Monthly Archives: August 2015

The opposite of what you’ve heard is true – anyone other than Jeremy Corbyn will spell Labour’s doom

Bookies’ favourite, frontrunner in the polls, backed even by voters in Scotland – it seems now nothing and no one is going to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next Labour leader. Not that some haven’t tried: the right-wing media troika of The Sun, the Daily Mail and The Telegraph have done their bit by scraping the barrel to paint Corbyn as a heartless husband and anti-Semite, but mostly it’s been those within Corbyn’s own party delivering the worst blows. The leadership rivals have pitched in of course – Liz Kendall has called Corbyn a potential “disaster” for Labour, while Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper share the opinion that Corbyn would turn Labour into a mere “party of protest”. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, meanwhile, have all conjured up their own apocalyptic visions of Labour under Corbyn.

By now, you’ve probably heard the ‘Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable’ line (which, as the man himself pointed out, can hardly be true when he’s been voted in eight times as an MP already) so many times you’ve lost count. We’ll see in 2020 (providing the current government makes it that far) how true this argument is, but right now the fact is that Corbyn is quite the opposite of ‘unelectable’. If social media chatter and sell-out crowds weren’t evidence enough, a recent poll suggests that, to the general public, Corbyn is actually considered the most electable of the Labour leader candidates. According to Survation, should he win the leadership bid, Corbyn would be the Labour head that supporters of rival parties would be most likely to vote for in the next election.

This should be music to the ears of Labour officials desperate to reclaim the votes they lost in 2015; with reports suggesting some ex-Labour voters may never return, the party needs all the help it can get. And, with Labour’s perceived fiscal irresponsibility proving to be one of the main reasons voters shied away from Labour in May, the chances of the party will not be helped by a leader that refuses to correct the false notion that Labour crashed the economy in 2008. While Corbyn has vehemently denied the Labour crash lie, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall have been apologetic, chastising their own party for something that never happened. Yvette Cooper has joined Corbyn in rejecting the Labour crash narrative, but sided with Burnham and Kendall in abstaining from voting against the Welfare Reform bill – designed to correct the alleged mistakes of the last Labour government, and opposed by Corbyn – all the same.

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What a difference a month makes

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.

– Mahatma Ghandi

On the 15th July, the Telegraph comment desk published an article encouraging its readers to register as Labour supporters and vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election. The idea was that a Corbyn win would surely spell disaster for the Labour party, as the Overton window has shifted too far to the right to accommodate Corbyn’s socialist policies.

Well, what a difference a month makes: far from appearing confident that Corbyn would “destroy the Labour Party”, The Telegraph now appears to be encouraging tactical voting to knock Corbyn out of the Labour leadership battle. Ben Riley-Smith, Telegraph political correspondent, writes how the other candidates are calling for second and third preferences to be shared between them in an effort to out-maneuver Corbyn, while another Telegraph article reports on Tory calculations that Corbyn’s policies would cost British households £2,400 a year (which apparently is worse than the £24,000 per household the Tories have already given to the banks.)

Perhaps it is the recent polls which show cross-party support for Corbyn that have the Establishment trembling, and that the usual tactics of character assassination and mockery seem so petty they only serve make him stronger. Corbyn represents a movement the Establishment were perhaps blind to see coming, and one that they aren’t quite sure how to handle.

Update: The Torygraph has since published an editorial calling for Jeremy Corbyn to be stopped, with brilliant one liners like “He would end austerity in the public finances, which would put Britain well outside the mainstream of economic thinking.” We aren’t sure which mainstream the Telegraph is looking at, but it sure isn’t the one where two thirds of economists said austerity harmed the economy.

 

Featured image: Bob Peters (via Flickr)

How long will the Tories last?

The Tories have reached 100 days in full control of HM Government, and it’s been a pretty terrifying time for anyone who cares about the future of this country and our planet. Cameron and co have been implementing policies left, right and centre – many of which were never in the manifesto – and moving at breakneck speed to sell off the last of our public assets and strip us of privacy and democratic power. They’ve dropped any remaining “Green crap”, and handed tax breaks to dirty energy, all the while blaming everything that’s going wrong on the desperate migrants at Calais and people struggling on poverty wages and benefits.

