30 August 2010

The best publicity Ed Miliband could have had

Still very busy but the need to post here has become so pressing that goddamn it, I'm just going to post anyway. September - with the attendant party conference merry-go-round - is looking a lot more promising in terms of posting time.

The recent (albeit coded) endorsement of David Miliband by Peter Mandelson - who has warned against a return to a "pre-New Labour" party - is probably the best news the Ed Miliband campaign has had so far. If Tony Blair decides to endorse David Miliband - or at least endorse a continuation of the Blairite political cul-de-sac - in his Andrew Marr interview on Wednesday, that will be even better for Ed.

The idea that Mandelson - long a Labour hate figure, now an object of derision after publishing his ludicrously self serving memoirs The Third Man earlier in the summer - and Tony Blair, FFS! - are helping Dave Miliband's chances of election with these interventions is absurd. These guys play badly with the electorate at large, and abysmally with the Labour party and trade unions, who hate their guts. It's almost as if the Ed Miliband campaign was orchestrating shows of support for David from the people most likely to influence people to vote the other way.

Only the endorsement of David by Jon Cruddas earlier this week could be described as in any way helpful to the David Miliband campaign. But even there, I think most of the left - Jon's natural constituency - will conclude that he has made a misjudgement, and it won't influence the final vote very much.

If you look at the supporters that David Miliband has in the media commentariat it's very revealing; mostly ultra-Blairites like Martin Kettle and John Rentoul, who are so right wing that they find the Coalition a bit wishy-washy. If the Ed Miliband leadership precipitates a departure of Blairite dinosaurs and no-marks for the wintery climes of the coalition, it could be the best thing ever to happen to Labour; get rid of the duffers and replace them with people who can actually Do The Job.

Likewise, the fact that Dave Cameron is reported to be backing Dave Miliband for Labour leader is important. Dave C claims to be "scared" of Dave M but in fact he knows that Dave M, while not actually a Tory (let's be fair here) is least likely to reverse any of the gigantic vandalisms currently being carried out on the UK economy and public services in the name of "deficit reduction". Dave Miliband, like Tony Blair, is the Labour leader Tories can trust. It's trolling of the basest sort.

All in all I'm entering September pretty confident that Ed Miliband is going to do it. Especially as the three other candidates - Diane Abbot, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham - are all running pretty left-of-centre "surrogate Ed Miliband" campaigns. It would be odd - although not beyond the realms of sanity - to vote for any three of those and put David above of Ed Miliband on second preferences.

This means, I think, that while Dave M may enjoy a narrow lead on 1st prefs, Ed M is going to be way out in front on 2nd prefs - and that should carry him over the top. The resuscitation of the Labour party as a true political force - maybe for the first time since the 1960s - is about to begin in earnest.

14 August 2010

Apologies for absence

For those watching this site for some explosive commentary on the first 100 days of the coalition... you poor fools.

Ho ho... only joking. I will have quite a reasonable amount to say on just how shit this government has been in its first three months, and how we could well be headed for a Labour landslide in 2015 or maybe even before, but it will have to wait to next week. Work has been extremely busy and I've basically been getting out of bed in the morning, working pretty much 14 hour days, and then going to bed.

But things will ease up next week and so I'll have a bit more time to comment.

In the meantime here's Ed Miliband in the Guardian podcast, curated by my erstwhile friend Tom Clark.

06 August 2010

Huge conspiracy to 'big up' conservative POV on the net

I haven't had much time to post in the last few days (far too much going on) but I had to make time for this, which Richard Murphy's Tax Research blog covered today:

A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site Digg.com have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

As Mr Spock might have said - "fascinating". This might begin to explain why so many political and current affairs blogs, including Comment is Free, are filled with hundreds of extremely similar comments by right-wing nutters.

There may well be just a handful of extreme right-wingers co-ordinating the whole thing.

This could be THE story of the year on the net. More news as it comes in.

02 August 2010

A strict Moscow Vatican line

The weekend saw a couple of ludicrous interventions in the press by people who seem to talk crap whenever they open their mouth - and surprisingly, neither was a coalition minister.

First let's talk about Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Since being appointed a couple of years ago, this guy has unleashed a constant stream of right-wing drivel, but has just surpassed himself with the most obviously biased pro-Tory interview in the Telegraph.

I don't want to give you the impression that I'm surprised by any of this. We expect this kind of lunacy from the reactionary gang of unelected, unaccountable, all-male goons that is the Catholic hierarchy. Their basic shtick is to attack gay people and women while ignoring the underlying systemic problems with capitalism which are killing thousands of their congregations every week.

I wonder what it must be like being Vincent Nichols... unable to do so much as tie your shoelaces without making a call to the Vatican first. The closest analogy is those Communist Parties of the 1940s and 1950s who had to follow a Strict Moscow Line... except there were never more than a few thousand people in the CP (at least in the UK), whereas millions of people are at least nominally in the Catholic Church. But both organisations are dangerous anti-democratic BS.

There are several specific points in the Nichols interview which are laughable. For example, he's very enthusiastic about Dave Cameron's call for a Big Society. Yes of course, because throwing millions of people out of work and deliberately collapsing the economy is a Really Good Thing, isn't it? He also says,

I think if there had been more thorough and genuine engagement on some of the bills, especially, for example, in some of the equality legislation, it could have been less confrontational. Another example would be around the school admissions scrap that we had.
Yes, of course it's a really good idea for the Government to allow people to be homophobic as long as they are religious. And also it's a good idea to allow blatant discrimination on religious grounds in schools. How silly of me to think that, y'know, equalities were important.

The piece de resistance of this is when Nichols has a go at the burqa because "it limits the ability of Muslim women to communicate". Maybe he should spend a bit more time trying to make sure that women aren't treated as second class citizens in the Catholic church first before slagging off other faiths? The arrogance is extraordinary.

I'm already backing the campaign to arrest the Pope for crimes against humanity when he comes to the UK later this year (although the coalition is of course changing the rules to make this harder - welcome to the "small society".) Can't we throw Nichols in the van as well? In fact all the hierarchy, from bishop on up? There's a moral duty to get rid of these bastards, and if the Church won't do it themselves, friendly bystanders will just have to do it for them.