Sunday, 17 June 2018

A unicorn in every garden

Hurtling towards the abyss, any sane individual would contemplate how not just to stop but to turn round and establish security.  Over the last weeks and months, the morbid fascination of watching the political leadership of the risibly-entitled United Kingdom not merely reject the possibility of any alternative but to embrace and accelerate the madness has become both tedious and fascinating.

In terms of small mercies, we might be pleasantly surprised that Theresa May did not seek to ennoble Paul Dacre as part of her effort to impose the Tory in-fighting on the House of Lords.  She owes the vile fascist a debt of gratitude - the shrill propaganda he has ejected from his bile duct has been part of the background that has rendered the capability of the media to illuminate the darkness a dangerous mission, while stoking the delusion that the internal machinations of the Conservative Party represent a proxy for the interests of citizens.

Given that we are now almost two years into the process of disentangling a 45-year relationship, every detail is missing.  Government is paralysed because the Ministerial cohort is fractious and in many cases treacherous and inadequate, jockeying for position when Madame May outlives her usefulness, and the systematic denigration of public service has caused most capable people to look beyond being the conduit for shouldering the blame when squaring circles is proved to be impossible.  No wonder that there is concern about the capability of the Tories to deliver on anything - and, equally, no wonder that the current Opposition seems totally powerless to shift the agenda onto the madness of the hour.

Ever since the Tories and their black-hearted DUP enablers formed this monstrous farrago of maladministration, their attitude is clear.  The windy sloganising of the Leave Liars, particularly Gove and Johnson, about "taking back control" did not extend to the practical reality that the functioning of the constitutional disaster requires balance between the elected, the executive and the judiciary.  Control, to them, means they have the right to accrete supreme power without accountability - prostitutes of Putin, lubricated by the roubles of Banks and Wigmore, with the amoral lassitude of those who do not care what the consequences of their actions are, provided they affect other people.

Beer and circuses are all that is left to the government.  It would not surprise me if the Conservative Whips had put the idiot, loathsome gammon Christopher Chope up to his vile stunt last week.  It gave May the chance to pretend that she is concerned about women's rights, and to draw the flak away from her more fundamental issues of party management.  Chope deserves public humiliation and will doubtless receive many unwanted gifts, but he is yet another useless idiot to add to May's list of knights in soiled trousers.

Two straws in the wind, though, do make the situation fractionally less hopeless.  In order to avoid defeat on enforcing the taking back of control, May and her fools spent most of last Tuesday trying to lash together a "compromise" to an amendment that the Lords had returned to the Commons.  Their protestations of goodwill sent most of the Tory rebels scuttling back under their acquiescent stones, but as it became clear that they had been lied to and strung along, the idea of Parliamentary sovereignty lives to fight another day - and it could well be that, should Corbyn suddenly realise that opposition is what it is all about, he might stop enabling the UKIP tendency of Hoey, Field, Mann and others and fight for the ability of a future government to enact its programme.

The other shift appears to be that of the opposition outside the LabCon coalition.  Even if you discount Vince Cable talking up the Lewisham East by-election result, it does not make easy reading for Labour apologists defending the sophistry of their current slippery fudge-based policies.   It is not encouraging for the rest of us either - apathy has taken over and low turnouts do not provide a true reflection of anything other than policy fatigue.  Labour in London should be worried - this reinforces the trend seen in the Borough elections that they cannot break out sufficiently to secure the swings needed to unseat marginal Tories, and this will only increase as their impotent unicorn-chasing is seen not as masterful inactivity but positive endorsement of May's treason.

Finally, the issues of devolution and the constitutional settlement have now hit the centre of dialogue.  In a great piece of Parliamentary theatre, the SNP managed to secure at least some recognition that the dictatorial powers implicit in the EU Withdrawal Bill undermine the entire basis of the 1999 Scotland Act settlement (with issues for Wales and Northern Ireland as well).  Being treated to the risible, thick and useless David Mundell confirming that the Scots are in effect second-class citizens in the UK, with cheer-leaders on the Tory right egging him on, may be a tipping-point in the independence debate.  Ignored, patronised and excluded, it is hardly surprising that the wider Scottish political climate feels as though it is about to shift once more.  Cameron made a Vow in 2014 that has now been ripped up.

