Category Archives: Politics

Labour Party Split

Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz KendallJeremy Corbyn is the kind of MP who’s not afraid to stand up against cruelty to pigeons or to say openly that he opposes renewing Trident.

Being pro-pigeon and anti-Trident may be popular stances, but it’s a truism in professional political punditry that serious candidates don’t stand up for that kind of thing. Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Liz Kendall are too professional as politicians to have that kind of thing in their political record.

I’m no longer a Labour Party supporter. I decided, a couple of days before Corbyn joined the leadership contest, that the Labour Party had become too right-wing for me to tolerate any longer. The May 2015 election was the first election in quite a few years where I didn’t vote Labour.

I became a socialist in a business studies class at Napier many years ago. The lecturer didn’t know he was making me a socialist: he was explaining company structure. A company is run by its CEO, who is appointed by the company shareholders. The CEO’s first responsibility is to the shareholders: this is in general expressed as a legal obligation to keep the value of the shares rising. Because the value of the shares is usually dependent on the company profits rising quarterly, a CEO’s goal is to have each financial quarter show more profits than the last.

In small-scale companies, with few shareholders all of whom take a personal interest in the doings of the company, the CEO can be instructed to make the profits of the company secondary to other things which are more important to the shareholders than seeing the value of their shares go up and up: their good name in producing quality goods for sale, their desire not to exploit or discriminate against their employees, their belief in climate change, their desire to own both an ecologically sound as well as a profitable company.

But in large-scale companies, where the shareholders are themselves corporations, there is no such human check. The CEO representing the corporate owner of the shares has the overriding legal obligation to see profits go up. And because this is the overriding focus of the business, they frequently expect their employees – whose wages may have been frozen or cut in pursuit of that goal – to share their focus in making profits go up.
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Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs

A majority of Labour MPs didn’t oppose George Osborne’s welfare reform bill in the Commons last night. While they claim to have plans to fight the bill’s provisions in committee, Harriet Harman has already declared that the Conservative plans to limit tax credits to only two children aren’t something the Labour Party should oppose, nor should Labour oppose the welfare cap. Young voters and working-class voters stayed home rather than vote Labour on 5th May, and Harriet Harman says

“We cannot simply say to the public you were wrong at the election. We’ve got to wake up and recognise that this was not a blip; we’ve had a serious defeat and we must listen to why.”

Out of 232 Labour MPs, over three-quarters of them – those who nominated Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, or Mary Creagh for leadership – who think that the Labour Party should be led by a more right-wing MP. Jeremy Corbyn got the smallest number of MP nominations of any of the candidates but Mary Creagh.
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Prolife parliamentary procedure

Extend the 1967 Abortion ActThis afternoon in Westminster, MPs will debate the last stage of the Scotland Bill before the third reading and voting to pass the Bill to the House of Lords.

One of the recent amendments added to the Bill is from Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP from an English constituency.

In the House of Commons there is an unfortunate concatenation of MPs who seek to ensure that UK healthcare outsources safe legal abortion overseas, and to subject women who cannot afford to travel to a forced pregnancy. Their excuse for doing so is that a human fetus is protected by “the sanctity of human life”, though a pregnant woman is apparently not so protected.

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, is a member of this group and was the proposer of the last-minute amendment to the Serious Crimes Act which would have ensured doctors were banned from allowing an abortion if the abortion was sex-selective. This significant change to the 1967 Abortion Act was proposed as a late amendment which would be discussed and voted on only at the third reading of the Serious Crimes bill before it was voted into law.

No consultation on this amendment had been done with groups such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, or the British Medical Association, all of which opposed the amendment.

The expectation of Fiona Bruce and her supporters was that MPs would vote for her amendment because they would not want to appear to support sex-selective abortion: there would be no time – they evidently hoped – for any consultation or explanation why it was a bad idea to vote for doctors to be criminalised if they could be accused of approving sex-selective abortions: how there is little to no evidence of any sex-selective abortions on social grounds in the UK (the key “evidence” was a sting operation run by a Daily Telegraph journalist who lied to doctors and clinic staff and secretly filmed their honest response to her lies).
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Should UKIPlgbt march at London Pride?

