In the aftermath of the Manchester suicide bombing, there was an agreed pause in electioneering. As soon as it started again, everyone was soon attacking Jeremy Corbyn, for making a supposedly insensitive statement about why Britain is one of the countries targeted by terrorists. Given the high level of emotions concerning the terrible attack, loss of life, and many still requiring treatment, it might be understandable to condemn the Labour leader for his speech. He was accused of being thoughtless, and that his speech was poorly timed too. When that failed to get enough backlash, they dragged out the old accusations that he supported the IRA, decades ago.
But let’s look at the substance of what he said, and forget the heated atmosphere for a moment. He was not blaming British troops, as has been alleged, rather the policies of this country in slavishly supporting America, and becoming involved in foreign wars against Muslim countries. Many of his own colleagues were quick to attack him, and the opposition parties queued up to have their say about him too. I am not in his party, and I doubt he will win in June. But what he said was true.
If you send the armed forces of your country thousands of miles, to become involved in proxy wars that are not your business, you can expect a backlash at home. France, Russia, Britain, and many other countries who have chosen to involve themselves in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen have seen the repercussions of their decisions arrive on the streets of major European cities, and in some US states too. If, as it is claimed, the Jihadists and militants seek to destroy the western way of life, then why are there no attacks in Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia, and so many other countries I could list here? You don’t have to be an expert strategist to work out that only those nations happy to become embroiled in the wars in troubled lands are those being attacked in return.
And it doesn’t end with actually sending troops. Supporting countries like Saudi Arabia in their wars against their old and new enemies, or taking sides in favour of Sunni or Shiite against the other, is little different to being physically involved in the fighting. It seems to me that Corbyn was not only correct in his assertion that we must stop fighting, and start talking, but that his timing was actually just right, following a painful reminder of the consequences of not doing so.
Of course, a cynical person might also see that the so-called ‘unelectable’ socialist was doing quite well in the polls recently, and pulling back the previous big lead the government was enjoying. His tax policies, nationalisation policies, and big-spending promises about health reforms and better housing were beginning to capture the imagination of voters, after all. His latest speech about terrorism was a good one, designed to try to set this country on the road to peace, at the expense of money lost to the arms industry, and a cooling down of our relationship with America.
And we couldn’t have that, could we? That just wouldn’t do.
I doubt that anyone was more surprised than Donald Trump himself, when he became president-elect of America this morning. The current trend for overturning the expected, and making a mockery of the opinion polls has reached across America. Once again, it would seem that the silent majority has chosen to become the outspoken majority.
Of course, less people actually voted for Trump than for all of his opponents combined. But the electoral college system, much like the first-past-the-post system we have in the UK, is no respecter of majority voting. Whatever the arguments behind the system, he has won. It was a surprise to me, as I had always expected Clinton to get almost 60% of the vote. It is not the first time this year that I have been surprised at the outcome of a vote.
Although I voted to Leave, I was still overwhelmed by the decision of UK voters to reject the EU. That same silent majority, many who didn’t normally bother to vote in any election, have sent a clear message to the Establishment, in both countries. Ignore the ordinary people at your peril, or you will eventually reap what you have sown. Of course, I am no fan of Donald Trump. Then again, I wasn’t that happy with the alternative. But I am not an American, and it is not for me to tell them what to do with their country. However, that country does have an impact on what happens in the rest of the world, so it is understandable that outsiders may have opinions and concerns.
It is early days yet. Despite the rhetoric, Trump cannot just steamroller his plans, and some of his more bizarre ideas, through the American political system. He has to get laws approved, and policies agreed and funded. To presume that he is a one-man band is naive, as it is to believe that he will go ahead with his electoral promises. There is unlikely to ever be a wall built along the border with Mexico. Though immigration laws might become tougher, and we could well see a drift back to a more isolationist country, with the introduction of trade tariffs and increased import taxes.
But the dollar rules in the USA, and in most of the western world too. Sooner or later, big businesses will carry on behind the scenes, allowing Trump to do what is best for them, if not for the workers who mainly voted for him. There is unlikely to be a re-birth of the American Dream. For the rest of us outside of that country, once the streamers have fallen to the floor, the balloons deflated, and the cheering can no longer be heard, it will be situation normal in America.
For those of you unfamiliar with this expression, it means ‘no choice at all’. For the historical definition, please click on this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson%27s_choice
In November, the people of America will be making their choice. The two candidates are finally confirmed, and depending on what you read, or who you believe, it will be a close outcome. For those of us across the Atlantic, it seems almost incredible that it has come down to these two people. Are they really the best that a nation of 320,000,000 (est.) can offer?
