When Father Papered the Parlour

•25 September, 2017 • 1 Comment

So it turns out that my triumphant return to blogging has happened as my life has started to settle down. Sort of. Most of my things are in storage and I’m on the dole again, but at least I’m starting to make headway. The point really is that the excitement has finished, although much of that I wouldn’t have been willing to air on here anyway.

My new landlord is the bassist in my band, Ed. When a situation blew up last year that threatened the roof over my head, he and his wife, Holly (who I’ve actually known for longer than I’ve known Ed) offered to put me up as a lodger. Regardless of the aforementioned situation, I was happy to take Ed and Holly up on their offer as living with my mother again after seven years of independence was putting something of a strain on me. It was meant to be a leisurely move, but the blow up ended up putting a deadline on proceedings. Regardless, we tried to get my room redecorated before I moved into it.

The old décor was dun anaglypta paper mismatched with some other pattern that clearly had one roll from a different batch. I should have just opted to live with it. As soon as we started stripping the paper we ran into problems. It turned out that the walls had not been finished properly when the room had been reconstructed (a couple of walls had been moved). This made us call a halt to our stripping job while Ed and I reassessed how we were going to proceed. And then the shit hit the fan meaning that I had to move in sharpish. So I found myself in the spare room with some of my junk in the attic and some in the half-stripped second bedroom.

It’s taken me a while to settle down mentally, but work has started again on the room. And it’s been a further tale of woe. It turns out that the massive wardrobe in the end by the door is unmoveable. And not only that, the room has already been redecorated with it in situ. The dun wallpaper has been haphazardly papered around it. So Ed and I have ended up stripping the paper to a point either side of the wardrobe with the intention of finding the best pattern match for the anaglypta that we can. I was going to paint anyway, so at least we don’t have to match the horrible colour. Nevertheless, it’s a running theme that every time we try to do something, we find another bodge job behind the veneer to make life inconvenient. The walls in this room have three different finishes under two layers of wallpaper, and badly-filled holes left, right and centre that we can’t even identify what was screwed into some of them. My current will to get things done will doubtlessly be tempered by the dread of the next surprise.

Advertisements

A Deep Breath

•18 September, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I had intended to get back into the swing of blogging this summer, but after my last few posts a situation that had been ongoing for nigh on two years came to a head and made significant demands on my time and attention. Theoretically, this situation has ended and I can get on with my life, but there is still some aftermath to deal with. I won’t go into any more detail than that, but I do like my comeback posts to have some sense of continuity about them, so I feel I should give you some kind of a slice of my life before I get on with weekly posts again.

Right now, I’m still depressed. My mental health situation is probably chronic, and although there are always triggers that exacerbate or ameliorate my state of mind, the fact of the matter is that my black patches have a tendency to be as predictable as British weather. I’m getting things done and being proactive and productive, but I recognise that deep down I’m in pretty bad shape. There’s nothing to be done, of course (and offerers of unsolicited advice will get bitten), so all I can do is ride it out until the next sunny spell.

Things are such for me at the moment that I don’t expect the dark spell to be too prolonged: life has been good to me recently. I now live with friends, and although I haven’t developed a proper routine in this new home I’m inching towards settling properly every day. I was lucky enough to be given a job that allowed me to re-set my finances just when I thought I was about to struggle, and despite the surprise retirement of our rhythm guitarist, Harlequin’s Kiss is still proving itself as a rock ’n’ roll tour de force with yet another line-up change.

I’ve also been lucky enough to see the better side of life over the last couple of months. Some of my oldest and dearest friends married in August (congratulations once again to Jon, Sarah, Ralph and Gemma!) and being there with them was a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with some parts of myself I was beginning to forget I had. It’s all a bit complicated and close-to-the-bone for a public blog where I limit myself to 500 words, but the best way I can put it is that I’m starting to feel like I’ve come home.

So here I am, back at my hobby of 13 years. There are so many things I’d have liked to have said over the last few months. In fact, my frustration at the sheer volume of them has probably put my return back by a few weeks, overwhelmed by where to start. But the time to say some of those things really has passed in a few cases. Think of this post as my deep breath before boring you all to death with the minutiae of my life again.

Morning After Thoughts

•9 June, 2017 • 1 Comment

Seeing as my body has decided that sleep is for the weak tonight, you may as well have my two pennyworth.