The first Pride march in London was 1st July 1972, just three years after the Stonewall riots: the 2015 Pride will be celebrated on 27th June 2015.

Pride is not a demo and it’s not a party. Pride is a public celebration of being LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans.

Farage on ThatcherThe UKIPlgbt group had been intending to march in London Pride. (Contrary to their own claims, they were not “invited”: they applied, as many hundreds of groups do, and were originally passed through on the nod. In response to public protest against their inclusion, Pride London reconsidered and told the group they could not march.

“LGBT* in UKIP” have gamely tried to claim they have been invited to attend “many other” Pride events throughout the country, but this has been specifically denied by Kent Pride and queried by the UK Pride Network.

(No individual is banned from marching at Pride if they behave themselves: the only question is of groups with banners.)

Pride’s origins in the Stonewall riots are important here. Irene Monroe wrote three years ago:

When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.

On the first night of the Stonewall riots, African Americans and Latinos likely were the largest percentage of the protestors, because we heavily frequented the bar. For homeless black and Latino LGBTQ youth and young adults who slept in nearby Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn was their stable domicile. The Stonewall Inn being raided was nothing new. In the 1960s gay bars in the Village were routinely raided, but in this case, race may have been an additional factor, given the fact that so many of the patrons were black and Latino, and this was the ’60s.

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Charles Kennedy, 1959 – 2015

Charles Kennedy, 2009Charles Kennedy’s post-election statement:

“I am very fond of political history. Tonight, if nothing else, we can all reflect on and perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were there on ‘The night of long sgian dubhs!'”

On 9th June 1983 Charles Kennedy became the Baby of the House – the youngest MP to be elected, and at the age of 23, he was the youngest MP at the time of his election from 1958 to 2015.
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Labour Party leadership

I’d like to think the Labour Party’s leadership will be important to me because whoever is chosen as leader will be the Prime Minister of the next UK government.

I don’t really think that, though, which horrifies me because I don’t want the Tories to win a majority again in May 2020 – and yet: none of the Labour analysis about why they lost so catastrophically in Scotland or why they failed to win in England and Wales, looks to be on the mark: and all of the candidates for leadership seem to think that Labour lost because it was not sufficiently right-wing: which means I shall be still less inclined to vote Labour after five more years of the new leader than I was with the last.

If you are a Labour Party member and all set to snort with indignation and demand to know how I plan to get a Labour government if I won’t vote Labour, well: if you are a Labour Party member, why aren’t you snorting with indignation that your party is heading off down a path away from left-wing voters?

According to unverifiable rumour (via a friend heard from a friend who’s a Labour MP), Labour MPs don’t expect to win a majority in 2020: they want an interim leader who will get the Labour Party back on the right track after Ed Miliband’s failed experiment in steering it leftward, and then the new Tony Blair will step up after 2020 to become Labour’s next Prime Minister. If they are thinking like this I think they are hopelessly wrong: and I also think they are hopelessly insulated from the real-world problems that fifteen years of Tory governance will create in this country.
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HS2: New starts

Once upon a time, before the railways were privatised, if offered a job interview in London I could ask for the interview to take place at 2pm, catch the 7am train from Edinburgh Waverley, be certain that I would reach London King’s Cross before noon, and – with a pause only to make sure I had English banknotes in my wallet – get to the job interview usually with an hour to spare. I’d allow the full afternoon for the interview and catch an evening train home. It may seem strange to youngsters these days, but I could count absolutely on getting there on time with no delays at either end: and the train fare – even at short notice – didn’t require me to remortgage my house.

Those days are gone. Nowadays we pay high fares for bad service. The majority of us want the rail services renationalised, but instead, like a shiny toy to make us happy, Labour and Conservative governments have been dangling HS2 in front of us so that we can bat at that with our paws.

On Wednesday 20th May, Angus Robertson distributed jobs among the new SNP MPs. Drew Hendry became the SNP’s Transport spokesperson, and a few days later the Independent on Sunday contacted him to tell him there’d be no high-speed rail link between London and Edinburgh.

This is not news.
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