Saturday, 7 October 2017

Theresa May: Going, Going ...

So, Theresa May is in a bit of trouble.  Tories are scheming and plotting - which they do on any day that ends in a 'Y' - and rumours are swirling that she is going to be 'persuaded' to 'do the right thing' for Boris Johnson's career the good of the country.  Now, I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to reconcile the terms 'Tory government' and 'the good of the country,' but I don't think what the mean is that all 316 MPs should take the Chiltern Hundreds.  It looks like there is a leadership spill coming over the ridge.  I'd better get me some popcorn.

For the plotters on all sides, there's a very complex calculation involved.

On the one hand, Boris is likely to bide his time and wait until Brexit is done. Too much like hard work for Boris. Also, he's sad things he might not be able to deliver on and he'd probably rather not have to do that. But those who don't want Boris sense a bit of an opportunity. Boris's stock is low at the moment - a lot of gaffes and disloyalty. He's part of the problem, not the solution. So if May goes quickly, yup, someone will have to Do Brexit, but it may be the only way to fend off Boris.

(Of course, that's pretty much what Theresa May thought and look where it has got her. Broken on the rocks and with the Great White Shark circling her.)

The crucial question for May is not whether Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps think she should quit.  Of course they do.  Goes without saying.  But if the sickness is spreading throughout the wider party and the donors, she's in real trouble.  From yesterday's guardian, a comment from Tory donor Charlie Mullins:
Charlie Mullins, the founder of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, said May must leave because she was being bullied and undermined by Johnson.

He said: “She has got to go for her own sake. It is getting embarrassing. If this was a boxing match, the fight would have been stopped. She has been put in a position where she is being bullied, she is being intimidated, they are making her life hell. These are Conservative people who are destroying this woman and it needs to stop.”
(Am I the only one struck by the profound oddness of the soultion - the victim has to go, rather than the bullies?)

So that must be worrying for her.  These people aren't likely to throw money at a party they regard as doomed.

Even if May survives in the short term - and I think she will, more due to the lack of spine in the Conservative party as a whole, rather than her own reserves of courage or obstinacy - she's in a pretty grim position.  The Tory papers are against her, and every misstep will be blown up as a fresh crisis which raises new questions about her leadership.  Believe me, on this topic if nothing else, we lefties know of what we speak. You think May is having a rough time of it? Look at Corbyn's leadership up until June 2017 ...

It's likely May's premiership will be remembered as a slightly surreal interlude between Cameron's blustering incompetence and ... well, whatever comes next.  It is unlikely she can expect historical rehabilitation as Gordon Brown can anticipate.  So all that's left is the halcyon days early on.  Cast your mind back to her first PMQs, and recall her imitation of Margaret Thatcher - "Remind him of anybody?"



Yes, Theresa, you DO remind us of Margaret Thatcher now.  The broken, post Poll Tax, post-Howe version, waiting for the unsmiling, bland little men in the background to tell her it was all up. Six months ago you were unassailable and riding towards a triumph; now you're just waiting to be put out of your misery.

"It's a funny old world," Thatcher said, after announcing her resignation to her Cabinet. I bet you agree.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

May's bracelet

It has been observed that Theresa May unaccountably took to the stage for her big speech to the Conservative conference wearing a bracelet featuring art work by Frida Kahlo, communist artist and (because women must always be defined by who they sleep with) occasional girlfriend of Leon Trotsky.



After being handed a P45 mid-speech by an audience member, a chronic coughing fit and then having the sign behind her fall to bits, it might seen a minor faux pas.

The Telegraph, heroically, tries to justify it:
After divorcing her husband Diego Rivera, Kahlo painted Self Portrait with Cropped Hair in 1940. The picture, showing her wearing a black suit and with a very short haircut, was widely interpreted to mean that Kahlo was sending a strong message to men: I am independent and I don't need you.

Might Mrs May have been willing the 'naughty boys' in her party to understand the very same?
I prefer a simpler explanation.

I imagine she wore it because she had little idea who the artist was and just thought it looked stylish and interesting. If she had a clue, I doubt she'd have been so silly as to wear it for the biggest speech of her life.

Just another fail in a day - a whole conference - of fails.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First.

‘Change’ was not a candidate on the voting paper I saw.

People voted for parties. Those parties need to sort out a coalition / governing arrangement.

Realistically, National are in the stronger position. Winston dislikes the Greens and Labour would have to divide the baubles of office between themselves, NZ 1st and the Greens.

People trying to convince themselves that Lab-Green-NZ 1st is just around the corner are setting themselves up for disappointment. Another one. Gluttons for punishment.

Second, let's be honest about Labour's success.  The Labour-Green bloc is sitting at 41.5%.  This represents a very modest improvement on its performance on 2011 and 2008 (putting aside the disaster of 2014).  Jacindamania didn't really happen, unless something very odd is lurking in the special votes.

Where did Labour's support come from?  Mostly from the Greens and New Zealand 1st, and probably an increase in turnout amongst Labour voters, certainly compared to 2014 ... but it was hardly the tsunami that was needed.

Ardern has, however, done very well.  She deserves the chance to give it a proper go.  The muddled message on tax was damaging.  Her performance in the debates was not as good as her fans think - she resorted to shouting "Who agrees with you?" at Bill English when the tax issue came up, when English was clearly talking about the zero growth in key areas, not Joyce's mythical hole.  It played well with Labour supporters - sock it to him, Jacinda! - but to everyone else it made it look like she was trying to drown the debate on an issue she didn't want to talk about, which, in fairness, she probably was.

There has to be a bit of honest self-examination on the left.

Labour has to look at it why - after nine years of pretty rubbish National government - they are still struggling.  This is not a fundamentally leftwing country that occasionally loses its marbles and votes for National.  It's a right wing country with a bit of a social conscience.  I'm worried that the radicals will start the usual chant that Labour was not bold enough, and would have won if it had been more left wing.  Those are the sort of people who think 2014's disaster was down to 'the media.'  Like I said before, gluttons for punishment.

The Greens have to face up to a very long process of rebuilding.  The demise of the Maori Party and Mana might open up an interesting opportunity for them, particularly if Marama Davidson is confirmed as co-leader.  Will they remain on the left, as the radical wing of the Labour Party or (bearing in mind how Labour has treated them in the past, particularly in 2005) adopt a more centrist position?  The idea is poisonous to a lot of Green voters - but some of them are really Labour voters who want to push Labour left.

I think the Greens supporting National will be too much this time.  But James Shaw is on my radio right now, talking about how Bill English is welcome to call him - perhaps a hint of where Shaw see the Greens in the future.  Their job isn't to deliver disgruntled Labour voters to Labour; their job is to protect the environment.  They can't do that at all from the opposition benches.  They can do something in government.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The 2017 election thread

Pre-Election Witterings (written before polls closed, but not posted until after 7pm)  I gave Ian Lees-Galloway my constituency vote, and my party vote to the Greens.  I wanted to deny National the great city of Palmerston North, and make sure the Greens got into parliament.

As for who forms the government ... I am not feeling optimistic.  Others may have been carried away by Jacindamania, but I have remained dourly unimpressed.

Almost.  It was hard, as the polls seemed to surge ever upwards ... But I felt it would be a struggle for Labour to take the lead, and retain it. The collapse of the Greens and the waning of Winston Peters helped ... But Labour have not made decisive inroads into National's support.

43% seems to be the magic number, allowing a government to be formed with just one significant other.  For Labour, it will (probably) mean they can form a coalition with the Greens (lots of caveats apply) and, perhaps, the Maori Party, and freeze New Zealand first out.  That would be my ideal result.  For National, 43% would mean they can call out to Winston, and their ACT tail-ender.

Unfortunately I think National are more likely to breach 43%.

The other day I predicted Nats on 43% and Labour on 39%.  Banging those figures into the elections calculator gives the following parliament:
  • ACT New Zealand - 1 seat
  • Greens - 9 seats
  • Labour - 47 seats
  • Māori Party - 1 seat
  • National - 52 seats
  • NZ 1st  - 10 seats
Which looks unpleasantly like a National-NZ 1st-ACT coalition government.  I don't think Winston will have a bar of a coalition with the Greens.  He will probably go with the largest party and the simplest (and most flattering for him) arrangement.  That probably means National.

