ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Tories

Gut Feeling On AV.

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Looking through Twitter can often provide an imperfect, but relevant sampling of people’s preoccupations. Scanning through the entries it seems to me that the metropolitan elites are drawn towards voting Yes to AV.

I can’t say that is the case, irrefutably, but that’s the impression I’m getting.

Certainly Norm is pro-AV and the Guardian. The Green Party is pushing for a Yes to AV too.

The Right-wing media are for the status quo, and saying No to AV.

As far as I can see much of this Yes to AV sentiment is based on the notion that there is a malaise within the electoral system and that AV will change that, or at least that is the hope.

I can’t quite see the evidence behind it, or how it will galvanise a largely cynical population to vote for mostly useless politicians with their own agendas. I think that the problem of electoral participation in Britain and many other countries is more deeply seated than the choice of voting system. There is a significant disenchantment with bourgeois politics in general, and voting specifically. I suspect the problem of voter participation has more to do with the social hegemony and class nature of a society than the selection and use of any particular voting system.

My sense is that in Britain there will be a low turnout for this referendum, those particularly keen on AV will vote for it and will make the effort to vote. Those disenchanted won’t bother, many others voting against it as the Yes to AV arguments don’t seem to have won people over. My gut feeling is that it will fail.

I would like to think that the political consequence of a defeat of AV could be the eventual disintegration of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, but we’ll see.

Written by modernityblog

05/05/2011 at 15:23

Thoughts On AV.

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The discussion on the Alternative Vote scheme in Britain is stupefying, even for those with an interest in politics.

Whilst I wouldn’t dream of ever telling my UK readers how to vote, I did come across one gem on AV, by Waterloo Sunset.

I will paraphrase:

1. The vote on AV was a concession to the Lib Dems.

2. They have always been keen on voting reform and will swallow many of the unpalatable measures put forward by the Tories, for the sake of voting reform.

3. Should the Lib Dems not achieve voting reform then it increases the likelihood of the coalition breaking up.

4. If the coalition breaks up then probably there will be an election, and the Tories could lose.

5. So voting no to AV is one way of getting rid of the Lib Dem-Tory coalition.

A fine argument in my view.

Written by modernityblog

03/05/2011 at 14:00

Off With Her Head And Privatisation.

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Many consider privatisation in Western countries to be a failed experiment of the 1980s and 1990s, yet it is the backbone of the current Tory government in Britain.

In their pursuit to sell off the family silver the Tories might well do away with the monarch.

On stamps, that is.

You can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Neanderthal Tories and backwoodsmen as they contemplate the demise of Queen Elizabeth from British stamps, the Guardian has more on that possibility:

“The coalition is looking for a way to ensure that the Queen’s head is not removed from stamps if the Royal Mail is sold to a foreign buyer, business secretary Vince Cable said today.

Since the “penny black” went on sale in 1864, every British stamp has borne the profile of the reigning monarch. However, the government is now in talks with Buckingham palace after it was pointed out that there is no explicit guarantee that the tradition would continue if the Royal Mail is sold.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Cable said: “We have thought very hard about how we protect the brand – the royal family. There is provision within the legislation to stop the abuse of it,” he said. “But now it has been pointed out that there’s nothing specifically to stop whoever runs the Royal Mail in future dropping the royal head.

“I think it is unlikely they would, because it is a very powerful brand, but we will talk to the palace about whether any further changes need to be made.”

The postal services bill to enable the sell-off gives the Queen a veto over any use of her image, but does not insist that her head is shown.”

Written by modernityblog

19/12/2010 at 20:55

Four Policemen And A Wheelchair.

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In the 21st century we are increasingly jaded. We think we seen it all, every weird video, every crime, every shooting, nearly every atrocity and certainly all of the stupidly thuggish actions that the police can take.

Yet they have surpassed themselves.

Four big and extremely fit policemen tackled a wheelchair user.

Yes, that’s correct, FOUR policemen.

Precisely what crime the wheelchair user committed is unclear, and the aggressive interviewer on BBC news shows no sympathy for the plight of the wheelchair user.

Had the wheelchair user had an axe, or a machine gun you might have understood a sense of urgency, but all he had was his hands on the wheels, and as far as I can see was not in any way a threat to the police.

However, it is fairly clear that the Cameron government have let the police off their leash, so be you able-bodied, a wheelchair user, or blind I will bet that you will find nothing but a size 10 boot coming your way, if you decide to oppose the policies of the Tory government.

