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Showing posts with label The Coalition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Coalition. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Sept. 2009: My hopes for 2010 and the General election (The Brown Labour Government was still in office)

Three years on, two heart attacks and a cardiac arrest later, a lot of water has flowed under many bridges – and over them. We have had the destruction of New Labour, the benighted Coalition Government, the wonderful SNP victory in 2011, the referendum confirmed at last, the Arab Spring, and second term for Obama – but also the endless litany of death and destruction in Afghanistan.

“Don’t look back - no good can come of it” HUMPHREY BOGART

Well, maybe sometimes, Bogie – remember your history or be condemned to repeat it …

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

I watched the Brown speech, keeping a sick bag handy just in case. I didn't need it, but it was a close run thing. But I was caught off guard by the introductory sequence before Sarah Brown. Manipulative though it was, the early part reminded me sharply of what Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell destroyed - the old Labour Party and its values, or as Gordon Brown would put it, its 'volues'. Much use was made of the flag of death - the Union Jack - fluttering on the screens on either side, and also visible on the centre screen, in the hope that this would deflect the faithful from remembering just what these carpetbagging Scots had done to the Labour Party and the English nation.
Sarah Brown was as effective as she was at the last conference. A formidable public relations professional, she judged the mood perfectly, and although it was more than a little saccharine for my taste, it pressed the right buttons. As a Scottish Nationalist, I am grateful that she is not the Prime Minister, and I suspect many of the Labour faithful wish fervently that she was.
Her personality, however carefully crafted it is, comes across as natural, warm and sincere. It contrasted sharply with the personality that followed her - a Frankensteinian creation as false as a Hollywood facelift, reminiscent of Peter Boyle's performance with Gene Wilder.
Brown scattered new radical policies like party favours, promising to do all the things New Labour has spectacularly failed to do in its three benighted terms of office. His voice at times shook with emotion, but emotion prompted by the thought that this was most probably his swansong. The conference focused my mind on a question I have been wrestling with for some time - what outcome do I want from the UK General election?
I am driven by a primary emotion to see Labour punished for Iraq, for Afghanistan, for the British banking collapse, for their attacks on civil liberties, for their obsession with war and nuclear destruction and for their betrayal of the traditions and values of the Party.
But I recognise that I must look objectively at the consequences of their electoral destruction - a Tory government that might last for another twelve years. Although this would almost certainly yield a Thatcher Factor advantage to the SNP's electoral prospects, it would be bad for the nations that presently comprise the UK, bad for Europe, and bad for world peace. I am still an internationalist, and must recognise that an independent Scotland can never be indifferent to its huge neighbour nor to the regimes that it elects. So I must hope for something other than the obliteration of New Labour and the Brown Gang, and the humiliation of their Scottish servile cohorts. What would be an ideal outcome?
Firstly, I hope for an significantly increased SNP presence at Westminster.
In my dreams I see Scotland returning only SNP members of the Westminster Parliament, but that is not going to happen. There is also a nagging doubt in my mind that too many Nationalist MPs at Westminster might find that, as a group, they develop an affection for the House of Commons, and succumb to its blandishments and its perquisites. After all, it has happened to men and women with principles and beliefs as deeply rooted as those of the Scottish National Party, as the widespread corruption of Labour values has demonstrated. But I must suppress that doubt, and trust Scotland's Westminster representatives, a representation that will last only until independence is achieved..
Secondly, I hope for a governing party for the UK that has only a narrow majority, perhaps even a minority government.
Whichever it is, the balance of power would lie with the LibDems and the nationalist parties in a Rainbow Coalition, and I believe that such a delicately balanced democracy would be better for the UK, and more realistic about Scottish independence.
My greatest fear of all is that England slides insidiously towards neo-fascism and Powellite parties. English nationalism - the dog that has not barked - clearly runs that risk.
Those who come, as I do, from the liberal, internationalist tradition, like to believe that the native good sense of the people will recognise the threat, and will recoil from the views of the parties that pose the threat.  This is the thinking behind the view that the BBC is right to permit the BNP to appear on a Question Time panel - the great, fair-minded democratic British public will see Nick Griffin and his party for what they are.
Well, I'm not so sure. I have watched that great British public on the media, and have seen what pushes their buttons, and the sight does not inspire confidence. I know from my own range of contacts that beneath the democratic veneer, many otherwise admirable upright citizens have a rather uncertain grasp of the great principles of democracy and freedom, and have the political mindset of the saloon bar Tory at best, and the neo-fascist at worst.
It is not only the deprived sub-culture of the shaven-headed that might be sympathetic to the simplistic, brutal, divisive policies of the extreme right - remember the kind of people that put Mussolini and Hitler in power.
Perhaps the BBC has no choice but to permit a legal party that has made recent significant gains to offer their views on Question Time, but we should be fully aware that, at a time of widespread distrust of our political and financial institutions, in the wake of the banking crisis and the expenses scandal, and during a recession when many people are being deeply hurt by the venality and short-sightedness of their elected representatives, that simple, brutal messages that pin the blame on minorities within our society will resonate dangerously with many voters.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Nick Clegg and Isabel Fraser - Sunday Politics - 4th March 2012

