Friday, 22 September 2017

See You In My Fifth Decade

This eve of my fortieth birthday will be spent at the fortieth birthday party of the man at whose eighteenth birthday party I spent my eighteenth birthday. Yes, that sentence does work. I have read it five times. It looks as if it shouldn't. But it does.

Indefinite Leave To Remain

I regret that the likes of Keir Starmer got to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit. But they did, and the result has just been read out in Florence by Theresa May: a two year transition period, inside the Single Market and the Customs Union. As if she had thought of it herself. And cheered on by Boris Johnson, which says a lot of things about a lot of things.

May's entire programme, such as it is, is either watered down Corbyn or, as in this case, a straight lift from him. Next up, the public sector pay cap, and student payment of undergraduate tuition fees. Any compromise at all on either of those, and at least some compromise is clearly coming on each and both of them, would effectively negate the General Election result. Labour might as well have won.

Yellow Belly Laughs

When Jess Phillips was on Any Questions?, then Matt Zarb-Cousin also had to be on it, in order to represent the Labour Party. When she was on last night's Question Time, then Paul Mason had to fulfil the same role.

But the real story of last night's edition was the agreement that, in the event of a hung Parliament, Vince Cable would become Prime Minister. "He would insist on it," said everyone else. "Yes, I would," he as good as confirmed.

The mistake was to imagine that that would be as part of some "Progressive Alliance". The Conservative Party has won an overall majority at only one of the last six General Elections. Yet its only ideology remains as it has always been, that it is the natural party of government.

It will bear any burden and pay any price in order to fulfil that Manifest Destiny. Knowing that, Lloyd George insisted on being Prime Minister, Nick Clegg could have insisted on being Prime Minister, and Vince Cable would insist on being Prime Minister.

As for the new "centrist" party for which no one in the real world is crying out, just as no one in the real world is crying out for a party to the right of the Conservatives, well, consider the life story of Vince Cable.

The last attempt was set up, again with little regard to so much as the existence of the Liberals, by three former Cabinet Ministers of whom the Leader was the most influential post-War British politician never to have become Prime Minister.

An erstwhile Labour Councillor, and Special Adviser to John Smith as Trade Secretary, Cable was in it. But he is now the Leader of a party that looks, walks and quacks more than a little like the Liberal Party.

The Liberals had the last laugh then, and they would have the last laugh again.

Gone With The Flo

Theresa May is in full Flo. But no one cares. Not there: she has had to take her own audience with her. And not here, where all the talk is of Uber. The office of Prime Minister is effectively vacant.

Question 472

Which 472 Teaching Assistants, exactly, will still be losing money? Who are they? Are they activists? Are they related to activists? I strongly suspect so. This is very well worth looking into.

Pat Glass is a friend of mine, and my only real political difference with her was over whether the EU was a help or a hindrance to the objectives that we both shared. I was proud to vote for her in 2015. 

But seeing Alex Watson on television this week, I recalled my regret that in 2010, when the all-women shortlist and other issues were still raw, neither he nor Mike Malone had yet felt able to break with the Labour Party. Whichever of them had contested this seat would have been the First Past the Post.

I voted for Owen Temple for Parliament this year, despite enormous political differences with him and even though I longed to be able to vote for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, because he was one of the two County Councillors to have done the most for the TAs. The other was Alex Watson.

I shall never forgive the Labour Party in County Durham for having made it impossible for me to share in the epoch-making Labour surge of 2017. Other things will lessen or fade with time. But not that.

Like George Galloway, Alex Watson remains one of my Campaign Patrons.

By George

Running Uber out of town was one of George Galloway's key pledges when, in the face of a near-total media blackout, he stood for Mayor of London. It is high time to revisit some more of them.

It is high time to enforce the requirement that 50 per cent of housing on all new projects must be dedicated to affordable housing, redefined as 50 per cent of average rents, not the 80 per cent that is currently the case.

It is high time for an all-night Tube service, but with workers properly consulted on the process, properly recompensed, and not forced into working long, unsociable, and potentially dangerous hours.

