Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rodney's Folly

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  • Peter Ashby,

    @Craig

    If you had been reading the online British press (non tabloid version) you will discover that GB is the living dead because he is still the only big beast in the party. Nobody else has the remotest chance of garnering anything like enough votes to challenge him on their own. Which means any contest will be crowded and so with the anti Gordon vote split they will lose. Alan Johnson's decision to join the Govt and then appear on TV telling blatant untruths ("I fully support GB" "I have and have never had, any leadership ambitions) have scuppered the biggest of the minnows being backed.

    Add to all that that the tentative signs are that the tanked economy might show some life next northern spring before the next election must be called. Labour MPs are clinging to this slimmest of hopes since if it comes to pass they will be able to claim they fixed the economy and Cameron's policy of do nothing would have been catastrophic. Whether this will help them is unknown but stranger things have happened. John Major got re-elected remember.

    The reality is if they go to the country now on the back of the expenses debacle they face electoral humiliation.

    BTW ignore hysterical articles about the 'rise' of the BNP. Their share of the vote in the recent elections did not change. They prospered because labour's support stayed home so the BNP's share of the diminished vote increased though their absolute numbers did not.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Yeah, it isn't like the British Tories might want to take a long hard look in the mirror over a culture of racism & xenophobia, is it?

    Well, the Holocaust denier who thinks darkies only get Victoria Crosses due to political correctness gone mad who leads the BNP is an MEP-elect for the North West England constituency. Not exactly deep navy blue, electorally speaking.

    BTW ignore hysterical articles about the 'rise' of the BNP. Their share of the vote in the recent elections did not change. They prospered because labour's support stayed home so the BNP's share of the diminished vote increased though their absolute numbers did not.

    Take your point as far as it goes but that's not exactly comforting. "Take heart, they couldn't be arsed coming out to vote against us. Shame about the people who did, though." :) And if I was the leader of a party that came third behind UKIP (which is marginally less toxic than the BNP), I wouldn't have to quit. I'd just die of shame.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Whether or not the BNP are a real risk or not, their interviews with the BBC have been rather surreal to watch. Griffin especially. At one point, when asked how he would represent his non white constituents in Europe he made some comment about the prevention of the sexual grooming of White or Sikh girls by men of other races.

    I don't quite think the interviewer knew what to make of that comment however if they continue to say stuff like that it will at least quickly destroy their attempts to appear respectable. Whether no not that helps or detracts from their popularity will remain to be seen.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @Craig

    It is comforting in the sense that the failure of the labour vote is temporary. Before the poll there were dark worries about the BNP being used as a protest vote and that they would increase their vote. Neither happened, which is why people are somewhat relieved but doesn't stop parts of the press from coming over all hysterical. Also this has made the main parties finally sit up and at least make the right noises about the reasons for the BNP vote.

    If those non voting former labour voters had voted BNP in significant numbers then there would definitely be a major problem to deal with. Watch the whole of the anti fascist Left hold their noses and turn out to canvas for Labour in some constituencies in the next General Election. I suspect it will be reminiscent of those Socialist Posters in France when Chirac went up against Le Pen in the final round: Vote For the Crook, Not the Nazi.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    From Craig's link to "export British racism" back a page:

    "The government needs to do far ­better. We need to clearly set out what we are for, our vision for the country and our purpose for being in government," he said. (Alistair Darling)

    We want our government to do this too, mate.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I think it is worth on this thread pointing out that the idea of having a referendum on just about every council decision is not democratic, it is dictatorial.

    We elect people to represent us. For a period, we trust them to investigate, take advice and make decisions. Other methods are simply dictatorship by the [voting] majority.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The whole British expenses scandal, a piece of good journalism whipped up in a yellow press Tory paper, damages politics and all parties in general but (by coincidence, of course) an incumbent labour government in particular. It has eerie similarities to the vile anti-Labour campaign run by the Herald over the pledge card/EFA, and I would love to know if the Crosby/Textor fingerprints are anywhere near the scene.

    The whole episode shows up a complacent, out of touch and self-entitled political class in Westminster but the money involved is hardly the stuff of Saudi arms bribes and in itself the scandal is hardly cause for the sort of hysterical calls for revolution you read from some of the more excitable media commentators in the Tory press.

    Having said that, the sooner the Blairite Labour party is kicked out of power the better. They've betrayed every tradition the British Labour Party ever had. And by being the sell-out to City that they are, they've adopted all the authoritarian garb of Thatcherite populism with any regard to a Tory sense of liberty. They've overseen the casual conversion of the home of democracy into a surveillance society sleep walking to a police state.

    Labour needs to go into opposition and purge the false prophets of the so-called third way from its ranks.

    Once upon a time I would not have been too worried by the election of two Oswald-lites to the European parliament. British society is traditionally decent and fair. But the corrosion of the basic assumptions of what constitutes the democratic fabric of the "deep democracy" that underpins mature democracies combined with anti-immigration feeling that is strong in working class Britons (and who can blame them? The local working classes are always the losers with mass migration. The middle class welcome the better restaurants, the poor are just further marginalised) makes me think that just because fascism failed in Britain the 1930's doesn't mean complacency is the order of the day now.