While promising the moon on a stick, with the latest sleight of hand over NHS funding merely another example, the Tories are engaging in cynical electoral calculus.  Despite many people falling for Ruth Davidson's "modern" Tory veneer, they are unlikely to make much further advance in Scotland, and from the point of view of the manipulators and strategists in Central Office, Scotland is no longer a priority.  Instead, independence would, unless there is electoral reform at Westminster, hand illegitimate power to the Tories in England through the distorted actions of first-past-the-post.  The Tories may be much keener on early independence than the SNP on that basis.

Times are interesting - times are hard.  There is very little being promised that can be delivered as the economy spirals downwards.  The huge number of jobs being lost today is a precursor of the impact that an ongoing lack of investment will produce over the next decade - cannibalising the tax base and therefore the carrots and lies will never be delivered.  Corbyn's "jobs-first Brexit" is as mono-horned as the idea that the reduction in minimal contributions to the EU will fill the gap in economic activities - and yet this is still now being touted even as the Russian agents such as Farage make it quite clear that what they said before the referendum was propaganda and lies, and that they never said it in the first place.

In this context of the impossible and the undeliverable, May is purely trying to survive from one week to the next.  In the Westminster bubble, this is a fascinating exercise, but beyond it there are already signs that people are losing patience.  As her self-preservation destroys the economy and the fabric of society, the preconditions for the overthrow of the state come ever closer.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

On losing the spine of opposition

The tragedy that the UK government wishes to wreak on future generations is shaping up to be one of the most grisly abuses of executive power yet seen.  The arrogation of power to Ministers and unelected officials that is being facilitated through the EU Withdrawal Bill is inspired by Hitler's Enabling Act of March 1933 - the clear consequence of a constipated and corralled Cabinet being enabled in its criminal designs by a supine Opposition that, whatever its views on the end of Brexit, should be screaming and protesting about the means by which it is being delivered.

Cynics, of which I am one, suspect that Corbyn will be quite happy with the progress of centralisation and the denial of representation.  As with the knuckle-dragging gammons who proclaim the immutability of the referendum result, there is a tendency on the hard left to regard any potential unravelling of their ascension to power as a blow to the will of the particular interest group they represent.  The stupidity of supporting this before acquiring the keys to the Treasury and Larry the Cat's supply of Advocate should be apparent even to those who make excuses for the flaccid parody of dissent currently expressed by much of the Labour front-bench.

Corbyn seems quite happy for the detached, far-right lunatics such as Kate Hoey and Frank Field to continue to receive a Labour endorsement, while simultaneously sabre-rattling about those who dissent from his fantasies over a "jobs-first Brexit" with an equally hubristic line in delusion as that of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the other far right racist scum.  In the meantime, he has made no allusion to the fascist mob that ran amok in London last weekend, ignored by much of the media - normalising the extremism that seems to be his preferred hinterland.

In this peculiar time of desperation, much had been made of the potential of the Conservative party to furnish at least some "rebels" prepared to put country before partisan boot-licking.  With the exception of Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke, they marched themselves up to a fair old state of virtue signalling on parliamentary sovereignty, before being bought off with promises worth about as much as a futures contract on British manufacturing.  They were played - they know that - and the only hope now is that the presently-necessary anachronism of an unelected reviewing chamber saves their bacon.  If not, they will have betrayed both their declared principles and the entire framework of government by consent.  The von Papen's of the Tories are not an attractive lot.

Depressing though it is, there may be chinks of light at the end of all this cretinism.  It is hard to discern how they will cut through the black souls of the non-existent opposition and the cowed party loyalists, but these are not normal times.  The darkest hour may be before the dawn, but it is very hard to see how we shall reach daylight in our lifetime.

Friday, 4 May 2018

SOS - Labour overboard

Set the bar low, and pretend to be surprised when you clear it.  A sensible political approach especially in a febrile and unsettled environment, especially given the inability of the commentators and media to contemplate anything more complicated than binary choice.  There is no satisfaction in surveying the hubris that suggested that, despite all the polling evidence, Labour would make a clean sweep in London and this would be a platform for the march towards a socialist dawn.

