Wednesday 10 July 2024

Final Thoughts on the Election and Political System


Now that the election is over, this blog is going back into cold storage. However, before I get back to enjoying my retirement, I want to make some comments about political parties in general and the future of ours in particular.

Parties serve a variety of purposes, with one of the main ones being that they allow people to participate in the political process without having to be political anoraks. Voters can choose a party that they by and large identify with and then leave the intricacies of policy to that party. Every five years or so, these voters will turn out to vote for one party or the other, and for the rest of the time they will just get on with their lives.

The problem occurs when the parties no longer represent the views of their voters, a situation we are in with both Labour and the Tories at the moment. When that happens, we can expect to see turnout at elections fall alarmingly, as many people just give up participating in a process that they no longer indentify with. Others will start to vote for small, insurgent parties, such as the Greens or Reform. We also have in the British context the Islamic independents who managed to win a clutch of seats last week. 

The Tories are split between the liberal, upper-middle-class types who tend to live in the leafy southern counties and the aspirational arsewipe element with their petty grievances and small town mentality. The former group switched to the Lib-Dems last week and gave that party 72 seats in the Commons: a message that the Tory leadership would do well to heed. It is possible that the Tories may manage to repair their split by becoming sounder on immigration and this time actually meaning it. If they did then they should be able to take back the anti-immigrant element in their old voting core that switched to Reform.

Labour's problems are more pronounced. In the first place because the party at local level is pretty much dominated by the local government nomenklatura, with their unproductive non-jobs that are paid for out of the taxes of those in productive employment. For many people when they meet a Labour activist must be reminded of the people who intefere in their lives and make those lives difficult. The somewhat overweight woman with her frizzy hair and weird glasses who reminds them of the social worker who gave their cousin grief. The small man who looks as if he has never had a girlfriend is the spitting image of the teacher who has it in for their sons and the gaggle of white-collar wallahs could very well be the same wallahs who fail to sort out their problems with the council.

To make matters worse, those core Labour people were ignored for many years by a Labour Party that wanted the votes of ethnic minorities and the middle-class progressives. The Pakistani element was pandered to even to the extent of ignoring the abuse of young British girls by Pakistani men in the mill towns. Now, those Pakistani voters are jumping ship to Islamic based elements, leaving the British voters to smile coldly at their former party's misfortunes.

The progressive element is moving behind the Greens and Jeremy Corbyn in London. If Corbyn sets up a Progressive Party it could do well in the big cities, or he could throw in his lot behind the Greens who already seem to be making common cause with the Islamists. A Progressive-Islamic front may very well be on the cards and if that happens it would tear a massive hole in the Labour line.

However, the main threat to Labour comes from Reform. Nigel Farage has already realised that Labour provides his party with a better hunting ground than the Tories since almost 100 of the seats were Reform came second last week are held by Labour. Immigration is Labour's weak spot, since the party wants more of it and the voters want a lot less. The party seems to be in favour of an amnesty for illegal migrants and the voters want who them slung out of the country. 

Labour's massive majority is based on a level of support that is a mile wide and an inch deep. Being in government should hold the party together but the divisions are enormous and it will only take a couple of by-election losses to widen those divisions. If the Tories can get their act together and unite around agreed policies which must include a sound immigration one, then they could return to government sooner than anyone expects.

As for me, thanks to the pledge from both parties to respect the pension triple-lock, I plan to enjoy the evening of my life by growing potatoes in my garden pots and watching Netflix from the seriously comfortable chair that I bought yesterday.

Goodbye for now and good luck.

Friday 5 July 2024

WTF Happened Yesterday?

Robbie Moore was the sitting Tory MP for Keighley & Ilkley who sent out just one campaign leaflet which my contact in the constituency got on polling day. As you can see, whoever proofread the work before it went to the printers messed it up so some poor sods had to sit there with felt-tipped pens to correct the thing by hand before it could be sent to the punters.

Had there been any justice in the world, the Tories would have been rejected by an electorate that could not bring themselves to vote for such an amateur hour performance. Luckily for Mr Moore there is no justice in the world and he held his seat as all about him were losing theirs.

What a weird election it was. People in England and Wales voted to get rid of the Tories and they didn't much care who they voted for so long as the Tories lost. In Scotland, they voted against both the Tories and the SNP, so across Great Britain, this was an election in which people voted against those parties, rather than for a particular party.

The end result of this was that Labour has a massive majority, that is broadly based and very shallow. The new government could come under threat very soon from  three different quarters.

The first is Reform who talked away with five MPs. Nigel Farage is their leader and I expect him to make Labour's life a misery. Secondly we have Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader who scored more votes in 2017 and 2019 than Starmer did in 2024. I expect that he will rally support from within Labour and cause trouble for Starmer from his own MPs. Finally, we have a clutch of Islamic independents who now represent seats that were formerly solid Labour. Starmer will need to mollify those voters and not alienate his secular, middle-class base.

If he can defend his government from Reform that will eat into what is left of his working class base, Corbyn who will chip away at the urban progressives and the Muslims who will try to tear down Labour's remaining Pakistani vote he should survive, but that is a tall order for him.

It is also a lot of fun for us!

Thursday 4 July 2024

Who Will Win Today?