Update 1: Here’s Jody McIntyre explaining things in the Indy:

“Adding insult to injury is The Daily Mail, which found it appropriate to suggest I’m faking my disability and am mentally inept when it comes to making decisions about my actions. Highlighting a somewhat backwards attitude towards disabled people and their place in society, that over 500 people have already complained about Richard Littlejohn’s depiction of me as Andy from Little Britain (I don’t wear vests for a start), shows whose side the public are on when it comes to what’s acceptable where mocking disability is concerned.”

Update 2: Marko has more on the student that was attacked by the police and the Daily Mail.

Update 3: Jody Mcintyre’s blog is here.

Update 3: CiF Watch strays into the territory of political vitriol and character attacks, all completely irrelevant to the issue of Jody McIntyre’s appalling treatment by four big police officers.

I can’t help wondering if he had held different views, would the attack upon him, as a wheelchair user, instead be condemned?

It takes a certain moral turpitude not to see his manhandling by the police as wrong, it takes an entrenched ideologue to want to use that against a disabled person.

I can only imagine that *if* Jody had been blind then the excuse would have been that his labrador dog was about to attack some riot police, or some such nonsense.

That’s the level of this mindless maliciousness.

Update 4: Littlejohn’s rant against Jody McIntyre produce a reaction:

“The Press Complaints Commission said that they have so far received more than 500 complaints from members of the public, but have yet to make a decision on whether to launch a formal investigation.”

Update 5: I don’t often agree with Sunny Hundal, but his post, Littlejohn & Tories attack Jody McIntyre, and the comments below it make some very good points, particularly Carole-Anne Melia’s:

“As a wheelchair user myself, I’m not surprised to see Littlejohn’s cartoon. For people like me it is part of everyday life to come across such attitudes. I’m forever being treated as having ‘Learning difficulties’ or being shouted at because being in a wheelchair apparently makes you deaf (news to me). The point is that we as disabled people have just as much right to protest as everyone else, though I might not agree with everything that a small minority of protestors got up, but Jody had just as much right to be there. The point is the police dragged a disabled person out of their wheelchair, they had no idea what damage that could have done to him. There was other ways the police could have got him moved, for them it was an easy option. I can walk a bit like Jody but if I was dragged from a wheelchair like that I would have been in hospital with increased damage to my spine. Thank god this didn’t happen to Jody with the what the spineless police did to him.”

Update 6: More evidence is forthcoming, slightly better picture, about 01:16 you can see him being pushed along, then when the camera returns how he’s tossed out of the wheelchair and dragged across the road by the police:

Update 7: This slide show shows how he was pulled about by the police.

Update 8: Pickled Politics has posted on this issue as well, Now Jody McIntyre is being attacked for his pro-Palestinian views.

Update 9: I posed a few questions at Pickled Politics draw out the issues:

1. For those who are critical of Jody McIntyre, would you hold a different view, if Jodie McIntyre held different opinions? In other words, do you view his treatment as acceptable because you disagree with his political views?

2. Do you think it is acceptable for four big and burly policemen to manhandle a wheelchair user in that way?

3. Alternatively, would you think it is acceptable for those four policeman to have manhandled an elderly pensioner in such a fashion?

4. Finally, do you feel that wheelchair users should stay at home and not venture out, just in case ?

I would welcome some engagement with those particular points.

Update 10: Journalism.co.uk has a piece on the Beeb interview:

“An interview on the BBC News channel with Jody McIntyre, the student protestor who was allegedly pulled from his wheelchair during the student demonstrations, has received a “considerable” number of complaints, controller of the channel Kevin Bakhurst said on the BBC Editors blog yesterday.”

Written by modernityblog

15/12/2010 at 18:56

The Shape Of Things To Come.

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Marko has a post on the Police’s treatment of demonstrators in London last night and he knows who is to blame:

“At one level, I was grateful it was the UK rather than, say, Italy or Russia, as individual officers showed a lot of discipline and restraint; things would have been a lot worse if individual officers had lashed out indiscriminately on their own initiative, as police in such circumstances have been known to do. But that is a tribute to the ordinary policeman – not the strategy of the police command, which put its own officers in harm’s way.

The police strategy did not serve to protect people or property from violence; on the contrary. Although there was a minority among the demonstrators that was actively seeking violence, the police strategy of keeping people ketted for hours in the cold, and preventing them from going home, appeared guaranteed to ensure that a riot would take place, and that even some demonstrators who hadn’t been out for trouble would be drawn into it. The strategy of not only keeping people kettled, but then inserting a phalanx of armed police into the kettle was sheer lunacy – what did they think would happen ? The moderate, peaceful majority was lumped together with the minority and treated as dangerous deviants, instead of what they were – citizens exercising their democratic right to protest. Those of us who wanted to move to the second demonstration were prevented from doing so – a violation of the right of freedom of assembly.”

