ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Lib Dems

Gut Feeling On AV.

leave a comment »

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.

leave a comment »

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

There In Spirit, 26th March 2011.

leave a comment »

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.

Four Policemen And A Wheelchair.

with 44 comments

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.

with 3 comments

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

Lib Dem Peer Defends Baroness Tonge.

with 6 comments

Sometimes when professional politicians say things you are often left thinking to yourself “Hang on, what’s going on here?”

I suppose that might have been a moderate reaction in this instance, nevertheless it seems to me that the Liberal Democrats really haven’t got a handle on the whole Baroness Tonge and the Offal libel issue.

The Lib Dems clearly don’t appreciate the sensitivity or depth of this issue.

Granted, it is not terribly complicated, but as with many politicos I don’t think the Lib Dems are really interested and merely want to batten down the hatches, hoping to weather any political storm over Tonge’s repugnant and racist views.

Such an attitude would be incredibly misplaced and stupid, however, that’s how it comes over, as the JC reports:

“Lord Wallace, who is a LibDem spokesman on international affairs, told the Board: “She answered a deliberately provocative question from the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle… I think Jenny Tonge is over-emotional, mistaken.

“She did not say that body parts had been taken in Haiti…She was trapped by a question from the Jewish Chronicle which she should have known better than to answer.”

Baroness Tonge was in fact contacted by a JC reporter, by email, for her reaction to a news story in the Palestine Telegraph, an online journal based in Gaza of which Baroness Tonge is a patron.

In the Question and Answer session, Lord Wallace continued his defence of Baroness Tonge: “I disagree her with on a whole host of things but I would defend her rather over-emotional approach to the rights of the Palestinians and her deep commitment to doing something about Gaza.” He then explained that “the reason why we resist expelling her from the party is that we do sadly find the current Likud Party very intolerant of all criticism”.

Lord Wallace said that the “collective punishment of the Gaza is not acceptable”; that he had met some members of Hamas willing “to accept the legitimacy of Israel”: and that as a democracy Israel should be held to higher standards than “uncivilised countries in the Third World”. “

Other people have made the mistake of supporting Tonge’s racism and it is a pity that Lord Wallace can’t bring himself to actually blame Baroness Tonge in this matter.

After all she is a professional politician, highly educated and in full command of her own words. She was the one that tacitly gave credence to the Offal libel, and for that she should have been expelled from the Liberal Democrats, without a murmur.

However, she wasn’t and that’s why people are annoyed at the insensitive Lib Dems.

Written by modernityblog

19/04/2010 at 19:23

Spot The Discrepancy, Baroness Tonge and Steve Lendman.

with 5 comments

I am indebted to the ever sharp mind of Judeosphere, for spotting the discrepancy between Baroness Tonge’s accounts of how she learnt of the Offal libel?

Was it reading the web site of a far right extremist, Steve Lendman or just perusing the Palestinian Telegraph? Read more here.

I think there should be an inquiry into the reading habits of “Israeli obsessed” Peers of the Realm! Then again maybe not, it wouldn’t be too pretty 🙂

Written by modernityblog

14/02/2010 at 17:33