Labour will win today, that much is obvious. What is impossible to guess is their majority and the number of seats that the other parties will snaffle. There are just too many variables to allow the pollsters to make an accurate forecast, and I have a feeling that even the exit poll will be out by enough seats to ensure that tonight will be a long night for the political anoraks.

The first variable is turnout, which looks as if it may be below 60%. Tony Blair ensured that turnout fell from the post-war average of over 70% to the low-mid 60s and no election this century has seen turnout hit 70%. Many Tory voters seem to want to sit this one out, and Sir Keir Starmer hardly inspires the urban working class to give up a good evening's TV viewing, so we could see a turnout of around 55%. Thus, quite small swings could see large gains made by one party or another. 

The small parties are another variable that might play a big role in thos election. How well will Reform do in Eastern England? Will it replicate UKIP's success in South Wales? The assumption is that Reform takes votes from the Tories, but many of those voters were solid Labour people until Brexit and the 2019 election came along. Reform does galvanise its supporters, so a moderate shift to that party in the East coupled with indifference to the result amongst supporters of the old Con/Lab duopoly could lead to some interesting results.

Then we have the Pakistani defection from Labour in the mill towns. Labour are reported to be dragooning what activists they have and begging them to go to Rochdale and Oldham East. Rochdale is held by George Galloway and his Workers' Party and it is understandable that Labour wants his scalp, but Oldham East? The constituency is 20% Pakistani, which is not enough for a victory, unless the British 80% are indifferent to the result and Labour's generals are terrified that the Workers' Party may grab the seat.

In Scotland, the SNP is the dominant party and does look set to lose some seats. Labour should be the net gainer, but such is the indifference to the election in the Central Belt where most of us live, that making predictions is next to impossible. The SNP has an almost cult following and attempts to set up a Unionist Front that would see Labour people in Aberdeenshire vote Tory and Tories voting Labour in the Central Belt seem to have failed.

It is going to be a long night, but we are men of men for our fathers were men before us, so we can see it through.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

Looking Ahead to Tory Stuffing Day


If some of the polls are even halfway correct, tomorrow will be the Day of the Great Stuffing for the Tories. Much as I would like to see the Labour that I belonged to and identified with striding to victory, I will take the victory that I can get and settle for a party that has already said that it wants to work with capitalism instead of managing it firmly.

Let's just get the Tories out and hope that Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage and George Galloway are all in the Commons to make Sir Keir Starmer's life difficult when he arsecrawls the EU or the USA. Although, in the case of the latter, when Donald Trump is returned to the White House next January, people like me may find that we have a man who believes in many of the protectionist policies that give us a chubby as well.

All good fun!

Tuesday 2 July 2024

The Worst Election Ever Takes a Downturn


Georgia David is a second Reform candidate who has jumped ship to the Tories, having spent the past six weeks campaigning against that party. I know that we are all consenting adults, but does anybody seriously believe that these defections are anything other than a final, desperate throw of the dice by the Tories who are now in a Berlin bunker, April 1945, situation?

What the deal is I have no idea. Richard Tice reckons that many Reform candidates have been offered jobs and money by the Tories, but even if these two are motivated by the purest of desires, it has to be admitted that it all looks very dodgy.

As I look back over the past six weeks I can feel my desire to continue to live ebbing away. If any Tory wants me to throw the might of this blog behind any candidate then a brown envelope stuffed with used fivers and tenners is my price.

Monday 1 July 2024

The Worst Election Ever Slouches Along


Yesterday, a Reform UK candidate named Liam Booth-Isherwood decided to defect to the Tories in the constituency of Erewash, and no, I don't know where it is, either. He claimed that Reform is a wickedly waycist party or something, but just three days earlier he appeared in a videoed hustings in which he sang Reform's praises. God knows what induced him to go from enthusiastic colour bearer for Reform to defector who now tells people to vote Tory and I suspect that we will never know, because the story seems to have already died a death.

I delayed writing this post as I expected that the defection was part of some Tory plan to take the fight to Reform, but if it is then it is then I can't see anything in the media that is anything other than the mixture as before.

This election seems to have run out of steam, not that it had very much to begin with. Nigel Farage popped up and set the process alight, but even he cannot alter the fact that Labour is going to win and the Tories are going to lose. Yes, we can debate about Corbyn, Galloway and Farage, but their results are not going to alter the fact that the result of the election is fixed-in.

Even the fact that it is quite likely that Labour will win the election with fewer than 40% of the votes cast and that turnout could be down to local election levels is not enough to awaken interest in the election. The lack of legitimacy of a government elected on those figures is a problem that starts next week. Right now, all we are doing is marking time until the count is over sometime on Friday morning.

Friday 28 June 2024

Attempt to Smear Farage by Channel 4 Fails


Just when I thought that I could take it easy for the weekend, up pops what has all the makings of a political scandal that could keep those of us who have a fridge full of beer and pizza entertained for weeks. Let's hear it for Andrew Parker, the man who Channel 4 "secretly" recorded mouthing off in best Essex man style as he supposedly campaigned in Clacton for Nigel Farage.

