tag: Election2010

Nov 2010

The US Midterms: a dimebag of hope

Well, it looks like the Democrats are going to take a pasting in today’s mid-term elections. Hardly surprising really. The hope and optimism that Obama brought with him into office was so great that he was always going to fall short when it came to delivering on it. A combination of genuine disappointment and being comprehensively outmaneuvered in the media appears to have shifted public opinion against his administration and, by extension, against the Democratic Party.

US politics offers us an object lesson in how people can be manipulated to act against their own longterm interests (it’s the same in every modern captialist democracy, of course, but the United States is so big and powerful that trends get magnified making them easier to identify).

Take the healthcare issue for example. It was the central plank of Obama’s campaign. He spoke about it in almost every speech he made during the run-up to the election. And yet a combination of corporate financial muscle and Republican propaganda seemed to convince the very people the plan was aimed at helping, that it was some kind of socialist hidden agenda being foisted upon America without a mandate. Low-income Americans with no healthcare have been actively denouncing their newly-acquired ability to see a doctor if they get sick. People who, should they find themselves with a serious illness, would have previously been faced with a choice between crippling debt or no treatment are campaigning against “ObamaCare Socialism”.

“America’s not about hand-outs”, they cry, “it’s about working your way to the top!” It seems to me that tens of millions of low-income Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that they’ll be rich one day. That “the top” has room for all if they only work hard enough. So instead of working towards a more equitable society, where even the poorest are taken care of, they instead adopt right-wing quasi-libertarian beliefs that only benefit the wealthy. The rich and powerful have engineered a deluded populace to support their lavish lifestyles… a nation of turkeys campaigning for an early Thanksgiving.

The thing is, every society in history has taken good care of those at the top. There’s nothing unique about that, despite the belief of many Americans that they are in some way socially advanced. Seems to me that a truly Great Society is one that also manages to take care of those at the bottom. Feudalism is alive and well and proudly living in the Unites States. It just has better P.R. these days.

In the end, big business forced Obama to water-down a healthcare plan that had been approved by a majority of US voters. If ever there was an example of how capitalism subverts politics, that was it.

In fact, a mere two years after being elected on that issue (he was elected for many reasons, of course, but healthcare was his number one rallying call), the Democrats are actively distancing themselves from it. Bizarrely in half a presidential term it’s gone from being a vote-winner to a clear vote-loser. As usual, The Onion succinctly captures the current mood among US Democrats with their article, Democrats: ‘If We’re Gonna Lose, Let’s Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We’ve Made’. The only reason for this is the massive Public Relations machine that the US Right set in motion.

It’s sad how easily people can be manipulated into self-destructive behaviour.

No Victim No Crime sticker

No victim no crime
Vote 'Yes!' on Prop 19

My one hope for today’s elections is, it goes without saying, the possibility of California passing Proposition 19. While it’s far from perfect, it might well prove to be the first substantial nail in the coffin of our clinically insane War on Some Drugs. If it is defeated, it will again demonstrate the incredible ability of people to act against their own best interests. Despite the high-profile donations to the pro-legalisation campaign, they are being matched by the anti-Prop 19 campaign. And who are the major backers of the anti-Prop19 campaign? Interestingly, it’s the alcohol industry.

But of course.

We’ll soon know the results of the mid-terms and whether California has voted sensibly on the cannabis issue. A Democratic wipeout is pretty much a given, though it may present a silver lining… some of those Tea Party weirdos are bound to damage the US Right when given a national stage upon which to perform. And the Californians might make it a day to remember for good, as well as bad, reasons. Celebratory bong, anyone?

Well, here’s hoping!

UPDATE 3/11/2010: Well, the Dems lost the House of Representatives and saw their Senate majority whittled down to less than a handful. I’m not suggesting the Democratic Party are anything other than corporate mouthpieces, but the lurch into loony territory currently underway in the Republican Party means the Dems are a marginally better option at the moment. People with Sarah Palin’s view of the world running America? Not a happy thought. On top of all that, the Californians couldn’t even answer a simple Yes/No question correctly. I’m genuinely disappointed by this as it would have presented a real challenge to the madness of our War on Some Drugs. In the end, when asked “do you wish to continue acting in a dangerously psychotic, self-destructive manner?” more than half of Californians replied, “Yes”.


