What Do You Think Today?

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What Do You Think Today?

Post by peter »

Power corrupts. Or so they say. And there are few more powerful people in the world than a British Prime Minister with a sound majority in the House of Commons.

So can you imagine the scale of damage that can be done if the person that achieves such power is already corrupt upon arriving there?

But of course you don't have to because we all saw what happened when Boris Johnson (who everybody and his mother knew exactly what he was - Michael Gove had even spelled it out for us) got there.

And this is what worries me about Kier Stamer.

He'll be there, having lied through his teeth at every turn in his political career, and most probably in his career as a lawyer before that, but in large part the UK public seem pretty unaware of it. Though in fairness it's possible that they have some gut sense about the man, because he almost inexplicably never gets popularity ratings himself that would seem consistent with those that the Labour Party as a whole currently enjoy. The public seems to sense some underlying wrong about the man. Because the blunt truth is that we know nothing about what he stands for, despite the fact that he has been campaigning before the public for six weeks and has led the Labour Party for four years.

And it can be assumed that on achieving office, when he has at his disposal this great power, including that of the full state machinery with its propoganda capabilities and behavioral modification units, he will use it to the full. With quite possibly 12 or 16 years of unrestricted freedom to do with the country exactly as he chooses, no-one has the slightest idea of what he will do. We can be sure that unlike Boris Johnson he will not simply waste his time in office. He won't spaff his power up against the wall with indulgence in indolence and excess living. He'll rather consolidate his power, make the necessary changes to secure his position, and if Rishi Sunak is to be believed (and for once he just might be), will prepare the ground for his holding power for a lot longer than our election system would normally allow for.

And if it happens, then it is only ourselves that we will have to blame.

Because it is we who have allowed this state of affairs to develop. The state of affairs where truth has been jettisoned the yardstick against which our politicians are judged, via the medium of our journalists and the media they represent. We've allowed the fucus group and the propoganda mill to replace the simple requirement of telling the truth, swopped manipulative soundbites for persuasion via reasoned debate. And without truth, without reasoned debate, our system simply ceases to function. It is as nothing, a pointless exercise, and we are prey to whatever predatory forces are able to scramble up the greasy pole to the apex position.

So when the bad shit starts to happen - and it will - remember this post and reflect on where our political indifference, our failure to attend to the quality of our political class, has brought us.

For my own part, I'm going to keep voting, but am sorely tempted not to. Because I see now that the system (including in the broader sense of the word) is geared such that no meaningful change can be achieved via the ballot box. Not while first past the post and the UniParty duopoly persists (for as Farage rightly said yesterday on a YouTube post, what we are getting with Labour (or what the establishment at least thinks it is getting with Labour) is but a change of management, not in any sense a change of fundamental structure that would put power back in the hands of the people (if it was ever there in the first place). [God, my parentheses went all to hell there, but I hope you get my meaning.]

So yes, I've decided that I will vote, but will never vote for an 'establishment' party again. Not until the establishment realigns itself with the interest of the people. It'll be the Greens or possibly the Lib-Dems that I go for (certainly not Reform) - they represent the kind of social democracy that I'd like to get back to (mixed economies with public ownership of essential utilities and a strong private sector underpinning a safety net of public services - a post war consensus style of government).

But, but, but.....

Here's the rub. In doing so I support the very rotten establishment system that I would see brought down. Because they rely entirely upon the legitimacy that our votes give them, in order to perpetrate the scams they pull over upon us. Because that, when the chips are down, is always going to be the default argument. You voted for us. You gave us the power. (No matter that the system was rigged so that no power was truly ever ours to give.) But the fewer people vote, the less this argument works. On a 60 percent turnout with the winning party only taking say 35 percent of that, then only 21 percent of the people have voted for the government that results. That's not much of a mandate to do anything too extreme - say take us into war or whatever. Thus it is that the system requires that we get out and vote. It has no fear of loosing control: it knows that the rigging is such that it remains with its hands on the reins, whichever of the duopoly wins (because it provides the wherewithal to achieve that win). It has no worries on that score. It is the mandate or lack thereof that is important. And for this to work, for the scam to be perpetuated, it needs us out and voting.

So why do I do it?

I suppose it's because the right to vote, of universal suffrage, was so hard won, was denied us so long, that it is hardwired into me - us - to do so. But at least by not voting for the duopoly, I'm not supporting that particular aspect of it. And imagine if a number of parties all got a significant vote share giving a broad balance of MPs of different parties (and independents) in the House. And they had, between them, to form a government. How much of a restraint of the worst of our system would that give. A situation muchly to be desired, I'd say. So yes, I'll vote - but only for a party that supports PR, and not for one that is hog-tied by reliance upon corporate sponsorship and donations. I like my politicians unbought, thank you very much.
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Post by peter »

Amid the furore about Nigel Farage's Ukraine war comments and the behaviour of his candidates/campaigners in Reform, one thing that seems to have gone unnoticed is the smooth way media attention has slipped away from coverage of the Conservative gambling scandal and onto this more profitable (for them) area of attention.

"Phew," Rishi Sunak must be thinking. I bet he could have kissed Nigel Farage when that bloke (plant or otherwise) made those racist comments, despite his no doubt genuine disgust at the comments themselves. It's an ill wind that blows no good, as they say.

The one thing that the media don't seem to get however, is that none of the people who are going to vote Reform are in the slightest bit put off by such offensive views, not least because they share them. Half of them never read a newspaper or watch a television news program anyway. Not of the legacy media anyway. They are more influenced by what they see online, in GB News, Farage's postings and other right wing offerings from the likes of Tommy Robinson etc. And even if they did it wouldn't make any difference to them. So much of the effort put into undermining the Farage project is wasted anyway.

Meanwhile in Europe the march of the far right seems to be going on apace. There's a kind of odd irony (no doubt not lost on Farage himself) that we were the country that chose to leave the EU in what was seen as an outward expression of the right - a 'take back control' thing, with all its attendant nonsense ("Get them foreigners out of here," and all that - only to find ourselves the 'sensible ones' who have isolated ourselves from the very movements that Farage and his ilk would so categorically approved of. Suddenly he'd have found himself entirely at home within the political movements arising in the turbulent mess of European politics. Who knew?

But let's have a look at the morning's offerings.

(One observation I'd make before I do so is that much of the sort of desperation we see in Sunak's face these days, whenever he appears before a camera, must be to do with his thoughts on his political legacy. Not much fun being trounced big time in an election - another thing altogether, going down in history as the last leader ever, of the British Conservative Party. The Party that ruled strong for the better part of 200 years. Now that's a political legacy that would stick. And the connotations of it would not be good (akin to an Eden or somebody, remembered for only one bad thing).)

But onwards.......

(And incidentally, the overnight success of Marine Le Pen's far right National Rally in France is likely to bolster the vote for Reform in the UK, as voters leaning in that direction think, "Yeah, that's sticking it to them; we'll have some of that!")

The Times leads with how Sunak is going to be pouring scorn on Farage's ambitions to 'form the next opposition', saying a vote for them is essentially the same as a vote for Labour. He seems to have totally given up on the idea of actually winning the election. (Which in itself helps to make the loss a self fulfilling prophesy of sorts: you need to project at least a degree of confidence in these things or you might as well forget it. He seems to have forgotten this, and the Conservatives won't forgive him for it.)

But probably the most serious headline is in the 'i', who tell us of the increasing numbers of economists who are nervous that neither the Conservatives nor Labour have anything like an idea about how to actually grow the economy (despite their claims to the contrary) and avoid the clear cuts into public services that are going to occur if they stick to their policies of reducing taxes rather than raising them. Neither seems to have the slightest idea as to how to increase the shockingly bad inward investment figures - inward investment without which no reasonable expectation of future growth can be prophesied.