The short story is that the channel ran a "secret" recording of Parker and used it to vilify Reform as a party of wicked waycists. The problem is that Andrew Parker is a character actor who specialises in rough, diamond geezer accents, so why did he use that accent on the video? It is not his natural speaking voice, which you can hear if you go to this link. You can also hear his diamond geezer accent as well.

Now, I am prepared to accept that Andrew Parker is a Reform supporter, even though nobody in the party had ever heard of him until he turned up to volunteer in Clacton. What I cannot understand is why he turned up in character, complete with the accent? If he was a genuine volunteer, who happened to be a jobbing actor, why would he speak in character? 

The suspicion must be that he was either hired to play his standard role, or that he is an activist who decided to play it to discredit Reform and Nigel Farage. Thus, Channel 4 is in the frame as either co-conspiritors in this wheeze or as gullible dupes of a scam.

That will form the basis of the coming week's campaign: the way in which the media establishment from a major television channel sought to undermine a political campaign, by accident or design.

In the meantime, I expect that the votes for Farage and Reform will start to rise.

Why a Massive Labour Majority, plus Corbyn, Galloway & Farage Could Provide Good Entertainment


Looking ahead to the election, the only thing we can be sure about is that Labour will win. Literally, nothing else is certain. The polls are all over the place, so I would sooner rely on my own instinct: at least that way I only have myself to blame if things turn out to be different than I anticipated.

Labour's manifesto provides us with very thin gruel. That is important looking ahead as a manifesto pledge is aking to a magic bullet for the government as the House of Lords will not challenge a government bill that is from the manifesto. 

If Labour has a massive majority, that could become a problem as Sir Keir Starmer was elected as Labour leader on the basis that he was the heir to Corbyn, and then proceded to sling old Jezza out of the party. Quite what Sir Keir does believe in is anyone's guess, but he is certain to alienate a chunk of his party whatever it is, given the putative massive majority that he expects to get. We could be looking at all sorts of fun as Labour dissidents provide the main opposition to the Labour government.

Three men have the potential to make Sir Keir's life very difficult indeed. In no particular order, they are Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage and George Galloway, so let's look at each one and assess how well they might do.

Jezza is standing as an independent in Islington North, the seat he has held since 1983. He is very popular in the area and should win handily. The problem is that about two weeks ago his activists began to make excuses for his defeat, saying that they did not have access to any electoral data so did not know where their supporters lived.

That statement is ludicrous, since data is obtained by sending an army of canvassers out to knock on doors and ask people if they will vote for a particular candidate. That information is collated and on election day, the cars are sent out to ferry those supporters to the polling place.

Jezza, it seems does not have that army. He has plenty of people who will turn up to his rallies, but not enough who will do the donkey work of identifying his supporters. That has created an extra problem, in that low-information voters do not know that he is no longer the Labour candidate. In this final week of the campaign, where his team has finally got some canvassing organised, the teams are still having to tell people to vote for Corbyn and not Labour. That's right, after all this upheaval an awful lot of voters still think that he is the Labour candidate and plan to vote using the Labour logo on the ballot and "Labour Party Candidate" as the description on that paper. For these reasons, Jezza is now the least likely of the three to get elected next week.

George Galloway is probably the most likely to be returned to the Commons for his Rochdale seat. The Workers' Party of Britain which he leads is an alliance of Pakistani Muslims and British claimants, mainly in the Northern English mill towns. Living in one of those towns over a decade ago, I was amazed at how well organised the Pakistani political factions were on election days. If those factions that were lined up under the colours of Labour and the Lib-Dems are now united behind the WPB, the party could do very well at the election.

However, there must be a fear that an overwhelmingly Pakistani activist base will not play on the British council estates. If Galloway has managed to recruit British activists then his party could do very well. If he hasn't, then there is a cap to its vote as it will be made up almost entirely of Pakistani voters, dragooned by their clan leaders. 

Galloway should win his seat, if he was in any doubt he would not have spent last weekend in London canvassing for the WPB there. I have no idea if his party will win one seat or a dozen, and neither does anyone else, but we need to keep an eye on the mill towns next week.

Finally, we have Nigel Farage, the gadfly that terrifies Labour so much that the party's candidate in Clacton was told to stop campaigning, which means Labour is giving the Tories a free ride to take on Farage, the Reform leader and its candidate in Clacton. Farage's vote is spread evenly thoughout the country, which tells against his party under our electoral system. It helps Galloway a lot as his vote is geographically concentrated, but Farage does not have that advantage. However, this time he seems to be running a tight campaign that concentrates on a very few target seats, especially his own. He is odds-on to win Clacton, but how many others he takes is impossible to estimate. My guess is between one and three, but that is pretty much a wild guess.

Let's put all this together. We could have a Labour government, elected on a low turnout with a lower share of the vote that Jezza got when he lost in 2017 and 2019. That government will be headed by a man who is neither popular in the country nor in his own party. If the majority is massive then the opportunities for discord will be enormous. Corbyn, Farage and Galloway are just the men who could take advantage of any such discord and help turn any bad situation for Sir Keir Starmer into a shits & giggles one for us.

Thursday 27 June 2024

Will the Tories Become the Third Party in the Commons?