Diligent lurgee watchers will note I've abandoned my hopes of Hone Harawira and Mana staging a comeback in Te Tai Tokerau.  If he does pull it off it may create an overhang; but given Labour's churlish attitude towards Mana, it probably doesn't make things easier for them.

7.03 Listening to coverage with John Campbell.

7.06 Lprent (who told me off for advocating eating the rich, earlier in the day) has an election thread on The Standard.  I imagine it will be a bit livelier than this one.  But mine is best.

7.09 1.8% counted!

7.10 2% counted!  I can't keep up!  Alas, my prediction is very on-the-nose thus far.  I remember 2005, where Labour started well behind and slowly dragged it back, eventually crossing over in the final few votes.  Subsequent elections have been far more static, with the initial figures hardly changing.  I hope for the former, expect the latter.

7.14 I can't hear him, but I can see Mike Hosking.  And Michelle Boag.  This may be more than I can endure.  Time to break out the whisky.

7.20 If my prediction and the early results hold, the left will have to take a long honest look at itself.  This is the National Party shaping up for a forth term, and retain its vote share inspite of losing John Key.  Blunty, they have to acknowledge that this is not a leftwing country that has inexplicably voted for National for a decade; it is a rightwing country that occasionally does the decent thing.  Labour and the wider left will have to reconsider what it stands for.  This isn't how I want things to be, but it is how I think they are.

7.24 Blaming New Zealanders for rejecting Labour - if they have - is to miss the point.  If you can't win against a government that's been hanging about like a bad smell for 9 years, then you have to ask some pretty fundamental questions of yourself and your strategy.

7.26 Winston Peters tells John Campbell he'll only talk once the results are in.  Then shut up, you grisly revenant.

7.29 David Parker is picking up votes in Epsom, inspite of exhortations to the left to vote for National's Paul Goldsmith. My guess is it is ACT supporters getting confused because the Nats were voting Seymour, and the left were voting for Goldsmith.

7.31 Aotearoa Legalise Cannibas on 0.2%.  ACT on 0.4%.  Time to get rid of those absurd fringe parties that no-one really cares about.

7.36 12% counted and - hideously - National are surpassing my prediction.  Currently on 46.5%.  If that is maintained, they'll barely have lost ground from 2014.

7.47 National SLUMP to 46%, with 17% of the vote counted.  Labour SOAR to 36.5%  And Jacinda Ardern is burying Melissa Lee.  Good.

7.56 Stuart Nash ahead in Napier.  I hope he is not entertaining any notion of a leadership challenge.  Ardern has earned a full stint.

7.59 National creep up again, to   46.2%, with 20% counted.  Labour slip a bit to 36.3%.

8.00 I am disappointed.  I hadn't expected Labour to beat National, but it looks like their support has waned in the final days.  Unfortunately, it looks like New Zealand have selected the known Devil over the swanky new one.  Frustratingly, in spite of running against a corrupt, tired and dull government that has more than outstayed its welcome, Labour have failed to do anything more than capture the Green votes lost after Turei's moment of madness.  Still time for things to change, but it's hard to see Labour and Greens putting on 6%.

8.10 there's only one thing for it!  Deploy sentimental 80s soul-lite!


8.12 I'm glad I can only see Mike Hosking.  I don't think I could bear his smugness if I could hear it.

8.17 It looks like David Seymour has got Epsom, so unfortunately ACT will survive yet again.  Frustratingly, David Parker won well over 1300 votes; Seymour's current majority is just over 900 votes.  If the lefties had voted tactically they might have been able to make 2017 the final ACT (see what I did there?)

8.22 Labour still slipping ... now on 36.1% with 25% counted.  National steady on 46.2%.  If Labour drop too far 36%, my earlier warning to Stuart Nash might not be enough.  The whiff of power does strange things to people.

8.25 TOP must be finished.  Gareth Morgan won't have the patience to spend years trying to build up a real party. So, United Future gone, the Maori Party gone, Mana gone, TOP never got there ... Why does ACT have to survive this Massacre of the Minor Parties?

20.32 Labour SLIDE to 36% dead, with 28% counted.

20.38  Labour back up to 36.1%.  Put the leadership bid on ice, Stuart!

8.44 Hone Harawira 1800 votes behind Kelvin Davis.  Mana are finished.

8.48 And now it's National on 46.4% versus Labour in 35.9%, with 31% counted.  This is like 2005 in reverse - the gap is widening as the night wears on.  Basically Labour have cannibalised the Greens.  The actual balance between the right and left blocks hasn't changed.

I'm going to say it - Jacindamania was an illusion.

8.59 Said it before, but it bear repeating - Jeremy Corbyn had two years to get himself dug in and a highly ffective campaigning organisation effectively under his control. Jacinda Ardern only had the useless Labour Party.

9.00 So, a dreadful hour.  Labour slipping and National slowly moving upwards with 41% counted.  The Greens looking safe, thank goodness.  But the other minor parties seem to have been annihilated.  Apart from ACT, which seems to be as unkillable as Michael Myers.

9.18  The whisky is starting to kick in.  I'm numb.

9.25 We've got 57% of the vote counted.  National are still going up, now on 46.7% and 58 seats, with Labour down to 35.5%.  I thought I was being a miserable pessimistic Grinch, predicting 43/39.

9.39 We've got 66% of the vote counted.  National now 46.6% and Labour still 35.5%.  Greens stuck on 5.9%.  Really disappointing result, to be honest.

So it looks like National will need NZ 1st, as all their other options have been annihilated. They are welcome to him. Everything Winston touches turns to excrement. It would almost guarantee a Labour-Green victory in 2020. Whereas a Lab-Green-NZ 1st coalition would see Bill “Third Time Lucky” English installed as PM in 2020, with a majority of about 120.

9.57 Labour creep back up, a whole tenth of a percent.  But there isn't going to be a late surge liek there was in 2005.  Not with 78% of the vote counted.  National 46.5%, and Labour 35.6% .  The Greens slip a bit more, to 5.8%.

10.00 Another hour of scour.  Virtually no change in the relative position of the parties.  Everything seems to be pretty much locked in.  This may be the final posting from lefthandpalm, for tonight.

Get in the mood!

Can't believe it has been 20 years since Okay Computer.


Poem

Since we can't talk about the 'lection, here's a poem, written by John Cornford during the Spanish Civil War.  He fought for the POUM, the anti-Stalinist militia which Orwell was part of.  Unlike Orwell, he didn't return to Britain.  He died, aged 21.

Poem

Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.

The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.

On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.

And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don't forget my love.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bugger


Still, the Greens look safe. That's SOMETHING.

And if NZ First don't get back in (assuming Winston loses Northland and they slip 0.1% more ... Well, I'll try very hard to lament the undemocratic wasted vote while punching the air and and dancing like a jalopy.

IF (big if) the poll is realised on Saturday and we end up with English & Co back in charge again, then Labour have to think pretty hard about why it happened. Putting it down to the greed / stupidity of the electorate isn’t going to help.

Labour have to think why (if) they opted for National. After all, last week the voters were smart and engaged because the Colmar Brunton poll showed them supporting Labour.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Prediction

There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going to do:


NAT – 42%
LAB – 39%
NZF – 8%
GRE – 6%
TOP – 2%
MAO – 1.5% (With electorate win(s))
MAN – 0.5% (With electorate win)
ACT – 0.5% (With electorate win)
UNF – 0.5%

Sadly, I don't see Labour riding Jacindamania to victory.  National are banging the TAX-FEAR drum very loudly and it will have its usual effect.  A combination of unforgivable unpreparedness on Labour's part, Ardern's gutsy but naive 'Captain's call' on tax, and some bloodyminded mischief from the Greens will probably see Blundering Bill home.

The Greens will (hopefully) avoid the chop.  I'll do my own little bit for them, though resentfully, for any party that is as tactically incompetent as they have been probably deserves oblivion; but I'll sullenly and resentfully give them my party vote because the environment is more important than them or me.

My wild card is Te Tai Tokerau.  I'm going to say Hone Harawira will surprise everyone by reclaiming the seat.  I've got no evidence to support this whatsoever, and I merely proffer the idea in the spirit of mischief.  Davis has been busy doing other things (like confusing everyone over Labour's tax policy) and may not have given his narrow majority enough TLC to fend off Mana, without the Maori Party splitting the vote.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Stray Thoughts on Jacinda Ardern, Jacindamania, Jeremy Corbyn and Other Matters

So, John Armstrong has a column in the New Zealand Herald, encouragingly titled, "How Jacinda's cunning plan fell apart."