There are 4 seats left to call, and the Conservatives don’t have enough seats for a majority. The Liberal Democrats flatly rejected any consideration of a coalition deal in the middle of the night before they even had a seat declare for them, and I doubt they will renege on that – their core voters already have trust issues. Thus the news outlets are suggesting a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.

If I’m honest, I pay so little attention to Irish politics that I know nothing of the DUP’s agenda. George Osborne, for what it’s worth, was saying on ITV a little earlier that the lack of a mandate for the Conservatives this time has scuttled ideas of a hard Brexit. If that’s true, then the return of Scottish Conservatives to Westminster could mean that the exit negotiations will now lean more towards a closer post-Brexit relationship with Europe than was being envisaged. Personally, I hope so, but we don’t even know who the Prime Minister is yet…

As things stand, Theresa May has met with the Conservative hierarchy then apparently sneaked into Downing Street by the back door. (Well, she’s supposed to be in Downing Street but hasn’t gone in the front door, so it’s either that or a secret meeting elsewhere.) We’ve been told that an announcement is due at 10 a.m., but it could happen sooner.

Bear in mind that, untenable as May’s position seems right now, it’s also untenable for her to resign. Negotiations with Europe are supposed to begin in 11 days. This will not be time for the Conservatives to vote for a new leader. This is probably being considered in a meeting even as I type. Nothing about this election has been predictable, so expect the unexpected both in terms of premiership and the make-up of the ruling bloc.

Speaking of surprises, I’d just like to note some things that made me wide-eyed after I put the news back on.

Firstly: Scottish Conservatives?! Apparently this is the year for finding extinct species. I knew that the Scottish Conservatives had gained some ground in Holyrood in recent years, but I never expected this. I sincerely hope that they are a force for good in Westminster.

Secondly: Some really tight races. I’m surprised that Richmond chose Zac Goldsmith by 45 votes, especially ousting a sitting Liberal Democrat at a time when they have otherwise seen a resurgence. The loss of Nick Clegg hasn’t surprised me, though, what with Sheffield Hallam standing on a student vote that the Lib Dems don’t really have any more.

Thirdly: The turnout. Something around 69%. The figures aren’t in yet, but the news media are speculating that there’s been a big youth turnout. I’d say that the sudden Labour swing in central Sheffield (which has never had a Labour MP before, despite the rest of the city being staunchly red) bears this speculation out.

So what does it all mean? Well opinion polls have been suggesting that the main parties moving to their extremes hasn’t been popular. The mood of the country is centrist. (Actually, I’d say that the Labour manifesto was less far from the centre than the Conservative one, but they have the more extreme leader.) This may explain the extra five Lib Dem seats in the face of other losses.

Jeremy Corbyn has been vindicated, and his MPs are starting to get behind him despite their disagreements. This could bode well for the party in five years, so long as they can still galvanise the young voters out of their natural apathy.

The Conservative narrative has now changed on Brexit, but I hope it occurs to some of the movers and shakers that austerity may have also been a motivator of the strong Labour vote. The vote clearly went the way it did because Labour campaigned holistically.

Do I want to make a prediction? Frankly, no. The Conservatives can’t afford for May to go, but she is to weak to keep governing. It really is 50/50. As for a coalition agreement, while the pundits are predicting a working deal with the DUP rather than a full coalition, there are too many variables for me to want to put money on that. There could yet be a surprise if someone genuinely believes they have enough to gain.

Voting for Real Change

•8 June, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In my last few election posts I haven’t really made any firm commitments. So I suppose if I’m going to write over four thousand words of agitation, I really ought to reach a conclusion.

Simply put, I believe in the system we’ve got. We return individual candidates to represent us, and it is a collective foolishness that this country focusses on the leaders above the candidates that they are actually voting for. It means that “safe seats” exist, and that cronies with business backing remain in power. This is the case among Labour as well as the Conservatives. If we backed local candidates who actually worked as public servants, the political landscape would constantly shift. For reasons I’ve written about elsewhere, I don’t believe that changing the system to reflect voter ignorance (i.e. moving to a form of proportional representation) is the way forward. What we need to do, now that the drive for the Alternative Vote has system failed, is learn to focus on our local candidates, because that is the only way we’ll see a change in the behaviour of parliamentarians.

