What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the category “Lib dems”

THIS IS NOT AN ACT OF GOD

We went to the fabulous wedding of our friends Lisa and David over the weekend, set in Bedwellty, South Wales it was a truly joyous occasion, as watching two people you know should be together publicly declare their love should be. The welcome for the English contingent was warm and generous, the church service not only solemn, but great fun. The only spot of bother would predictably be the weather.

The rain simply would not let up over the valleys – at times it was a struggle to see a landmark as close and as large as The Chartist Bridge. We were all incredibly lucky of course – all we had to put up with was a little dampness and wind, rather than flooded homes and workplaces, so there will be no grousing from me. Travelling back along the M4 on Sunday, you could see a little of the damage done – burst river banks and flooded pastures mainly. The news told the rest, or nearly all of it…

…The government, and the media have, as usual praised the unstinting efforts of local councils and the emergency services in the struggle to save life and property. Much has been made of the improvements in emergency planning made over the past few years, and rightly so, given the parsimony of the Coalitions’ austerity spending plans. Yet with floods, the main emergency workers who bust a gut are the Fire Service – the ones with hoses, pumps, ladders etc. Yes, that means members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The cuts have hit Firefighters across the UK, and the South West has been no exception to this. So far, everything has worked pretty well, mainly thanks to teamwork and professionalism, yet post-2010 cut mean that Firefighters at all levels have serious concerns as to whether in the future they won’t be overstretched. The only reason that people in the South West have been able to rely on the Fire service because extra engines and Firefighters have been available from other regions. Should there be a wider flooding crisis in these other regions, this will not be the case. As the Association of Chief Fire Officers has already warned, future cuts, leading to the potential loss of 4,000 Firefighters, sixty stations and around 150 engines make such sharing of force much more difficult, especially if the UK were to have to deal with two regional crises at the same time.

Today Matt Wrack, the FBU leader has written to David Cameron, once again highlighting the Firefighters concerns. I doubt that Ham-Face will take any notice. After all, he leads a party that once counted  Brian Coleman as a leading member in London. You remember Brian – he said that “we need to break the FBU, frankly…” , as if this would make up for cutting numbers of staff and engines in London.

I am sure that the cabinet are all distressed about the floods – after all no one could be more distraught at having to dehumidify their holiday homes. No doubt these blustering puppets will heap praise upon the Fire Service until the waters subside, then get back to cutting numbers and buggering up their pensions. Of course, once the FBU start to campain over this in earnest, they will be branded extremists and wreckers by this extremist, wrecking coalition.   

 

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I’m Proud of The BBC – Are Labour???

Back in 2010, Mitch Benn – a comedian and songwriter of nearly godlike genius if you ask me, had his biggest hit so far with “I’m Proud of the BBC”, extolling the very real benefits that we all gain from auntie.  Newsround, Newsnight, iPlayer website – the list went on and on. And it hit a chord with listeners and viewers across the nation.

Well, we’ll know what we had if we lose it. The recent reshuffle was nothing more than another stacking of the deck against public service broadcasting as we know it. True, Mr C has moved on, but the tune remains the same – beggar the Beeb, and give a helping hand to Fox – sorry, Sky News.

Does it matter? Well yes it does. Every Government since Harold Wilson has accused the BBC of bias against them, and many have threatened to emasculate the corporation. As part of the fall out of the Hutton Inquiry, the last Labour government may just have started the process. However it was not irreversible, and we are now in a much more dangerous situation.

After all of ten minutes thought, The Coalition decided to cut funding via a freezing of the Licence Fee, then to stop funding The World Service via the Foreign Office. Yes, our Government took one ;look at our greatest soft power asset and said ” fuck it”. And fuck it they have.

As jobs are lost across the corporation, Unions are leading a campaign to stop the cuts – UNITE, BECTU, EQUITY and others, posing an alternative to the cuts – savings on top salaries, and a proper, forward looking policy.

 So where are the Labour MPs? Who is standing up for one of our great national institutions? One that unites us all much more than lousy weather, class snobbery and football? They, shamefully, seem as quiet as the grave, and I call that an outrage of the first order.

 Maybe it is simply an unwillingness to talk about shared culture, or to sound anti- big business. Maybe this is some kind of twisted revenge for Paxman, The Today Programme and trying to be unbiased in its foreign coverage. I don’ honestly know, and if these are the reasons, it must stop now.

Just look at the people throwing mud at the BBC – The Daily Mail, Express, Murdoch, the Tory right and any weirdo who read Ayn Rand and never grew up…

Carlton TV gave us David Cameron, whereas the BBC has given us:

Round The Horne, Miranda, Who Do You Think You Are? The day To Day, Nigella, Panorama and Bagpuss, I Claudius, Absolutely Fabulous!