One one side, the self-publicising, strangely-coiffured Donald Trump. He plays the whole thing as if he is making a spoof documentary about the worst possible candidate for the job. Blatant racism, ridiculous statements, a wife who looks like a terrified android, and stumbling, ranting speeches ending in phrases such as, “I love you all”, or “Let’s make America great again”. Does anyone look at this man and seriously believe that he has one iota of credibility? Apparently so. He is said to have ‘connected with the dispossessed’ in the forgotten areas of that vast country. They should be aware that they will soon be forgotten for good, if he ever gets into the White House. Does admiration for wealth really drive people on the poverty line to vote for this man? It seems that it might. In a country that still believes that anyone can be the president, that statement may well come to haunt them.
Trump’s Democrat opponent, Hilary Clinton, looks likely to become the first woman president of the USA. She is mired in double dealings, and the former machinations of her husband, and others in the Democratic Party. Her reputation is far from good, let’s face it, and if she was up against anyone other than the vile Trump, she might well lose. What do you get, if you choose Hilary instead of Donald? More foreign wars, more CIA/NSA controls, more involvement from big business, more control by foreign money, and the other big players on the world stage. What you won’t get is a better deal for women, the poor, and the underprivileged. Just because Hilary is female, don’t think that will change anything.
So what to do? How should the American voter react, faced with this ‘no choice’ choice? You could decide not to vote. Then whoever wins will have no real mandate from the people to govern. But that won’t matter to them. They won’t care a jot. You could vote for Hilary so you don’t get Trump, that might be the lesser of two evils. She might even be counting on you to do that. If she wins in November, it will not be because people wanted her, but because they couldn’t face life with Trump as president. I have no suggestions. To be honest, if I was an American, I would be thinking about moving.
Despite predictions of a moderate winning the election to become leader of the Labour Party, an outsider has confounded expectations, by becoming the front runner. Jeremy Corbyn has been the M.P. for Islington North in London, since 1983. Before that, he was prominent in Haringey Council. He has always been regarded as a rebel, and to the Left of the party line. He lives in his constituency, takes little money for expenses, and espouses causes, both domestic, and international.
During his political career, he has campaigned in favour of nuclear disarmament, and the dissolution of The House of Lords. He supports re-nationalisation of the railways, equal rights and pay for workers, and the return of the six counties to Ireland. He has a long association with the Trade Union movement in the UK and abroad, and once worked for the National Union of Public Employees. On the international stage, he has been outspoken against Israel, and fought for fair treatment of the people in Chile. He is also a well-known for his support of the government in Venezuela, and for his views on animal rights and welfare.
So, his Socialist credentials are fairly sound, it would appear.
If this is the case, why do so many people think that his becoming the leader of the Labour Party would be a disaster? Well for one thing, times have changed. We live in an acquisitive society, overwhelmed by avarice, where selfishness has replaced selflessness. Huge multi-national companies control almost every job, and international financiers control our economy. The politics of the so-called ‘man in the street’ has moved further to the right than ever before, with immigration and terrorism replacing health and education as the main concerns. If this is the case, then the mild-mannered Corbyn is certainly not electable as a leader of the nation. The doomsday scenario is that Labour would return to being a party of the far Left, with an agenda unpopular with almost everyone, save for those who voted for Corbyn.
His opponents claim that Labour would become a minority party; a party of protest, a party that would never again see itself in power. Of course, they are lamenting their own demise, their own inability to achieve that power, whatever the cost to their principles or background. They claim that the opposing parties are delighted, that they want Corbyn to win, so that Labour will lose whatever vestige of power it still clings to. But is politics really only just about winning? Perhaps most people see it that way. I do not.
Corbyn offers at least a partial return to the roots of Socialism in the UK. Nationalisation, equality in education and in the workplace, fair treatment for the poorest in society, as well as the sick and disabled. Ridding the country of nuclear weapons, and tackling the energy crisis. Reopening the mines, closed by spiteful politicians and businessmen as supposedly unprofitable, as a punishment to the miners after the strike. He offers respect to all, regardless of social position, sexuality, or creed, and a chance to rebuild the economy without reliance on invisible industries, or foreign companies.
This might all seem to be just an unworkable ideal, but it is not. It is all possible, if you are brave enough to take on the gainsayers, and conglomerates. It might well be that the time for this has been missed, and all the stories of the Labour Party becoming an anachronism under his leadership are true.
But at least it would restore its honour, and its self-respect.
