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British Politics

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:55 pm
by garth cartwright
They're really crap, aren't they? I mean just shite.

I watched Vince Cable - who was such an articulate critic of bankers and their bonuses when in opposition - be interview on Ch4 News about Barclays boss Bob Diamonds 17 million package and the prick could not even utter a single criticism.

The Coalition is I guess what we expected just perhaps more corrupt and inept. The Murdoch saga just sprays sewerage over all of them. Alec Salmond offering his help in getting the BSkyB deal. Gordon Brown fawning over Murdoch then begging Simon Cowell for approval - Brown, since his downfall, has come across as seemingly the least liked leader in recent decades - Thatcher may have attracted vitriol but many who worked with her stood by her; no one who worked with Brown seems to have a good word for the man. Cameron, with his smug plastic face and mock "concern", what a turd. He must laugh at how Ed Milliband is Labour leader - a nice public schoolboy who carries no weight.Not exactly what is needed to galvanise voters as we slip back into recession . . .

I'll vote in the Mayoral elections this week. As with last time I will hold my nose while voting for the corrupt bully Labour have put up. Ken promised so much when he was first elected and did some good things for London but the way he behaved in power was extremely depressing.

British politics - when was it last so thoroughly rotten? Not that this is anything new - Blair corrupted Labour and the Tories realised that to rewin power they had to imitate Blair... But, call me a nostalgic, there once were parties with policies. Now we seem to have special interest groups that cater to bankers, media moguls and American warmongers. What a mess.

There, that's my grumpy old git rant of the day...

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:19 am
by Adam Blake
I can't help wondering if what we are witnessing here is a genuine dissolution. Of politics and of the kind of society that Britain has been, more or less, since the end of WW2.

I lived through Thatcher - I was 19 when she came to power, I was 30 when she fell. But I remember that, however bad things were (and they were) there was still an opposition. British Socialism as practiced by Tony Benn and Michael Foot still existed. That no longer seems to be the case. Tony Benn is still with us, and it is a source of great comfort to me how respected he is by my daughter and her contemporaries. In America, Bernie Sanders treads a similar lonely path, ideologically buttressed to some extent by such as Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky (the Leonard Cohen of American politics?) Howard Zinn's work is still read and revered by many American students.

But in reality, there is no effective opposition in modern British politics. In order to succeed, a political party must suck at the teat of the City. The financial class have been allowed to annex British parliamentary democracy. The talk of "recession" is just a smokescreen. Walk around Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Holland Park and tell me we are in a recession. We are not. We are in the process of an enormous re-distribution of wealth to the very wealthy. The country is once again being run by Old Etonians with all that that implies.

We do tend to follow the US, have done since the end of WW2, and having just returned from there, it does seem that major changes are afoot. The facts are that corporate money and their lobbyist lackeys have been allowed to buy government, that Corporate Personhood has effectively scuppered all that was good in the American system - with the result that Social Darwinism - or Ayn Randism - is rampant. The poor can fuck off and die. It's as simple and as brutal as that.

Soon, both here and in the US, we will see the beginnings of a new labour movement - a return to slave labour wages. "You want to solve the problem of unemployment?" the captains of industry will say. "Then you must be prepared to compete with the Chinese". Minimum wage regulations will be openly ignored and then abandoned. Exploitation, in the form of "work experience" programmes, unpaid internships etc. will become the norm. This is happening at the BBC already. Only the other day I was speaking to a young graduate student, an MA no less, who was working for the BBC for no wages on an internship. "Why are you, an educated person, allowing yourself to be exploited?" I asked her. She just looked embarrassed. (And please, no smartarse remarks. I am not in the mood. If I get any, I shall just delete this post and withdraw from the forum.) In the fancy-schmancy shops for rich women in Notting Hill where I live, the staff are more and more often the teenaged children of the wealthy, earning less than minimum wage because the shop owners know they live with their parents in the lap of luxury and are only working to make pocket money before inheriting their trust funds. How can anyone get a proper job in such a context?

Is it possible to say 'twas ever thus? Machiavelli would certainly recognize the problems, and would undoubtedly have some cynical advice for survival. Brecht too. And Orwell.