Sherlock, Fireman Sam, Bruce Forsyth and The League of Gentlemen, The Thick of It, Jeremy Hardy Final Score, everything on BBC Four…

And something that can never be replaced – Sarah Jane Smith – did I mention Doctor Who? 

 

 

apologies to Mitch Benn, hope he doesn’t mind…

 

 

Lib Dem Conference Latest…

… just in…

In Brighton this week, Danny Alexander was publicly thanked by failed minister Sarah Teather for making her look good…

… Breaking News…

…The Lib Dem Glee Club has replaced “F*** off Tony Blair and die” with a more appropriate song that fits their standing in the polls – Tom Lehrers’ “We Will All Go Together When We Go”…

(For the original offensive Lib Dem song, see this – http:www.labourlist.org/2012/09/lib-dem-conference-goers-sing-tony-blair-can-fk-off-and-die/  )

…And in what may yet be seen as his best speech ever, Little Nicky shows his grasp of History, the laws of Physics, and primary colours:

“The past is the past…”  “…we can’t return to the past…”  ” Blue + Yellow = Green…”

So, altogether now – “Red and yellow and pink and blue…”

“…No more apologies…”

“… I’m so tired,

I’m so sick and tired…”

Our apology for a Government seems to be spending much of its time saying “sorry” at the moment.  And, just like Morrissey, I experiencing a distinct increase in my level of fatigue with them.

Firstly, Little Nicky pops up to make us all feel his pain on youtube, saying sorry for promising something he could not deliver, and for in fact doing the opposite on tuition fees. The instant auto-tuned hit has been an enormous flop in terms of convincing non Lib Dems that they are anything other than a puddle of yellow water on the steps of number ten.

Clegg was using a mix of two political techniques, borrowed from two other progressive leaders:

 Firstly he used the “Blair Gambit” – “hey, I am a decent guy who had to make a tough choice in hard times, but I am a pretty straight guy…’ 

Secondly, he employed what has become known as “The Clinton defence” – “Y’all caught me out, aw shucks, I’ll never do it again, and I feel your pain – please, feel mine. Can I give you a hug? Can we forget about it?”

Most interestingly, his apology was less for introducing an increase of £9,000 in student fees, and more for promising to eventually abolish them. In essence, Clegg is saying that his mistake was to propose and campaign for a progressive measure. Breathtaking cynicism. Employing the techniques pilfered from “the fornicator in chief” and possibly the most mistrusted and reviled British politician of recent times – lets see how that works out for you Nicky…

 And then we have Andrew (Grant) Mitchell. Oh dear. Not good Mr Mitchell, not good at all. Up until last week, most of us believed that the Conservatives were in a committed relationship with Ms. Laura Norder, although they may have had the odd fling with that G4S hussy. Apparently no more, “the Bobby on the Beat” has become “the pleb at the gate”. Step forward Mitchell, and display the fruits of your expensive education…

 … Andrew Mitchell used that other weapon in modern political  warfare, the “Non Apology Apology”. Used often over the years by GW Bush, Hilary “misspeak” Clinton and over here by Peter Mandelson. Manfully, he stepped in front of the news cameras to say, in effect ” I never said that, but I am very sorry for the things I never said.” Of course you are Andrew, of course you are…

A word to the wise Andrew, try not to swear at Policemen, however hard your day has been. They tend to have notebooks in which to write stuff down, and as Leveson is proving, access to the media. As anyone who has been on a demonstration in the past thirty years knows, or as any Football fan could tell you, they tend to get a bit narky when insulted…

In general, politicians, like the rest of us, do make mistakes – most of them are human after all. Of course, sometimes an apology is welcome, and a useful part of the process, yet in these cases the words do not ring true.

Much of the left has spent years shouting loudly at Tony Blair, demanding that he apologise for Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he should then be put on trial. Blair refuses to apologise because he does not believe that he was wrong – to my mind he is right not to, as it would be a palpable lie in this case.

In any case, since the Clinton era of misdemeanour-lie-apology-next misdemeanour -apology ad infinitum, the tactic of simply using a form of words to cover your ass is devalued.

Part of Nick Clegg’s problem here is that his version of the Coalition narrative no longer rings true to many who voted or campaigned for him in 2010. Mathematically, the only stable coalition was between the two partners in Government now, but there were other alternatives. Firstly, a minority Tory Government, backed on a looser “confidence and supply” basis by the Lib Dems, secondly, and more interestingly, there was the never discussed option for another General Election.

It is fairly obvious as to why no party would want this – they had just spent all their cash on the original campaign. However what did the voters want? The hung parliament indicates that it did not want the Tories to run the country, and did not want Labour to continue in the old way. Nick Clegg and the Orange Bookers bottled their chance, scared, as was everybody else, by what could possibly happen in the global markets should another election (that is, actually asking us what we think again). 

