Quotulatiousness

October 5, 2017

Time to update your political vocabulary for the era of Corbyn

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In The Spectator, Stephen Daisley provides a great crib sheet to get you up to speed with the new Corbynista words and phrases you need to understand to stay relevant in the Labour Party:

Are you considering a career in Labour politics but fear you may be left behind amid all the exciting changes the party is undergoing?

Maybe you want to be a part of the Jez revolution but can’t get your head around the ever-developing terminology.

Perhaps you are eyeing up a safe seat but aren’t sure which paramilitary cell’s endorsement would most impress the selection panel.

Help is at hand with this guide that takes you through the key terms of Corbynspeak.

Centrist dad: Anyone old enough to remember when Labour was a political party and not an evangelical tent ministry. Owns more than one pair of chinos and only uses Facebook to post ‘FFS’ with links to Owen Jones pieces. Centrist dads just don’t get how politics works in 2017. It’s all about getting people excited by promising to bring change and give them free stuff. That’s never happened before.

Jeremy Corbyn: Substitute father figure for people whose centrist dad didn’t give them enough hugs growing up.

Oh Jeremy Corbyn: The Red Flag for people who don’t know the words to the Red Flag because they only joined the Labour Party five minutes ago.

[…]

Misogyny: It has no place in the Labour Party, save the narrow exception of every woman who has ever disagreed with Jeremy ever.

Slug: Tory. The sort of heartless, racist scum who still hasn’t been convinced to vote for us.

Melt: Blairite. Worse than slugs.

[…]

Racism: Vile prejudice. Totally unacceptable. Victims’ concerns must be taken seriously.

Anti-Semitism: Well, let’s not be hasty. Probably a smear. Victims must be in league with Laura Kuenssberg.

Neoliberalism: The economic arrangements responsible for the laptops, tablets and smartphones Corbynistas use to post memes of Jezza. Also, evil.

Both sides: To blame for terrorism.

Hamas: Not to blame for terrorism.

IRA: They were like Momentum in Ireland or something, right? Pals with Jez. Slugs and melts don’t like them for some reason.

Brexit: A disastrous/progressive/uncertain move, fuelled by xenophobia/working-class discontent/many factors, and is sure to isolate the UK/break up the Brussels capitalist cartel/have an unknown impact. As such, Labour must oppose/lead/express no opinion on the matter. N.B. The party line changes from time to time, so best to avoid taking a clear position. Alternatively, take all three positions at once. Works for Keir Starmer.

June 27, 2017

Setting the wrong tone

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Brendan O’Neill on the way Corbyn’s supporters seem to be harking back to Stalinist rhetoric (and belief):

I’m starting to feel a little disturbed by the Stalinist streak in the Corbynista movement. The anti-democratic sense of entitlement behind the cry of “Jeremy Corbyn is the Prime Minister”; the cult of personality growing around Corbyn, which emphasises the man and his goodness far more than his policies; the censorious branding of anyone who doesn’t have the correct Corbynista outlook as “Tory” or “far right”, which comes straight from the Stalinist handbook of denouncing everyone from Trotskyists in the Spanish Civil War to the Hungarian revolutionaries of 1956 as “fascists”; the culture war (cultural revolution?) against those generations that don’t share the worldview of the caring, meme-making, Jez-loving Glasto set…. the largely youthful bourgeoisie that make up the backbone of the Corbynista campaign look set to have a quite chilling, backward impact on political debate and public life, I think.

On the other hand, Dr. Sean Gabb seems to be softening in his attitude to Corbyn, if only due to rising disgust with Theresa May and her “conservative” government:

I’ve been thinking about Jeremy Corbyn. Is he really so awful as we are told? In particular, is he worse on things like immigration and political correctness than the Fake Conservatives have been in practice? They have kept the borders open. They haven’t shut down a single Cultural Marxist project.

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not a socialist. However, the Conservatives have been in power for years now, and have hardly shown themselves to be friends of anything remotely describable as free enterprise. Privatisation and outsourcing have been a gigantic scam on ordinary people. Vast amounts of the taxpayers’ money are being poured into the hands of crony capitalists.