Getting corporate money out of politics seems of paramount importance both here and in the US. Maybe ultimately, it will have to do with the behaviour of the police and the military. They take orders. But maybe, just maybe, they will tire of protecting the people who are oppressing their own children and denying them their birthright as 1st world citizens. We can but hope.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:53 am
by Adam Blake
Adam Blake wrote:We do tend to follow the US, have done since the end of WW2, and having just returned from there, it does seem that major changes are afoot. The facts are that corporate money and their lobbyist lackeys have been allowed to buy government, that Corporate Personhood has effectively scuppered all that was good in the American system - with the result that Social Darwinism - or Ayn Randism - is rampant. The poor can fuck off and die. It's as simple and as brutal as that.

In fairness I should add that the basic decency of the American people, at least in California, is untarnished by this vileness but that unfortunately one of the most laudable American characteristics - optimism - prevents many Americans from seeing the dreadful things that are being done under their noses. They simply don't believe it. Add to that the little old ladies who will always vote Republican regardless and oblivious to what's actually on the table (the exact counterparts to the blue rinse ladies of Tonbridge Wells who will always vote Tory) and you have a deadly situation which plays completely into the hands of the far right who have replaced political dialogue with fascistic and apocalyptic ideology.

Sorry I seem to have lost my sense of humour but this stuff isn't funny.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 7:32 am
by AndyM
All of that rings very true, Adam, and you're right about how demoralising it all is. One things that we don't have but the Americans do is the particularly scary involvement of fundamentalist religion at all levels of the political process. Combining neoliberal economics with blind and vindictive theocracy is utterly terrifying.

I was reading about one ''''Christan''''' university in the U.S. which polices the students' media consumption, and which has expelled one student for watching 'Glee'. (Not on taste grounds, which could be understandable!) Sounds like a silly example and a sick joke, but it points to a worrying trend. I suppose I take some comfort (a tiny, tiny shred) in the fact that our toff-boy rulers aren't taking us down that lunatic path. They have, shall we say, other fish to fry.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 8:53 am
by NormanD
It's hard to add to the above posts. I agree with Garth's initial comments, except for para 4. I dislke any politician who seeks office through a sense of entitlement. I can neither forgive nor forget Livingstone's response to the police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. I won't vote for him, as much as I despise (yes, a strong word, the only one that comes to mind) Johnson.

I think we have the politics of cynicism and despair in the UK. Representatives we no longer trust, standing for parties that speak at, rather than for, us. There is no party that talks about people organising themselves, or standing up for themselves. There was more talk of socialism - and what it meant to people's daily lives - a hundred years ago. Now, the Labour Party is not even 'reformist' - it stands firmly behind the interests of profit and big business. Worse, there is no alternative party speaking up for us. Many on the left are desperate for some movement to come out of the Labour Party, and still support it in the hope of change from within. That won't happen. We have the two main parties, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber, with the Lib Dumbs yapping for some scraps.

I read yesterday's Guardian interview with George Galloway. What an opportunist that man has become, with his talk of Allah and move away from socialist ideas. My biggest criticism is that he is an individualist, unwilling or incapable of building a larger political movement that could stand some chance of becoming a radical political force. he is a 'one-off', and will probably be ever so.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:15 am
by Adam Blake
This was just sent to me by my daughter. Some good quotes here:

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:57 am
by Jamie Renton
Happy International Workers Day comrades. Our leaders are corrupt cowards and bullies. It's the artists who have the answers. Jeb Loy Nichols would get my vote:

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:42 am
by NormanD
Jamie Renton wrote:Happy International Workers Day comrades.
You too, brothers & sisters.

Workers of the world, relax!

Posted by my son on facebook
This morning on my way into work, something incredible happened! At the interchange between the East London line/ Jubilee at Canada Water, the narrow escalator was broken, adding weight to the already massed trudging crowd. People shoved, asserting their greater right over the person next to them, having that right asserted over them by someone else. Then the amazing thing happened. Somebody near the front cried out, and then the crowd jolted with a near mechanical stop. People then began to sit down. On the static escalator, on the floor. One by one, until everyone was seated. Instinctively, we all began to hold hands. Silently, gently. No one said a thing, yet we were all saying the same thing:

“No. We refuse to fight each other. We refuse to beat down our fellow man in the name of sustenance and survival. Existence is a right, it is not a competition. We are workers. This is international worker’s day. This is our day. And today we say ‘NO’”

Actually, no, it was raining so people were even bigger c***s than usual.