In it, the Wise One pontificates on how Jacinda Ardern's strategy (whatever it might be) is coming unravelled, as she faces attacks on tax and is being exposed as being lamentably conservative:
Once again, Labour has been tripped up over tax policy. The only difference this time is that the major Opposition party has been even more helpful by having a whole range of new taxes in its manifesto.

The tax was the early product of Ardern's Brave New World - a world where she intends demonstrating Labour can make the hard decisions.

It took precious little time for Labour to back off the idea as fast as decency allowed. "Let's do this" became "Let's not do that".

Much of Ardern's amazing rapport with voters has sprung from her being something of a female version of John Key - approachable, open, down to earth, not judgmental, and arrogance-free.

But there is one major difference between them. She has insisted any government she runs will listen and then act. It will lead, not follow.

Of particular note has been her declaration that she will not shy away from tackling the "big generational issues".

When it comes to such issues, they do not come any bigger or more vexed than the fairness of the country's tax system and the affordability of current state-funded pension entitlements. With regard to the latter, she has gone Awol.

She has adopted John Key's pledge to resign as prime minister were the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation to be raised under her watch. Likewise were there to be any reduction in current entitlements enjoyed by those who qualify for the state pension.

For someone portraying themselves as giving voice to younger voters, such a stance is an absolute cop-out. It is little short of betrayal.
While I don’t think it is fair to say her plan has fallen apart, I think the charges that Labour have shown themselves to be tactically naive (who would have though National would attack us on tax-and-spend?! We never saw it coming!) and that Ardern is a Clintonesque triangulator rather than a wild-eyed radical is fair enough.

That’s not a bad thing, by the way – a combination of popularity and populism, with a dash of slight left-of-right-of-centre politics is probably a feasible victory strategy.

It isn't Corbynism - no matter how her admirers and detractors try to portray her as a sort of Antipodean Jeremy Corbyn, sans beard.  Nor could it be.  Corbyn had two years and a very effective organisation (Momentum) at his disposal. Jacinda Ardern has nothing but being Jacinda Ardern.

While I'm no starry-eyed admirer of Ardern - she's not radical enough for me in the crucial areas - she’s already managed to do a lot more than I anticipated. I thought her sudden elevation might get Labour to the right side of 30%, not 40%.

Though that in itself is a worry, as the sudden surge of support can run out just as quickly. Assuming, for the moment, that Labour don’t get to form a government, and Ardern retains the leadership - which she has more than earned the right to do - she probably won’t have the same aura of newness, energy and excitement as she does now, and find it harder to reproduce the effect.

Though Labour might have sorted out their tax policy by then …

Save Mart sackings

Union workers who complained about unsafe conditions at Save Mart stores have been made redundant, soon after John Campbell was invited to the New Lynn store to see the operation for himself. 
Save Mart workers have told Checkpoint they have been exposed to health and safety risks by being denied the use of gloves while sorting through clothing donations made through the big blue bins in many New Zealand neighbourhoods. 
Workers have spoken of finding syringes, broken glass, used sex toys, and clothing covered in blood and faeces, as they sort through the donations. 
WorkSafe said earlier this week it would investigate health and safety standards. 
First Union organiser Graham McKean told Checkpoint that while investigators were at the New Lynn store today, the 10 union members at the store were given four weeks notice of redundancy.
This is going to buried in a blizzard of election coverage.  Almost as if it was intended to be like that.

The media aren't going to take much interest in it because it is about little poor people, and dangerous subversive lefties at that.  Normal people are only interesting to television news if they come with appealing or dramatic pictures and if they are caught up in some sort of dramatic event.

Save Mart workers losing their jobs?  They aren't dying in a cataclysm and some of them won't even be smartly dressed or terribly photogenic.  Where the 'human interest' in normal, boring people involved in an industrial dispute?

It's massively corrupt - unsafe working conditions, misleading 'charity' campaigning and now probably illegally firing union members. They mustn't be allowed to get away with it.

But I fear they will. Employment litigation beckons, if the bosses at Save Mart aren't compelled to back down. I assume the psychopaths running the company have had some sort of semi-competent advice, rather than just acting on impulse. And their pockets are deep and time is on their side; they can countenance protracted litigation. People living hand to mouth, suddenly having to find new jobs aren’t in that position.

It's a bigger story than the election, in some ways. That's just about how one bunch of corrupt liars is arguing with another bunch of corrupt liars about which set of promises get to be broken.

This story is about real people losing their jobs because their employers are wicked crooks.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Apolling Propaganda

So, there have been a couple of polls, apparently.

One - by Reid research - was pleasing for National.  Another - by Colmar Brunton - pleasured Labour.

Over on The Standard, the former was met with howls of despair and derision. Reid Research, apparently, were fully paid up members of the Illuminati-Space Lizard conspiracy. Stephen Joyce personally wrote in the numbers. Or something like that.

The second poll was give a much warmer reception. Indeed, I think some commentators on The Standard would have married the poll, so entranced were they by its appeal. Someone, writing under the anonymous NOTICES AND FEATURES nom-de-plume, rushed out a marriage proposal glowing endorsement. It proved, apparently, that, "The 3 News poll was a rogue."




Whoa, whoa, whoa!  It does no such thing!

The claim that a Colmar Brunto shows a Reid Research poll to have been completely inaccurate is not correct and whoever is writing under the NOTICES AND FEATURES byline should be ashamed of themselves. I suspect they know they are doing a Bad Thing but decided to put it out there anyway for purposes of propaganda.

Comparing the findings of a Colmar Brunton poll and a Reid Research poll does not show one is accurate and one inaccurate. Even comparing several CB polls to the RR poll does not invalidate it. It merely shows that the two companies have different sampling methods and / or process the data differently and obtain different results.

The only things that would show RR’s poll to be a rogue would be further RR polls that show significantly different results; or the election result itself.

You’ll recall that in Britain, Survation was mocked when its polls showed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party closing in on May’s Conservatives. Other companies showed the Conservatives well ahead. It turned out that Survation was correct and they called the result more accurately than the other companies, by considerable margins. You do not know which polling company has the right formula (or the least wrong, more like) until the real votes are counted. Until then, you can only regard the forecasts with bemused curiosity or phlegmatic disdain.

Do not dismiss the latest RR poll until it is invalidated by further RR polls. The alternative is psephological madness.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

You do not get fundamental political changes in a fortnight

Sorry to be both repetitivie and continue Grinchy, but I feel the all consuming urge to rain, Harvey-like, on Labour's parade.  Yes, it is jolly exciting to have Labour actually ahead of National in the polls - without having to include the Greens and New Zealand First to get there - but let's be sensible for a moment, amid the euphoria.

One poll in twelve years?


That doesn't indicate a profound political shift.  People aren't suddenly casting aside their convictions of the last more-than-a-decade, discovering the joys of socialism capitalism-with-a-bit-of-social-conscience.  If it was about policy, people would have been flocking to Andrew Little's (very, very light) red banner.  They didn't exactly flock.

Ardern is waving the same very, very light red banner.  But now the people are flocking.

For a lot of the electorate, Jacinda Ardern is a new shiny object and they are naturally excited by this new toy.  But otherwise, the 'phenomenon' will be a sort of adult fidget spinner – must-have object of fascination for six weeks, then completely forgotten about.

I suppose the question is, will the fad last up to election day? And are we cynical enough to celebrate an election that is won on ephemeral froth, not policy?

I suspect we are.

'Jacindamania' (ugh!) is personality driven stuff - Ardern's youth and vitality contrasting with the drier, more ... senior ... asspect of English and Little.  A lot of it is media driven hype. But the media will bend whatever way they think the wind is blowing. They are no longer the fourth estate, they are just PR and revenue source for their owners.  Right now, Ardern is hot news and click-worthy.

If she actually becomes threatening to the people that own the media and control wealth, she'll suddenly receive a lot less positive coverage.  So she will become a prisoner of her own success - not able to follow whatever radical instincts she may harbour because her success depends - like Tony Blair - on media image.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Grumbles

Over on the Standard, the generally level headed Anthony Robins has rather let the most recent Colmar Brunton go to his head, bravely declaring that we're in a "new political world" (see what I did there?).

