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.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

UKIP Atlas of The World

It seems UKIP MEPs are using a this internally drawn up Atlas of The World.

UKIP Atlas of The World

References to a communist Soviet Russia, South Africa being "much maligned" and Grantham being a major British city are evidence of a political mindset stuck in the 80's.

(This is actually a, slightly modified, version of a page that appeared in a Spitting Image publication from the late 80s relating to the Tories.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Can You Make Porn Come Back On My Internet, Please?




Based on the reactions I've read on Facebook & Twitter I was concerned at the seemingly unfeasible and possibly oppressive plan David Cameron has for Internet censorship.

This is one area politicians are keen to stick their noses into as it plays to a very strong concern amongst parents about their children accessing inappropriate, even vile and illegal material on the web. It almost always ends badly, usually in embarrassing retreat but can also result in overbearing legislation that potentially infringes freedom of expression.

I gleaned from the various social media comments and the odd blog post I had time to read that there was a lot of confusion out there. Just some of the things Cameron apparently wants to do are: a) ban access to illegal porn via the Internet b) limit access to all porn on the Internet c) make all porn illegal d) define what is and is not porn himself e) maintain a central list of all pervs who are "opted into" porn etc etc. it gets sillier and sillier the more you read.

Some points of concern, however certainly resonate with me. One good point made by (an unsurprisingly) critical article in The Independent, was that we don't need filters we need more effort invested in identifying and closing down illegal porn production and distribution on the Internet. Very wise, I thought.

But, given the high proportion of conspiracy theorising and deliberate, politically motivated obfuscation of the subject clearly aimed at making the proposals sound ridiculous and unworkable, I felt I needed to read the proposal from the horses keyboard (yes, I know, that doesn't make any sense). So, I searched out what Cameron actually said. Here it is:

As I said today, there are two big things we’re going to do.

HELPING PARENTS

First, we’re going to help mums and dads stop their children looking at adult material. For too long, parents have been on their own in this fight.

So today we’ve announced big, new steps forward. In a nutshell, the internet providers have agreed to do much more to filter inappropriate images out – they are going to install family friendly filters automatically unless you, as a parent, say otherwise.

STOPPING CHILD ABUSE IMAGES

Second, we need to do much more to eradicate vile and illegal images of child abuse from the internet. As a Government we will boost police action, back the Internet Watch Foundation and ensure there is one database to pool intelligence.

At the moment, search engines aren’t doing enough. So today I’ve said loud and clear to Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest – they have got to stop letting people put in these disgusting search terms. If they don’t commit to action, or progress is too slow, we are already looking at how we can change the law to make them.

I want Britain to be the best place in the world to raise a family. That's why we need to take action now. Fundamentally this is about protecting childhood itself - few things matter more.


So, he wants to make existing filters default to on. These filters already define what is and isn't porn in a way that isn't causing enormous concern. And, if you aren't happy with the restriction, you can opt out.

Additionally, Cameron wants to boost investment in the current police operations identifying and closing down online child abuse, rape and other illegal images. I can only suppose The Independent journalist missed this bit when he made his excellent point calling for Cameron to do exactly this. This is probably the most effective part of his proposals, as a lot of the really awful porn is accessed via private and peer to peer networks that require intelligence and investigation to crack.

He also wants search engines to block certain search terms. This is a problematic suggestion, as who decides what terms are unacceptable? I can well understand the censorship and practical concerns here. But, assuming the terms are universally accepted as unacceptable, "child rape" for example, that would be okay, wouldn't it? As long as legitimate sites that exist to support abused children aren't filtered from the results as well. The real issue, it seems to me, is setting a precedent of politician defining "unacceptable terms". What's to stop a future Labour Prime Minister (perhaps Andy Burnham) adding "NHS quality of care failures" to the list of terms that must not return any results, for example?

So, while I'm never comfortable with politicians interfering with Internet freedom, as a parent with genuine concerns about what my children (once they're older and more tech savvy) may stumble across on the web, I think they are fairly measured policy suggestions. Only time will tell how successful they will be in practice. The anti side of the reaction today seems a bit shrill and premature (but then that's what watching too much porn does to you, I suppose).

The threat of legislation is a big worry. It would be preferable for the industry to put its own house in order. I'm sure motivation for them to do so is the point of the threat. But should it come to legislation, then there will be big questions about definitions, future safeguards against political interference etc. Again, we should flush that tissue when we come on it. (Sorry)

Having read the anti-change Facebook and Twitter comments again, I think I know what is really bothering some of them. It's almost certainly the realisation that they will either have to ask their wives for permission to (in the, slightly modified, words of Alan Partridge) make pornography come back on the Internet, or have to resort to lingerie catalogues or, most controversial of all, actual sex with their partners.

It's a hard (hopefully) life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Local Elections 2013

Ed inspiring commuters on the Tube
Lots of spinning going on about the council elections results. In reality, it's been a typically bad mid-term result for the Tories and the Lib Dems. Labour's gains have been patchy and mostly disappointing. Only UKIP can take any pleasure in that they attracted a significant percentage of the vote and some councillors. Although no councils, of course.

Apart from the UKIP performance, the only other notable outcome is Labour's lacklustre progress. Ed Miliband had the following going for him:
  • With the Liberal Democrats in coalition with the Tories, Labour are the lone party of opposition on the left. Dissatisfaction with the government should drive votes to Labour as the only possible alternative
  • The Coalition parties are in mid-term, midway through implementing very painful reforms and departmental budget cuts that have sapped their political capital.
  • UKIP are splitting the vote on the right, sapping support from the Conservatives
  • Labour were starting from a very low point and the Tories a very high point, as the last time these wards were fought was during the darkest days of the previous Labour government. Any slight improvement in Labour's vote should have delivered hundreds of councillors.
Given all of this, you'd expect a Labour landslide, gains of 4/5/600 or more. But no, nothing like it. More worrying for Labour is its lack of success in the South. The only councils Labour won were Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - both rock solid Labour before Labour's disastrous result in 2009. Few significant inroads were made in the South of England.

