the brilliantly leaping gazelle

My election notes. E-Day + 8

PAIN

 

Happy days are here again.

Not.

Mind you, nowhere near as much as others are going through. Mine will pass.

 

 

My election notes. E-Day + 6

 

R

The news that the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal by a mother and daughter in their legal battle for women from Northern Ireland to receive free abortions on the NHS in England is deeply troubling. Because not only highlights the discrepancy between the health choices available to women in various parts of Britain, not only does it send out the message that women’s bodies are only their own if they can afford to have them so, not only does it impose religious ‘beliefs’ on those that may have none and not only indicate that the power and the reach of the state negates any notion of the personal. That’s troubling enough for any libertarian.

But more troubling is the fact that the Conservative party considers the D.U.P a suitable coalition partner is indicative of the priorities of the Conservative party. Thinking about The Conservatives need to be in power no matter the cost, makes me think of Denis Leary’s joke about cocaine, of how all other matters become subservient in pursuit of it;

That was the worst part about the coke, man, was being in that bathroom with that stranger at the end of the night. Wasn’t it, huh? Talking about shit like solving the world’s problems and the only reason you’re in there is because he has the coke. That should have been a fucking sign, don’t ya think? I mean if Hitler had coke, there’d be Jews in the bathroom going, “I know you didn’t do it. (snort) I like your mustache. (snort) Fucking Himmler. (snort)”

Because I found this on the D.U.P website;

Public debate has focused on the needs of women who are pregnant with a child diagnosed with a severe life limiting condition. The DUP believes that women who find themselves in these most difficult of situations need the best medical and emotional support. The DUP is committed to establishing a perinatal hospice care service or facility in Northern Ireland.

Which sounds fair enough right? I mean who’s going to argue against the proposition that women who find themselves in these most difficult of situations need the best medical and emotional support.’ No-one right? It is one horror I thankfully will never have to undergo, that of giving birth to a baby with no chance of life. But whereas theoretically ‘perinatal hospice service’ is a choice for the parents, whether or not to continue with a pregnancy that isn’t viable outside of the womb, one that respects the right of the parents to choose, in Northern Ireland the state has decided that all babies should be born, regardless of viability. How is it possible that In the 2nd decade of 21st Century this is allowed to happen? Are we living in the Dark Ages? Because this isn’t an archaic legal throwback to a time best forgotten that has somehow yet to be repealed.

Oh no. A proposal to legalise abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality was defeated in the Northern Ireland Assembly in February by 59 votes to 40. Even worse, an amendment relating to pregnancies which are the result of rape or incest was defeated by an even wider margin.

Not as wide a margin as the one between the D.U.P and the 21st Century!

My election notes. E-Day + 6

EE

 

Yesterday Parliament reconvened, and parliamentarians on all sides were at pains to demonstrate how important it was that there were more women MP’s there now were. And whilst it is A VERY GOOD THING INDEED that our elected representatives are more representative of the population they serve, with 32% of them being women, I do have a couple of issues with it.

Just because an MP happens to be a woman, is that a good thing. I’m not being misogynistic here, but why on earth should an MP’s gender matter? Shouldn’t their values, or principles or convictions matter more than what’s between their legs?

What seems of more importance to me is the both the social background and ethnic diversity of all the MP’s we’ve returned to Westminster. I mean, if a majority of those women went to public school and then to Oxbridge, is that really such a good thing? If the majority of them are white and heterosexual does that reflect 21st Century Britain? How many of them are disabled?

The figures for this parliament, are, bizarrely, not yet publicly available. I write bizarre because in this internet age, when information is meant to be freely and readily available, this information should be available on the respective political parties own websites, pretty much after ebbing elected, if not before it. After all, they are in theory meant to represent us. However according to a report cited by the BBC in

 Almost a third (32%) of MPs in the new House of Commons went to private school, according to an analysis by an education charity.