With a week to go until the polls open the only thing we can be clear about is that Labour has won. For the rest, all is chaos, including the scale of the Tory defeat, a defeat that could see them reduced to third party status in the new House of Commons. The polls are all over the place, with one yesterday predicting Reform to take 18 seats and another telling us that Nigel's gang will get just three.

The only thing that the parties are stirring up is apathy. Here in Edinburgh North & Leith, I have received a grand total of five leaflets from three parties - and there are ten standing in this constituency. Labour managed to send out three of those, the Lib-Dems one and the SNP also one. Only Labour and the SNP have sent out an election address using the free postage that all candidates can use - if the other candidates cannot even be bothered to do that obvious way to reach the electorate they clearly don't care if we vote for them or not.

Calling friends all around the country, I found the same story. Just one person reported a solitary canvasser knocking on his door, with the rest getting a derisory amount of political leaflets across the board. Is it any wonder that we still cannot say for certain that the Tories will be the main opposition party next week?

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Can The Two Main Parties Continue?


There are a lot of reasons why political parties are vital, but the one that I want to concentrate on is that they allow people to participate in the political process without becoming political geeks. The average man in the street can choose a party that more or less reflects his views and then leave matters to that party as he gets on with his life.

Labour had its affiliated industrial unions, so could keep its finger on the pulse of popular opinion, or at least the opinions of its voting core which was the industrial working class. The Tories had a very large membership that was not expected to do very much, but it came in handy for mothers who were looking for suitable suitors for their elegible daughters. Amidst the social whirl, the MP and party chairman could take soundings from the middle class in general, so an organic link existed for both main parties to ordinary people rather than just unrepresentative activists.

Those links have now been broken. Labour because industrial Britain and its unions no longer exists and the Tories because they introduced that democracy thingie to their internal workings which meant that a political party that was largely made up of people who were not really interested in politics has now become, like Labour, something for political anoraks to fight over.

The end result of all this is that people have disengaged from politics and turnout at elections drops. Occasionally there is an upsurge, such as the fact that Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader lost in 2017 and 2019 with more votes than Tony Blair won with in 2005, but it was a false dawn. Both main parties seem to be content tootling along, competing for votes amongst the diminishing pool of people who are willing to vote.

Voter apathy is one marker that a political realignment is needed, or may be about to start. The division in Britain is very clear, but that division is not represented by the parties in any clear way. On the one hand we have people who are rooted in the areas where they live, and who did not go to university. Many are council tenants and claimants, but many have skills that gives them decent wages in the private sector. As a group, they voted from Brexit and are mostly opposed to immigration.

On the other side, we have people with degrees, often from the former polys and colleges of higher education that are now allowed to degrade the name university. They work in the public sector, if such activity can even be called work, as it is neither productive of any finished good and is subsidised by the taxes levied on the private sector workers. Many of these people have no connection or loyality to the areas where they live, and were likely to have voted for the European Union and high immigration in 2016.

As things stand, Labour is the voice of that second group, and Boris Johnson created an alliance of the first which gave him a magnificent victory in 2019. That victory was frittered away, which is why the Tories are about to receive a kicking of note next week.

If the new Tory leader can rebuild the Borisian coalition, then the Tories may find that they can rebound at the next election. If he can't, then the realignment will be delayed, turnout will continue to fall and the country will mark time until eventually either a new party emerges to take over from the Tories, or that party finally comes to its senses and starts to aggregate the votes of the anti-Labour section of the electorate.

Tuesday 25 June 2024

The Pakistani Parties May Surprise Britain Next Week





The election campaign goes on, with the bulk of the population oblivious to it. Speaking to friends across Britain and none of them have been canvassed directly by a party activist who has knocked on their door. Some have received party leaflets, but most have arrived in a bundle with rival parties' material and and adverts for kebab houses and curry shops. It looks to me as if the parties are hiring the small companies who deliver advertising leaflets and getting their messages out that way. The problem is that most such additions to the letterbox clutter are thrown directly into the bin unread. People want to be spoken to directly, and that is no longer happening.

Thus, my window poster is still the only one around in my area, but at least it gives me a chance to repost the photo of my front garden and boast about my potato plants which are really coming on a treat. Eighteen plants should give me enough spuds to keep my belly full until the next harvest arrives in 2025. To be honest, I am more interested in how many pounds of potatoes I get from each plant that in who wins the election in my constituency.

However, if you go into Northern England, to those mill towns that have had their culture thoroughly enriched by people from Pakistan, then you will see election campaigns in full swing. Labour and the Lib-Dems are basically Pakistani factions that take elections very, very seriously. They know that politics is about how resources are allocated, so if your machine wins, you can expect goodies from your party and its leadership.

I was amazed when I lived in Nelson, Lancashire, from 2010 to 2013 to see the Pakistani activists being active on election day. Young men talking self-importantly into their mobiles, cars that were festooned with party posters ferrying people to the polls, houses that had Labour or Lib-Dems posters in the windows: this is how elections used to be fought in my day back in the 1980s.

However, in the British parts of Nelson, it was very different. No, posters, no activists getting out the vote, all was quiet. People voted or they didn't, but the parties didn't seem to care one way or the other.

British people seem to have completely disengaged from politics, something that I will write about tomorrow, but for the here and now, with just over a week to go until polling day, it looks to me as if George Galloway and his Workers' Party of Britain along with the plethora of Islamic independents who are standing may very well end up doing better than anyone expects.

