I agree with Natalie

May 25th, 2017

Today's musings from the campaign fringe.

It's a week since the ITV mass debate. There were four intelligent, clever, smart, witty speakers. All were passionate about their position, and debated in a civil manner. The party was gatecrashed by Eddie Hitler, who called all the contributors "Natalie". We had few takeaways, other than these parties are right and the minor parties that couldn't be bothered were wrong.

Another set of More United candidates were offered on Monday. We voted YES to four, ABSTAIN on three, and NO to one.

Nick Barlow asked:
Q for constitutional geeks: if a party changes it's mind on a manifesto promise during an election, what happens wrt Salisbury Convention?

Our take: if the bill is consistent with the spirit of the manifesto, Salisbury applies. For instance, if the detail changes – the ceiling for the dementia tax is set at £250,000, say – that's consistent with Salisbury. But if the principles alter, Salisbury protection is lost. In this case, the Dilnot Report is explicitly rejected, so if proposals embody Dilnot, Lords' are entitled to throw a bill out.

Michael Crick posted this on Monday.

Today and tomorrow will see huge batches of postal votes go out. Surveys show most postal voters return ballots within 48 hours. In 2015 a fifth of all votes were postal votes. It means party campaigns should no longer be solely directed to polling day (8 June).

The little climax to the campaign coincided with the pause.

Disrespecting the dead

May 24th, 2017

The second surprise of the campaign came on Monday night, when a bomber killed 22 at a concert in Manchester. Campaigning was suspended out of respect.

Respect is a quantity measured in hours, and the truce lasted less than a day. Foxface (C, prochain ancien prime minister) chose to militarise the streets of London, and sent troops into parliament.

Foxface has demonstrated her incompetence and weakness in the face of terror. And she has set her face against ordinary, decent people.

pic: KateProctorES

The people of Manchester sent a strong and defiant message, that life would go on as normal. Foxface wobbled and hid behind other people. It's what she does, it's the only way she knows.

The military are experts at their job. Their job is specialised and limited, and involves brute force. It's never appropriate to put them on the streets to do police work.

Consider the optics, think about what message this sends. Troops on the street instil fear and worry into law-abiding people. Simply having soldiers and armed police around, that strikes low-level terror into innocent people. The sight of troops marching into parliament intimidates decent people.

Foxface offers security, but not liberty. And if we trade away permanent liberty for the transient illusion of security, we have lost much for no gain.

Foxface is doing the terrorists' job for them.

Weighing up the Conservative manifesto

May 22nd, 2017

The Conservatives launched their manifesto last Thursday. We have extended comments: this is a summary

One ill-considered proposal will require old people to pay for their own social care, with the bill settled by proceeds of selling their house after they die. This is good news for the children of people who fall down dead while on stage, and terrible for the children of dementia sufferers.

Much has been written on this topic, the "dementia tax" was the campaign meme of the weekend. Will it give old voters cause to think again? Or will the snowflake generation manage to screw over their descendants once again?

Things have become so bad that the policy has been ripped up. Sorry, sorry, "put out to consultation", in the same way that electoral reform was "put out to consultation" by Mister Tony Blair.

jonlis1: A Conservative PM is officially less interested in the prosperity of the British people than in ensuring more people never become British. This is politics of theocracy. No evidence, just blind faith in righteousness of one's cause.

The Conservatives propose to abolish free school lunches for all children in infant school, and replace them with free school breakfasts for the needy. Once again, the Conservatives presume that the all-powerful state knows best, and can spot all cases of need without error and without exception. We welcome their conversion to the Fabians.

The final word goes to Left Foot Forward:

Beyond telling people that there are difficult decisions to be made, May does not equip people to weigh up different options because her manifesto does not offer any facts and figures. Once more, the prime minister is brazenly asking voters for a blank cheque. And they should be extremely wary about giving it to her.

2017 week 20

May 21st, 2017

This week…

  • From 1982: Cliff Richard performs Christian apologetics on Top of the Pops
  • New Miley Cyrus overshadows the Eurovision seven-pack; Harry Styles takes the number one album.
  • Enda Kenny steps down as Taoiseach, and Penfold dos Ecuador gets his stationary cupboard back.
  • Showers turn to settled weather, and a warm week in prospect.

Awkward questions and difficult answers

May 18th, 2017

Statement of Persons Nominated

Candidates for this blog are:

Richard Burden (Mudkip-Labour)
Meg Powell-Chandler (Conservative-apparently)
Roger Harmer (Lib Dem)
Eleanor Masters (Green)

Mudkip's prior candidate has withdrawn to endorse the deluded isolationist party.