It is high time to ban HGV vehicles from Central London during daytime hours, in a bid to reduce fuel emissions during those hours.

It is high time to invest in more cycle lanes, and in initiatives to make it safer to cycle around London.

It is high time to expand London's airport capacity, but not in the form of a third runway at Heathrow when Gatwick offers a better alternative.

It is high time for the use of the Oyster Card to be massively expanded, making it an interest free debit card used in shops and restaurants, for other services, and for the transfer of money abroad, so that City Hall would become a publicly owned People's Bank.

It is time to put the £18 billion annual City Hall budget online in real time, absolutely transparently, using the BlockChain technology developed by London's red hot FinTech industry that is currently based in the Shoreditch Corridor.

And it is high time to end immediately all fire station closures, and all cuts to London's fire services, reversing the cuts that have already been made.

That would be a start, anyway. In fact, the start was made today, with the acceptance that Galloway had been right all along about Uber.

Like Alex Watson, George Galloway remains one of my Campaign Patrons.

After Uber

I should be fascinated to hear of anyone who had ever had any difficulty hailing a black cab in London. So the only appeal of Uber must have been the things that anyone could see were the results of worker exploitation and general corner-cutting.

Over to the unions and the councils to set up their own. It's an app. It's not hard to do.

This could all be built into the existing black cab trade. With Uber out of the way, then the black cabs would not be undercut if they adopted the technology. All overseen by the councils and the unions.

It could be integrated with Oyster and everything. Everyone would love it. They would rapidly wonder how they ever did without it.

The Knowledge is no more a "restrictive practice" than a medical or a legal qualification is. The same was true of many working-class protections that have been lost. Let this be the first day of their restoration. No satnav in the world could ever match The Knowledge, or that latter would no longer exist, still less would it command such healthy remuneration.

This is a moment to be seized. As of today, the technology effectively belongs only to the people without the compliance and enforcement problems. Seize this moment.

After Noon

Three weeks today, my case management hearing will be the latest stage in the farcical campaign to lock me up for something that almost, if almost, nobody believes ever happened at all, and which absolutely nobody believes was committed by me.

Anyone who does believe that, feel free to get in touch, and your statement to that effect will appear on this site. The floor is yours. A week after first having made that offer, which still stands, not a soul has been in touch.

I said a week ago that if, by noon today, I had not so heard from Oliver Kamm, Damian Thompson, Simon Henig or Neil Fleming, then I would publish it here as a fact that none of them believed that the offence ever even took place, still less that it was any doing of mine.

I have not heard from Oliver Kamm, Damian Thompson, Simon Henig or Neil Fleming. It is a fact that none of them believes that the offence ever even took place, still less that it was any doing of mine. It is also a matter of record that the Police would not have charged me, in that the Chief Constable, having been publicly invited to do so, has not said that he would have done.

I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

No Hostilities To Cease

People think that I am hostile to Laura Pidcock. I am not. But I am a journalist. And I have not been a party member in her adult lifetime.

People also expect me to be hostile to Durham Police. In fact, I have no complaint against them. They have been unfailingly kind to me, not least in their consideration of my disability.

They would not have charged me. If you doubt that, then ask their Chief Constable, Mike Barton, the direct question, "Would you have charged David Lindsay?" Unless he gives the one word answer, "Yes", then my point is made.

Just A Second

There is more to the House of Lords than making speeches. Peers should be judged less by their words as by their votes.

Still, I am increasingly of the view that citizens need access both to their own parliamentary representatives with the ear of the Government, and to those engaged in robust Opposition. With a six-year term (making it possible to bring that of the Commons down to four years), with the powers of the present House of Lords, and with remuneration fixed at that of the Commons, a  new second chamber might guarantee that representation to everyone.

Each of the 99 lieutenancy areas would elect six Senators, with each of us voting for one candidate, and with the top six elected at the end. Casual vacancies would be filled by the party for which the previous Senator was elected. Where the previous Senator was a Crossbencher, for by all means let that term be retained, then there would be a by-election using First Past the Post.