Ed Miliband has had an easy run in the media for a while. But following recent poor decisions, especially around opposing Conservative welfare reforms, another car crash interview and now these disappointing results, pressure should start to mount on the Labour leader. But, I suspect, most of the electorate have already made their mind up on him, and Labour's only hope will be no economic recovery and UKIP's popularity persisting to the election in 2015.

If yesterday's vote proves anything, it proves the country has a strong right of centre mind set. Ed Miliband's march to the left is leaving people cold.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Maggie's Dignified Send Off

It was pleasing to see that today's ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher passed off without any significant incident. Much was made of the threats to use the event for anti-Thatcher / Tory political demonstrations. But all attempts to barrack and disrupt proceedings were drowned out by a genuine outpouring of support by the many spectators that lined the procession's route.

The Bishop of London's words were spot on regarding the Maggie behind the mythological figure. It was right that we look to her as the person she was rather than the caricature her fans and detractors have in their minds. His words regarding the common and deliberate misrepresentation of her words "There's no such thing as society" were also very welcome. It is one of the mainstay myths that the Left use to try to portray Thatcherism as a creed of greed and individualism. In fact, she was saying the opposite. She was saying that society is made up of individuals, families and neighbours but it is not synonymous with the state.

Typical misrepresentation of
Margaret Thatcher's words
The suggestion that people's needs, ambitions and desires are not wholly determined and delivered by the state goes against a central tenant of Left wing thinking. The idea that people should demonstrate personal responsibility for their families, friends and neighbours and shouldn't always look to the state to provide, without some effort themselves, is an anathema to many on the Left. As we've seen with Labour's opposition to recent welfare reform, and their record of expanding the client state exponentially during their time in power.

But today wasn't about politics, it was about marking the passing of the 20th centuries longest serving and first ever woman prime minister, who came to power at a time of decline and unrest and changed our country. Many think for the better, some for the worse. But either way, today was not the time, and her funeral not the place, for political demonstrations. So it's good to see the attempts to make it so, fail.

You win again. RIP Mrs T.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hyperbolix




Sickening as it is to see people celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher, I was not one of those calling for a ban on the playing of Ding Dong The Witch is Dead. I'm pleased to see no ban was introduced. I say that, but it seems it depends on your definition if the word "ban".

The BBC had taken an editorial decision to play a short clip of the track today, with an explanation, rather than the whole thing. This decision was a compromise, allowing the chart placing of the track to be marked but recognising that the track is only there due to a campaign directing personal hatred at someone who has only just died, and is therefore distasteful by any normal person's standards.



It has not been banned. The government has not told anyone they can't play it. In a free country media organisations have the right to choose whether content they carry is suitable for their audience or not. As a public funded organisation, the BBC has to take a particularly sensitive view on the content of prime time programmes such as the top 40 chart show.

Arguably, the BBC's decision is the worst of all worlds. On the one hand they are not playing in full a track that is legitimately in the Top 40 (albeit it only as a result of social media driven manipulation of the charts). On the other hand they are drawing attention to the pathetic hate driven rationale behind the track charting when, if they'd just played it with no explanation, many listeners would just be bemused as to why it was there at all. I understand that, in the event, the DJ chose not to mention the title of the alternative, Thatcher fans backed "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" when she played it. So, all in all not that balanced a decision after all.

But still, this is a free country and the BBC has every right to take whatever editorial decision they want. And people are free to criticise it. But some interpret the Beeb's editorial decision as an outright ban. The most ridiculous commentary I've read comes from, unsurprisingly, The Guardian and Nick Cohen. Where he equates the situation to censorship in Communist China.


It's a surprise as the left is not known for exaggerated and offensive comparisons is it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tweet of the Day

We all know why Hugh Grant is so keen on curbing the freedom of the press. He's been the main figurehead for Hacked Off's campaign and was grabbing some more exposure reviewing papers on The Andrew Marr Show on the more than sympathetic to the cause BBC, when @gabrielmilland tweeted:

"Hugh Grant doing the papers on #Marr. A bit like King Herod reviewing prams."

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No Sleaze Please, We're Lib Dems

It's a good job those Lib Dems are such a force for honesty and decency...



Ah...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lib Dem's New Logo

Loving the Fib Dem's new logo...


Courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Farage's Folly?




I'm not sure Nigel Farage was wise to announce that he's considering running in the Eastleigh by-election.

On the one hand, if he decides not to, he'll look like he's running scared of a fight in a seat currently held by the Euro-fanatical Lib-Dems. He'd have to come up with a pretty convincing reason not to run now.

On the other, if he does stand he'll almost certainly lose and, in the process, block the candidate of the only other party committed to delivering a referendum on EU membership and letting in Labour or the Lib Dems. This will illustrate perfectly the Tory message that a vote for UKIP is a vote for the EU fan boys in Labour and the Lib Dems.

There is a third option around a electoral pact. Toby Young proposes one scenario whereby the Tories don't stand in Eastleigh if UKIP agree not to oppose Tories in any of their current seats.

I can't see this being acceptable to the local party, given that they have a chance of winning. However, given the Lib Dems duplicitous reneging on their coalition agreement commitment to even-up the sizes of parliamentary constituencies, the Tories do need to look at more tactical options, as the system is rigged against them.