This is an edit from a 12m clip to 9m or so. The essence of Clegg is maintained, but since he is guilty of the 'torrent of words' approach that many politicians adopt to bury the message - combined in his case with a soporific, monotonous delivery - I have cut some of the gooey filling.

With Isabel Fraser, there is never any escape from the essence of the argument. Clegg must have fervently wished there was ...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Liberal? Democratic?–what does their future hold?

“Here is one man … selling Liberal opinions with his left hand and Conservative opinions with his right hand … That is an extraordinary spectacle …

“If such conduct were developed in private life or by politicians in public life every man and woman in the country would say ‘That is very double-faced. You cannot believe the two.’ …  He would be regarded as coming perilously near a rogue.”

These extracts from a 1922 speech come perilously near describing the behaviour of the Liberal Democrats in 2011. They were made by Winston Churchill, MP for Dundee, in a speech to constituents at Broughty Ferry. It was directed at one D.C. Thomson, the proprietor of twelve newspapers, who had been attacking him in print. (Oor Wullie and the Broons were still a long way off in 1922).

It didn’t do Churchill much good – he lost the election to a teetotal candidate, which must have been the ultimate insult to Winston, who could bend an elbow with the best of them.

I have a shameful confession to make at this point. I was a lifetime supporter - but never a member – of the Labour Party until Iraq, and then spent four years in a political vacuum until voting SNP in 2007. I then joined the SNP. But they were the second political party I had been a member of, because I joined the newly-formed Social Democratic Party – the forerunner of the LibDems – in March 1981, as a founder member. I was into the middle of a major strike in the Newcastle Breweries in Newcastle, and I joined in a mood of frustration with Labour and with organised labour, so to speak.

My membership lasted a matter of weeks, with question marks forming after attending my first branch meeting in Durham, then dealt a terminal blow to my choice by attending a meeting at which David Owen was the speaker. The entire feel was one of expediency, and of a middle-class group with zero understanding of working people, and precious little concern for them, except as voting fodder. I never in my wildest nightmare thought that the Labour Party, especially the Scottish Labour Party, would reach the same point. I was still locked in cognitive dissonance over Labour’s proclaimed values versus the sordid reality of Labour in power as I had experienced it in Glasgow throughout my life there up till 1974.

The future is now a bleak one for ordinary LibDem voters who mistakenly placed their trust in this party. The politicians they elected have traded integrity and values for ministerial salaries, cars, and the illusion of power, and by God, what a hollow illusion it has been!

They cannot bring the Coalition down because they would face electoral oblivion in a general election. They have taken the toxic shilling, and they must play the game out to the bitter end – bitter for the people of England, and deeply damaging for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but not for Clegg and his team. If they can hold out for another three and a half years, the directorship, the consultancies and even the Lordships beckon – they’ll be OK.

So Clegg (already rich) and Huhne, and Hughes, and Cable, et al will be alright financially. The noble Lords Steele, Ashdown and Campbell, et al have already made their escape  to the unelected, undemocratic, lucrative  bolthole of the ermine. Only poor, bemused Danny Alexander, and the last Scottish Colonial Governor, Michael Moore, might have cause to regret flying too close to the Westminster flame

Of course, a membership revolt could change things, but LibDem grassroots members are not the revolting kind. But their leaders are utterly revolting, indeed truly disgusting in their betrayal of all that LibDems held dear, if indeed they ever held anything dear …

Thank God, Scotland had a choice, made it decisively, and now has an infinitely greater choice to prepare for, and to make equally decisively.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Will Europe end the Coalition? - is this acrimonious exchange the beginning of the end?

Will Cameron's destruction of the UK's standing in Europe also bring down the Coalition? The tensions are now building, but the LibDems face an invidious choice - recover their identity, principles and values, but perhaps trigger a general election where they would be decimated, as in Scotland.

This acrimonious discussion reveals the San Andreas Fault line between the parties - is it the harbinger of rifts to come?

Touch not pitch lest ye be defiled - or to put it another way, you shouldn't have got into bed with the Tories in the first place, guys and gals. But if you are truly liberal and democratic, get the hell out now, and at least get back some self-respect. Or is it too late for that?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Public sector strike and teachers - Ken Clarke and Mary Bousted on QT

Mary Bousted of AMT was passionate and articulate in her defence of her union's first strike in its 127-year history, was in command of her facts and figures, and put her finger on the worm at the heart of the Coalition's apple - namely, that the money raised by this daylight robbery from public sector workers was not going into their pension funds, but instead to bail out the Coalition's failing economic policy.

Ken Clarke, in contrast, was neither passionate nor articulate, and was most certainly not in command of the facts - he didn't even understand the vital - and substantial - difference between a final salary scheme and a career-average salary scheme, a distinction that even the most numerically challenged can understand very clearly.

Ken Clarke - good old jazz-loving, hush-puppied Ken, a rich man from politics and directorships in the tobacco industry, etc. - is now, I fear, past his sell-by date as an active politician, and his cosy persona is no longer enough to justify his ministerial role, nor his place as a PR front for a brutal, classed-based Coalition, stuffed with rich men like himself.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The morning after – strike reflections - and John Hutton

I wholly support the public service workers in their grievance against the UK Government, and I support their decision to strike in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I do not support their decision to strike in Scotland, for reasons already stated over the last few days.

But watching the strikers on television, my reaction was that maybe it had to happen, even if the rationale was deeply flawed. It was probably cathartic, and even a little bit enjoyable for hard-pressed public servants, and it did demonstrate to the  critics of their dispute just how important, indeed vital, their roles are, and what an extended dispute, or a series of such disputes would mean.

The complacent and doing-very-nicely-thank-you professional couples in the private sector, with joint incomes in excess of £70-100k who suddenly found that mummy or daddy had to stay home – or find a child minder pronto – were jolted into an uncomfortable realisation of what further strikes could mean. Those on more stratospheric incomes of course would be utterly untouched by it, and probably have an arms-length relationships with their children anyway, safely tucked away in a fee-paying boarding school, or with a resident nanny to handle things.

Regrettably, there were also working couples on very low incomes and one-parent families who had to sacrifice a day’s pay, which I know from my own economically deprived Glasgow childhood could be disastrous to precariously balance finances. They are the real inevitable casualties of such disputes, as were the patients in hospitals or people in care homes who also suffered. But third parties, innocent and some not so innocent, are hurt by strikes, and that is a harsh reality. What must be remembered is that it takes two to tango, and both parties to a dispute are jointly responsible for the collateral damage, not just the strikers.

But what I know for certain is that the strikers of yesterday will be asking themselves just what did they achieve, other than their moment on the media and exercising their lungs with a good chant and a good blow at their vuvuzelas? Post-orgasm comes sober reflection.

Perhaps as they lie back with a post-strike fag, they can also reflect on the fact that the author of their miseries, paraded and repeatedly quoted by David Cameron and every one of his millionaire pals, was that ultimate contradiction, a Labour LordJohn Hutton, Baron of Furness.


The Bloody Red Baron has an interesting background for a Labour man. Educated at Magdalen College Oxford, where he was a member of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Associations, he became a legal adviser to the CBI before entering politics. He held various governmental posts, and was one of Tony Blair’s strongest supporters. He told Nick Robinson of the BBC that Gordon Brown would be a “fucking disaster” as Prime Minister. (He got that one right.) Nonetheless he survived and served under the “fucking disaster” as Secretary of State for Defence, the luxury coach of the Westminster gravy train.

He decided to stand down less than a year later, and said he would stand down as an MP at the next general election. Shortly after the general election of 2010, he was made a Labour peer. In the same month (June 2010) he joined the board of US nuclear power company Hyperion. He was told he couldn’t lobby his former department, the M.O.D. for 12 months. Thereafter, it would be fine to do so.

A year after that, he accepted the Tory/LibDem Coalition’s offer to head up a commission into public centre pensions, and dismissed speculation about his motives for doing so.