They are the only ones who give a shit.

Monday 24 June 2024

Ken's Second Law of Politics Helps Nigel Farage


Ken's First Rule of Politics states that when the people have decided that they are not gonna vote for you, any old excuse will do. Take Neil Kinnock, who to this day believes that it was his speech at a rally in Sheffield which cost him the 1992 election.

It wasn't that speech that did for him. What did for him is that he was a lightweight tosser and the British people did not want a tosser leading the country. If Sheffield had not happened some other excuse would have been trotted out to provide a justification for the change of heart.

Millions of British people take no interest in politics, which is why in Islington North there are voters who still believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the Labour candidate. That is why Sir Keir Starmer keeps trotting out his my old man's a toolmaker line: politics is a minority sport that most people are indifferent about.

So, in the week or so before an election they watch a bit of TV coverage, read the above the fold part of a newspaper or have a brief natter in the pub, and they quickly concluded that Neil Kinnock was not for them.

Ken's Second Law of Politics is that if people have decided to vote for you, then you could be caught with a smoking gun in your hand and a dead body at your feet and they will still cast a ballot for you on polling day.

This rule applies perfectly to Nigel Farage and explains why all the mudslinging directed at him does not stick. First, the media went trawling through the backgrounds of the Reform candidates and thought they had struck gold with a few comments made by some of them years before. Instead of adopting a grovelling posture, Farage just shrugged and the stories died a death. Then, the media decided that Farage was a supporter of Vlad Putin and that could be used to destroy him. He isn't, he just has no interest in a nasty border conflict in the Great Slav Wasteland anymore than I do, and he was right to say that NATO expansion eastward provoked Russia's actions. Good fun though the sidetrack into foreign policy was, it did not influence the voters one way or the other as support for Reform continues to rise.

I do not know how many votes Reform will get, probably a minimum of 15% and a maximum of about 20%. That is more then enough to help do over the existing party system, give Reform a few MPs and ensure that politics as before is dead and buried.

Sunday 23 June 2024

The Stamp Fairy Scandal


I was planning to take the weekend off since I figured that no fresh Tory shit could hit the fan, I was right about the Tories but wrong about the shit as the SNP stepped up to the crease to give us our Sunday political giggles.

Members of the Scottish Parliament are given an allowance of £5,500 a year for stationary and stamps. The purchases can only be used for parliamentary business, so cannot be used for election campaigns. Needless to say, the SNP seems to have been using thousands of stamps for this election - in fact the party may have drawers full of stamps that are kept in storage to cover election postage. Not only that, but they boast about it online so there is a wonderful paper trail which goes right up to John Swinney, the SNP First Minister of Scotland:

In case you are wondering, Elaine Wylie works directly for John Swinney, so this one goes right to the top.

This is not exactly Watergate, and neither is the insider betting scandal that is hitting the Tories, but both scandals are what happen with political parties that have been in power for far too long and who preside over crap oppositions.

All the more reason to get the Tories out of government and to give the SNP a serious kicking in Scotland.

That's the reason why I cast my postal vote for Labour the other day, and the reason why I urge you to do the same, either by post or in person on the day.

Friday 21 June 2024

All the Parties Fail in This Election


Today is the longest day of the year and it is also the day that my postal vote form arrived through my letterbox. By mid-afternoon I had ticked the box for Tracy Gilbert the Labour candidate and put the sealed ballot paper into an envelope and put it into a postbox. That's it for me, the election is over.

The ballots started to go out in Edinburgh on the 19th of this month so most postal voters will have their ballots by now. Most will cast their ballots within 24 hours of receiving the papers, so for a sizeable chunk of the electorate their involvement has come to an end. For a much larger chunk who are glued to their televisions watching the Euro 2024 finals or are in Germany cheering on the team in person, the elections probably never started, but never mind that. They are still hors de combat.

As more people vote by post, the parties have developed a strategy to maximise their vote by getting letters out to the postal voters as near as possible to the day that the ballot papers arrive. Too early and the voters have junked the leaflets; too late and they will already have voted. The sweetspot is to get the party propaganda delivered along with the ballot papers, but since that is almost impossible to guarantee, the sensible position is to get the leaflets out no more than two days before the ballots are delivered. Labour and the Liberal-Democrats managed that as their leaflets arrived on Wednesday but no other party bothered to try.

Here in Edinburgh North & Leith, nobody I know has heard a thing from the SNP who are defending the seat. I hear reports that they are concentrating on the part of Leith that has been gentrified and where the students live, but I have not spoken to anyone who has actually seen SNP canvassing teams out. As for the Tories, they have a candidate, but damned if I know anything about her.

My ballot paper also has six Mickey Mouse candidates as well. Some Greenie woman, a fellow from the Scottish Family Party which opposes abortion, a Communist and a Socialist Labour wallah, both of whom work at that hotbed of militant proletarianism otherwise known as the Unversity of Edinburgh and a Reform UK man who I was going to vote for until I realised that his email was out of order and that he had no plans to fix it and he didn't have a mobile telephone. I don't know why that is, he may think that are a tool of the Devil for all I know, but all told it makes him look a very unserious candidate to me. The final minnow is an independent who is supposedly standing for Edinburgh People, a party so new that it is not registered with the electoral commission, so its candidates have to call themselves independents.

