ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron

There In Spirit, 26th March 2011.

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I was there in spirit, but I will leave it to others to give their real impressions, Flesh is very good on the anti-cuts demonstration:

“I was really impressed by all the Labour and labour groups who joined the march without any pomp or circumstance, added their bodies to the many others on the streets, simply trudging (or sometimes shuffling) with their enormous and lovingly stitched banners, without anybody trying to use the occasion as self-publicity fodder. Good people.

Violence drives people away. The thugs who committed acts of violence today did so simply because they enjoy violence. They need to fuck off back to the Bullingdon club or Marlborough or Guildsmiths or wherever they’re from and leave us alone. They’re nothing to do with the 500,000 people who shuffled through London today to protest the Conservative-led government’s cuts (and in many cases, the slightly less punishing but still deep cuts proposed by the opposition).

So I thought it an irresponsible and disheartening mistake for UK Uncut, asked in advance on BBC 2’s Newsnight about anticipated violence on the protest, to change the subject. They should have readily disowned it. Non-violent non-destructive occupations and flashmobs are sufficiently newsworthy without any acts of wanton destruction. To see the anarcho-syndicalist flag flying from the window of Fortum & Mason, and to hear that the atmosphere in there was festive, will make me smile for a good while to come. “

Here’s Jim’s take on events:

“Ed Miliband addressed the crowd from the end platform despite having written Labour’s cuts Manifesto for the last election and Labour councillors up and down the country voting, en masse, for cuts budgets.

In a move designed to annoy the Daily Telegraph UKUncut occupied Fortnum and Masons and there were a number of other peaceful direct actions, mainly against banks, and Anne Summers’ windows were smash in a targeted strike against, um… shops? This led some wags to comment that police were looking for “hardened protesters” and that this was the “climax of the demonstration”.

However, while the smashed windows seem pointless and, frankly, unrepresentative of the feelings of most of those turning out, the continuing direct action, which led to a number of protesters being arrested despite being completely peaceful, are a real benefit. Unlike the Iraq War march where the focus was simply on size it is very good to see that this protest was not just big, but lively and edgy too, with many people reporting a carnival atmosphere. “

Two of Peter Tatchell’s tweets seem to sum up the issues nicely in my mind:

“Ed Miliband admitted Labour would make cuts too. He offered no alternative to the ConDems, apart from cutting later #tuc #ukuncut #26march

Cuts are human rights issue. When social welfare is cut, people suffer. Shame on Cameron/Clegg. Miliband would cut 2 #ukuncut #tuc #26march “

A lot more of people’s experiences on the day can be found on Twitter, using the #26march key word.

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. “

The Most Ideological PM.

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Max Dunbar does a marvellous job of seeing behind the Cameron façade:

This is a fundamental misreading. We can judge a man by the company he keeps, and the content-free PR boss has surrounded himself with extremists and ideologues. He took the party out of the EU’s moderate conservative alliance to form an association with fringe anti-semites and SS fetishists. When the MEP Edward McMillan-Scott protested, he was expelled. Cameron’s A-list candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Philippa ‘Pray the Gay Away’ Stroud, is a Christian fundamentalist who once owned a chain of hostels dedicated to ‘curing’ alcoholics, addicts and the sexually confused; when Stroud lost what should have been a safe seat, he appointed her a special adviser at the DWP.

Stroud leads the Centre for Social Justice, a thinktank set up by Iain Duncan Smith to take the edge off the Conservatives’ public image. (IDS has said as much: he told the Guardian that the party needs to ’present a set of values which represent compassion… You need people to say, rather like they say about Labour, actually these are OK, they are decent people, their heart is in the right place.’) Abortion limit monomaniac Nadine Dorries has been backed by Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON); its director Andrea Williams believes, according to the New Statesman’s Sunny Hundal, ’that abortion should be illegal, homosexuality is sinful and the world is 4,000 years old.’ Williams also runs the Christian Legal Centre, a pressure group that plants stories in soft media about nurses having their crosses yanked from their necks by uncaring NHS managers and Christian registrars forced to perform civil partnerships at gunpoint. Incredibly, it has been linked with Blackwater, the notorious mercenary army.

Cameron’s Conservative Party has an unhealthy reliance on web-based activism. The influence of the Conservative Home site in Tory circles is undisputed. Its founder, Tim Montgomerie, set up the Conservative Christian Fellowship when he was a nineteen-year-old student at Exeter – can there be a clearer example of a misspent youth? – and its membership now numbers around thirty Tory MPs and at least one Secretary of State. And finally, Cameron’s former chief of staff also used to be the research director for the Young Britons Foundation, a Monday-Club style subgroup that advocates abolishing the NHS and sends its members to residential camps that include training in sub-machine guns and assault rifles.