At risk of sounding like the perennially Grinchy culturally dislocated Scotsman I am, I have to disagree. It’s the same vacuous, image driven world that it was before. If anything, it’s worse than before.

It’s a sad testament to how shallow our political culture is that replacing a few dour blokes with a sparklier younger leader(1) gives you an almost overnight 20 point boost. It shows us how facile most of people's political decision making is. There isn't much to distinguish Ardern's Labour party, politically and policy wise, from Little's, or Cunliffe's, or Shearer's, of Goff's. They are all run of the mill social-democratic parties offering a fairly insipid bunch of policies so as not to frighten the horses.

The implications of the 'Ardern effect' are a bit troubling to anyone who takes politics too seriously and doesn't want to see it descend into a vapid popularity contest where YOUTH and ENERGY and so on are all that matters. The dramatic improvement in Labour's position under Ardern suggests that policy and ideology and even any sort of strategy beyond having an attractive front of shop is pointless.

Now, it is likely at this moment someone, somewhere is thinking, "Ah, but Jeremy Corbyn ...".  I don't think the comparison to Jeremy Corbyn really holds up.  First of all, Corbyn had been in position much longer and had, effectively, his own campaigning organisation, the much maligned but frighteningly effective Momentum.

Second (or is it third) he had a clear set of policies in his equally derided manifesto - policies which turned out to be as effective in engaging voters as Momentum.  The most dangerous words in leftwing election campaigns are 'poorly defined tax and spending plans'; Ardern and her deputy can't even articulate a consistent message on tax.  What policy Labour has announced is characterised by timidity, not courage.

Also, Corbyn probably benefited from his outsider and underdog status.  He didn't look or behave like a member of the political elite, and his status as a hate-object to Labour and the tabloids probably benefited him as much as it harmed him.  Ardern lacks thirty years of recalitrance and rebellion before she can hope to attain Corbyn's slightly barmy appeal.  She probably also needs to be in Britain for it to really work, as well.

Finally, a word of warning.  The media are not and never will be our friends.  What comes up must come down. The media will have hatchets ready. Expect “Has Ardern’s Bubble Burst?” and “Polls Drop As Voters Face Choice” headlines at the first dip in the polls. The media are more interested in a good knifing than they are in soothing the agitated sensibilities of leftwingers, so the moment they sense it might be worthwhile turning on Ardern, they will. Right now it suits the narrative to talk her up, but that will not last. The story is the story.

1 - My original post on The Standard read "a sparkly young thing," which lead to an entertaining diversion about my patronising, toad-like qualities. I like toads, for what it is worth.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Winnie the Sinnie

So, apparently, Winston Peters has been in a spot of bother this week - either a hapless wronged soul or a fiendish bauble grabber who wanted a bigger slice of superannuation.

Over on The Standard, the redoubtable swordfish - anyone who names themselves after a Tom Waits album is alright with me - brought an analysis posted on Politik NZ to my attention.  Apparently, some Dark Forces within National have spotted that if the Greens fail to make the 5% threshold, and Gareth Morgan's TOP take a couple of percent, the combined wasted vote will mean National will manage to govern alone, or with minimal help from the Usual Suspects.
Also fuelling National's strategy is polling it has which shows the Greens on around three per cent and Gareth Morgan’s Opportunities Party on two per cent.

That was reinforced yesterday with a One News Comar Brunton poll showing the Greens on 3.6% in Whangarei.

The strategy then is clear; to try and boost National's vote --- thought to be in the mid-40s – by two per cent or so, and then to rely on a high wasted vote from the Greens, TOP plus ACT to reduce the percentage it needs to get half the seats in Parliament.

Last election the so-called wasted vote was 7.15%; that meant that to get half the seats in Parliament a party needed to get 46.4% of all the votes.

National got 47% and got 60 seats but because there was a one seat “overhang” caused by Peter Dunne it didn’t quite have a majority.
From here, it follow logically, that  smearing Winston Peters is a political power play.  He isn't needed as a coalition partner, and if NZ First can be beaten down a few points, with some of that support switching to National, Bill's yer uncle.

It's an attractively Cunning Plan, but I think National would have to be a bit daft to try that strategy, to be honest. It relies on the Greens not getting into parliament, alienates a significant potential partner and relies on Boring Bill managing to be more appealing to voters than John Key, and on Ardern not having much of an impact.

Of course, this is New Zealand politics we’re talking about, which seems to be going through one of its mad phases, so who knows?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Death by triangulation

So, apparently there is an election on!

And Donald Trump is president!

And Jeremy Corbyn was not utterly demolished by Theresa May back home in Blighty!

Gosh, what lols you scamps get up to while I'm not looking.

I will try to get myself back into the habit of posting slightly less irregularly.  For the moment, I'm shamelessly going to copy posts I've made over at the Standard, because 'm too lazy to think how to say the same thing in different ways.

So, paid parental leave.  National have announced a policy - 22 weeks of it!  How generous of them!  How bountiful!  Of course, just last year Bill English grinched Sue Moroney's bill to extend it to 26 weeks, which has resulted in a lot of hissing and booing, pantomine style, from the denezins of the left.  How dare these National tykes make off with good Labour policy!

This is at least the third time National and Labour have announced similarish policies - Dunedin Hospital, Doctor's visits, and now paid parental leave.  Labour's offer have generally been more generous (though I'm inclined to favour National's free doctor's visits for children, rather than Labour's more general but not total reduction).

Problem is, a lot of people will look at what the parties are offering and think, “We’d like to do something … But maybe Labour’s idea is too much.” People (unless they are directly affected by in something) like to appear generous, but not too generous.

So complaining that it is a Labour policy, just not as good, is beside the point. National is giving voters reasons to vote National, without feeling too bad about themselves.

I fear Labour face death by a thousand trianglations.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Stray thought

I say, I say, I say!  Remember all those TORIES, who - before the election - were saying Jeremy Corbyn should STEP DOWN as Labour leader because it was essential for a democracy to have an effective opposition?

We don't hear so much from them these days, do we?  But that's by the bye ...

What I'm wondering is will they be consistent and demand Theresa May step down, as the result of June election means she can't provide an effective government?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Negotiations “haven’t proceeded the way we would have expected.”

The Tories can't even impose their will on a bunch of Irish God Botherers they outnumber 30 to 1. 

How the Hell are they going to beat Europe into submission?

Agreeing a deal with a party that is basically on your side shouldn't be so bloody difficult, woman!

Theresa May said she'd thrash Labour ... She didn't.

She said she's bend the DUP to her will ... She didn't.

She says she'll negotiate a deal of absolute awesomeness with Europe ... Given her track record, how do you think that will work out?

Still, third one's a charm, eh, Tessa?

Jeremy Corbyn is far better at talking to Irish people!

Monday, 19 June 2017

White People

Following the van attack at Finsbury Park Mosque, which has killed at least one person and injured several more, I think we need to talk about White People.

If the driver of the van turns out to be a White Person (and it is a statistical fact that 200% of all people who drive white vans are White People), I assume we will be calling for white people to be banned? Their values are clearly at odds with civilised society.

Lets be serious about this. No more pussy footing around people's 'sensibilities' for fear of causing offence. Brass tacks time. Forget political correctness. Is it time to intern White People?

I demand to know why White People didn't report him. They must have known. Their silence means they condoned it, were effectively complicit in it.  All of them.

You can't trust white people, they might act nice to your face, but what are they really thinking?

Oh, and White People - you need to speak out and condemn this act. Though if you do, I'll deny you did, or claim you didn't mean it.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Why Corbyn matters and why Labour will win (Possibly repetitive)

Forgive me, dear reader, if I am repeating myself.  I am engaged in a lot or arguing across the internet and the nature of troll slaying is that it is repetitive.  But occasionally I say something that I may not have said before, or which bears repeating.

First, with regards the meme being put about that Labour would have won if pretty much anyone but Corbyn had been leader.  Let us dispatch this ideas swiftly.  First, and most obviously, there would probably not have been an election if anyone but Corbyn had been leader.  Labour would not have been so riven with dissent and would not have appeared so utterly helpless (while in fact being poised for a devastating counter-strike).