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Sep 2010

Labour chooses a Miliband

Ed Miliband has insisted Labour will not “lurch to the left” under his leadership and he will not be in thrall to the trade unions, despite winning with the backing of their members.

This, more or less, was the first message that the new leader of the British Labour Party sought to communicate.

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband
(as red as his necktie)

His first media offensive didn’t take aim at the savage public sector cuts being implemented by the tory government. It wasn’t focussed on the terrifying levels of control that undemocratic institutions (the financial sector, corporations, the media, markets) now possess over modern society. Or the dreadful mess they’ve made with it. He didn’t even use the publicity generated by his election to establish clear water between himself and the thoroughly discredited governments of his predecessors.

Nope, the ironically nicknamed “Red Ed” chose instead to assure the nation that he is — in essence — no different to every other career politician within a mile of power during the past couple of decades. He is of the Ineffectual Centre, and don’t anyone forget it. His dismissal of the unions was a dismissal of the ever-dwindling working class. Sure, he knows he’ll have to submit to some photo-ops in factories, supermarkets and (wearing a hard hat) on one of Britain’s few remaining construction projects. That’s par for the course for any politician, whatever the party.

Just please don’t get the impression he actually represents those people.

I’m convinced that the “Red Ed” nickname is, genuinely, nothing more than the result of lazy tabloid headline writers who like the rhyme, despite knowing nothing whatsoever about the man’s politics. Yes, he has said that his own ideas for cutting the deficit involve less spending cuts and more tax increases than the tories (or indeed than Alistair Darling, the author of the last New Labour budget). But it’s pretty marginal stuff. He’s certainly not talking about nationalising essential industries or shifting away from a profit-driven model of economic activity (which, whether you agree with them or not, would be the kind of ideas that actually warrant the sobriquet “Red Ed”).

As power has drained out of politics, so modern politicians — even those at the very top — have become middle management. The aims and values of society are dictated to them by markets and tabloids. And like middle management the world over, they have a little bit of leeway as to how best those aims can be achieved and those values upheld. But it is only a little bit. They certainly have almost no control over the aims and values themselves.

Ed Miliband, newly elected leader of the Labour Party, has spent his first day at the helm desperately trying to reassure markets and tabloids that he is willing to toe their line. That he has no plans to challenge their leadership. And that he certainly has no intention of representing the people who actually elected him.

Which, I suppose, makes him perfectly qualified to be the next Prime Minister when the current UK government fails.

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May 2010

Welcome to now

In what’s being described as “a bid to bring stability to the UK after a general election which has created a regrettable vacuum of power”, the queen has declared herself absolute monarch and summoned the three party leaders to Buckingham Palace, where she earlier arrived by helicopter from Windsor Castle. In a statement released through the queen’s spokesman, she plans to “sit down with the three leaders and knock some heads together”. She also plans to broadcast an emergency statement at 9pm this evening on all British television and radio channels.

Having established the firm support of the army and 50 of the 60 police authorities, with only a handful of authorities — in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — choosing to abstain from a hastily arranged secret poll of Chief Constables carried out by civil servants, it is thought that the leaders of the parties will wait until they hear what the queen has to say before making any statements.

Sources close to Prince Charles, however, appear to be claiming that the Royal Family have little to do with this “Stabilisation Process” and are merely being used as a mask of constitutional legitimacy by senior figures in the civil service, armed forces and intelligence community. “The queen is taking some very bad advice”, one insider is quoted as saying. While another suggested that there may even be an element of coercion involved with threats being made against the lives of several of her family members.