He is also against dropping bombs all over the Middle East, and is against a renewed Cold War with Russia.

Would be abolish a single civil liberty we currently enjoy? Would he be any worse than the present lot at negotiating our exit from the European Union?

If there were an election tomorrow, I’d have great trouble actually voting Labour. At the same time, I don’t feel I’d regard a Corbyn Government with the same visceral loathing I felt of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Is my brain softening with age? Or are my eyes beginning to open?

I look forward to enlightenment.

June 14, 2017

Both Tories and Labour now depend on homophobes for their support

Filed under: Britain, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The British Tories will survive their drubbing at the polls in last week’s general election thanks to the (negotiated) support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is the only socially conservative party represented in the commons. The opposition Labour party, however, also has its own group of socially conservative voters upon whom it now depends for many seats in Parliament:

According to the slogans, the Democratic Unionist Parity is a “hate” group because it is “anti-gay, anti-green, anti-women”. That’s to say, they’re opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion, and take a relaxed view of the impending climate apocalypse.

Oh, my.

Even worse, such views have made them Ulster’s most popular political party – albeit that, for us old-timers of the Irish Question, the new DUP can seem frankly a bit milquetoast next to their continuously fulminating, firebreathing founder Ian Paisley. Still, you can understand why the mob has briefly roused itself from Google to take to the streets to protest this week’s designated haters. It’s certainly unfortunate that Theresa May’s grip on power depends on such “anti-gay” and “anti-women” types, isn’t it?

But surely it’s also unfortunate that Jeremy Corbyn’s grip on power in the resurgent Labour Party depends on “anti-gay” and “anti-women” types, too. As Brendan O’Neill points out:

    And all the while we have Labourites like Jeremy Corbyn mixing with Islamist groups that share all these same social views, except in an even more extreme form. Yet the people beating the streets over the DUP say nothing.

That’s true. Theresa May’s more recalcitrant friends in the DUP think gays are godless sodomites who’ll be spending eternity on a roasting spit in hell. Jeremy Corbyn’s more recalcitrant friends are disinclined to wait that long and would rather light them up now – or hurl them off the roof. Hamas, which Mr Corbyn supports, is fairly typical. Sample headline from Newsweek:

    Hamas Executes Prominent Commander After Accusations Of Gay Sex

Doesn’t that make Hamas an anti-gay “hate group”? Well, no. You can bet that 90 per cent of the Google activists in the street protesting Theresa May’s ties to people who think men who love men shouldn’t be permitted to marry are entirely relaxed about Jeremy Corbyn’s ties to people who think men who love men should be burned alive or tossed off tall buildings.

This contradiction exists all over the western world. Today’s progressives cling to the most cobwebbed cliches: Polygamy? That’s something Mormons do in Utah, not Muslims in Canada, France, Britain, Sweden, with the not so tacit connivance of the state welfare systems. First-cousin marriage? That’s something stump-toothed Appalachians do after a bunk-up with Cindy Mae and a jigger of moonshine, not 75 per cent of Pakistani Britons in Bradford, and some 58 per cent throughout the rest of the country.

As for gays, forget Hamas and consider Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the United Kingdom: Fifty-two per cent of Muslims told Channel 4 they believed homosexuality should be illegal. Yet Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party has so assiduously courted these “haters” that it’s now electorally dependent on them. Mrs May didn’t court her haters in Ulster, and she’s wound up depending on them merely as an unintended consequence of her own ineptitude on the hustings.

Just to spell it out even more plainly, last year YouGov polled Britons in general on their attitudes to the aforementioned sodomites. Seventeen per cent thought homosexuality was “morally wrong”. If that sounds unnervingly high to you, what’s the reason? Over-sampling in East Belfast? A few rural backwaters not quite up to speed on the new gayer-than-thou Britain? No. In most parts of the country about 15 per cent declined to get with the beat. But in diverse, multicultural London, 29 per cent of the population regarded homosexuality as “morally wrong”.

