Monday, June 23, 2008 

We are ruled over by vermin pt. 94.

Following the last post, sometimes it would be nice if it didn't require the accusation of racism for someone to either be fired or lose their job. According to Jacqui Smith, as long as homosexuals in Iran are discreet, there isn't a "real risk of discovery of, or adverse action against [them]," hence why it's perfectly reasonable to deport those seeking refuge from there back.

It's easy to reminisce and wear rose-tinted spectacles over the Labour party's past, how it was the home of Bevan and Attlee, and even now of those who have since blotted their copy books, such as Peter Hain and Harriet Harman, with their campaigning pasts, but when you compare such past alumni to the utter dregs we're currently dealing with, whether it be Smith, whose only previous job was a teacher, or the likes of Andy Burnham and James Purnell, who don't seem to have any past at all prior to their becoming researchers or employed by other MPs, it's hard not to come across all lachrymose over a party that is now being so unutterably betrayed by its current leaders.

The sheer wrongness of Smith's comment, backed up or not by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, tells you much about the party's current trajectory. As long as you don't bring any attention to yourself, you know, such as dressing up similarly to Big Gay Al, you'll be fine in Tehran. Don't let the punishments for being caught give you the wrong impression that homosexuality in Iran is frowned up: those 100 lashes for the rubbing of the "thighs and buttocks" are simply the state joining in the fun. After all, who are we to decide where the pleasure ends and the pain begins? As for the death penalty, which is the ultimate sentence for homosexuality, it's not employed very often, so don't worry your pretty little heads about it. We've more important things to worry about, like the next set of figures detailing how many asylum claims were made and how many of those whose claims failed were deported. The Sun and the Daily Mail get rather sniffy if the figures don't fall enough for their liking.

Similarly, it doesn't seem to matter that Smith's comments rather undermine the whole point of the asylum system: that it provides sanctuary for those who do raise their heads above the parapet in nations bordering on totalitarianism, in an attempt to not just improve standards for themselves but for their nation and people as a whole, but who might eventually be forced to leave or face death, imprisonment and torture themselves. You could imagine the outrage if an MDC activist fleeing Zimbabwe now after having his or her family killed was then subsequently told on reaching Britain that they'd have been perfectly all right as long if they'd been discreet in the first place, or would be as long as they didn't bring any attention to themselves upon their return. It's almost reminiscent of the tale of the German communists recounted in Antony Beevor's Berlin who proudly showed their Soviet liberators their party cards which they'd kept hidden since the darkness descended in 1933; that the Ivans then proceeded to rape their wives and daughters despite this might well have made them think that they should have been more discreet also.

New Labour's hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil approach is also remarkably similar to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's own, having famously commented that there are no gay people in Iran. Jacqui Smith would like that too; then they wouldn't come over here demanding sanctuary in the first place. I, like some others, am starting to count the days until this shower of shits are finally thrown out of office. I might then have to start numbering the days until the shower of possibly even worse shits in the Conservatives are subject to the same treatment, but at least the Labour party in the meantime might finally be forced to sort itself out.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, July 23, 2007 

Any movement that forgets about class is a bowel movement.

Isn't it interesting to measure the response to the floods currently affecting the West Midlands and south-western England to that which followed the similar deluges which left vast swathes of Yorkshire and northern England underwater at the beginning of the month? While the situation now is certainly more serious than it was in the north, with water and power supplies coming under strain, it's hard not to see that there are far more factors at work here than just the amount of water to drop from the sky.

While Polly Toynbee, in one of her more cogent pieces pointed out that if the floods had taken place in Chelsea the media would have been in full baying for blood mood, while it was only in half if that on the matter, she in fact didn't take her point to its logical conclusion. It's not the media with whom the full fault lies here; it's the political parties, and their own warped sense of priorities, which have been influenced by the power exercised especially by the tabloids which has made this latest breaking of the banks far more newsworthy.