The Labour Baron has told the unions that they have been offered a good deal on pensions. Aye, right …

THE UK GRAVY TRAIN – a train the strikers will never be on …

Reflect also on this, strikers of yesterday, and perhaps tomorrow – none of the main UK parties have any answers to what lies ahead, because they are embedded in a corrupt structure – the UK – and they can’t step off the rotten wagon careering towards the edge of the cliff.

The Lords can’t step off because it would be the end for them.

The Scottish Labour Lords can’t step off, because in addition to losing their titles, there would be nowhere for them to go.

The Tories can’t step off because they are inherently undemocratic and wedded to greed.

Labour MPs can’t step off because they have deserted their people and become Tories Mark Two.

Scottish Labour MPs can’t step off because it would be the end of the Westminster gravy train and of their careers.

Scottish Labour MSPs can’t step off because they want to be MPs and join the gravy train to Westminster one day.

The LibDem MPs can’t step off because it would be electoral oblivion for them if they submitted themselves for re-election.

Scottish LibDems have already experienced electoral oblivion, they face the same problem as Scottish Labour, and anyway, nobody would notice if they stepped off. 

Only one party stand outside and above this rotten structure – the Scottish National Party. And only one thing will allow Scotland and Scots to step outside of it.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

LibDems - the failed, bitter, vengeful UK party that attacks the SNP

This is the failed, discredited party that attacks the most successful party in Britain - the Scottish National Party.

It has five - yes, 5 - MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. It would be obliterated if a UK general election was called now. It has lied to the electorate. It has failed to deliver in Coalition. It is now Tory in all but name.

Its former Scottish leader, Tavish Scott, is now bitter, vengeful towards the SNP, and blames his own UK party for wrecking his political career. Well, they helped, Tavish, but you did a pretty good job of wrecking it yourself ....

And the Colonial Governor of Scotland, Michael Moore, a LibDem, attacks the SNP. the decisively elected government of Scotland, and in doing so, attacks the Scottish people.

Adjectives for LibDems - ineffectual, naive, expedient - and vicious in failure ...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ken Loach vs Heseltine on the Poor, and their fate under the Cameron/Clegg gang

Michael Heseltine and Ken Loach go at it, head-to-head, on the impending cuts and their impact on the poor of the UK – the undeserving poor, a  brutal concept from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which mercifully died in the 20th century under the intellectual force and human values of the Webbs, Beveridge, and what used to be the People’s Party, Labour.

But the idea of the undeserving poor never died in Tory hearts, and now it has been insidious revised by Cameron - aided by the political Quislings that used to be the Liberal Democrats under Clegg – under the cloak of the nonsense about The Big Society.

Heseltine starts in his usual opening mode of calm reasonableness, but under the relentless, gentle force of argument from Ken Loach, descends rapidly into hectoring, aggressive name-calling.

Michael Heseltine will be remembered by posterity – if he is remembered at all – for brandishing the Mace in the Commons and for being an ally of Margaret Thatcher as she destroyed jobs, whole industries and communities leaving the way open for unbridled greed and self-interest in the 1980s, and paving the way for what Ken Loach accurately called Tories LightNew Labour under the Blair/Brown Gang.

Thatcher at least only fouled up Britain – Blair and Brown fouled up the world and are responsible for, at a minimum estimate, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.

Heseltine is probably the archetypal self-made Tory, as contrasted with the ancient land-owning class, a man described contemptuously by another Tory minister – Alan Clark - early in his career, as “a man who who bought his own furniture”. He made his money by property speculation, buying and selling hotels.

Loach is a highly-committed, crusading dramatist and filmmaker, with an unrivalled body of television and film work to his credit, including some of the most – perhaps the most – memorable and effective social documentaries of the 1960s. He never succumbed to the blandishments of Hollywood. He is a great artist, and will always be remembered for his work and his commitment to the poor and the most vulnerable in our society

Watching them debate, in a short, but riveting seven minutes, I saw all that is great and all that is contemptible in modern Britain, in its rotten political system, and its Establishment.

Heseltine said, in response to Loach’s simple, but devastatingly accurate observation that a tax of 5% on the top 10% of the wealthy  would wipe out the deficit, that the ‘wealth creators’ would leave the UK and go elsewhere.

If only they would, including the bankers and speculators who got us into this mess.

For God’s sake, go go! 

Let Scotland escape from the cynical, unequal UK before it is too late.