The Politics We Deserve?

Well tonight is a fucking disaster. Even if the reality is lower than the exit poll, it looks like it’s going to be a landslide for the Tories. We’ll get a hard Brexit starting in a month and a half (and taking years and years before it “gets done,” of course). We’ll see more privatisation in the NHS. We’ll see more austerity, I don’t doubt, despite the spending pledges that might have been in the Tory manifesto. And we’ll see moves to restrict what parliament and the courts can do to protect ordinary people.

Our best hope is that Johnson is incompetent, and that’s not something we should have to rely on.

What is wrong with this country? Why do people continue to vote against not just the interests of the most vulnerable in society, but against their own self interest?

On Twitter a lot of people are blaming Corbyn, and I think they’re right. I said just the other day that I didn’t understand the dislike; but a thread by @RussInCheshire has helped to clarify my thinking. This regards not so much why people generally dislike him, but why he was ineffectual or worse as a leader. The key points:

People will say “the media is biased”. Yes. But that’s the environment Labour leaders always operate in. Complaining about it is like trawler captains complaining the sea is wet. Yep. Learn to thrive in those conditions, or get off the boat.

People will say “they treated him worse than any previous leader”. They did. Cos he was shit at working the press, had a history of opinions that could be easily made to look awful, was inept on antisemitism, shifty on Brexit and cantankerous on TV.

People will say “no way is he racist”. Perhaps. But if people accused me of antisemitism, I’d be able to clearly defend myself, demonstrate my credentials, and put in place a strategy to stop accusations. He couldn’t. If he’s not antisemitic, he’s inept.

People will say “voters love him in person”. I’m sure. But we’ve been in the age of broadcasting for 80 years. What the hell use is being warm and cuddly to 600 people in a field, when you come over badly to 60 million people on TV?

The thread starts here, but it might be easier to read here, as expanded by the Threader App.

I still don’t understand — I never will — people who switch from Labour all the way to Conservative. They just vox-popped someone on the telly who used to vote Labour, but “couldn’t, in conscience,” vote for them with Corbyn as leader. Fair enough. But she voted Tory. Why go all the way over to the party that diametrically opposes the values she claims to support, when there are other progressive parties, that support some of those values. The party she voted for opposes those values.

Baffling. Utterly baffling.

Fear and Loathing All Over the Land

The time is almost upon us, and I have The Fear. Or at least, I understand The Fear.

I understand the fear of Brexit; of giving the Tories control, yet again, of the NHS, and of the economy; and of their plans for changing the constitution in all the wrong ways, since I feel it myself.

But despite my problems with Corbyn, I don’t understand the loathing for him. It doesn’t seem to come from dislike of his policies. some of the people who say they don’t like or don’t trust him seem to be Labour voters, who you’d expect to have similar beliefs. Even if those people have more centrist beliefs, you’d think they’d be close enough to the party’s current policies not to be put off totally.

It seems almost to be personal. Do some people dislike him as a person? Strikes me as odd, as he comes across as quite moderate and reasonable to me. To be sure, he can get snappy with interviewers at times, but it’s nothing compared to some people. And at least he doesn’t bluster; doesn’t lie; and always gives the impression that he knows what he’s talking about.

Yet some people say they don’t trust him. Sometimes those same people say they do trust Johnson, even as they acknowledge he lies. It’s unfathomable.

On tonight’s Channel 4 News they interviewed a guy in Johnson’s constituency who claimed to be a socialist, but who is going to vote for Johnson this time. They didn’t push him for an explanation.

In the same constituency there was a business owner who had always voted Tory but is not going to this time, because of the way the party has been taken over by the far right. It takes a Tory businessman to recognise what a “socialist” can’t. We are through the looking glass and no mistake.

Anyway, I’ll be voting Green. I hope everyone reading this will get out and vote on Thursday, for anyone who isn’t the Tories, and to stop Brexit.

Election Debates: Maybe Better Left

I watched the election debate between Corbyn and Johnson on ITV. It was unedifying, and not very revealing. Corbyn was, predictably, calmer, more sensible, and less blustering. He needed to answer the “What way would you campaign in a second referendum” question that Johnson kept going back to, but otherwise he handled it pretty well.

Johnson, of course, is the epitome of bluster, barely gave a straight answer to anything, and went over his allotted time on every question, as well as his opening and closing statements.

I criticise him for that since he was violating the agreed-upon format. But the time-limited questions may have been the worst part of the event. The purpose is to limit bloviation, I suppose, but it seemed like often the chair was cutting the speaker off while they were still trying to make a point. I saw a tweet while it was going on, to the effect that part of the problem in politics is that everything is reduced to soundbites, with no opportunity to go into details. I’m inclined to agree.

However, much more interesting, and a bettter format, was the interviews, an hour later, with the leaders of the some of the other parties: Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Siân Berry of the Greens, and, unfortunately, Nigel Farage.

One interviewer, one interviewee at a time, and it was all much more sensible. That is, in part, because of the people involved, of course. The three women were all good, especially Wee Nicola, as we like to call her. But perhaps it wouldn’t have worked so well if Johnson had been in the interviewee’s chair. He’d have been havering and talking over the interviewer, no doubt. Though to be fair, Farage managed not to do that, so who knows.

But overall, I think that the debate format is not the best way to present your ideas.

Election Blues

I don’t fully understand the rationale of the Lib Dems and SNP pushing for an election at this point. No-deal is still firmly on the table, it seems to me, and if the Tories get a big majority — or even just an actual majority — then we remainers are done for.

Yet Ian Dunt at politics.co.uk describes it at as “one last chance” for remainers. He makes a compelling case. If he hadn’t gone for the election, Johnson could likely have got the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) through parliament. This way, at least there’s a chance. A hung parliament, a coalition that gives us a second referendum.

A new Remain campaign that is successful.

That’s a lot of “ifs,” and we lose everything if any one of them goes the wrong way.

And Carole Cadwalladr reminds us that the illegality and foreign money in the referendum have never been addressed.

Another “if”: if Johnson could have got the deal through parliament, why did he back down and go for the election? Maybe it’s just be that he expects to get a majority, and thereby make it easier to get the WAB through in a new parliament. But I can’t help thinking that he’s up to something. That he and Dominic Cummings have some plan that will get around parliament somehow.

Hard to see what that could be, but how far would you trust those proven liars and crooks?