 I doubt we will ever get an apology for this… 

 

 

MUSICAL CHAIRS (YAWN)

Well, the reshuffle went well didn’t it? After all, the purpose of most team changes in modern politics is to get political nerds and journalists to concentrate on personalities, not policy. Mr Cameron has certainly managed that, after a fashion.

Sadly for the Coalition, there seems to be a paucity of talent and personality on the Treasury benches, and this is after only two years – hardly enough time for the attrition of government to wear the LibCons down…

Like the Budget, the 2012 reshuffle may very well be a gift that keeps on giving to the Coalitions’ opponents, internal as well as external.

Every decision made by every Prime Minister will have its supporters and detractors, yet it is astounding that on a day when the right wing strengthened its grip on power in Whitehall, David Cameron was attacked by the most popular Tory in Britain (& part time Mayor of London), Boris Johnson. Oh, and Iain Dale. The day before, David Davis put the boot into George Osborne over the economy. As it happens, many Lib Dems are also increasingly upset with “The Greenest Government Ever”, and its new fracking-friendly Ministers. It would seem that “The Ship of State” is not a happy one.

Little wonder that Tory supporters have gleefully jumped on the non-story that Wallace and Gromit do not always agree (gee, thanks SPADS).

Policy wise this is a huge disaster for the majority of us outside Westminster;

  • A Health Minister who believes the NHS is an “irrelevance”, yet puts his faith in Homeopathy.
  • Iain Duncan Smith secure at DWP with Esther McVeigh.
  • Expenses cheat David Laws rehabilitated and given Education.
  • “Woodentop” Gove still in place.
  • Kenneth Clarke shifted into number ten as a “wise head” – or Official Government Bagpuss impersonator.
  • Vince Cable further isolated at DTI, with only memories and a packet of Humbugs for comfort.

This game of musical chairs signals several things. Firstly, the “liberal” wing of the Tory party, to which our Prime Minister allegedly belongs, is pretty dead in the water. Secondly, even when Cameron panders to the right wing, they are not placated. They won’t be satisfied until there is a majority Tory Government, and until that time, Cameron will be under increasing pressure.The Liberal Democrats have in no way been placated by bringing David Laws back into the Cabinet, if anything quite the reverse.

After two years in power, many LDs are increasingly dissatisfied with this particular civil partnership, although there are a few Orange Bookers who may very well be considering a full-blown marriage. It means that between them, Ham Face and Little Nicky dare not, indeed cannot move either Duncan Smith or Cable, for fear of backbench rebellion.

Personnel changes in Government are supposed to revitalise policy and presentation. Unfortunately for HMG, in this Olympic and Jubilee year, dithering Cameron and Clegg have failed to do so. 

Why, just once, Labour should back the Coalition…

Tonight in the Commons, Labour MPs have an opportunity to show disaffected Lib Dems that there is an alternative to Clegg.

Well, that’s the short tactical argument for voting for Lords Reform, of course there is a longer, much more principled set of reasons, to whit:

Ever since its foundation, the Labour Movement, of which The Labour Party is an intrinsic part (whatever Progress or Bob Crow say), has fought against entrenched power and privilege.  Go back as far as the Putney Debates of the seventeenth century if you like, you will always find slim red thread through radical, socialist and trades union positions on the issue of state-controlled preferment.

 True enough, New Labour at best fudged this, and with its leading protagonists and cheerleaders spending so much effort cosying up to Oligarchs and shysters, we nearly lost any opportunity to win democratic change.

Once before in this Parliament, over voting reform, we have seen the very worst example of parliamentary conservatism and narrow partisanship triumph over common sense and a move towards justice. We must not let it happen again.

By supporting the call for reform, Ed Miliband is staying true to the words and spirit of his first speech as Leader, and being true to the spirit of the pioneers who founded the Labour Representation Committee over a century ago.

Re-read your Thomas Paine, I promise you you will find no argument justifying a second chamber composed of placemen, high-born, or failed politicians (and of course Baroness Warsi).

Lord Puttnam and Bragg are no doubt wonderful, intelligent men, yet I hardly think that this trumps popular sovereignty. And they can always lunch at The Garrick and Groucho clubs instead. To paraphrase Bagehot, intellectual support for The House of Lords rarely survives first contact with the actual institution.

To side with the right of the Tory Party for the sake of causing the coalition one more embarrassment is both short sighted and petty. After all, we have yet to exhaust Osbornes’ Budget.

As a Party, we must be positioning ourselves as the reasonable alternative to the Coalition, which means finding common ground with Lib Dems, and Greens on issues such as democratic reform where we can. By doing this, we make Nick Cleggs job much harder at the next election.

On News International, & on Banking, the Labour Front Bench have scored two goals against Cameron and Clegg. Now lets make it a hat trick.