With the honourable exception of Labour and the Lib-Dems, none of this shower has even sent out a leaflet so far, and if they do send one they are wasting their time with the postal voters as we have almost all voted by now. So what is going on?

My theory is that as party politics become more and more of a game for a coterie of middle class people, they have decided to compete with each other in the shallow pool of voters who are committed enough to carry on voting. Of course, this means that turnout will continue to decline, but so long as the parties can get enough people elected, they are not going to bother about that.

They seem to think that if we cannot be bothered to search them out, they cannot be bothered knocking on our doors to ask for our votes. So they won't get our votes as we will concentrate on the football instead.

That attitude is very bad for democracy and the health of the party system, but I don't think they care so long as enough of their candidates are elected.

Tory Retreat Becomes a Rout



I am getting reports that Tories defending majorities of fewer than 20,000 have been told to look to their own resources to hold those seats. The party will only send assistance to the rock-solid seats to make sure that they remain Tory. It should be remembered that in 1997, the Labour landslide took in formerly Tory seats with majorities up to about 15,000, so if these reports are accurate, it means that the party is preparing to retreat to its Southern English heartlands and abandon the rest of the country.

The Daily Telegraph has it that Tories fighting to take Northern, Labour seats were told last week to give up and campaign in the South. The paper now claims that across the country, incumbents defending majorities of 7,000 votes or fewer have been urged to thrown in the towel and campaign elsewhere.

The latest scandal to hit the Tories may mean that what I heard about Tory plans is more accurate than the version given by the Telegraph. The scandal involves using insider information to bet on the date of the election and the sums involved come to a pretty derisory £6,000 or so.

I realise that for your average Tory these days, ethics is a county in Southern England where Nigel Farage is a candidate, the girls all wear hoop earings and the guys all end their sentences with "Know what ah mean mah son?" However, what these buffoons did was not just criminal, it was utterly mental as well. All they had to do was go into a bookies and place a cash bet. Instead, they bet online so there is a paper trail leading directly to them. Several, including a serving plod have already had their collars felt and I expect more arrests will be made over the coming days.

Can it get any worse for the Tories? Yes, because they are idiots, and idiots can always make a bad situation worse.

Thursday 20 June 2024

What the Parties Offer the Disabled & Claimants

With all the party manfestos out, let's have a look at what the big four parties are offering the disabled claimants, shall we? I will leave the SNP out of this as their policies will be decided in Holyrood and not Westminster, and the Greenies and other Mickey Mouse outfits are not going to get a sniff at government, so it's Conservative, Labour, Liberal-Democrat and Reform that I want to look at.

The Conservative manifesto aims to reduce the benefits bill by £12 billion to fund tax cuts. £10 billion of those cuts are going to come from slashing PIP, which is the main benefit that the disabled rely on, along with Attendence Allowance for the pensioners. AA is not looked at, but the Tory aim with PIP is to replace it with a voucher system to pay for specific items, instead of money that is used to make people's lives easier. They also want to change the work capability assessment system from 2025 to make further savings.

Luckily, the Tories are not going to win the election, but if you are disabled and have half a mind to vote for that shower, that really is all you need.

Labour offers nothing concrete, which is good in a way, since it means that Sir Keir Starmer cannot renege on pledges that have not been made. The party has promised to "reduce child poverty" but neglects to tell us how they will do that, and there is no pledge to abolish the benefit cap or two-child benefit limit.

It all depends if you trust Labour not to screw you over too much. Are you feeling lucky, in other words?

The Liberal-Democrats are the most disabled and claimant friendly of all the parties. Their manifesto pledges to abolish the two-child limit, the benefit cap and the bedroom tax. They also want to reduce the waiting time for a claimant's first Universal Credit payment from five weeks to five days, and replace claimant sanctions with incentives.

They are not going to win, and many of those pledges refer to policies that were brought in during the period 2010-2015 when the Lib-Dems were acting as Tory stooges in a coalition, so there must be a fear that if the Tories do manage to poll better than expected, they might offer the Lib-Dems a few table scraps as they did in 2010.

Do you trust the Lib-Dems not to revert to being Tory stooges? That is the key question for any putative Lib-Dem voter.

Reform have provided us with the laughs of the campaign. Their manifesto tells us that "Personal Independence Payment and Work Capability Assessment should be face to face," which is exactly how they are conducted at present. Only continuing assessments are paper-based, and a very few, mainly terminal, claimants decided by paperwork. "We will require independent medical assessments to prove eligibility for payments," Reform goes on to say, but that is how they are carried out now by private companies such at Atos and Capita. Finally, we are told that those who are seriously disabled are to be exempt from regular checks, which is how the system works at present.

This part of the Reform manifesto looks as if it has been cobbled together in a saloon bar in one of the nastier towns such as Nuneaton where all the petty grievances are allowed to have full reign. 

Across the board, this is all either pernicious attacks on claimants or the thinnest of thin gruels, so vote as you see fit.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Did Nigel Farage Have a Wobbly Moment?

