Friday, 21 February 2014

Falkirk: an epilogue

Scotland, intrigue and laying ghosts to rest. Surely the only things
missing from this story were the witches and Lady Macbeth.
Two weeks ago, in all of the excitement of Ed Miliband’s surprisingly successful bid to reform Labour party power structures, a parallel development was almost buried in the bigger story, apart from at the Guardian, which broke it.

The night before the NEC was due to ponder the matter, the full report which Ed Miliband had steadfastly refused to publish was, finally, mysteriously leaked. Whether it was the party, or Unite, or the Guardian itself, or even the Tories ineptly trying to cause trouble, we may never know.

The Labour party has made – caveats notwithstanding – big progress in dealing with the root cause, and there is already a new candidate for Falkirk. The story is over.

But before we lay its ghost to rest, and after the extraordinary impact it has had on the course of Labour Party history, it behoves us to spend a little time understanding exactly what did happen.

Leafing through the 20-page report, a few things stand out.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Venezuela on the edge

Since a student protest on Thursday ended in violence (from a reportedly small group after the main, peaceful demonstration had dispersed), Venezuela is looking even worse than usual.

On Friday, Twitter users were reportedly having online images blocked by the government, presumably to avoid photo evidence of brutality being transmitted via mobile phones.

My friends at Harry's Place also document the use of Maduro's new thugs, the "collectivos", quoting a local blogger who says they "carry out their savage attacks with steel rods, billy clubs, and using their motorcycle helmets as bludgeons".

It is perhaps the right moment to remind readers, as I have done many times, of the bordering-on-idiotic support which the British labour movement (TUC, Unite and GMB to name but a few) - along with some sections of my own party - affords to the appalling Maduro regime and the Chávez one which preceded it.

When the chips are down, it seems these people will blindly support an authoritarian regime, including a leader who is not just brutal and incompetent but quite possibly insane, against the decent people of Venezuela who might want peaceful change and proper democracy.

One wonders how far Venezuela will have to fall into chaos before they finally admit their mistake. I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

If party reform goes through as advertised, it is a major triumph. But it ain’t over till it’s over

It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for Labour. It started with Miliband’s ideas on how to change competition in banking, and ran through Balls’ announcement on fiscal probity, of which the only story newspapers wanted to print was about the retention of the 50p tax rate. Indeed, the economic story that they tell is one which could yet be Labour’s undoing.

But let us give credit where it is undoubtedly due. The settlement announced at the weekend was, for the long-term future of the party, an undeniable success. It did not go as far as some of us might have wanted. But given where we are in the electoral cycle and the importance of not facing a general election broke, it was surely about as good as anyone could have hoped for.

If you can secure the fulsome praise of
Andrew Rawnsley and John Rentoul – no Miliband cheerleaders they – for reforms which they describe as “bold” and “brave” respectively, you must know that you have done something out of the ordinary.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

After Sochi

It would be hilarious, if not for a certain sense of foreboding, that Viktor Yanukovych, in a certain crunch moment of the history of his country, has called in sick with a respiratory infectionGosh, it's as if he were playing for time in some way. 

As the NYT notes, it is an old trick from Soviet times, to absent oneself when there is an unpopular decision to be made. Such as, perhaps, to mobilise for a crackdown.

Another NYT piece notes how yesterday one of the protest's leaders turned up in a wood, with his face slashed and puncture wounds in his hands. 

He said he had been crucified, and not in the sense of a figure of speech. "They spoke with Russian accents", the NYT reported him saying.

I am not sure how many people have joined the dots but, as I wrote here, it might not be very convenient for the Russian administration to have a bloodbath on its doorstep - not to mention one in which it would be clearly implicated - in the middle of its biggest charm offensive towards the international community in many years. That is, the already-controversial Winter Olympics.

This is just a hunch, but...I wouldn't be very surprised if it all kicked off at the end of this month.

Right after Sochi.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...