What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “Politics”

Labour Uncut Post – In Defence Of The BBC…

The previous post, about working conditions, was pretty well received, however my next effort gained me my first ever  cyber insult. Yes readers, if you defend the BBC, you must want sex with young girls (sigh)…

 

labour-uncut.co.uk/2012/10/26/governments-of-every-stripe-want-to-tear-down-the-bbc-don’t-let-them/

Labour Uncut Post – Why Labour Has To Win In 2012

This was published back on the nineteenth of October, and written after a long, hard shift at work. Please follow the link below:

labour-uncut.co.uk/2012/10/19/why-labour-has-to-win-in-2015

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…”

Two years in for Ed M

So, it is two years since Ed Miliband gained the leadership of the Labour party, and over at Labour List, plenty of people are taking stock. I think we can be allowed, as Labour supporters, to raise two cheers so far…

We are convincingly ahead in the polls, and this side of the Tory conference, the narrative for the Government is definitely in their hands. Nothing looks as bad as a Government seemingly not in control, one that has also managed to present itself as being sticking firmly to its plans whilst U-turning everywhere; on Forests, on Pasty Tax, on almost anything rather than its most unpopular policies.

Mr Miliband has done something that no Labour Leader has done in eighteen years or more – he has questioned the authority of free markets, and whether they are always the only option when it comes to the economy. This, after the crash, is a vital move, giving hope that we can move towards a modern Social Democratic government in 2015.

With his handling of the Leveson Inquiry and its fallout, Ed has been widely praised. Rightly so, he played a good game and has had the Government on the back foot ever since. He backed voting reform, without being associated with they dismal failure of the Yes campaign over AV.

As leader, he has grown in his role – for all the sniping of the right of the party (someone mention Progress?), he has managed to best an increasingly loud and puce David Cameron in The House of Commons, and has silenced (for now) the internal critics oh, and John “Rental” Rentoul.

Midway through this Parliament, the media, and the rest of us, can see Ed Miliband as PM, or at least a serious contender. The low personal rating as opposed to David Cameron as a minor worry to me, as it is normal for a sitting Prime Minister to look more, well, Prime Ministerial. These figures can change, and it would take little to change David Cameron from popular to unpopular. He is already out of favour in his own party, much earlier than Edward Heath was in the 1970s, and there are already stirrings on his back benches.

Milibands’ first speech toy Conference encapsulated al the reasons to support him – including drawing a line under the Blair/Brown years, notably on Iraq. His positioning himself (and us) as an inclusive opposition, trying to heal the rifts of the last eleven years was, and remains a masterstroke.

Yet I do worry. I worry that the polls are just a mid-term blip, that someone will start the back office sniping once again. That Ken Livingstone will try to stuff up Conference from his seat on the NEC.

I also worry that Eds’ management of the part factions in the Shadow Cabinet is storing up problems – Stephen Twigg at Education is a prime example , but others, such as Liam Byrne remain in place.

I worry that those years spent as a SpAd, all that triangulation, all that hanging out in Westminster, far away from the housing estates and run-down town centres where Labour needs to make a difference, will reassert itself.

So two cheers for Ed, so far so good, but we all have much more work to do to win…

“…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… 

 

 

Salma, George and who do we let in?

 On the 11th September, following the furore caused by George Galloway’s bizarre defence of Julian Assange and his definition of rape, Salma Yaqoob honourably resigned as leader of the Respect Party.

Approximately thirty seconds later, online speculation began as to whether Ms. Yaqoob would be joining Labour, The Greens or pretty much any other left of centre party.

Although within Labour the debate has divided into two predictable camps, with Rob Marchant at Centre Left giving a detailed “No” and Andy Newman over at Socialist Unity being pretty positive to the idea, it was, inevitably that arch-opportunist Caroline Lucas of The Green Party who was first out of the traps in the race for the Order of the Brown Nose:

I really hope that Salma Yaqoob’s resignation from Respect doesn’t mean she’s leaving politics – we need her vision and clarity

Now this roughly translates from Politician to Human as “Ooh! Join my lot please! Then we can stick it to Labour and no mistake!” Which, considering the former Green Leaders’ endorsement of Salma at the 2010 election comes as no surprise, and it could very well be that Salma Yaqoob joins Lucas, if only for want of another political home. It also ties into the Greens’ courting of Muslim Association of Britain, which in 2010 led to MAB urging its supporters in southeast England to vote Green…

