Today is positive Twitter day

So I did my bit to subvert it:

More negativity. (I have a longer post on climate change waiting for September. Maybe it’ll stop raining. US politics are relevant to this.)

George W. Bush was indebted to a five-four Supreme Court decision to make him President of the United States, despite not actually having won the 2000 Presidential election.

Karl Rove is indebted to a five-four Supreme Court decision ruling that corporations and other organisations are entitled to spend as much money in support of political campaigns as their board of directors/shareholders choose, making his dream of creating a permanent Republican majority ever closer.

While we don’t expect much truth in acceptance speeches from politicians standing for election, Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech was post-factual politics:

attacking Obama for the negativity of his campaign, and then proceeded to spend the next half hour doing nothing but attack Obama – largely for things he didn’t actually do.

Fox News, the Republican TV channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, said bluntly:

On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.

Mind you, I think Obama is going to win in November. But the media will give exactly as much time to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as if they thought the Republican candidates had a chance. Maybe they do. After all, the Republicans are doing their best to prevent the lower classes from voting and those voting machines are still being used.

XKCD: Voting machines

But the UK Labour party is over there having a gawk at how the Americans do it:

Lord Steward Wood, one of Ed Miliband’s closest advisors and a highly influential figure in the shadow cabinet, is currently at the Republican Party National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He is also going to the Democratic Party gathering next week in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also at that jamboree will be Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary.

America has always had a unique hold on the imaginations of British politicians and the current generation at the top of the Labour party have all passed through US colleges. Ed Miliband took a sabbatical from his time in Gordon Brown’s treasury to teach at Harvard. Ed Balls was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard after graduating from Oxford. Douglas Alexander studied for a year at the University of Pennsylvania – and worked on Michael Dukakis’s failed bid for the White House.

Douglas Alexander likes a good round of sexist debate, as we know from Question Time, and there are serious international repercussions with regard to the election of the President of the US. The idea of British politicians visiting the RNC on a “fact-finding mission” does raise the question; are there any facts to be found there?

Meanwhile in the UK, the question of the independence referendum continues to trundle down the tracks to autumn 2014. Scottish Labour is out campaigning for Better Together. SNP is campaigning for Yes Scotland.

But, quite genuinely, they are both missing a trick.

The SNP’s best chance of winning the referendum is if things are hideous with the coalition government at Westminster and there seems no chance of it ever getting better. Then they win the votes of all of us “I’m not a Nat, but” voters.

The SNP is – so far – making no attempt to get specific about how independent Scotland could be better than the UK, relying simply on the bad experiences under Tory and New Labour and Tory governments. (Ian Smart asks if it’s possible they’re so sure they’ll lose, they’re trying to avoid having a referendum at all.)

The best contribution to saving the union the Conservative Party could make would be, as soon as the referendum date is settled for autumn 2014, to call a general election in 2013. The best contribution the Liberal Democrats could make is to pull out of the coalition and force an early general election. Neither David Cameron nor Nick Clegg will do that, obviously – we’ll see both of them clinging to each other and to power till the very last day of the current Parliament in 2015.

But what Labour could do to save the union is much more interesting than that.

Instead of campaigning against independence, they could campaign for Labour values. For a living wage. For a maximum wage. For the NHS. Against tax-dodging billionaires. For the unions. Against the cuts. For quality state education from nursery school to university. Against workfare. For the welfare state. Against nuclear weapons. Provide reasons not to quit the UK.

It’s a radical idea. I may vote for independence in the end because I know I have more chance of getting a left-wing government in Scotland than I do in the UK as a whole, with Labour Party MPs gazing wistfully at the conservative and the radical right in the US. Instead of telling me not to and uttering anodyne slogans about “Better together” in a campaign led by expenses-cheat Alastair Darling, why not give me some positive reason to vote for continuing the United Kingdom by, well, ignoring the indyref and campaigning for reasons why I should want UK Labour back in government besides just “Not as bad as the Tories”.

Though Douglas Alexander may not be much interested in that. Nor, it seems, is Alistair Darling.

The illusion of free choice

Avedon Carol, observing the Republican and Democratic Parties from London, says as an ex-pat American:

Dixon recommends getting out of the two-party, lesser-evil box and preparing for something new. I don’t know how to do that, but I do know that blacks and whites alike are “more unemployed than we’ve been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we’ve ever been,” and I’m horrified at every “progressive” who somehow thought it was more important to defend Obama’s presidency than to defend the Democratic Party and the nation against this rightward push, to the point where even primary challenges to bad Democrats were out of the question. Paul Ryan and other Republican Horrors are people who the Democratic leadership actively protected against real challenges in their districts. The only reason there are any Republicans in Congress from New York is that the Democratic leadership makes sure that happens.

Dixon is right: The Republicans are giving the Obamacrats cover to pass a right-wing agenda. The Democratic leadership may give – or even believe (how stupid can you be?) – different reasons for why they have to pass that agenda, but it’s been the right-wing agenda for longer than I’ve been alive (and, to be honest, back to colonial days), and it is being effected for them by Barack Hussein Obama and his band of Third Way Tories. We should be just as afraid of them as we are of the Republican.

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Filed under American, Elections, Politics, Scottish Politics

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