The Tories European Nightmare

27 November, 2007

I know the media love to miss any story that might actually be important especially when you have a defection going on but why is the main story about the European parliament that a yellow tory has decided to defect to be a blue tory?

The real news is that the entire tory group in the European Parliament is tearing itself apart over it’s leader and Camerons pledge to exit the European People’s Party political grouping in the parliament. More on this from our “friends” over at Conservativehome

Also I present for your delectation what Lib Dem Voice and Conservativehome have been saying about the highly principled defector who couldn’t possibly be out to save his seat. No no that’s far to cynical. 

Just after getting reselected in what he must feel is an unwinnable position for the Lib Dems he has jumped ship. He is moving from the Fibs to the Cons just proves that some people, as in the old irish political joke, can’t tell the shit from the shite.

Heard it about quarter to severn this morning on the radio and seem to remember him saying quite nice things about the Lib Dems, the very people he was stabbing in the back. What a very Fib Dem thing to do. Idiot.

Rupa Huq and Chris Paul seem to have a far greater tolerance threshold for disecting non entities. So go check them out and while your at it try and sort out some better or at least not dank weather. The Soviets managed it for their Mayday parades why on earth can’t we.

You would have thought that the world was about to fall in the way some people react to the misdeeds of a minor government functionary. Fortunately when it comes to the fundamentally serious issues like climate change the government is really stepping up to the plate and setting the agenda in a way that it hasn’t done so up until now. See here.

OK we live in a cynical age and what matters above all is delivery, delivery, delivery but I am genuinely very very pleased that we have a Prime Minister who really gets the scale of the problem of climate change and the scale of action that we need to tackle it.

Our brothers in arms. We love them for their gender equalitycompassion and commitment to accountable governance. Of course they have the wise and noble guidence of the Lord Bell so they must be OK. There’s a man going up in the world from the Tories to the torturers.

Dems Debate

16 November, 2007

Just watching the Democratic presidential nominee debate on CNN and I have to say that it is the people you have never heard of that are being the most interesting. Pity its all decided by who raises the most money.

Fortunately our politics isn’t so driven by money but we should have more televised debates in the UK. More scrutiny, more opportunity for people and politics to connect and more reason for politicians to actually have to think through their positions that has to be a good thing

Detention without trial

12 November, 2007

We are already out of line with most other comparible democracies. If the police are asking for it and given the very small number of people they have held to 28 days I can’t imagine that they are gagging for it, parliament isn’t compelled to roll over and let the police tickle the parliamentary belly.

We live in parliamentary  democracy and not a police state and it would be benefiticial if our elected members payed as much attention to threats to the liberty of the voters as it does to the liberty of business. What did someone mention Agency workers?

Perhaps people should start earning their salaries and get a bit creative. What about post charge questioning? What we don’t want to end up in is a situation where the government goes for 56 days for whatever reason and loses. Thereby looking authoritarian and feeble in one go which is something of an achievement. So sort it.

Today the legal advisor to the US secretary of state refuses to say that waterboarding is illegal. Yet 60 years ago America was sentencing Japanese soldiers who used the technique on US soldiers to 15 years for war crimes. Seems grandpa got something right.

Quite what the Americans are hoping to achieve using this form of torture is beyond me. We are engaged in a battle of hearts and minds to win the world to liberal democracy against a medievalist religious fundementalism because this is the best guarantee in the view of western industrialised nations for peoples peace, security and happiness and what does some jackass in the US militelligence complex do?

Start using torture to extract information that is of very dubious value. Torture someone long enough and they will tell you what you want to hear. It also puts the US into the same bracket as every tinpot regime that seeks to torture and makes it alot harder to explain why we are supposed to be the good guys. And in a battle of hearts and minds why would we want to be the good guys?

I think it all comes back to Machiavelli. Is it the wiser course of action for a prince to be loved or feared? Well considering that this prince can’t control even a small part of its troublesome empire with the most advanced military technology in the history of humanity a rule based on fear may not be the most brilliant idea ever. So Dubya you’d better start showing us some of your lurve …

it’s all a bloody Liberal Conspiracy. If only.

I want more please sir …

5 November, 2007

Such is the state of political activism in the west country that a political junkie like me has to travel to get their fix. Over the last week I have been down to London twice. First to a demonstration organised by the Socialist Youth Network against the Saudi state visit and the second to Progress’s annual conference. Two events that span the entire spectrum of the Labour movement. I think that is the diplomatic way to put it.