I will be looking at my prospective MPs and asking; what is their vision for tomorrow? What will they champion; will they fight the corner of those who need their help? Will they represent only their party, or will they be unafraid to stand up for their constituents in difficult moments?

For this blog's outgoing MP, and the other candidates, we can answer some of these questions…

And, in today's sidebar from the fringes, that's what we do.

There's also comment on the Labour manifesto, the main attack line seems to be 'It's weird that "we will pay for generally richer people's education out of poor people's taxes" is such a popular position.'

On the other side is Jessica Elgot (Manchester Grauniad): Fox hunting has real cut-through, I'm amazed how often in vox pops voters have brought it up as a reason not to vote Tory. Anecdotal, obv, but in salon I go to in East London Lab-Tory marginal, my hairdresser she had liked May until she heard about fox hunting. And two others in the salon chimed in and agreed it would stop them voting Tory. Amazing, considering, but people feel v strongly.

More More United, and More Godbotherers

May 16th, 2017

More from the election's quiet shore

The latest (and last?) round of More United candidates.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have written a letter to their dioceses, stressing what they see as "Christian values".

The letter from the Archbishops of Westminster, Cardiff, Southwark, Birmingham, and Liverpool encourages members to consider their values, but stops short of any formal endorsement.

While we're on a religious note, this from Blue Boat Home, in the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

Unitarianism preaches that spiritual experience is individual, but that freedom FROM something needs to be freedom FOR something: solidarity.

It's unjust for an infinite being (God) to hold finite beings (humans) in infinite judgement for finite sins. I just really think this idea that for our own spiritual benefit we need to make peace with oppressors is inherently flawed.

God can forgive them. I'm gonna make sure they don't hurt anybody else. That's MY spiritual duty.

Weeknotes for 2017 week 19

May 14th, 2017

In this week's Weeknotes…

  • From 1982: Captain Sensible is still number one. He's dressed as a scarecrow with rainbow hair, and the backing singers are colourful furry bunnies. The rest of the band are off stage, replaced by balloons. Have we had an acid trip? Or landed in the Captain's gay fantasy?
  • Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have the number 1 single, Kasabian top the albums chart.
  • Church of England votes Tory. RNHS hit by a virus.
  • A warming week: unsettled weather to come.

Pushing the rules

May 14th, 2017

Today's ice-cold take on the election is on Wednesday's news.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it wouldn't prosecute local election agents. The Secret Barrister has a Q&A.

The cases stem from the Conservatives' unorthodox campaign in 2015, when national and local spending had been hopelessly muddled. These cases had become a totem amongst some in the Huffy Left, who speculated that convictions might bring down the government, and potentially invalidate all laws passed in the last parliament.

In the event, the CPS found that the local spending returns were wrong, but the agents believed them to be correct when they signed the forms.

Within hours, the Conservatives were spinning the decision as "complete exoneration", "a clean bill of health", "nothing wrong here". This is bullshit of the highest order: the Conservative party has already paid a six-figure fine for precisely this error.

This blog can believe that the Conservatives were incompetent. We can believe their local agents chased up Central Office and were given bad advice in good faith. We can also believe that Central Office had reason to suspect their actions were beyond the pale. We reckon the campaign was skeezy, complying with the letter of the law while flouting its spirit.

Channel 4's Michael Crick was right to follow this trail as far as he did, he has asked some difficult questions, and opened up the need for root-and-branch reform. But the Huffy Left were wrong to presume that they could overturn dozens of results by the back door; that would require rules with teeth.

I am a fighter and not a ruler

May 10th, 2017

Just the one item today, a long read from Simon FR Cox. We've lightly edited it and added section headings.

May's #1 gimmick is "look like a fighter". So winning is a problem – because it ends the fight.

Six case studies: Foxface is in the ring, but not in power.

May doesnt want to talk about her past (that would encourage analysis). She doesnt want to talk in detail about the future (encourages debate). May wants voters' minds on her present fight – and her present enemy. What/who ever that is. Today its Juncker. Tomorrow – she'll find one.

May's success depends on Tory press (& TV following) a clever selection of real human enemies – as proxies for wars on terror & migrants.

May's actions aren't entirely performative. Her policies *do* break up families of British citizens – and of refugees & migrants.

May could have brought confidence to the lives of maybe 3 million people who have made UK their home. She didn't want to.