Instead, in the context where London is everything, Labour looks broken and emasculated.  Talking up the possibility of storming Tory citadels was unwise at best, suicidal at worst.  Failing to engage with the far more insidious, institutionalised racism and antisemitism in the Conservative bunker was foolish - and may well have been the deciding factor in entrenching the venal and corrupt Tory council in Barnet - but the real battle was for opposition to what is without doubt the worst and most incompetent government in modern British history.

The situation outside London is dire.  The Kipper vote has apparently reverted to its natural home amongst the far right hinterlands of the Tory party, undermining Labour's feeble mewling that it has to pander to the Leave hard-liners rather than its own natural supporters.  Pursuing this to the extent of denying opponents of both austerity and the self-inflicted agony of Brexit has not resulted in either a breakthrough outside the London bubble or the kind of protest vote that may have misled many of the more flat-earth Labour supporters into believing that "one more heave" would be sufficient to achieve victory.

That this victory would be Pyrrhic has not been lost on many - given the windy and incredible rhetoric around policy promises that cannot be delivered in an economy that unravels and fails as a consequence of a Brexit enabled and cheered through by a party leadership in de facto coalition with the Tories.  That it is impossible may be much harder for the Labour tribalisms to comprehend.

Commanding a Commons majority is not a matter of simple poll ratings, even in a corrupt and broken electoral system.  The geographical disaster facing Labour remains - the party cannot break through in Scotland, nor can it secure support sufficient to topple the Tories across much of England and Wales.  Modern politics is about pluralism and fluidity, not the kind of cap-doffing passivity that many of Labour's most hardened advocates assume is theirs by right.  

Electoral arrangements, however informal, can deliver - witness the supremely satisfying sight of watching Richmond's council change colour under the nose of Zac Goldsmith.  If the Liberal Democrats end up making larger gains than Labour it demonstrates that necessity and pragmatism are part of an armoury of opposition politics, as well as a clear rejection by many tactical voters of the catastrophic Janus-like equivocation of Labour on the key issues.

When and if this disgusting government falls, Labour cannot assume that it will step into the breach.  It was highly amusing to watch the rhetoric shift from Corbyn Year Zero to how strongly Labour had performed in the equivalent set of local elections in 2014, under the hateful rightwing stewardship of Ed Miliband.  Instead, much of Labour's venom remains focused on the Liberal Democrats - handy displacement activity for its own failings.

May has not done as well as she thinks out of the English elections - and Tory strategists will now be somewhat more concerned about the possibility of a Liberal revival given the recovery of ground in several areas of former strength.  This may be a more likely source of toppling the Tories if peak Labour has now been reached - after all Blair recognised this and the 1997 election turned into a triangulated landslide on the basis of a clear repugnance at the Tories.

More analysis will determine quite how far Labour has fallen short of its professed ambition - but its rhetoric makes it look like the largest loser of the night.  Tactical voting against Brexit parties may not have been sufficient to swing many results, but in a tight environment these are not voters to be ignored.  Hagiography and the cult of personality does not substitute for the active or passive support of those who do not stick their heads over the parapet of activism.

Opposing the Tories needs to be comprehensive and opportunist.  After these elections there is now the existential crisis of the Brexit fiasco to navigate - Labour will be judged by how much more damage can be inflicted on May and her farrago of inadequates.  Playing the long game is more than just inaction, it is about convincing a much wider spectrum that there is merit in compromising principles for the sake of electoral necessity.  Sadly the evidence is that Labour has not yet achieved either awareness or pragmatism.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Brexit wastelands - a conspiracy of silence

"Project Fear" was an effective trope.  Since the hard-right coup after the referendum, it has been used to mock those of us who recognise that, with a single manipulated plebiscite, the consequences will be dire.  Every time that news has emerged that is not pointing to imminent catastrophe it is deployed as a means of ridiculing the expert and the informed - neither of which are categories in which the current junta can be counted.