Lets be clear, Salma Yaqoob has campaigned consistently against not just the Iraq war, like many Labour members have, but also against the Labour Party. Now this is not a new phenomenon, as a look at our past reveals. Dr John Reid, Peter Mandleson,Denis Healy, Denis Howell, Bessie Braddock and Ellen Wilkinson were all at one time members of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and as such campaigned against Labour before joining.  Salma Yaqoob has had a pretty good record as politician in saying that she is standing up for those ignored by New Labour, and talking about this in terms relating to class. So far so good, especially when you take into account the threats and harassment meted out to her by the banned extremist al Gurabaa organisation in 2005 – for having the audacity to be a muslim woman involved in politics. (Despite having MAB support)

Yet I fear any move to incorporate a politician who can prove to be so divisive, just for the sake of a few votes, possibly on the basis of perceived “muslim” support. It smacks of the Blairite realpolitik that led to Labour re-admitting Ken Livingstone after 2000, and we know here that led now, don’t we?

The wider issue for Labour is not simply whether or not a formidable local and national campaigner now wants to join Labour, or even if she is allowed to join our party, but what our attitude should be towards the thousands of people who have at some time or another since 2003 joined and campaigned for parties such as Respect. People like Andy Newman, who I pretty much disagree with on most things, has decades of campaigning under his belt for example. Not just in the SWP,ANL, Stop The War and Respect, but also as a trades union activist and Labour Party member in the early 1980s. After his pretty open split with the SWP a few years ago, he has run a non-sectarian blog at Socialist Unity (often full of Stalinists and Trots, but nobody’s perfect…). The nature of his split from his former comrades means that he is certainly not an entryist vanguard, and the nature of his sterling work with the GMB for its members at Carillion in Swindon means that he is the kind of activist we need with the party.

Particularly since the election of Ed Miliband, people have been coming back to Labour, not just as voters, but as members – and in general, this is a good thing. But as Rob points out in his blog, we must be careful who exactly is joining. We certainly have to avoid the 1980s experience of Militant and others using the party for their own ends, to our detriment. Leaving aside personalities, I think that so far the balance has been well kept. It would be pretty difficult for anyone within the party to make a convincing case for the return of George Galloway, and, to a much lesser extent, perhaps Salma Yaqoob should be treated as a former opponent who might, just might be suitable for membership at a future date.

ONLY ONE JOHNSON…

Yes, sad but true, there is only ONE Boris Johnson.

To read the recent press coverage, some Tories, and possibly all Westminster hacks wish there were at least two, possibly three, with at least one in the House of Commons. One for City Hall, one to annoy Cameron, and one for “the ladies”. (Maybe another to make sure that the press is suitably gagged when any mention of his extra marital affairs and resulting possible offspring come up…)

Johnson has clearly been putting it about since the Olympics, parking his tanks on Davids lawn, getting the cheers whilst Hamface gets the boos, ignoring the debt he owes to previous incumbents and Governments for his good fortune, fudging figures and avoiding a scandal over provision for the London Fire Service. And it is working…

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (OE, Oxon) is the most popular politician in the country. 

There are some signs that this may be a cause for alarm for his own dear leader, yet before we rub our hands with glee, let us stop to think for a moment. Johnson is popular with the public for a number of reasons, and a skilful media operation is one of them. Not being in Parliament, and therefore not being really in the Coalition helps. So far in his career, Mr Johnson has had no significant national responsibility, save being in the Shadow Cabinet, which means he spent his time, at best, say “well would never do that…”. He even managed to get sacked from the front bench then.

So far in his career, Johnson has presented himself as something he isn’t. For example, although he has an Eton/Oxbridge background, and drops a classics reference at the drop of a microphone, he simply is not as posh as he would like us all to believe. Like many from the old “upper-lower middle class” (copyright Mr E.A. Blair), he spent much of his school and Varsity days aping the supposed manners of Waughs’ “Brideshead” set. His anachronistic language, his cultivated scruffiness, his shambling gait are all very much part of his mid-eighties “young fogey” image.

The BoJo & HamCam rivalry continues…

In his job as Mayor of London, he has been the cynics very epitome of a politician, in that he has so far been able to distance himself from both Central Government policies, and his own policies when they are unpopular, yet claim credit for anything and everything perceived as good that happens within his jurisdiction. He has, since being elected in 2008, been notably ruthless in his disposal of deputy Mayors, as long as he can evade any blame.