But IMO, May has *always* put "having a fight" above "making effective decisions & policies". She fears the end of fighting. May will always be looking for a fight. To distract us from the importang things she's doing – or failing to do. We must remember this.

When May attacks democratic institutions & human rights we should oppose. But smartly: always thinking how to avoid helping her distract.

Getting in the head of the Mudkip defectors

May 9th, 2017

The latest eddy in the jetstream of the election.

We promised to keep up-to-date with More United candidates. Twelve more were approved by membership; we discuss them in slight detail.

Local elections took place on Thursday. The results were at the upper bound of Conservative achievements, securing four of the six devo-mares, and a net gain of 587 seats. The increase from 2013 – when most of these seats were last fought – was about 13% to 38%. Labour were down slightly at 28%, and the Lib Dems up 5% to 18%.

Mudkip were the main losers, losing two-thirds of their vote to rest at 5%. All 151 sitting councillors were defeated, not one managed to retain his seat through local work or personal popularity. Mudkip made one gain, putting them on a par with The Rubbish Party and behind the Orcadian Independents (Self-Determination for Orkney).

Plaid did very well in Wales, adding almost a quarter more seats. The SNP made a handful of net gains, quite remarkable as the last election was an SNP high water mark. Greens also made net gains.

A comment from Matt Singh set us thinking about the really long view, and the life story of the key cohort?

  • Born in the early 1950s, at the tail-end of the post-war baby boom
  • Don't recall rationing, always recall social security
  • Internalised the racist / sexist / homophobic attitudes of that era as "natural", any attack on those stereotypes is an attack on their sense of being
  • Voted Thatcher in 1979-83-87; got worried about Kinnock in 92 and may or may not have backed him
  • Embraced Blair in 97-01; he wanted to build and not change much, he was "one of us"
  • Could have taken early retirement or been pensioned off in the middle aughts; could still have a job leading up to retirement.
  • Heard Howard's dog-whistle in 05, and its amplification by BNP and its sympathisers (including the BBC) in 06-09
  • Railed against Cameron. His modern and liberal and tolerant attitude drew attention to their deep-seated prejudices, and they don't want to change.
  • Voted Mudkip while Cameron was being shiny; now Foxface offers the Conservatism they're comfortable with but without any of this modern tolerant nonsense.

Who is Meg Powell-Chandler?

May 4th, 2017

Our occasional diary about eddies in the campaign.

The Conservative candidate for this blog's constituency has a short CV, and we muse on a lecture she gave last summer.

Foxface is a disgrace. Not just from the speech she gave at Downing-street, but from malicious lies that "the cuntry is coming together". This sort of talk damages the democracy she claims to cherish.

The More United Dozen

May 3rd, 2017

Yesterday's reflection from the election pools was delayed until this morning so we could sleep on a decision.

More United has put up the first set of candidates to consider.

More United is a non-party fundraiser, which is prepared to back individuals. More United has about £350,000 to spend at this election. Candidates are invited to ask for money and/or staffing to help win their seat.

The candidates are assessed on their commitment to opportunity, tolerance, democracy, the environment, and openness. If approved by the More United board as meeting these criteria and being the leading such candidate in a close race, the individual is put up to a vote of the paying membership, and their judgement is final.

In the full article, we explain how we've voted, who we did and did not support, and why we've voted that way.

Weeknotes for 2017 week 17

April 30th, 2017

This week…

  • Wolfblood continues, evoking concentration camps.
  • TOTP 1982 has Imagination, Bucks Fizz, a superb dancer, and Prince William is born.
  • Record Store Day takes over the album chart.
  • And it's a bit nippy out.

The answer from Richard Burden

April 30th, 2017

Remember how – almost three months ago – we wrote to this blog's MP? He's finally deigned to write back.

Apparently, an MP doing the job with honour and integrity is something on which "we must agree to differ". Bollocks.

Further fuming, leading up to a conclusion.

We are furious about this. Under normal circumstances, we would request that Mr. Burden resign his seat and seek re-election, so that we the people might punish his misdemeanours.

Now, Mr. Burden seeks re-election. He remains unrepentant in his betrayal of the people's best interests. He remains unsuitable for a representative job.

We will oppose him. With vigour.

The Point of a Manifesto

April 29th, 2017

Today's eddy from the election campaign follows a thread of thinking. Starts as a musing on Corbyn's failure, and ends with a philosophical lens to explain manifestoes.

This blog treats a manifesto in two ways. For all parties, it's a direction of travel, a statement of aims. Something to help us decide if we can possibly support them, and a document to help work out the principles of opposition.