Adam, our son, your daughter - the next generation's not being fooled. There's the hope.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:19 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Thanks guys, I knew I could count on you to rid me of the 'is it just me?' feeling and restore a little equanimity. Things seem worse than I can remember too.

I veer between trying to take some sort of intelligent interest in mainstream politics and thinking it's just a sideshow and the real business is being done elsewhere, behind closed doors in the metaphorical dark. The Murdoch stuff inclines me to the latter view. Surface to air missiles on buildings near the Olympic site make it abundantly clear this is not the country we used to live in.

I will vote with some reluctance for Ken purely on an anti-Tory position and because of the pledge to cut the ridiculous tube fares.

I'm no expert on economics but it does seem clear that, among its other nefarious doings, this government is bent on a mission to reduce public provision to the bare bones, selling off prisons, policing, health services and my particular interest, schools, to private tender, a process begun under Labour but hurtling along with breakneck speed. Did we vote for this?

Fear everywhere, masked with false and superficial cheerfulness. The young people know it's not right, but saddled with student debts and the risk of being unemployed or semi-employed or under-employed, keep their heads down and get on with it, like Adam's BBC intern, like many I know.

Occupy is surely the most positive sign. I went to a meeting the other week, mainly out of curiosity. So well-meaning but so diffuse, lacking in focus, but hopefully growing into something meaningful. 8000 in Union Square in New York today, but less than 80 in Paternoster Square in the City tonight. Camping out on a pavement has some symbolic power perhaps, but it's got to go somewhere further.

Meanwhile we have the consolations of our bubbles - of family, the job, the remnants of community, technologically in touch yet never more isolated, tempted and tamed by self-satisfaction, while the powers that be seem infinitely remote and infinitely more powerful.

The next few months will be very interesting, maybe a little scary, hopefully, at times, a little hopeful.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:37 am
by NickH
I voted for Ken too, although with a great deal of enthusiasm. Ken's Fare Deal campaign to reduce public transport fares was just one of his campaign commitments which would have improved the lives of many people living in London. Anyone who lives in London and didn't vote for Ken Livingstone last Thursday should be ashamed of themselves.

I bumped into odious Tory candidate Boris Johnson campaigning in Clapham Junction last Wednesday. After a brief exchange about the heckling he received when he turned up for a post-riots photo opportunity with a broom last year, I told him to fuck off when he tried to hand me one of his Tory election leaflets.

Londoners should be embarassed that an unaccoutable Tory idiot who represents the views of a minority of millionaire bankers has been elected to represent them. Still, the Tories were given a good kicking elsewhere in London and the UK on Thursday. It won't be long before Cameron & co are history, as pro-austerity governments across Europe are removed by voters.

PS. Interesting election analysis on the Labour List link below indicates that Johnson may have attracted as many as 140,000 first preference votes from the non-Tory far right (BNP, UKIP etc). ... abour-gap/

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:06 am
by garth cartwright
While I agree with you Nick that ordinary Londoners will suffer from having Boris reelected we must look at how Ken twice lost to that scumbag: considering he came in as a popular independent candidate and then won easily as a Labour candidate and did good things for the city why did he lose? Because he's an arrogant bully and practises cronyism of the worst kind - his missus on £50,000 as an "adviser", the awful toady on £250,000 K as a race relations adviser ( I lived in Brixton when this berk whose name escapes me set off the 94 riots), lots of old left mates in cosy jobs. I voted for Ken last week but I understand how some voters like Norman couldn't bring themselves to do it. And Ken, if he has any humility (which I doubt), should look at his behaviour and examine why he alienated so many voters. Politics is about policies but it is also about how the politician behaves.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:57 am
by NickH
Ken was absolutely spot on during his Radio 4 Today interview this morning when talking about media bias and smears which dominated this mayoral election and the previous one in 2008. The personal attacks in the Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph at times rivalled the Sun's 'Most Odious Man In Britain' headline from the 1980s . Andrew Gilligan's Torygraph blog become increasingly deranged during the campaign, with a series of lies and irrelevant attacks on Ken's character. Attacks from disgruntled rightwing Labour Blairites didn't help either (John Rentoul, Dan Hodges, Alan Sugar etc).

