Monthly Archives: April 2006

Old = new

Thank you Cristina Odone for revealing to me that Kirsty Alsopp, the smug presenter of Location, Location, Location whose latest wheeze is to do a series on the wonders of buy-to-let, is the daughter of the 6th Baron Hindlip. So it turns out that the poster child of new feudalism is in fact a member of the old feudal class. Explains everything, including her near ubiquity in Cameron press launches.

Lest I be accused of attempting to shoot the messenger, I should point out that I agree that programmes like Location, Location, Location are merely the symptom not the cause, and that under the circumstances they probably do help people get onto the property ladder who would otherwise not have a look in. But they aren’t matched with a reforming zeal. From what I can see, the Hon. Allsopp thinks the solution to everything is just to mouth platitudes about the need to build more houses; if it was as simple as that she would be out of a job.

The wages of spin

I don’t want to make a habit of agreeing with Iain Dale, but he is absolutely correct regarding Mark Oaten’s latest bid to rehabilitate himself. Let us not forget that the scandal about him visiting male prostitutes was exacerbated by his breathtaking decision to present himself as the quintassential “family values” leadership candidate. He genuinely seems to think that all it will take is a couple of articles in celeb magazines and ker-ching! we’re back in business.

Notwithstanding one foolish “source close to the leader” quoted in the Indy yesterday, one hopes that the Lib Dem front bench are not so quick to bring him back into the fold. We have enough of a problem with this Michael Brown business without Oaten rearing his ugly head again. What he should be doing right now is going out of his way to reestablish his private life as private property – that means keeping his (and Belinda’s) big mouth shut. This “strategy” screams of exactly the sort of glory chasing that partially lead to his downfall. It certainly doesn’t seem to be either in the party’s or his family’s best interests.

21st century crime

One thing that puzzles me… the Prime Minister is dead keen changing the “rules of the game” when tackling organised crime so that circumstantial evidence leads to presumption of guilt. Last time I looked, the circumstantial evidence that he has been accepting payment for peerages was mounting pretty high. Does he think the same standard of proof should apply to himself or should it just apply to people wearing stripy tops and masks carrying bags marked “swag”?

The BNP, the Left and the need for reform

Following on from my rant yesterday, tenuously connecting the foundation of the Euston Manifesto with Charles Clarke pissing over every civil liberty within reach, here’s another example of how the left is just obsessed with itself:

Leaving aside the question of just how well the BNP might do in next week’s local elections, I’ve got little time for the consensus that seems to have emerged that the BNP’s alleged rise is due to Labour ignoring its traditional working class base, moving to the centre and being too friendly to rich people.

Except that this is only the consensus amongst the left, and Harry’s alternative formulation – that people just vote BNP because they’re racist – is equally over simplistic.

To be clear here, it is pretty undeniable that the vast majority of people who vote BNP do so because they accept the BNP’s scapegoating on racial and religious grounds as essentially correct. Harry is also spot on to point out that the failure of RESPECT and previously the Socialist Alliance to capitalise on the demise of Old Labour shows how the “Labour has abandoned the working class” theory is equally unsatisfactory. But if Harry’s argument is correct, we would be seeing a much bigger rise in the BNP vote across the country, and be facing a much greater threat.

There isn’t a big groundswell in support for racist policies. What we’re seeing is that in a few places people see voting BNP as the only way of having their voices heard. Yes, the fact is that their racist views (which are more widely held than we might like to think) mean that voting BNP is not as anathema to them as others, but wherever there is a vigourous political culture, the BNP do not gain a political foothold.

The real problem in these areas is that in electoral terms, they simply do not matter. Labour councillors can generally take people’s votes for granted there, but this creates a political vacuum that will either be filled by an established political party, or a fringe group, which is increasingly the BNP. In most places, it gets filled by an established political party and the result is political earthquakes such as Newcastle in 2004. But low levels of political participation means that the main parties can only focus on a limited number of places.

The real answer then is a revival of political culture. A big step forward would be electoral reform for local government, which would end one party rule; another would be a form of state funding of political parties that financially rewards mass participation and thus gives political parties an incentive to engage in the expensive business of recruitment and direct political engagement.

We have to be careful however because the wrong kind of reform in either case would do little to improve matters. Replace first past the post with a closed list system would inspire justified cynicism to breathtaking new levels. Introduce the sort of party funding that means the party’s national HQs get a big fat cheque every month for them to spend on their existing targeted and highly centralised campaigning (i.e what the Tories are currently proposing), and all you will do is seed resentment at the fact that taxpayer’s money has been lavished on ensuring the status quo.

I’m hopeful we will see progress on this over the next few months. I’m hopeful but as yet, I’m not at all confident.

Stitch that Cameron!

It looks like the Brown-Cameron green pissing contest is game, set and match. What Dave would do for a book title like this.

(and yes, I know the fact that a book has the word “brown” in the title is a little tenuous, but its a lot more concrete than anything either of these pillocks have been bilging all week).

UPDATE: Interesting to note that the book being recommended by Amazon as “better together” to accompany this one is titled “Dime’s Worth of Difference : Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils”. No comment.

