Gawd knows the Labour Party needs some cash at the moment. As someone who signed up to a couple of Democrat email lists I know how frequently the Dems ask their small donors for cash. I suspect that necessity will bring this over here which would be no bad thing as the safest political money to raise is small amounts from many small donors. In the meantime Labour HQ is having a dinner and auction with load of lots that you can’t buy for love nor money anywhere else. So get those wallets open. More details here




Harriet Harman is setting out the governments plans to tackle descrimination. I think the moves to promote greater transparency over pay are a step forward. Personally I would like to go further and be able to look up anyones income on the HMRC website as I think this would help not only with the gender pay gap but also the wider debate about inequality. I think the ban on age discrimination is great and indeed timely as society isn’t getting any younger. However I’m not convinced about furthering the application of “positive” discrimination.

For a start I don’t view discrimination as positive but more importantly the changing nature of British society has altered the reality of discrimination. Take this fictional case of two young doctors as an example. 

Riya Kumar is a British Asian women. Her parents arrived from India in the early seventies to set up a take away. Business went well and developed into a fairly large chain of Indian restrauants. Her parents were able to put Riya through private school where her best friend’s father was a doctor. Dr Barnett loved a curry in the family restrauant and over the years got to know the Kumar’s pretty well. For some reason Riya found his gory tales of surgery inspiring and decided to go to medical school. Her parents were always supportive and covered her financially so she managed to leave with no debts despite not having to work to support herself as a student.

Derek Tipton is a White male and had an all together different different upbringing from Riya. Derek’s father was an abusive alcoholic who was in and out of work for the eight years that his mother absorbed the beatings before going to a refuge. Derek was one of three kids and there was no way that his unskilled mother could get a job which payed well enough to cover the child care so she had to stay at home in Birmingham on benefits. His Mum couldn’t afford for them to go out much so he watched a lot of telly as a kid. Casualty was a favourite and inspired his love of medicine. Fortunately Derek was a bright lad and even though his local comp was a bit of hole he managed to get to medical school, the only person from his school in living memory. His mum couldn’t afford to help him with the costs so he had to take two extra jobs and still left with a mountain of debt.

The first time Riya and Derek meet is when they are going for an interview for a crucial first job at a teaching hospital in London. Both have glowing references from their tutors and good exam results. Dr Barnett is doing the interview as the post means working for him. He asks all the candidates the same questions and they were all decent answers despite finding Derek’s Brummie accent something of an ordeal. He’d last been to Birmingham in 1976 to see a Rolling Stones gig and liked it so much he never went back.

So from a social justice point of view who should get the job?

The point is 50 years ago power and wealth was largely in the hands of a small number of white men. Today that still holds to an extent but the picture is more diffuse. We have seen successive waves of immigration to the UK, some groups have been more successful than others and some are very wealthy indeed. Britain’s richest person Lakshmi Mittal is Indian for instance. As a socialist my instinct is to be on the side of those without power and wealth be they from the ethnic minorities, be they women or poor white men.

The reality is people from the ethnic minorities do face discrimination. Thankfully it isn’t as widespread or deep rooted as say 30-40 years ago and some groups face greater discrimination than others. With greater economic inequality, wealth or the lack of is causing discrimination against the underclass from whatever ethnic group and that needs to be tackled just as vigorously. They realise the government has presided over growing inequality which is why Labour support from the 2001 general election to the 2005 one saw Labour support rise slightly amongst the AB’s and a much more significant fall amongst the DE social classes. Labour should stand for justice for all not just for some.

There is a rightwing myth about the place that the BBC is some creature of the Labour Party. I think this is utter rubbish. If the BBC does have a bias I think it is towards the metropolitian elite in general. Funnily enough the last time London voted they put in the Conservatives and I bet there was a more than fair proportion of BBC employees voting Tory.

But hey this is democracy and as long as the output is reasonably fair to all sides everyone should be happy. I have to agree though with Conor Ryan the BBC are increasingly playing soft ball with the Tories especially as they do have a reasonable chance of forming the next government. Has the BBC managed to elucidate what on earth the Tories will inflict on the country if they win. No a bit of it. Best check Hopi if you want to know about that.

Boris has had to sack his deputy chief of staff. That’s the one who wasn’t the private equity slash and burn merchant. As you can see here McGraths remarks were ill advised but hardly straight from the fascist playbook. His real problem was working for a Mayor who is but a small fraction of a man compared with his predecessor who was extremely popular amongst London’s ethnic minorities and Bozza knows this. 

If Barack Obama was going to ask me what he should be doing right now and yes I know that is not the most likely senario, I would say that he needs to turn McCain wrongly percieved strength on national security into a negative for the Arizona senator. McCain is a warmonger in the Bush mould that talks tough but is actually very damaging for US security and Obama needs to get into his face and stay there on the issue until the American people realise that. Fortunatly have been giving the junior senator from the land of Lincoln a hand.

I remember Bill Clinton did a speech several years ago now about the rhetoric and reality of compassionate conservatism which was for some time a campaign theme for Bush II in the 2000 campaign. Clinton’s argument was that the rhetoric was the compassion and the reality was the conservativism.

That little nugget popped back into my head when I found out that the BNP was claiming credit for effecting the policies of Mayor Boris as it was not so much Vote Tory, Go Green as Vote Tory, Get Nazi’s. Seriously elections are about making choices and I can’t but help think that if the electorate of London had returned Ken Livingstone the BNP wouldn’t find things to support in the Mayor’s agenda.  

Check it out here

Extraordinary events today with David Davis resigning. Politicalbetting is suggesting that the Lib Dems won’t stand. Fools DD’s majority is only 5K but I reckon that it would speak volumes about whose side they would be on in a hung parliament. 

Efficiency Tory style

11 June, 2008

Yesterday I had the good fortune to see in Kingsmead Sq, Bath a spectacle that should chill the hearts of Tories who are under the misapprehension that a tory government would be more efficient than a Labour one.

There were 5 council workers used to put up flower baskets, not 5 flower baskets at a time but 5 guys to one basket. Two ladders, guys top and bottom, and a guy with a rope in the middle seems over the top for a hanging basket my mum could put up on her own. This from conservative controlled Bath and North East Somerset.

Then today there were 3 more council operatives watering these hanging baskets with one hose between them. The pair who didn’t get to hold the hose did a great job of looking at the guy who was and getting paid for picking their noses. Being a humble subject of Her Majesty i’m not an expert on advanced urban horticulture but surely the people who put them up could have watered them in?

The real question is however, how many Tory council workers does it take to change a light bulb?