May 2, 2017

Britain’s “foregone conclusion” election

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Colby Cosh provides a thumbnail sketch of how Britain got to the point of having an election where the end result is not in great doubt, and the likely losers and big losers:

[British PM Theresa May] has now broken that promise [to serve the full term her party won in 2015], unapologetically. Any half-sane politician’s instinct would tell her that this is an incredibly dangerous thing to have done, and we all know that voters generally loathe unnecessary election activity, or that they pretend to. But the current polls suggest that the British public completely understands why she broke the promise, that they approve of her breaking it, and that they intend to reward her for it. If you follow the UK election as a Canadian, you will hear May talking about “strong and stable” government at about 200 RPM, in exactly the same way Stephen Harper used to. This is no coincidence.

The Labour Party is torn between the old-fashioned socialist militants who made Jeremy Corbyn leader and the respectable corporate types who actually run the party and serve in the House of Commons. The UK has legislation requiring fixed-term parliaments, so May needed the support of Labour in a Commons vote in order to hold an early election. A Parliament can still be dismissed early if there is a vote of no confidence in the government, or if two-thirds of MPs vote to allow it.

Which they did. Corbyn loyalists, uncertain whether their man could survive as leader until 2020, had little reason not to consent to the snap vote. Labourite Corbyn-haters, seeing a chance to dispose of their village-Marxist boss without the dangers of a party coup, went along too. They almost seem to be half-throwing the election, relieved to have some prospect of Labour returning to power before 2025.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party, seemingly in firm control of Scottish politics and culture, made the Quebec mistake of talking about another independence referendum too soon after losing one. It is a classic shark jump. The people of Scotland seem to have realized that within Scotland, the UK general election will be a referendum on whether they want another divisive, stressful independence struggle right away.

This is not looking like good news for the strident but useless SNP delegation to Westminster. Polls show the Conservatives running a strong second in Scotland, with a chance of taking ten or so seats away from the Nats. Four years ago, I would have fully expected to be typing “Jesus Christ just held a press conference in Clackmannanshire” before I typed the words in that last sentence.

May 1, 2017

“We can leave aside the idea of a libertarian revival. No one in or near government wants less control by the State”

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Sean Gabb reflects on the coming British general election (where he’s decided to hold his nose and vote Conservative, despite his strong distaste for Theresa May’s governing style and the party itself):

… we are entering an age of rapid ideological change. Questions of whether we should have identity cards, or if the authorities should be able to censor the media, are becoming less important than the questions of who makes these decisions, and how they are made. There is not – and probably, in my lifetime, never has been – a libertarian option in British politics. The choice has always been so far which elements of a broadly leftist-authoritarian agenda should be pushed hardest. The choice now is between a Conservative Government that has no electoral interest in leftism, and limited inclination to uphold its hegemony, and various parties that will try to keep that hegemony going till it fully shrivels away. The Conservative Party is an organisation of frauds and liars. Its directors are in the pocket of any interest group with money to spend. Though split on exactly what it believes, however, Labour is a party of true believers. The Conservatives will do evil by inertia, Labour by choice. Without hope of immediate improvement, I will vote Conservative.

Give her a decent majority, and Theresa May will take us out of the European Union on acceptable terms. These terms will be available almost for the asking. The European Union is little more than the agent of twenty seven governments, all with conflicting interests. The British Government will have a fresh mandate to act on behalf of a unitary state. Mrs May is no fool, and she must understand that her hold on power and her place in the history books are both contingent on how she manages our disengagement. Her lack of principle is beside the point – or may be an advantage.

And then?

We can leave aside the idea of a libertarian revival. No one in or near government wants less control by the State. Hardly any of the electors want it. This is probably for the best. I have been an insider on the British free market movement for about forty years. Those who run it are willing to nod approvingly whenever freedom of speech is mentioned, or due process of law. The mainstream utopia, though, involves full speed ahead for the City banking casinos, and an immigration policy that will stuff the rest of us into sixty-storey tower blocks of bedsitting rooms. What we can more likely expect – and hope for – is what I will delicately call a revival of national identity. This will eventually involve some regard for historic liberties. It will also involve a degree of directed reindustrialisation, and even a pretty generous welfare system.