Sunak will tell us that Putin is hoping for a Labour victory, says the Telegraph, who only yesterday I believe were suggesting that Putin was interfering by trying to promote Reform voting by YouTube and Facebook interventions etc. (Mind you, wasn't it the Telegraph who said on one day that Corbyn was putting the world in danger by his desire to see us get rid of our nuclear deterrent, and the following day said that he was doing the same because he had said that he wasn't prepared to push the nuclear button under any circumstances. Mmm....) Stamer for his part is going on a building spree. He's going to build millions of houses, he'll tell us. Millions of 'em! So many we won't know what to do with them - which is probably true because none of the first time buyers that they are meant to be for will be able to afford them anyway. They'll probably finish up being snapped up by the richest part of our society, desperate to find somewhere to stick all of the case that has been flooding up into their accounts in the past few years as the rest of us have been getting poorer. C'est la vie.

And lastly, I missed my local Labour candidate's visit to my house on Saturday. It's a shame, because I'd have had one question I'd like to have put to her. It's one that causes me trepidation to think about. What exactly will Kier Stamer's Britain look like in 16 years time: what will be the feel of it? I have my doubts. Oh Lord, I have such doubts. And they center around one word. Authoritarianism.
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Post by peter »

Interesting.

Stamer says today in the Times, quite openly, "If we get the opportunity we will govern as we have changed Labour....."

He goes on about taking the country from the poor place it is in to the place where, after 5 years, people feel materially better off, but I'm more interested in that first bit. Because in many ways, it's actually a warning. It's saying, "I'm not going to tolerate dissent when I achieve power: mine will be the steel fist in the velvet glove."

Because in changing Labour, Stamer did exactly what he's doing in order to achieve power now. He first took power within the party by saying exactly what the membership wanted to hear. (This is the bit we're now getting.) He was going to be the socialist Corbyn continuation candidate - he revered his former boss and would carry on his great work. Then having won the leadership of Labour, he performed an about face, abandoning the traditional left wing policies of his former boss, taking up instead the mantle of Tony Blair's New Labour (which he new he had to do in order to get the establishment onside, a prerequisite for any would-be leader in the UK) and then ruthlessly excised any dissenting elements from the party, starting with the ex leadership (and leader) himself and then any others who raised complaint about the change of direction he had taken. He finished up by controlling the candidate selection process, such that any from the left were squeezed out, and only those who could be guaranteed to support him in office were put forward onto the candidate lists. In this way, he stamped his authority onto the party in a way that his predecessor would never have dreaded of. Perhaps that makes him the better leader, but applied to the country at large - and this is what Stamer's words of this morning tell us explicitly that he intends to do - it should give us all pause for thought.

I'm no fan of historian David Starkey - he's a right wing bigot with a high opinion of himself - but interestingly in a recent post on YouTube he has come to essentially the same view of Stamer as I have. (And I point out, my position on the man has developed slowly over the years of watching him work; it's not simply a regurgitation of opinion that I've heard voiced on alternative media sites.) He makes an interesting observation from Stamer's background that I think worthy of repeating.

Stamer is a grammar school boy, of indifference in terms of his educational achievements (2 B's and a C at A Level, followed by Leeds University), yet here he is at the apex of the Labour Party, against the competition of much more intellectual (and no doubt intelligent) competitors, that would also have had the position. How, asked Starkey, has he done it? The answer, he suggested, was that he couples two things to a very high degree. First his ambition, honed to an almost pathological degree (and commented upon by people who attended school with him, when interviewed as with regards to his character). And secondly his dogged perseverance. He, as Starkey put it, is a plodder.

And a rather mean spirited one at that.

I watched the interview with Stamer when he rounded on the studio audience with anger, when they laughed at his (for the umpteenth time) telling us that his father was a tool-maker. "It's not a laughing matter," he snapped. "He was a genuine hard working man doing the very best he could for his family."

Now this was not what the audience were laughing at at all. They were laughing at Stamer - and in a good humoured, not nasty, way - on the basis of hearing the line that already the commentators were saying that you were bound to hear, if you went to watch Stamer speak.

But he chose to interpret their laughter differently. He made out that they were laughing at his father, his trade perhaps. Starkey thought this misreading was a sign of Stamer's inability to read the crowd, his slightly sub-par intelligence. I disagree. I think he knew exactly what they were laughing at....him.....and he was angered by it. But I take Starkey's point. At the top, he'll be a petty, vindictive, policeman Plod style character, intolerant of any dissenting voice raised against him. And it won't stop with those closely surrounding him. Neither will it be made better by the presence of his Chief of Staff next to him.

Sue Gray you may remember from the Boris Johnson partygate report fame, a civil servant of great power within the corridors of Westminster, her job was to police ethics and behaviour within Parliament, and report to the government. Oliver Letwin, a minister in the Cameron administration had said that nothing happened in Westminster that she didn't know about and nothing was passed as okay until her eye had run over it. She was an unelected mandarin who virtually ran the government. And she is now Stamer's Chief of Staff.

And so there you have it, said Starkey. A not terribly intelligent (possibly) and certainly vindictive plodder, and a policewoman. In charge with almost unlimited power for a decade plus to come.

As I say, it was a different route to come to essentially the same conclusion that I had formed via my own observations. I think we could be in trouble with this one.

Enough said.

I just want to conclude by saying that watching Sunak on the 6 'o'clock News last night, I was almost sorry for him. Even the interviewer, who had just watched him give a talk to some factory workers, said that he sounded like a man who had given up hope. I'd thought exactly the same. It wasn't even in the sound of his voice, or what he was saying really. There was just something....broken.....about him. He did the best in interview to deny this; he was brim full of enthusiasm, he told the BBC reporter, but it didn't ring true. Something in his face, his manner, told you he knew it was all over, and that he just wanted it to end.

And my god, he's not alone there. After six gruelling weeks, I'm fed up to the back teeth with it. Like Sunak, for me it can't end soon enough.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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Post by peter »

James O'Brien was asking today, why has the Conservative campaign been so appalling.

It's a good question: we know why Sunak's campaign has been terrible - he hasn't wanted to be doing it from day one. But the entire Conservative campaign is a different matter. It's been one hash up after another. No fire or enthusiasm and an almost killing acceptance that it's been lost from the outset.

In fact, I'd go further.

I don't think we've really had an election campaign at all. It's been taken as read that the election was Labour's to loose from the beginning, and despite a few policies thrown out in desperation by the Tories at the start, it's been essentially a series of set pieces from then on in.

Policies, followed by the Farage 'will he or won't he' show. Then Stamer dropped a bollock over what - a candidate he suspended or his support of Israel or something, then gamblegate, then Farage's candidate gate, and on it's gone. There's been a few manifesto pledges here and there, Stamer has essentially said nothing about what his intentions are and Sunak has concentrated on warnings about the implications of voting Reform and a Labour supermajority.

It's all been bullshit really and it's done the electorate no favours at all. We've a duty to be told what we are voting for, and the winners (all bar the counting) have declined to do this.

As I say, no campaign, just theatre: and pretty bad theatre at that.

But it still begs the question as to why the Tory campaign has been so bad. We know why Labour isn't saying anything - it doesn't have to, and in fact to do so would be to take an unnecessary risk (despite its being the morally right thing to do).

But the Tories? It beats me. Any ideas, answers on a post card to......
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Post by peter »

Late in the day Boris Johnson has made a suprise appearance introducing Rishi Sunak at a last minute rally for the Conservative Party.

Coming home to gloat as much as anything I'd imagine, Johnson has never forgiven Sunak for being the one who started the exodus of MPs that finally brought him down, following partygate and the Chris Pincher affair.

He's essentially sat out this campaign, piping up from the sidelines now and again, but never throwing himself into the affray as a commited Conservative could be expected to do. But he knows Sunak is finished and he also knows that there is no solid core of support around any particular candidate to replace him. Which sets me to wondering whether he's looking at the situation and thinking, "Maybe, just maybe.....?"