Further, a different leader would never have put forward such an audacious manifesto or campaigned so successfully, motivated so many canvassers in the constituencies or inspired young voters to roll on up to the polling station. More people voted for Corbyn's version of the Labour Party than voted for Milliband or Brown or even Blair in 2005 - either in terms of vote share or raw numbers. And turnout was particularly high among the young. He managed to bring people to the polls to vote for Labour, far more successfully than in their last three attempts. And the ground war waged by Labour activists was astonishing, by all accounts, and crucial in winning the battles in key constituencies.

Finding an extra 3.5 million votes, and robbing the Tories of their absolute majority just two years after they won it, proving people will vote for a 'leftwing' manifesto, humiliating May and de-fanging the Mail and the Sun ... That's not a bad run for someone we were assured was going to absolutely destroyed, buried, annihilated.

Not only is it likely that Labour will romp home at the next election, they will likely win a majority that will keep them in power for another decade. Strategically, that's far more significant than the two year zombie administration May is likely to be recalled for.

Now, as for the prospects of the Tories.  Below are ten off-the-top-of-my-head reasons why they can expect to be trounced at the next election, which will liekly be within 2 years.

  1. They are in office but not in power. They will get blamed, fairly or unfairly, for every bad thing that happens. This is what did for Brown when he took over.

  2. The Public mood is against them. Look at the polls since the election. Labour in the lead. Unless they do something dramatic and interesting, the Tories will continue to flounder. A 'better manifesto' will be viewed cynically.

  3. Their reputation for competence is shredded. They went in with a majority, came out without one. They look like idiots.

  4. Years of scheming and undermining await - assuming May tries to cling on for a couple of years, her potential successors will be constantly plotting against her and each other. Again. look at how that worked out for Brown.

  5. History is against them. Cameron managed to defy political gravity by increasing his vote share and number of seats. I don't think any other administration has managed to do that in recent history. Almost inevitably, the party in power loses ground - even Thatcher did worse in each election than in the one before.

  6. The Mail Failed. And the other news media that were so shrilly anti-Corbyn. They threw everything at him and it did not work. What do you think they have left to attack him with? The 'Terrorist sympathiser' and similar lines have been used, they wll be even less effective next time.

  7. Labour are getting stronger. With less disunity and negativity, and with a stronger front bench, Labour will look more voteable. A team lead by Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott probably did worry a few voters. As more 'traditional' Labour MPs get involved, the party will look less like a demented leftwing cult and more like a genuine contender.

  8. Labour have lost the 'loser' image. It is likely some people did not vote / voted for other parties because they did not think Labour would win. Almost all the polls suggested Labour were due for a hammering. Yet they still came from twenty points behind to within three points of winning more votes. If there is an election in the next couple of years (likely) then Labour's vote will get out in droves, and the dispirited Tory vote will be more inclined not to bother.

  9. Ground game. Labour have a superb team of activists. The oft derided Momentum foot soldiers turned out to be a) just normal people, not scary Trots and b) willing to actually get out there and knock on doors and get the vote out. There will be even more of them next time, as the 'One More Push!' message gets rolled out. Where will the Tories get a activists like that?

  10. Time for a change. Whether the next election is in two years or five, the will have been in power for a long time and people will have become very sick of them.
This isn't even considering the horrors of Brexit that await the Tories, or the horrendous image problems Theresa May is experiencing, or the lack of awareness among the Conservative Party in parliament about how unappealing any of the obvious candidates are.

There simply isn't any obvious reason to think they will win the next election, or even just tread water.

They blew it.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Post Election thoughts, Round 2 - Possibly Repetitive

The full scale of the awful situation that has engulfed the Tories is only just starting to sink in.

Probably, the only thing worse than calling a vanity election and losing your majority would be calling a vanity election, losing your majority and still being left to deal with the mess you've made of everything.

I give them two years, max. They won't have a choice. Every by-election, defection or resignation will drive them into calamity.The longer the Tories cling on to power, the worse their situation is going to get.

They will look more and more shambolic and hapless.

People are going to get sickened by the sight of them limping weakly from disaster to catastrophe, too frit for another election as they're (can you believe this) scared of Jeremy Corbyn!

The Tories are waning. Labour, on the other hand, are waxing.

They can sit back and occasionally tweet about how different things could have been, if only ... They will likely have a stronger front bench within a couple of weeks, as Corbyn has a reshuffle and some big names agree to work with him.

Corbyn can carry on spreading his hopey-changey message to da yoof and exhort them not to give up - "One more push! Tomorrow belongs to us!"

The right wing media have shot their bolt. They threw everything at Corbyn. Next time, what more can they say?  So whatever effect the relentless negativity had will be diminished.

The Tories have no message. The said they were strong and stable, and ended up in a coalition of chaos.

What can they say to the electorate that will be believable and which will entice voters to them? They got nothing, because the electorate will look at any offer and say, "Why didn't you say that in 2017?" 

Worse, Brexit beckons. Negotiations are due to start in a week! How are the Conservatives - disorganised, demoralised and divided - going to make anything other than a mess of them?

Only Labour can look forward to another election with any enthusiasm. The Tories will likely slip further away from power - why would people want to vote for them more in 2018 or 19 than they did in 2017?

My only concern is Corbyn's age. If the Tories hang on until 2019, he'll be 70. Will he have the energy for another big campaign? Will he have to hand on the leadership, and just play the figurehead role in the campaign?

A bit of me is wondering if that is why the Conservatives will cling on to the bitter end - hoping that something will turn up to help them, and hoping the irascible Corbyn will stop ruining things for them.

Put to fear by a hapless vegetarian.  Can it get any more humiliating for the part of Churchill, MacMillan and Thatcher?

Post Election Thoughts, Round 1 - Whither Now, Tessa?

Well, that was interesting.

I remember, back in 2010, when Cameron managed to ... um ... not win an election, I predicted that the Tories would live through some sort of grim equivalent of the ordeal Labour went through in the 80s.  I turned out to be wrong, massively, as the Tories managed to form a solid coalition with the Lib Dems and managed to survive for ten years and went on to win an outright majority ...

But, undeterred, I now confidently predict the Tories will find themselves in a situation curiously reminiscent of the 1990s.  And the worst bit of the 90s at that.  Not the good bit where they won an election.

Some thoughts for the stunned mullets on the right, particularly those desperately trying to spin this result as a victory for Theresa May.

  • Your party has no inherent majority. You had one of course, but you threw it away.
  • You're relying on a bunch of Irish Nationalists to give you a working majority.
  • Even then, you've only got a tiny majority.
  • Your leader is humiliated, her authority is broken, her credibility is gone.

Fair summary of the situation, yes? Nothing too controversial or partisan there.

So, the question is, how do you manage to rebuild your party brand so the next election - in 12 months? 18? 24? - isn't a thrashing on the scale of 1997?

  • Can the conservatives offer the country "strong and stable" leadership? No, because the coalition has a tiny majority and every time an MP is sick, or mysteriously absent because they don't want to be associated with a piece of toxic legislation, the they risk defeat. They are at the mercy of events and mavericks. 
  • Can they offer a strong leader that can run a presidential style campaign? No. You tried that, and it didn't work very well. May was awful. Who could replace her? BoJo would be a disaster. Rudd has a tiny majority and is going to be focused on that? Gove is a joke.
  • Can you offer a vision that you can sell? No, you don't seem to have any. There was no vision or ambition or hope in 2015. How are you going to find it by 2019 and sound credible? You can't. That's why the Conservative campaigns are so relentlessly negative. They have nothing good to say about themselves.
  • Can you rely on the opposition destroying themselves. I doubt it. They did there best in 2016, and the still managed to turn May's coronation into a bloodbath. Corbyn managed to re-invent himself as everyone's favourite batty old uncle, and some big names will be tempted back onto the front bench now that they see power is actually within their grasp.

Remember John Major? A basically sound bloke, whose majority was whittled away over the course of his second term. Eventually, he was left propped up by the Ulster Unionists, but even then he was continually embarrassed in the House. He had to endure continual leadership intrigues, eventually having to suffer the humiliation of asking the party if he was more or less popular than John Redwood! His party was divided against itself over Europe. You see the parallels? By 1996, the Major administration was a feeble, zombie government, shambling on wards, hoping that something would turn up to reverse its fortunes. Nothing did. You'll recall what happened in 1997, I think.