Did Nigel Farage experience a bit of a wobble yesterday? He threatened legal action against the company that had been hired to vet Reform candidates, instead of just brushing off the media's whinings about someone being connected to some dodgy cove years ago. The press has been searching for stories like that and up to now none of those stories had legs as the press could not interest the punters. However, his threats to sue may have kept the tales alive, so let's hope that today after a good night's sleep he is back to brushing them off again. It really is the best answer that has worked up to now, so why change a winning strategy?

The people who will vote Reform really don't give a damn about somone saying that Hitler knew how to address a rally; what they want are candidates who share their desire to control the country's borders. They have had enough of the downright lies that the Tories have fed them since Cameron was in Downing Street, and they now no longer believe that the Conservatives are anything but a party of mass immigration. Ever since Blair's time they have known that Labour is the immigrant party, so Reform offers them the chance to vote for a party that seeks to answer their concerns.

It may be that Reform is now the official protest party that is used by voters to register their discontent at the other parties. If it is, then it does not matter to them that some candidates have a colourful background as they will still vote for Reform as a two-fingered gesture to the main parties. The aim is to force those parties to listen and take action.

Hopefully, Farage will realise this as he brushes his teeth today, and get back to his cheeky chappy persona that has served him so well up to now.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

The Election View From Scotland


Let's be honest: the election campaign is over in Scotland as at least five percent of the adult, male population are currently in Germany watching the football. Even when Scotland go out of the tournament the fans are not going to scamper back home to vote next month; they will stay in Germany and engage in Scotland's main pastime which is bevvying.

The bulk of the population who are not in Germany seem to be jammed into bars, watching the team on giant televisions. My eldest son went to watch Scotland's opening match against Germany and was unable to form a coherent sentence the next day which he spent in bed. Like all my sons he is an Anglo-Mexican, but if you like football and bevvy then Scotland welcomes you into her arms.

To be fair, the election is less important in Scotland than it is in England, as the majority of the issues that concern us on a day to day basis are decided in Holyrood and not Westminster. London is responsible for my pension, but both main parties have accepted that the triple-lock will apply for the duration of the next parliament. Sure, they could renege on that, but unless that happens, the pledge stands. Apart from my pension, it is pretty much Holyrood all the way as far as I can see.

Holyrood is not the "wee pretendy parliament" that Billy Connolly mocked back in 1999. It is now a very powerful institution that is 100% responsible for the health service, tax rates, local government and a big chunk of benefits. As a disabled man I used to get Personal Independence Payment from London, now I get Adult Disability Payment from Edinburgh. The Tories have threatened to replace PIP with a voucher system, but that does not matter to me as I get ADP.

Of course, I would like to see the Tories defeated, but a Tory victory would not bother me very much. There is not much that they can do to me in Scotland unless Holyrood allows it.

Monday 17 June 2024

Why I Will Vote Labour


Is my flat the only one in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, with a Labour poster in its window? I suspect that it is the only one with any political posters in any window and I am sure that it is the only one with eighteen potato plants growing happily in its garden and a cat named Daisy sat on its steps.

Yes, I'm going to vote Labour, but not because I give a tinker's cuss for that party or believe a word that its leader, Sir Keir Starmer, says. I was going to vote Reform, as I know the candidate, but my detestation for the SNP is now so total that I just want to see them taken down a peg or two. It's hard to believe that I voted Yes in the 2014 independence referendum and then went on to vote SNP in the Holyrood and Westminster elections: they have turned Scotland into a laughing stock and I want rid of them. Labour are the second party in this constituency so I will vote Labour, and it is as simple as that.

The window poster came about because at the start of the campaign, Labour sent a solitary canvasser out to leaflet my area and I got chatting to the fellow and I told him that since I moved into the flat in 2018 not a single person for any political party had ever bothered to hunt for votes on the Muirhouse scheme. Since I was going to vote Labour anyway I figured that act deserved a poster as a reward. That said, since then no other party has been anywhere near and my poster seems to be the only one around.

Westminster elections are held using the first past the post system, but council elections in Scotland use the single transferable vote method, so we have big, multi-member wards. Mine is part of Acorn Ward that consists of this scheme, plus South Queensferry, a big owner-occupied area, along with the swish, leafy Cramond that featured so prominently in the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

South Queensferry got the full treatment of leaflets and canvassing at the last local elections, whereas Muirhouse got nothing, so being a bit of an old devil I contacted all the party hacks after the vote and asked them why we were ignored?

The replies were entertaining with the SNP saying that they thought that Muirhouse was solid Labour and the Tories said that as a council scheme it was either Labour or SNP. As an exercise in buck-passing it made me hoot, but Labour took the biscuit by trying to claim that they had canvassed, but when I asked them to tell me where and when so that I could go and knock on doors to confirm the story they clammed up. Still, it prepared me for Sir Keir Starmer, a Labour leader who cannot get his story straight either.

I suspect that since party politics is now a middle-class hobby, its participants basically lack the bottle to walk around a council scheme and talk to real schemies. That makes Labour doubly contemptable in my book since it is the party that was set up to represent the urban proletariat, the very same people who inhabit Muirhouse.

I will still vote Labour, but only because of my deep contempt for today's SNP.