Not that this can be discerned from the BBC's biased and incompetent coverage of news and current affairs.  Their correspondents are overpaid poodles, their presenters corrupt purveyors of their own personal agendas - the Daily Heil on air and subsidised through a poll tax.  It has been a constant theme that every group feels marginalised by the state broadcaster, but there is no attempt now at impartiality or analysis - let alone covering the continuing and increasing dissent and discontent that may well foment civil uprising.  Any organisation that can justify the parasitic egocentrism and financial rapacity of Andrew Neil, John Humphrys, Andrew Marr and Nick Robinson, let alone the ridiculous parroting of Laura Kuenssberg is ripe for destructive scrutiny (and that's even before I get started on the Dimbleby).

What we are watching is a slow and sustained descent from the economic recovery that has been more or less coterminous with UK membership of the EU into a state of paralysis, stagflation and the destruction of the productive base of the economy.  GDP growth has now stuttered to a halt, investment and jobs are flowing out of the UK, and there is a crisis on a scale that is obvious to anyone who walks around but which appears to be invisible to the self-styled interpreters of the world.

Shops are closing, rents are falling, property prices are (to the delight of some) looking on the brink of a precipice, zero hours contracts and economic uncertainty are marginalising millions, and yet the focus is still on how to enable national suicide.  All the adaptation and support that the EU has given us is being removed - with the delusional that trade deals we negotiate with third parties will be better than the trade deals with the same third parties that we have now.  A peddling of snake oil and a blatant lie - the incompetent fund managers and entitled fascists like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liam Fox will be laughing all the way to their offshore accounts.

May's evil administration has been bone-headed, amoral and incompetent.  The defenestration of Amber Rudd was inevitable from the moment that her failure to cover up May's own direct fascism and inhumanity towards the Windrush generation, among other groups that the Tories wish to stigmatise to appease Paul Dacre, but it does nothing to convince the undecided that there is any other motto in the Conservative Party than "don't get caught".

We now have government by the European Research Group, a Tory astroturf sect that makes Momentum look like the Mothers' Union.  What Rees-Mogg dribbles out of his Hitlerlan orifice seems to dictate government policy.  Mogg, a prime example of the boorish and entitled, forgets he voted against any effort to reform the House of Lords while threatening its members for defying his Nazi fantasies.  The idea that a revising chamber might be there to take into account the national interest rather than a selfish mutant's view of his own gain seems to be completely beyond Mogg and his scrofulous cronies.

In this situation, the official Opposition in the Commons seems locked into a de facto coalition - which makes the Corbynite attack on the Liberal Democrats both hollow and risible, as at least Clegg managed to secure a few morsels from supporting Cameron in office.  Their entitlement mirrors the hard right's, and they continue to perpetuate the myth that somehow, despite the destruction of the economy and the infeasibility of their aspirations to power, a Labour Brexit would work.  Hardly surprising that, faced with an amoral clusterfuck of a government, they are not achieving the unifying purge that Blair managed against a much less venal and incompetent administration after 1994.

Today's English local elections will be fascinating but frustrating.  In the absence of an opposition, we have to wait for the Tories to implode.  Mogg and Javid may see themselves as messianic figures with a sense of destiny, which at least demonstrates an independence of mind, but they are more likely to be the victims of a collapsed system where the normal rules of decency are suspended.  Their achievement is to make this seem almost desirable.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Another fortnight in a failed state

Neither of the two hegemonic parties in the UK has leadership or direction worth the name.  A government that, routinely, orders its pathetic lobby-fodder backbenchers to abstain whenever the Commons debates issues that it might be defeated over, matched with an official Opposition that seems totally paralysed in its duty to harry and overturn an administration corrupt, criminal and incompetent in all its manifestations.  This is not what a functioning country delivers.

In the last fortnight, the Tories have presided over one of the most shameful, inhumane spectacles in British political history.  The Windrush scandal, ably dissected by David Lammy and Yvette Cooper, should have claimed both the scalp of the current Home Secretary and the holder of the office when such grotesqueries were not merely suspected but revealed.  Corbyn was right that Rudd should resign - but we have not seen a resignation of substance over incompetence since Lord Carrington in 1982.  The Tories behave as though it is their right to squat in office - the Cabinet as though they have no accountability to Parliament or the electorate.  This is a system too sick to be sustained, let alone supported.

Against this background we have had bread and circuses in the form of another addition to the House of Windsor,  Vaguely interesting in that the child's impact on the order of feudal succession has some peripheral effect on other members of the monarchic soap opera, but entirely tedious in the context of the gushing froth pushed by the media.  "Healthy woman has child" is hardly worthy of blanket coverage, especially when the government is depriving the rights of citizens and telling lies about its knowledge of the targets set for deportation.   Inviting Trump for an official visit just about summed up the week - "no one likes us, we don't care" appears to be the mission statement of Theresa May and her coterie of inadequates.

Against this background you would have expected Labour to be forensic in its opposition, both in the Commons and in the country.  Instead there is the defensiveness over self-defined anti-semitism.  In this context, I am amazed that Labour have not sought to remind the Tories of the tendency of many of its members to dress up in Nazi uniforms and be pictured therein - or indeed to do a Rees-Mogg and dress up in Nazi ideology - and then for this all to be written off as "youthful exuberance" (other lies are available).  They would probably claim royal privilege, as the next parasitic wedding will be graced by a member of the family pictured as a role model to Young Conservatives everywhere.

This is not to deny that all parties need to examine their views and practices.  The anti-semitism issue is important, but it is a strawman to claim that Labour has a unique problem (the Tories, after all, have some particularly vile specimens in their attic).  Instead it is being used as a means of conflating prejudice and racism with many across the political spectrum who do not feel that crying anti-semitism is a sufficient deflection technique when anyone dares to question or criticise the actions of the Israeli state.  This is legitimate - prejudice against any group is not.

From the BBC's coverage, you would have been convinced that everything is proceeding perfectly towards a post-European sunlit uplands.  On every point of substance in the Tories' EU Withdrawal Bill, the House of Lords has done its duty and found it wanting in both content and constitutional propriety.  This has resulted in the Somerset Mosley calling for its abolition, as a revising chamber is antithetical to his view that failed fund managers with private fortunes are the best expression of the will of the people.  

The irony that this scummy anachronism is now finding his petard hoist by an equally unjustifiable chamber should not be lost - and in the meantime we should be delighted that there is still an effort to scrutinise the actions of Ministers.  The Commons has abdicated this responsibility.  The Lords is not what a democrat would want, but then the Commons fails miserably in both its representative function and in its capability to debate, challenge and govern.

The forthcoming English local elections will be interesting, both at the macro level and in terms of voting patterns in each authority - snap judgements will probably not be easy.  Labour should be massively ahead at the moment, an incompetent government struggling in all the basic competencies of administration parallels the perception of the Major years.  The Tories are presiding over economic stagnation, soon to become a full-blown recession, while eroding the last vestiges of civilisation.  Criticised for their own policies, for example over the rail franchising process, they should be reeling in ignominy.

As has been observed many times before, much of the policy platform emanating from Labour is entirely sensible and in the mainstream European Social Democratic tradition.  If Labour do not perform reasonably well in the elections, this will be a function of their inability to fuse this to a clear opposition to the direction of the government's European fiasco.  At that stage, a gamble on a shift towards outright opposition to the current disaster might be the only chance of rescuing both their party and their country - playing the patriot card would be a subtle shift but one that would resonate across the groups currently either sceptical, or, like me, totally alienated by Labour's sophistry and impotence on the defining issues.

Summer is just around the corner.  This should be the time of year when optimism abounds (even for cricket-watchers).  Instead, we watch mesmerised as the venal, cretinous and corrupt ally themselves with the feeble and the fence-sitters.  The people of the British nations deserve better - and at some stage the current fiction of the feudal state may be toppled from below unless there is a dramatic acceptance by the political leaderships of their failings and responsibility.  Not being the former Tory MP for Eastleigh, one is not advised to hold one's breath.

Monday, 16 April 2018

War as a distraction - the treachery of the Tories

Whenever the progeny of priests start virtue-signalling, it is obvious that they are perpetrating actions beyond the moral pale.  Anyone who has absorbed the teachings of Christianity (or at least the mainstream versions) would think twice about using their daughter-of-the-manse status as a defence against accusations of waging illegal war, let alone betraying the interests of the people over whom her party exercises usurped power.  The most amazing feature of Theresa May is the way in which she has assumed the mantle of a fourth-rate Enoch Powell, while sweeping all challenge and debate under the general heading of "treachery".

