The perils of not posting your blog post immediately after you’ve written it! I wrote this last night when the two main leadership contenders were Boris Johnson and Theresa May, and he was the bookies’ favourite. Now Michael Gove has entered the race saying “Boris is not a leader”, Johnson’s odds have lengthened significantly and Mrs May is now the favourite. I don’t know how that affects the principles I set out below.
The Conservative Party has begun the nomination process to elect a new party leader and therefore our next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson is the favourite but my gut tells me that Theresa May will win.
in the end, I didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership election. I was just too worried about the issue of electability, and therefore the need to show economic competence to the wider electorate. I did not think that potential was something Corbyn adequately conveyed during the campaign. If Labour lose the 2020 election I think the Conservative programme will become too entrenched with deeply unpleasant and inequitable consequences for our society.
So instead, I chose Yvette Cooper. Friends and family have derided her for being boring and equally un-Prime Ministerial, but I disagreed. Her speech on immigration late in the campaign was passionate, and when I saw her speak in person (a couple of years ago) I was mightily impressed. I think she could have found a way to restore Labour’s economic credibility. I think she was – and is – electable.
I won’t deny that I was also keen to see a woman elected Labour leader, although I don’t think identity politics should trump policy.
None of that came to pass, however, and Corbyn was the overwhelming preference of party members and supporters. And yesterday a friend sends me this message:
Btw – am seriously thinking about joining the Labour Party now that Khan is mayoral candidate and Corbyn is at the helm. Are you not excited?
More banter from the political past today as John Prescott criticised Tony Blair’s “get a transplant” jibe.
Meanwhile, Margaret Beckett has somehow branded herself a ‘moron’ because she was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s sponsors, nominating-but-not supporting him so the Labour Party could have a debate.
Well, a debate is being had. A wider range of policies are being debated and the other candidates have found they are unable to triangulate their way to a victory on points. The contest is going to be far more interesting than any that has gone before and—here’s a radical thought—it could be that this moment of public disunity and ill-tempered argument could end up strengthening the eventual winner. Survival Of The Fittest, Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, &cetera. Continue reading “What if it’s all just cyclical?”
Crikey. I’m dismayed by the result of the general election.
First, I should note just how wrong my own perception of the election campaign turned out to be! After the leaders debates I said I expected Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister in May. That is clearly not going to happen. And earlier this week I said I perceived a decline in the influence of the mainstream media on election campaigns. After the apparent last minute shift in voters’ intentions, that appears to be incorrect.
However, my dismay comes not from the injury to my pride which results from making poor predictions. Rather, it’s the prospect of what comes next for our unions (yes, unions plural) and our rights as citizens.
First, the fact that David Cameron will attempt to govern alone with a minority government, or a slender majority, will mean that the more Euroskeptic elements to the the right of the Conservative party will be able to hold him to ransom—just as the SNP would have apparently held a Labour government hostage. The Conservatives have already promised that we will have a referendum on our membership of the European Union. We now face the prospect of leaving the EU, sundering and cauterising our cultural and economic links with the continent. This isolation will not be good for the UK.
A ‘Brexit’ will further strengthen the already jubilant Scottish National Party. Despite the slightly skewed results that our ‘first past the post’ system delivers I just do not see how another referendum on Scottish Independence can still be ‘off the table’. For goodness sake—all but three MPs in Scotland are from the SNP! If the UK leaves the EU, and with the other parties’ reduced political presence, another plebiscite on Independence would probably yield a ‘Yes’ vote. Bye bye Scotland.
Finally, the Conservatives have also promised to scrap the Human Rights Act, a pledge that lawyers think is ‘legally illiterate’. The so-called ‘British Bill of Rights’ will water down the rights that we currently enjoy. And since the Tories gutted legal aid provision and squeezed the judicial review process, it will be harder than ever for citizens to hold the government to account when it deploys discriminatory policies against us.
So by the time of the next general election in 2020, there is a very good chance that those of us living in rUK will have lost the political protections of the EU, will have lost the guarantee that out human rights will be protected, and will have lost a progressive political counter-weight to the Tories that may be found in Scotland. And the right-wing media will cheer it all.
There’s a new app in town, called Meerkat. It allows you to stream live video direct from your mobile phone or tablet, with the link appearing in your Twitter stream.
Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to Barack Obama, writes:
If 2004 was about Meetup, 2008 was about Facebook, and 2012 was about Twitter, 2016 is going to be about Meerkat (or something just like it).
(He is of course talking about US politics). I wonder whether that’s true though: I fancy there may be a premium on asynchronicity—sending messages to people to read when they have time, rather than in the moment. How much value is there in This Is Happening Literally Right Now over the Twitter news model of This Just Happened? Meerkat does not seem to have any catch-up functionality—if you click on a link to a stream that has ended, there’s no way to view it back. Other services like Ustream and Google Hangouts do offer that functionality and I bet the Meerkat devs are beavering away (or whatever it is a meerkat does) to get this feature into the app. Continue reading “Why not do an extra leaders’ debate via #Meerkat?”
