Monday, May 11, 2015

Upset With The Election Result?



There are a group of people in our great nation who are deeply troubled, especially since the election result last Thursday. Are you one of them?

What can you do to salve the painful feelings of rejection and humiliation you must be experiencing? You may have tried a number of things already to comfort yourself and salvage your sanity.

Perhaps you've already posted a sanctimonious FB message expressing your disappointment at the obvious moral and intellectual shortcomings of those 11.3 million voters who don't share your superior brand of politics.

Perhaps you've already warned your Twitter followers not to bother turning up to NHS appointments as the organisation no longer exists or where it does they'd better take a credit card.

Surely you've reposted a letter from a left wing reverend or an "11 year old girl", or some such, to David Cameron imploring him not the exterminate poor people or introduce hunting of the disabled, like we all know he wants to... the bastard.

You've probably posted memes calling for a change in electoral system to one that might deliver more palatable results for you in the future.

You almost certainly would have pointed out it's all the fault of the "Tory press" and that even the BBC didn't play its part in promoting Labour seriously enough.

You simply must have signed up to some kind of anti-Tory manifesto.


You may even have had a bit of a riot and wittily defaced a monument to war heroes with the words "Tory scum!", such is your understandable anger at this disgustingly unacceptable democratic outcome.

If you've done all these things and still feel down, never fear. The Guardian have provided counselling advice from a psychotherapist for all those tender hearts that have been "traumatised by the election result"...

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/10/traumatised-by-the-election-result-a-psychotherapists-recovery-guide

No, really, this is an actual thing. Please do read it, even though, at first, you'll think it must be a spoof. As with everything written in The Guardian, it's achingly (self-)righteously worthy advice.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

General Election 2015 is Lose/Lose for Labour


The polls on the eve of the general election point to a Miliband government, but one requiring vote by vote deals with the SNP to survive. If I were a Labour supporter I would be very concerned indeed.

Both main parties are neck and neck in the polls. The Tories need a reasonable margin over Labour just to match their seat numbers. There's a chance the polls are underestimating Tory support and underestimating Labour's. But they would have to be wildly wrong to allow the Tories to achieve a haul of parliamentary seats that would outnumber Labour + the SNP's total. And that is what the Tories have to do. Nicola Sturgeon has promised to "lock the Tories out of government", even if the rest of the countries votes Tory and gives them more seats than Labour.

Unless there's an upsurge in Conservative votes that the polls aren't predicting (like there was in 1992 when the electorate belatedly realised Kinnock was going to get in and turned out en masse to vote against him) Miliband will be PM on Friday but will have to rely on the SNP to get his legislation through, even if he comes second in the election to Cameron. If Cameron can't partner up with other parties to achieve a majority (as the polls suggest he won't be able to), Miliband will, regardless of how much such an arrangement lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the British people. Concessions to the Scottish separatists will be necessary if a Miliband government is to survive from vote to vote and from week to week. But he would rather that than not govern at all, whatever he says to try and placate nervous English voters before the vote. 

Miliband, who has already lurched his party to the left, will be forced to move further leftwards by the far left in his own parliamentary party and by the SNP, both of which, due to the lack of a in-built majority, will be pivotal to the survival of his premiership.

Labour's first Queen's Speech will probably sail through. The SNP will be happy to back it, as it puts the Labour fly firmly in the SNP's web ready to be influenced to achieve their own separatists and leftist agenda. In order to provide an legislative agenda for the first year that will gain adequate support from the Labour left and SNP, the speech will be chocker full of Miliband's most populist left wing policies - bankers bashing, rich rinsing, business bashing policies a plenty, similar to Miliband's ideological French soul-mate Fran├žois Hollande. The effects on the British economy will be similar; high unemployment, an exodus of wealth creators, higher inflation, higher interest rates, higher taxes, industrial relations unrest as unions get more and more confident, powerful and demanding under "their" government and, eventually, a reckoning with reality.

That reckoning will come after a year or so, with the backdrop of a faltering economy about to crash to the ground as economic gravity inevitably reasserts itself. Of course, all this will come to a head quicker if the pending Euro crisis re-emerges if Greece crashes out of the Euro due to its own populist left wing leader's reality-defying ideological policies. But, assuming external crises don't occur to bring all this forward, by 12 to 18 months, Miliband's premiership will already be tarnished in England by several concessions he will have to have made to survive key votes in parliament. Now Miliband will be forced to moderate his ideological fervour and he will be at his most vulnerable. He will experience revolts from his own MPs as he is forced to move away from a left policy agenda to address the real issues the country is experiencing. The SNP will be even more important to Miliband's survival at this point.