Nevertheless, sometimes a party’s policies or attitude are so abhorrent that you can’t necessarily vote for a good candidate because you’re not sure that they’ll oppose bad policy. I live in a Conservative safe seat. My MP serves the community’s best interests well. But given that I live in an affluent area, his constituents’ interests are often traditional Conservative interests. Thus he will be unlikely to vote against unnecessary and draconian security measures, or the selling of NHS assets, or austerity budgets.

This means that I will have to look closely at the other candidates and make a choice for my local area.

And you should, too. Ballot-spoiling is the choice of people too lazy to research. They’re not happy with current politics, but don’t understand the system well enough to make a useful vote. Ballot-spoiling changes nothing, and if the non-voters and ballot-spoilers just took fifteen minutes out to just see who their candidates are, many could swing their constituencies to a party that otherwise didn’t stand a chance.

The only way to change the system is to vote for SOMEBODY. The right somebody. And you will achieve more by backing an honourable loser than by throwing away your vote.

(Practising what I preached, I had another look at my local candidates after I first scheduled this post, and am now galvanised to vote for a someone I had previously written off. So there you go.)

Britain on Friday Morning

•7 June, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday I mentioned that I think the success of Labour’s campaign may turn out to be a bad thing, and I said I’d discuss that today. One of the many things I hate about the Labour Party has turned into a successful strategy for them this time around, and that aspect of them is this: they perpetuate a two-party system. Their political narrative is that there are only two parties – The Tories and Labour. Members and voters for any other party are disaffected Labour supporters in their eyes. You cannot be allowed to be a member of the Labour Party if you have ever supported their stated aims by doing anything other than direct campaigning for Labour, or if you have ever breathed a word of support for another party. But all left-leaning parties are naturally Labour allies and should fall by the wayside to let Labour defeat the Evil Tories.

I detest this attitude from both the party hierarchy and their grass roots. I detest it even more from those that deserted the Liberal Democrats across this decade for “getting into bed with the Tories”. I detest this attitude from Caroline Lucas, who is supposed to be co-leading her own, separate party. It means that nobody ever considers policy, or their representative in Parliament. They either vote for or against the Tories, and “against the Tories” means a vote for Labour. Because if coalitions are to be built, they must be built to get the Tories out of power. Not to find common ground, you understand – simply to get or keep the Tories out. And Labour must naturally be the leading party in such a coalition because that is the divinely ordained Natural Order of Things.

This produces an arrogance that makes the Labour Party quite bad at forming coalitions. It meant that when the Liberal Democrats became king-makers in 2010, Labour were offering “miserable little compromises” as Nick Clegg put it, while the Conservatives were negotiating properly for government.

Normally, I have a natural affinity for the Greens. But Natalie Bennett’s leadership showed that Caroline Lucas is sitting in Parliament as the party’s only competent member. And even her naïvety is starting to show. The Greens have stepped down or not selected candidates in places where Labour might oust a Conservative MP. Lucas and the party’s social media have been full of a “Tories Out” message that works directly with Labour’s two party, “us and them” narrative. Unfortunately, this means that the Greens have forfeited their identity. Lucas, or any other Green MP if one ever exists, will not get a seat at the top table. Labour are too arrogant to make a deal with the larger parties, and Green willingness to make a deal for the sake of a rainbow anti-tory coalition where Labour calls all the shots positions Lucas as a Labour shill.

The reason that Labour not being shaken up is a bad thing right now, even in the face of the Conservatives making themselves truly appalling, is their record in opposition under Corbyn so far. The Conservatives have a weak majority, meaning that legislation can be defeated by a back-bench rebellion. But Labour, rather than standing firm in opposition with the Scottish National Party and arguing well in Parliament to try to gain some moral Conservative support, have abstained or actively supported the Conservative position in the party’s best interests rather than the interests of their policy. On two occasions, the tensions between Corbyn’s position and the parliamentary party’s position has resulted in meetings before debates where the whip has vanished or made a last-minute U-turn after strenuous negotiation. As I pointed out in my last article, this will continue even if Labour make significant gains.

And all this makes the fact that the left-leaning public have bought the Labour two-party narrative all the more galling. Scotland voted to remain in the EU, on the whole. And the UK picture put 48% in support of remaining. Right now, with a Eurosceptic Labour leader of a fractious party, Labour will not create firm opposition to a hard Brexit. If Remainers voted Liberal Democrat en masse, we may have stood a chance of an opposition fighting against unnecessary hard breaks as we leave through Lib-Dem and SNP joint opposition. Instead, we’re likely to get an enlarged, but still useless, Labour opposition.