At the very heart of why the north is far less important than south is that the voters there have been taken for granted under New Labour. From the beginning, New Labour was about the betrayal not just of everything that Labour formerly stood for, but also the very people who it was initially set up to represent. Of all the regions that suffered the most under the floods at the end of June beginning of July, nearly all of them have Labour MPs with invariably large majorities. The worst affected areas, Hull and Toll Bar near to Doncaster, are all Labour strongholds, Hull having the constituencies of both John Prescott and Alan Johnson, while Sheffield, similarly hard hit, counts David Blunkett amongst its representatives. The few exceptions to the rule, with Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems holding Sheffield Hallam, and Greg Mulholland grabbing Leeds North West are more down to the role of the student population and their opposition to the Iraq war and top-up tuition fees than any other real love for the party they belong to. Seeing as Labour still has a majority of 60 or so, and that so many former/current ministers are based in the area, you would have expected far more coverage/demands that something must be done than that which we actually had. While it was fun for the television reporters to put on their wellies and stand in knee-deep water, while hearing the stories those who had lost everything told, the newspapers lost interest relatively quickly, with the reporters following suit shortly afterwards.

What few, especially Labour MPs would dare to breathe was the real reason behind this was the class factor. While the region is by no means homogeneous, it's become regarded both by the media and by the political class as being populated by the kind of people who can be safely ignored. Once we called them the working class, but in a country in which the class distinctions have meant to have been broken down, referring to them as such now could almost be taken as offensive, and if that doesn't apply, then mentioning anything to do with class quickly brings the usual accusations of envy and usage of obsolete pejoratives. Hull might have been effectively devastated, with up to 10,000 homes needing urgent repairs and damages to schools running into the millions, but after all, wasn't Hull just a few years ago announced as the worst place to live in the UK by Channel 4, that doyen of the ultra-bourgeois property and lifestyle programmes? Who could possibly care about such proles who won't move outside of such a vulgar, brash, depressing place?

At the same time, the very fact that the area is dominated by Labour has meant, especially with Brown's ascension to the prime ministership, that few have dared to be openly critical themselves and potentially bring down a media storm on their new leader's head. With the Conservatives still decimated and likely to stay that way, there's been few effective voices other than local councillors visibly complaining about the lack of help which the area has received.

What a difference the fact that the water was this time deposited over the very heart of middle England has made! We're talking of the very area where New Labour myths were created: if the party could win over the support of the upper middle classes in the shires, the families living in such previous no-go Labour areas as Gloucester and Cheltenham, anything was possible. The emergence of Worcester woman, who couldn't give a fig for ideology or the outdated ways of the past but cared deeply about the public services and quality of life, was the very embodiment of everything that Blair's newly liberated party wanted to stand for. The unexpected victories in such cities and towns in 1997 spurred the leadership on to every greater flights of fancy. Such gains needed to be held at whatever cost, even if it was highly unlikely to be possible. Those voters up in the north could be counted upon even if Blair turned out to be Pol Pot in disguise. It was the Daily Mail/Telegraph heartlands that needed to be pampered with their every whim addressed. So it has turned out to be, with only Worcester and Gloucester still staying with Labour in 2005, but by God did they try.

How predictable that even now Labour knows a true "crisis" when it sees one. There wasn't an emergency up in Sheffield, Leeds, Doncaster and Hull, even though 7 people died in the chaos (it was left to the Environment Agency to describe it as "critical" and the FBU to say it was the biggest rescue operation they'd undertaken in peacetime); there most certainly is out in the jungle of Tewkesbury and Oxford, such a one that Brown himself needed to take a helicopter ride to see the swathes of hard-working, family loving, non-feckless countryside under metres of effluent coloured and flavoured water. This time too, the Tories had something to be concerned and outraged about, with John Redwood, that vulcan and symbol of disgusted Britain demanding to know why the government hadn't bombed the rain clouds into submission. The only plus is that David Cameron was so concerned about his deluged constituency that he flew straight off to Rwanda to deal with more pressing matters. Meanwhile, the BBC decamps Hugh Edwards and numerous other correspondents to the most hard hit areas, leaving sex kitten Natasha Kaplinsky to man the fort in White City, while the tabloids get ready to howl about their precious readers' destroyed homes and ruined lives.

This does of course ignore the fact that every single one of these people, regardless of their background, has lost something as a result of an act of God, however much the blame will now be thrown about. It's easy to forget however, when in the eyes both of a government and a media, some animals are still more equal than others.

Labels: , , ,

Share |

Thursday, January 04, 2007 

From elephants in the room to the rutting of New Labour.

