29 Jun 2016

Au revoir to The Quiet Man

All of you who know me, in the real world or on Farcebook will probably know or surmise that my X has always been for Labour, and you'd be mostly right. Currently my natural party of choice is doing what it does best, tearing itself apart. Regardless of the recriminations and regret over how they got to this place, much like that stupid referendum result, we have to grit our teeth and get on with it. I say "our", but in truth that's a bit wide of the mark, as I have never been a Labour member. I joined the Greens briefly after their relative success in the European Parliament elections in the mid 1980s, but the constant factional infighting that became instantly apparent put me off party membership for life. That said, as a natural Labour voter, I have every right to express my opinion, so here it is:

Jeremy Corbyn will never win a General Election - cue foaming at the mouth by the idealist faction.

He is a quiet and dignified man whose principles guide him, a rare thing in modern politics. Corbyn is a lifelong Eurosceptic, and the fact he had to compromise his principles in the recent referendum debacle, and therefore only reluctantly entered the fray at the last minute, saying too little far too late to make a difference is at least part of the reason why thousands of natural Labour voters, especially in the north of England were not swayed from their misguided intentions to vote Leave. With such a small majority for Leave, Corbyn only had to persuade a few hundred thousand to vote the other way and the result would have been different. The fact that today we see a previously reluctant Corbyn on the news saying that Article 50 should be invoked now, not after we have a new Tory PM at the helm tells you all you need to know. He probably voted Leave himself, and is suddenly becoming forceful over the outcome.

His heart was not in the Remain campaign, that much was obvious from his demeanour, when he was visible that is. A grudging comment along the lines of "I give the EU 7 out of 10" is hardly helpful, and the first time I heard him say Labour had to look at their immigration policy, the major factor for those northern ex-Labour voters, was the day before the vote. Way, way too late. I heard one of those same voters being asked on the news what they thought Corbyn's stance was on the referendum, and his answer was he had "no idea". Much as Corbyn obviously loathes the media, and he has good reason to, if he is to stand any chance in the next General Election, which now could be a lot earlier than expected, he needs his own Alistair Campbell making damn sure he appears every five minutes calling the Tories to account. In fact, forget the GE, that should be happening right now, and it should be like shooting fish in a barrel, but Corbyn prefers to remain near invisible. It frustrates the hell out me, and no doubt countless other Labour supporters away from the membership bubble.

Leaving the appallingly stupid EU vote aside, Corbyn's biggest problem is also the reason he was voted in as leader in the first place. Part of his calm and reasoned manner involves travelling up and down the country meeting real people and explaining his vision, in his consensual manner. Marvellous, I agree, and a breath of fresh air, but unfortunately idealism has not won an election since 1979, and in the modern TV age it is unlikely to ever again. Stump politics may have worked in the 1960s, and arguably a faux version worked as late as 1992, but convincing hundreds of people at a time of your case will not win a GE in the 21st century. Corbyn has failed miserably at communicating his message to the greater mass of the public. You cannot win an election by ignoring the media, especially TV.

Labour will never get back the Scottish vote, assuming they are even part of the UK by the next GE, and so to win enough seats not to get a majority necessarily, but to be able to form a workable coalition, Labour needs to win back its disaffected northern vote, most of whom now don't bother as they feel disenfranchised, and worryingly some vote UKIP. Even more difficult, they also need to get a fair proportion of middle England floating voters to switch sides from the Tories. It will be a very tough call for any leader, and with his current outlook, completely impossible for Corbyn.

Another factor is his seeming lack of gravitas, although to be fair my assumption is yet to be truly tested, but if I'm right, it never will be! All prominent world leaders need a statesman within, and in our recent history, Wilson had it, Callaghan didn't, Thatcher had it, Major didn't - although he seems to have grown into it years too late. Blair had it, Brown didn't. The common factor with all those who didn't is they all failed in the job. Being PM is not a bout being "nice" and "reasonable", it is about making hard choices and dealing with the consequences. Speaking of which, courage and gravitas is astonishingly lacking in that cowardly idiot Cameron, without whom we would not be in this dreadful fucking mess in the first place. Thanks, Dave, you absolute waste of space.

A modern party leader and hopeful Prime Minister has to make compromises every day, and both jobs are a triumph of pragmatism over idealism, that's the real world. Corbyn is no doubt an excellent constituency MP and is a great guy to have on your side if you want a new road crossing outside your local primary school, but PM material? Hardly, he's a back room man, an ideas man, and would make a good Secretary for Work and Pensions, but he is not and never will be PM material.

Unfortunately, the membership will no doubt re-elect Corbyn, the MPs who voted "no confidence" will defect and join up with the few Tories with a human face and a social conscience, and the Liberals...and lo...a New SDP to fill the missing centre, as nature and politics abhor a vacuum. It's 1981 all over again. Consequently the anti-Tory vote is split, Johnson gets in with the most right wing government we've ever seen in this country.