While little remains clear at this moment, one thing does seem certain; The Policy For a New Direction, a document that was rumoured to exist in the weeks leading up to the election, will be part of the agenda at the Buckingham Palace meeting. The existence of this ‘covert manifesto’ was only substantiated early this afternoon when it was leaked from within the Police Force of Northern Ireland. It now appears that the document, which has been couriered to every police authority and armed forces installation today, bears the Royal Seal and carries the signature of the queen along with that of General Sir David Richards (on behalf of the entire General Staff of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces) and the heads of the Metropolitan Police Service, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, Ministry of Defence Police and British Transport Police, as well as MI5 and MI6.

Leastways, that’s what I dreamt last night. That, and some stuff about a massive asteroid hitting the Atlantic Ocean and being in the West of Ireland and trying to think of ways to escape the approaching tsunami.

Too much election night coverage, I feel.

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May 2010

All over bar the shooting

As I write, there are still 9 seats to be declared in the UK elections. The initial exit polls appear to have been roughly correct, but pretty much all previous polls over the past three weeks, as well as all the reflected media coverage appear to have been spectacularly wrong. I picture a good week of media self-analysis… in the media, of course… once the actual political outcome has been settled. How did we get it so wrong? they’ll ask themselves. And sell you their answers at 30p a copy. Or beam it into your home for the price of the licence fee — or more expensive still — a commercial advertisement.

And the thing they got so wrong, of course, was the insistence that it was a three horse race. It wasn’t. It’s not quite over yet, but one thing is very clear, Nick Clegg did not drag his party above the rank of also-ran. He may yet hold the balance of power, but it’ll be by default rather than because they genuinely increased their stature. Even their share of the popular vote has only risen by 1%. Admittedly that was from a pretty decent starting-point in terms of their recent history, but it’s hardly the line the public were being fed from the media. They’re actually down 5 seats at time of writing.

During last night’s election coverage, the likeable Prof Brian Cox showed up on Channel 4 and told the gathered electorate, gazing at our glowing rectangles, that they were “stupid”. We all sat there and laughed, and insisted it was “those other people” he was talking about, not us specifically. Yes indeed. Though let’s face it. If you’re one of the ten and a half million people who voted Tory, then you’re definitely one of the people he’s talking about.

Of course, he was actually being more general than that. Prof Cox was making a point about our collective decision-making and how it seems to have ended up firmly dedicated to self-destruction. Our seemingly cruel lack of self-awareness as a culture and our ten thousand year war against nature… externalising our collective schizophrenia into the wider ecology of mind. OK, so he didn’t use those exact words. I was translating into Batesonian.

Anyhoo, that proved to be the highlight of the election coverage… Prof Cox calling us all stupid.

But enough about the coverage, what about the outcome?

Well, that’s the thing… even with just 9 seats left to declare, we don’t know it yet. It appears that the media may have got that much right — the possibility of a hung parliament / minority government is a very real one. The Tories are going to end up the largest party, but far enough away from an overall majority to make things complicated. Oh, and just what the Welsh were thinking by making it easier on them, I’ll never know.

But of course, the real reason the Tories aren’t as far from an overall majority as was being predicted isn’t the appearance of more spots of blue on the map of Wales. Rather, it’s the failure of the Lib Dem swing to show up on cue. They were supposed to grab a bunch of seats from the Tories. But they didn’t. In fact they actually lost ground to the Tories overall. The opportunity to unseat Oliver Letwin in a real Lib Dem / Tory marginal was squandered. For that, the Lib Dems should publicly apologise. As should the people of Dorset West.

Meanwhile Labour also held their ground against the Lib Dems overall and didn’t lose as many seats to the Tories in the north as was being predicted. Certainly they’ve retained enough to allow Gordon Brown first shot at forming a government, constitutionally speaking. Though whether that’ll happen is anyone’s guess, with the Tories moving to declare victory even though lots of people are saying they have no legal right whatsoever to do so.

That kind of magical thinking can be very effective though. Ten and a half million tory voters all believing in a Conservative victory at the same time is the kind of thing that can manifest such a victory in reality. Especially when you have the Murdoch Press acting as a Great Unholy Sigil. The fact that far more people voted against the Tories than voted for them isn’t necessarily relevant either. If a sense of doubt creeps into them, as it surely must be doing if you’re a Lib Dem after the past three weeks of ecstatic preparation; and perhaps is also happening with many Labour voters who will view the loss of 90 seats and the body language of so many Labour MPs as signalling defeat.