The only hope I have otherwise hangs on two factors. Firstly, Labour supporters have historically been bad at coming out and actually voting. Secondly, the big upsurge in youth vote registrations and Corbyn rally attendances does not mean that said youths will be bothered to actually get their arses to the polling stations. I say this because social media Labour supporters think they’ve won the argument already and their bubbles will confirm that – this may create complacency.

Certainly, I don’t think the Scots are ready to vote Labour again, so the current swing in the polls is unlikely to return a Labour majority. But I can see one of three things happening.

It All Stays the Same

The Conservatives still keep their small majority, give or take. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen, as the Bastards are willing to hold the party as a whole to ransom in Parliament. May and the Cabinet would have to, as they do already, constantly give them sops. This will be very bad during Brexit negotiations, and will make for other hard-line ideological policies that will pass because of the whip.

Significantly Increased Conservative Majority

The polls say this is unlikely, but polls haven’t been good predictors over the past three years. It’s May’s ideal scenario as a flood of younger, more centrist Conservative MPs will give her a free hand. Unfortunately, what she would do with that free hand is looking more and more horrifying in the light of the poor solutions she has suggested to recent security problems.

A Hung Parliament

Labour are unlikely to make successful coalition negotiations with the SNP. I say this because the ScotsNats are unlikely to stand for Labour’s usual “It’s us or the Tories” arrogance. And given how against their own leader they are and will continue to be, I don’t see how Labour could survive a coalition with the SNP (or anyone) for very long. If Labour fail to form a government, a Conservative minority government might limp on. But I can see any hung Parliament triggering a coup within the Conservatives even if May doesn’t resign. The SNP might be able to do a coalition deal with a more left-leaning Conservative leader, but it would take Labour making a true pig’s ear of negotiations before this could happen. And whilst the negotiations drag on and we’re technically lacking a government while trying to negotiate our exit from Europe, the Pound will tank.

You would be right to conclude that I don’t like the look of any of this. And if you’re really hanging on with bated breath for my advice before casting your vote, I promise you a conclusion at 6 tomorrow morning.

(Spoiler alert: I already told it to a commentator on my last post, and I made the case for it in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum last year.)

Nota bene: I will be modding the comments on wordpress and facebook heavily. The rules are here. I will delete comments ruthlessly.

Manifesto Sunshine’s Got the Blues

•7 June, 2017 • 2 Comments

As much as I like to apply neutral analysis when I get political on this blog, there is one fact of my politics that I cannot escape: I hate the Labour Party. I don’t wish to dwell on this for too long in this post because I have other things to talk about, but you may as well view this as a disclaimer.

The reasons I hate the Labour Party are manifold, but the thing about them that really sticks in my craw is how they play utterly self-serving politics, all the while justifying their behaviour by scapegoating the Conservatives. Basically, the end always justifies the means because they’re counteracting the Evil of the Tories. The long and short of it is that in the most recent years, Milliband’s Labour threw electoral reform that they supported in reality under a bus to try to force a snap election (this really was why they turned against their own policy and backed the “No” vote on the AV referendum in 2011 – they were hoping that the resulting bad blood between the coalition parties would cause a collapse in the government), and they are continuing to show their colours now by breaking ranks over the attempt to drop Jeremy Hunt out of Parliament*. This second point alone is all the proof you need that Corbyn’s leadership hasn’t signalled a change in the behaviour of the party as a whole, and that any claim they have to be pro-NHS is a lie.

Rant over. On to the proper analysis.

Frankly, a big part of the problem Labour has is the snap election. I’ve said before that Labour need a drubbing in the polls so they can sort out their identity crisis. I stand by that. The problem with a snap election is that the short time scale between the announcement and the poll left them with a choice between reforming the parliamentary wing of the party and running a proper campaign. They chose to campaign, and that campaign has been fairly successful. I’ll talk about why this might be a bad thing in my next post. Last fortnight’s Private Eye, however, phrased best how this has left them in a position where even a landslide Labour victory will not cement Corbyn’s ability to function as leader:

“When May called the surprise election, Corbyn wanted to give his supporters the power to ditch Blairite MPs with “trigger ballots” on whether they could stand again. But he has not secured control of Labour’s national exceutive committee (NEC), which said it would be mad to start civil wars in constituency parties just before an election and ruled that every sitting Labour MP should face the electorate… All local Labour parties had put off selection meetings until they knew where they stood [regarding threatened changes to constituency boundaries], so not one had a candidate in place when the election was sprung. Panels consisting of two members of each constituency’s regional board and one member of the NEC therefore imposed candidates on seats that Labour does not hold. As the Labour right dominates the regional offices, Corbynistas got short shrift.” [Private Eye 1444, 19th May – 1st June 2017]

What this means is that, either in opposition or in government, the Labour Party Parliamentary Shit Show will continue. Corbyn is still short of willing manpower for the Shadow Cabinet, meaning that seats are filled from a smaller talent pool even than the remaining party in Westminster. With Blairite candidates in the constituencies this election, any swelling in the Labour party only increases the queue of Bruti in waiting for Corbyn’s Caesar. (So you’ll excuse me if I find today’s Labour rally outside the old Curzon Street ticket office laughable.)

Despite all of this, Labour making the choice to campaign rather than reform in the time available has shown them to be efficient. And the Conservatives to be an even bigger basket case than Labour are at the moment (a comment I wouldn’t have thought I’d be making a month ago).

Momentum have shown themselves to be as efficient as Progress in being the slimy shadow forces of the party, and they have certainly managed to contain Corbyn’s weaknesses, and the perceived failings of the Labour Party as a whole. When you consider that 1970s Labour managed to basically bankrupt the country (IMF involvement, personae non gratae for credit…) and that the 2000s good times were bankrolled by book-fiddling and fire sales (PFI, raiding of the national pension pot, flogging off of the gold reserves…), if Labour want to end austerity, they have to prove that expensive social policies can be properly bankrolled. So somebody has faced the unenviable task of writing a book full of policies that both fit with the Corbyn message and are properly costed. Heck, the Labour policy wonks have even managed to factor in the inevitable exodus of a number of rich people who will try to hold us to economic ransom over tax hikes. Well done, Labour wonks.

They’ve certainly done better than the Conservatives, who have already been forced into a U-turn over care funding (apparently means-testing is monstrous when they do it, but fair when Labour does. Hands up who’s surprised…). It doubtlessly doesn’t help that May has appointed a competent chancellor only to disagree with him at every turn (and refuse to confirm that said chancellor will still be in a job if she’s returned to power) and that there have been serious disagreements between the policy makers behind the manifesto (as reported in a recent edition of the Sunday Times. I’d link the article, but it’s behind a paywall…).

For that matter, the Conservative campaign has been a joke. May has a talent for getting a good sound bite, then repeating it so often it loses all meaning. Labour cleverly outmanoeuvred the Conservatives by putting Corbyn into the TV debate last minute (meaning that May looked weak for sending an underling, but would still have looked like she was capitulating if she attended herself), and a manifesto centred around continued austerity has only put the top hat on it all. Let’s face it: the point of George Osborne front-loading his cuts seven years ago was that we should be seeing a recovery by now. The economy is recovering, but businesses are underpaying us. If 2017 isn’t the time for us to loosen our belts, the Conservatives’ economics have failed. And Labour have a manifesto that looks startlingly like we can loosen our belts again…

However, there are questions that won’t be answered until it’s too late. Will the Parliamentary Labour Party ultimately back their own manifesto? They’re very quick to defy their whips these days, and have caused some very embarrassing climb-downs for the leadership. Does the leadership even have any idea what the nitty-gritty of the legislation concerned should look like? Manifesto promises always have an element of pie in the sky. And, crucially, will a Labour government really be able to squeeze the juice out of corporations (and individuals) who are using artificial tax structures? The Conservatives have failed miserably, and our regulatory bodies often don’t have the talent, will, or resources to successfully rebut every structure in the courts. Getting the money could be harder and costlier than the party are willing to admit.

* I hate self-referencing in blogs, because it mostly serves to make news blogs look well-sourced when they’re not. But the word-count of this is big enough already with me repeating in detail things I’ve said before.

Nota bene: I will be modding the comments on wordpress and facebook heavily. The rules are here. I will delete comments ruthlessly.

We Need to Talk About Jeremy

•15 May, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Needless to say, I mean Jeremy Corbyn. Although I am going to have something to say about Mr. Hunt later, too. The thing with the leader of the Labour Party is that he has become something of a divisive figure, and this is hardly surprising. There are two schools of thought among Labour Party members and supporters right now. One that the country has turned to the Tories because Labour isn’t Left enough, and the other that Centrism is now the political consensus in the UK and that Labour should, just like under Blair, be offering a kinder centrist vision to the one the Tories are promoting.

Obviously, Ed Milliband’s pipping the leadership on the union vote was an expression of the lurch Left by Labour members, and Corbyn’s landslide victories demonstrate that Labours own Left are galvanised in his support. But does socialist enthusiasm within the party itself really mean Corbyn has public support?

The polls say “no”. But the approval gap between Corbyn and May is being clawed back now that the BBC is obliged to give him air time. And this has been part of the problem. Corbyn has ranted at at least one journalist that the mainstream media hasn’t been reporting his message. But what he fails to grasp is that this is not how a commercial press works. Corbyn has a bad track record of dodging impromptu questions from journalists, and actively avoids being relevant over big issues. Take the referendum campaigns last year. The man who would share a platform with fucking Hezbollah would not share a platform with David Cameron to get his message across concerning Europe. That was childish and stupid, and he’s suffered the consequences.

According to Labour supporters, however, none of this is important. The Tories are doing Bad Things – running the NHS into the ground, battering the poor, killing the disabled, and now apparently bringing back fox hunting. And only the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn (or perhaps regardless of the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn) can possibly provide an alternative to Tory Evil.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Conservatives really are doing bad things right now. But the argument being made right now that a useless leader is better than an evil one is wrong. Gordon Brown had no plan or vision for his leadership, and his gift for crisis management failed him as the economy tanked in the wake of the credit crunch. Cameron was also a useless leader. He let himself be bullied by his own party’s also-rans, losing a referendum that was intended to shut the Bastards up once and for all. He deferred decisions. He let his ministers run their departments without any sense of co-ordination. And he did not have control over his chancellor. Dave was well-meaning, but we got an economic battering and a dismantled welfare state because of George Osborne’s vision. And the 2010 manifesto promise that there would be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS was reneged on because Andrew Lansley had other ideas. This is what weak leadership looks like.

It doesn’t matter how good Jeremy Corbyn’s intentions are. It doesn’t matter how good the Labour manifesto is. Dithering by a leader who would leave a meeting at a crucial stage and thus not get his position asserted in the final stages just so that he could attend a supporters’ rally (yes, really, this was reported in Private Eye a few months ago) could be far more destructive to the country than any act of Tory callousness. Furthermore, Corbyn has demonstrated that he’s a stickler for working hours. Great for those of us under the heel of exploitative capitalist giants; worrying from the prospective leader of a country.

Bear in mind that, whatever claims the Labour Party makes, they are never about the good of the people, the workers, or the country. They are about the good of the Labour Party. Look at corrupt local wings like Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets that have never been taken in hand or expelled. Look at what’s going on in South West Surrey.

That deserves some explanation. South West Surrey is Jeremy Hunt’s constituency. It’s a Conservative safe seat and Hunt got 59% of the vote in 2015. The seat was contested by a GP and health campaigner, Dr. Louise Irvine, at the last election, and she is standing again in this one. Hunt is the single most dangerous thing happening to the NHS right now, and rumour has it that May wanted to replace Hunt, but her preferred minister wouldn’t take the job. Now, a candidate with an absolute vote majority is hard to oust, but many Conservative voters are pro NHS. Any party that really was about the NHS would withdraw their candidate in favour of Dr. Irvine. Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats initially declined to stand candidates, but Labour not only broke ranks on this but also expelled three local party members for supporting Dr. Irvine. (The Lib Dems have now selected a candidate, too.)

I read an article by one Harry Paterson in the aftermath of the 2010 general election. There is no date on it, but it is still relevant to the way the Labour Party, as a mainstream party, thinks of itself. The key quotation is this:

…the choice between Labour and the Tories is the choice between a bullet between the eyes or slow death by suffocation while the murderer weeps over the pillow he’s holding down on your face, all the while weeping that he’s sorry but, just like Thatcher, there is no alternative.

Labour policy, lurching Left, now looks cuddlier. And maybe that policy is truly better. But the bald fact is that whatever social damage is done by bad policy, bad leadership can and will be more destructive. And while Labour supporters cling to the idea that only Labour can oppose the Tories, no matter how much of a shit-show they become, they will hinder anyone else from doing the job.

Nota bene: I will be modding the comments on wordpress and facebook heavily. The rules are here. I will delete comments ruthlessly.