Tory Cuts v Labour Investment (as the last three elections have run) this time, they will be arguing debating the nuances of millions and billions spent on paperclips and kidney transplants in an attempt to persuade of the stirring ideological differences existing between them.

Don’t fall for the bullshit.

The Tories, always chief cronies to the wealthy, and Labour, up the arses of the fat cats for 12 years and counting, are not our friends. They are equally guilty of allowing the people who caused this shitstorm to run away laughing while we carry the can for their hubris. Not all bankers are evil, but the mud-slinging between them and the politicians over who to blame is the show to distract from the sleight of hand that picks our pocket, even as the seeds of the next catastrophe are already being sewn.

Stay alert and keep a tight grasp on your wallet.

Picture from Wikipedia


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ten minutes hate

When this blog was named (by a very talented writer, if a slacker when it comes to updates) and I was looking to see if anyone else had been similarly inspired, I stumbled across something from the States defining a ten minutes hate as the home straight in a hotly contested election.   So now here we are.  Just five days away from something which we are promised will be a cross between Judgement Night, the Second Coming and Armaggeddon. Does everyone have their popcorn and beers at the ready?

Because there is nothing the people of Britain enjoy more than a little light bear baiting.  Although, given our reputation for loving animals and since Parliament rather stupidly outlawed the use of bears in 1835, these days we have switched to chaining politicians to a stake and poking them with sharpened sticks instead.  Much more humane.

This could be the least optimistic election since records began, since this time we will not be voting FOR anything, especially not the change of government that we would mostly like to see, but simply chucking a well-aimed, ‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’-shaped spanner into the works.  I know what I would like to vote against: expense cheats; fascists; expansions in state control.  Where to find a party that reflects all that?  And so, like many other people, I follow a party like it is a football team: my side, right or wrong, trying not to notice that the old loyalties are as outdated as the ideologies.  Labour don’t want to be the party of the workers any more than the Tories want to be toffs.  The Libbies would love to be the natural alternative, and are happy that people are suddenly thinking of them, but how can you vote for a party that can’t even run a website?

A parliament of individuals, independant and owing nothing to any outside interest, whip or Beloved Leader would be ideal.  A bloody nightmare in practice.  The European model of loose coalitions of like-minded fellow travellers perhaps.  Or instead, what some commentators seem to fear, a Parliament of celebrities coalescing around populist issues like the Gurkha campaign.  For myself, I would need to find a party believing in low taxes, shorter working hours and the right to stay up late.  Find me that party and they can have my ‘X’.

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