Saturday, 29 December 2012

The best of 2012

As is traditional at this time of year (well, we did it last year and thought, what the hey), the top five best-read posts from the year at the Centre Left:

Even before her now-notorious tweet asserting that "white people love to play divide and rule", her disturbing views on race were clear: that somehow she had a deep insight into the mind of a Bradford Bengali Muslim voter because of the fact that she is also from a (completely different) ethnic minority. Almost as good as Lee Jasper's "black people can't be racist".
When the dear old Guardian decided, astonishingly, that it would celebrate Holocaust Memorial Day by publishing an op-ed by a known anti-Semite. Nice.

3. Me, Galloway and the appreciation of irony

After my Independent piece about George Galloway's Respect Party, he took to the Internet and was granted a response piece by the good offices of IndyVoices. Although more of an incoherent rant than a considered defence, it required a response.

2. Livingstone logic 
As Livingstone's mayoral campaign slowly imploded, he had tried everyone's patience to the limit, especially London's Jewish community, who he managed to successfully alienate by suggesting that, being rich, they were not really his target demographic. No offensive Jews-as-usurers trope implied, of course.

And, at Number One: after the polls closed in London, this was written after wrestling with my own conscience. For the first time ever in almost twenty years' party membership, I felt unable to support the Labour candidate in an election, something I hope I will never need to do again (I was not, I should add, the only one).

That's it, folks - thanks so much for all your support in 2012, and hope you keep enjoying the blog in 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Labour Christmas carol

It was Christmas eve, 2012, and Ebenezer Miliband lay in his bed, thinking of how his little hardware shop was faring in the middle of this perniciously cold winter. Business had been difficult, and here was a man generous to a fault. Perhaps too generous, some said. Debt was high everywhere in London that year, and no-one wanted to make promises to anyone, about anything. But Miliband, a decent and honourable man, was always good to his creditors.

He lay and fretted about his little business, and the harsh economic climate, unable to sleep. And, as he lay there, suddenly something very strange happened: it seemed like the bells on all the clocks in the house were sounding, madly, at the same time. Miliband looked around him, startled. What on earth was happening?

And then suddenly, after a few long seconds, they stopped ringing, as abruptly as they had begun, and silence reigned again. As he turned back towards his bed, who should have quietly appeared meanwhile, but the ghost of his mentor and former business partner: Jacob Brown, esq.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Stop the War Coalition’s comments about Newtown reveal a burning hatred of America

Friday, 14 December 2012

Osborne lays the trap. Enter Labour, not walking but running

The weekend before last, I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the classic kids’ film of my own childhood, with my five year-old for the first time. When the famous “child catcher” scene came on, and the children were being tempted into the evil Kiddy Catcher’s van with sweets and lollipops, it ended with genuine, heartfelt cries of “no, noooooooo…!” as she vainly urged Jeremy and Jemima to see the danger. The bright colours and bunting suddenly fall from the van to reveal a cage, inside which the children are helplessly trapped (the point at which, as I remember, I was usually to be found hiding behind the sofa).

This last weekend, then, on seeing the media coverage of a mooted Miliband “war” on benefit cuts, the cage metaphor already seemed like déjà vu. And the Commons statement by Ed Balls on Tuesday, confirming that Labour will vote against the welfare bill, seemed to be accompanied by the clunk of a big door closing.

Labour does not, of course, really think that people should be allowed to “scrounge”, and there is a genuine, balanced debate to be had on how to prevent abuses and dependency while continuing to protect the vulnerable. But there is also a realpolitik argument of ensuring that your argument can be painted in primary colours. Shades of grey can and will be twisted.

Friday, 7 December 2012

We might as well get used to the Royals – they’re not going anywhere, any time soon

If you’ve been living on the moon for the last four days, you may just not know about the royal baby. The news has predictably sand-blasted UK news schedules and obscured the traditional staples of murders, celebs and, quite possibly, a third World War (I didn’t catch the later bulletins).

And, at these times, we in the Labour party tend to separate into two camps: the die-hard republicans on the one side, scowling from the sidelines at those gushing over the happy couple; and the royalists, including practically any politician with any kind of career aspiration, on the other.

Why is that? Because it is pretty well-understood that you could hardly be a republican and become Prime Minister (not to mention that your chances of becoming a Privy Councillor, that title reserved for senior politicians, are really not very good at all). You either bite your tongue against your republican instincts, or say goodbye to serious political advancement. That is the realpolitik.

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