Of these, almost one in 10 went to Eton, suggests the Sutton Trust study.

Among Conservative MPs, nearly half (48%) were privately educated, the report indicates.

“If Parliament is truly to represent the whole nation, the best people should be able to become MPs, regardless of social background,” said Sutton Trust chief executive Dr Lee Elliot Major.

Only 7% of the UK population have a have a private education, yet those fortunate to have gone to Oxbridge make up a disproportionally large amount of our MP’s (2015 intake) and half of Cabinet posts (2015 intake). Indeed one’s chances of succeeding life increase dramatically if you had a private education. So who exactly are they representative of? Who have been instrumental in helping shape their political opinions? And how large – or small – is the circumference of their social circle? Who is in it? These things matter, much more than simple gender because, as the Guardian reports

Just one in 100 members of the UK public was educated at Oxbridge, however graduates from those two universities make up 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet posts, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomatics, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs and 33% of BBC executives.

Don’t get me wrong, electing more women Map’s is great and everything, but should it not be seen as a sign of how progressive we are as society, but instead as sign of we are focusing on the wrong thing!

My election notes. E-Day + 5

WW

The one thing – the only thing in fact – that has impressed me about the Conservative party since it’s disastrous election campaign, and that has been it’s staggeringly public display of loyalty to someone no-one would blame them for wishing her ill.

She had a majority in parliament before the election. Like a man with a small car, it embarrassed her but it worked. But she wanted something bigger, something more impressive that she could impress her neighbours with. She made up all manner of excuses to justify her getting one. But unfortunately she discovered when she had sold her perfectly fine but modest car that she had had a poor credit score and had to settle for a worse car. And because her credit score was so low, she eventually was forced to borrow money from the only people who would lend her money.

Her friends look at the new car. They are not impressed, but they are aware that some gossipy blabbermouths are hanging around, making no secret of wanting to hear what they have to say. So they water down their true feelings, aware that what they do say will soon enough be distorted and twisted by other gossip mongers who didn’t have much love for their friend in the first place.

The paintwork and the upholstery has seen better days yes, but mechanically it’s sound and that’s what ultimately matters. It may not have all of the modern facilities, the fancy bells and whistles one takes for granted when gets a new car, yes, but the thing to do is to focus less on what it doesn’t have, and more on what it does. They admit that she didn’t get the greatest deal, but the car dealer wasn’t fully aware of all the facts and so she got the best possible deal she could. They say all this and more, repeatedly for the benefit of the earwiggers.

Everyone knows she’s got a long and difficult journey in this car ahead of her, made all the more difficult by the fact that the friend she borrowed the money from will not only be joining her, but map reading as well.

Privately her friends agree to club together and start saving for a new car. And they start discussing the possibility of their friend becoming an ex-friend while they’re at it.

My election notes. E-Day + 4

LH

The trapped nerve in my left arm which prevented me from writing a couple of blogs before the election, is forcibly making itself known to me again today, with the result that typing this sends shooting pains down my arm.

But my almost pathological need to share my thoughts is greater than the pain hence some short observations.

Teresa May reminds me of Oliver Hardy. It was reported earlier by the BBC that

Theresa May has apologised to Tory MPs for the party’s election performance, telling them “I got us into this mess I’ll get us out of it.”

Although thinking about it Hardy would accuse Laurel of getting him into “Another fine mess!”.  And although she has landed us in a mess, certainly, fine however it is far from.

Actually it has just occurred to me who she better reminds me of. Charlie Croaker. Who? The loveable criminal played by Michael Caine in ‘The Italian Job’. Who, when his gang of chancer’s attempts to flee Europe with the gold after the robbery, the coach they’re escaping on slides on a narrow mountain road, resulting in the back of the bus is left teetering over a cliff and the gold slides towards the rear doors. As Croker attempts to reach the gold, it slips further. The film finishes on a literal cliffhanger with Croker announcing he has a “great idea”.

