Sunday, 31 March 2019

What Do We Want? Representatives That Represent Us! #PRNow

Brexit is an absolute mess. However, this won't be a post demanding any particular solution to that now grave crisis. It is a post dedicated to what is clearly, after the last 3 years, a pressing need to help make our political culture healthier and more responsive.

The paralysis in Parliament right now comes not just because no one has an idea of the way forward. It is also because attempting to balance the, sometimes contradictory, beliefs of different important groups within each party means there's no way to make a decision that pleases anyone. A compromise might cause a split in your party or bring down your Government.

These parties, filled with their warring interest groups, still don't manage to represent the electorate. Votes are wasted as an MP could easily be elected with less than 40% of the vote (i.e. 60% of those turning out to vote, let alone of the electorate as a whole, voted AGAINST them and they still won). Governments can get large majorities and do all sorts of crazy things (like introducing an ill-conceived referendum without considering what needed to be done if a particular side won) despite the majority of people in this country having voted for someone else.

MPs stand on manifestos they don't believe in. Deals are done behind closed doors with very little understanding of what might have been traded to win support for whatever legislation or policy was up for debate.

What we need is proportional representation. We need to ensure more votes matter. We need to ensure MPs can stand on manifestos they actually believe in. We need to break up the not-fit-for-purpose "umbrella" parties and get parties that actually reflect the diverse opinions of our electorate. We need political parties that will know they won't win a majority and be upfront with the electorate about what they will and what they won't compromise on so we all know what we are getting into before the trouble starts.

So sign the petition calling for a fairer voting system. Use your anger righteously and lets finally start digging this country out of the big hole it has gotten itself into.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Good Sense and Balance (from a Chippendale)

Not to demean Chippendales and other sexy dancers but... when one is seeking wisdom then they aren't at the top of most people's list (whether that's right or not is a totally different thing).

Yet the most sensible, balance and decent comments I've seen on the continued rise of the New Puritans has come, from all places, an interview with a Chippendales performer in Las Vegas.

I am wondering how he feels about recent workplace developments: Formula 1's banning of the "grid girls". Or the darts "walk on girls". What about boxing's "ring girls" in Vegas?  
"It's complicated," he acknowledges. "Because if any one of those girls was proud to do that, proud to be there, proud of their body - enjoying the money, thought it was easy, and were there 100% voluntarily then it's hard to argue against it.  
"That said, with all these stories coming out, things have been wrong for so long that we might need to overcorrect for a while before we find the middle ground.

"As a whole, females have been pushed back or objectified so many times, so often, that things that personify the old guard might have to drop off for a while."
This is something that's better than anything I've read anywhere else. Do I agree with it totally? No. I'm an individualist and dislike any idea of having to "overcorrect" and undermine individual liberty to pay reparations for something I've not done.

However it is voices like his that are required if we're to put an end to a ridiculous culture war where those of us who believe in free sexual expression are caught in the crossfire.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

How I Rid My Life Of Politics And Feel Better For It

I've had an interest in political affairs for 20 years. I've found it intellectually stimulating, fascinating and useful. But I've also found in confrontational, puritanical and divisive.

Now that it seems clear my brand of politics, support for individual liberty, internationalism, free trade and support for the vulnerable where needed, is absolutely dead in this country all the nice parts of an interest in political affairs are gone. So I've taken the decision to move on...

And I've felt a lot better. No longer do I bother much with checking the news. I'm off Twitter. Debate is a thing of the past. I'm interacting with sane people about other things. I'm slowly finding happiness in my other interests.

My life from now on will be the life of gay things, geeky things, happy things and things that keep me as far away as possible from the crazies involved in politics.

Onwards to greener pastures... 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Well That Was The Result That Was. #GE2017

We don't need any more post-election analysis. This is not the post-election analysis you were looking for. These are just my own feelings on what happened.

May has been awful pretty much from day one of her premiership. Her lack of judgement is only slightly worse than her love of meaningless phrases. She likes to talk about unifying the country but has made NO effort to do so. She talk(ed)s of "Strong and Stable Government" just after calling an election that risks total uncertainty before the Brexit negotiations.