I suspect the Police or their political masters, Cameron and Co, don’t really care about freedom of assembly or other freedoms.

The politicians who call the shots are preoccupied with pushing their policies through and anything else is a distraction. They will, naturally, do lipservice but they probably view anyone who is not a Tory or doesn’t vote Tory as a subversive.

My bet is that Cameron’s government will go down in history as one of the most ideologically bent ones, even exceeding what Thatcher did. They will use the full force of the State against anyone that actively opposes them and we would be naive to assume otherwise.

This is the shape of things to come in Britain.

Update 1: A young student was violently attacked by a policeman wielding a truncheon, AP reports:

“A student was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain after a police officer hit him on the head with a truncheon during the tuition fee protests in central London, his mother said.

Alfie Meadows, 20, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during Thursday night’s demonstrations, his mother said.

After falling unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the second-year undergraduate underwent a three-hour operation for bleeding on the brain.

Susan Meadows, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said: “He was hit on the head by a police truncheon. He said it was the hugest blow he ever felt in his life.

“The surface wound wasn’t very big but three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain. He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.”

Mr Meadows and his friends tried to leave the area where protesters were being held in a police “kettling” operation when he suffered a blow to the head.”

Written by modernityblog

10/12/2010 at 13:44

China: Human Rights Getting Worse.

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Liu Xia is a former civil servant, imprisoned in her own home under house arrest in China.

Her crime? Being married to Liu Xiaobo.

Whilst David Cameron is sucking up to the dictators in Bejing, human rights in China are getting worse, as the BBC shows.

The Chinese state is attacking Liu Xiaobo’s family and friends, as the Toronto Star reports:

“Now, with the award of the Nobel, the government has fired up a fresh campaign against Liu, while at the same time targeting his supporters.

Newspapers have carried anti-Liu essays and opinion pieces calling him a “criminal” and “a Western tool” for suggesting an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.

Meanwhile the government has suggested the Nobel is just part of an international conspiracy to bring disrespect to China’s legal system.

And Wednesday it took the extraordinary step of quashing any hope Liu might have had to have his own acceptance speech spoken at the ceremony in Oslo.

Liu’s family said Chinese authorities have cancelled their scheduled monthly visit with Liu, apparently afraid that he might pass on a message to be delivered to the world at the December ceremony.

Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, had said after visiting him Oct. 10 that he intended to draft a message.

But Liu’s two brothers and a brother-in-law told the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy that they expect no further family visits until after the ceremony, thereby ensuring no message gets out.

The government’s vitriol has surprised many observers.

“I think we expected some reaction after the award, but nothing quite as brutal as what we have had,” says Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat and senior researcher at London’s Chatham House, the international affairs institute.

“The Chinese response seems primitive and heavy handed. I am amazed that people we thought so powerful can get so offended.”

While many regard the awarding of the peace prize as “dubious at the best of times,” says Brown, “the Chinese elite are reacting like this actually matters — and evidently it does, to them.”

One of the most recent to feel the government’s heavy hand is Liu’s long-time lawyer Mo Shaoping.

Mo was forbidden to leave the country Tuesday — plucked from a line at Beijing’s sleek Capital International Airport just as he was about to board British Airways flight 038 to London.

Mo and well-known Chinese legal scholar He Weifang were headed to the U.K. to address a seminar hosted by the International Bar Association. The topic: the challenges of being an independent lawyer in China.”

Nor should we forget that China’s political policies, decided by unelected men, are the one reason that dictators in Burma are still in power.

Written by modernityblog

11/11/2010 at 04:40

Useless New Labour, the Tories And Workfare.

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Despite impressions to the contrary New Labour is still very much alive and kicking in Ed Miliband’s Labour Party.

This is evidenced by their inability to tackle the Tories head-on over their workfare scheme.

Any other party would have highlighted the inadequacies of Iain Duncan-Smith’s proposals and been able to show the callous pennypinching authoritarian nature of the Tories, but not Ed Miliband’s frontbench mediocrities.

Instead Gang Miliband concede the Tories’ arguments from the outset, Douglas Alexander admitted as much on Sky News arguing Labour had similar policies (the difference being apparently “real” jobs) that were “backup by real sanctions”.

So Alexander and the Labour Party don’t mind penalising the poor, as the Tories are doing, they’re just arguing over a few details, he says as much in a Guardian interview.

Britain faces one of the most ideologically twisted governments since Thatcher’s time, and in many ways they are pushing through measures that only Margaret Thatcher could salivate over, yet their political opponents, in the form of the Labour Party, can’t muster cogent arguments or real opposition to them.