In each area, the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats would be required, and other parties would be permitted, to submit their shortlists of two to a binding, publicly funded ballot of the whole electorate two weeks before the Senate Election itself.

594 Senators does sound a lot. But the 100-member Senate of the United States certainly costs more in absolute terms than this would, and probably costs more per capita. The same is no doubt true when that chamber is compared to the House of Lords. But citizens need access both to their own parliamentary representatives with the ear of the Government, and to those engaged in robust Opposition. This is how to do it.

Co-ordinate That Critique

The election for the Fabian Executive Committee is now in progress, and my 70-word statement reads:

Jeremy Corbyn is the most culturally significant British politician in living memory, the most agenda-setting Leader of the Opposition ever, and the global leader of the opposition to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy. Fabians must co-ordinate that critique at home and abroad, in preparation for the Corbyn Government that will lead Britain and the world out of politically chosen austerity, and away from wars of political choice.

This is my third attempt in a dozen years. In 2015, even the highest scoring of the 10 successful candidates won only 464 votes, while the lowest scoring was elected with a mere 305. I have won one election this year, albeit unopposed, which was not my fault. I have lost two. So here's to a score draw in the end.

On the ballot paper are 27 candidates for various positions, plus one elected unopposed as Treasurer. All 28 of us have put in statements of up to 70 words. Mine, and mine alone, mentions Jeremy Corbyn at all. A Lords frontbencher, a Commons frontbencher and two other MPs are among those who cannot even bring themselves to say his name.

Priority

Today is Saint Matthew's Day. Consider that that erstwhile tax-collector is the Patron Saint of Bankers.

Consider also that that strange and increasingly unfashionable thing, Biblical criticism, purports to read the Bible "as if it were any other ancient text", yet in fact subjects it to a series of methods that would be laughed out in any other literary or historical discipline. Those methods are carefully constructed to "prove" the presuppositions of that strange and increasingly unfashionable thing, liberal theology.

Thus, if two Biblical books are word for word alike, as Matthew, Mark and Luke certainly are in parts, then they must have been copied from each other, since there is no way that God could have inspired them all and, funnily enough, done so in such a way that they confirmed each other's accounts.

Hence the theory of Markan Priority, that Saint Mark's Gospel was the first to be written, and that Saint Matthew and Saint Luke copied out great chunks of it word for word. And hence the theory of Q, the compendium of the material found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark; no copy of Q exists anywhere.

Jesus simply did not claim divinity for Himself, so that rules out John at a stroke. Miracles simply do not happen, a position not even compatible with agnosticism. Style simply does not develop (seriously), so Saint Paul cannot have written several of the Epistles beginning with the words, "From Paul". And so on, and on, and on. Academia is at last moving away from this sort of thing. When will the Church in practice, since of course She has never adopted it, and cannot do so, in principle? 

Perhaps a gentle fillip from the wider culture might be in order? Although they differ in length, the different structures of the Gospels mean that they could each be dramatised in 12 episodes of one hour apiece, perhaps running from January to March, i.e., more or less from Christmas to Easter. The order ought to be as in the Bible – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – exactly as if any other ancient text were the subject.

That might even provide an opportunity to do some taking apart of the ridiculous theories of Markan Priority, of the interpolation of Mark 16, of "the Gospel of Thomas" and other such Dan Brown drivel, and of the historical unreliability of Saint John's Gospel on the grounds that Jesus "never claimed to be divine", the "proof" of which is held to be the historical unreliability of Saint John's Gospel.

All of these pieces of nonsense continue to be peddled by half-formed schoolteachers, and by clergy too old to have been part of the traditionalist revival among Catholics or the Evangelical revival among Protestants. Markan Priority was disproved a very long time ago by Saint Augustine, whose Wikipedia pages in Portuguese and Slovene are significant source of traffic to this site, as is the page on U and non-U English. Make of those facts what you will.