Over the last few days that lack of judgement has become obvious even to many True Believing Tories. Her election trouble was not inevitable (forgetting for a moment the election itself was absolutely unnecessary). If she'd compromised on her Brexit message (yes the referendum was won by Leave but the result was close, throw the Remainers a bone!) and truly united the nation. If she'd thought through the need for a positive message at election time ("Only I can save the country" works when you're the challenger, not when you represent the 7 year incumbent party). If she'd actually explained ANYTHING she planned to do after an increased majority was given.

Some still deceive themselves (one of her outgoing advisors still thinks she is a unifying Prime Minister!) but most accept she misread the mood of the nation.

However she didn't misread the mood of the right-wing electorate. Among all this fuss about her failures many seem to be missing the sheer number of people who did vote for her. Her problem was Labour also had a huge number vote for them. After the Tories destroyed the Lib Dems in 2015, the progressive vote wasn't as split as it used to be and with the Brexit message former Lib Dem voters who supported that nice Mr Cameron aren't likely to stick with the UKIP-courting Tories of 2017. Tory strategy of defeat the Lib Dems was a thought about only short-term without thinking that it might not be the best idea long-term.

And Labour. A few seats up from their 2010 result when they went into Opposition. The glory of this result is more to do with expectation management than a stunning victory. A check mate of a Tory majority. Now if Labour can keep their voters, and wait out the disasters that seem inevitable under the current Tory leadership and subsequent drop in Tory support, they could win their own landslide at the next election. But that is a big ask. Whether they could do better with a less left-wing, non-terrorist supporting leader is academic. Corbyn did better than expected. Big whoop.

Speaking of low expectations... didn't the Lib Dems do well? Sure we lost the greatest Parliamentarian of this century so far and vote share. Sure we failed to gain back second place status in some seats we were previously in contention for. Sure our campaign barely registered nationally. Sure our leader often failed to convince he really meant things. But 50% seat increase! Big whoop.

Speaking of failures... the SNP. :)

May has enough seats to try to be a minority Government. There isn't any other viable option. Alas she's decided to go for broke and is looking to get into bed with the DUP for an overall majority of... 2.

A coalition of chaos with terrorist supporters and bigots? Well, you can't say May didn't see this coming.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Why I'll Probably Vote Lib Dem And You Probably Should Too

When this election was called I thought getting rid of the Tories was secondary to trying to get rid of Brexiters.

Of course this election turned out to be about everything BUT Brexit. I'm still rabidly pro-EU. I'm not giving up on the dream but I think the fight for Remain is now totally over. The fight for Return will have to start but it can't exactly do that for a while.

The Tories have shown themselves to be even more useless than I'd given them credit for. Since May took over as Prime Minister I've struggled to understand some of her actions. Her failure to actively build bridges with Remains and picking a judicial fight over Article 50 rather than just get it through the Commons first time are top among the pre-election "blunders". These pale in comparison to the errors that May has made since calling the election.

She can't help but say hypocritical things like how she was too busy thinking about Brexit to attend a debate (well you called the election during the negotiations Prime Minister!) or complain about Labour being all soundbites and no substance (this needs little explanation!). Her manifesto policies were not just poorly conceived and rather empty, they were also pretty bleak. There was no vision there, none of the promise that Brexit supposedly will bring. It was all charges and pain.

Despite being extremely cool towards Corbyn before (his stances on the Falklands War and the IRA remain deep concerns to me), he seems like a professional whilst May appears dangerously inept.

At this point I'm more concerned about the prospect of a May return than a Corbyn premiership.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems, the only party I've ever voted for at general elections, have not taken off. The Brexit focus turned out to be the wrong strategy. They remain tarnished by coalition and caught off guard in what is turning out to be a possible national re-alignment politically. But right now the Lib Dems are the most sensible of the three main national parties (though some of those "Which Party Should You Support?" websites have me down as SNP!!). Their manifesto is sensible and costed. Tim Farron is a bit wet but he's not crazy and he's not utterly inept. At this point that's the best we can hope for.

You'd think as a near life-long Lib Dem member, a past paper candidate, and a liberal to my core, the decision to vote Lib Dem should be straightforward based on what I've laid out above. However, here in Dover, Yougov have got the seat down as leaning Labour. A chance to help punish the self-obsessed Tories who've put themselves before our national interest is calling out to me. I'm fighting it, but I don't think I'll know how I'll vote until I get to the polling booth.

And if you think that's crazy just take a look at this on the Yougov projections. If accurate (take a very large pinch of salt!) it suggests we could see massive seat changes across the country unlike anything seen for many years. I still think the Tories will win handsomely. But you never know!

