Friday, 23 July 2010

Keir On London

Though of Celtic stock, Keir has a close attachment to London. So Boris Johnson's reign as Mayor of the capital has been troubling. Sure, Boris has done a few good things. Not completely following the party line is in some ways admirable, and championing the Living Wage campaign led by London Citizens is also something to be commended. However, he is in more than equal part dangerous.

Plus, Brand Boris is fading. He is a character, but to hold such an important role requires more than character. The way he has often passed "achievements" off as his own is pretty annoying. As is the way he deflects serious questions about important issues with humourous quips and ancient phrases that few below social class B would care about understanding. His threat to the cost of travel in London is also worrying. He is a freak of a politician in many ways; a hark back to the old days when charisma could sometimes be much more important than policies. (People will say that is actually more prevalent these days by citing Blair and Obama as politicians who won on charisma...Keir says these people should take a look at Blobama's often revolutionary policies before talking such nonsense.) Labour's election performance in London (38 seats to the 28 Tory seats) suggests that there can definitely be a Labour recovery of City Hall. However, Ken Livingstone's time has been and gone. As a colleague recently pointed out on Twitter, it's over.

Step forward, Oona King.

Politics is in the process of being freshened up with David Miliband's community organising training re-building the Labour movement, new members joining the party in their 1000's and a fresh-faced bunch of new politicians like Chuka Umunna and Stella Creasy, Rachel Reeves and Gloria de Piero. London needs to follow suit. No more Tory policy speak. No more champagne receptions. No more banker love-ins. Boris has to go. His defence of the bankers in the City was vomit-inducing. "...the City of London produces 9% of UK GDP" was his main defence. Well, I don't know about you, but I'd rather that decrease by, say, 2% and not have to go through the painful effects of its cyclic crash every now and then.

Oona would bring a fresh approach to politics. She's also a proven hard campaigner. She would support the grassroots movement that helped Labour fight off a Tory majority. Her tireless efforts fighting an anti-war ticket candidate in a difficult seat in 2005 should not be forgotten by anyone; especially as the man who beat her turned out to be the mug we all knew he would be.

Her policies make sense and will resonate with Londoners. Her plan to tackle knife crime and the fear of knife crime with a combination of increasing provision, services and activities for young people whilst clamping down hard on the crimes, is well thought-out. Her housing policy to secure more social housing from new developments is something that London desperately needs.

And let's not beat around the proverbial bush: what a great advert for London and for Britain. One of the great capitals of the world led by a young, charismatic, mixed race female.

Ken talks old school, Boris talks Confucius, Oona talks London.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gillan Cracks

Keir cares not for the means, so long as the ends are achieved. With that in mind, there is some slight relief to be felt after Cheryl Gillan's recent admission that Wales will be disproportionately hit by the Conservative governments fetish for public sector cuts. Not relief at the fact that Wales will be hardest hit, of course; just relief that she's admitting it.

As you should know, ahem, Keir was banging on about this months ago. Indeed, it was the whole reason for the open letter that Keir sent to Mrs. Gillan and all Welsh officials earlier this year. Maybe Huw Irranca-Davies' persistence and his whole-hearted championing of the issue has helped to make her realise she has a responsibility to serve the people of Wales.

Either way, at least it's got through.

However, it still comes back to the Cabinet Committee problem. In her statement, the Secretary of State says,

"...therefore in budget discussions we are looking at the impact on the Welsh budget".

Well, where better to discuss this than the Economic Affairs Cabinet Committee? But, of course, this is one of the Committees that Mrs. Gillan doesn't have membership on; it's the one that irked Keir the most. This was precisely why it was so important that she sits on that Committee. Precisely the reason Keir took time out of his otherwise busy day to write a polite letter; precisely the reason Huw Irranca-Davies took his question to the House. If she had realised this prior to Huw asking his question, maybe she wouldn't have snapped back like a Buckinghamshire terrier and would have, instead, given a reasoned answer.

At least this gives fellow Welsh MPs more scope to put pressure on Mrs. Gillan to ensure she gives Wales a voice in this new government. The fight can go on.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

More From The Fail

Getting bored of doing this, but feel it is necessary...

YET another terrible, terrible article from the Daily Fail.