Acts could also be dramatised in this way, and it has some great stories in it. But it looks as if they would do the Ramayana first, and stick to the text if they did. That is not treating the Bible as a work of world literature, which is what they would claim that it was, and which, among other things, it is. 

Why not dramatise the Ramayana, exactly as it is? Why not dramatise the Odyssey, exactly as it is? And why not dramatise the Four Canonical Gospels and Acts, exactly as they are? Of what are the television companies afraid? Of what, in practice even though not in principle, would the Church be afraid?

Thanks For The Memories?

Almost unbelievably more recently than it feels as if it must have been, Britain decided to forget that there had ever been a war in Northern Ireland. That exercise has been as astonishing success.

If Jeremy Corbyn's and John McDonnell's past in that area affected the outcome anywhere this year, then it won or nearly won Labour certain seats in Scotland, and it helped to pile up the Labour votes in certain parts of England. It certainly did not do Labour any harm. Corbyn's enemies ought to be very grateful that that is so, because something very similar to it has happened before.

My late father, who was a mild-mannered man, could not look at Yitzhak Shamir on the television. My old Senior Tutor from my undergraduate days, who is still alive, also remembers why. But the origins of the State of Israel have been excised from the British popular consciousness, while the not unconnected, and far more recent, Israeli arming of Argentina during the Falklands War is barely known about at all in this country.

So Corbyn's enemies can rant on all they like about Hamas and Hezbollah, secure in the knowledge that no one will point out that while neither of those organisations, whatever their other faults, had ever done anything to Britain, there were others in that particular mix who most certainly had done.

The Hamas and Hezbollah business may or may not have enabled the Conservative Party to retain four seats in North West London. Meanwhile, many Labour candidates in London, which bore the brunt of the IRA's campaign, secured over 40,000 votes apiece, and the party won 49 of London's 73 seats. Nationally, it experienced under Corbyn its biggest positive swing since 1945. So much, in the great scheme of things, for four seats in one outlying corner of one city.

The price of everyone's having forgotten about Zionist terrorism, only just into living memory and mostly but not entirely three thousand miles away, is that everyone also has to forget about Irish Republican terrorism, well into the lifetime of almost anyone who is old enough to vote and mostly but not entirely right here. Both of those bouts of amnesia do seem to have happened. But it is quite clear which of them has made more difference.

Burma Sauce For The Gander

The suspension of British military aid to Burma is welcome, if a little late. Now, what about Saudi Arabia?

Oh, and if it matters, not all Rohingya are Muslims.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Contempt That It Deserves

Add the absence of an arrest of Amber Rudd for contempt of court to the absence of arrests over Grenfell Tower. Or over Orgeave. Or over Hillsborough until Margaret Thatcher was dead, undoubtedly an act of policy. Or under the law against cannabis. Or under the law against foxhunting, to which the Police act as escorts, arresting only anyone who might seek to obstruct this criminality or to object to it.

Or of anyone other than a Premier League footballer, and even then probably only one from the "wrong" club, for the "digital penetration" of a 15-year-old girl who had, furthermore, been out drinking with the complete impunity of everyone from her parents to the relevant licensees. Or of anyone other than a minister of religion, or possibly a teacher, for any kind of sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy.

Or of the people who openly admitted to having filled in their 2015 General Election forms incorrectly in such numbers as to have affected the overall result, a crime that is not affected by the fact that there has been another General Election since they committed it. Or of Tony Blair for selling peerages, which he did by every means short of advertising them in Exchange and Mart. Or of Tony Blair and his accomplices as the war criminals that they so obviously are. Or of George Osborne and his accomplices over their larceny of the Royal Mail. Or of George Osborne for his violent remarks about Theresa May.

Consider these things if and when any attempt is made to prosecute anyone in relation to the upcoming strikes over public sector pay. And consider them as I prepare for my case management hearing on Friday 13th October. When is Amber Rudd's case management hearing? There is evidence against her. Whereas there is literally none against me, even though on that date I shall have been charged for five months and arrested for six.

I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money.