February 26, 2017

Julie Burchill on Harriet Harman’s memoir

Filed under: Books, Britain, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In The Spectator, Julie Burchill isn’t a fan of Harriet Harman’s recent political tell-all, A Woman’s Work:

Like the awful Diane Abbott, Harman is one of those thoughtful, serious-minded Labour women who seems to come alive when saying silly, thoughtless things. She even has the Voice — that more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger Sunday-school drone which remains convinced that if it keeps repeating itself in ever slower permutations, opposition will do the decent thing and crumble. Brexit, of course, was the ripest raspberry ever blown in the face of such wheedling arrogance. Still, it’s hard not to warm to her sharp-nosed, clear-eyed young face on the front cover, peering bravely into a future of policy reviews and quangos galore. Sadly her writing style is so dull it makes ditchwater look like a dry martini — if you had to guess the MP author, you might hazard John Major in his pedantic pomp — and this is rendered comical by the three dynamically named sections of the book: ‘Upheaval’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Challenge’.

With almost three decades on the front bench, twice acting deputy leader and the first Labour woman to feature at Prime Minister’s Questions, Harman is the definitive Nearly Woman — as are all capable Labour women, trapped in a party which having signed up to the brotherhood of man seems quite happy to ride roughshod over their sisters, forever promising them jam tomorrow so long as they themselves pick the fruit, boil the berries and write the labels. At a time when the Conservatives are on their second female leader and Labour are led by a man who seems as impervious to sexism as any other weirdy beardy from Real Ale Society to mosque, Harman’s book seems especially poignant. But I must say that any sympathy I had for her went out of the window in the first 40 pages when, having already suffered physical and verbal gropings from lecturers, employers and comrades without complaining about it, she gets stalked by a nutter whose case she has been bothering the poor police about through her job with the National Council for Civil Liberties. ‘He was menacing and angry. Having been his solicitor, I was fully aware of every detail of his record of violent crime. I knew that he didn’t just threaten violence, he carried it out’ — and yet she doesn’t tell the coppers for years, until he actually threatens to kill her. ‘As I tipped out the carrier bags full of just some of the letters I’d kept, the police were aghast that I’d done nothing about it before.’

Here is the masochistic madness of do-gooding socialist feminism laid bare — and Labour wonder why women vote Tory! While we’re on the subject of perverts, instead of unreservedly presenting the NCCL as a heroic ‘thorn in the side of government’ forever fighting for the rights of the little man, Harman might have seen fit to mention that, during her time there, they also granted the Paedophile Information Exchange formal affiliate status at a time when this vile lobby group was suggesting that the age of consent be lowered to ten. A little mea culpa might not have gone amiss. Still, it’s in the nature of the great and the good not to admit to anything which might reveal them as the entitled, woolly-minded mediocrities they generally are, and Harman — despite her admirable work for women’s rights — is no exception.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle for the link.

January 11, 2017

“The money paid to footballers is ‘grotesque’, said Corbyn today, in his best irate vicar voice”

Filed under: Britain, Politics, Soccer — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn just proposed a salary cap for professional football (that’s “soccer” to us benighted colonials on the other side of the pond) in the UK:

Is there nothing Jeremy Corbyn can’t screw up? This week his advisers whispered to the press that their leader was about to do a Donald, be more populist, try to connect with the man and woman in the street who might think of him as a bit stiff and aloof and stuck in the Seventies. And how does he kick off this project? By slagging off footballers, the most idolised sportspeople in Britain, cheered by vast swathes of the very people Labour no longer reaches but wishes it could. The money paid to footballers is ‘grotesque’, said Corbyn today, in his best irate vicar voice. Cue media coverage of Corbyn’s moaning mug next to Wayne Rooney (£250k a week, loved by millions). What next in Corbyn’s populist makeover? A call to wind down Coronation St? Close pubs on Sundays? A Twitterspat with Ant and Dec or Sheridan Smith or some other national treasure?