If Ken's campaign had been able to talk about the issues (Ken was 2% ahead in the polls when his Fare Deal campaign launched in January), he might have won. Although the final result was much closer than than those Tory cheerleaders in the rightwing were predicting (Con 51% Lab 48%), I find it had to believe that a Labour voting city elected a Tory. Ken's jokes are better than Boris Johnson's too.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:20 pm
by NormanD
Nick, I've a lot to be ashamed of in my life, but failing to vote for Livingstone isn't one of them. I did vote in the Assembly elections, and fortunately there were people standing on a socialist ticket, prepared to take a stand against austerity and cuts, even if symbolically. The Labour Party has nothing politically to say to me anymore and I have not supported them electorally for years. Livingstone might have done better for himself had he stayed an independent after 2000, rather than hurriedly jumping back into Labour's lap.

I ended up having very little regard or respect for Livingstone by the time of the GLC's dissolution in 1986. It carried on a level of municipal socialism within its financial limits. Its leftism - that appealed it to the non-Labour Party left and gained the hatred of the rightwing - was based around issues that were principled, but actually involved little or no financial commitments: anti-racism, women's equality issues, anti-colonial solidarity, for example, are well remembered as the GLC's radical reputation. But they also gave employment and status to quite a few hangers-on, a practice that seemed to continue after Livingstone's election in 2000. For this, I condemn the mayoral system that enabled such practice to happen, but Livingstone was ultimately responsible for his own actions and the political consequences.

I agree, the level of press invective and half-truths against him was incredibly high. But he did himself few favours in fending off the worst mud, and quite possibly unconsciously added to it by provoking fights. As someone who has known 'the game' better than most, Livingstone was perhaps attempting to play up an image of faux radicalism in order to win back his leftist base. Either way, it didn't work as well he might have wanted, and certainly not with me.

Yes, we are stuck with Johnson for another four years. For this, I don't blame those who failed to vote for Livingstone, but Livingstone who gave us little to vote for.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:23 pm
by Adam Blake
I honestly don't think Ken really wanted the job back. If he had, he would have campaigned harder. I lost faith in Ken when he showed his contempt for the democratic process over extending the Congestion Charge in West London.

Boris is like the nazi commandant with the heart of gold. He's a monster, in the pay of monsters, but he's a nice guy. Wh'ya'gon'do? (shrug)

Me? I voted Green. As always.

Re: British Politics

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:37 pm
by NickH
I agree that Ken's continued support for supposed liberal police commissioner Ian Blair after the Jean Charles de Menezes Stockwell shooting was misguided, but Ken had many other achievements during his two terms as London mayor to be proud of (transforming Trafalgar Square, Oyster cards, Congestion Charge etc). There was much in his manifesto which was radical this time too (reducing public transport fares by 7%, re-introducing EMA for students on low incomes and rent controls). Ken also pledged to reintroduce the excellent Rise anti-racist music festival, which Johnson cancelled as soon as he was elected in 2008. Check out YouTube footage of Ken's speeches at the 2003 massive anti-war demo in Hyde Park and his speech in Trafalgar Square the day after the 7/7 bombing to see what a great asset to London he was.

Although Ken fell out with some on the left towards the end of his time at the GLC during the rate-capping protests (I think there's still a rift between him and Labour MP John McDonnell), he has taken principled stand on many other issues over the years. I particularly liked his hosting of an anti-war conference in City Hall when Blair invited his pal Bush to London during the Iraq war. I've seen Ken speak at many demos and rallies over the years, including last year's central London pensions demo. Let's not forget that Ken's mid-80s Jobs For A Change festival in the GLC's southbank car park had the best ever line-up in the history of music: Arthur Scargill, The Redskins & The Smiths.

It was possible to vote for the TUSC socialist coalition candidate and vote for Ken last Thursday (something I did). I know people who voted Green first and gave their second preference to Ken. Ultimately, though, the mayoral vote was a straight choice between Ken & the Tory Johnson. A shame a few more people didn't vote for Ken, but election results elsewhere in the UK on Thursday indicated that this is the beginning of the end for Cameron's hated Bullingdon boy Tories.