Driven From The Front CETA?

CETA, which is like TTIP but with Canada, is exactly not the model favoured by, or favourable to, the areas that voted Leave, most of which went on to re-elect the Labour MPs that they had already had, but often with hugely increased majorities under the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The referendum result was the long-delayed Labour victory of 1983, and the revenge of the areas that had been devastated by everything in the intervening 33 years.

Slowly, but surely, we are edging towards another one. The two options will be the Brexit deal agreed with the EU (plus any proposed post-Brexit trade deals elsewhere, such as this one), and staying in the EU after all. But the schemes set out first by the Foreign Secretary, and apparently now also by the Prime Minister, are as far removed as it is possible to be from the interests, opinions and aspirations of the areas that decided the result of the first referendum.

The Lions Roar On

Ever since the coup of 2008, Durham County Council has been under occupation. The nominally Labour Leadership, which overthrew a real one, has no meaningful connection to the Labour Movement. Nevertheless, shame on it for today's latest brutalisation of the Teaching Assistants. Shame on Alan Napier for being the UDM to Simon Henig's Coal Board. Perhaps it is time to re-examine Napier's record during the Strike?

Shame on Ben Sellers, who is now the Political Advisor to Laura Pidcock MP, for having talked the TAs out of the perfectly sensible strategy of simply not voting for any Labour candidate for the County Council this year, and of encouraging everyone else to refrain from doing so, since only Labour Councillors had ever voted against the TAs, a situation that remains the case. Some Political Advisor he is. Had that strategy been adhered to, then the TAs would already have won by now, since no matter what the composition of the anti-Labour coalition had been, then it would have been made up exclusively of the TAs' supporters.

It was most regrettable that the Durham Miners' Association had Henig on the platform of this year's Gala, and it is really not asking all that much that Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach and other strong supporters of the TAs be spared having to share a platform with him again next year. Of course, not only ought the rat and its lice to have been expelled from the Labour Party by then, but the rat itself, at least, may very well be in prison.

For, in order to manufacture sympathy for themselves among the voters, the TAs' enemies in County Hall manufactured the bogus threat to their own lives. They then sought, as they are still seeking, to pin that piece of nonsense on me. They knew that they could not keep control of the Council by fair means, so they cheated, and in so doing committed at least one serious criminal offence.

They also knew that they could not beat me in the Lanchester Ward by fair means, so they cheated, and in so doing they are still committing at least one criminal offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. I could only be convicted by a corrupted jury, and since there is not going to be a corrupted jury, then it is absolutely impossible for me to be convicted. Therefore, this whole business is, as much as anything else, a scandalous waste of public money.

Meanwhile, the Teaching Assistants fight on. They will accept no conclusion other than absolute victory on their own terms, and they are just going to carry on until they get it. They have the support of the entire Labour Movement, including the Leader of the Labour Party. Anyone who does not support them is, by definition, not part of the Labour Movement.

And they have the support of all the non-Labour members of the Council, the Council that those members would now be running if the elections to it had been conducted with any semblance of honour or even legality, and if there had been no distraction by the careerist opportunism that is now installed in the office, and perhaps even in the person, of Laura Pidcock MP.

Top Trump?

If Donald Trump is not careful, then he will end up with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Don't Be Suppressed

Like checking nationality before extending NHS treatment, voter ID means identity cards. How could it not? Don't fall for it, on either count.

And Virtue

Of course the Far Right, which really is an enormous security risk, thinks that anyone is a security risk who speaks for the 12,877,869 people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. 

In having been refused Police clearance to attend the Labour Party Conference, Michael Segalov ought to feel honoured. He should ask them about Hillsborough and Orgreave. He should ask them about the Saudi connections of right-wing hacks who are doubtless being waved through by the Police. He should ask them about their own, the Armed Forces', MI5's, MI6's and GCHQ's connections to National Action, which pretty much seems to have taken over an Army with rather more at its disposal than was deployed at Parson's Green, and to Britain First.