So a minority Conservative government using the Ulster Unionists as additional muscle? The worst of all possible worlds? There’s a part of me that’s sadly unsurprised.

Alternatively we could technically see a rainbow coalition with a Lib-Lab pact recruiting the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, the SDLP and the incoming Green MP as a broad left coalition. Labour can promise the Lib Dems electoral reform in return for their support, but I’m not sure they’d be willing to offer the others what they’d demand.

Which reminds me… congratulations to Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party and new MP for Brighton Pavilion. I wish her well; it’ll be good to have a Green voice in parliament even if it’s likely to get drowned out most of the time.

Meanwhile there’s also the other possibility of Clegg bringing the Lib Dems into government with the Tories. The fact that this is even being discussed seriously by the Lib Dems is clear evidence that they are the deluded free-market capitalists that I suggested they might be. All the same, if they wrestle electoral reform out of the Tories in return for their support, they’ll still have been worth your vote. Possibly.

With 9 seats left to declare, the Tories have passed the 300 mark, but only just (302). Labour are on 256 with the Lib Dems at 56. So a Lib-Lab pact would bring them to 312 and clear of the Tories, though short of a majority. And even though Cameron will be trying to cast his “I have moral authority” spell upon the land, a look at the popular vote is revealing. Certainly it demonstrates the kind of distortions wrought by a First Past The Post electoral system.

With 23% of the overall vote, the Lib Dems won less than 9% of the seats (they should have about 148 seats if each vote was treated equally and proportionally). The Tories, on the other hand would drop about 70 seats, if representation was roughly proportional to the votes cast. You can see why they oppose electoral reform.

And even though Labour would also drop roughly the same number of seats, you can see why they wouldn’t be quite as unwilling to consider some kind of electoral reform… it’d be Labour that the Lib Dems would be more likely to deal with if both offered a working majority. And under PR, a Lib-Lab pact would have a clear majority (though not a massive one), while the Tories would have far less claim to ‘moral authority’ with not nearly enough MPs to form a stable minority government.

There’s still plenty of twists and turns to come. But my suspicion is that we’ll see David Cameron in 10 Downing Street by the end of the weeked. I was going to say “it’ll be funny to see how he deals with the economic crisis, resource depletion and climate change”. Except it won’t be funny. It’ll be fucking tragic.

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May 2010

A brief note on the UK election

Tomorrow the UK goes to the polls in the hope of electing a new government. I say “in the hope” because there is a slim possibility that a hung parliament could lead to political paralysis and force another election in the near future. That is, however, a slim possibility. It’s more likely that a hung parliament will lead to some form of coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems. This is potentially the most desirable outcome, given the current voting system, as it may well usher in electoral reform (in my view the best thing that could happen to UK democracy).

More likely still, however, is a small Conservative majority. I’ve heard talk of a two seat majority, but I suspect it’ll be a little larger than that. Large enough, certainly, for David Cameron to form a government despite receiving a near-record low proportion of the popular vote.

A Tory win will be bad for two specific sets of people.

Firstly, it’ll be bad for those on a low income or welfare. Not so much “the poor” as “the not rich”. The economic policies to which the tories are wed will not fare well in the face of the problems to come.

Secondly, it’ll be bad for the Conservatives themselves. The Governor of the Bank of England recently suggested that whatever party is in power over the next five years will be forced to drink from a poisoned chalice. They will frantically try to blame anyone but themselves, but will nonetheless find themselves associated with the problems they fail to solve. The Bank Governor believes the next ruling party will be cast into the political wilderness for thirty years.

My advice (for the little it’s worth) is to vote Lib Dem. “What’s that?” you gasp, “You’re surely not endorsing one of those centre-right, free-market parties you heap so much scorn upon, are you?” Well, no. I’m not endorsing them per se. Rather, I’m endorsing the electoral reform they may bring with them. That way, by the time the next election comes round, a vote for the Greens or the hard left won’t be a wasted vote. I don’t necessarily want to see a green or hard left government in the UK, but I do believe that the presence of those voices in parliament would be a positive thing in a world where sustainability becomes our over-riding concern.

