Monday, 2 March 2015

Labour may be working with the Tories to stop the SNP

As Labour slumps in the polls, the middle class have decided that they had better vote Labour to try and stop the rot. They don't have much choice because the Liberal-Democrats will be lucky if they save two out of their current eleven seats and the Tories, who hold one seat in Scotland, are bumping along on around fifteen percent of the vote. Since neither of them holds out much hope, the argument goes that the middle class should put aside their minimal differences with Labour and vote to keep the SNP at bay. Think of it as blue Tories voting for what has already become the red Tory party...

Scotland in Union, a new astroturfing movement is in the process of being set up and their website should go live later on this week. Astroturfing is all about creating a fake grass roots movement, and it is something that the No campaign tried during the referendum campaign with their Vote No to Borders wheeze. The same people who fronted that earlier group are involved with Scotland in Union, but as with Vote No To Borders, we can confidently predict that the money and organisation are both coming from London.

How can we be sure that Labour really is giving tacit approval to all this? Well, just look at the unguarded comments from some of their senior figures that the party has had to disown. Robert McNeill was the Vice-Chairman of East Lothian Constituency Labour Party until he was forced to resign over this graphic display he sent out to the world so that people could tell which party to vote for to stop the SNP. The fact that this scheme involves people voting against his own party and that this is against Labour's rules is not something that seemed to have entered his mind.

Former Labour MP George Foulkes who is now a member of the House of Lords sent this delightful missive out to his followers:

I could go on, but what's the point? The web is pretty full of these unofficial attempts to stop a left wing party from gaining seats by a party that still tries to pretend that is is the voice of the Scottish working class. 

All this starts to make sense when we recall the contempt that more than one senior Labour figure has demonstrated for the working class over recent months. Last year we mentioned Kathy Wiles, who managed to survive one full day as the party's candidate for Angus until her loathing for the people whose votes she would need became apparent:
 What has become clear from other questions that have been asked during polling exercises is that those reliant on benefits (but not pensioners) believe that they will be better off under independence, while those working believe that they will be worse off- in other words working households feel they will be required to foot the bill for the SNP's left-wing welfare policies.
In other words, my earlier argument that Labour is on track to become the voice of  Scottish privilege appears to have a lot going for it. I suppose we should just say that Labour will still represent the estates, its just that they will be the landed ones rather than the council variety.

Scotland seems to have a new party system

Scotland seems to be undergoing a political realignment that nobody could have predicted just a year ago. It is possible that when the dust settles, the SNP will become the new champions of working class political interests north of the River Tweed, whilst Labour becomes the voice of the  comfortable middle class.

Working class voters tend not to switch allegiance very often. In fact they are more inclined not to vote at all when the party that they identify with stops putting forward polices that meet with their approval. That said, occasionally a shift occurs which leads to another party taking a working class constituency, usually in a by-election, and when that happens the new party tends to hold onto the seat for many years. Rochdale was grabbed by the Liberals in 1972 and then held by them until 1997. Bermondsey fell to the same party in 1983, and is held by them to this day, albeit with a slight change of name.

However, the last time that a new party muscled its way forward to take over the representation of the working class as a whole was in 1918, when Labour emerged courtesy of the then hopelessly split Liberals. If the SNP manage the same thing against a Labour Party that is united then that would be an amazing political act, and all the signs indicate that Labour's vote will just collapse. Let's look at some of the reasons for this earthquake.

The first is that unlike England, Labour in Scotland did not undergo a social transformation in the 1970s. The graduates with their local government jobs who now dominate the English Labour parties are not replicated in Scotland. The Scottish party remained in the iron grip of the machine politicians who had always run it, and even though its membership declined nobody cared because they were still winning all the elections.

The party even managed to take seats off the Tories, as Jim Murphy, who currently manages the Scottish branch office proved in 1997 when he captured the once safe Tory seat of East Renfrewshire. This constituency is one of the wealthiest in Scotland, and the victory seems to have been partly due to the loathing that many Scots had developed towards the Tories, as well as the fact that under Tony Blair, Labour was actively courting the votes of the wealthy and privileged denizens of the leafier suburbs. The fact that his Tory predecessor was a nutter who was fined £200 for threatening people with a pickaxe, and following his defeat had to go away to have the voices in his head shushed may also have had something to do with the victory.

However, this zombie party could not stand up to a charge from the left, which is just what happened. As Labour under Blair moved further to the right to mop up all those suburban votes that left an enormous gap in the political spectrum which the SNP moved in smartly to fill. They seem to have realised that their hardline nationalist supporters would support them come what may, so the SNP began to offer things that working class voters found agreeable. 

To be honest, it isn't all that much, but banning the sale of council houses, keeping Education Maintenance Allowance alive and dishing out bus passes to people when they reach 60 instead of making them wait until 65 was more than Labour was offering. Certainly policies and pledges such as these helped the SNP win an overall majority in the 2011 Scottish elections for a parliament that was specifically sent up to ensure that no party would ever have such a majority.