He should ask them about the fact that the present Government is in office only on the 10 votes, at one hundred million pounds apiece, of the Ulster Resistance, which has never disbanded, never disarmed, and never even so much as called a ceasefire. And he should ask them about the numerous ties of present and recent Cabinet Ministers (and, again, of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the military top brass) to the Monday Club and Swinton Circle world of the only person to have murdered a sitting member of the House of Commons in the present century.

Of course, he would have to ask these questions in Vice. Other than perhaps Giles Fraser, there is no one writing regularly for any sold-in-shops, Parliamentary Press Gallery newspaper other than the Morning Star who is as far to the Left as 30 or more people writing regularly for such newspapers are to the Right, with all that that then entails for the composition of every panel that is ever put together by any broadcaster other than RT.

For whom are they speaking? For whom are they not speaking? For whom is no one speaking? For a start, no one is speaking for the 12,877,869 people who voted for the Labour Party that was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Vigilate?

No, you cannot imagine Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands being treated so badly if they suffered a natural disaster such as has afflicted, and is afflicting, the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.

And no, you cannot imagine Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands being subjected to the level of British Government incompetence that has now led to an existential crisis on St Helena, which has a larger population that the Falklands, and which is far nearer to the United Kingdom.

But then, you cannot imagine that the Gibraltarians or the Falkland Islanders could ever be treated in the manner of the Chagossians, whose case and cause are routinely screamed down by those who are noisiest in support of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

So, what is it that the Gibraltarians and the Falkland Islanders have in common, but which the people of the Caribbean, St Helena and the Chagos Islands do not share?

Rocket Man, Indeed

Donald Trump was elected to provide an alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy.

But, whereas Bernie Sanders (or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and up to a point even François Fillon) would have done so, Trump has not, and he will not.

Leaving only Jeremy Corbyn.

In Good and Due Form?

"From the Ukraine to the South China Sea," Donald Trump has just threatened Russia and China at the UN General Assembly. Is it me, or does he not quite seem to have grasped the point of the UN General Assembly?

Beyond His Ken

No one has become Leader of the Conservative Party without the support of Ken Clarke since Iain Duncan Smith, and look what happened to him. Boris Johnson is toast.

Fifth In The World

The only places where more people access Islamist websites than they do in the United Kingdom are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States. That is the Turkey around which NATO revolves, the Saudi Arabia at whose beck and call we are, the Iraq that we "liberated", and the United States.

The fact that "liberated" Libya is not on that list is only because hardly anyone there still has Internet access since we destroyed what had until then been the country with Africa's highest GDP per capita and highest life expectancy.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Saigon Soon

The people running Durham County Council may not be the brightest. But they will eventually have to realise that the Teaching Assistants are a bit like the Viet Cong: they are just going to keep going until they win, entirely on their own terms, no matter what. Eventually, the Americans just upped and left Vietnam, because they had no other remaining option. It is almost too delicious for words to imagine Simon Henig and his entourage scrambling aboard the last chopper off the roof of County Hall, as the TAs marched in inexorable triumph through the building to hoist their flag from its pole. But that day is coming, more or less.

Boris Is Boris, Indeed

The fact that Boris Johnson is still in post proves, as if proof were needed, that Theresa May is the most inconsequential Prime Minister in the history of the office. Everything that Johnson has ever been given, he has been given "for a laugh" by people who ought to have known better, including Mrs May.

He was made Editor of The Spectator for a laugh. He was made an MP the first time for a laugh. He was made Mayor of London for a laugh. He was made an MP the second time for a laugh. He has been made Foreign Secretary for a laugh. He now expects to be made Prime Minister for a laugh. But many of us never did see the joke, and the halving of his majority this year indicates that it is becoming tiresome to more and more people.

In any case, the Boris Blueprint for Brexit bears no resemblance to the will of the areas that voted Leave, most of which went on to re-elect the Labour MPs that they had already had, but often with hugely increased majorities under the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The referendum result was the long-delayed Labour victory of 1983, and the revenge of the areas that had been devastated by everything in the intervening 33 years.