It took the second Major government five years - 1992 to 1997 - to reach the sorry pass May finds herself in. She's starting from the 'shambling zombie' situation Major ended up in.

(And at least he managed to win an election!)

So you've got a couple of years to sort yourselves out, Tories. But I think you'll spend it mired in recrimination, feuding, leadership intriguing, and wallowing in the humiliation of continual defeat and gibbering in terror at the prospect of facing the electorate again.

Monday, 29 May 2017

It has begun ... (amended because I was wrong)

So I wake up this morning, make a cup of coffee, fire up my laptop and discover that mild mannered Jeremey Corbyn has been busily laying wreaths on the graves of terrorists, or some such.

The story was reported in the Sunday Times before feeding out into the wider internet.  It is already being twisted in all sorts of ways.

It was actually a memorial service for the people murdered by Phalangist militias at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982.

What Corbyn actually wrote:
The PLO had relocated after the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982 when Israeli troops oversaw massacres by Phalangist militias at the huge refugee camps in Lebanon, home to Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948.

After wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991, we moved to the poignant statue in the main avenue of the coastal town of Ben Arous, which was festooned with Palestinian and Tunisian flags.
It is not clear who he means when he refers to murders in Paris in 1991 - but claims it was connected to the Munich murders look very weak, as Atef Bseiso was killed in 1992, and also Corbyn refers to 'others' - more than one person.

In a sane world, someone might ask Corbyn what he meant before blasting the stroy across the internet.  But that was beyond the capacity of the Sunday Times (the original source of the smear) because it isn't interested in proper journalism, just propaganda.

Tories using the mass murders of Sabra and Shattila to score political points. That's pretty despicable.

EDIT - I am, of course, completely wrong.  The commemoration service was not for the victims of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, but the Israeli attack on the PLO headquarters.  Still nothing to do with the Munich Massacre, however.

And at least my error was the result of genuine uselessness, not deliberate malfeasance.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Hahahahaha Part 2

Massive whoopsie!
Britain is more unsafe because of its involvement in the Iraq war, David Cameron said, as he promised his foreign policy would not be dictated by the US if he became prime minister. 
The Conservative leader endorsed a report by his party's policy group on security issues, which said: "We need to recognise that a central element of foreign policy - the intervention in Iraq - has failed in its objectives so badly that the threat to this country is actually greater than it was before it began."
You tools! You pathetic useless tools!  You hopeless bunch of no-hopers!

You can't even run a decent negative campaign without making yourselves look like idiots! You're a disgrace to the fine tradition of hatchet jobs! You've buried the hatchet alright - in your own stupid legs!

(Actually, there's probably more intelligence in you legs than in your solid bone skulls.)

The Tories have just blundered into a massive elephant trap.

The frightening thing is, I don't think it was actually intended to be a trap. Corbyn said a few reasonable things about foreign policy and its repercussions; the Tories immediately denounced him for saying, even though he was just echoing their own words.

Labour did nothing here. The Tories dug the pit for the elephant trap, put very sharp stakes in it, concealed it with considerable cunning, then all jumped into it with lemming like enthusiasm.

 Idiots.

Are we supposed to trust these clowns to run a country and negotiate Brexit? they can't even savage Jeremy Corbyn properly - the softest of soft targets, we are continually told!

Drum these clowns out of power! They're in mortal danger of making Diane Abbott look good!

Tide of history

So YouGov have Labour as high as 38%, just five points behind the Conservatives, and ten points up on their dismal polling position a month ago.

While I love polls, I do hate the way they are reported. Probably, this poll is an out-lier and and when Labour 'fall' to 35% some on the right will pronounce that the momentum is back with May and that the voters are deserting Labour.

One time Labour PM Jim Callaghan - he of the Winter of Discontent - remarked, on his way to defeat in 1979, "There are times, perhaps once every thirty years, when there is a sea-change in politics. It then does not matter what you say or what you do. There is a shift in what the public wants and what it approves of. I suspect there is now such a sea-change and it is for Mrs. Thatcher."

Callaghan's tide of history comment was always a bit of an excuse, trying to cover up the fact he'd chickened out of an early election and made a mess of working with the unions.

I wonder if Callaghan's tide of history is suddenly running against the Tories?

Are voters looking at the state of the nation(s) and thinking, "They've had seven years, and we've still got a massive deficit and debt is still piling up; they've had seven years and they still haven't managed to keep their promises on immigration; they've had seven years and our wages are still the same; they've had seven years and we're still being attacked by crazies. Stuff 'em."

Or maybe the polls are wrong.

Who knows. Jolly good fun, though.

Theresa May - Hapless and Hopeless

Prime Minister Theresa May, commenting on Jeremy Corbyn's robust, but nuanced, speech on defence and secuity:
She added: "There can never be an excuse for terrorism. There can never be an excuse for what happened in Manchester." 
She said voters faced a choice "between me working strongly to protect the national interest and Jeremy Corbyn who, frankly, isn't up to the job".
Is this really the Tories master strategy? Claim Corbyn said that "We brought it on ourselves"?

I always thought that the Tories were cunning. Seems I was wrong.

Nothing positive to offer, only increasingly shrill negative personal attacks. They sound pathetic, disorganised and desperate.

This is the stuff of insanity. Corbyn did not 'excuse' - he condemned. He simply noted that reckless foreign policy in the past had contributed to the the current mess the world finds itself it.

Any adult - any child - can understand that actions have consequences.

Theresa May seems to think that young men wake up and decide to detonate themselves at pop concerts simply because it seems like a fun thing to do - there is no background, no (however twisted and perverted) reasoning, just a bunch of people who hate us for kicks. It's berserk thinking. I don't imagine for a moment that she genuinely believes it, but she thinks so little of the British people that she hopes we will buy it.

Almost all their facts are made up, or misprepresentations. Like May bleating that Corbyn is saying terrorist attacks are 'our fault' or people repeating the lie that he 'attended an IRA funeral.' Or that he 'danced on the way to the cenotaph,' or ... it goes on and on. And then there are the lies the Tories tell you to make themselves loook good. 'We'll eradicate the budget in a parliament,' 'We'll reduce immigration to less than 100,000,' 'We're all in this together' .... Don't Conservative voters ever get tired of getting lied to?

And it's hilarious - but at the same time slightly nauseating - to hear the woman who couldn't handle a few questions from Andrew Neil mumble how Jeremy Corbyn isn't up to the job.

She can't even look after herself, how can she look after the rest of us?

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!

Fallon disagrees with a quote, thinking it is from Corbyn, then discovers it is actually Boris Johnson saying the Iraq War "the war has unquestionably sharpened the resentments felt by such people".


Also repeats the stupid lie that Corbyn wants to "sit down and talk" to terrorists. Obviously not understanding what "That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions."

Stupid Tory Muppet.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Good Grief, New Statesman Edition

Sarah Ditum actually wrote the following in the New Statesman yesterday:
Corbyn, who has led the way in smirking denial of anti-Semitism within Labour, even while one of the greatest threats to the nation and the continent is the creep of the far right.
Never mind that Corbyn set up an inquiry into claims of antisemitism, something no other Labour leader bothered to do.

Never mind that he condemned Ken Livingstone's stupid decision to repeat the stupid statement that lead to his suspension.

Never mind that the New Statesman quoted Corbyn's condemnation at length just a couple of weeks before Ditum penned her spite column:
"Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.

“Labour's independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.

“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.”
Never mind that there is an election on, and Ditum has deliberately decided to start accusing the leader of the Labour Party - without evidence, mind you - of condoning antisemitism.  I'm not in favour of people having to suppress their opinions for party electoral advantage; but I'm equally not in favour of people deliberately timing their phoney accusations to cause maximum damage to the party she is a card carrying member of.

Never mind all that.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist.  She enjoys privileged access to the media.  I had a look over her recent New Statesman columns to see how much time she had dedicated to identifying and targeting antisemitism in the past year.

I did find a passing reference to 20th Century pogroms in one column on the Brexit referendum; but that's it.  (And in it, Ditum manages to repeat the false claim that Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was subjected to antisemitic abuse.  She wasn't.  She was called out for talking to a journalist from the Telegraph.)