Well the 2015 election is almost at a close. My worst fears have been realised. Another five years of smug Conservative rule, detrimental to the NHS, the youth of Britain, and the lot of the ordinary working person. The Liberals have paid the price for accepting to be in coalition with the Tories. They have lost almost all their seats, and their leader has resigned. As a political force in this country, they have ceased to exist.
Labour have also been punished. They elected a leader who had no personality, no leadership skills, and failed to connect with anyone, even his own party’s most ardent supporters. Writing off the surge of nationalism in Scotland has all but wiped that party off the map there, and many of the highest placed and most experienced Labour members have lost their seats. The few gains they did make were not enough to leave them in credible opposition, which will now depend on reluctant alliances with former ‘enemies’, and still not muster enough votes to force any defeats.
Scotland has spoken. Despite not taking the opportunity for complete independence in the recent referendum, the Scottish people have voted overwhelmingly for nationalism, by returning all but three members as representatives of the Scottish National Party. This country is now divided politically, if not by physical borders. UKIP failed to capitalise on their supposed popularity. By concentrating on a single issue, immigration and fear of foreigners, they lost their way. Even their leader failed to win a place in parliament, and resigned accordingly.
Miliband has also resigned as Labour leader. This is a prime example of too little, too late. He should never have been there in the first place, and Labour deserve the ignominy of defeat for ever thinking he could win them an election. Socialism in any form is now almost non-existent in this country. The defeated parties will move further to the Right, in the hope of attracting support, and the voters seem to have already moved there. The much-lauded youth vote failed to make any difference whatsoever, despite some increases in turnout.
Not only has Cameron won, he has managed to force the resignation of the three leaders of the main opposition parties on the same day. No wonder he is looking very pleased with himself. He has a working majority, and no credible opposition to have to worry about.
I now have to continue to live in another Right-Wing European country, run by the men in suits, for the benefit of international financiers, multi-national companies, the rich, and the aristocracy. Is Cuba accepting migrants, I wonder?
You would be forgiven for not realising that a general election in this country is only a few weeks away. I have hardly seen a poster, received nothing through the door, and had no canvassers calling. The TV news channels dutifully report the comings and goings of the party leaders. Oh look, the Prime Minister is visiting a building site, and there’s the leader of UKIP saying that he will sort out immigration. Nick Clegg made a paid for appearance tonight, asking us to open our doors to his policies, and trying to assure us that he doesn’t really like the Conservatives that he has been working with for the past four years. Miliband has been shouting a lot in Parliament, and some grey has appeared in his hair; but he is fooling nobody. He still has no personality, and a complete absence of any qualities that might make voters change to Labour.
The three main parties are once again lining up in the same old way, to offer us the same old lies and platitudes. UKIP are flushed with recent success, and appealing to the lowest common denominator. They might get some more seats, but they are not going to be in power. So, their politicians can say anything they like, make any promises that people want to hear. They know that they won’t have to implement them. Not so long ago, people would be arguing about the forthcoming election at the drop of a hat. They would be in earnest discussion at any opportunity, hoping for change, for something fresh and new. Windows and front gardens all over the country would be festooned with posters of all colours, urging us to vote for this or that party.
In 2015, apathy rules. Nobody believes any of them anymore, so they have just switched off. Party memberships are at an all-time low, and even the fringe parties can’t be bothered to make a fuss. If there was an Apathy Party, they would have a landslide win. There’s no election fever. There’s not even an election heavy cold, or high temperature. It’s not even in the league of a hot flush.
We just all know that it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
There has been a great deal of excitement lately about the success of the UK Independence Party in two recent by-elections. If you watch or read the reports closely enough, you will have noticed that both the men elected were previously representing the constituencies concerned. They simply resigned from the Conservative Party, then stood for re-election under a different banner, and a more extreme agenda. I will not speculate on their motives for doing this, though I suspect that there are others who may well follow their example.
UKIP leaders and officials make many claims about the reason for their success, whether in the local council elections, or the recent parliamentary ones. Perhaps the most offensive claim, is that they represent the true opinions of the working classes in this country. In reality, they reflect the least informed, most biased, and racist opinions of just some of the people in the UK, working class, or not. They appeal to the lowest common denominator at each end of the political spectrum here, yet the other parties, and the media, appear to be letting them get away with their outrageous claims.
Those of us concerned enough to be worried about the emergence of the Far Right into the daylight of political representation are correct to worry. There are so many throwaway lines, soundbites, and off-the-cuff comments that need a great deal more investigation. Repatriation of immigrants is casually mentioned. This is supposedly popular with the majority of people in this country, though there is little evidence to support this, outside of some spurious polls, and talking-head TV interviews. This is the same policy advocated by the National Front, The BNP, and other groups of the extreme Right.
