Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The ripples from the US election and its aftermath could profoundly affect Labour's journey from here

It should be uncontroversial at this point, for any (small-"d") democrat, to say that the election of Joe Biden is immensely good news for the world in general. 

Following the final debacle of Trump's disastrous presidency, the Capitol insurrection, the alternative in retrospect seems ever more unthinkable, because it is now clear that his open contempt for democracy could easily have led the US to a much, much darker place than happened on the 6th of January.

We are now at least in the happy position of going back to something resembling politics-as-usual. We can finally start to critique the new presidency as we would have done any other and, for us on the left, things mostly look very promising. But there are also some flaws, as we shall see.

But, at the risk of seeming a little parochial, what's in it for us? What difference does it make to us, the Labour party, in its struggle to clean itself up and get back into power?

Friday, 15 January 2021

End of term approaches at the Corbynite clown school

Yesterday it was quietly announced that the legal challenge to the EHRC report on anti-Semitism in Labour was to be dropped. This was for the fairly obvious reason that the challenge, attempting to trigger a judicial review, stood no hope whatsoever and was costing money.

It was a challenge that - although the Unite union may or may not have been directly involved this time - had all the hallmarks of a Len McCluskey tactic: bluster and threat, to create a lot of noise and attempt to save face, and then quietly withdraw when you think no-one is watching.

What it particularly means is this. It means that the report, so dreaded by the Corbynites that they tried to:

(a) discredit the organisation via their media outriders and, most shamefully, suspending its founding head from the Labour party in the run-up to the report's release; 

(b) create their own trumped-up "contribution" to said report which, on lawyers' advice, was never sent to EHRC and which attempted to challenge its conclusions in advance; and 

(c) roundly condemn, belittle and challenge it after its release, including a rather unwise challenge from the former Leader himself;

now stands unchallenged and therefore de facto accepted by pretty much everyone. 

(Well, not quite everyone: we understand that Ken Livingstone and disgraced former MP Chris Williamson still intend to challenge it, but good luck with that.)

But they were right to be afraid of it: the report shone a light into the dark corners of the Corbyn staff operation in such a way that it could never credibly recover. It was, as many expected, the tipping-point which finally swung the balance of party thinking gradually back towards common sense, much as the Republican Party is likely to do over the coming weeks and months.

It is perhaps also notable that one of the tactics both cults had in common was this: the use of the specious legal challenge. 

At least, in our case, they never got to run the country.

(Thanks to Simon Myerson QC for the heads-up.)

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Britain edges towards the clifftop - a few things about to happen between now and 1 Jan

And after a very odd, year indeed, it seems that political gravity is finally starting to reassert itself.

The thing with populism, as the US is in the process of finding out, is that at some point the lies unravel and the cognitive dissonance many have been living for the duration is abruptly curtailed, by the intervention of brutal reality. 

The result is usually a shock: not just in the sense of a person or persons receiving unexpected news, but in the sense that the whole of politics - and often, economics - receives a rectifying jolt.

As the Trump era - barring an actual successful coup in the next 31 days, that is - draws to a close across the Atlantic, chickens are finally coming home to roost for the Johnson government over here.

The price that the US is paying, apart from four years of its diminishment on the international stage, is in its terrible figures for Covid-19 deaths.

The price that the UK is paying is also both of those things (granted, the figures on Covid are not quite as bad) but, on top of it all, it is about to receive an unprecedented shock over Brexit. And this one will surely be economic as well as political.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

The EHRC report is conclusive and damning. But with Corbyn suspended, the rebuilding can now start

It was a day of shame for Labour, there is no doubt. Never before had it been criticised so indelibly about racism: something which a decade ago would have seemed to many unthinkable. It is a hurt that will take time and care to undo; a stain that will not be removed any time soon.

But it was also, unexpectedly, the day where an enormous boil seemed to be lanced for Labour and, at last, a road out of the mess of the last decade became clearly visible. That Labour could put itself back onto the road of being a force for good.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Manchester's punishment beating

For anyone following the story about Andy Burnham's negotiations with the government on behalf of Greater Manchester, it is easy to dismiss it as "playing politics" and many have in recent days. 

Easy, that is, until you read this: 

This is an insult, to give them roughly a quarter, per capita, of what other areas are getting

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is a petty punishment beating, meted out to Burnham for having the temerity to stand up for his constituents.

What a government. What a time to be alive.

UPDATE 22:00: Government has insisted on Tier 3 lockdown anyway and dug its heels in with the £22m. This will be an entirely preventable disaster for Manchester, inflicted by a petulant and incompetent government. 

UPDATE 21/10/2020 15:00: Johnson has today announced at PMQs that he will in fact give Greater Manchester £60m - only £5m less than Burnham asked for - after a letter was written by six Tory GM MPs. But it will be allocated directly to councils (presumably government will choose the split), rather than allocated to the Mayor as a pot. So the government knew that it was not politically feasible to punish Manchester, did it anyway and then rowed back today, trying to save face by blaming it all on Burnham, who was merely doing his job.

Apart from the clear pettiness, a quite unnecessary PR disaster for the government with the people of Manchester, who may now kick out their new, former "Red Wall", Tory MPs. Honestly, you couldn't make this stuff up.

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