Yet in the past year, from what I can see in the index of articles she has published in the New Statesman, she has not dedicated one to the issue of antisemitism, in the Labour party or elsewhere.

Even though she lambastes Corbyn for ignoring the "creep of the far-right" which is "one of the greatest threats to the nation and the continent."

In the odd, self-righteous world of Sarah Ditum, this grave issue - which she attacks Corbyn for ignoring - did not merit a column.

Not one.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Oh, really?

John Woodcock, Labour MP:
"But I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain's prime minister."
Not sure you can really continue to be part of the Labour Party, John, if you are going to refuse to support the leader of that party in his attempt to be Prime Minister.

You're basically saying if - entertain the though for a moment - Corbyn actually won the election on June the 8th, or managed to assemble a coalition giving him a notional majority in the Commons, you would vote with the Tories to deny him that office.

It's interesting to see just how deep this Corbyn-hating runs parts of the Labour Party.  Theresa May calls an election - and Woodcock's first impulse is to attack his leader.  And this has been going on ever since Corbyn was elected leader (the first time, I mean) and the resignations and refusals to serve started to get tweeted while he was giving his (inclusive and conciliatory) victory speech.

The problem is not and has never been Jeremy Corbyn.  The problem has always been the faction that refuses to work with him.  Doesn't just refuse to work with him, but seeks to undermine him, to the detriment of the Labour Party and the undermining of the wider movement it represents.

You won't vote to make a Labour MP Prime Minister, John?

Think about the implications of that, your own words.

Oh, an election, is it? Some random thinks.

So ...

  • Theresa "I won't call a snap election" May calls a snap election.
  • The CPS has indicated up to 30 individuals (including MPs) may be charged with breaches of election expenses laws.

Could these two things be at all related?

Because otherwise May's decision makes no sense to me. She has a majority. She is doing well in the polls and popular. There was an election just two years ago, and a referendum. The boundary changes have not yet gone through.

An early election only makes sense if she is anticipating a major crisis - either substantial charges being laid around the 2015 election, or some massive economic upheaval. Because the annihilation of Labour in 2017 will probably mean the end of Corbyn and his replacement with someone who might (big might, given the talent pool) appeal more to floating voters.

And 2022 is a long way away, and if the parliament elected in 2017 runs its course, the Conservatives will have been in power for 12 years. So even if she manages to see off Labour in 2017, she may have brought forward Labour's return to power closer by a term or two.

But, feck me, these Tories are cynical. Theresa May has been adamant about not calling an early election (inspite of ticking off Gordon Brown back in the day for being un unelected PM). then she decides she needs to have one after all. Because she needs a mandate to be able to give the country "Strong and stable leadership" - a banal phrase she used about 5000 times in her first attempt at an electioneering speech.

Talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words. The soundbite of the nascent Tory campaign may be "Strong and stable leadership." But how does "No election until 2020 ... oops, I've changed my mind" equate to stability?  Or a chancellor who abandon's a key part of his budget about five minutes after he's finished his speech? And how can a leader forced to go to the country three years early, because she can't manage her MPs, claim to be strong?

Someone needs to give Theresa May a dictionary so she can look up what the words she is saying mean.

With regards to the outcome, the problem with FPTP is that there is very little correlation between votes cast and seats won at a national level.  Majorities of seats are won on pluralities of the vote.

It's hard to see the Conservatives losing, but maybe Corbyn has authentic video footage of Theresa May beheading kittens or something. Equally, I can't envisage the Tories winning a majority of a hundred, in spite of what the polls say. They just don't feel right to me. It's entirely gut based but I suspect the pollsters have over compensated for 2015's screw up.

I think Labour will hang on to a lot more than people realise. Remember, Labour DOOM was predicted at the local elections last year, and failed to materialise. It might, but I think they will hold onto about 220 seats.

It is also important to remember that the result in 1983 was distorted by a split in the left vote - Labour + SDP/Liberal Alliance polled more than the Conservatives, but as they were often stealing votes from each other, they were both thrashed. There isn't that factor as the Blairites have (thankfully) not gone nuclear and split. So the Tories will need a much bigger swing to produce anything like a 1983 result.

I think the Lib Dems will enjoy a bit of a renaissance. They had 50+ seats up until the 2015 election and will be eyeing them again. As the official anti-Brexit party, they can expect to draw a lot of support from Remainers of all sides.

Scotland will more or less stay the same. The SNP may lose a couple of seats and the the Tories and Lib Dems pick up a couple there.

The problem for the Tories is that for every seat the Lib Dems win back (assuming they win any back!), the Tories need to take one somewhere else.

If Labour is a bit more robust than expected, suddenly increasing May's majority becomes very difficult. If Labour cling on to 220 seats, and the Lib Dems reach 20, suddenly May may even be looking at a REDUCED majority.

I can't imagine that happening, but unless Labour go into a meltdown and the Lib Dems don't surge, it is hard to see how she can make significant gains.

So, some predictions (Bearing in mind I got the 2015 election completely, utterly wrong):

  • Conservative - 345 ... Well done, Tessa, you put us through that, for a few extra seats. LOSER.
  • Labour 215 - This leaves Corbyn in a precarious position. He's avoided the apocalypse, but has lost a lot of seats. He'll hold on to get the leadership election changes passed at conference, and then step down in 2018, which was pretty much the plan all along. WINNER, surprisingly.
  • Lib Dems - 20. Just enough to stoke talk of a revival, but not enough to actually be one. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WINNERS AND LOSERS, appropriately.
  • SNP - 50. They maintain ther stranglehold on Scotland, but the support for independence is clearly ebbing. PHRRYIC VICTORS, again appropriately. Us Scots don't do outright victory.
  • Ireland and others - 20.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Useless Idiots

The madness seems to run very deep in Labour at the moment:
But some Labour MPs suggest even more drastic remedial action is required. 
“In order to convince the public that you’ve moved on, you have to have a Clause Four-type moment,” one member told me. “Which would probably involve kicking John McDonnell out of the Labour Party or something like that. 
“You have a purge. Ken Livingstone gone, maybe even Jeremy [Corbyn] gone. That’s the only way that you can persuade the public that you’re not like that.” 
Source
So Labour MPs are fantasizing about purging the man who has been overwhelmingly elected and then re-elected as leader.  And they think that will help make things better.  Fucking demented loons.

Here's an idea, Labour MPs!  Stop being dicks, start co-operating.  Make Corbyn effectiveley irrelevant by doing such a fantastic job of running all the shadow portfolios that.  It.  Stops.  Being.  About.  Him.

So suddenly being leader is really almost a ceremonial role.  Christ, Attlee was deried as being a little man surrounded by a cabinet of giants.  Corbyn has a different problem.  He's a little man surrounded by a party of microbes.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Nurse Ban

Canadian nurses working at Michigan hospitals were shocked last week when border security officers stopped them from entering the U.S. because of changes to their working visas under new immigration policies. 
Staff at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital heard reports of nurses unable to renew their working visas.  
Last week, a new Canadian hire at Henry Ford tried to go to work, but was turned away at the Windsor-Detroit border. She was told advanced practice nurses and nurse anesthetists no longer qualify for the working visas because of policy changes under U.S. President Donald Trump. 
"We really question the motives," said immigration lawyer Marc Topoleski, whose firm is retained by the hospital. "All of the immigration executive orders and all the things being rolled out have been focused on national security first, and this is clearly not an issue of national security whatsoever."
Here
Good.  Isn't Kenyda where that commie Muslim Saddam Hussein Obama came from?

I mean, nurses, terrorists, they're basically the same. Where ever you get nurses or terrorists, you get injured and dying Americans. Think on!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

HA! HA!

I'd normally ignore everything to do with Katie Hopkins, on the principle of not feeding trolls, but this is a special occasion; she has just been found guilty of defaming and damaging Jack Munroe's reputation.

Horrible bully gets her comeuppance.

Wonder if the Mail will mention this detback for their star columnist?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Post-Copeland post

So the by-elections have been and gone, and as Labour managed to win one and lose one, I suppose we're in for another round of leadership self-smiting by Labour.

I don't think Corbyn was the real problem. But note the tense. Before the Brexit referendum, Labour's vote share was increasing - they were starting to show parity with the Conservatives in polls. Two things happened. First, the chicken coup. Second, the elevation of Theresa May. Labours ratings immediately plunged.  The combination of Labour's public self mutilation and the Conservatives managing to look unified and vaguely competent in the face of a completely unnecessary disaster they precipitated, was potent.