 

Let’s hope she has.

 

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Appointing Michael Gove as the Environment Minister is rather like appointing Katie Price as a marriage guidance counsellor, because when he was Education Minster, he tried to get the teaching of climate change taken off the National Curriculum!

 

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It’s ironic that the D.U.P’s Arlene Foster believes in devolution because she doesn’t believe in evolution!

My election notes. E-Day +3

TM

 

I’ll admit it, she nearly has me fooled, her impression of a leader who was courageous and unafraid. All of her campaign – almost presidential – went to great lengths to draw an unflattering comparison between the supposed weaknesses of Jeremy Corbyn against the steely determination of Teresa May. It was only when it was actually tested however, that we saw her for what she really is.

She reminds me of second rate criminal in a third rate Hollywood film, who even when the cops confront her with overwhelming evidence of her crimes and arrest her, refuses to accept the new reality in which she funds herself and in her deluded state, makes plans on that basis. In what possible universe does Teresa May think her repeated claims of ‘strong and stable’ leadership is anything other than as questionable as it is illusory?

It is almost as laughable as her agreement ‘in principle’ to enter into a deal with the D.U.P. Principled? She has shown herself to have none – well one, if you consider clinging on to power like a chubnut a principle – whilst the D.U.P have principles certainly, just some distasteful ones. So if Mays campaign thought it was fair enough to repeatedly attempt to smear Corbyn with the utterly fallacious claim that he was a terrorist sympathiser, what are we to make of her doing a deal ‘in principle’ with a hard-line political party that has links to one of Northern Irelands former loyalist paramilitary groups?

What about her claim that because Corbyn met Gerry Adams that he was in some way unfit to be Prime Minister? This rather continently overlooks the rather uncomfortable historical fact that years earlier, the British government was holding ‘back channel’ talks with the I.R.A. that helped bring about the Good Friday agreement. Indeed her even countenancing entering into talks with the D.U.P, let alone sending her Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, to discuss what the terms might be not only underline how manifestly unsuitable she is to conduct any Brexit negotiations – possibly being beholden to the D.U.P and the E.U knowing it. But it also demonstrates her willingness to put at risk the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence How this is so – and what might happen if it does is explained with greater insight than me here.

Teresa May is to ‘strong and stable leadership’ what prayer is to, well anything really. As she’ll find out when an ‘in principle’ agreement with extreme god botherers falls apart. In fact by the time you read this, it might have fallen apart already!

My election notes. E-Day + 2

CT

Teresa May, on the campaign trail, issued dire warnings about a supposed ‘coaltion of chaos’ – one that existed only in her head – if the electorate didn’t vote in the Conservatives with a large enough majority. According to the Daily Telegraph:

Britain will be run by a “coalition of chaos” if voters are tempted by a plan by Nicola Sturgeon for a “progressive alliance” of SNP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Theresa May  has warned.

Funnily enough, David Cameron used the same schtick in 2015. As the BBC reported at the time:

Tory leader David Cameron has urged the electorate in Scotland not to vote for the Labour/SNP “coalition of chaos”.

“You have a weak Labour Party, who want more spending, more borrowing, more debt and more taxes.

“And the people who will prop them up, the SNP – who want even more spending, more borrowing, more debt and more taxes.

“Together, they pose a clear threat to the future of our United Kingdom. A coalition of chaos.”

The coalition of chaos is now an unfortunate political reality. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious, that for years the Conservative party has been trying to rebrand itself as more inclusive, more tolerant and more representative of the people it wanted to vote for them; only to enter into a coalition with the D.U.P, the very opposite of tolerant and inclusive.

I presume if your reading this, you’ll already be familiar with the reasons why the D.U.P are the political equivalent of Bernard Manning so I won’t tell you what you already know.

But really what has the election changed? Does this feel like ‘strong and stable leadership’ to anyone? Or just weak and feeble naked political opportunism? They say that times of crisis can bring out the best in people. If this is the best Teresa May has got, then we’re well sarded!