So yeah, vote tactically to ensure the Lib Dems get some say in what happens next. Not because they offer hope of good governance (they don’t!) but because they offer hope of finally destroying the two-party capitalist duopoly that has dominated the UK landscape for so long.

This advice doesn’t extend to those constituencies where the Greens have a genuine chance of winning (there’s one in Norwich and one in Brighton, I believe), nor to constituencies in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland where an alternative to the Big Three stands a realistic chance. But everywhere else, the sensible vote is for electoral reform.

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May 2010

Unpopular Ideas #1

The general election campaign is coming to an end over in the UK and the public will soon place an ‘x’ in a little box on a sheet of paper… this act — performed every four or five years — is modern democracy in action. Government by the people. Apparently.

This particular election is being contested by three main parties plus several smaller ones. And although there is a real possibility of the smaller parties gaining a couple of seats in parliament this time round, the British electoral system is heavily stacked in favour of the larger ones (of course the “local” parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all win seats in Westminster, but I’m concentrating here on parties with a UK-wide presence… my knowledge of Scottish and Welsh politics is severely limited and Northern Irish politics have little bearing on the UK as a whole, mired as they still are in local sectarianism). Indeed with the recent surge of the Liberal Democrats in the opinion polls, it’s possible that the Greens, UKIP, Respect and others will be even further marginalised by the consolidation of power on the centre-right.

And let’s not be under any illusions, all three (Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems) are centre-right parties. None of them propose real change, none of them — despite claims to the contrary — can be considered progressive, except by twisting the definition of that word until it means almost its precise opposite. All three are dedicated to free market capitalism even as they pay lip service to public service. All three promise a “return to growth”, betraying not merely a sorry lack of imagination but also a dreadful ignorance; one so extreme that it’s difficult not to suspect it’s willful; of the current situation regarding energy resources and global sustainability. None of them will even use the word “sustainable” except, oxymoronically, as a prefix to the word “growth”.

The single most important issue facing British — and global — society has been utterly ignored by those campaigning to run the UK for the next half-decade. So whilst a very real, very serious and very physical problem has begun to manifest around us, anyone watching this election campaign could be forgiven for concluding that the only issues facing the modern world involve the social graces of those seeking election and the artificial construct known as money. Currency, debt, money… it’s essentially a human-created system for which we have written (and if we choose, can re-write) the rules. Energy, food, natural resources… these on the other hand are the building blocks of the physical systems by which human life is maintained. Our mistake is to have overlaid the former on top of the latter, and then somehow forgot we did so; so that we have fallen into the trap Korzybski tried to warn us about… that of confusing the map for the territory.

“Getting the economy moving again” has become the mantra for all sides in this election campaign. And one of the ways they intend to achieve this is via a radical shake-up of the welfare system. While I agree that the question of how society supports those without an income is going to become a huge one over the next few years, the ideas being considered in the current political mainstream are wrong-headed in the extreme. Based — as they are — on a mistaken belief; that maximising employment is a good thing.

However, considering what we know to be true about the short-to-medium term sustainability of energy resources (see my recent three-parter on Peak Oil if you don’t know what I’m talking about), this brings me quite neatly to the first of my ‘Unpopular Ideas’. Namely that:

Unemployment is a good thing

I’m aware that this sounds vaguely “wrong by definition”, like suggesting that racism or beating up old ladies is a good thing. We have been conditioned to accept certain premises by the very structure of the society we’ve created. And those ‘structural premises’ are difficult to shake off. If, however, that society is fundamentally flawed (and unsustainability is perhaps the biggest flaw that any society can suffer from)… guilty of what Gregory Bateson calls “epistemological lunacy”… then we are obliged to re-examine those initial premises.