Because Johnson is nothing if not a hogger of the limelight. He loves to be front stage and centre of anything that is going down. I wonder if he isn't finding the endless rounds of holidays and speaking engagements just a bit too ....mundane.....for his taste. Besides, he must be looking back and feeling that it was a pretty raw deal he got as Prime Minister, having just gor Brexit over the line and preparing himself for four years of fun as top dog, when along comes the pandemic and screws it all up.

He never got to go on the tours, go jollying around the world being feted by other leaders. Rather he was almost immediately locked down in Downing Street, dealing with (they said) the "worst crisis since the Second World War", and getting fuck all for his pains to secure the British public the Brexit they had voted for. And no sooner was it over than that punk Sunak -- the little nobody that he'd raised up from nothing to one of the plum jobs in the land - had stabbed him in the back and seen him out of the job.

But now that Sunak has got his comeuppance, one wonders if Johnson doesn't look back and wonder if it mightn't not be too late? If perhaps he could get back and enjoy some of that time at the top (hell - even leader of the opposition is a pretty plum number.....ne real work to do, no responsibility for anything that goes wrong - just criticising from the sidelines), get in front of the cameras again?

Perhaps he's timed his intervention to not save Sunak, but to save the Conservative Party for another day? He'd probably like to see Sunak fail, and fail miserably; bit not to the point where the Conservative Party dies. After all, where would he go if that happened? Reform? Not likely! Farage is all but growing a little moustache and practicing his salute these days (if the media is to be believed) and joining up with him is a no-no. No - the Tories must survive to fight another day. So turn up - but just late enough to remind enough people that he's still around, still there as a possibility for the future. And rubbing that snakey little turncoat's face in his failure in the green room will be fun as well.

Why not!

The phrase 'a dog returning to its vomit' springs to mind.
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Post by Avatar »

Ave Bossa nova, similis bossa seneca!

Tomorrow is the day and all, not that I think there's any real doubt about the almost entirely inevitable outcome... :D

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Post by peter »

I don't know Av. I'm not convinced that these polls are as reliable as they seem. There's simply too many undecideds that they don't account for, and our system is so ridiculously unbalanced that literally a few thousand votes in the right places can swing the entire result hugely in one direction or another.

The evaporation of the seeming advantage of Johnson's 80 seat majority is testament to the fact of how precarious his win actually was. Similarly, you repeatedly hear how badly Corbyn did in 20219, but the truth was that he was only a whisker behind the Tories in hundreds of seats. The Labour vore share was higher than it has ever been, but 'first past the post' takes no account of this. In 2015 UKIP got 12 percent of the vote, but only 1 seat in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party on 36 percent got 331. Again, looking at 2019, a difference of around 10 percent in the vote share (in the Conservative Party favour) saw them achieve a 160 seat advantage over that won by Labour (363 compared to 203).

The effects of small voter swings in key marginal seats is hugely disproportionate to the numbers involved. This makes accurate prediction near on impossible. Labour could indeed win this huge majority as predicted - but they could equally scrape in by the skin of their teeth with only a small one (my hope) or even find themselves having to cobble up a coalition with the Lib-Dems to form a government.

One thing that is paramount to understand is that the British system functions best with a government with a small majority and a strong opposition ranged against them. This arrangement produces the best legislation for the British people - or certainly seems to. My personal belief is that the 'overlap' of policy agreement between the two main parties has become too large. The spread of opinion is in turn narrowed as the overlap of the two sets (as it were) increases. It doesn't make for great opposition, but in our current situation it seems that it is as good as we could get.

The British electorate is in a strange place at the moment. It's become somewhat unhinged as a result of the Brexit referendum followed by the battering it recieved both before that and then during the long period of the withdrawal period. The 2019 result was reflective of this and now you have these huge effects from the pandemic fallout and Brexit consequences to boot. People are increasingly apathetic and angry in equal measure. They have lost faith in our political system in huge numbers and thus the regular voting patterns of old no longer apply. The collapsed red-wall votes that won Johnson his majority are cut adrift: they feel that they have been sold a pup. The immigration figures that they voted Brexit and Conservative in the main (or Brexit and Boris would be a better description of their thinking) to deal with, are worse than ever, and their lives are palpably worse. The key Tory supporting areas of the South are seeing a shift against them as voters hemorrhage to Reform. Voters there are disgusted that the Tories could have made such a dogs-ear of things. Lizzy Truss for God's sake! She nearly brought the world economy into collapse. Tories are not supposed to do this. They are the party of economic stability. So these Conservative voters are also cut adrift and totally unpredictable as to what they will do. Anyone who can take all these things and make an accurate prediction out of them is not a pollster, he's a fucking magician!

And going back to a point above, here's another thing.

In years gone by (and I'm old enough to remember them), we've had periods of recession, of downturn, and similarly we've had periods when things have been going well. But for the average joe in the street, it hasn't made a huge degree of difference. The highstreets have always had their shops, with people milling about in them. Food has always been available in the supermarkets, although some has been more affordable and other items less so. But in the main life has felt the same.

But over these past fourteen years, things have for the first time begun to feel palpably worse. And you can see our declining our highstreets, our utilities, our public services. Nearly every citizen has to interact with these services for some purpose or another, even if say, only to apply for a passport or a driving licence. But everything is screwed. And you just can't hide this level of collapse from people indefinitely. It bleeds out into the public consciousness. The food banks, the rough sleepers, the deterioration of roads and sewage systems, of public buildings and town centers. The decline is now visible and touchable in a way that it never was before. People know that their living standards are falling. They never really saw this en masse before - only the unfortunates who lost their jobs or suffered mishap or illness or something experienced it. Now it's everyone. And this also will have its destabilising effect on the regular voting patterns.

So no. I'm not in any way sure that this election is a done deal for Labour (at least in terms of their majority - I do think they're certain to win). I think it could hold suprises yet,up its sleeve. And what follows these is anyone's guess.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

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Post by peter »

Well it was a done deal (see above).

As I post (with about 43 seats left to call) Labour are enjoying a 71 seat majority and will be later this morning going to see the King to tell him they can form a government. He will then be asked to do so and then Bob's your uncle, it's in the bag.

Sunak will no doubt resign the leadership of the Tories (California awaits and I expect his tickets are already booked), my pleasure from the night (besides seeing the back of the Tories) was to see the Liberal Democrats win a (stonking for them) 68 seats. This puts them seriously into the running as a political force in this country, and will demand that they seriously start getting their act together. Just think how well they could have done with a proper leader in place rather than the tarnished Ed Davey with his Cameron coalition history.

Farage has at last secured his seat in the Commons, but I'm not sure whether Reform has actually won any others. They have won a significant percentage of the vote however, but I haven't got the figures in front of me as yet.

Jacob Rees Mogg - he of the louche lazing about on the Conservative front bench that time - has found his seat tipped up, and himself ceremoniously dumped onto the floor. Penny Mordaunt has also lost hers, which will not please her because it effectively puts her out of the race for the soon to be vacant Conservative Party leadership.

In a magnificent bit of news - and a serious jab in the eye for Stamer - Jeremy Corbyn has won his Islington North seat as an independent. I'm hoping that Faiza Shaheen will also be elected to her seat, because these rwo together could form a real nucleus of independent attraction for putting the alternative case forward in the House.

I'm just going over to check for any more news and like Arnold Schwarenegger (or however it's spelled) "I'll be back!"

Well - Faiza Shaheen alas, didn't make it, but (again alas) the obnoxious Suella Braverman did. She's made a speech already, apologising for the failure of the Conservative Party to "listen to you" (in other words her) and their not lurching to the right as she of course wanted.

Reform have secured four seats, one of which goes to 30P Lee, the outspoken baboon of ex Tory, ex Labour, ex just about anything you like, fame, and it'll be interesting to see how he gets along with Farage now they actually have to work together. He's an abrasive fellow at the best of times and Farage won't like any light being stolen from his spot. Expect high-jinks there.