[…]

Labour leftists have never understood this basic fact: ordinary people don’t hate rich people. In fact they admire many of them. They don’t wince when they see a footballer and his WAG posing by the pool in Hello! — they think, ‘That looks like a nice life. Good on them.’ Corbyn bemoaned footballers’ pay as part of his proposal to enact a law preventing people from earning above a certain amount of money. Yes, a maximum wage. ‘I would like there to be some kind of high earnings cap,’ he said. It’s the worst idea a British political leader has had in years, and it reveals pretty much everything that is wrong with the left today.

First there’s the sheer authoritarianism of it. It will never come to pass, of course, because Corbyn’s footballer-bashing and bodged populism and general inability to connect with anyone outside of Momentum and the left Twittersphere means Labour won’t be darkening the door of Downing St for yonks. But that Corbyn is even flirting with the notion of putting a legal lid on what people can earn is pretty extraordinary. It would basically be a stricture against getting rich, a restriction on ambition, a state-enforced standard of living: you could be comfortable and middle-class, but not loaded. There’s a stinging moralism, too. Labourites complain about those on the right who look down on the ‘undeserving poor’, but what we have here is not all that different: a sneering at the undeserving rich, a prissy concern with the bank balances and lifestyles of those who’ve made a bomb.

June 13, 2016

Coming soon – “the most serious constitutional crisis since the Abdication of King Edward VIII”

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the Daily Mail, Peter Hitchins rubs his hands in glee at the implications of the surge in popularity of the Brexiteers:

I think we are about to have the most serious constitutional crisis since the Abdication of King Edward VIII. I suppose we had better try to enjoy it.

If – as I think we will – we vote to leave the EU on June 23, a democratically elected Parliament, which wants to stay, will confront a force as great as itself – a national vote, equally democratic, which wants to quit. Are we about to find out what actually happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

I am genuinely unsure how this will work out. I hope it will only destroy our two dead political parties, stiffened corpses that have long propped each other up with the aid of BBC endorsement and ill-gotten money.

I was wrong to think that the EU referendum would be so hopelessly rigged that the campaign for independence was doomed to lose. I overestimated the Prime Minister – a difficult thing for me to do since my opinion of him was so low. I did not think he could possibly have promised this vote with so little thought, preparation or skill.

I underestimated the BBC, which has, perhaps thanks to years of justified and correct criticism from people such as me, taken its duty of impartiality seriously.

Everything I hear now suggests that the votes for Leave are piling up, while the Remain cause is faltering and floundering. The betrayed supporters of both major parties now feel free to take revenge on their smug and arrogant leaders.

February 29, 2016

“Left-wing People Care More Than Other People”

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

From the “The Unofficial Ladybird Guide To Left-Wing People“:

In The Olden Days

Left-wing people used to like working-class people.

Lots of left-wing people used to be working class people. These people were known as socialists and joined trade unions.

Sometimes working-class people used to frighten left-wing people, but they pretended that they weren’t frightened and were nice to them. They gave them money, sat in rooms with them and wore badges to show that they cared more than right-wing people, who wore ties instead of badges and didn’t care.

Nowadays

Nowadays, working-class people are bored with socialism because it hasn’t made them rich and happy.

Nowadays left-wing people are middle-class people. Working class people are a big disappointment to left-wing people.

Left wing people now think that working class people are:
a) Simple and easily led
b) Un-enlightened and susceptible to short-term pleasures
c) Terribly sad and struggling, unable to cope on their own
d) All of the above

Education Is A Life-long Task

Left-wing people think that working-class people are unable to think for themselves and require life-long education to help them make informed decisions.

Left-wing people work tirelessly on education programmes to encourage working class people to buy expensive food and clothes and not cheap food and clothes. They are disappointed that working-class people are un-ethical.

Working-class people like to drink alcohol and have sex. They do not understand that these activities are dangerous and need continuous education from left-wing people.

Working-class people need to be protected from newspapers, even though they don’t read them anymore. They are easily influenced and their happy-go-lucky ways can be turned into bigoted nasty ways. Left-wing people are needed to help them use Facebook carefully and not make mistakes.

H/T to David Thompson for the link.

October 1, 2015

“Siege economics”

Filed under: Britain, Economics, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Paul T. Horgan explains why socialist politicians love “siege economics”:

Labour loves siege economies, really adores them. It allows full throated socialism to operate, enabling properly-selected and correctly-motivated state officials to mediate on every commercial transaction between individuals and entities, all in the name of necessity. This is Pitt’s ‘creed of slaves’, using controls to dictate how much can be sold to whom and if it can be sold at all.

Socialists love these economic dictatorships where the function of money as a storage of value and provider of price information is destroyed, where maximum wages and profits are imposed through penal taxation. State ownership of commerce is a given.

Socialists swoon at the thought of regulating demand by rationing supplies to all but a favoured few; it means there is no need for an economic strategy. No need for an interest rate policy if no amount of borrowed money can buy anything. Official inflation is perpetually low when prices are under statutory regulation, despite the inevitable shortages and consequent rise of the black market and the crime of hoarding newly-scarce everyday goods, which requires more Peoples’ Commissars to detect and punish.

Ordinary people who are forced to commit economic crimes just for everyday survival are easier to dominate as their guilt promotes a constant fear of the State and denunciation by their neighbours and friends. Control a person’s economics and you control the person, and socialism is all about the control. And Labour loves to run people’s lives by occupying the commanding heights of the economy to maximise dependency and promote clientelism in the electorate.

This explains why Labour were in their element when Churchill left Atlee, Morrison and Bevin to run the civilian economy while Britain’s greatest warlord used all his energies to create and focus a a domestic military machine and a global coalition to destroy fascism. It is ironic, given modern socialist rhetoric, that the greatest anti-fascist in human history was a Conservative. Perhaps leftists still feel guilt over their fellow travellers’ 1930s pacifism.

September 16, 2015

Daniel Hannan on the inexplicable rise of Jeremy Corbyn

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Place your bets, folks … will the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn lead the UK Labour Party back into power or keep it far from that goal for years? Daniel Hannan is of the latter opinion:

For the first time in a lifetime of political analysis, I find myself lost for words. Nothing I write can do justice to the calamity that Britain’s Labour Party has just inflicted on itself. The best I can do, to give you a sense of the man newly elected as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, is to summarize some of his opinions.

Jeremy Corbyn is happy to talk to Irish Republican Army men, avowed anti-Semites and Hezbollah militants; but he refuses “out of principle” to talk to the Sun newspaper, a right-wing tabloid.

He campaigns for the national rights of Venezuelans and Palestinians; but he opposes self-determination in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands.

He’d like to admit as many Syrian refugees as possible, but is curiously ambivalent about why they became refugees in the first place, telling RT that Assad’s chemical attacks may have been a Western hoax.

He is relaxed about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he can’t stand the idea of Britain having one.

He says taxpayers should be able to opt out of funding the military, but not out of funding trade unions.

He wants to re-open coal mines that have been uneconomical since the 1960s; yet, oddly, he wants to wean us off fossil fuels.

He can’t even unequivocally condemn the Islamic State without adding a “but…” to the effect that America shouldn’t have been in Iraq.

He is, in short, happy to ally with any cause, however vile, provided it is sufficiently anti-British and anti-American.

Jeremy Corbyn, whose steady and surprising march to victory runs parallel to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ unexpected success in the Democratic presidential race, is a shambling, self-righteous repository of every second-rate, lazy, 1960s Marxist nostrum. And Labour’s activists can’t get enough of him. They haven’t just picked the lowest card in the deck; they have slammed it belligerently on the table, giving Corbyn 59.5 percent of the votes in a four-candidate race. Fifty-nine point five percent for a man who has never held any office, who has spent 30 years rebelling against his party, and whose speaking style makes Ron Paul look like a mesmerising demagogue.

September 12, 2015

A scenario that ends with a DraftLiz movment?

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Colby Cosh tries to explain some aspects of the ongoing Canadian federal election by pointing out parallels to the most recent British election (and aftermath) … and then must have dropped some acid to come up with this scenario:

The other day on Twitter you could catch some pundit types talking about Green Party Leader Elizabeth May becoming prime minister as an example of something zany that could absolutely never happen in Canadian politics. This raises an immediate question, for those of us who occasionally scan U.K. news: is May becoming prime minister any less likely than what is happening right now in the Labour Party?

Twenty weeks ago, Labour and its leader Ed Miliband were thought by pollsters to be slight favourites to win the May 7 national election. At noon yesterday, voting ended in the race to replace the defeated Miliband. The result will be announced Saturday. The almost certain winner — keeping in mind that Britain has deep betting markets, and punters are allowed to gamble unlimited sums on political outcomes — is Jeremy Corbyn, longtime MP for Islington North, an old Bennite ultra-radical who had attracted almost no public notice in British politics for the past 30 years.

So far, so reasonable, but then the rush hits:

I am not going to tell you to bet on Elizabeth May becoming prime minister of Canada. After all, in this country we don’t have betting shops on every corner — yet. What I notice we do have is a historically socialist party leading in the polls behind an awfully Blairish figure. All New Democrats are highly aware of Labour politics: Labour is their mother, in a way the Conservative and Unionist Party (U.K.) is not to our Conservatives. Although New Democrats may not admit it, the recent unearthing of Thomas Mulcair’s eulogy for Margaret Thatcher must have appalled and sickened many.

By opting for the ex-Liberal Mulcair as leader, the NDP chose the Blair approach to the future of the left. Mulcair now finds himself advancing a significantly more enthusiastic line on government austerity, somehow, than the Trudeau Liberals do. It is not clear who the NDP’s Corbyn might be if they had wanted one. But one notices that May is about the same age as Corbyn, and has the same kind of leftist street cred. She has spoken out for the same environmentalist and radically democratic principles over and over, grindingly, since she was a teenager.

You can already see the outlines of a political mini-thriller in this. Mulcair’s NDP is six or eight points ahead in the last polls before our October election. The pundits have the moving truck backed right up to 24 Sussex. But the Conservative get-out-the-vote machine proves itself again, as does the “shy Tory” polling effect. It’s a Harper landslide, bigger than before.

The recrimination within the New Democratic Party becomes general and open. Why, people ask, did we run to the right of Trudeau? Why did we choose a grumpy Thatcherite to challenge a grumpy Thatcherite government instead of keeping faith with our real identity? Insiders start to notice that Elizabeth May’s personal popularity is much greater than that of her kooky party. Someone buys the DraftLiz.com domain. May tells a reporter she would not be averse to talk of a merger, on her terms …

You can take it from there, can’t you? It’s a fantasy, of course. Such things never happen in the real world. Except when they do.

August 23, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn and the British Labour party

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In sp!ked, Mick Hume describes the state of the British equivalent to the NDP in their current leadership race:

Jeremy Corbyn has been a Labour member of parliament for a remarkable 32 years without ever leading anything or leaving any visible mark on British political life. How could such a veteran non-entity emerge overnight as favourite to be the new, left-wing, game-changing leader of the Labour Party?

Only because the Labour Party as a mass movement has not just declined, but effectively collapsed. The apparent rise of Corbyn is made possible by the disintegration of his party. The key factor in all of this is not any resurgence of radicalism, but the demise of Labourism.

Over the decades that Corbyn has been an MP, Labour has ceased to be the party of a mass trade-union movement with a solid working-class constituency. It has been reduced to an empty shell run by a clique of careerists such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband – and the other three current candidates for the leadership – with no ambition beyond their own election.

This disintegration has left a space for Corbyn’s allegedly explosive rise in two ways. First, widespread dissatisfaction with the dire state of Labour and wider UK politics has created an appetite for something/anything that appears different. And second, the hollowing-out of the Labour Party – reflected in its desperation to give anybody a leadership vote for just £3 – has made it possible for relatively few Corbyn supporters to seize control of events.

For all that, however, the new profile of Corbyn the inveterate invisible man remains only a symptom of the wasting disease that has destroyed the Labour Party.

May 26, 2014

Is the bell tolling for the Liberal Democrats?