"Ephraim Hardcastle" says David Miliband has had jobs "handed to him on a plate".

Well, I guess it is pretty easy getting a First Class degree from Oxford. And then I can't imagine much easier than studying Political Science at MIT; even easier to get onto the course as a Kennedy Scholar.

Ephraim's right, it is totally lamentable that after achieving so much through hard work in education, David Miliband got jobs relatively easily.

I wonder what sort of struggle, hardship and toil "Ephraim" had to go through to get a job at the most vile newspaper in the country?


Monday, 19 July 2010

DC Launches BS

"And this is how small I want the state to be."

So, it has actually happened. The most mental idea of the whole election campaign is actually being launched.

When David Cameron first introduced us to The Big Society at the Conservative Party manifesto launch, it was the moment that gave me hope that Labour could snatch victory from the deep blue jaws of defeat. And how he tried to pass this off as his great idea. It was like the Obama community organising heritage, he claimed. The Conservative Party website section about The BS even name-drops the father of modern community organising, Saul Alinsky. Some I've listened to even compare The BS to David Miliband's recent Movement for Change initiative; an initiative championed by Keir.

Cameron said that the BS will be, "the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street". BS indeed. The BS is not a redistribution of power; it is a redistribution of workload. What David Miliband wants people to do, what groups like CitizensUK do, what Barack Obama did, was organise people to hold the state to account.

DC says, "Don't like your hospital? Build a sodding new one then."

DM says, "Don't like your hospital? Organise your people and make the authorities give you the hospital you deserve".

Spot the not-so-subtle difference.

As people's public services start to collapse, The BS will be shown up for what it is. It will allow the rich to flourish just like the "free schools" experiment, one of the flagship areas of The BS policy programme, allowed only the rich to prosper in Sweden and only served to widen the gap in attainment between the wealthy and the poor. When funding is cut from people's services in poor parts of the country, and they are told "you sort it out, because we're not forking out for it", the BS will come undone.

The BS is not grassroots power. It is not politics from below. It is politics from the suburbs. Not politics by the unemployed, but politics by those who don't need to be employed. Not politics by the affected, but politics by the affluent.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ed Balls is in trouble...

With the rumours swirling last week that it was Ed Balls who had been briefing that Andy Burnham might be on the way out of the leadership contest to avoid the ignominy of finishing last, Keir took particular interest in the latest round of supporting nominations, not least because it gave him the first summary of the state of the race he'd had for a while.

Keir's opinion of Ed Balls isn't that great. He has all the drawbacks of Gordon Brown (personal unpopularity not least amongst them) without any of the perceived advantages. While the media have been crowing that maybe it is Balls with the momentum after his opposition to VAT rise and advantage he has derived from the totally self inflicted wounds of Michael Gove, the figures really do show a different story.

More scientific polling done for the Daily Telegraph reinforces this. (With the usual caveats re: accuracy of AV polls)

Balls is for all intents and purposes last.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Express have got over Diana...just...

This was actually a real front page. Keir is sure he is not alone in being aghast.

We are all in this together...

We are all in this together, Gideon Osborne tells us. Unless you are a Conservative councillor that is.

Keir is uncomfortable using cliches but "they just don't get it"

(Loving the BBC new look by the way)

Incidentally this is Barnet Council, the same council that was lauded by some as being the first 'no frills' council. Keir can neither confirm or deny that you are only allowed one bag of rubbish per person per week, that council workers wear vomit inducing t-shirts, or that the council run buses drop you off in Luton.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Diane Abbott

"He even let us take his picture, unlike Diane Abbott who only uses ‘approved photography’."

From Here

Can't think why...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Political Reform?

Both Clegg and Cleggerer now support the "right to recall" MPs; something which across the pond happens quite regularly: a recall in 2003 of California Gov. Gray Davis led to the election of the Governator, Ahnuld.

Keir knows why the right to recall was proposed; for similar reasons that a referendum on the voting system was proposed.

1. The Liberal Democrats are shameless local campaigners and the possibility of recalling an MP mid Parliament would not only give them added impetus (because you can guarantee any issue, be it slight or even only perceived would be waved around by the Libs: what constitutes an issue big enough to even attempt a recall is a problem and was the catalyst of writing this...) but also the opportunity to maybe pick up one or two seats. (A recall campaign would be all about GOTV; and the Libs can be pretty good at this.) As with reform of the voting system, the Libs support this because it is to their advantage.

2. The Liberals support 'political reform' because its part of their created personality: it is amongst the things they do: eat muesli, read the Independent, want to put us all at risk by abolishing Trident (and supporting a rise in VAT more recently!). They have cultivated this personality; they are 'different' from the "same old tired two parties" (if Keir had a tenner every time Cleggy had said that during the election campaign he could physically come back to life, not just through the blogosphere) although this might now be at risk because no longer can they sit on the sidelines throwing shit...

3. Because all parties were desperately incapable of coping with the fall out from the expenses furore. While admittedly, the drip drip from the Torygraph didn't help, nor the rabid reaction from the most vocal person any TV crew could find, most MPs, in fact, were probably guilty of some sort of abuse of their expenses, even if completely legal. Take for example Jenny Willott, the reelected Liberal Democrat MP from Cardiff Central. She claimed 1700 pounds for a bed. Why so much? Because it was the only bed she could dissasemble to fit into her flat in Adamsdown (or wherever she lives now!) You, as much as Keir, know that that is utter bollocks!
All parties were completely incapable of dealing with the expenses because they were all as guilty as each other (Yes, I know what the Liberals pretend, but see David Laws and his hubby, and the insufferable Sarah Teather and her Office situation), and other than saying "We won't do it again" and reforming the expenses system, (both particularly unmeasurable by the public) what could they do, anyway? Therefore, "political reform"; AV and 'recall' is an attempt of cooling the anger of the electorate: and I feel that some are falling into this trap: see the support for AV in the most recent polls. AV is hardly more proportional, and doesn't really address the problem of expenses: which is that certain MPs were venal thieves, while several were criminal.

So why did Keir write this blogpost? Well, Mark Reckless MP (Con-Rochester and Stroud) self diagnosed himself as being too drunk to vote on the second reading of the Finance Bill, early Wednesday morning. The expense crisis was a one off (and any MP who is worth their salt will be very careful where expenses are concerned in the future) so 'recall' is not going to be used to punish that. The question is: was Mark Reckless reckless enough to be recalled? Does getting shedded on the public purse while doing the peoples work constitute grounds for recall?

Friday, 9 July 2010

Keir Is Alive And Well In The Valleys

Today, in the heart of the Valleys where Keir once agitated and organised, David Miliband gave a speech honouring the lessons we can learn from Keir's life and actions as well as speaking of his future hope for our movement, party and country.

The best thing to do is post the link, so the whole speech is here.

From a podium fronted with a yellowed, framed picture of Keir in the Cynon Valley, Miliband spoke to a crowd of ex-pitmen from Penrhiwceiber, unemployed people in their 20's from Aberaron, workers from Mountain Ash and pensioners from Cwmbach. This is a part of the country embedded in so-called "old" Labour values. A part of the country battered and slashed by successive Conservative governments and a part of the country staring directly at the oncoming threat of austere measures that could threaten to destroy them once more. It is also a part of the country that doesn't care much for the collective sympathy of others; a part of the country where people stick together through all of the above and stand sternly in the path of the blue axe.

Furthermore, it is a part of the country where the people have no passive deference to those at the top. There is not much hero worship in this part of the country; maybe except for rugby legends. The only other heroes are the people from their own communities; like the ones who lived and nearly died down the pits. The ones like Keir who dragged life with them, kicking and screaming, when the elite cared not to provide any opportunities to them: the ones who made things for themselves. Politicians certainly are not easily worthy of such hero treatment. Pomp, glitz and spin don't sit with the people in this part of the country and there is no respect for reputation alone. Facebook, Twitter and hashtags don't impress these people. What they want from their politicians is action.

So, when the gathered crowd stood to applaud the speech, as well as the substantial Q & A session, given by David Miliband, you felt it was a big deal. For anyone who thought Miliband could not capture the values and beliefs of the left, centre-left and soft-left of the party, seeing the reaction of this audience proved absolutely otherwise.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

And The Winner....

...for most ridiculous, meaningless, clearly biased, Tory-shagging, anti-Labour tone, total right-wing bollocks of a piece of journalism goes to.....