So where does it leave the Conservative Party? Are they face down in the water, or still hanging on by their finger nails as the King's Opposition? With a loss of 250ish seats, it isn't a good look. They've got around 117 seats to Labour's 410 (with a dozen or so left to declare. This might I believe, be the worst result they've ever had, but it's probably not the game over result that many had feared. But it's close. If the money pours away from them (and it will) it's going to be difficult for them to raise a serious challenge at the next election in four years time. (Or is it five now, I forget.) Also, what will the repercussions of this defeat be in terms of the rump that remains? The Party has two choices going forward. Take the Braverman road to the right - or try to regain centre ground from the Labour Party. The latter is going to be really difficult given the Labour Party majority;it holds this area now in a grip of steel. But can the Party stand a shift to the right? Won't too many of the remaining center ground Tory MPs just see that there is no future for them in a right wing Conservative Party and simply flee to Labour where at least they have a chance of a political career ahead of them. So do the Conservatives split, or just shed MPs to Labour. Or do they just continue in opposition, as they have done in government - fighting like cats in a sack? Surely that is a road that leads nowhere?

So these are the big stories for the days ahead. What do the Conservative Party do now? Do they survive (I'd guess yes - they're adept at reinventing themselves, but the question is how do they do it)?

But over all of this must be the biggest question of all.

The British public has spoken (the bastards, as one failed American Presidential hopeful put it), and given Kier Stamer an 80 plus majority (not as big as some polls predicted however). The question is now, what is he going to do with it.

Because frankly, I haven't got a clue.
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Post by peter »

Okay. Let's just put some flesh on the bones of it. (See above for a more general assessment.)

Labour have got 410 seats - a majority of 84 seats. The Tories are on 119 seats. The Lib-dems come in third with 71 seats, and Reform won in 4 constituencies giving them (you guessed it) 4 seats.

The turnout was 60 percent - a drop of 8 percent compared with 2019.

Now let's look at the vote share (ie the percentage of the national vote that each of the above won).

Labour got 35 percent - only 1 percent higher than that of 2019, the defeat cited as Corbyn's "disastrous" 2019 result.

The Conservatives won 24 percent of the vote which translated into 119 seats and Reform got 15 percent of the national vote, which won them 4. In a system of proportional representation this would have netted them around (what?) 100 seats.

The Liberal Democrat vote share was even lower than that of Reform, coming in at 13 percent. For this relatively small percentage, they however did much better in terms of seats won, getting 71 seats in the House. This is because the concentration of their votes was much tighter (ie collected into a much smaller spread of constituencies) than Reform's, whose distribution was much more widespread across the country. The effects of this spread and our first past the post system, is such as to deny them the representation that they might expect in parliament, were a more equitable system in employ.

Lots of people will feel badly let down by our voting system, and seriously unrepresented in the House of Commons over the years to come. They needn't worry too much. Nigel Farage and Lee Anderson between them, will make as much noise as any twenty or thirty MPs of any other party.

I think that the drop in turnout is reflective of people's by-and-large disillusionment with our politicians and governance, although the 2019 turnout was possibly much higher than normal because of the Brexit element to that particular election. I'm a fan of PR, the fact that Reform would have many more seats as a result notwithstanding. I think it's important that parliament reflects broadly what the electorate thinks, and if it makes for difficult conditions under which to get legislation passed then so much the better. We have too many laws as it is and if the result of PR was to winnow it down so that only the best legislation was passed then hey, what's not to like?
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Post by peter »

Let's make no bones about it - it was the effect of Reform splitting the Conservative vote that has determined to large extent, the outcome of this general election.

In hundreds of seats, the Conservative vote has been lessened, to the point where the second party, be it Labour or Lib-Dem, has sqeezed in, where they might otherwise have not.

This should make both Kier Stamer and Ed Davey uncomfortable, because it bodes ill for the future if Farage gets his way.

Take the Lib-Dems first. They have won 71 or 72 seats certainly - but they've used up all their powder in one shot. Their wins have all been in seats where their vote share is concentrated. In the remaining seats (chiefly in the North and South, the West being the Lib-Dem 'strongholds', if you can call it that) they have little support to build upon for 2029.

The Labour now face, on the other hand, the same dilemma that the Tories did - and have now fallen on - in 2019. A large number of their seats are held by the smallest of majorities. When the disillusionment sets in with their governance (and it will) these majorities will evaporate with startling rapidity. They will be lucky, with an electorate as volatile as that which the UK voting public has become, to hold it for a second term, let alone a third.

Make no mistake, Farage has brought the Tory Party down. Given the chance, he will do the same to Labour. He said exactly this yesterday. It remains to be seen whether the Conservative Party can survive this. They won enough seats to do so - just about - but only if they make all of the right moves, pull all of the right rabbits out of the hat, and the signs are, at this moment, that they still don't get it.

I'm going to enter tricky ground here, but there seems to be a disconnect between the parliamentary Conservative Party and their membership and voting base. The latter has always been divided into two parts, the affluent middle and upper classes and the stubborn part of the working class that has almost inexplicably voted Tory (that's an enigma that many have written about over the years, and it's a question that has never really been answered, why it should be so). And I'm afraid that most certainly racism still plays its part in the thinking of all of these elements. We saw it in their refusal of the membership to vote for Rishi Sunak as their leader. And I'm sorry, but we saw it again in the desertion of many voters to Reform in this election. They simply haven't voted for Brexit, to reduce immigration and whatnot, in order to see this country led by a person who does not have white skin.

And yet in the media yesterday the Conservative Party hopefuls were wheeled out one after the other and......need I say more. It's unpalatable, it's to our shame as a nation - but let's just be honest, we're essentially still a pretty racist lot. The media might pretend otherwise. Our parliaments might pretend otherwise. Our establishment might pretend otherwise. But put it out in the arena where our dirty washing hangs in public, and out the truth comes. The idea that the average Conservative voter is going to swing behind Kemi Badenoch or James Cleverly is for the birds. It's handing Nigel Farage an open goal. 83 percent of the UK public is white and a goodly proportion of them, while not overtly racist, are simply happier seeing a white face in the leadership position. (A goodly proportion of them are simply bloody racist point blank as well.)

This is stuff you aren't going to read in the media, hear on the television, but it needs to be acknowledged nevertheless because it is skewing our politics and driving the country into the arms of the right. And if the centre ground parliamentary Conservative Party don't understand this and (I'm sorry) elect a leader that their voters will support, then it's game over for them. And it's grist to the Farage right wing project.

And he will be, contrary to what the media has had to say yesterday, perfectly happy with the Reform performance of yesterday. He's in Parliament. He's got four of his colleagues (three well known figures) around him. He's going to make a noise and he knows it. In a very short period of existence his party has secured fifteen percent of the UK vote share. 4, nearly 5 million votes. He's running third to Labour and the Conservatives, and rapidly catching up with the Tories on this score. And his voter base is spread, unlike the liberal democrats, across hundreds of seats. He has a message that resonates with the public - call it populist, but it resonates - and he's happy to watch the Conservatives self-immoliolate by virtue of not understanding their own voter base.

Your man's like a nasty little pig in clover. He has every reason to look smug and happy. It was the Conservative's vindictive freezing of him out of the picture following the Brexit referendum win that has caused this. They should have recognised his contribution towards getting them what they (well - half of them) wanted, and brought him into the Party. Their failure to do so has now bitten them on the arse.

Farage is turning into the political man of our time. He has sat in the EU parliament and brought about a revolution in that place (insofar as being the instigator of the first ever country to leave it). Now he is turning his attention to Westminster.
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Post by peter »

I think my main problem with Stamer is that to me his behaviour has lacked honour.

Corbyn was the man who raised him to a place from whence his rise could be launched. He, like a faithful acolyte, stood smiling by his leader, expounding his virtues and in agreement with his position on everything - and then upon his falling from fortune, not only did a one hundred percent volta face on all that he had previously espoused (bad enough because this was done out of pure ambition and for no other reason than to position himself in a place where the establishment would allow him to be successful in a future Prime Ministerial bid - no conviction or belief in any one thing over any other, just naked ambition), but then proceeded to eviscerate the career of one of the most honourable politicians who had entered Westminster in modern times (Corbyn himself) - the very man who had raised him - to yet further his own political career. To capitalise on the establishment hatred of his former master.