Clean Up Westminster petition

Noble though this cleanupwestminster petition is, it’s a shame they didn’t pay more attention to the grammar:

We, the undersigned, believe that there should be no further appointments to the House of Lords until the current investigations have run their course; and the possibility of corruption has been removed from Westminster; and Parliament behaves with absolute propriety and is seen to behave with absolute propriety.

Is it me or does that say that “we the undersigned” believe that the possibility of corruption has been removed from Westminster and that Parliament not only behaves with absolute propriety but is seen to behave with absolute propriety?

And yes, it’s clear what they really mean, but even then, isn’t it a little utopian? The possibility of corruption must be ended? How are you going to do that?

Why is The Left so self-obsessed

Matthew Turner has provided us with a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to the Decent Left, i.e. that disparate bunch of leftish bloggers who have embraced neo-conservativism.

Three major new initiatives in less than a year. What is notable is that, despite their obsession with their old comrades, they are using all their old techniques of setting up dummy fronts and using them as a platform to denounce their opponents. And, like the Old Left, their opponents are invariably fellow lefties who, as they see it, have drifted from the True Path. Similarly again, their enemies are their enemies’ enemies (while of course denouncing their opponents for doing the same thing).

This is a strange parlour game to anyone who has never been a member of one of the myriad sects of post-Marxian politics. On the one hand, things like Harry’s Place provide for us a useful function, keeping an eye on many members of the hard left who are generally given quite an easy ride by the left-leaning media such as the Guardian and Indy. On the other hand, it appears to have gone beyond an interest and into the realm of real obsession. Outside this charmed circle, the rest of the world carries on quite happily.

Those of us who got involved in the anti-war movement in the run up to the second Iraq War knew perfectly well what we were getting into when we declared a temporary truce with the hard left. We knew it was full of nutters, some of whom were dangerous, at least in part because we’d been to university and seen quite what a pernicious lot they were up close. We don’t need the Henry Jackson Society to teach us that George Galloway is a moron or that John Pilger is a highly unreliable and partisan correspondent because we have critical faculties of our own. This cottage industry has got out of hand; launching something as pretentious as a manifesto is to assume a level of importance that just isn’t the case, as this Guardian story makes clear. It is not merely rehearsing an argument from three years ago; it’s rehearsing a student union bar row 30 years ago.

Which brings us nicely to Charles Clarke. Back in the 70s, the Safety Elephant was a commie student hack and had a beard that Marx himself would have been proud of; whole generations of woodland creatures made their homes in it. You do sometimes get the sense that he too is simply fighting the Trots of his past.

The latest proposals to withdraw compensation to the victims of miscarriages of justice would appear to be a case in point. It is hard to see how this is really doing much to help the victims of crime; after all, it is victims themselves who are being attacked here and the amount of money is paltry. It seems to have less to do with achieving anything substantial policy-wise, and more to do with deliberately picking a fight with the civil liberties movement. Clarke surely knew that people would be lining up to denounce it; surely at the back of his mind must have been that an insubstantial policy measure would be blown up in the press, with him managing to present himself as the “tough” opponent of woolly liberal handouts to dodgy crim-types (never mind if they happened to be technically innocent).

It is a short hop from the student union bar to the saloon bar, and New Labour has made the leap effortlessly. But their tactics betray their origins.

Not big or clever

I’ve been having fun today with the new suite of House of Lords related functions launched by those programming elves behind Public Whip, TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem.

Child that I am, I couldn’t resist looking up to see which Lord has used the most “f” words. It turns out that just one Lord has used this expletive in the Lords: one Lord Philips of Sudbury.

Anyone who has ever heard Lord Philips speak outside of the Other Place will be unsurprised by this revelation. He spoke at the launch meeting of NO2ID a couple of years ago and engaged in a tirade of sweary words. Enormous fun was had by all.

Copyright notice

This is a short post to state that I have copyrighted the idea of portraying the Conservative party as a leopard who can’t change his spots. This is in anticipation of a future Dave the Chameleon ad in which Dave attempts to get the Tory leopard to do exactly that. Use it Tone, and I’ll sue your ass.

I thank you.

Incidently, while a leopard can’t change its spots, it is good to see that a leader can change his jaguar. Bdm-tss!

The colour of hypocrisy

It would be churlish to pick holes in Labour’s funny party election broadcast this evening, so of course, I couldn’t resist.

The first point is that its funny, but not half as funny as it could be. The problem is that voiceover: couldn’t they have dug up Pete Postlethaite or Patrick Stewart or some other Labour luvvy rather than this humourless gimboid? And it could have done with at least two more rewrites; it just isn’t funny enough.

The second point is, it’s blatantly hypocritical. At every single point of the broadcast you can replace the word “Dave” with the word “Tony” and “Conservatives” with “Labour” and it still makes perfect sense. For Christ’s sake, the Labour chameleon is even called “Tone” – what more do you want?

As a piece of effective political broadcasting however, you can’t really knock it. Sure, you can bet that Bremner, Bird and Fortune will do their own version on Saturday, but only twittering middle class arseholes watch Bremner, Bird and Fortune, and then only to satisfy their own prejudices. The lesson, children, is that if you want to get anywhere in politics you must be completely shameless. Only don’t ever admit it.