Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour and anti-Semitism

It's been a bit interesting watching the current shit storm in Britain.

It reeks of right-wing desperation.  Are they really reduced to trawling through the pre-parliamentary twitter feeds and online wibblings of Labour MPs to find anything that can be spun as dicreditable.

I refer, of course, to the fuss about Naz Shah's comments - made two years ago, before she became an MP - about relocating Israel to the USA as a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem.

In subsequent events, Labour veteran loudmouth Ken Livingstone may finally have gone too far and be forced to retire in disgrace, a sad end to a career in politics that has been amusing, infuriating and only sometimes offensive.

First, Ms Shah.  Yeah, she made some thoughtless comments on Twitter.  Were they anti-Semitic?  I wouldn't have thought so.  Just a bit crass, and only anti-Semitic if you are one of these people who conflate Israel with all Jews.

It was interesting watching how this story was reported.

The Mail's first few paragraphs is a masterclass in disingenuous reporting, making it sound like she did it recently, while in her role as an MP:
A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic on social media that appeared to say Israel should be 'relocated' to America.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image that showed an outline of Israel superimposed on to a map of the USA.

The headline on the image said: 'Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict - Relocate Israel into United States.'
Note 'A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic' - yeah, almost 2 years afterwards she shared it, and a year after becoming an MP. And 'Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image' - the Bradford MP Naz Shah did nothing of the kind, Naz Shah, did, before she became the MP for Bradford West.

Clever, though disheartening stuff.

Whereas Shah's action was not clever, and also disheartening.

Ken Livingstone's intervention is more problematic.  In fact, he should be banished from the party and should be sacked and thrown in the Thames. Not because of what he said, as much as the stupidity of opening his mouth and turning an annoyance into a crisis. Government looking useless and divided, the first polls showing Labour in the lead, a bit of a hint of Corbyn starting to impinge on the public consciousness as something more than a bizarre situationist prank, and then Livingstone goes and shoots his mouth off.

He's actually managed to make things much worse for Shah. Her silliness - two years ago, before parliament - would have been forgotten and after an 'investigation' and a stern talking to she could have been re-admitted. But Livingstone - who should know better, given he's been around for a colossally long time and presumably knows a few things about the right wing media works - should have anticipated what would happen if he started shooting his mouth off.

Now there will be far more swivel eyed attention paid to Shah's case, and it is possible she won't be back in at.

It's monumentally depressing.

Almost as depressing as this extremely depressing article by George Eaton in New Statesman, puffing up a bunch of rumours and snipes from the Labour right.  Not exactly fair, balanced coverage there, George.

The central contention is that Jermey Corbyn is not up to tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Only, he has been.

Post Options Post by lala on 26 minutes ago People are screaming and running around like idiots as if this is a new thing, and Corbyn et al are fumbling to make a response to the scorching searchlight now being shone on them ... When Labour has actually been addressing the issue of anti-Semites and racists in the party before it became a Meja sensayshun:
A Labour councillor has been suspended from the party over anti-Semitic comments on her Twitter account. 
A message on Luton councillor Aysegul Gurbuz's Twitter feed claimed Hitler was the "greatest man in history". 
Another tweet on Ms Gurbaz's account suggested Iran could develop a nuclear weapon to "wipe Israel off the map". 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said anyone who makes anti-Semitic remarks is "auto-excluded from the party" pending an inquiry.
Note that this story is dated the 10th of April, well before the Mail et al became hypocritically excited about anti-Semitism.  But Corbyn's position is quite clear.  Anti-Semitism is not tolerated.  Suspension pending investigation.

Yet still the right wing of his party - more interested in destablizing him, still afflicted by the deranged idea that he can be overthrown, are trying to stir up trouble and make out that he is dithering and is not trying to address the problem.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Fall of Cameron?

It is quite spectacular how Cameron has collapsed.

A few months ago, he was a great man, a modern Churchill, having won the most audacious electoral comeback in recent history.

Then came his hopeless EU 'renegotiation', George Osborne's incompetent budget (which has possibly ended three political careers - Duncan Smith's, Cameron's and Osborne's - which is quite an impressive achievement), the Panama revelations and his shifty, mealy mouthed responses, and now further dubious looking behaviour with inheritance tax, the humiliation of polling behind Jeremy Corbyn and the possibility of LOSING the show referendum that he set up to placate his internal, anti-EU fifth column ... It's like the collapse of John Major's government, only playing at speed.

He indicated he didn't plan on fighting a third general election, but I imagine he planned on bowing out looking like a man leaving at a time of his choosing, not some family embarrassment being bundled out of the house after raiding the drinks cabinet and smashing an heirloom.

Events, my dear boy, events, as Harold MacMillan may have said.

Labour should take heed of this.  By absurd coincidence, they seem to have lighted on the perfect leader for the times.  Not because Corbyn is a great leader, but he actually seems to be morally righteous and incorruptable.  Just as Blair was the perfect leader for the 90s, almost seeming designed to make charges of Evil Red Intentions impossible, Corbyn is one of very few MPs who can (probably) castigate the Tories for their venality and not come across as an opportunistic hypocrite.  No-one can accuse him of adopting left-wing sanctimony as an electoral convenience, or of only being interested in winning power.

(Of course, a Corbyn castigation isn't exactly a terrifying prospect, but I think his unabrasive style is starting to connect with the public.)

Best of all, Corbyn is immune to the tired "Well Labour were in power for eons and did nothing about ..." and "Labour were no better when ..." counter arguments.  His position as perennial backbencher and malcontent gives him protection.  He had nothing to do with any of it.

Interesting times, and all that.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Kasich-Cruz?

So when are KAsich and Cruz going to come clean and announce a unity ticket, with Kasich as the candidate and an Cruz as potential VP?

the 'logic' being that Kasich's supports will not vote for Cruz as the nominee.  They'll probably sit out the election or defect to the Democrats rather than vote for Cruz or Trump.  Cruz's supports might vote for Kasich, especially with Cruz on board and making scary rightwing faces from behind Kasich's shoulder.  But I doubt Cruz's supporters will vote for Trump in great numbers.  If there were inclined to jump to the good ship Trumptanic, they would probably have done so by now.

Kasich is also the only nominee who is polling ahead of Clinton and Sanders.  While there might be a bit of "Who he?" factor at play, it looks like the Republicans have to stop bein silly and nominate somone capable of winning, and there is only one candidate who looks likely to do that, and probably only one combination with a realistic chance of stopping the Trump Self Immolation Juggernaught of Doom.

Hang out the stars in Alabama!

Well done, Albanians, or whatever you are. Who ever thought The Great Fightback would start in Alabama? Seriously, well done. Nothi...