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.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

We need to talk about where the trans self-id debate is taking Labour

Last Tuesday, Deputy Leader Angela Rayner stated her view that Rosie Duffield – yes, the Rosie Duffield who has been a champion of women’s rights and bravely declared her own domestic abuse story to Parliament – should “reflect” on the fact that she had “liked” a tweet which described transgender people as “cross-dressers”.

Although Rayner attempted to paint the debate as “toxic”, with “both sides” needing to calm down, this was a somewhat disingenuous deflection; there is no doubt about which “side” she herself has chosen and her criticism of Duffield was clear enough. She was felt to be “upsetting” people.

It is also well documented that, during the leadership campaign earlier this year, Rayner – along with Lisa Nandy and Corbynite challenger Rebecca Long-Bailey – enthusiastically endorsed the idea of self-id for trans folk.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Crank Labour stops pretending: and a rather important meeting

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As Keir Starmer puts in two commendable first performances at PMQs, so the upper echelons of the Corbynite house of cards, thankfully, continue to collapse.

The Crank Labour caucus has largely reverted to type in an overt way: one wild fringe in a Zoom conference a couple of weeks back claimed that Labour is institutionally racist against black members, in order to muddy the waters as much as possible against the anti-Semitism accusations and, clumsily, to try and discredit the EHRC before it reports on Labour.

And that Zoom conference was nothing to a second one, a few days later, peddling a similar victim-narrative and where MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy were snapped rubbing shoulders with a veritable Who’s Who of left anti-Semites, such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker (h/t: Lee Harpin).

It is no longer, it seems, necessary to keep up pretences of common sense or decency.

Monday, 20 April 2020

The Corbynite leadership’s final, scorched-earth, rearguard action

Image result for scorched earth imagesIt was all going so well: but a matter of days following the election of Keir Starmer as Labour’s new leader and it is convulsing itself over the scandal of a report, leaked widely, containing sensitive, personal information and also making serious allegations about current and past staffers, not to mention various members and non-members.

It has the makings of a PR disaster of epic proportions which, thanks to Covid-19, national media has not yet given the prominence it is likely to have in future. But it will: make no mistake about its seriousness. It could even bankrupt the party, or some of its individual figures.

Corbyn himself is gone, of course. But this week we discovered, not to much surprise, that the report was commissioned by his last lieutenant: the party’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby.

You do not have to agree that Formby created a climate of fear and bullying at Labour HQ; or that she allowed unresolved anti-Semitism complaints to balloon on her watch and then disingenuously blamed the problem on her predecessor, although there is ample evidence for both these things. But they are opinions.

Where one has to despair with some party members over recent days, in uproar on Labour’s social media echo chamber, is the wilful blindness to the following actual facts:

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The party, the party, the party: an eight-point plan to save Labour from itself

Dyntra - The Transparency of Labour Party
We have now had the Shadow Cabinet appointments. While a few have raised eyebrows among moderates – not least the reappearance of that self-same Miliband who helped get us into this mess in the first place – it is not a bad selection from the limited numbers of available MPs.

Its significance will be dissected for weeks by the Westminster lobby, because that is what they see – the Westminster face of the party. But the first thing we members need to realise is that the Shadow Cabinet and, indeed, party policy in times of Covid-19, is a sideshow.

Let’s not forget: the party is finally out of immediate danger, but it is still in intensive care.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Coronavirus in Hungary: the perfect distraction for an anti-democrat to make his move

Viktor Orban says he may resume media attacks on EU institutions ...For nearly a decade, the Centre Left has been writing periodically about the unpleasant regime of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and how it would likely end up as the first dictatorship inside the EU: starting with a ropey media law his government enacted in that year, passing through a blind eye to anti-Semitsim and a suspiciously over-generous nuclear deal with Russia, and ending with open-ended rule by decree yesterday, a mere nine years later.

He has not disappointed: indeed, if there is a difference between this and the dictatorship declared yesterday, it is starting to be a fairly fine one.

Friday, 20 March 2020

This past few weeks have only confirmed Corbynite Labour’s unfitness to govern

Image result for 10 downing street imagesAnd so, while not wanting to be complacent, many of us dare to hope that the shutters are finally lifting on the Corbynite era, where the openly continuity-Corbyn candidates seem poised to lose in both Leader and Deputy Leader elections.

The beginning of the end, fingers crossed.

Even were that not the case, it seems that the dying embers of that Corbynite leadership seems bent on helping them lose, through a series of actions so cack-handed, so politically tone-deaf, that they leave even their most ardent supporters within the party are left struggling to comprehend them.

Friday, 21 February 2020

We like you, Lisa Nandy, so why are you throwing women under a bus?

Image result for lisa nandy imagesCurrent Labour leadership campaign status: both cautiously encouraging, and flat-out disappointing.

Encouraging, because the nominations stage is making it look like the far left – in the shape of Burgon, Butler and Long-Bailey might finally, finally be on the back foot (that said, the actual vote for leader is likely to be far tighter and no-one should be complacent).

Disappointing, because for any moderates, there is actually no candidate at all aligning with their views. The choice is soft left, or hard left. That’s it.

And all are playing, to a greater or lesser extent, to the Momentumite gallery. Perhaps foolishly, given the occurrence of members of new members joining to oppose Continuity Corbynism and who are now crushed to see all candidates espousing dumb policies (not that policies will even matter for the next year or two, as the party tries to rebuild).

And then there is the debate on trans rights.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Labour, co-owner of #brexitshambles

Image result for corbyn mcdonnell imagesWe are out. That’s it, the fat lady has sung.

But of course we are not out at all, not in any meaningful sense. This is just the start of a tortuous, eleven-month scramble to try and get some kind of a sensible result in place by the end of the year.

Remainers have to admit that they – we – lost the argument, at least for now. Leavers have got what they wanted and, ultimately, that’s democracy.

But, Leaver or Remainer, we have had in many ways the worst of all possible worlds. Leavers have not really got what many wanted, at least, not yet. If we leave aside the semi-suicidal, macho contingent who are happy to have the hardest of hard Brexits, moderate Leavers will now see that we now have eleven months to get somewhere on the sliding scale between what one former PM has rightly called the “pointless Brexit” and the “painful Brexit”.

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