All that aside, what provided the final kick that knocked Labour's shambling corpse over was the referendum. It has to be admitted that the Tories in London played a blinder there, leaving Labour to manage the campaign for a No vote. It worked, but it worked against the backdrop of Labour people appearing on platforms with Tories, the party that had closed down Scotland's industries in the 1980s and which Labour's heartlands had learned to hate. The SNP jibe that Westminster was an out of touch elite that acted against Scotland's interests became more than just a bit of rhetoric: people began to believe it thanks to Labour's willingness to work with its supposed enemies.

Moving across the spectrum, there is increasing evidence that the middle class will follow the lead of the people in East Renfrewshire and start to vote Labour. The problem is that nobody will talk on the record, but one Labour MP in Edinburgh admitted that his vote pledges were down in the working class part, but had risen by 15 percent in the wealthy part of the constituency.

So we are faced with a situation where Scotland could see the creation of a new two-party system, with the SNP representing the council estates and Labour speaking for the leafy suburbs.

As realignments go, this one is pretty earth shaking.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The day Jim Murphy met The Pope.

A question has been going the rounds ever since this photo of Jim Murphy, Labour's Scottish leader, emerged a while back. Was Spud dumping his load or shooting his wad when the shutter clicked?

The people in Scotland demand answers to these pertinent questions.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Natalie Bennett and her brain fart interview

Following right along from today's earlier posting about the bourgeois wankfest that is the Greens, Natalie Bennett the party's leader has just given  what is probably the worst interview that any party leader has ever given in the history of British politics. If you don't believe me, just click this link and listen to it for yourself.

The web is roaring with laughter at Natalie's brain fart, but I am still inclined to think that it will make no difference to hardcore voter turnout for this collection of posturing ninnies. The reason as I said earlier today is that Greenery is little more than the pose of that section of the middle class that really wants the Tories to win, but don't have the nerve to vote for Cameron's gang. 

However, people who are leaning in the Green direction will be reminded that if you have half a mind to vote Green then that is all you need. If that happens then with luck the poseurs will drop down to a more acceptable three to five percent of the vote, concentrated in the wealthier suburbs where Labour does not feature anyway. 

For the rest of you, there is no no excuse whatsoever not to vote Labour in England.

Why we cannot afford the luxury of voting Green

Thoughtful Tories are clearly concerned that UKIP will take enough votes off them to allow Labour to come through the middle and grab a few seats in May. Given the rise in support for the Greens, Labour must also be worried that the same thing will happen to them. It is a ridiculous situation, with the Tories worried about a party that wants to take Britain back to 1950 and its one television channel and Labour fearful of a party that hankers after 1450 with every house having to keep a cellar full of turnips in preparation for the next famine.

Back in the day I voted Labour because I wanted to keep the wages up and the management down. Becoming unemployed in the early 1980s, I wanted Labour to retake power so as to restore the status quo ante, and in the meantime fight to keep my dole payments up to scratch by opposing Tory cuts. Today, as a disabled man reliant on benefits, I want a Labour-led government that will cease the Tory war against all claimants.

All good bread and butter stuff. The same type of things that led people in Scotland to switch from Labour to the SNP, because the latter has banned the sale of council houses, and kept such payments as Education Maintenance Allowance alive north of the River Tweed when the Tories scrapped them in England.  

If I still lived in England I would vote Labour, without a doubt. Of course I would like to see a referendum that would hopefully lead to British withdrawal from the European Union, and yes I am gagging for levels of taxation that would see the middle class taxed to the levels where they have to pimp their daughters, but I also accept that neither of these policies is liable to happen under Labour. So I would grit my teeth and take the best that is on offer.

 The Greens do not offer an alternative that appeals to many people. Instead what they offer is an opportunity for a well-fed section of the middle class to play posture politics and allow the Tories to snatch a seat or two by taking votes off Labour. If you think that I am being alarmist, then just yesterday I was reminded by an old friend in the United States of just what can happen when bourgeois posturing  gets out of control. Back in 2000 the American Greens ran Ralph Nader as their candidate for President of the United States and he took just over 97,000 votes in Florida. That state went to George Bush by a mere 537 votes, giving him the White House.

Nader and his followers have argued that they are not to blame, and the fault lies with the right-wing shift in the Democrats, but that argument ignores the possibility that had the Democrats moved leftward, they would have lost votes on their right flank. In a two-horse race, both parties are giant coalitions, and people have to make the compromises necessary to ensure that their team wins so that they get some of what they want.

Under Miliband, the Labour opposition prevented the Tories from obeying the Americans and going to war against Syria. The party has now pledged to introduce a mansion tax to fund further NHS spending, something which is a good in itself, but made even nicer here by the fact that it will hit the aspirational scrote element in London especially hard. As revenge for the 1980s goes, the mansion tax proposal isn't much, but it is something the cheer for, and more than people will get from any other party in England.

If there is something to vote for with English Labour, why are around eight percent of the population seemingly determined to throw away the chance to be rid of the Tories? I suspect that some of them are just mental defects, but the bulk do tend to come over as people who are well cushioned economically, but want to pretend that they are right-on and radical. In other words they are middle class crap who have done well out of globalisation, but who want to pretend that they are part of the proletariat. Voting Green gives them the best of both worlds: a Tory government that they can pretend that they did not vote for.