Sunday 16 June 2024

Labour Lies

 Why does Sir Keir Starmer keep repeating his "my dad was a toolmaker" line when everyone knows that it is such utter bollocks? Rodney Starmer owned the factory in which the tools were made, it is as simple as that. By the way, the Starmer family lived in Oxted, which is as home counties plush as they come. 

It's not just Sir Keir, either. Emily, Lady Nugee, is the wife of a senior judge and the daughter of a very senior United Nations official who likes to pretend that she is poor Emily Thornberry who was dragged up on a council estate. Actually, when her parents divorced little Emily spent five minutes in a rented house until the divorce settlement came through and her mother then bought a nice house with some of the loot.

 Her Ladyship even went campaigning in Rochester and took this photo of a house with its England flags and transit van. It was as if she was a Victorian explorer seeing a Zulu hut for the first time, that is how remote these people are from my tribe.

Labour has always had an upper-middle-class element in its ranks. Clement Attlee, Tony Benn, my old MP Michael Meacher, were all born to wealth, but they didn't pretend that they were anything but wealthy men who had cast in their lot with the urban proletariat. 

Sir Keir and Lady Nugee both do: they pretend that they are just like us when it is so obvious that they don't actually like us, still less understand us. That's fine as it means we don't have to pretend that we like them, but I am curious to know why they think they can get away with it?

It may be that since Labour has now shed almost all it working class members and party meetings are made up of the teaching trade, social work industry and the local government nomenklatura. Few of such types even know anyone who is currently glued to his TV watching the football, still less socialises with them. So, they believe the bollocks that Sir Keir and Lady Nugee dish out to them.

However, the rest of us can tell from their accents, their dress and the way they carry themselves that they do not belong in our ranks.

A bit of honesty in future would be welome.

Saturday 15 June 2024

Contrived Row Over D-Day Junket


I found the Rishi Sunak D-Day row a bit hard to take. I know where my father was eighty years ago this month: he was a gunner, so was on the southern coast along with most of the artillery in anticipation of the Germans launching a raid to try to disrupt the D-Day landings. By the end of the month, with all the beachheads linked up, the heavy guns crossed the channel and Gunner Charlie Bell helped blast the way through France and into Germany with a minimum of finese and a maximum of high explosive.

He was demobbed in late 1945 and put the whole wretched war behind him. He never went to the local cenotaph, nor did he join any veterans association. I claimed his medals for him years later as he had no interest in doing it himself and when I told him my plan he replied: "You'll have to pay for 'em! You don't get owt for nowt in't bluddy army!"

Actually, they were free and his Second World War Medal, his Good Conduct Medal, along with his France and Germany Star duly arrived in the post. He stuck them in a sideboard and forgot to tell me so I found them by accident.

Forty years ago when the politicians last used D-Day as a vote grabbing opportunity I asked my parents why it was forty years and not fifty, and my mother who had been conscipted to work in the Avro factory to work 12-hour days building Lancaster bombers, replied that it was so that there would be enough old men around for the politicians to be photographed with.

Both my parents are long dead, but I just know that my dad would not have given a tinker's cuss about Sunak leaving France early, so on his behalf, I don't either.

Why the Election is Now Good Fun



Sunak is 5'6" and Starmer is supposedly 5'8" but I have my doubts looking at this photo. Clearly, the blonde is taller than the pair of 'em. Now, I know that there is a difference between midgets and dwarfs, but I will be buggered if I can remember what it is. Shall we just settle for calling them a pair of shortarses?

This photo was taken before the first leaders' debate, but it reminded me of just why I don't really care which one of these two chancers gets to live in 10 Downing Street in July. I live in Scotland and just about everything that affects my day to day life is decided in Edinburgh and not London. Of the things that do come from London such as my state pension, there is unanimity between the two parties that the triple-lock will remain. Even Brexit is a non-issue, with both chancers determined not to discuss it. So, I settled back to watch the fun, without really caring one way or the other who won.

Then Nigel Farage entered the fray and what was tedious became very good fun indeed.

Then I discovered that Keith Vaz, a former Labour minister and washing machine salesman was standing as an independent. That the Northern mill towns where the Pakistanis are the only ones guaranteed to vote were breaking away from Labour and standing their own independent, Islamic candidates. That George Galloway and his Workers' Party of Britain were aiming for the Pakistani and the White working class vote in those towns with a campaign that mixes support for Gaza with an economic policy that I approve of wholeheartedly. Finally, that several Labour candidates in London have been prevented from standing under Labour's banner and are now on the ballots as independents, with the chief amongst them being the former leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

With Farage giving the Tories a serious collective bowel movement and the Islamists, Workers' Party and London independents doing the same to Labour, all of a sudden my heart was filled with glee as I realised that two parties that really don't give a stuff about me or the Muirhouse council scheme where I live, were about to tear themselves to pieces.

Hopefully, out of the wreckage, something better will emerge, but even if it doesn't I am determined to enjoy the show for the next three weeks.

Let's enjoy it together.

Election Blogging Time


After a four-year blogging hiatus I am back until the 2024 election is over. I have to be honest and say that I have not enjoyed myself so much in years and I want to share my glee as I watch the political system collapse.

In three weeks the blog will go back on ice, but until then, I'm gonna rock, roll and enjoy myself.


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