For the winning party, and the winning MP, the manifesto is a skeleton contract with the people. We treat it as a constraint. Unless there are clear external reasons, the winners must not do something they've said they won't. And they must not do something that will directly frustrate other policies.

Losing parties are less bound by their manifesto, but if they wish to reverse specific commitments, they need to say, and to explain why. Their members remain bound by the principles that got them in office, and any specific commitments they made.

For instance, both Labour and Conservative in 2015 said that they would remain in the single market. There is no compelling reason to change this opinion. It's not acceptable now for MPs to vote to leave the single market.

Foxface Four

April 27th, 2017

Four perspectives on the woman who thinks she's the prime minister.

Christian Today: Practicing Christians are most concerned about social justice, inequality, and the gap between rich and poor.

Never Cruel Nor Cowardly: Why Theresa May should scare you.

Craig Murray: They're repeating the BNP manifesto of 2005.

A constituent: I had set out to tackle the Prime Minister but I hadn't expected she would lose her temper and jab her finger at me.

Coalition and a "progressive alliance"

April 25th, 2017

Today's little eddy in the election campaign.

Labour has continued its tired attacks against the Lib Dems in government. It's distraction. Labour is saying, "Look, a mote in someone else's eye. Hur hur, go wash it out." Then Labour turns round, and whacks people over the head with the massive plank coming out of its own eye. They want us to ignore how Labour sided with the Conservatives and betrayed its own history, just last month.

Could the Lib Dems coalesce with either establishment party? This blog's expectation: no C+LD coalition this time, there's no overlap in the manifesto. LD+Lab is just about conceivable, but would require the Lib Dems to be the larger party, and to have removed Jeremy Corbyn from office. Likely by winning his seat.

"Progressive" is a loaded term. Had it been able to deliver its campaign promises, the Cameron agenda would have been more progressive than is generally acknowledged. The 2015 government was elected to allow social movement, to boost the worst-off in society by quietly demolishing barriers.

The problem? Cameron didn't carry his party with him. He was too modern for the Conservatives. Cameron was opposed by a coalition of racists, fascists, people who believe Enoch Powell was dangerously tolerant, and people who think it was a mistake to go past 1955. They provided enough internal strife to distract, and eventually to claim the party. From a modestly progressive manifesto, the Conservatives have reverted to their selfish type.

They're not meritocratic, they're meretricious.

Will Jewish voters swing against Tulip Siddiq?

April 24th, 2017

Today's eddy in the election campaign…

Prompted by a report in the Jewish Chronicle that Labour MPs are staring into the abyss under noxious Corbyn. We're not convinced, Marcus Dysch's argument feels a little woolly.

What's the evidence? Tracking of the Jewish vote only dates back to 2010. We look at the psephological studies, and consider the named constituencies.

70 cent in 100 euro

April 22nd, 2017

Today's reflection on the calmer eddies of the election campaign.

The right-wing press has been banging on about the 0.7% foreign aid commitment. They reckon the target should be dropped, because "the free market" will provide. Let us marshall the evidence and see if a conclusion emerges.

The 0.7% target was voted through the UN General Assembly in 1970. Discussions in the 1960s suggested a total of 1% of national income, combining government and private aid. At the time, it was difficult to work out the amount of private aid, so the government contribution was pegged at this level. Outside of Scandinavia and north-west Europe, the target has generally not been met.

The right-wingers may not like "virtue signalling". This blog does. The government in Westminster has (historically) been very wealthy, and we would like everyone to have lives as comfortable as ours. International aid is a small step in that direction.

According to reports, Foxface will maintain 0.7% for the worst reasons. Not because she believes in it. Not because she's going to ask the questions about whether aid works. No, she's playing games with people's lives, cancelling the pledge would "send the wrong signals" to wavering sponsors.

Queer or No Queer

April 21st, 2017

Today's election thought.

Tim Farron gave an interview to Channel 4 News. The interviewer pressed him on his views on homosexuality, to which Farron noted "we're all sinners". That's consistent with Tim Farron's evangelical Christian views, which posit that every human sins. It's also a foolish choice of words: secular society has a very different definition of "sin".

David Baddiel was the big loser from this exchange, the sanctimonious atheist cannot believe he's wrong about something.

The facts are Tim Farron puts his liberal principles above his Christian faith.

Miss_s_b I'll tell you something that is liberal, though. If a person believes in their heart of hearts that something is wrong, and yet still campaigns for the right of other people to do it because it's other people's right to make their own moral choices?