Do the Labour Party want a leader who will lead a marginal socialist rump in the House of Commons, satisfied to sit smugly on the sidelines occupying the moral high ground forever without a sniff of power, or do they want a leader who will be Prime Minister? I am a Labour voter, and to me, that is no choice at all...I might even join to give pragmatism one more vote.

...just thought you needed cheering up...and I haven't even mentioned Trump! Yep, 2016 is most certainly the Year of Stupid. Fangyewandgudnite....

21 Jun 2016

The Referendum Blues...Very Blue

On Thursday we here in the UK will be making the biggest decision of our voting lives, and for some of you who were over 18 on 6th June 1975 it is your second chance at determining the future of our country. 41 years ago that generation were young and hopeful of the future, as indeed they should be, and they and most of the rest of the country voted to stay in what was then the Common Market.

You are mostly all now in receipt of pensionable income of some form or other, and barring an absolute economic catastrophe your future income is safe, and more importantly, known. A large percentage of you have worked at some point or another for a Government department and therefore are probably well enough off to withstand the inevitable price rises that will follow a Brexit, an outcome most of you seem in favour of. Unfortunately those economic guarantees do not apply to your children and grandchildren, which is why I now ask you to think again.

I have read countless blogs, posts, articles on the Leave side of the fence, so I would like to think any Leavers reading this would do me the same courtesy, so, consider this if you will:

Whatever your reasons to vote Leave, do you really want to see a country where the opportunities to live and work anywhere within the EU without restriction is denied to your children and grandchildren? These are opportunities that some of you may have taken advantage of. Aside from the employment scenario, if any of you have married an EU citizen from another country, and brought them here to live - or vice-versa - after Brexit there is a good chance that will no longer be possible for your descendants, or at the very least only possible after waiting years for the correct paperwork. Do you really want to restrict their life chances that much, given that they are far more likely to want to travel abroad to find work than you were, and for a lot, finding a partner will follow.

Even the majority of your descendants who will always live and work in the UK will be directly affected as initially at least - and there's no guarantee we will ever recover fully - there will be an increase in unemployment as multi-nationals relocate or scale down their operations in favour of locations within the EU.

Additionally in a probably vain appeal to loftier ideals, the reason there has been no war in western Europe in over 70 years is down to the EU, and NATO. In fact the quest for lasting peace was one of the reasons the EU was formed. Breaking it up plays into the hands of nationalists and warmongers. Incidentally, I do not hear any Leavers wanting to leave NATO, where if any one of its members is attacked it is taken as an act of war on all of them. Isn't that "undemocratic", and even a close call to the dreaded and mythical European Army?

After that plea to your emotions, here are some pertinent hard facts that I would like you to think about:

The labour protection laws and benefits and H&S rules that gradually came into being since 1975 that you have benefitted from while employed all came about largely as a result of us being in the EU. Outside the EU there are no checks on what an increasingly right wing libertarian Government might want to repeal.

The mythical benefit to the NHS promised by the Leave campaign simply will not happen as the net monies we pay to the EU will not be there as the economy will undoubtedly shrink after a Brexit. Take a look at the financial pages of your paper - it's already happening as stock prices plummet in a nervous pre-vote market expecting the worst. This may affect your investments directly, investments that you rely on to maintain your standard of living, not to mention your children's investments for their retirement, one that whatever the outcome will never be as cushioned as that of the Baby Boomers, the most well-off generation of retirees this country has seen and will see for a long, long time.

A lot of you are being led by the Leave campaign and the media into fixating on immigration, and while the vast majority of you are not racists, we all know where those fears ultimately lead as recent events horrifically showed. In any event, leaving the EU will have little effect on immigration, otherwise why is it that over half of current net immigration is from outside the EU? And there is no way that Turkey will be joining the EU in either your or my lifetime. It only takes one member to object!

The more idealistic of you are voting Leave in some laudable but naive hope of better democracy. We had our chance at better democracy when we rejected PR a few years ago. Remember, we currently have a Government that was elected by less than a quarter of the electorate, who can force their legislation through an unelected second chamber flooded with unelected members for that purpose. It is ironic that the unelected chamber has 200 or so more members that the elected one. A Brexit will certainly lead to an unelected (that word again!) Government led by Boris Johnson, of a more right wing nature than we have ever seen in this country, as Cameron's position will be untenable following a Brexit. Rather puts complaints about the EU being undemocratic into perspective don't you think?

I could go on, but I doubt there is any point. If any Leavers are still reading, I congratulate you on keeping an open mind, but I fear that most have entrenched opinions and will not have read past the first paragraph, so I won't waste any more of your or my time. The EU is far from perfect, and yesterday I heard a German Eurocrat saying that whatever the outcome of the UK referendum it will cause the EU to take "a serious look at itself". Surely it is better to be part of that process than declining in isolation on the fringes? Vote Remain on Thursday 23rd June for a better future!