The Middle East has been the graveyard of political action for decades - problems that are difficult have become intractable because of the meddling of outside powers, and the lack of willingness to speak truth about the multiplication of evil.  Criticise, however mildly, the conduct of the Israeli regime, and, as Jeremy Corbyn has exemplified, there are howls of anti-semitism.  The same applies on the other side of the religious divide.  For May to claim some kind of moral mandate, cushioned as she is by wealth obtained by means at best dubious and at worst on the fringes of legality, is crushingly evil.

Nobody with an ounce of humanity would condone or support the Assad regime in Syria, whose outrages against its own population are becoming axiomatic.  However, to respond to the dog-whistle of Trump's lunatic governance-by-Twitter, without reference either  to the UK's constitutional conventions or to the international frameworks of the UN and the EU, represents a further descent into the illegitimate.  May has demonstrated throughout the EU negotiations that where she is likely to face defeat in the face of scrutiny and challenge, she would rather avoid the fight through a far-right coup.

Just because she is the prisoner of the hard-right of the Tory party does not make the current situation acceptable.  The irony is that had she waited she might have had a legitimate Parliamentary vote.  Instead she has demonstrated yet again that the current government does not act for the people or for the preservation of the national interest.  There has only been one assassination of a Prime Minister in English political history.  When the deranged and the messianic become empowered, as Blair demonstrated, the odds on a second decrease.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Distraction tactics for the Ides of May

The vultures circle, the fair-weather friends are looking anxiously at the door.  Theresa May, from the tone of hagiographic infatuation that the BBC now regurgitates (emulating other parts of the gutter press), is enjoying a period of strength and stability that would have been the envy of Gladstone, Lloyd George, Attlee, Thatcher and Blair, all multiplied into the messianic figure of an inadequate, rich career politician sustained by ill-gotten and exploitative gains.

Conservative Party reality is, as ever, much more cynical and murderous.  The inmates of that fractious charnel house are now fighting over the scraps of secular decline and the fratricidal motivations that come from having no common cause other than survival.  Whatever Jeremy Corbyn is, and isn't, it is highly convenient and therefore suspicious that the cries of anti-semitism (a useful catch-all when other attacks are failing) have coincided with the local election campaign, in which there are a number of obvious tips of the Tory iceberg that just might be swayed by a concerted monstering by the Daily Heil and other purveyors of odiferous propaganda.

Leaving aside the moral dubiety of a paper which has never disowned its support for Mosley, Mussolini and Hitler leading the howling moronic pack, it would be instructive to determine the extent of racism and anti-semitism within the Tories.  Not one Labour MP was jailed for supporting the fascist cause in the 1930s, or indeed the Communists, but there was at least one Tory who enjoyed a privileged life during the Second World War banged up and worrying about what might happen in the showers.

Were Labour to be sensible at this point, they would be suggesting that the Tories should put their own house in order as well, and even a multi-partisan approach across politics.  The Moggs of this world, with their affected disdain for democracy, the constitution as well as people who do not fit their worldview (mercifully this means that they only have concern for themselves as most of the rest of us are on a higher moral plane) are ripe for calling out and humiliating.  Corbyn, as ever, sees everything through the prism of the Labour Party - he is much more comfortable in internal faction-fighting than taking the battle to the real enemy.

This is a gift for May, alongside Corbyn's cack-handed handling of the Russian poisonings.  My view remains that there is much more to emerge about links between the various strands of the right-wing coup (Russia, Trump, the Leave campaigns and the Tories) that should be dominating the front pages.  With a poodle media and an opposition engaged in internal soul-searching, the stage is set for a short-term Tory rearguard action.  When this is complete, the right will be ruthless in trying to impose its own coup within the Tories - the tactics of entrism and the far left have been studied in some detail by the hard right / UKIP infiltrators.

May is not going to be in office much longer - her power has never been there, conditional upon the consent of her puppet-masters.  The current political mess is principally to create a diversion while the coup continues.  The time may well be coming where there is no alternative but to cross the boundary between argument and active resistance and denial of legitimacy of a usurping cabal of crooks and idiots - enabled by the inability of the main channels of communication to extend analysis and challenge into a void of their own creation.