With so much objectively bad policy being implemented, respected individuals and groups are beginning to speak up. While experts and academics are often hesitant to speak out against the government, there comes a point where enough is enough, when the ruling party stands to tear our country apart at the seams. The question now, as Cameron’s Conservatives mark 100 ignominious days in power, is how long this government can even last. Continue reading

Seeing the plight of Britain in Carol Ann Duffy’s Everyman

He spends the majority of the play with one shoe on and one shoe off. He is Everyman, eponymous character of the classic English morality play, updated by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whose production is currently on show at the National Theatre. The main theme of the late 15th century text has always been overtly religious, a play about salvation in the eyes of God – literally in his eyes, in front of him, as Everyman tries to save himself and prove that his life merits an extension as God’s minion, Death, stalks behind. Along the way, various virtues (Kindred, Fellowship) appear, none of which can save the doomed Everyman from paying the ultimate price for a life of turpitude. Consider this angle the bare foot (well, Everyman wears a sock, but that’s no matter); the foot that Everyman will crush glass with as a demonstration of his worth; the foot that will forever be rooted in the play’s piety.

But it’s the other foot that interests me more, the one clad for the majority of the show in a fancy designer shoe. This is the foot, the aspect of this new adaptation, if you will, which has seen me seek out Shamocracy again, this time to ask them to put straight politics aside for an article and allow me to try and shine a light on one of the great art works of the 21st century, one which speaks to the site’s core principals by way of scathing attacks on late-capitalism, vanity, greed, materialism and the narcissistic nature of The Self.

The story of the play has remained the same since its inception: Everyman, in his final hours on Earth, must give God an account of what his life amounted to. This modern-day Everyman just happens to be a wealthy banker, though, a self-righteous prick, prat and cunt; a man who welcomes in his 40th birthday with a table-line (of Last Supper length) of coke while his eclectic friends cheer him on. He is a bastion of rich excess: a high-flying, city-slicking playboy; a London elite; a man interested in only his own pleasure, in only pleasuring himself, in only the own pleasure of The Self.

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Defenders of Ted Heath beware: you and I know nothing

Just over six months ago, I began researching an almost unbelievable-sounding story. I hadn’t heard anything about it prior to a January episode of The Trews, entitled ‘Is The Establishment Riddled With Paedophiles?’; but after reading the title alone, the curious journalist in me naturally wanted to dig. Still, I assumed reading up on this so-called Westminster child abuse scandal, or ‘VIP abuse scandal’ as it’s also known, wouldn’t lead to much. Surely the idea that powerful figures – a network of high-ranking politicians, civil servants and prominent celebrities – had been committing child abuse on an industrial scale and going unpunished for it over decades was just some Icke-ian conspiracy theory.

At the end of a long weekend of research, I emerged numbed with an article dense with allegations of rape, torture and murder of children by British establishment figures, the facts all drawn from reputable sources. This wasn’t investigative journalism – I simply trawled the internet and found articles from the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Sky News, the Mirror, Telegraph, all detailing chilling tales from alleged victims and witnesses, from ex-police and crusading MPs. It was information that had been largely kept quiet, and that for the most part hadn’t been pushed as a big story.

Now it’s six months later, and it appears the mainstream media and public-at-large are finally taking notice of whatever you want to call this horrible affair. And the name that’s changed it all is undoubtedly Sir Edward Heath’s. During my research, I found Heath’s name kept coming up, even if none of the accusations could be verified. So, was I surprised when it was announced this week that Heath was included in the ongoing police investigation into child sex abuse, an investigation which includes 76 politicians both living and dead? No.

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If the Tube strikes have affected you, find another job

Another Tube strike. Londoners crumble without our Tube, the publicly owned and operated backbone of our transport network, carrying 1.265 billion passengers a year with delays on track to be 58% lower than 2007 levels this year. Like the saying goes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. These strikes should serve to remind us what a valuable service the Tube is.

The news coverage is largely focused on the negativity of the strike, demonising the ‘overpaid’ drivers and comparing them to underpaid health workers or teachers. The truth is that all Underground staff are not unhappy with their pay, but with the new conditions being imposed on them in order to run 24-hour services from September. London Underground are acting in a malicious way, only offering credible compensation packages a couple of hours before the end of negotiations, leaving not nearly enough time for unions to consult their members.

We should support the strikes if we are to maintain workers’ rights in this country. But it’s still bad news for London, right? The cost to the economy has been pegged at £50-300m due to commuting delays and “minutes frittered away commiserating with colleagues over nightmare journeys”. While some businesses fret about employees venting frustration over the commute (instead of the usual water cooler talk), other businesses have avoided such catastrophic loss by allowing employees to work from home. Continue reading