Damain Green has blasted the Government’s overreach into our private lives:
I’ve had personal experience of the coercive power of the state. If freedom was going to die out in this country it was never going to be because of some dramatic seizure of power by a dictator, it would always come about through the gradual erosiuon of the individual freedoms and privacy that we have all taken for granted all our lives. And whether the excuse is the war on terror or the desire to provide better public services, that erosion is precisely what we are seeing today.
Over the weekend, I wrote a short piece about the Defamation Bill for Liberal Democrat Voice, urging activists to lobby their party leadership. The Defamation Bill is to be debated in the House of Commons today, so it is worth cross-posting this now, before the crucial votes render it obsolete! This morning, Stephen Tall wrote a follow up post: ‘Lib Dems Libel Reform retreat points to a wider coalition problem‘.
There is a new threat to the Defamation Bill.
No sooner had the proposed law been liberated, after being taken hostage by Leveson negotiations, than Conservative MPs have begun messing with crucial free speech provisions.
Former libel lawyer Sir Edward Garnier MP has tabled an amendment seeking to remove a crucial clause from the Defamation Bill. The clause places some limits on corporations’ use of the libel laws. It does not bar them from suing entirely – just asks that they show financial loss before they do so. It’s an objective and measurable test for companies, who after all do not have feelings.
Such a law would have discouraged the crippling libel cases brought by Big Pharma against Dr Peter Wilmshurst and Dr Ben Goldacre. It would have helped Simon Singh. It would stop the costly ‘lawfare’ waged by the extractive industries around the world against human rights groups like Global Witness. It would stop scientists and doctors from having to decide whether to speak out for their patients and risk selling their house in order to pay legal fees… Or keep their mouths shut. Continue reading “Writing on Libel Reform on Liberal Democrat Voice”
There’s some dialogue near the start of Mary Poppins, where Mrs Banks (the suffragette) says that they planned to picket the Prime Minister, and refers to him. As a kid, watching that film a lot, I always found that weird. Likewise, when John Major took over in 1991, and the news reporters called the Prime Minister ‘he’, I experienced real cognitive dissonance.
According to the data published by the Guardian, the gender pay gap actually increased during Thatcher’s premiership. However, woman’s full time pay, as a percentage of men’s, did increase.
The Chancellor’s terrible parking gives me a chance to say something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a while.
I get so irritated with those on the Left who insist on calling George Osborne by his middle name, ‘Gideon’.
In doing so, they seek to emphasise his upper-class background, which they believe will discredit him.
This is both a dog-whistle and an ad hominem and a piss-poor political tactic.
In the USA, Barack Obama is regularly called ‘Hussein’ (his middle-name) by his opponents. This is a similarly immature attempt to discredit him. The Left condemns that practice… and I don’t see how deploying the ‘Gideon’ moniker is any different.
Worse: the class card can be used in reverse. If the Left legitimises ad hominem attacks on the upper-class, it gives people like down-to-earth, working class Eric Pickles a sheen of credibility as they propose awful policies that hurt the poor.
Margaret “Grocer’s Daughter” Thatcher, and John “Son of a Music Hall performer” Major derived similar political cover from their backgrounds – a piece of political armour gifted to them by the class warriors of the left.
George Osborne’s callous and growth throttling policies would be no more or less harmful if his middle name was Robert, not Gideon. A moratorium on this pettiness, please.
In the week that more Government cuts hit the poorest in society, as George Osborne argues with his critics and Iain Duncan Smith says that he can live on £53 a week, I thought I would share this letter to The Guardian from Michael Meacher MP, which is still extremely powerful and pertinent:
The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain (Report, Weekend, 28 April). It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.
Second, this mega-rich elite, containing many of the bankers and hedge fund and private equity operators who caused the financial crash in the first place, have not been made subject to any tax payback whatever commensurate to their gains. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts, and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of the tax increases is accounted for by the VAT rise which hits the poorest hardest. None of the tax increases is specifically aimed at the super-rich.
Third, despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, these 1,000 richest are now sitting on wealth greater even than at the height of the boom just before the crash. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain’s entire GDP. They include 77 billionaires and 23 others, each possessing more than £750m.
The increase in wealth of this richest 1,000 has been £315bn over the last 15 years. If they were charged capital gains tax on this at the current 28% rate, it would yield £88bn, enough to pay off 70% of the entire deficit. It seems however that Osborne takes the notorious view of the New York heiress, Leonora Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”
Related to that last point, here’s a graph that illustrates the extent of tax dodging and tax avoidance in the UK.