As of this week, fourteen letters have been received by the Tory 1922 committee to open nominations for a leadership election. Though hugely short of the forty-six letters needed, this comes less than three years into Camerons’ premiership, and within weeks of Tory part conference. Clearly there are concerns throughout the true blue mob that possibly they need someone less chillaxed in charge, someone other than The Hamfaced Crimson Tide…

I hate to agree with John Major, but last Sunday he did say one thing that fans of the Johnson forget – he is not an MP, and therefore cannot become Leader. True enough, a safe seat may be found, someone convinced to stand down, a by-election could be won, yet the history of Tory Leadership elections shows that it is never the original favourite who wins, as Heath, Heseltine, and David Davis know to their chagrin.

Personally, I think that he may prefer the job of Mayor, where you can ultimately cash-in with your Telegraph column, then blame central Government for any mess. Should ever stand for/become Leader of the Tories, I relish the challenge, because I doubt that his image would withstand the full force of public and media scrutiny that he would inevitably attract. He simply would not be able to keep his past indiscretions from becoming front page news.I also do not think that Johnsons’ right wing instincts actually chime with the general public. True enough, they finds him amusing, much in the same way that Jeremy Clarkson once was, but for a rightwing humorist, he is certainly no PJ O’Rourke, and as Clarkson knows to his cost, it only takes one slip to taint your brand…

So for me, the current shenanigans say more about Cameron and his weakness than they do about the popularity of Johnson.

…NEWS FROM SOMEWHERE…

By: Our Staff Liar –

In a shock outburst this week, a fictitious source close to Nick Clegg announced that he was “unavailable” for comment, for discussion, or indeed for anything other than helping Samantha Cameron around the house.

Sources close to the Prime Monster’s other partner mentioned “doing the ironing, cleaning the bathroom, oh, and we need more Hobnobs.” as a fair summation of Mr Cleggs’ enhanced role.

Meanwhile, fibbers close to Danny Alexander, the Scottish Annoyance at The Treasury declared  him to be “pleased” on being declared “More annoying than Alex Salmond” by a leading made-up focus group…*

In other party of my imagination, Chris Huhne has been spotted doing a merry jig to the demise of Silvio Berlusconi. This long awaited retirement places the dull Huhne at last in the top ten of Western Europes’ leading political philanderers, ahead of that bearded LibDem who likes Eastern European assistants for their brains. ” For years everyone thought I was the dull one” said Huhne, “Well now I’m the dull one who left his wife by text.”

* One source from the group was quoted – “Its not that he’s Scottish, or that he’s ginger, its because he is Danny Alexander – he just stands there, two feet behind George Osborne with a slight smirk on his pasty face.” Said the anonymous Mr Kennedy.

 

What can you expect from a one year old?

PMQs this afternoon – marking the first Birthday of our Coalition, and its “new Politics” (deceased 5th May).

Mr David Cameron (Con) spent much of his time avoiding the truth whilst making merry at the expense of Labours Scottish woes.

This is of prime importance to the nature of how we are governed in the future – ignoring the total collapse of the Conservative vote, and the losses suffered by his junior partners in Scotland, it seems that as far as he is concerned, the Union between England and Scotland is of minimal importance at best, unless he can use it to embarrass Labour.

Is it not time for The Conservative and Unionist Party to change its name to something snappier? How about UK-RIP???

Cheap Shots…

Ok, so the last post was a cheap shot, but there is a serious point here. The Devolution of government to Scotland and Wales has, by and large, been a success. Scotland’s electoral system, the Alternative Member System, also works. One of the biggest failures of New Labour in power was neglecting the logical conclusion – that England’s regions should also have similar powers, and that the power of Westminster should be scaled down. 

The latest election campaign has highlighted a number of problems for Scottish Labour – it seems fixated on Westminster, and its highest profile figures are unwilling to work through the Assembly. The SNP, although not particularly attractive to many, at least have a great figurehead in Alex Salmond, and have been able to play to this strength. The machine nature of Scottish Labour, and its often public feuds over the years have meant that no leader has emerged to rival the late lamented Donald Dewar.

Should Labour continue in this vein, then we face a major problem when it comes to the next general election. That is supposing that Scotland is still part of the UK.

Yet the SNP have their own worries here. Should a Referendum be held, it is by no means certain that the result will go in favour of Independence. And do they really want to win it? Economically, it would be a huge problem for them, especially since Alex Salmond’s only alternative economic policy  crashed and burned with Iceland… 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: