Ice Scream Scoop

So, my scoop came to nothing. Bugger.

Listened to Blair's speech... I'm going to go through it later. There's no doubt about his speaking skills, though; he's a master.



A disappointing blog

I'm going to preface this post by saying that I am very well aware of some of the deficiencies of this blog, not least that it's not particularly well-argued.

Jonathan Roberts is the official Labour Party Conference blogger. Which is a shame, because his blog's crap.

His commentary on Gordon Brown's speech reads as if it was written by one of GB's sublieutenants.
For me, we saw a personal side rarely seen before. Too many people have seen him as a lifeless robot who has one single, pre-programmed dimension.
Well, shit. Gordon Brown, the heir apparent, is trying to make himself more 'human' and the official conference blog confirms that Gordon Brown is, indeed, a member of the human race.

For me, he was reminiscent of some of the best bits of New Labour circa 1997. He seemed like the bloke from down the street who genuinely cares - a trait which has real pulling power at the electorate.
By definition - and thanks to Estelle Morris for the line - political people aren't normal. Normal people don't go to three meetings a month to argue about what the CAC should do, don't give up their weekend lie-ins to stand around on rainy November mornings flyering or knocking on doors and don't spend entire days walking around convincing people to go and vote. I don't want the bloke from down the street as PM (and Tony Blair sure as hell doesn't) but someone who can actually do the job. The electorate are used to managed images. It doesn't always work - Tony Blair's appearance on whatever football programme it was - and people are now cynical to the point that every politician is expected to support Local Town FC, drink beer and like Trisha. If people stopped being what head office thinks 'the bloke down the street' should look like and actually behaved like themselves, two things might happen. Firstly, you might actually find 'the bloke down the street who really cares' not being put off by politics. Secondly, people who are unpolished would be seen to have 'real pulling power at the electorate'. Enter stage right, Boris Johnson, stage left, Ken Livingstone.
Needless to say, the biggest applause he received was his "I would love to take on David Cameron". From the reaction he received, that's what everyone else wants too.
If the best thing a senior politician can say is 'I think I/we have good ideas and I would like to stop the others getting in so I/we can implement them', I despair. This is nice, it's semi-obligatory, it rallies the troops, but decent political discourse it is not.

More later.


Labels: , , , , , , ,


Conference Arrangements Committee

Watching the CAC report from Labour Party Conference, and the responses to it, is almost as much fun as the UGM at LSE.

I quite understand why people aren't interested in the endless joy of constitutions/codes of practice/standing orders. It is, though, important; if I understand what's happened correctly (and it was an acquaintance of mine, Ben Folley from Islington North CLP, that was speaking against the CAC's decision) then there won't be a proper debate on Trident at Conference. It's odd, because I think most people in Labour would support replacing Trident, but it appears there won't be an opportunity for the sovereign body of the party to make a decision about a lifetime issue that will be resolved in Parliament in the next twelvemonth.

Having said that, could someone explain why Hazel Blears is appearing on a video singing the praises of Tesco at Conference?



Party Conference Scoop

We hear from an informed source that Tony Blair may announce his immediate resigation on Tuesday of Labour Party conference.

As I have said before, TB might want to go at a quiet time and his own terms. People are preparing for a leadership contest next May and are knocking potential leadership candidates - here, here and here - rather than TB.



Continuing my ill-informed rant about privatisation

There are some instances where privatisation has worked; the obvious example is telephones. There is effective competition in telephony, particularly mobiles, as you can make a reasonably informed choice and it's easy to change provider, particularly if you're on pay as you go.

However, there were still ridiculous charges for using your mobile in a different country, which might not be a huge issue for people who don't cross country borders often, but I do and I should think it's pretty bloody common in Belgium; in any case, I want to be able to use my phone on holiday. As it's a technology-based thing, the workforce is probably relatively small, but I would not want to work in a call centre.

Medicine is a different one. Firstly, it's not something that you use so often that you can make a choice; you don't have the experience. Secondly, a rich person can pay to use their phone more often; a rich person doesn't need better healthcare than a poor person (the opposite, in fact). Thirdly, I fail to see the case for the amount of money you have being able to justify better health care. We have a lack of doctors in this country. If you were to walk into a hospital and, on the basis of having more money, take the patient off the table and insist you have a less immediate need for surgery but you're bloody well going to have it anyway.

I also wonder why it is, though, that those who argue that the state is oppressive and should be cut back are always arguing in favour of the most oppressive parts of the state - the police and the armed forces.



New Bennism?

Cheerleader for neoliberalism and eating babies, Matt Sinclair, muses about Hillary Benn's refusal to give the World Bank £50m.

Ignoring the fact that he seems to think the current government is left wing, Matt does make make a few statements that are, er, nuts.
Respecting sovereignty means allowing nations to do what they want with their own citizens and their own money. It doesn't mean we have to throw our own money down a hole because we need to wear democratic blinders to avoid telling the difference between a loan which is going to end up spent on subsidies for the Chad auto industry and one which will get used constructively.
Yes, absolutely. However, we could perhaps come to an accomodation between the hardline position of Wolfowitz that - heaven forbid! - allows countries to have some say in how the West helps countries that they have royally screwed over in the past. Matt seems to follow the line that is working so well in Iraq and Afghanistan that once you have democratic structures in place, things will work perfectly. Unfortunately, as we see with low council turnouts in the UK, you have to think that voting is worth something to bother going to the polling station. What's the point of setting up a democracy if Paul Wolfowitz is going to offer you the choice of his way or starvation?