I mean where is the spirit of the 47 Ronin in that!

Maybe that's just how politics is done - I don't know. But it was so brutal, so self-serving, so without honour....... And Stamer did it without so much as a blush, without breaking stride.

How could I ever respect such a man?
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Post by peter »

First thing.

The BBC says front and center on its website this morning, that Kier Stamer said that there are too many people in prison in the UK in his first news conference as PM yesterday.

He didn't. I watched it on television.

On the contrary, he studiously avoided answering the question, posed by journalists twice at the gathering - phrased in terms of asking whether he agreed with a comment to that effect made earlier by his newly appointed prisons minister.

In fact his avoidance in answering was noted by a BBC news commentator, commenting on the session (for it was on that channel that I watched the news conference), immediately following the event. Which makes it all the more notable that the BBC should this morning be saying exactly the opposite, on its online news website.

Given my post above, I suppose I shouldn't complain that Stamer is receiving a dose of his own medicine, but I wonder how we the public are supposed to be able to make proper judgements about what is going on in our world if even such simple facts as this can be distorted away from a true description of what goes down. It essentially means that unless you actually see with your own eyes, whatever it is that is being commentated upon, you can never know if what you are taking on board is true or not. This is a dangerous situation to say the least.

Or perhaps they really don't care. Perhaps we are now so divorced from any place where anything we think as the general public, is of any consequence to those who rule us, that it no longer matters. It's just going through the motions and the presentation of news is no more than a manipulation device for positioning us in whatever place that the movers and shakers want us to be in, such that we are ready and primed to do whatever it is they want of us at some point in the future?

Perhaps the job of taking Stamer down in four/five years time has to be begun immediately, and spinning the news in pursuit of that outcome has to begin (they think) at once? How else are we to see this. Or perhaps "Stamer thinks there are too many people in prison" simply reads better than "Stamer avoids answering question as to whether he agrees with his minister that there are too many people in prison"? Perhaps it really is just about the clicks and no more. Because it matters not two hoots whether the public knows the truth or not. Because it isn't them who is going to be making the decisions, either now or in the future, and this despite what the charade of democracy as is presented to us, as in the last few weeks, might make some of us think?

We are in a bad place my friends, there is no avoiding it. We are in a bad place. A Prime Minister that cannot be trusted, in charge of a government that it will turn out, cannot be trusted, and being informed about this by a media that cannot be trusted.

Pick the bones out of that.

(Edit: There are simply too many hidden forces and powers at work in this country that we cannot understand, and reliable reportage is the only tool we have for doing so. Without it we are screwed,.)

-----0------

I'm confused.

The number of seats required for a majority in the House of Commons is 326, Stamer has 411 seats, which means that the total held by other parties is 650 - 411 = 239.

411 - 239 = a majority of 172.

Ahhh... now I see. I'd been thinking that his majority would be the number of seats he had above the 326 figure. Of course it isn't that at all. Silly me.
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Post by peter »

Let's just look at this Labour victory, this 'loveless landslide' as it is being dubbed, and consider it in terms of the mandate it gives them.

Remember, if you will, that a UK prime minister holding a decent parliamentary majority has almost limitless power to do as he or she pleases. There are no constitutional blocks to whatever area of life might be legislated into, no statutory limits to the level of invasion that might be contemplated. Even taking the country to war or committing troops to fight in places far from our own shores is within their purview. And Kier Stamer holds that majority in spades. 172 of them.

On Thursday, sixty percent of those eligible to vote turned out to do so. This is I believe the lowest even turn out - quick check - no, 59.4 percent 2001 was fractionally lower, but this is close. It is a continuation of a trend that has, with the exception of the Brexit referendum, been seen since the Blair period, and although this is a particularly low figure, it is not wildly so in comparison with more recent elections. Prior to the Blair years, turnouts from the 1920's onwards were fairly stable around the upper seventies with a high of 83.9 in 1950.

But to return to the Stamer victory.of the sixty percent of votes cast, Labour took one third of them, for which under the first past the post system, they secured two thirds of the seats.

Let's flesh this out. For every ten voters, six of them voted and one third - that is just two people - voted for the party that now holds almost limitless power. If they take this country to war, to choose a particularly relevant example given the number of times in recent months we have been told we are in a 'pre war' period, then only two in ten voters will have voted for them and of those who did vote, two thirds will have voted against.

A mandate this might be, but it surely is of the loosest kind, hardly worthy of the name. And just let me see if I can find a breakdown of how the House of Commons would look today, had seats been allocated on a proportional basis.

Here we go - I'll give the seat allocation figures for each major party in order of the revised figures, with the actual number of seats won under first past the post in brackets, and the advantage/disadvantage that fptp gave them following this.

Labour 236 (411) +175
Conservative 157 (121) -36
Reform 94 (5) - 89
Lib-Dems 77 (71) -6
Green 42 (4) -38
SNP 18 (9) -9
(Plaid Cymru and Northern Ireland, no change)
Other including speaker, 4 (2) +2

I'm surely not going out on a limb to say that the look of the House under a PR result would not just be totally different, but would be balanced in a way that would demand cooperation between our parties, rather than the antagonistic see-sawing for advantage that inflicts so much damage, but yields so little in terms of positive results for the people.

Just my opinion.
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Post by peter »

Labour are pragmatically recognising the cost their stance of unconditional support of Israel (in terms of lost votes at the election), and quietly dropping their intention to block the issuing of arrest warrants by the ICC, for Netenyahu and others involved in the Gaza crisis.

They will be rattled by the figures that this election has thrown up; Stamer himself saw his large majority halved in his own seat (for reasons not exclusively Gaza related) and the number of votes Labour received, their big majority not withstanding, was less than Corbyn got in 2019, and hugely less than he received in 2017.

They might be in power, but they are not popular and they know it. Now in a visible recognition of this, they will begin to row back on one of the major causes of their unpopularity (and more importantly to them, vote loss) - their stance on Gaza. No sudden Damascene conversion to an understanding of what is still being done on a daily basis to the Palestinians - just a cynical reversal of position (the first of many we are going to see in the months and years to come) for their own electoral benefit.

But they have to be careful. The Israel lobby is powerful in the UK - all new MPs will no doubt be offered the customary freebie trip to Jerusalem in the forthcoming weeks.... a jolly intended to get them onside for whatever support might be needed from them in the oncoming years - and they will be offended only at great peril by the new incoming administration. (Aside: It's notable how the same media who are outraged that Muslims should withdraw their support for Labour over their stance on Gaza, were perfectly understanding when Jews did the same over Corbyn's supposed (at the time, now discredited) antisemitism.)

But the game goes on, and it's all change as commentators on various partisan channels on the Internet are sudden found to be full of sweetness and light for the new administration, where they were previously spitting bile and venom towards the old one. (Me, at least I'm consistent - I hate the fucking lot of them! ;) ) Where I wonder, will all that anger of James O'brien be funnelled now? Or will he spend the next four years sniffing the ordure produced by Labour and claiming to smell the best perfume since Chanel started counting. That's going to make for great radio isn't it James? Got our eye on an advisors position in the Stamer office have we?

What else have we got? Housebuilding, housebuilding, housebuilding! Rachel Reeves is going to get out there, roll up her sleeves, and just about start digging the fucking foundations herself. There'll be so many fucking houses knocking around in a few months time, you won't be able to walk down the street for treading in one! But will they be built by the state? Throw your hands up in horror? Abso-fucking-lutely not!, says Reeves. Fuck me! Then we'd have to put people in 'em! Like, council tenants and stuff. Screw that! No - what we want is property developers making shit loads of cash, building houses for first time.....sorry - thousandth time buyers to add to their portfolios. "No," (said Reeves) this is not a job for state involvement (as every housing crisis in history has previously been dealt with, as for example with the prefab initiative following world war 2) ......this is an opportunity for growth to be seized by the private sector. That no-one earning under a hundred thousand a year would be able to afford such properties is of no consequence. That said properties will simply fall straight into the hands of the already wealthiest in our society, as the rich either buy them for their own kids or to burn up some of the stray cash that they can't seem to stop accumulating, is of no consequence. Changed fucking Labour indeed! Changed into the Tory Party I'd say!