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Bleakest Election In My Lifetime

The Tories want us to have a "strong and stable Government". They display their desire for this by, in the middle of some of the most important negotiations in our nation's history, calling a snap election which risks Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. In fact Boris Johnson said the "consequences would be calamitous" if Corbyn became Prime Minister.

So why risk it with an unnecessary election? Because May is an opportunist. She claims to work in the best interests of the country but, when she saw the Tory poll lead was nearly 20 points above Labour, she couldn't resist gambling OUR future for HER party's fortunes. 

A strong and stable party would've planned a better manifesto than the one the Tories launched. After years of campaigning against an inheritance tax, they proposed one that is not even half-baked yet (regardless of the rights and wrongs of it, even May doesn't seem to know how it'll work). At a time when they are trying to sell the "positives" of Brexit they released a deeply depressing manifesto based around a new third way concept; the "tax and charge" style of Government.

We've had austerity with tax decreases. We've had tax and spend. Now the Tories propose an austerity with extra charges for allsorts (including for voting where they propose ID must be used in order to be able to vote but there is no free form of ID!!!!). It is the darkest and bleakest of manifestos.

The Tories keep asking for us to choose who would be best to negotiate Brexit. Forgetting the PM won't actually be negotiating Brexit, they want us to choose either May or Corbyn. Yet May has shown she is easily rattled, a terrible speaker, scared to go on election debates and (worst of all) utterly incompetent at running an election campaign when she's standing against the worst Labour leader in living memory.

So why the Hell would we actively choose her???

Let's run this again:

  • Tories so worried about Corbyn becoming PM that they gave us the opportunity to make that happen when they didn't need to. 
  • Tories think someone who has shown herself to be awful at just about everything since she became PM will be the best person to negotiate the most important deal in our country's history
  • Tories want us to pay, pay, pay but will tell us all they are the party that supports low taxation and "hard-working families".
The worst thing is... they'll bloody win by a mile.

This country is damned if we do, damned if we don't. But don't let the Tories think that their victory will mean they'll make a success of anything.

They couldn't organise an election even when they controlled the timescales. Our future looks very bleak indeed.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Keep the Tories out? Hell no! Keep the Brexiters out!!!!!

What a difference two years make. The Tories campaigned as a safe pair of hands in 2015, against the rise of the SNP and a possible coalition with Labour. Not only was the stability of our economy at risk, so we were told, but the very Union teetered on the edge if Miliband got enough seats.

Now we know the Tories are anything but safe. Their radical and revolutionary agenda to remove Britain from the European Union has reinvigorated Nicola Sturgeon. Our economy has so many questions surrounding it that "stable" is about the only word one can't use to describe it. In a world dominated by crazy men like Putin, Erdoğan and Trump we're distancing ourselves from a block of peaceful neighbouring democracies and heading out on our own.

Now they have the gall to call those who oppose them a "Coalition of Chaos"! Theresa May claimed this country was coming together at Easter but proclaims we need this election due to continuing disunity. Division abounds. Partisan rhetoric continues everywhere.

Who stands against the Tories and their complete disregard for the United Kingdom and its standing in this world? Certainly not Jeremy Corbyn. He's allowed Brexit through and has no plans of overturning it. His party claim the snap election is somehow undemocratic... yet flipping well voted for it!!

This coming election is too important for partisan posturing. Those of us who believe in a United Kingdom and a European Union will need to make decisions constituency by constituency and candidate by candidate to help competent, reliable Remainers get into Parliament. That might mean a Conservative (well Kenneth Clarke) or a competent Labour MP who voted against Brexit (though not Ben Bradshaw who remarkably doesn't understand basic EU concepts like EU agencies needing to be based... in the EU). In other places that will almost certainly mean a Liberal Democrat. I hope, I really hope, the Lib Dems listen carefully to the Green party's request for an electoral pact in some constituencies.

Fighting for the continued existence of the UK against rising English nationalism that seeks to legitimise Scottish and Northern Irish nationalism is more important that partisan bickering. Tim Farron's comments (or lack of) on homosexuality and the fact he has utterly failed, after two years, to come up with a better answer to a question he got in his first week as leader? Who cares! This isn't business as usual. This is THE election of this generation. The odds are against us but we need to fight on regardless.