Seeing as you mention Chad, it's perhaps worth pointing out that the international financial system does have form in that country - Chevron and Petronas owe Chad on the order of US$450m. No, this isn't mad anti-imperialism - they let Exxon stay.
World Bank conditionality is an easy target for lazy snipes about democracy from socialists who haven't absorbed the historical experience of what privatisation, Britons should know, and trade liberalisation, all Europeans should remember, can do to improve a country's economic performance.
No, I don't think that we should, for instance, sell arms to Iraq and then advocate invading it. Where is that picture?

Oh, there it is!

Let's look at the experience of privatisation in Britain. The privatised company responsible for the Waterloo & City Line, Metronet, are so shite that they cannot open what must be one of the simpler railway lines in the world - two stations 1.5 miles apart and totally separate from the rest of the Tube.

Or we could talk about the competition that would occur between Rolling Stock Companies (ROSCOs). Oh, wait, no. Generally each type of carriage is only made by one company, so there is no competition. Not even economies of scale as with a nationalised system.

Southall, Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar showed that the attitude of private companies to safety was lax at best. Things have improved since the public outcry and more subsidy from the state, but there is still greater risk of an accident because of communication problems in a fragmented system.

I have to go out now - more later.



Will the real Charles Clarke please shut up?

I think it's fair to say I'm interested in politics. I don't know as much about it as I think I do, and I spend far too much time obsessing about day-to-day (or hour-to-hour) intrigue. However, I do tend to pick up on things - small, unimportant things.

Now, I may well be mistaken on this, but I don't think anyone really picked up on Gordon Brown's smile. Had someone asked, it could have easily been explained away as the two great statesmen of the age being of one mind as to the future direction of the country and that Brown was happy that the question had been settled.

Instead, Charles bloody Clarke has to stick his oar in, and ensure that things spark up again just as they were becoming quiet, with the added bonus of damaging the likely next PM. Nice one. Does Clarke have a deal with someone, hoping for preferment by damaging Brown, either to stop him winning or to strengthen someone else's hand? Who is going to run for Deputy Leader?

My concern, again, is that speculation over candidates for both positions and the forming and reforming of factions is going to hole Labour below the waterline. This isn't the Left agitating; we all know the Left don't like TB. These are Blairites, pink in tooth and claw, who have resigned. The coup is from within. The Blair-Brown feud looks increasingly silly as they are so close in policy terms; groups forming every few days (or being portrayed to be Fleet Street) will kill us in the upcoming elections.




Keep left

On the way into Parliament, just before you go past Westminster Hall, there's a sign (for pedestrian traffic management) that simply says:

"Keep Left"




Sinclair's Musing Again

Matt Sinclair's blog,, is back. Go, read, inwardly digest. There'll be a test later.


Labels: , , , , , , ,


Stop press: Government reads blog

Evidently unoriginalname38 has had an effect - within seconds of my post, Sky News announces six ministers have resigned.

Shurely shome mishtake?

Perhaps interesting to note that of the seven resignations (dare I say so far?), three are Welsh MPs - Wayne David (Caerphilly), Ian Lucas (Wrexham) and Mark Tami (Alyn & Deeside) - and there are elections coming up in Wales.


Labels: , , , , , , ,


The Star Who Won't Play the Last Encore

I was going to begin this post by saying that Tony Blair has done some good things and some bad things. I don’t actually think it’s relevant any more. I wish I’d been more aware during the last days of Thatcher and Major’s term so that I had more of a comparison and I wish I really knew how much of an effect the Sheffield rally had.

That having been said, I think it’s time for the Prime Minister to step down and leave the stage. He has become the issue.

Today’s edition of the Sun carries an exclusive of sorts about Tony Blair’s departure date, shortly after a decade in power. I don’t know whether that was a particular deliberate leak or not, but it is true that TB and the Sun are close – It Woz the Sun Wot Won It. I’ve been told that this was to make sure that the readership of such papers would stay on side. I’m going to take a guess and say that those readerships would not be impressed by a leadership election, particularly given the current atmosphere; the risk of ‘loving ourselves to death’ would be minimal.

I don’t see the succession of Tony Blair going away as an issue. If TB does not give any indication of when he’s going, the calls for an unpopular leader with unpopular policies to go immediately will continue and grow louder, with sections of the Labour Party and the Nick Robinson tendency of the media (and the Tories for explicitly partisan reasons) making things harder and harder for the party to do anything. Equally, if he is to announce a date – say a year hence – then as the date approaches, he will be increasingly a lame duck, with his policies taken less and less seriously by ministers who will be cosying up to whoever they think will be or want to be the next leader. Equally, people will have longer to prepare mounting alternative bids to Brown’s, leading to a fractured party (precisely what TB wanted to avoid) that will not look good for the next election.

This is a rod that TB has created for his own back by saying he would go before the next general election but not saying when. The curtain has come down, gone back up, and not only are the audience disinterested, some of the cast are walking off stage.



Click here for my Blogger profile


Ubuntu - linux for human beings

Firefox 2

Add to Technorati Favorites

Locations of visitors to this page

Powered by Blogger

Click here to find out why.

  • Atom RSS Feed

recent posts


friends' blogs


political blogs


blogs i like


photography blogs




political tools




sadly gone