Now, let's have a look at the papers.......

-----0-----

In another announcement Reeves has emphasised that she has inherited the worst set of finances since the second world war.

This is going to be the 'go-to' refrain we hear over and over for the months and years ahead. In fairness the Tories were still employing it fourteen years after they took power, so there's no reason to expect any different from Labour. James O'brien (see above) was already beginning to employ it in his yesterday show - I can't remember in what context - and remarked to my wife that it'll be the get out of jail card employed to cover for every Labour failing from now until the end of their run. But it's an excuse. A smoke screen. A red herring. The government is in place to govern, to make things better, not to bemoan how badly the last lot of builders did at their job. If they couldn't do the job they applied for then they should never have put in their tender.

So stop whining, get on with the job.

-----0-----

Another thing Reeves is up for (it's all about her this morning: Stamer seems to have slunk away into the background for a day) is tearing up restrictions. Green belt? Fuck off! Onshore wind-farm ban? Tear it fucking up!

She is determined that if a site can be built on, then built on it will be. Complaining voices of local residents, of environmentalists, of NIMBY's will be swept aside in her determination to get things moving again. As a city dweller, the countryside is of limited interest to her (excepting for its potential as a money making asset) and she's determined not to allow dissenting voices (or indeed civil actions within the courts) to stop her.

In this, I think, she might actually find more problems than perhaps she envisages.

I'm not entirely clear on the details, but not long ago - a few months at most - we had a situation where a county council (Surrey, or Sussex I believe) took the government to court over the issuing of new drilling licences in the North Sea. I think I've spoken of this previously (I forget these things) but I'll rerun it because I think its pertinent.

The court decided that not only did the environmental effects of the drilling operations have to be considered, but also the ongoing damage caused by the oil products it was producing, and on this basis deemed that the licences (legislated for by parliament) could not be issued.

Get this - it's important. The courts were able to overturn legislation passed in the House by our elected members. This is unprecedented (well - virtually). How can it be that in a constitution where parliament is supposedly sovereign, that its decisions can be overruled by the courts? The legislation it passes is Law, and Law is supposedly sovereign. How can the courts be used to overturn the will of Parliament? The answer is that the Blair government passed the legislation creating a 'supreme' court, that could do so. (A nonsense in itself. How can parliament be sovereign, but a court be supreme at the same time?) This was a direct leeching away of power from parliament, and a transference of the same to the courts. Anti democratic and damaging, it slipped through at the time because no fuss was raised against it. Our media slept through it, or was bought into silence by promises of revolving doors and increased access to power.

But now this very act on the part of New Labour might come back to haunt Reeves. Because suddenly, as the executive of the legislative body, she no longer has that power of the sovereignty of parliament behind her. Now, like it or not, she has to consider what the courts might say. And if the people go to the courts and the courts say "No buildee," then no buildee it is!
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Post by peter »

The trick is as old as the hills and they're at it already.

Tony Blair said a day or two ago that digital ID cards should be introduced in the fight against illegal immigration, and Stamer immediately said that it wasn't part of his plans.

Who are they? Morecombe and fucking Wise?

Like they are going to come out in disagreement with each other days after being joined at the hip while Stamer fought for the apex position in the country. Do they think we are stupid?

This is that oldest of tricks - use a political outrider to shift a hitherto impossible subject (though God knows, Blair has tried:last time was during the pandemic when they had (he said) to be introduced for public health reasons) into the 'Overton Window' of public discourse, and then gradually shift your initially completely against position to one of, "Well - if the people want it, perhaps we should consider it."

Take it from me. Those ID's are coming.

The scam is, as I say, as old as the hills. Thatcher used it to get the issue of privatisation of the public utilities into the topical discourse. Initially it was not something she was planning and then, as the topic became a hot potato of discussion in the media, she (seemingly) began to engage with it. The whole thing was planned from the outset, to change people's opinions about something that was as sacrosanct as the NHS is today. The public utilities. Who but a nutcase would even suggest that they should be sold off to private enterprise? But then the outriders did their work and suddenly it became the subject for discussion.

The same scam is about to be pulled, and if we can't see it coming then we deserve to be hit with it.

And another thing. I'll take a bet with anyone who chooses, that by.....mmmm......Valentines Day of next year, Stamer will have had cause to adress the nation, Boris Johnson style as at the beginning of the pandemic, on the subject of some crisis or another, that we are "all going to have to pull together, in order to defeat." I can't say what this crisis will be - probably war, but not certainly so - but I'll take a bet that whatever it is, it's around the corner, or up a sleeve somewhere, waiting to be wheeled out.

Hold me to it.
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Post by peter »

No-one in their right mind should be anything but disgusted at the bombing of a children's hospital, whether it is done as a deliberate act or as an accidental, but predictable consequence, of a random targeting of built up area within cities.

But the coverage given by our media to this tragic event in Ukraine, in the recent widespread missile and bombing attacks across the country, is curious in its presentation to say the least.

For starters, one would, on seeing many of the reports in yesterday's press, have thought that only the children's hospital was hit. "Putin strikes children's hospital in Ukraine", was the thrust of the strikingly similar headlines, ignoring the fact that this was just one of the sites destroyed in attacks that killed upwards of forty civilians across the country.

Secondly there was the all but overt suggestion that this was a deliberate act - that some evil men in a darkened room had sat, rubbing their hands together, saying, "Look, there's a children's cancer hospital. Let's bomb it!"

This is a suggestion too far I believe. At the end of the day Russians are people just like we are. They are parents with children they love, mothers and fathers who irrespective of the nationality of the children concerned, are going to have the same empathy as we would towards Russian children who suffer with terrible ailments in hospital. To suggest otherwise just pushes the reportage away from the factual and into the realm of propoganda. Or if not that, then at least the spinning of the story to maximise the suggestion of the Russians as an evil people who deserve any retribution that Ukraine or the West might choose to visit upon them.

As an aside, I'd contrast the coverage of this tragic strike on a hospital, to that which has occurred on an almost weekly basis in Gaza, and in which unnumbered Palestinian children have died (compared to the two or so that died in Ukraine). The reporting of similar events in Gaza has been all but nonexistent since the initial strike which the IDF made on a hospital which they claimed was being used as a Hamas base (with scant evidence ever being provided that this was indeed the case). Since the initial questions that were posed about this event, the deliberate - and in the IDF case it is deliberate - policy of destroying the regions health care system has gone on apace, with little to no reportage in our press. It appears that the lives of Palestinian children are not of equitable value to those of Ukrainian children in the eyes of our ever so balanced media. It is apparently okay for IDF forces to deliberately target Palestinian hospitals in their onslaught, but not okay for Russians to accidentally strike Ukrainian ones in theirs.

And as to the bombing and missile strikes that Russia has unleashed - what exactly do we expect? This is war. And since we started it in the Second World War it seems that the blanket bombing of cities is now part of the toolkit employed. Breaking down the will of the people to continue, they call it. It works. A wretched woman, distraught following the bombing in Kiev wailed at the BBC cameras, "Make it stop! Please make it stop!"

Not, you notice, "Continue with this until the Russians are beaten!", but just the universal lament of all who undergo trauma and suffering at an unendurable level, to make it stop. Unfortunately the ears that are listening in the West who have the power to make this happen choose not to hear. They have other ideas.

And Russia? What of them? Have they not been poked repeatedly with a stick, over and over, before they have at last responded with this wave of bombings and missile strikes?