In this context, the Big Society can be seen as a return to Victorian politics when social welfare was the responsibility of the churches and the occasional eccentric billionaire. David Cameron is the most ideological PM since Thatcher and shares her ambition to return to a pre welfare state society. But at least Thatcher was honest about her convictions. Under the Big Society Cameron’s brave and empowered citizens will queue at the poor-house, food vouchers in hand, while the Jesus Army looks after the kids.

Update 1: For American readers here are a few pointers to the history of the Poor House and Work Houses in Britain.

Update 2: Flesh is Grass has a rather good piece on Tory changes in the provision of schools in Britain.

Update 3: In an unrelated instance the Torygraph informs us that Church of England charity set to receive £5million from Government. Hmm.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2010 at 17:49

Not Too Proud.

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Whatever you think of David Cameron, and I try not to, you have to admire his gall.

Cameron is, at the present moment, sucking up to the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which must be a bit of a come down for a British PM.

Still, these once imperial powers have more in common than people will often admit.

Perhaps Cameron could inquire about Turkey’s treatment and murder of Kurds?

Or maybe the Turkish Prime Minister is advising Cameron on how to avoid charges of torture, or collusion with torture?

Anyone that needs reminding of Turkey’s appalling human-rights record could do worse than read Amnesty international’s and Human Rights Watch’s summaries.

Written by modernityblog

27/07/2010 at 15:47

A Split In The Making.

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Whilst I wouldn’t normally be terribly interested in the British political scene even from these early days it’s possible to see how the Tory and LibDem coalition will split, William Hague (once a spotty youth at Tory Party conferences) reveals more:

“”Of course we’ve all had to make compromises, but we’ve made those in a sensible way. Really it is the best of the Liberal Democrat manifesto with the bulk of the Conservative manifesto. And it’s politics, it’s government, to make the necessary compromises. “

Key words: the bulk.

In the run-up to the final deal there were plenty of derogatory comments from Tory politicians showing their natural contempt for the Liberals and they might be able to keep it under control for a period of time during their honeymoon, but it won’t last.

The Tories are downright contemptuous of the Lib Dems, but had such a lust for power that they can moderate it in the short-term.

The Lib Dems, outside of Parliament, will come to hate the Tories and all they stand for, any radicals in their ranks would surely agitate against this coalition.

Certainly, it does give both parties what they want, for a brief period of time, which is POWER.

However, such an alliance is by its very nature unstable and conflicted. if Labour can attack them competently and prepare themselves for a new election then all bets are off.

I can’t see this alliance lasting a year, you might even expect another general election within six to nine months.

That’s the type of political calculation that should be focusing any opposition to the Tory government and their Lib Dem lackeys.

I Hate The Tories.

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Hate is probably too mild a word, continual loathing, utter contempt, I am with Nye Bevan on this:

“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. “

I thought it would be helpful to get that out of the way, so readers know where I am coming from.

Bearing in mind I am not particularly interested in the domestic political scene in Britain, it seems timely with recent events to discuss some of the ongoing issues.

New Labour have finally left power, after 13 years and whilst I don’t think it would have been as bad as 13 years of the Tories it certainly is nothing to shout about, if you were looking at it from a moderately social democratic point of view, let alone the socialist one.

Blair and Brown managed to obtain power and keep hold of it for 13 years, no mean feat, but it is what they did with that power that is truly important.

Over time they adopted many Tory policies and attacked the weakest in society, not something they should be proud of. I will let others heap disapproval on them, my view is good riddance to rubbish. I will not mourn them, after what they did to the Labour Party.

But the prospect of a Tory government is focusing our minds and Blair/Brown are history, and you have to wonder what David Cameron will get up to, even if he is slightly shackled by Clegg and Co.

Some people have suggested that David Cameron is a one nation Tory, etc., which seems to me to be more wishful thinking than reality.

Cameron adopted this pose not because that is what he believes, but rather he knew that appearing as an arch Thatcherite head-banger would not achieve much and could relegate his party to the political doldrums, if not history.

Cameron is competent enough at PR, but the Neanderthals in his party are a different matter.

However, it’s hard to see what even an arch Thatcherite would do nowadays as New Labour did most of it already. There are few government ventures to privatise, even less to sell-off to, effectively, buy votes.

Still, the Tories will probably attack the Welfare State, trying to enrich themselves and their friends in the process.

I suspect for a few months the Tories and the Lib Dems will get their way, but hopefully Labour could make an effort to move back to its origins, even slightly, and then outflank both of these parties from the Left, as there will be an election probably within a year.

It would be good if the Labour Party could return to its social democratic roots, aim for a punchy manifesto with commitments to renationalise the railways, etc and other public services which have suffered under privatisation.

Whatever Labour decide to do they should be prepared for a quick election as I doubt Cameron, or the bunch of second raters he has on his front bench, will be able to cope with the stresses and strains of real government.

There’s another election coming soon enough!

Written by modernityblog

11/05/2010 at 21:00