Voting Green anywhere in Britain is nothing more than a posture, and those who thus posture need to be treated with derision and contempt by everyone who wants to see an end to this Tory government.

Monday, 23 February 2015

CitizenFour is a worthy Oscar winner and wakeup call to us all.

CiizenFour won the Oscar for best documentary at last night's award ceremony, and if you haven't seen it yet, do so as quickly as possible. Trust me, it does for mobile 'phones what Psycho did for showers.

The film follows the first eight days that Edward Snowden spent in Hong Kong with the film-maker  Laura Poitras, and the Guardian journalists Glen Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill. It is obvious from the start that neither of the two reporters has any clear idea what Snowden is talking about, which is good because most of the viewers won't either. Instead of explaining it all using a voice-over, Laura Poitras allows us to realise the terrifying implications of what Snowden is saying through their eyes. 

We learn not just that the state spies on us, but that it spies on pretty much all of us via the mundane items that we take for granted, such as our mobile 'phones. Prior to 2013 when these Hong Kong interviews took place, few of us realised that the Anglo-American states had taken surveillance to levels that the old East German Stasi could only dream about.

To make matters worse for the British viewers, whilst the Americans still have some protection under their constitution, the British have hardly any protections from their own state, which is why Laura Poitras has decided not to visit this country for the time being.

If that sounds alarmist, then towards the end of the documentary we are reminded of just how the British version of the old Strasi pulled in Glen Greenwald's boyfriend under the all-covering excuse of terrorism.

My only criticism of CitizenFour is the fact that it ends just as Ed Snowden is about to leave Hong Kong, and it doesn't follow the next week which saw him leave for Ecuador, only to become trapped in Moscow. That said, Laura Poitras became certain that she was being followed so it made sense for her to vanish back to Germany with her reels of film. By the way, she edited everything in the German capital for fear that if she took the raw footage to the USA it would be seized by America's home-grown Securitate.

Another point that the film might have made is that Snowden is not the leftist that many people in Britain think he is. Actually, he is a libertarian admirer of America's Ron Paul, who began his road to whistle blowing by objecting to Barrack Obama's desire to ban the sale of assault weapons.

Small caveats aside, the film did clear up one matter that had stuck in my mind ever since this story broke, which is that Lindsay Mills, Snowden's delightfully exhibitionist girlfriend, did manage to join him in Russia. He had left her in the house that they shared in the USA with just a note saying that he would be away for a few days on business, and the first that she knew about anything was when Uncle Sam's Securitate began banging on the front door.

As a lesson in the raw power of the United States, and the craven desire of the British ruling class to grovel to that power as a kicked dog whimpers at its master's feet, this film cannot be matched. It needs to be watched by everyone who has ever thought that they are safe from prying eyes, especially those people who think that British sovereignty needs to be saved from Brussels. Sadly, it has already been sold to Washington. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Press go into self-righteous mode over Manchester bus brawl

The press are making a big play on this fairly typical 5.00am Manchester bus brawl between four cocky, pissed as farts, Wythenshawe chavs and two Spaniards. Well, it is reported that they were Spanish, but I couldn't hear the accents so will have to take that on trust. I suppose tales like this provide cheap space fillers for the papers as well as giving them another chance to scream "wacism" and "homophobia." Quite how a spat between Europeans can be called racism is anyone's guess, but the precious metropolitan souls who write this drivel were probably doing it on autopilot.

Here's the video:

What can we say about the delightful combination of cheap lager,  bags of chips and rampant chavery that all came together on an early morning bus to that centre of urban sophistication known as Wythenhawe?

I suppose that the first thing that comes to mind is that Wythenshawe really was lovely half a century ago when my parents took me there as a Sunday treat to visit my two aunts, Back then everyone had a job because when the estate was built in the 1920s the city council ensured that space was provided for light industry so that the new residents of Wythenshawe had new jobs as well as light, airy new homes.

Those light engineering firms went the way of everything else during Thatcher's War, and that left the people of Wythenshawe high, dry and with their dicks in their hands. The Labour council then encouraged technology firms to move in, but needless to say, none of them provided anything other than the odd cleaning job to the army of unskilled and semi-skilled people who lived in the area. Also needless to say, Wythenshawe quickly began its death spiral to become the shithole that it is today. Nice work, Labour.

That doesn't justify the piss headery that we can see on the video, but it does go some way to explaining it, which is more than the press are doing with their idle chants of racism.

Funnily enough - actually it's more than funny, it's seriously hilarious - if you can read Spanish you might want to visit the YouTube page where the video is hosted. Scroll down to the comments, and you will find any number of Latin-Americans piling in to defend British chavdom against the descendants of the wicked Spanish colonialists.

The self-loathing metropolitan middle class may like to keep that in mind before they start squealing again, but they probably won't.

I think that I'll leave the last word to the insouciant Manchester police spokesman who said that, "It's not been reported to police, but if it is we will investigate."

Welcome to urban Britain, in other words. It's what the middle class wanted and voted for.