Less taxation of the rich. Is this popular with everyone? I doubt that, but perhaps they read no further than the supposedly populist immigration policies. Part-privatisation of the NHS. (This is currently being ‘reviewed’ by UKIP, who may have realised the folly of stating this so blatantly) Have any of the predominantly white, working-class, UKIP supporters thought this through? Unlikely. They are the people most likely to need the service that UKIP would convert into a system similar to that in America. Treatment dependent on ability to pay, and health for the rich, at the expense of the poor. Abolition of inheritance tax, to ensure that the rich stay rich. Scrapping education targets that currently try to get at least half of school leavers into university. Free Schools will only be allowed to continue if they ‘uphold British values’, (Whatever they are…) and grammar schools will return, to further divide the young people of this country.
Any current energy policies will be mothballed or scrapped, with the emphasis on shale gas, fossil fuels, and a return to air-polluting power stations, as well as on-site power generation for any company that wants to use this method. There will be no subsidies for alternative or cleaner energy, and no further investigations into other ways to generate power. They will also ‘streamline’ the benefits system, and introduce a cap on the upper limit of benefit received. There are few specifics here, just the ominous use of the word ‘streamlined’. Members of parliament from constituencies outside of the borders of England will have no vote on issues considered to be important only in England. This is the first step towards an independent England, and a break-up of The Union. Perhaps they should be called EKIP? They will abolish the Human Rights Act, and withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights. This will be replaced with something yet to be detailed. In employment, rules governing Agency workers would be done away with, and employers would be allowed to discriminate in favour of British applicants, as well as disregarding many existing agreements with trade unions.
All of this, and much more, can be found on their official website, under the heading ‘Policies for People’. I haven’t made anything up.
They have two policies that I do actually agree with. Leaving the EU, and not going ahead with the unnecessary HS2 rail line. This is not enough to make me support them though, as the right-wing policies that dominate their thinking will surely be the tip of a dangerous iceberg, if they ever get into a position to implement them. They would take this country back to how it was before 1939, and see that as progress. Culture would suffer, the poor would ultimately pay an unacceptable price, and the working classes that supposedly support them would be returned to a place that they have fought their way up from over the last seventy years.
Given that they are unlikely to get any real power in the 2015 election, what am I worried about? I am worried that all other parties will continue to move to the Right, hoping to keep their own supporters, and stop them voting for UKIP. I am worried that the population will start to see right-wing and extremist policies as acceptable, and something to embrace. I am worried that they may hold the balance of power in a parliament where no major party has overall control, and that ‘deals with the devil’ will happen as a result. I am worried that the future of this country is for it to become a haven of Far Right thinking, regressive policies, and backward-thinking. And I am worried that the so-called voting masses will think that all of this is good.
In a few months, we will have the long-awaited General Election here in the UK. As far as I can tell, we have already lost it. The people that is. Hoping for an end to this lamentable coalition, it seemed that any alternative would do. Even a Labour government, led by the ineffectual Ed Miliband, a man devoid of presence and charm, had to be better than a bunch of smug Tories, and their Liberal-Democrat lackeys. Despite some defections from the Conservatives to UKIP, including an unexpectedly successful by-election win, giving UKIP their first MP, even the most optimistic Nationalist could only really see them getting about eight or nine seats, on a good day.
The outlook for the Lib-Dems is bleak. They will be lucky to retain the seats they already have, and there is every chance that they could face electoral humiliation next time. They seem unable to do little more than nod agreement to Conservative policies, and their own identity, such as it was, has been swallowed up by their involvement in this unspeakable coalition government. They are a bit like Bulgaria during WW2, hanging on to the coat-tails of the Nazis, sending some troops to fight. Yet seeing none of the benefits of victory, whilst taking undue blame in defeat. Like the Bulgarians, the Lib-Dems chose the wrong side.
Despite the unpopularity of this government, polls and pundits suggest that the Conservatives will actually win in 2015. They won’t even need the assistance of their weak bedfellows to do it, apparently. They might well have to suffer a reduced majority, and will also have to enlist the support of Nationalists from Northern Ireland, and UKIP. (If they have any members) This seems incredible. They have attacked the benefit system like never before, blatantly supported their rich friends, and have driven most of the working people down to levels of existence unheard of since Victorian times. But they are expected to win, so how can this be?