… the premises work only up to a certain limit, and, at some stage or under certain circumstances, if you are carrying serious epistemological errors, you will find that they do not work any more. At this point you discover to your horror that it is exceedingly difficult to get rid of the error, that it’s sticky. It is as if you had touched honey. As with honey, the falsification gets around; and each thing you try to wipe it off on gets sticky, and your hand still remains sticky.

Gregory Bateson | Pathologies of Epistemology

Nonetheless, we must try to rid ourselves of the stickiness before we make too much of a mess. Because when our continued survival (perhaps not as a species, but certainly as a civilisation) depends upon those premises being corrected, then it’s surely a matter of urgency for us to do so. And one of the first of those premises that gets called into question when re-examining society through the filter of decreasing energy resources, is the notion that people should be encouraged to be economically active; furthermore that such economic activity should be maximised.

See, I’m not claiming — by any stretch of the imagination — that being unemployed is a good thing in our current society. Our society, after all, is specifically designed to make unemployment relatively uncomfortable in the hope of minimising it*. What I’m suggesting is that we need to re-imagine our society as one that views economic activity as a necessary evil; itself a process to be minimised. We need to reshape society so that the basic needs of all members are met, while consuming as little energy as possible in meeting them.

Energy, after all, can be defined as “the ability to do work”. Indeed, in physical terms, the SI unit for work (the joule) is identical to the SI unit for energy. So, as I said recently…

…with less energy available, there will be less work. This is not predicated upon an ideology or desired policy, but on the basic laws of physics. And we need to get used to it.

A recession is another word for a decrease in economic activity. And because we have built a world that is unable to tolerate such decreases, we strive to avoid recessions and to quickly overcome them via a “return to growth”. It seems to me, however, that we should perhaps view our current recession in a more positive light. We should perhaps find a way to use this slowdown as a springboard towards a powerdown. As unemployment rises, we should be looking at ways to accommodate this as a positive thing, rather than viewing it negatively through the lens of our old premises and searching for ways to reverse it.

I’m not suggesting that our society — in its current form — is capable of sustaining a continuing decrease in economic activity and the subsequent large-scale unemployment such a decrease will bring. I’m instead suggesting that a continuing decrease in economic activity is completely unavoidable, and society must be remodelled in such a way as to turn this to our advantage.

* That said, I do know several people who consciously choose to avoid work… placing time above money and avoiding all that messy materialism that becomes so addictive once you get a taste of it. By and large they tend to be happier than most of the people I know who work. Given a basic, functioning welfare state, unemployment generally becomes a serious burden only when thrust upon the unwilling.

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Apr 2010

Courting the homophobic vote

Meanwhile, as Gordon Brown represented his nation by prostrating himself before the throne of Her Majesty, David Cameron was on the other side of the Thames prostrating himself before the altar of public opinion. He rolled up his sleeves and ran his fingers through immaculately styled hair to symbolise his dynamism and vigour. Unencumbered by other members of his party (almost none of whom can be trusted in front of a microphone) he desperately sought to portray himself in a presidential manner.

He echoed John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you” speech (though his phrasing was far clumsier and ended up being about as inspiring as a wet Sunday afternoon in Basingstoke). His promise to champion “the Great Ignored” called to mind Nixon’s appeal to the Silent Majority. In fairness to Cameron he did have almost as much charisma as Nixon. His body language and “look at how at ease I am” mannerisms screamed Bill Clinton. Though in a supremely irritating, nails-across-a-blackboard kind of way. I’d only have been mildly surprised if he’d pulled out a saxophone and donned a pair of shades.

Most of all though, he was aiming for that Barack Obama vibe. He never actually said “Yes We Can!” but you could see how much he wanted to. It was all about Change. Vote for Cameron and he’d usher in an era of change. It’s a time for change. Indeed, it’s the Year Of Change. So everyone in Britain should Vote For Change. Change and Hope. Oh, and Optimism. Change, Hope and Optimism. That’s what President Cameron would represent.