2017 was not "the Brexit Election". The issue was hardly raised, and both main parties had the same policy on it, anyway. For all the bluster from certain quarters, they still do. The difference is that, having both wanted to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union, they both now want to stay in those things "for a transitional period". "Transition" to what, exactly? Were this not the case, then Johnson would not have felt moved to make his latest intervention.

The clear majority view in Scotland is to remain both in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. Yet the Liberal Democrats, who alone have that policy, won only four seats out of 59, the same number that they would have won under Proportional Representation. They came second in only one more. The clear majority view in Northern Ireland is to remain both in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. That is the position of precisely one MP out of Northern Ireland's 18, the Independent Sylvia Hermon.

What was then still the Hard Brexit Conservative Party held on in the Remain heartlands of the South outside London, and it made significant gains in the Remain heartlands of Scotland. Meanwhile, what was then still the Hard Brexit Labour Party stormed home in London, as well as in Liverpool and Manchester, which also voted Remain. It, too, made notable progress in Scotland. If General Elections since 1983 had been about the EU, then there would never have been a referendum.

Slowly, but surely, we are edging towards another one. The two options will be the Brexit deal agreed with the EU, and staying in it after all. But the scheme set out by the Foreign Secretary would not only be suicidal if presented to the electorate at a General Election. It is also as far removed as it is possible to be from the interests, opinions and aspirations of the areas that decided the result of the first referendum.

Cable and Wireless

The Conservative Party has won an overall majority at only one of the last six General Elections. Yet its only ideology remains as it has always been, that it is the natural party of government. It will bear any burden and pay any price in order to fulfil that Manifest Destiny. Knowing that, Lloyd George insisted on being Prime Minister, Nick Clegg could have insisted on being Prime Minister, and Vince Cable would insist on being Prime Minister.

Like any compromise on the pubic sector pay cap, any compromise on undergraduate tuition fees would effectively negate this year's General Election. In that case, Labour might as well have won. Yet that latter, at least, really does seem to be coming. It seems to have become a matter of consensus that fees are at best an unfortunate necessity, and that in principle undergraduate tuition ought to be free at the point of delivery.

(Personally, I think that we either fund the whole of higher education like that, all the way up to doctoral level, or we charge fees, even if they are deferred, at every stage of the process. I also contend that whatever was enjoyed by students ought also to be enjoyed by apprentices and trainees, and vice versa.)

The only people holding out are the Lib Dems. Truly, they are the party of "the Centre". And they have the electoral record to show for it. This year, every constituency in Great Britain had the option of voting, both for "the Centre" that was and is supposed to be so popular, and for the "populist" Right. "The Centre" did pretty badly, and the "populist" Right was so unpopular that it was wiped off the map. 

Adopting aspects of UKIP's programme cost the Conservatives their overall majority; Theresa May's original Corbynised Milibandism would probably have saved it. While discarding numerous features that had been shared with the Lib Dems gave Labour its biggest favourable swing since 1945. Between them, the allegedly unappetising parties, for alternatives to which the electorate was said to be crying out, won 82.3 per cent of the vote.

Yet the losers continue to dominate the commentariat, which is a duopoly between "the Centre" and the "populist" Right. Not between the Lib Dems and UKIP; indeed, the absence of Lib Dem commentators, as such, has long been striking, and it was especially so during that party's five years in the Cabinet. But nevertheless between their two sets of views.

Bitter old Blairites and Cameroons are never out of the papers, and thus never off the airwaves. The Evening Standard is even edited by George Osborne. But other than perhaps Giles Fraser, there is no one writing regularly for any sold-in-shops, Parliamentary Press Gallery newspaper other than the Morning Star who is as far to the Left as 30 or more people writing regularly for such newspapers are to the Right, with all that that then entails for the composition of every panel that is ever put together by any broadcaster other than RT.