The Labour government will limp from crisis vote to crisis vote. Miliband will experience humiliation at the hands of Alex Salmond, the SNP's leader in the Commons as well as his own left wing, and ridicule throughout the land. We can look back to the John Major years, when, after a string of lost mid-term by-elections, Major lost his Commons majority. He had to battle the Tory right from week to week, who took every opportunity to undermine him to promote their own utopian ideas and often massive egos, and he had to rely on DUP support to govern with a majority in parliament. Major's reputation was trashed in the eyes of voters as he was made to look weak, as was the Conservative party's generally. It has never fully recovered (evidenced by their failure to win a majority since then).

The DUP, being Unionists and with no strong left/right ideology (economically at least), weren't particularly demanding. The SNP will be a totally different proposition for Miliband. He'll struggle to contain them, even if he turns out not to be the weak leader people think he is.

The aftermath of this scenario is long term damage to Labour's reputation, possibly leading to a generation of being locked out of power. It's almost as if the election is lose/lose for Labour.

I'd find that funny if it wasn't so serious for the future of the country.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How To Solve A Problem Like Ed

If there's one thing Labour excel at it's media management and spin. It's testament to how effective they are in deploying these dark skills that a party that bankrupted a nation, and that is still led by people from the same school of disastrous economic and political thought (but of even lower calibre), is still in the running to form the next government.

As an excellent example of how they deploy their dark art, we see today a synthetic outrage manufactured by Labour in response to a comment made by a Tory, Michael Fallon, about the fact that Ed Miliband betrayed his own brother in a fit of groundless ambition to beat him to the leadership of his party. The point being that this is evidence of a man who would just as easily betray his country by downgrading or even scrapping our independent nuclear deterrent if it meant getting his hands on the levers of power by doing a shady deal with the anti-nuclear zealots in the SNP. There were plenty of other examples of Ed's double dealing untrustworthiness Fallon could have used, but the Miliband fratricide is the example most people recognise.

In whipping up this kind of faux-outrage Labour's tactic is designed to make the question of Ed Miliband's fitness for office out of bounds. Every question about his character, his indecisiveness, his weakness or even competence to lead, will be met with howls of "SMEAR!" and accusations of "personal attacks".

The media and various other political commentators (some even from the right) shouldn't be playing into Labour's hands on this. But today, when the Tories committed to maintaining our nuclear deterrent, the Prime Minister announced plans for another 16,000 apprentices to join the 2 million already created by his government, Labour promised face to face careers advice for all teenagers, and the fall out from yesterday's #nondomnishambles continues, the TOP story in the world today according to the BBC is Labour's "outrage" at Fallon's comments.

There are a few key issues in this election: The deficit, NHS, welfare spending and, as with all elections, the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders of the party leaders. And Miliband's fitness for the job is a big concern for many voters. It would be ridiculous if it was a subject that was not allowed to be discussed because Labour's spin doctors had successfully made the subject taboo.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Russell Brand Doesn't Get Why People Are Laughing At Him


Russell Brand has responded to the Parklife ribbing he's been receiving on social media. In his version of Parklife by Blur, he lets us know that...

...words used efficiently can be a dangerous tool that slices through propaganda like a SHARP KNIFE.

He has an interesting take on what it means to use words efficiently. In fact, he doesn't seem to have understood the whole thrust of the Parklife ridicule. It's aimed at his overly elaborate, pretentious use of language. 

My version of Parklife would go something like this...

Over-confidence is the pretence of the habitual pseudo-intellectual that is known as 

RUSSELL BRAND! 

And mourning language comprehension can be avoided if you take a route completely avoiding 

RUSSELL BRAND!

John’s got brewers droop he gets intimidated by the prattling verbosity 

 RUSSELL BRAND!

But his fans love a bit of it 

 RUSSELL BRAND!

Who’s that Beverly Hills millionaire marching? You should cut down on your self-righteousness mate… Get some integrity! 

[CHORUS]
ALL THE PEOPLE 
SO MANY PEOPLE 
THEY SHOULD ALL GO HAND IN HAND 
HAND IN HAND TO THEIR LOCAL WATERSTONES

Know what I mean? [Um, no?!] 

I get up when I want except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by my book publisher 

RUSSELL BRAND!

I put my trousers on, snort some coke and I think about plugging my book 

RUSSELL BRAND! 

I feed the left wing conspiracists I sometimes appropriate the Buddhists too, it gives me a sense of enormous financial well-being 

RUSSELL BRAND! 

And then I'm happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge I’ll only need a tiny bit of my time devoted to it 

RUSSELL BRAND!