    Indeed, whilst Fascism was exposed to Germans in their burnt out and ruined cities as an utter failure and utter political dead end, in victorious allies the lack of that experience means some of its message still has credibility.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    The belief that life would be grand if local government activity was hacked back to little more than roads and sewers is an article of faith amongst neoliberals. It's a kind of magical thinking.

    I have thought for a few years that neoliberalism was something beyond ordinary human understanding.
    But is this all it is?
    Appoint an accountant to pay for the basic amenities, cut all social activities funded by council (17% of most budgets by all accounts)
    And then declare that 17% as profit.
    MAGIC aw right, but doesnt take much thinking.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Having said that, the sooner the Blairite Labour party is kicked out of power the better. They've betrayed every tradition the British Labour Party ever had

    I think the long period of investment in health, education, children and much of the public sector belies that statement. Nice for the left to have reasons to not vote Labour but don't pretend it is because of some sort of false betrayal of values. That in itself is a betrayal.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    The difference between Michael Savage and Nick Griffin is that the latter leads an actual political party in a position to do real harm to real people.

    Well, maybe. The fact they'll be getting a lot more money than they probably know whhat to do with is deeply disturbing. But the far-right wingnuts in america don't seem to be doing too badly in terms of gaining support, either.

    I'm aware that that article talks about a specific pair of wingnuts whose expectations were somewhat divorced from reality, so please don't point that out. The reason I'm linking is because it briefly discusses the rise in support for KKK-type organisations, which is extremely troubling.

    WRT the BNP - As has been pointed out, they didn't signficantly increase their share of the vote. It's just that a lot of people didn't bother voting - I would reasonably guess out of disgust.

    I don't fully agree with everything Tom has said, but I think he is right in flagging up:

    a complacent, out of touch and self-entitled political class in Westminster

    But that applies to both left and right. I doubt people have forgotten the perception of sleaze that lead to the 1997 landslide.

    It may not be on the scale of something like the Saudi arms bribes, but the point is that the expenses scandal is easy for people to understand, unlike most policitcal scandals (sex notwithstanding). It's also the last straw on the camels back.

    The reason parties like the BNP are doing well is two-fold:

    1) No-one trusts either of the two mainstream parties - they are sick of them both (with good reason) and so don't vote.

    2) Those people that do vote don't vote for the mainstream (see point 1)).

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I think the long period of investment in health, education, children and much of the public sector belies that statement. Nice for the left to have reasons to not vote Labour but don't pretend it is because of some sort of false betrayal of values. That in itself is a betrayal.

    I think you and me have disagreed on this before, and I don't intend to get into a discussion about the specifics of it again.

    But in summary:

    Too little, too late, too shallow.

    And as for your comment about 'betrayal of values: when Cherie Blair can sit down and say in all seriousness - 'but you don't understand, we are socialists', well....

    I guffawed when I read that.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    This one takes the cake WRT the GM-Rush Limbaugh article (my emphasis), and it sounds a bit like Rodder's attitude to local government:

    If it wasn't already crystal clear to everyone, Rush Limbaugh is the absolute nadir of ends-justify-the-means thinking, if it can be called thinking.

    Nothing is too extreme for him to advocate or encourage in pursuit of those ends. And what ends does he pursue? Conservative defeating liberal. It's a football game to him and his team must win at any cost. He'd rather blow up the stadium than see the other team win. He doesn't give a rat's ass what happens to the fans in the stands. If they've got to be collateral damage, so be it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I remember as a kid in the '70s going on a special train to the Manorburn (sp?) dam to skate on the frozen dam. Skate hire was included. I remember it clearly because it was so very much better than doing so on an inside ice rink. It's strange but I feel pointless going around and around an indoor rink but no so outside on a frozen dam.

    Sadly global climate change is likely to kill these sorts of experiences for our grandchildren. Outdoor ice rinks (artificial and natural) now have shorter seasons. 50 years from now Mannorburn might not have a season at all, you'll have to catch it on a cold snap and take your chances that it won't thin and drop you into the water below (this happened to a kid on one of our ice hockey teams two years ago when they skated on the dam, his team mates dragged him out).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The whole British expenses scandal, a piece of good journalism whipped up in a yellow press Tory paper, damages politics and all parties in general but (by coincidence, of course) an incumbent labour government in particular. It has eerie similarities to the vile anti-Labour campaign run by the Herald over the pledge card/EFA, and I would love to know if the Crosby/Textor fingerprints are anywhere near the scene

    Then again, it might have been someone at The Telegraph deciding to commit actual journalism. And if you're trying to imply that 'the Torygraph' somehow went soft on the Tories.... bitch, please. Moat cleaning ring any bells whatsoever?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I think the long period of investment in health, education, children and much of the public sector belies that statement.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. A political Party should exist because it believes in something, not just because it can spend the surplus of a property bubble.

    The reason parties like the BNP are doing well is two-fold:

    1) No-one trusts either of the two mainstream parties - they are sick of them both (with good reason) and so don't vote.

    2) Those people that do vote don't vote for the mainstream (see point 1)).