For whom are they speaking? For whom are they not speaking? For whom is no one speaking? For a start, no one is speaking for the 12,877,869 people who voted for the Labour Party that was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Marginal Costs

Well, then, here's to the Labour amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and to the Budget, to divert an extra £350 million per week to the NHS. And here's to Boris Johnson's vote in favour of those amendments, even if he has to resign from the Cabinet in order to cast it. After all, he does now have a marginal seat to defend.

Assistance Required

It was announced yesterday that Durham County Council's latest proposal to screw over the Teaching Assistants, which is the same as the last one, is to be brought to its Full Council meeting on Wednesday, 20th September, at 10am.

Alas, I cannot be there at County Hall, so there will be no repetition of my speaking through a megaphone from its steps to hundreds of demonstrating TAs and supporters below, while the staff kept us out of the building until my Campaign Patron, the great Alex Watson, told them that, as an elected member, he could not be prevented from entering. And this time, it is in the school term anyway, no doubt on purpose in order to prevent another enormous display of protest.

But be there if you can. Since Parliament will not be sitting, and since it is not the Labour Party Conference until the following week, Laura Pidcock MP will of course be there in support of the Teaching Assistants. Why, it would be worth reporting by the local media, and by the TAs themselves on social media, if she were not there, following her mass leaflet drops across her constituency this weekend, and following her appearance on the regional segment of The Sunday Politics tomorrow. 

After all, she does owe the TAs, having walked out of their Solidarity Rally, having beaten one of their doughtiest champions at the General Election, and having appointed as her Political Advisor the man whose bad political advice is responsible for the fact that they have not already won. Anything less than her attendance in support of them on Wednesday would suggest the need for the TAs and their supporters to demonstrate against her wherever she went. And that would be absurd.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Committed By Me

Four weeks today, my case management hearing will be the latest stage in the farcical campaign to lock me up for something that almost, if almost, nobody believes ever happened at all, and which absolutely nobody believes was committed by me.

Anyone who does believe that, feel free to get in touch, and your statement to that effect will appear on this site. Oliver Kamm, Damian Thompson, Simon Henig, Neil Fleming, or anyone else at all, the floor is yours.

If I have not heard from those four by noon next Friday, 22nd September, then I shall publish it here as a fact that none of them believes that the offence ever even took place, still less that it was any doing of mine.

The Cobra In The Grass

Theresa May cut the Police and the Border Force to the bone, subjected the Fire Service to a fire sale, and has since moved on to the Army. Ahead of huge strikes over public sector pay, she has just tried to bribe the Police and the Prison Service with a supposed pay increase that is in reality yet another pay cut. Since her dismantlement of the Police's ability to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, there have been four such attacks so far this year. Away with her.

By The Toe

In general, the n-word ought never to be used. I suspect that that is Diane Abbott's own view. She used it to show what she and her staff had to endure many times every day. All hell broke loose, thereby largely making her point.

But Anne Marie Morris used it in a speech to a public meeting earlier this year, and no one has attempted to have the House of Commons censure her. So much for the anti-racist credentials of certain MPs.

She did so by making use of an expression that had not been current in 50 or 60 years, even though she herself is only 60. What is it with Conservative MPs for the West Country?

Nor has either than House or the Labour Party, still less the media, taken any action against the MP who has done the most to legitimise the abuse of Diane Abbott, Jess Phillips.

Chopped Up Standards

It is not often that I agree with Nadine Dorries. But any other journalist who called for the Prime Minister, or anyone else, to be "chopped up in bags in my freezer" would be out of a job, and certainly would not get a pass to the governing party's conference. Politically, how influential is the Evening Standard, anyway? London voted very heavily Labour this year.

Osborne's unpleasant tendencies, which he has manifested more than once before, are like Jacob Rees-Mogg's "eccentricities". In poorer or less posh people, they would be, and they are, recognised as signs of mental illness. Even if they would not always be treated properly as such. The streets are the beds of people who dream that they could afford to be as "eccentric" as Jacob Rees-Mogg. While the secure units house those who dream that they could edit the Evening Standard while calling for the Prime Minister to be "chopped up in bags in my freezer".