[CHORUS]

It's got something to do with vorsprung durch heuchelei* you know 
And it's not about my circular arguments that go round and round and round 

RUSSELL BRAND! 
RUSSELL BRAND! 

[CHORUS X2]

*I know this isn't right, but my German is limed to Google Translate. Sadly, there is no Brand to English option!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland's Choice

Scotland will make an historic decision on Thursday. Either way, the United Kingdom will never be the same again. But if Scotland decides to leave, both the Scottish and remaining British people will be weaker and poorer.

There are two main arguments for Scottish separation, one is political the other economic. The economic argument made for separation is clearly ill conceived and utterly flawed. Both Scotland and the UK would be worse off economically, with the UK eventually readjusting and driving on, while Scotland languishes behind. The economic case against separation is well established elsewhere. The effects on Scottish and UK politics are what I'm interested in here and it's not an attempt to persuade Scots to vote one way or another.  

Of the two, the political argument is the strongest. The yes to independence campaigners correctly point out that Scotland has, for many years, had a substantially different political outlook to the rest of the United Kingdom (especially England, where the vast majority of the UK population resides). One of tactics of the Yes campaign to entice people into voting their way is the promise of permanently getting rid of the Tories. What should be a constitutional debate about the long term future of a nation is often reduced to petty policy propagandising. The promise of a socialist utopia, made by both sides, is seen by many Scots as a positive selling point. You often see promises made to reinstate benefit subsidies for spare rooms (aka the scrapping the "bedroom tax") at least for those in public provided rented accommodation; to nationalise the Scottish railways and any other industry that falls out of favour; to tax the rich and bankers out of existence in Scotland; to leave the NHS unreformed; to provide "free" (i.e via increased taxation and borrowing) this that and the other, etc etc. It's like Ed Miliband's wet dream, and it genuinely appeals to many Scots.

The truth is, politically, Scotland is further to the left than England. Considering it accounts for a reasonably small proportion of the total UK population, Scotland is unduly influential in our national politics, dragging the political centre to the left. If they were to separate they really would be able to guarantee they got what they voted for. God help them.

The effect on the rest of the UK would be felt in that the centre would return to where the (predominantly English) voters want it. Currently we see Ed Miliband aping Fran├žois Hollande's old style populist socialism (before he won power in France with it and failed miserably) and he's leading the opinion polls (albeit marginally). Labour only needs a small lead to win a healthy majority, so currently (with Scotland) your money should be on him being the next PM. Without Scotland, it would be likely that Labour would need to shift back to a more Blairite "3rd way" position if it wanted to win again.  

The truth is the Scottish vote hasn't often made a difference to who ends up in power in UK general elections. On the couple of occasions it did, it was to give Labour a majority where it would have not otherwise have had one (but still have been the largest party) or deny the Tories a majority (as in 2010). But it has enabled a more leftist narrative than would otherwise be palatable to the English to survive. While a Scotland-free UK may only notice a shift in the political centre slightly to the right, Scotland would be able to build its socialist state up in a way the English influence has denied her in the past. Scots will then be able to lie in a bed of their own making.

So, Scottish independence would mean putting Scotland at an economic disadvantage but handing her political destiny to her with no dampening effects from the English. This lurch to the left, in turn, is likely to damage, if not destroy, her economy but that, at least, would be her democratically made choice.

From my perspective, I hope Scotland votes No. Not because I want to see our politics remain skewed to the left (obviously I don't) but because I believe the UK is greater than the sum of its parts. We'll all be weaker as a result of their exit. As a nation we are emerging from the effects of the deepest and most damaging recession and debt crisis for generations and this would set us all back terribly. Plus, most importantly of all, it will mess up our union jack, which is undeniable the best flag in the world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not All Apologies Are Equal

When someone is wrong, the way they react says a lot about their character. Let's compare Tory PM David Cameron with Labour's Gordon Brown.

Cameron, as leader of the opposition at the time, employed a man, Andy Coulson, who had lost his job at News International following revelations of phone hacking. Cameron asked him whether he had any knowledge of phone "hacking", and Coulson assured him he didn't. Cameron took the view he should give the guy a second chance. He went on the be a very well respected communication director for the leader of the opposition, and then in government when Cameron won the election. There's no suggestion of wrong doing while working for Cameron at all.

Now it transpires Coulson was lying about knowing about phone "hacking" the PM has issued a full and comprehensive apology for his judgement in making that decision...