Let's look at it. They've been subjected to strikes across the border into Russia, using weaponry provided by the West. There have been strikes deeper into Russian territory that we hear little about, but undoubtedly originate from the Ukrainian forces ranged against them. They have had the outrage we saw in the Moscow theatre in which, what, 90 plus civilians were murdered and now, more recently, the same type of numbers are killed in an onslaught on people enjoying their Sunday break on the beaches of Dagestan. We report that "It was the Islamists wot done it!", but rumours of Ukrainian involvement abound and we ourselves have not in the past had the slightest of scruples about employing Islamic radicals to carry out acts of terrorism that we would choose not to be associated with (the use of such tactics to foment trouble and undermine the Bashir regime in Syria being a case in point). I have no idea if any of this is true, but I'm damn sure I know what the Russians think. But Russia has endured these things, by and large without complaint. With a stoicism built upon a desire not to see the Ukrainian conflict widen out into a conflict against Nato and the West. But the heat is continuously piled on.

More and more sophisticated weaponry is demanded by Ukraine, and is provided. Every week brings a new report that this air defence missile system, or that piece of ground artillery, deep strike capability, is to be provided to Ukraine. Western forces are now acknowledged to be 'on the ground' in Ukraine, albeit in a training capacity in respect of the weaponry being provided, but who knows doing what else. Did we not expect Russia to respond to these things, these provocations? What exactly is it we are trying to achieve here? Why are we not doing exactly what that poor distraught woman in Kiev cried out for someone to do. Making it stop. Zelensky only fights this war, can only fight this war, at our assent. We can stop this at any point, but we choose rather to see it continue. For our own strategic reasons, for the purpose of ring-fencing Russia with a cordon of missiles set around its perimeter, we pursue the policy of continuation of this war, whatever the cost that must be born by the Ukrainian people. Putin would sit down tomorrow and talk. Why wouldn't he? He has the territories that he claims to be assisting, territories where the Russian Ukrainians themselves have been waging their own struggle for independence for the last ten years, under his belt. He could easily go to his people claiming victory at this point, and they'd buy it (not least because it would be true). He has nothing to gain by seeing this war stretch out into the future in an endless conflict and with the ever present danger of serious escalation at any point. He'd talk. The Ukrainian people would talk. But Zelensky won't and we won't either.

And so it will go on - and it will escalate. It has to, because if it doesn't then Ukraine will loose. Only by increasing Western involvement, either in terms of weaponry provided or manpower on the ground (and quite probably both) can a Russian win be averted. And we can't allow that. So it has to escalate.

It's not rocket science.
Last edited by peter on Thu Jul 11, 2024 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by peter »

Not very often I find myself in agreement with Suella Braverman, but on the issue of state buildings flying the Pride flag, I do.

I don't believe it is the position of our machinery of state to be expressing opinion on any issue, be it on the supporting of gay rights or any other. Our state decrees - and rightly so - that it is a crime to discriminate against homosexuals et al, and this is enough. There is no need for them to engage in flag waving in visual support of this, and the same I would say, applies to the adornment of police vehicles and other state service equipment.

This has nothing to do with the organisations themselves - it is no comment upon my position in respect to the gay movement - it reflects wholly upon that which I think it right and proper for our state institutions to be displaying. These buildings would not, for example, be considered a right and proper place to display a pro Palestinian symbol, say the watermelon flag, and this also would be entirely correct. But on what basis would the one (the Pride flag) be acceptable, but the other not? Similarly as an aside, I'd say the Ukrainian flag we have seen flying from our public buildings, should be included in this.

This business of flag flying, other than for reasons of national interest at specific times, should be stopped. We have reached a situation where many such buildings would balk at flying the English flag (the red cross on a white background) on their flagpoles because of the association it now carries with English nationalism and the far right, but would fly the Pride flag without problem. This is ridiculous. There is no call for our public state institutions to be expressing its position on these issues other than via the law which it executes. The English state flag belongs to all of us, not just the far right, and it is entirely proper for it to be flown from our public buildings on days when it is appropriate for it to do so, eg St. George's Day. The Pride flag is something other, as is the Ukrainian or the Palestinian flags, and their flying from our public buildings is inappropriate.

-----0-----

"Bill's will soar to clean up water companies mess," says this morning's Times.

Why? I have no problem with the solution to this debacle. Take back the companies into public ownership without payment to the current ownership, who have egregiously robbed the British public of a functional water service, by failing to maintain and upgrade the service as was their statutory obligation. Rather they have salted away the profits of these companies, handed them out in dividend payments and payments to the executive ownership - well let these serve as payment for the companies they have run into the ground, as those companies are brought back into public ownership where they have always belonged.

And let's not stop there.

Let's tax the rich.

And I don't mean the rich as in the one's who earn a good screw, a few hundred thousand or whatever, from the jobs they do. I mean the rich. Not the ones who earn big, but the ones who own big. The ones like Sunak who earn a million quid a week without even going out to work. The ones who own the buildings we work in, the houses we live in, the debt on our credit cards and on our bank statements. The financial giants and corporate bosses who for years have avoided payment of taxes to the tune of thousands of billions - money salted away in tax havens across the globe - whilst the country has fallen into disrepair.

While we have paid, they have saved. Saved at the expense of our roads, our infrastructure, our health and public services, now all lying in ruins while the money that should have supported them lies festering in numbered accounts out of reach. Every bit of our wrecked public services and infrastructure can be laid at the door of this rapacious drain of money from the state coffers into the hands of the super rich.

Time for it to end. Let's be having it back, that money that should always have gone through the tax system. Let's hit the own-big rich hard, get that money back, and get it into the business of repairing our country. Rebuilding our roads and utilities, repairing the NHS and public services. Restoring the nation to where it should be.

These assets that are increasingly flowing upwards into the hands of the super wealthy cannot be moved. Remember this. The wealth generated from them is generated in this country. It's the easiest wealth in the country to tax. Contrary to popular self interested establishment argument, the super rich (unlike the 'earn rich') cannot up sticks and leave. At least they can't do so and take their assets with them. Because they may own the assets, but they are our assets, our nation's assets, and choose where their owners go, they remain here.

So let's get to work taxing the income generated by them as it should be, and while we're at it, opening up all those cayman island accounts and taking back the tax that should have been paid on them as well.

These individuals and corporations have stolen our money, yours and mine. Let's not waste any time listening to their complaints or shedding any tears for them, but rather be having some of it back!
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Post by Avatar »

Yes, taxing them would certainly be more effective than eating them. :D Geese laying golden eggs etc. etc. ;)

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It makes my blood boil Av. There is no shortage of money in this country - all the funds we need for renovation of our dilapidated infrastructure and services is available, and would always have been so, had not the business and political establishments not colluded together to ensure that huge tracts of wealth remained off-limits to the Exchequer. The baleful effects of the money-power roundabout made visible in our dilapidated streets and crumbling infrastructure.

Despite what 'Changed' Labour are so keen to tell us, nothing has changed and nothing will. This country is ruined; a shell of its former self. The oligarchy remains firmly in control and democracy is a sham, a laughable idea set against a result that sees a government achieve a super landslide victory in an election in which only two out of ten eligible voters voted for it.

Why did we even go out to vote? Some last vestigial nerve-twitch, some knee-jerk force that still demands we participate, even though we all know it to be a meaningless gesture, a mere nod to former times.

Stamer, questioned in interview as to what he thought on the hemorrhage of Muslim support (down 20 percent) as a result of his stance on Gaza, replied by simply saying that Labour's mandate was undeniable. He avoided the question with this answer three times. And it isn't even true! If only two in ten eligible voters have voted for you, if only one in three that even bothered to vote have voted for you - you have no mandate. Let me repeat that. (Watch my lips....) You.....have.....no.....mandate.

-----0-----

Emily Thornbury, the ex Shadow Attorney General is pissed. And she has every right to be.

I can't stand the woman myself - I've always found her supercilious and condescending manner extremely irritating and will be very glad to see the back of her.