First off on Wednesday I traipsed from Green Park tube through some incredibly posh bits of west London, your run of the mill millionaire would feel like a pleb here, to the Saudi embassy. OK it’s the Saudi embassy, it’s probably not going to be in Peckam. I arrived a little early and when the police (shouldn’t they be out catching criminals?) penned us in I was right at the front in full view of the TV cameras. There was quite a lot of press including from that noted hotbed of leftism Classic FM.

There was quite a bit of chanting “Yes to Saudi democracy, No to British hipocracy” seemed to be the favourite phrase of the night. This was followed by speeches which read like a hard left greatest hits album. With all these lefties in one place it is a relief that no one in the Labour whips office can drive a bus otherwise there may have been a few by elections we could do without. The thing that stuck in my (what are you saying about teflon) mind was made by Geoffrey Bindman who said that the British government in its infinate wisdom had granted the Saudi government sovereign immunity to charges of torture carried out on British citizens made in this country.

So if this is true the government appears to be saying to a BRITISH citizen who is tortured by a foriegn government they have to use the judical process of the government that had carried out the torture to seek redress. Perhaps we could use this example for teaching infants what a logical flaw is. Nice work HMG, earnt your index linked salary with that one. 

We adjorned to the pub afterwards and you’ll never guess who popped out of taxi and went into the house opposite. The lovely Ffion Hague and her husband William who apparently is something to do with the Tory party. Someone said Shadow Foreign Secretary but that can’t be right. Anyway this blog thinks Ffion is lovely but takes that Nancy Astor quote  “I married beneath me – all women do” way to far.

Anyway someone asked in the pub afterwards why the left of the Labour party doesn’t do more events like this? I think it’s a good point but it’s not just the left. The right of the Labour party is about as likely to go on a demo as end their subscription to the Guardian.

The crucial point here is that just because we are in government now doesn’t mean that the world has suddenly become a social democratic paradise. There are plenty of things to shout about. Indeed as the progressive party of British politics we should never forget that our role in the play of British political live is Oliver Twist. We’re the lead character but that shouldn’t stop us from always asking for more. Now I know as much as anyone that protests are not exactly the most effective method of exerting political influence but I have to say a protest in front of TV cameras compared favourably with a night in with the procedural tendency and ratifying the last meetings minutes.  

In policywonk terms we need to be an outsider party in government. Namely that we control the levers of power but we are never satisfied with the status quo because if we simply follow the line that the sun shines out of the governments proverbial we risk separating ourselves as a party from the aspiration to change society that is constantly coming from an electorate. A permanant revolution if you like.

Anyway onward and upward Saturday it must be Progress. The highlight of Progress conference for me was the debate on spin chaired by this blogs very own guest Rupa Huq. Tim Allen ( A Campbell’s bag carrier) had to drop out for “family reasons” and was replaced by Derek Draper just in the nick of time. Now it has to be said that Mutley is a good platform speaker even if his personal history may not have been entirely perfect from a Progress point of view. I think it was big of them to let him on. Post California he is a reformed character as his gag serves to illustrate. He was waiting for class to start at Berkeley when another student came over to him and said that he had been googling other students names but he couldn’t find anything on Derek but there was another Derek Draper in the UK and he was a right twat.

What was readily apparent about the conference was that it was full of young hacks, some ministers, others wannabe ministers. Whatever happend to the working class Labour party? Kinnock wasn’t the first Kinnock in 1000 years to go to university because the rest of his family was thick. Just because people don’t fall into the demographic of guardian reading policywonk doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be discussing policy in the Labour party.

If the political discourse of a country is devoid of the working class that is asking for trouble and Labour is supposed to nominally be the most working class of the major parties so what must the others be like? Perhaps we should stop using words like political discourse and start talking fluent human. Estelle Morris made good points along those lines. It’s a pity she felt that she couldn’t hack the game. We need more people like her. When she speaks that far recess of your mind doesn’t turn it thoughts to playing bullshit bingo unlike some.

So last week for me was politically a week of contrasts both have their insights, thier strengths and their weaknesses. The challenge for progressives is to find a meaningfull synthesis that resonates beyond the political vanguard deep into the national fabric. Not sure that we are quite there yet but then if we sat back and said everything was fine we wouldn’t be being true to the progressive cause that we seek to promote.

Creasy in the commons?

5 November, 2007

Stella Creasy has been selected as the Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Walthamstow. I met Stella more than a decade ago at a Fabian summer school along with Derek Draper (more on him later).

It wouldn’t have been a suprise to me then that she would be a future Labour candidate and it certainly isn’t now. I’m sure Stella will be a credit to Walthamstow and the PLP should she receive the electorates endorsement and lets face it if we don’t get that in Walthamstow then we really would be stuffed.

Hattip Luke Akehurst