My election notes. E-Day + 1

LF

I posted yesterday that I would be live-blogging my reactions to the general election results and I did – and thankfully, I couldn’t. To save power on my computer, I turned off Safari and wrote down my thoughts, but when I tried to turn Safari on to upload them at 06.17 this morning, I got the spinning wheel of doom.

In much the same way as Teresa Mays gamble to call an election hasn’t paid off, neither did mine. Which was just as well for me, given how much my writing was as champagne-tastic as I was.

Here are a couple of witterings;

 02.36 – Zoe Williams, her off the Guardian, was just on ITV, which it pains me to write, is providing far superior election coverage than the BBC. Anyway Zoe is damning Corbyn with faint praise. Much like the Guardian, really.

02.47: HOORAY! Nick – I’m Sorry, I’m So So Sorry – Clegg has lost his seat. Good, very very good.

And this,

03.20 – teresa may has retained her seat. Giving her acceptance speech, she has the rather embarrassed look of someone who thinks everyone else in the lift suspects her letting off a really smelly fart.

04.10 – Chuka Umuna, has given a likewarm at best endiresemnt of Cornyn. That would be the guy who stood for the Labour leadership, only to withdraw, citing media intrusion into his private life. What in the name of sanity did he expect? No media interest in a possible leader of the opposition?

Which sort of typified the reaction of people within the Parliamentary Labour Party. MP’s who were quite happy to heap scorn on Corbyns avowedly left-wing manifesto as being much too much of a throwback to traditional Labour values, were astounded at the support the public gave it. They sought to credit everyone except Jeremy Corbyn. Just imagine if he took a leaf out of Harold Saxon’s book?

 

 

04.53 – My partner just made a good point. She doubts the unity of Labour MP’s during the election – staying on message, not embarrassing the leadership, etc – will last very long.

05.08 – this has been my best election night EVER. With the Blair landslide in ’97 there was always an element of pessimism; inasmuch as the then Labour party was Conservative-lite in not being too Labour. But this? A Labour party that has rediscovered itself meaning that voters have rediscovered Labour.

But I woke up to the news that Teresa May is clinging on to power with help of the DUP. She is like a wounded animal, crawling away from the hunters, refusing to accept the inevitable, forlornly hoping against hope that death isn’t going visit her soon.

Paul Johnson, the deputy editor of the Guardian has tweeted that;

DUP

-Climate deniers

-Anti abortion

-Anti LGBT rights

-Pro Brexit.

And May says will govern for all nation.

If a deal is struck, it’s one that has longevity written all over it and doesn’t smell of naked political opportinism?

In what possible universe does she even think she has an endorsement from the public? Is she as stubborn as she is deluded? Only 68.7% of people bothered to vote, so what was it that the remaining 32.3% were doing? What was both so urgent and time consuming, eh? Not voting is in itself a de facto vote, as it can have unforeseen consequences. And of those that did vote only 42.4% voted for her.

I’ll stop now, methinks, as I’m still a bit champagne-tastic as my thoughts – muddled and not fully formed as they are – amply demonstate

My election notes. E-Day!

vr2

As ‘The The’ would have it;

This is the day, your life will surely change
This is the day, when things fall into place

 

Because this indeed is the day. Never before in my generation has the choice facing the electorate been starker. The choice is between two competing visions of how we think our society should be structured. And there is a choice once again, for Labour under Corbyn has regained what it lost under Blair.

For me it’s about fundamental values.

For me, it’s easy.

For me, it’s Labour.

 

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And being the sadsack I am, I’ll be staying up to watch the results come in on the BBC.

I mean, who watches ITV?

Anyway, I’ll be drinking champagne whilst eating pickled onion Monster Munch and intermittently blogging. As I get progressively more champagne-tastic, so my spelling will get worse.

I just hope it isn’t 1992 all over again….