In fact, the political cretins running the Labour Party have been outflanked on the Left by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Who would have thought it, and I say this through gritted teeth, Rowan Willams makes some penetrating points:

“People who are struggling to find work and struggling to find a secure future are – I think – driven further into a downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair, when the pressure is on in that way.

“People often are in this starting place, not because they’re wicked, stupid or lazy, but because their circumstances are against them, they’ve failed to break through into something and to drive that spiral deeper – as I say – does feel a great problem.”

One final thought, I remember Thatcherism first time around.

I wasn’t in Britain all of the time, but when I was I noticed a change, a perceptible shift, there were many more people living on the streets, sleeping rough, more beggars, more destitution, an increased climate of fear and the introduction of security guards where you never saw them before.

I suspect that Britain under Cameron’s Tories will make Thatcher’s time seem like halcyon days.

That’s how bad it will get, and Ed Miliband’s pathetic Labour Party need to accept their part in allowing it to happen.

Update 1: What we mustn’t forget is that the Tories are only really implementing a New Labour policy, albeit in their own inequitable way.

Who can forget the contemptible James Purnell ?

“James Purnell was accused of introducing a version of the American “workfare” today after he published plans to ensure that most benefit claimants are preparing for employment.

The work and pensions secretary said that under the proposals in his white paper on welfare reform “virtually everyone” claiming benefits would have to do something in return for their money.

Unveiling the plans in the Commons, Purnell said that most people on incapacity benefit would be required to attend job interviews and the unemployed would be expected to do four weeks’ full-time activity after a year out of work. Pilot schemes would require them to work full time for their benefits after two years.”

Update 2: Diary of a Benefit Scrounger has a heart felt post:

“And “Puff!” there go another 2.6 million voters Mr Alexander. Maybe a few more activists like me. Because if there is anyone in society you should be protecting, anyone Labour should instinctively know they should protect, anyone that needs you and our party desperately today, it is these sick and disabled and frightened people.

Admit you got it wrong on ESA. Take the hit. Come up with solutions and most of all, do what you claim you will do and LISTEN. Now, before it is too late – or give up the name Labour and all it stands for.

In the end, you see, there will be no-one left. No-one who believes you are any different to the Conservatives. No-one who doesn’t expect you to let them down on every promise, just as the LibDems have. I heard it every day of the campaign. “they’re all the same, they’re all the same THEY’RE ALL THE SAME.” The words should ring in your ears, you should not need suggestions for government when people up and down the country are suffering and frightened.

By all means support the “Squeezed Middle” but if, in the process, you decide the rest are all “Feckless Poor” then admit you are, in fact, Tories. Make the same dazzling conversion on the Road to Damascus that has overcome Mr Clegg and leave Labour to her true supporters.

And to Ed Miliband I say – You are not Labour. I am Labour and so are the millions of people who came out to vote for and canvass on behalf of our party on May 6th. You represent us, you do not decide to mould us in your image. You decide on policy with us in mind, not with one eye on the Daily Mail, and one eye on the opinion polls. Do what is right and the votes will follow. Most of all, reshape my party, our party so that I don’t hear that endless refrain on the doorsteps next time “They’re all the same.”

I, and other bloggers, politicians, journalists and charities will make this an issue. We will campaign with every ounce of strength until this terrible, terrible removal of ALL benefits from the most vulnerable people in society is reversed and ESA is overhauled. It would be a dreadful state of affairs if Labour are not there, campaigning with us, side by side, if they choose this issue to prove once and for all, that they really are “all the same.”

Update 3: Sue Marsh’s post is cross posted on the Labourlist, it will be interesting to see if the penny drops within the Labour Party, on how they are viewed from the outside, as basically useless and not much better than the Tories. I am not optimistic.

Update 4: Left Foot Forward is uncritically pushing Douglas Alexander’s guff.

Update 5: Flesh is Glass’s musings on the Big Society are worth a ponder.

Update 6: Chris Dillow displays his usual thought manner:

“If we take this as a measure of those who really don’t want to work, then “workshy scroungers” represent a mere 6.8% of the claimant count, 4.1% of the LFS measure of unemployment, and 2.1% of the wider unemployed (which adds the economically inactive who‘d like a job to the LFS measure of unemployment.)

The vast majority of unemployment – over 9-10ths on this reckoning – has nothing to do with people not wanting to work, and everything to do with a lack of demand for labour.

And this is where that rightist trick (or error) enters. They mistake small truths for large ones, and use the small truth to obfuscate the big one. So, the truth – that a few of the unemployed don’t want to work – is exaggerated and used to hide the bigger truth, that the vast majority of unemployment has other causes. “

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