I think May's boost will fade - she's a horrible person leading a horrible party and people will come to loathe her.  But the constant schisming in the Labour Party looks like it will continue. As long as significant, experienced MPs are refusing to serve, or grandees like Mandelson are bragging about how they try to undermine Corbyn on a daily basis, and as long as MPs are merrily briefing against him and leaking, then they are going to look like a seething mess of worms with delusions of being vipers, unworthy of power, or even being in parliament.

I think that Corbyn may have been irredeemably damaged by the constant smears and poor poll ratings. Perceptions can become reality.

But I doubt he's got the strength of character, or the resources or support, to overcome the public's perception that he's a useless loser.

Unfortunately, there are about 229 other useless people in the Labour Party, not one of whom has the charisma, competence or popularity of Gordon Brown.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Corbyn Wanings

I was a defender of Corbyn ever since his election but even I am now weary of trying to argue his case.

I think he may be viewed as a stage Labour had to go through, to demonstrate the total disconnection between the PLP and the membership.  I also still think he is more sinned against than sinning - he's been consistently attacked and undermined for the last two years, by the media and his own party.  The refusal to support his leadership and the coordinated resignations were unforgivable.

Unfortunately, we can't just blame them for it.  He was not the man for the job.  Given the opportunity, he has failed to do anything with it.  In part he has been hampered by the lack of cooperation and backstabbing (he must have a huge back, there are so many knives planted in it) but his own weakness, and the weakness of his team has not helped.  As remarked below, the three line whip fiasco was a completely foreseeable, avoidable and utterly unnecessary disaster.  A conscience vote would have kept a lot of people onside, avoided the charge of hypocrisy and not affected the outcome of the vote.  Arguing the media would portray it as weakness or 'ignoring the will of the British people' (what happened to the 48% - have they been stripped of their citizenship?) is to overlook that whatever he did would be portrayed negatively by the media.

So fairness, consistency and avoiding unnecessary damage should have been the consideration.  Instead, all three were sacrificed and the result is a disaster.  Nothing good has come of it, and a lot of bad has.  After facing front bench rebellions against a three line whip - even some of his whips voed against the party line - Corbyn realises he can't really do anything other than issue a 'written warning' to the rebels, asking them not to do it again?

And it was all utterly predictable and foreseeable.  Anyone could have seen this coming. Except, it seems, Corbyn and McDonnell.

Maybe someone should reactivate the old 'Corbyn Warnings' twitter account ... only this time, to warn Corbyn of the bleedingly obvious consequences of some of his more mutton-headed decisions.

De ja vu




Friday, 27 January 2017

Tam Dalyell has died

Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP, who served in parliament from the early sixties through to 2005, has died, aged eighty four years old.

Famously awkward and persistent in being awkward, and a man with no time for cant or the all too common mealy-mouthed political flim-flam - hence his infamous "West Lothian question," concerning the voting rights of Scottish (and other non-English) MPs in Westminster on English matters - a query that has never been satisfactorily answered.

As often happens with contrarian figures, he sometimes took it too far, endorsing the Lockerbie con-man Lester Coleman.

But a remarkable figure in Scottish and British politics.

Corbyn's final blunder?

So, it turns out (hideously) that the Guardian was right and I was wrong.  Jeremy Corbyn has told his Shadow Cabinet that a three-line whip will be issued over the triggering of Article 50.

It's like he resents how the media have been - just ever so slightly - focusing on Conservative woes recently, and wants the spotlight back on his own troubles.

I've been pretty supportive of Corbyn up until now, but I'm done with him. This is madness.

Imposing a three line whip is politically stupid as it generates negative headlines for Labour at a time when they really, really can't afford them.

It is morally stupid because Corbyn has always been a bit of a rebel and telling other people how to vote smacks of hypocrisy.

It is democratically stupid as it leaves the 48% who voted remain unrepresented and alienated.

So, pretty stupid.

One member of the Shadow Cabinet, Tulip Siddiq, has already resigned over this:
Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the Labour frontbench, telling the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that she could not reconcile herself to the party’s three-line whip to vote for triggering article 50.

In her letter to Corbyn, the shadow minister for early years said voting to start the process of leaving the EU would be a betrayal of her north London constituents, three-quarters of whom voted to remain in the EU.

“I have always been clear – I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster,” Siddiq wrote in her resignation letter. “I feel that the most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.”

Siddiq said she had made the final decision to resign after Corbyn confirmed to the shadow cabinet on Thursday morning that Labour MPs would be expected to back the article 50 bill and a three-line whip would be imposed. “I do not support the triggering of article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the frontbench position,” she wrote in her letter to Corbyn.
A few days ago I said he just needs to keep things quiet and let the Tories endure a bit of bad publicity. I dismissed the rumours of a three line whip as unsubstantiated trouble making by the Guardian. Now this.

Corbyn, of all leaders, should understand the importance of conscience. And he's picked a silly, needless, divisive fight which will alienate the last few MPs who support (or at least tolerate) his leadership. And it was completely unnecessary, as there was no prospect of the trigger bill failing.  To win, he didn't need to do anything - he would have avoided the negative headlines, kept his cabinet intact, made his opponents looks mean spirited divisive. The handful of votes against Article 50 he would have countenance would be unlikely to make a difference to the result.

Now he has to endure the resignations (and probably several more triggered by those trying to destabalise him, again) and still face the rebellions at the vote.  Possibly even more as he has put his authority - such as it is - on the line.

The only way this makes any sort of sense is if he is looking for an excuse to resign. But that would suggest more cunning than I credit him with.

Corbyn allowed free votes over blowing up Syrians and potential nuclear annihilation - is Brexit really more important than either of these issues?

Friday, 20 January 2017

Oh, the (unintentional) irony

The Guardian is running an article about how the BBC 's Laura Kuenssberg has been found to have been impartial in her reporting of a statement from Jeremy Corbyn:
The broadcaster’s regulator concluded that a Laura Kuenssberg report for the News at Six in November 2015 breached the broadcaster’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines, in a ruling that triggered an angry response from the corporation’s director of news.

The News at Six item included a clip of the Labour leader stating: “I am not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive.”

Kuenssberg had presented that as Corbyn’s response to a question put to him on whether he would be “happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack”, but the Trust concluded that Corbyn had been speaking in a different context. sdsd
Which is hilarious, coming from the Guardian, with its ignoble history of inaccurate and anti-Corbyn coverage. Even today, they are running a report titled, Corbyn to order Labour MPs to vote for article 50 trigger; even though he has said no such thing:
Jeremy Corbyn will order Labour to vote in favour of triggering article 50 in a move likely to prompt a rebellion of around 30 MPs, including several frontbenchers.

The Labour leader signalled on Thursday that he would impose a three-line whip if the government lost its supreme court challenge and brought a Brexit bill to parliament.

However, dozens of Labour MPs, especially those with largely urban constituencies that voted to remain, are known to be agonising about whether to defy the party line.
If you read further down the article, you discover that Corbyn did not actually say he was going to issue a three-line whip:
Asked by Sky News how he would handle any legislation in the Commons, after the Guardian revealed that some shadow cabinet ministers were considering voting against it, he said: “It is very clear. The referendum made a decision that Britain was to leave the European Union. It was not to destroy jobs or living standards or communities but it was to leave the European Union and to have a different relationship in the future.

“I’ve made it very clear the Labour party accepts and respects the decision of the British people. We will not block article 50.”

When asked if that meant a three-line whip, an order to MPs to vote for the bill, he replied: “It means that Labour MPs will be asked to vote in that direction next week, or whenever the vote comes up.”
Notice how "ask" morphs into "order" in the headline.  The Guardian might argue that Corbyn is talking in euphemisms, and if it was another politician they might have a point; but Corbyn doesn't tend to do that.  When he says hell ask them to vote for Article 50, he probably means that.  He is not an authoritarian leader.  He allowed a free vote over Syrian air strikes and on Trident.  As a life long rebel against the party line himself, it does not seem to be in his nature to impose strict discipline on matters of conscience.

Presumably, when he doesn't actually issue said whip, they Guardian will accuse him of backing down in the face of pressure ...