Unfortunately though, a vote for President Cameron would actually result in the election of Prime Minister Cameron. And if you thought the shower of fools and villains flanking Gordon Brown on Downing Street were depressing, just wait ’til you see who Cameron will be taking into power with him. Tawdry backward-looking reactionaries who actually mean it when they sing God Save The Queen. Bankers, puppy-killers, nuclear weapons enthusiasts… and that’s just Oliver Letwin.

Still, at least the moats will be clean.

And as Daveybloke Cameron was filmed in front of a carefully selected crowd of young, ethnically diverse supporters on the South Bank he spoke passionately about the sort of people he would represent. The sort of people his government would really listen to. “The Great Ignored” he called them. They were black and white, he said. They were rich and poor, he said (though I found it difficult to swallow the idea that “the rich” are really part of The Great Ignored). They were hard-working taxpayers, he said.

In the background you could see a short scuffle as Conservative security guards wrestled a megaphone from shadow home secretary Chris Grayling who was shouting “not the queers though, Dave, not the fucking queers!”

Indeed, if anything illustrates just how shallow this tory ‘change’ really is, it’s the ugly homophobia that seeps from under the pretty plastic facade that Saatchi & Saatchi are fashioning around the party. The past couple of weeks have seen Cameron spectacularly implode during an interview with Gay Times. An interview in which he first claimed that homosexual equality was “a fundamental human right” and then suggested that he was unwilling to put pressure on other tories to support it. The next leader of Britain, it seems, is pretty damn equivocal on the subject of fundamental human rights.

Gay Rights campaigners predictably criticised Cameron for his less than forthright support of their fundamental human rights. At the same time, Conservative elder statesman Lord Norman Tebbit was also attacking Cameron for this wishy-washy attitude to gay rights. Except he was under the impression that Cameron’s lip-service to equality was actually going too far. All a bit limp-wristed and pink for Grand-Vizier Tebbit’s liking, it seems. Daveybloke shouldn’t be concerning himself with such “trivialities” as “political asylum for African homosexuals” says Vice-Emperor Tebbit. Protecting fundamental human rights shouldn’t be a high priority for the British Conservative Party. At least, not according to the British Conservative Party.

Then, to top it all off, out comes Chris Grayling — shadow Home Secretary let’s not forget — with his suggestion that people who run Bed & Breakfasts should have the right to refuse entry to guests on the grounds of their sexuality.

That the people of Britain look likely to elect these bigots as their next government is very sad indeed.

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Apr 2010

Monarch agrees to allow election

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II.
Kindly permitting democracy in Britain.

The sorry spectacle of an elected leader travelling to the palace of an hereditary monarch to request permission to hold an election played out in the UK this morning, as it has done prior to every British election in living memory. The people of the United Kingdom (the clue’s in the name) doffed their collective cap to Queen Elizabeth in recognition of the ruthless ability possessed by her ancestors to violently subjugate the masses. Well done Liz! And well done people of Britain, for permitting such a weird and demeaning custom to continue for the amusement of the rest of the world.

And yes, we all know the queen’s role is technically ceremonial but the symbolism of the prime minister’s visit to Buckingham Palace is surely distasteful — at the very least — to anyone with a commitment to social justice and equality. Brown’s announcement on Downing Street, flanked as he was by his profoundly unlikeable and discredited cabinet that “the queen has kindly agreed” to allow the democratic process to get underway merely underlined the cringeworthy absurdity of the charade.

The thing it called most to my own mind was the explicit promises by the current government (promises that have been echoing in their speeches and manifestos since 1997) to remove hereditary peers from the House of Lords. This assembly possesses plenty of real, non-ceremonial power and influence, yet there are still over 90 members of the legislature whose position is predicated on who their dad was.

And this is a nation that feels comfortable exporting democracy at the barrel of a gun?

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Jan 2010

Electing The CamBot

It's time for change... time to elect a scary robot bloke

Official second draft of the new Tory campaign poster

Make your own poster here (via Chicken Yoghurt).

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Jan 2010

The campaign’s started…

All hail our new alien overlords!

Official first draft of the new Tory campaign poster

Make your own poster here (via Chicken Yoghurt).

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