    But why is this? This isn't a question open to rational analysis; it comes back to the prevailing political and economic consensus we've been sold since Thatcher and Reagan were in power.

    To me the heart of the problem has been the tacit collusion over the last three-four decades between the political class and business elites to infantilise the population. The drive, in the name of productivity, efficiency and affluenza, to turn us all from citizens with the time and inclination to participate in democracy to overworked, time hungry consumers is at the heart of the corrosion of democracy in the English speaking world. The out of touch, complacent and cocooned political class now looks indistinguishable from the out of touch, cocooned and complacent business elites.

    In our own little version of Tiananmen Square amnesia, People happily went along with this hollowing out of democracy and creation of a class of corporate oligarchs as long as their house prices went up. The problem is that now that the whole self-serving rotten edifice of the "Anglo-Saxon model" has been exposed as an utter fraud, both the political class and the business elites are being held equally responsible. Just when strong democratic institutions are most needed to help the Anglo-Saxon economies navigate out of the current economic & political crisis of confidence, their Faustian pact with big business had rendered them discredited and weak.

    The election of the BNP - ironically - is biggest symbol yet of the utter failure of the fundamentally undemocratic neo-liberal experiment, and should act as a huge wake up call to the political classes. In the U.K., The voters are in the process of withdrawing their consent to be governed by the current political and business establishment.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • uroskin,

    "Ann Coulter is thin, blonde and fuckable"
    She also has an Adam's apple bigger than Limbaugh's (never mind comparing the size of their penises).

    Some BNP acolytes are eminently more fuckable than Savage's crew: http://towleroad.typepad.com/towleroad/2006/05/rightwing_counc.html

    Waiheke Island • Since Feb 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    To me the heart of the problem has been the tacit collusion over the last three-four decades between the political class and business elites to infantilise the population. The drive, in the name of productivity, efficiency and affluenza, to turn us all from citizens with the time and inclination to participate in democracy to overworked, time hungry consumers is at the heart of the corrosion of democracy in the English speaking world. The out of touch, complacent and cocooned political class now looks indistinguishable from the out of touch, cocooned and complacent business elites.

    Well said, Tom. Exactement.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    To me the heart of the problem has been the tacit collusion over the last three-four decades between the political class and business elites to infantilise the population.

    I think a generation or three can do a very fine job of infantilising itself.
    Now to conduct a test..........
    COMPETITIVE TEAM SPORTS IN WHICH THE GLORY/ SELF WORTH OF A NATION/COMMUNITY IS REFLECTED ARE A CROCK, AND SHOULD BE TAKEN OFF TV.
    Although it would be better conducted over on Field Theory.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    She also has an Adam's apple bigger than Limbaugh's (never mind comparing the size of their penises).

    I guess I shouldn't note the irony of certain sections of the blogisphere decrying Coulter's homophobia and sexism by calling her things like "ugly cunt" and "transsexual drag queen." Its not only somewhat hypocritical, but why give people like Coulter cover to play the victim?

    I think its slightly more to the point reminding people of the occasions she's flat out distorted her own cited sources in her screeds -- it's not hard to do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • uroskin,

    "it's not hard to do".
    Probably not but dissing her is so much more fun.

    Waiheke Island • Since Feb 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Probably not but dissing her is so much more fun.

    Getting no argument from me there, but when you're responding to homophobia by using "transsexual" as an insult -- and attacking a woman's appearance rather than her work -- then it might be worth taking a time out, and asking what 'progressive' values you're expressing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • uroskin,

    I'll leave reading her "work" to Craig Young so I don't have to. Republicans are so last year.

    Waiheke Island • Since Feb 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Tom & Rich, I would continue to point out the people like you are *always* going to be disappointed in Labour governments. Labour have always had broader base and pragmatic approach (aka betrayal) than your narrow definition of what is good.

    You are also buying into the sub-text which is to alienate the support base of Labour. All you need are excuses not to vote Labour and they are being feed to you on a shovel. Worked in NZ and definitely working in the UK.

    I remember the last time they went into opposition to "reflect" and get back to their roots. It was a long journey.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Too little, too late, too shallow.

    and

    A political Party should exist because it believes in something, not just because it can spend the surplus of a property bubble.

    Jesus.

    Brown could save the world economy, feed the starving billions, rid the world of disease and still he would be a failure because he "doesn't believe in something". Maybe you could do some research before trotting out those platittudes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Don: By "Labour" are you referring to UK Labour. Because they aren't even the ghost of a left-wing party. They're a hard-right party with an urban rather than a rural base.

    Ok, so politics is the art of the possible, but what required an alleged left-wing party to:
    - fabricate evidence to justify joining Bush in the Iraq invasion
    - introduce laws allowing anyone to be convicted of an entirely arbitrary crime
    - use an almost entirely spurious terrorist threat to introduce unprecedented systems for tracking and surveillance
    - criminalise the mere expression of ideas
    - use public funds to bribe a corrupt foreign state's rulers to buy weapons, and block attempts to investigate this scandal

    A conspiracy theorist could conclude that the hard right realised that the game would be up for Thatcher at some stage and decided to take over Labour in order to block the voters from choosing a left-wing government.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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