Compare this with Gordon Brown's apology when, a man working for him (Damian McBride), was caught making up lies to smear Brown's political opponents (including against David Cameron's wife, Samantha). Remember McBride was working for Brown at the time. His wrong-doing was related to the duties of the position (spin doctor) he held under his boss, Gordon Brown. Brown denied knowing anything about it. But the culture of poisonous spin aimed at undermining opponents (in and out of the Labour party) was well established by then. So, believe him if you will.

He sets out attempting to apologise but in the end, he utters the now infamous phrase "I take full responsibility for what happens. That's why the person responsible went immediately".

 
 
You can judge for yourselves whether Cameron needed to apologise for employing Coulson. At worst it was bad judgement. Brown's non-apology is more stark. This was someone he employed to attack and undermine opponents. When he was caught going too far, Brown's apology amounts to very little other than, he did something wrong, so I acted and got rid of him - aren't I great!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Left Is In Denial

The Ed Miliband vs The Daily Mail show, as sponsored by the BBC, has had Twitter all aflutter for a week now. One aspect that came out for me was a reminder of how those on the left hate to be associated with the reality of their ideas being put into practice.


When the Daily Mail developed their attack on Miliband Senior (Ed's Dad, I mean, not David as we've been used to interpreting this description) into an observation on the evils of Stalinism, Leftists were quick to point out, correctly, that Ralph Miliband wasn't a Stalinist. Nor was he a Trotskist - oh no, he was just a generic brand Marxist. Although Marxism was the basis for these abominable revolutionaries' regimes, the left always distance themselves from them. 

These distinctions are most important for the left, not for historic and academic reasons about their technical differences, but because, by associating a man's beliefs (and indeed their own) with an actual regime that enacted their base ideology, they are exposing themselves to the ultimate test of their ideas. We can look at The Soviet Union, North Korea, Communist era eastern Europe, Cuba etc as examples of what actually happens when you take academic Marxist theory and put it into practice.
Stalin and Trotsky's "isms" are embarrassing for Marxists because their regimes killed far more people in the name of their ideology, than even the evil of Hitler's Fascism, not to mention the economic crippling effects on their great, natural resource rich country. But wherever you look at a nation that has dabbled with socialism (none have got as far as implementing full blown Communism due to the fundamental flaws in Marxist theory), depending on the degree of implementation, you see economic impoverishment, authoritarian suppression of the people with widespread human right abuses and state control of the media.

I include western democracies in my observations of nations that have dabbled in implementing socialism - Britain, post-1945, for example. I also observe that you see the same trait of denial in natural Labour supporters. I remember a few discussions before the 2010 general election with people who seemed open minded about who to vote for at the time. They were unhappy with the Labour government and seemed to want change. However, subsequent to the election I see them harking back to how great it was before the evil Tories got in, describing themselves as staunch Labour supporters. Clearly, they were just embarrassed by their government when  I spoke the them before the election. But bring up Labour's record and they will scoff that, obviously Gordon Brown's government wasn't a true representation of their left wing "values"... Blair? No, no, awful man, lied a lot (like Brown). Wilson/Callaghan? - no, no strikes, winter of discontent... etc. etc. Either that, or they reinvent history so they airbrush out the failures and exaggerate the successes.

Pretty much the only Labour leader they might be happy to associate themselves with is Clement Attlee, due to a rather over-romanticised view of that government's creation of a welfare state and national health service, post-Second World War. You'll hear no reference to the fact that the principle of a freely available health service was broadly agreed during Churchill's wartime premiership, that Attlee's reforms were funded by US loans or the extent to which the modern welfare state and NHS have deviated from their original principles and objectives. Oh no, only that every attempt to reform either has been an evil plan of the Tories to "attack the poor".

It's this infantile mindset that seems to dominate the thinking on the left. They've retreated to academic arguments and misrepresentations of recent history and of their opponents views. In debate, you can't use real world examples of their ideology being implemented because "no one has ever properly tried it before". And anyone who disagrees with them doesn't share their "values" - by this they mean people who don't share their political views are bad and/or stupid. To be fair this is often the case for those who hold extreme or fundamentalist opinions. And that's fine when it's Marxists or Fascists in fringe parties, as they are never going to get to govern (as long as we keep our current electoral system!). However, when we're talking about the Labour party, its leaders and supporters, that's extremely worrying.

Ed Miliband has completed Gordon Brown's journey to cut all ties with the Blairite New Labour realism of occupying the political centre ground. Miliband and his supporters believe that, if only they were given one more chance, they'd get it right this time, and it is frightening, as they have clearly not learnt any lessons from recent history.

Indeed, one wonders when the left, generally, will start to look honestly at its legacy, both here in Britain and across the world, and come to terms with their consistent and often tragic failures.