 

My election notes. E-Day -1

The news yesterday that Teresa May would, if elected,

 Change human rights laws if they “get in the way” of tackling terror suspects.

She said she wants to do more to restrict the freedom of those posing a threat and to deport foreign suspects.

The UK could seek opt-outs from the European Convention on Human Rights, which it has abided by since 1953

This makes me think if this blog I wrote three years ago about privacy; specifically it focused on the dichotomy between why politicians claim they are needed, under what circumstances they’ll be used and on whom and the practical implementation of them. Politicians are not in the habit of increasing our civil liberties.

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I’d always supposed Saudi Arabia to be joyless kind of place. But it seems I was wrong! The ruling elite there in fact do posses a keen sense of irony. Who knew? It wasn’t so much that Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the UN women’s rights committee, meaning that it is now one of 45 countries sitting on a panel

promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women

That was laughably absurd, rather like putting a fox in charge of security for a chicken coop. But it was their cutting of diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday because Qatar that really put the matter beyond doubt. The BBC reported that;

Broadly, two key factors drove Monday’s decision: Qatar’s ties to Islamist groups, and to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

Wealthy individuals in Qatar are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria – Qatar says this is not the case.

Mmm. Would that be the same Saudi Arabia which it is claimed “remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban…and other terrorist groups” according to the US government? Or the same Saudi Arabia which has funded thousands of madras’s throughout the Middle East – schools that promote the kind of extremist version of Islam that leads to terrorist atrocities?  

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One of the things that baffled me the most at the start of this election campaign was the gap between the parties in the polls. Now I’ve been very dismissive of the polls, but all of them showed that Conservatives had a seemingly unassailable lead. One or two might be wrong, but all of them? The media were complicit in this, especially the print media, in depicting Jeremy Corbyn as a nice enough chap, but nowhere near competent enough to lead our country. And I’m thinking, ‘We’ve had years of austerity, yet wealth inequality is greater than it has been, public services are facing a funding shortfall yet tax avoidance, evasion, call it what you will is rampant, tax cuts for the rich are funded by cuts to disabled peoples benefits. If this were France, there would’ve been riots. Proper riots, not the looting of a few years ago. How in the name of sanity aren’t Labour streets ahead?’

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The first time Moby had bothered my ears was with the superb ‘Go’. It was magnificent! For me, it’s a sonic time machine that immediately takes me back to dancing like a maddo, in some dingy club with sweat dripping off the ceiling. The next time Moby bothered my ears was with the release of his ‘Everything is Wrong’ album. This was an altogether different proposition. Certainly it was danceable – the singles ‘Feeling So Real’ and ‘Everytime You Touch Me’ prove that, especially the remixes – but it was aimed more at the weekend raver, people who drank alcohol when clubbing. Next I knew was ‘Play’ an album that was so chart friendly, so far removed from ‘Go’, that every single track on the album was licensed for use in commercials. He’d literally sold out.

The Liberal Democrats are the same. For decades they managed to somehow pull the unenviable political trick of being in the political wilderness with no prospect of being elected into government, whilst simultaneously having worthily earnest manfesto’s, that people liked, just not enough people liked them. One might say that one begat the other. So in the 2015 election, the electorate voted them into a coalition with the Conservatives.

Soon it became all too apparent that they were just as venal and self-serving as the public imagines politicians to be. They had sold out in the same way I thought Moby had.

 

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This afternoon (last Thursday) typified the faults inherent the present first past the post system of electing a government. I had rather naively put up in a window a poster advertising my support of the Labour party but someone else in the house saw it, pointed out that they were going to vote Liberal Democrat and that some discussion might be needed on the matter. My initial reaction was best, I thought, kept to myself. But then I reflected on the fact that we live in a safe Labour seat -( a 26,000 majority in 2010) – and therefore any votes for any other party are basically wasted. As I have noted before in the 2015 election the Conservatives got 36.1 per cent of the vote which means that more people voted against them than voted for them.