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:36

With the EU election results in, the “I told you so” and “Here’s what it really means” brigades are out in force, letting us know what the voters are really saying with their ballots. For example, Here’s Graeme Archer measuring up the Lib-Dems for an early grave:

Since “Europe” (elections about, scandals involving etc) this year is bound up temporally, and hence a little psychologically, with “Eurovision”, which is about as camp an entity as is possible to conceive; since we’re going to talk about the Liberal Democrats’ existential crisis, let’s set the mood music accordingly. Close your eyes and think of Shirley Bassey. Or better still click here and sing along, especially if your name is Nick Clegg, leader of a party which really does have nothing.

I’m not here to gloat, seriously. Anyone who stands for election is worth celebrating, because you don’t fight for something unless you’re prepared to lose. But, OK, I’m a tribal Tory too, so here’s a couple of things that amused me last night. The sight of arch-federalist Lib Dem Edward McMillan Scott, newly defeated, telling the BBC that he’d be back in some other new role, demonstrating perfectly the anti-democratic “hanger-onnery” that infuriates Eurosceptics about the institution (Matthew Woods, an old Hackney Tory mate, coined “hanger-onnery”, and it’s perfect). The other laugh is that the Lib Dem wipeout was secured in part by the wretched Proportional Representation system, whose algorithmic horrors they’re so keen to foist onto every other election. Be careful what you wish for, Fair Voters!

Seriously, though, this is the existential crisis which the Lib Dem construct has spent this parliament pretending it could avoid. Changing the leader won’t help. […]

Now repeat the exercise from the perspective of a “Lib Dem”, which, after last night, isn’t so much a thought experiment as a glance at the newspapers. Remove every elected Lib Dem from the map: what are their voters left with?

Nothing. Utterly nothing. There is a historical tradition of political liberalism in Britain, but as any fule kno, most of it was absorbed by the Conservative Party at key points in the last century. None of that tradition lives on in the “Lib Dem” construct.

What of its emotional disposition, the mirror to my gloomy Toryism? Well: to judge from their record in power, the “Lib Dem” instinct is for greater state intervention, to alleviate the plight of the less well off. So: nothing you can’t get from Labour, then.

“We want to reduce tax [by increasing thresholds]!” Nick Clegg would say, as evidence of the intellectual strand his party represents. Um, so do the vast majority of Conservatives. Again, no need for a “Lib Dem” representative to secure that outcome.

My point is that those Lib Dems who prioritise liberalism — whether about reducing tax, or fighting ID cards and so on — must know in their hearts that they should vote Conservative. Those who prioritise social democracy, similarly, must know that they should vote Labour.

March 26, 2014

QotD: Britain’s “common culture”

Filed under: Britain, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:22

In The Lion and the Unicorn, George Orwell wrote that the most salient fact about England’s liberal elite was “their severance from the common culture of the country”. By “the common culture” Orwell was thinking of things like beer and bingo, as well as smutty humour, the tabloid press and a distrust of the state and its officials. What connects these things, according to Orwell, is that they all have a whiff of rebelliousness about them, something that appeals to the Sancho Panza in all of us rather than the Don Quixote – “your unofficial self, the voice of the belly protesting against the soul”. These are the things ordinary people genuinely enjoy, as opposed to what they ought to enjoy. In indulging in these simple, unpretentious pleasures, they are making use of their freedom to spend their money on whatever they like, not what various authority figures think they should spend it on. “One thing one notices if one looks directly at the common people, especially in the big towns, is that they are not puritanical,” wrote Orwell. “They are inveterate gamblers, drink as much beer as their wages will permit, are devoted to bawdy jokes, and use probably the foulest language in the world.”

The reason the liberal elite are disconnected from this culture isn’t simply because it’s alien to them. It’s also because they actively disapprove of it. Unlike the common people, they are puritanical. They think gambling, drinking and bawdy humour, not to mention tabloid newspapers, are wrong and they often give vent to these feelings. Alongside a desire for a more just society, sits a yearning for a purer, less sinful society, one in which the workers spend their evenings reading self-improving books – Booker Prize-winning novels – and engaging in traditional arts and crafts, like basket making. The reason they seek political power isn’t primarily because they want to protect working-class people from being exploited by evil capitalists. They want to protect them from themselves.

Toby Young, “The Conservatives should become the party of beer, bingo and Lamborghinis”, Telegraph, 2014-03-26

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