But as virtually the only - no, the only Shadow member of the opposition to not retain their position following the Labour victory, she is bound to feel extremely slighted. Especially given that she was the one who came out in support of Kier Stamer and echoed his statement that Israel "Did have that right," when they cut off food, water and medical supplies going into Gaza. Any credibility she ever had as a politician was slaughtered on the block of that self-interested support of Stamer, and now, cut off as she is, frozen out, she has neither dignity or honour or political friends to fall back on. She's history and the world can forget about her.

But why Stamer did this is interesting. Certainly the man he has replaced her with is a good choice; a high ranking legal expert on human rights law from Stamer's old chambers. But it seems a savage cut-down of Thornbury, to do this so visibly and deliberately just when it will be being watched by all the country's media with their greatest attention. Why? Why would he do this?

Well the answer might give us an indication, an insight into the man himself. Rumour has it that the move was done out of petty vindictiveness and spite, because Emily Thornbury had described him as "boring". If this is indeed the case, I think we can have a good guess at what we might expect from a Stamer led government. It too, will be spiteful and vindictive. He clearly cares nothing about the Muslim vote,as long as his support of Israel brings him in an equal level following on the right end of the electorate. (Nb. The antisemitism of the right is outweighed only by their hatred of Muslims, and thus is their support for Israel against the Palestinians explained.) And if the Muslims of the country are now no longer supportive of him, then I fear that they can expect little in the way of support back from him. Islamophobia is a far greater problem in this country than antisemitism - indeed it is entrenched in our very hierarchy, our media and establishment (read the Peter Obourne book The Fate of Abraham if you don't believe me), yet there is no enthusiastic attempt to adress it. For a while the Tories toyed around with an idea of carrying out an investigation into Islamophobia in their ranks (I think it was Sunak who suggested it in a tv debate during his failed leadership attempt), but it was never taken up and was quietly dropped pretty soon after it was suggested. Nothing compared to the report Labour commissioned into antisemitism in its ranks (which we all know was politically motivated anyway).

So no, Stamer is unlikely to be loosing much sleep over his erosion of the Muslim vote, but it could come back to bite him. His majority is large, but it hangs on thin ropes to support it. Those ropes are going to need all of the shoring up they can get come the next election, and he'd be ill-advised to throw away large chunks of traditional core Labour vote at this time, or he could be out of Downing Street as quickly as he slithered his way in.
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Post by peter »

I was suprised by the announcement that Ukraine's path into Nato is "irreversible" made at the recent Washington summit of the latter and attended by the leaders of the various member countries and aspiring entrant President Zelensky.

This may indeed be the case (and it was repeated by Secretary Blinken who described it as "a well lit bridge") but to state it so baldly when you know it is about the single most 'red rag to a bull' thing you could say in terms of its reception in Moscow seems, well, deliberately (and recklessly) provocative.

If the Americans (because let's be clear - this is their show) wanted give the Russian bear a poke, they couldn't have chosen a better stick to do it with.

Thus I was gratified to hear Professor John Mearsheimer echo my suprise in conversation with Judge Andrew Napolitano, and interested in his reasoning as to why this may have been done.

He felt that the statement was made more for the benefit of President Zelensky and the Ukrainians, than with the Russians in mind. The Ukrainians, he said, are all about done on the battlefield, and in order to convince them to continue to fight it was necessary to give them assurance of our ongoing and unconditional support.

It'll no doubt come as a welcome reassurance to Zelensky, but he (said Mearsheimer) has reasons of his own not to want to engage in ceasefire talks. For starters, if there was an end to the conflict, then the state of marshal law that pertains in Ukraine would have to end and there would have to be elections. These are already overdue, but while ever the conflict persists, they are mandated against happening. If they were to be held the indicators are that Zelensky would loose, and he clearly won't want that.

As an additional incentive not to enter into ceasefire talks, the hard right wing of Ukrainian politicians has made it unequivocally clear that a ceasefire is unacceptable them while Russia remains undefeated. The likelihood is that Zelensky could face severe reprisals up to and including assassination, said Mearsheimer. Not exactly conducive to getting the necessary peace talks started.

A further sticking point would be the Russian pre-talk conditions. ie Those conditions that the Russians would demand as given before they would even sit down and talk. These have two non-negotiable conditions that Zelensky and the West would have to accept as given. Firstly that Ukraine remove its troops from the four oblasts that Russia occupies but doesn't completely control in eastern Ukraine, and accept Russian supremacy there. Secondly would be the condition that Ukraine reduce the size of its military capability such as it could never again represent a threat to Russia and that it agree that never will Ukraine join Nato, but will remain rather as a neutral buffer state between Nato and Russia.

Now it isn't rocket science to see that these conditions are not ones that either Zelensky or the West (on whose behalf he is fighting this proxy war) are ever going to accept. Even Donald Trump, who has boasted that he will stop the war on day one of his presidency (should he win a second term) said an unequivocal "No" when asked if he would agree to such terms, and so it is difficult to see any common grounds for such talks even beginning. Thus, said Mearsheimer, the future in respect of Ukraine looks bleak in every circumstance: neither agreement nor incentive to stop the slaughter exists on either side as we speak - but the facts on ground remain unchanged.

These are that Ukraine is exhausted, its fighting force depleted to the residue of citizens still just about capable of picking up arms. Without total western support it is finished, and even with it faces a near impossible task against an enemy who controls skies, has supremacy in arms and manpower, and who has the wind of success behind it.

And meanwhile our leaderships fall back on propoganda and falsehood instead of facing up to reality. President Biden stands on a lectern and tells the Ukrainian people that "You will prevail and win!", even in the face of the obvious evidence to the contrary. The Ukrainians might be led to believe this or they might not. But their leadership must know that barring a near miracle, it's game over.

So either the fragile balance of opposing forces holds - a 'forever war' that sucks the life and soul out of the country while the western arms industry gets fat on the proceeds, or the West gets drawn in (in which case it's probably mushrooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner for, well, ever....or the Russians spring a suprise and total victory in the weeks or months ahead.

None of it looks in the slightest bit encouraging and Mearsheimer and Napolitano agreed that it was a complete dogs ear in respect of Western foreign policy. Better, they said, had Biden and Boris Johnson not scuppered the agreement reached in Istanbul on a ceasefire at the very start of this conflict, or indeed had George W Bush not started on the criminally stupid pathway of putting Ukraine up for Nato membership back in 2008.

Too late now alas. Too late now. If 'ifs and ands' were pots and pans.....

:(

-----0-----

And just to continue on in the same positive vein - and I have to, because none of this stuff gets into the legacy media who'd rather distract us with salacious stories about Holly Willoughby and suitcases full of severed body parts - let's turn our attention towards Gaza.

Or rather the putative death toll therein, resulting from the post October 7th actions of Israel within the territory.

The prestigious UK medical journal The Lancet has published a paper suggesting that the death toll resulting from conflict will be far higher than the 37 thousand plus victims currently claimed, because these figures are limited to those who dieas a result of direct violent causes. By far a greater number die in conflicts as a result of the consequential effects - the disruption to food, water and medical supplies, the starvation and failure of health systems to treat what would normally be survivable conditions etc.

The paper uses a lower end estimate for associated deaths, the academically accepted range being 3 - 15 additional deaths per death caused by violence, of four additional deaths per recorded death to date.

It is accepted that many thousands lie dead under the rubble of Gaza, but these are currently recorded as 'missing' individuals rather than dead ones. So using just the given figure of 37 thousand, the paper takes an estimate of four additional deaths per violent death, and lands on a figure of 148,000 dead as a result of the conflict.

This figure is however rising daily and alongside the missing individuals, and the likelihood of the additional deaths being further up the range than 4, it is by no means a stretch to see this figure rising to a quater of a million.

This would be approximately an eighth of the two million people who living in Strip and irrespective of whether consider it to be a genocide level figure or not, it's a fuck of a lot of people.

And this remember, is not coming out of some conspiracy bullshit YouTube channel. It's in the Lancet. Our leaderships should look at these statistics and hang their heads in shame. The world will not forgive us for our complicity in this and neither should it.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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