The situation could have been changed in 2011, when a Liberal Democrat manifesto promise became a reality upon entering into a coalition government with the Conservatives. They proposed a referendum on proportional representation – basically every vote counts and the overall total of votes is translated into seats in parliament; essentially every vote counts. However, the Conservatives, sensing a sudden reversal in their electoral chances, chose a complicated method of proportional representation to put to the public vote. Their friends in the press did the rest. A vote for change to the electoral system was a vote for chaos, it was suggested. They also decided for added apathy to have it on the same day as local elections, notorious for their low turn out and those that did turn out to vote, voted against any change.

This situation reminds me of the recent French elections. Whilst Macron might well have got 66% of eligible votes in the second round,

The dust is slowly settling and the numbers are being tallied. While the standout figure suggests a big win for Emmanuel Macron, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the second round.

The following results are based on 99.99 percent of the votes being counted, and come from the interior ministry.

Macron gets 66 percent of the vote

Emmanuel Macron won 66.1 percent of the votes, leaving Marine Le Pen with 33.9 percent. That was a much bigger gap than the last polls suggested which had Macron at 62 percent.

Closer examination reveals that;

According to official results, the abstention rate stood at 25.38 percent – the highest since the presidential election in 1969.

That means some 12 million voters did not vote in the election, three million more abstainers than in 2012, when the turnout was 80 percent.

Among the abstainers it was the young (34%) and the unemployed (35%) who had the highest abstention figures.

Four million cast blank votes

The interior ministry reported a record number of blank and invalid ballots, accounting for 8.49 percent of all registered voters, compared to two percent in the first round.

So that means four million French voters went to the polls to cast a blank vote. That’s two million more than in 2012.

So adding the blanks to the abstentions, a third of French voters declined to choose between Macron and Le Pen — a record rate in nearly half a century.

In other words out of 47 million voters, some 16 million declined to cast a vote for either candidate. That’s compared to 11 million in 2012.

“That would make a total of one French person out of three who decided not to choose between the two candidates. It’s really a lot for a presidential election,” Anne Jadot, political science professor at the University of Lorraine, told AFP.

So if we look at the votes overall Marine Le Pen actually finished in third place on Sunday, behind Macron and abstentions/blank votes.

Macron picked up 43.6 percent of the vote (20.7 million votes), ahead of the 34 percent (16 million votes) who did not vote for either candidate and Marine Le Pen who won 22 percent (10.6 million votes) of the vote.

 

The French characterise this as a form of civic disobedience; inasmuch as they go to the ballot box but they don’t vote for any candidate and they’ve registered their disapproval.

If only there was a similar attitude in the British electorate. But then, when we were given the chance to vote for a change we didn’t take it. We are stuck with the present system – whereby more people voted against this government than voted for it – so my housemate might as well flush his vote down the toilet for all the good it will do.

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In the Conservative manifesto it says;

We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.

  • to restore the contract between the generations that provides security for older people while being fair to the young; and

That would be the coffin dodgers who voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to live with the consequences for long? Where was their respect for any social contract?

Rousseau would be turning in his grave.

And it claims;

We will need to take sometimes difficult decisions that ask more of one generation in order to help another.

Unless, of course we put something in the manifesto that’s’ unpopular with press, in which case we’ll fold like an envelope.

 

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One of the things that has really annoyed me about the election is how often the electorate have made me want to smash my radio against a wall. It happens every time I listen to ‘Any Answers’ on Radio 4, the chance for listeners to air their reaction to the previous nights ‘Any Questions’. The last time it happened I was in my car, so smashing the radio would’ve been dangerous. It’s when people say things along the lines of they used to vote Labour for years, then they voted UKIP but now they’re voting Conservative. How on earth did they manage that that ideological journey? Have these people no firm unshakeable beliefs, no core values, and no fundamental principles?