Let the Tories play games against each other on this one.

 

JUST A QUESTION…

Does Sarah Teather always look like that? Or does someone always fart just before she goes on camera?

OH! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING!

And as the results continue to come in, oh what a beautiful day?

Lib Dems trounced nationally, Labour winning over 500 seats and over twenty councils throughout England and Wales. We have taken seats from the Tories, BNP, Lib Dems, Plaid and UKIP. And it looks as though the SNP may not have won Glasgow as predicted. From Great Yarmouth to Plymouth this is a great result for Labour and Ed Milibands leadership.  Even in Bradford, where we lost seats to Respect, overall we have gained two seats!

Harlow, Southhampton, Dudley – directly from the Tories

Birmingham, Carlisle, Derby, Norwich, Reading – from No Overall Control.

The London results are not yet in, and Scotland is only counting now. The Ken & Boris show is over – too close to call, although whichever way the votes go, David Cameron will have to watch his back…

 

VOTE LABOUR TODAY

Today is polling day in local government across the UK.

Here in London, we elect our Mayor and the GLA, & across the country you get a say in how your local services are managed.

Please remember the awful example of Tory-run Suffolk, where the council is trying to destroy jobs, and make the council “virtual”. The former Chief Executive was payed more than the Prime Minister! In fact, you will find that amongst the unelected Chief Executives, those with huge pay-packets tend to be employed by Tory councils.

After a campaign best described as one huge dirty trick, Mr Johnson and Mr Livingstone will have to wait for the votes to be counted.

The choice is clear – vote Boris for ineffective, though amusing government. Cutting Police numbers, stockpiling Plastic Bullets, ignoring inner London, cutting transport projects. Rambling on in a funny way. Denying the importance of investigations into the corrupting influence of Murdoch. Denying growth. Pressing for tax cuts for his friends and masters. Earning £250,000 outside of his actual job – paid ultimately by tax exiles. His utter incompetence in dealing with the RMT – after all, we have had many more tube strikes under Johnson in 4 years than we had under Ken in 8.


Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones and Ms Benita cannot win, but they have all raised serious points along the way. Johnson will ignore everything they have said once in City Hall, and carry on with Coleman, Malthouse et al.

For Lib Dem, Green and independent voters, the second choice is clear – it must be Ken Livingstone.

– A vote for Ken Livingstone is a vote for fair fares on London Transport, investment in infrastructure, creating jobs. It is a vote for a City Hall that will strive to unite Londoners, not divide them. It is a vote for substance over style. Restoring the EMA Londonwide, a lifelong dedication to London, a proven track record spanning over thirty years.

Of course, the national issues matter – Economic mismanagement, making us pay for the Bankers’ mistakes, pasty taxes, the amazing inability to read a calendar. Cutting too far, too fast, leading us back into recession. Gutting the armed forces, trussing up the NHS to sell off to their mates. Student Fees.Oh, and should I mention Murdoch???

Today you get a voice. Today, just for once, shout “ENOUGH!!!” And vote Labour.

 

MESSAGE TO GIDEON – ITS YOUR ECONOMICS, STUPID!

So today Britain is officially back in recession. This is no time for shallow politicking, people have no confidence that things will get better any time soon, and millions of us are frantically chasing work. Somehow we manage to have the Olympics, a housing crisis, a major infrastructure deficit and STILL the construction sector leads the way for economic downturn.

It is time for Gideon and Dave to admit what many of us have known for some time, that Plan A is not working, that the cuts have been too far and too fast, whilst tax reductions for the super rich were simply not appropriate at this time. This Coalition is making the ordinary people of the UK pay for an economic crisis caused by unregulated finance and thirty three years of monetarist dogma. The very rich men who agreed to come together in May 2010 to restore the nation’s finances have now proved not to be the economic geniuses that they claimed to be. They pretty much look like a bunch of shysters on the make.

In Scotland, News Internationals First Minister plays fast and loose with the essential economic truth, namely that Scotland’s economy is too tied to that of Wales and England to have any chance of independent recovery. His fictional “Arc of prosperity” disappeared when Iceland and Ireland went bust, yet he is content to take the odd pot shot at the rest of us, whilst the public works north of the border are still largely funded from Whitehall. For all his bumptiousness, at least it gives us a ready made argument against the Growth Deniers – publicly funded projects can save jobs and keep mopey flowing into an economy, austerity has now been proved to do the opposite.

By contrast Ed M and Ed B (or Wallace and Gromit) are looking more credible each day. At PMQs today Ed pretty much wiped the floor with Cameron, and Balls has been slowly destroying Whyborns economic credibility for months now. It seems that Gordon Brown was right back in 2010 – it really wasn’t time for a bunch of novices.

 

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