In one sense, you have to admire the chutzpah of Gordon Brown, his admirers and advisers in briefing the Grauniad that they believe British foreign policy has got itself into a "rut" due to the continuing occupation of Iraq. They're continuing in the fashion of Blair's own spin doctors, the one who wrote the highly humourous memo that was leaked to the Mirror about the plans for Blair's departure from office, where Iraq was merely referred to as "the elephant in the room". This is an elephant that has rampaging for 16 years, killing hundreds of thousands, either through sanctions, bombs or sheer criminal incompetence. After a brief lull in the violence during Eid, the bombings appear to have started up again, another 13 dying in an attack on a petrol station. Every morning dozens of bodies are found dumped in Baghdad's streets, having discovered themselves stuck in the same rut which is so vexing Brown's supporters.

Even more galling is that the admirers further briefed that once Brown ascends to the throne, he's no more going to "cut 'n' run" than Tony. How could he? He'd never hear the end of it from the Scum, for the start. For all their support of the troops there, they'd rather that they continue to return home in body bags than for us either to drastically draw down forces, finish training the Iraqis, and then get out completely. No, Murdoch's war for oil must continue until it reaches its $20 a barrel conclusion.

It's OK though, as Brown's been brainstorming some apparent ways to either distract us from the slaughter, or at the least, perhaps level out the deaths with initiatives that those on the left will find impossible to oppose. Who could reject the idea of spending 2 pence a day on educating the children of Africa? Better still, this scheme can be done without spending yet more of the Treasury's coffers - those in the "richest nations" will all apparently contribute - even though how this will work in practice predictably isn't fleshed out. Also mentioned by Brown's briefers, but not in Brown's actual article, is that he apparently plans to get tough on climate change, making clear that he considers it a "foreign" rather than "domestic" issue. One has to wonder, judging by the less than tough changes in policy in the pre-budget report whether this will in fact be Brown attempting to pass the buck: if other countries are still refusing to act, why should we may well be his argument if his powers of persuasion fail him.

The chancellor's strategy, should he succeed Mr Blair later this year, will be to dilute the influence of Iraq by moving other issues up the policy agenda.

Only once last year did something other than Iraq top the foreign policy agenda, and that was when Israel set about destroying southern Lebanon from the air, while ministers declined to call for an immediate ceasefire and dismissed the idea of recalling parliament to discuss the hostilities. In reality, the idea is utterly farcical. Iraq has dominated the political debate for the last 4 years, and until the troops come home will continue to do so, however much this government attempts to stifle parliamentary scrutiny of its myriad failures. However much Blair wants to push Israel-Palestine to the top of the agenda, glad-handing as many politicians he considers to be moderate as he can while thumbing his nose at the extremists on his trips to the Middle East, his legacy has already been written. The only way Brown can escape a similar one is to abandon the shoulder-to-shoulder approach with the neo-conservatives which has done so much damage, both to the wider Middle East and our reputation. He instead seems ready to carry on regardless.

There may however have been a more immediate political motive for why Brown's article and briefers were out in force yesterday: John "Dr Demento" Reid picked today to make the first of what is an apparent series of speeches, and would you believe it, he's defended his saviour Blair's legacy to the core. With the Dear Leader earlier in the week pleading for "New Labour" values to stay, which is so ripe for parody after 9 years in office that to do so would be overdoing the point, Reid has just reinforced the message in his predictable shutting down any dissent fashion. The unfathomable thing is that these ministers can't apparently see how being New Labour to the core has demoralised the party and its supporters, wiped out half its membership and brought it to the edge of financial ruin, beholden to the corporate donors it mortgaged itself for in exchange for peerages. The only reason things aren't worse is because Cameron's a Blair clone with no policies to speak of.

Whether Reid will actually stand for the party leadership once Blair departs is still unclear. Dividing the party on New Labour/Brownite lines would only deepen the infighting, something which is in the interests of no one. What is apparent is that Brown intends, rightly, to purge the most egregious New Labour ministers and replace them with ones more in his own image. How Reid and others react to such a potential bloodbath may decide whether there is a proper leadership challenge or not.

You can expect that the various majority of policies though will continue as normal. Brown's love of PFI certainly isn't going to go away, he couldn't even resist getting a mention in of extremism and potential terrorism in the article on Africa today, and we all know he personally supports the extension of detention without trial for "terrorist suspects" to 90 days, even though such a deprivation of liberty isn't supported by evidence. Health reforms will continue, the attacks on civil liberties go on unabated; all New Labour values which are stuck in much the same rut as Iraq, but which won't be glossed over through distraction.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |


  • This is septicisle


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates