The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sheep Wars!

Edwin Starr sang, 'War - what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.'

He was totally wrong. It is nothing more than left wing lies.


As any fool knows, war solves all manner of problems and can usually be legitimised - after a fashion. Wars are great. They create jobs. They trim the population and when they're over all the corporations get to rebuild the world, creating more jobs and more wealth. Win win. Honestly, who gives a damn about people dying when we can all bask in a glorious post-war future?

I'm not a historian and I know people who will put me right, but my guess is business discovered the magic of war probably after the Second World War and therefore a 'Third World War' is likely to be a little bit different from any that have gone on before, because of the sophistication of business. I say this because I think we're experiencing the preamble. I think the people who actually run the world are feeling a little uneasy because it feels a little like someone has opened Pandora's Box and no one really knows how to close it.


If the world is as uneasy about everything as the press want us to believe, it suggests that no one really knows what is going to happen next week let alone in a year or two. Depending on what you read and where you read it, we're heading for a USA/Russia pact to put an economic squeeze on China. Or it's going to be a USA/China deal to further isolate Russia. Then there's the Middle East - the Saudis have been exposed; Syria is a scrap in the playground compared to Yemen and while the whole of ancient Arabia is also uneasy, Israel is worryingly quiet. Then there's the Far East - there's some seriously worrying shit happening in Australia's backyard and the rest of the world would be stupid to ignore it.

A political map of the world might suggest that there's a nice even split between left, right and centre, but to steal a line from communism critics, some political parties are more equal than others. Which is why any future war can't be political-alliance driven and probably explains why immigration and the freedom of movement of people has become the paramount issue for a lot of people; it isn't about politics it's about control. So for the Powers That Be to start a war they'd have to ensure it is a religious one, even if it isn't the given reason, and that can be the cause of border disputes or acts of aggression due to or because of indigenous ethnics.

Politics is changing so fast politicians are struggling to keep up with it. This is largely down to people accepting they have no control over some things, but could have massive control over other things, which might give them some control over the first thing... Racism is no longer a political thing despite being the biggest and hottest of political potatoes. Racism unites rich and poor with a common (mis)belief and if this happens it allows the government of the time to do things that the poor would otherwise find heinous or even oppose. This was how National Socialism swept to power in a certain country at some point in our history - not the only reason, but a deciding factor and without it perhaps we wouldn't have seen a WW2 quite the way we did.


We have a deep suspicion of Muslims, foreigners and well, anyone really, apart from people we like. Philanthropic people (whether it's their money or their time they give away) are actually few and far between. There isn't that many 'decent' people out there. Recently I watched a US drama series where the main character was arguing against the gentrification of his neighbourhood; as with any well-made TV show, the case was eloquently made, probably with more heart and soul than any real politician and when the question was put to the vote he was the only person opposing it. People care about their communities only after they care about themselves and most will put themselves first, by a long chalk. We have been taught, since the early 1980s, to not 'love thy neighbour' but to consider having to shop him or her at some point to ensure our own lives continue as unmolested as possible.

Ironically, being a 'hand-wringing liberal' is a bad thing now and you kind of realise at this point the world is heading for something not so good...


I'm sure if I had unlimited power I'd be a power mad megalomaniac; perhaps it comes with the job. But I'd rather live in a world where the majority is happy most of the time rather than one where the minority is blissfully happy and the rest of us are left searching, in vain, for the next bit of good fortune. Surely if everyone was happy it would be better than the opposite?

Sheep. Led to believe they have an idyllic existence before one day being driven away to the abattoir to have their throats slit. Actually, they have it a bit better than us...

Is Labour Worth Saving?

One of the other horrible things about 2016 that has largely gone unnoticed has been the lurch to the right by The Guardian's political and editorial staff. It still sometimes feels like a newspaper that is fighting unfairness, but the ruthless and relentless way it has pursued the Labour Party last year, specifically Jeremy Corbyn, has been both disgraceful and has probably cost them a fifth of their readers. So it was no surprise when they almost gleefully focused on the Tory's 16 point lead in pre-Christmas opinion polls, despite the Conservatives being a bunch of headless chickens and how Labour is trailing in every single demographic apart from communist allotment botherers.

We all know opinion polls have margins for errors, but even with the worst one built in Labour is still looking as electable as Nigel 'Bye-election King' Farage, yet still I held onto the belief that polls are not at all reliable and polling companies are usually sponsored by someone with political interest or skewered by the fact that the same bunch of people are polled all the time. Look at the Brexit vote and how everyone who thought they knew were flummoxed by one single factor - no one bothered to ask the man in the street. Or probably more relevant, no one listened when the man in the street spoke.

As people who read this regularly will know, I was not surprised by the EU vote based on my own experiences talking to people while out walking my dogs. Dog walkers are literally all types of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, with myriad beliefs, but these hardy souls have one thing in common - their dogs, therefore before long your dogs' friendships turn into human ones, albeit in the most fleeting of ways. Many of the people I meet regularly stand and chat, chew the fat, while the dogs check each other and the surrounds out, I have no idea what their lives are outside of the field we stand in. Conversations rarely turn to politics, it's like an unwritten law that you don't venture into areas of controversy because... well, you just don't.

During the run up to the EU vote I was pretty much floored by the anti-EU sentiment I heard all over and with a wee bit of hindsight, I am, at times, quite astonished that Remain got 48%.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I did something a little bit unusual with a group of my fellow dog walkers. During a lull in the conversation, I asked them all a question, but I was careful to preface it with enough sensible wording as not to get anyone's back up or turn the conversation defensive. Spurred on by a Guardian headline that suggested Paul Nuttall - the new UKIP fuhrer - was more of a threat to Labour than anything else and coupled with my own blog suggesting that 'The Cult of Jeremy Corbyn' is never going to win anything, I asked my friends this: "I'd be interested in your opinion on something: this isn't about politics, so don't panic; but I read something in the paper this morning that made me realise I really don't know what I think about Jeremy Corbyn and I'd be interested to know what others think about him as a person. Not whether he's electable or anything to do with his politics, just what you think of him."

No one stormed off in a huff or reacted like I'd asked them about their underwear. The replies were disjointed and bitty, because more than one person was often speaking, but I'll break down (and roughly paraphrase) their answers:
J (a former catering manager now a teacher, mid 40s) said: Well, I wouldn't vote for him. He seems like a nice man, but do nice men have a place in politics?
D (a retired widow, 68) said: I think he gets a rough ride in the papers and on TV. He seems like a very decent man. He does seem a bit out of his depth.
T (a retired plasterer, also 68) said: I like him. I've voted Labour all my life, but I don't think he's the right looking man for the job. I'd vote for him but I don't think he'll win.
F (housewife, 50) said: Me and [her husband] have never voted Labour. I've never really paid any attention to him. What I have seen suggests he's being bullied a lot and that makes him look weak.
J2 (housewife, early 40s) said nothing but wrinkled her nose.
J2's mum (retired, late 60s) said: I think he looks shifty, I don't trust him.

Now, a broader generalisation: I'd say J was a Tory voter; D probably Labour but most likely doesn't bother, T is most definitely Labour (he admits it) while F is very blue. I would have thought that J2 and her mum would have been typical Labour voters, however, given the reactions I think they're people who probably don't vote because they have a mistrust of politics (this is borne out by some comments they have made that border on general ignorance), however UKIP probably tempts them.

Over the last few weeks, my friend - A - who is a Momentum member and jokingly refers to himself as 'An Activist', has expressed some deep worries about the Labour Party's complete inactivity in the 'real world'; I argued it's being covert, I might have been deluding myself...

Now the pointless and divisive leadership election is behind us and the Tories are blindly sleepwalking us into some kind of oblivion of our own making, where the hell is the opposition? Despite PMQs just being the modern day equivalent of Punch and Judy, but lacking any real punch or sausages, there are no positive sounds emanating from Labour HQ and personally I believe that's because, like the Tories, they haven't got a clue what to do, so they're just sitting reasonably quietly waiting for the next massive cock-up to surface and hoping that something, eventually, will damage the Tory vote.

I believed for a long time that they were playing the political equivalent of 'give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves', especially given that we're only 18 months into this administration and Treeza isn't showing any signs of calling or forcing another General Election. And, in a reasonable world I think that's not a bad game to play, but I like to think I understand politics (or did, once) and waiting for the right moment to strike and then relentlessly hammering on seems like an interesting weapon. Except... It doesn't appear to be happening. Labour, or specifically the PLP, appears to be a bunch of people thrown together, who are not particularly keen on each other and are grudgingly participating in something they're not really enjoying. Even if the press wasn't preternaturally predisposed to destroying the party anyway, they'd be well within their rights to be questioning where the opposition is.

Hello Labour! Tories slicing and dicing the country up and what are you doing?

I have, on several occasions, since Jeremy Corbyn's first election success, called myself a naive altruist more than a rabid leftie. I have been blinkered by my own refusal to accept everything that is wrong about this new Labour by continually putting forward all of the positives that Jezza's kind of politics could bring. The indications now are that he's neither the messiah nor a very naughty boy.

Last month I told you why Corbyn couldn't be elected. I'm now doubting, especially given the peculiar rise of the right in recent months, that the socialism being advocated by Corbyn and his followers isn't actually that popular amongst most of the voters. Yes, there's lots in their plans that will benefit the country and help bring poor people out of poverty quicker and lots of great ideas on how to make the country money, but as the EU referendum showed: economics isn't the big reason to motivate people to vote. It might once have been, but the media and casual, off-the-cuff public opinion has moved politics into a kind of 'us and them' territory and Corbyn's Labour doesn't even get within a million miles of the isolationism that is growing in rural England.

Tories sway with public opinion like a tree with dodgy foundations - hence why they resemble UKIP more than UKIP at the moment and their rhetoric always makes great use of framing specific words even if they don't mean what they're saying. At the moment they're not as vague as Labour, but you'd need a micrometer to measure it.

History might suggest the worst legacy of Tony Blair was actually the Spin Doctor, because once the Tories worked it out and then threw money at it they became the emperors of spin. The exception to the rule being Scotland, where pragmatism has always meant more than words.

As I said in November, Corbynistas can point at social media, the internet, mobile messaging and whatever and say they're winning that particular market over; but I'm not actually seeing any evidence of this, with one exception - how well Labour's vote has held up in council bye-elections and some of the parliamentary ones. This suggests, especially the way the press has routinely ignored them, that on the ground Labour are actually doing better than we're being told, but you only have to look at my social media news feeds to see that my bubble of like-minded souls are 99% posting 'look what the bloody Tories have done this time' stuff and very little positive opposition stuff.

Preaching to the converted about how crap it is has no discernible effect on the people who might be persuaded to vote Labour (or at the very least not vote Tory) unless they see the message; there's no point in telling people where to look, they need the message force fed to them, which only the Tories seem capable of achieving.

I've said this before but 90% of my news feeds in June were convinced the vote would be remain. 95% of the people I met on the street were voting leave. I don't need to do the maths to highlight that my bubble lost to the real world by about 4%. The main thing that needs to be understood about this vote was, when you boil it all down, it actually wasn't about party politics but about people politics. A proportion of the population basically stated that they didn't like what was on offer. The Tories saw this and Cameron was ushered out faster than the norovirus, and Treeza was seen as the unifying face by the public.

Labour - never as united as the Tories - tried the same thing and it blew up in their faces so badly that I think it's harsh to blame Corbyn for everything; it's his MPs that need to seriously look at themselves but Mr Average won't see it that way. Probably, the wisest move would have been for Corbyn to try and find his logical successor and step aside while endorsing the man best suited to carry on the work he started. Fresh faces at the ballot box does generate some interest in an apathetic populace.

If my straw poll is any indication of how Corbyn's Labour will fair at the next election (given it should be a way off still) then I wonder if he's aware that outside of his massive bubble of support there's a population who either don't care about him or don't really think he's up for the job? If the Labour Party really does care about the country and its people it needs to reinvent itself for the 21st century and start looking at the issues that the people on the street are talking about.

If Marmite subjects like immigration cannot be swept under the carpet, then perhaps it is time the debate was had to really find out just how tolerant our society is at the moment and whether it's worth trying to save?