The answer is simple, Ed Miliband. This 44 year-old with the looks of an awkward schoolboy is one of the least effective party political leaders since Neil Kinnock. He is a poor speaker, finds it hard to answer difficult questions, and other than the gang of supporters around him in the shadow cabinet, he is incredibly unpopular with most Labour voters. His only policy seems to be that of staying in the EU, and whenever he is face to face with anyone from the opposition, he always falters. In recent polls, few voters could even recognise his photo, yet even those not from London, could put a name to Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of that city. In a political world where decisiveness, charisma, and strength is all, he possesses not one iota of any of these qualities. He may well be a sincere man, and a good family man, and he is undoubtedly well-educated. But he is not a leader, and is neither suited, nor qualified, to be the leader of this country.
This leaves us with a few options, all of them bad. A victorious Conservative party, allied to the extreme Right. A Labour-Lib Dem coalition, winning with a minuscule majority, failing rapidly, leading to a quick second election. A hung parliament, with no party in overall control, leaving groups to do deals, renege on deals, and do new deals with different partners. In short, Italy.
Whatever happens, the ordinary people have lost. Again.
It seems to be the general view that the Tories (read Coalition) will lose the next election. The people of the UK are tired of recession, belt-tightening measures, and cuts in social security payments. Apparently. The Liberals are discredited, and consigned to some electoral wasteland, never to reappear as a force in British politics. The job market has been handed over to the employers, and no-hours contracts, no union agreements, and poor hourly rates are driving the popularity of the Tories into the ground. The leaders of that party are Public School has-beens with no integrity, and are simply lining their own pockets, and those of their friends. They are espousing the policies of the far Right, for fear of UKIP, and because of the general popularity of restrictions on immigration.
All of this may be true. Much of it is often quoted by Leftist thinkers and commentators, although the news media seems to have given up attacking the government, and even the BBC are now accused of a distinct, and uncomfortable to watch, Right-Wing bias. UKIP are shooting themselves in the foot, with their members exposed as former National Front and BNP supporters, and their elected officials are being revealed, in some cases, as little more than sexist or homophobic buffoons. The Greens have little significance, outside of some local protests about nuclear power, and as the Scots are unlikely to vote for independence, the SNP may make some noise, but will ultimately lose face.
So, where is the opposition? There is the actual Opposition, in the form of the Labour Party. It may just as well not be there. It has no forward-thinking policies, has completely abandoned Socialism, and even unashamedly admits that it will continue some present Tory policies, if it is lucky enough to be elected. There are no strong people in its shadow cabinet, and the real Left-Wing thinkers left in that party have no influence, and even less power. It is slowly dismantling its lifelong affiliation with the Trade Unions, and distancing itself from the old guard Labour politicians, and the few outspoken characters in its ranks.
Worst of all, it has a completely ineffectual leader. A man who has the presence of an awkward schoolboy, no talent at public speaking, and the charisma of a traffic warden. Miliband is the most ineffectual leader that Labour has ever had, and considering Kinnock, that takes some doing. He never comes across as genuine, whether he feels he is, or not. He has no qualities of a statesman, and even manages to make Cameron look like a man with gravitas and sincerity. His public appearances at photo opportunities look awkward and contrived, and anything he utters on camera sounds insincere, and lacks substance. In the Commons, he comes over like a sixth former in a debating society, smug at what he considers to be his triumphs, embarrassed and awkward when he loses the point of the argument. His ‘team’ sit around behind him and alongside him, looking as if they wished they weren’t there, and as if they must be ruing the day that they elected him as their leader.
If Labour do not shake themselves up before the next election, get back to communicating with the people, and choose a leader capable and worthy of leading the party to victory, then we will all lose. We won’t have a coalition as we do now, but instead we will have a re-energised, far-Right Tory government, elected on a platform of being anti-Europe, anti-immigration, and anti-people on benefits, and the unemployed. They will be pro-business, pro-financiers, and pro-the rich. Working peoples’ rights will be further reduced, and the country will descend into a new Victorian Age, of us and them, rich and poor. Labour owe it to their voters to be a real opposition, and not just one in name only. And they must get rid of Miliband, or face disaster in the polls.
If the current news remains unchanged, it looks like the German people have voted in the same party, for another four year term. It is a right-wing party, with accordant views on immigration and Europe, and with strong industrial and financial policies. The Right is once again on the move in Germany. Especially in the area that was formerly East Germany, extreme right groups are flourishing, and racism is their creed once more. They are led by a government with a white Christian base, and old-fashioned, conservative ideals and beliefs, backed by big business, and the Church. Nationalism, and domination of the European economy, appear to be their main goals, and they are prepared to ally themselves to almost any other faction, to achieve power.