........ Of course! Who else! The Daily Fail, for this piece of absolute shit.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

On Forgemasters and political reform

So the Coalition government abandoned the planned £80m loan agreement with Sheffield Forgemasters, with which they would have bought new machines to make nuclear reactor components, even though both coalition partners spoke about the need to rebuild this countries manufacturing base in their manifestos.

Deputy Dawg has announced a referendum on alternative vote: the apex of ultimate deception over expenses: 'a new voting system will fix EVERYTHING'. This referendum will cost...£80m.

Glad that Clegg sees a few more Lib Dem MPs as more important than 100s of jobs in Sheffield.

Governing in the national interest.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Sally Bercow and Blairism

Keir loves Sally, he really does, as evinced by the excellently photo shopped picture above. He also loves the way she gets the Tory press's knickers in a twist, "...but, shes, shes a binge drinker, shes, shes, shes, been a naughty girl, shes, shes, shes, too tall" ad infinitum. But, he must use her as an example in discussion of a very strange malaise sweeping certain members of the Labour Party. Some of whom (the lovely Sally not amongst them, obviously), Keir feels, who think that getting involved means a few retweets on Twitter and getting irate now we're in opposition. Where were you at 9pm on Polling Day? Keir knows where he was, and where LetUsFace... was too.

This malaise is centred around this man.

Tony-San looks very, very smug there, as well he might. This is the leader that made Labour electable again. This is the leader that made them a viable, alternative government. This is the man who swept Labour into Downing Street and power with two landslides of epic proportions. This is the leader that while fighting a poorly communicated, politically and publicly unpopular war, he still managed to stuff the Tories so much that even against the most unpopular Prime Minister in history, they still rely on the sandal wearing, muesli munching " the national interest" Liberals signing their own death warrants to prop them up.

But his success is not only measured electorally. This is the man that dragged Britain out of the doldrums and into the bright, shining uplands of the 21st Century. This is the man that reformed the NHS, investing in it as never before. This is the man that helped bring peace to Northern Ireland. This is the man that helped bring peace to Sierra Leone. This is the man that removed a murderous dictator. This is the man that frankly, realigned British politics so completely that the party of Thatcher are now led by the self described "...heir to Blair."

So what the hell is Sally Bercow, and people with attitudes like this, thinking?
SallyBercow Night all. Labour tweeps - I ♥ you *all*#evenBlairites. And thx to #fangirls 4 the ♥ lesson#backtohashtagsinthemorningthough
Even Blairites? Oh, OK then, which #leader do you prefer then Sally love? Let us think about the Labour Party's electoral success pre and post Blair. Oh, yes. Harold Wilson? Remember him. Clem Atlee? Ramsey McDonald? Maybe Gordon Brown?

So tell me, do you support the reheated mishmash of policies we fought for last time out? Or maybe the electorally suicidal ones that led to our regular spankings by the Thatch? Keir knows its cool to bash Blair, but come on! Maybe you would prefer to be in opposition forever following wierdy, so called 'left wing' policies and those that advocate them.

Keir's feelings are difficult to sum up really. But ungrateful is one of them. Blairism is popular. Blairism is what got Labour elected, and Blairism is what will get Labour elected again.

While Keir is foaming at the mouth, this is the same sort of people that seem to think "add to the debate" is an essential part of a leadership contest (Yes I am fucking looking at you all you lemmings who endorsed Abbott and McDonnell)

To win, Labour needs to get real. Yes, it's cool to fantasise about your sexy next door neighbour with all her charms: nationalisation of the banks, unilateral nuclear disarmament and the advance of socialism. But fantasy's rarely turn out as good in the flesh. We need the solid, dependable wife. Capitalism with a human face, because that is what the people want, and that is what the country needs. The state blunting the excesses of the market and providing a social safety net.

This wasn't meant to be an endorsement for leader at all. But we don't need Ed Balls, Sally Bercow's chosen candidate. He is the singular most unpopular politician in the UK. We've tried this before, remember. ("But I've met him, he's a really nice guy")It doesn't work. The public don't like him. He's a busted flush.

As stated previously, we don't need to lurch leftwards either, and as much as I like him, we don't need a candidate who so far has only managed to formulate his appeal as being Northern. We need someone with the Everyman ability of Blair, and the only person that comes [very] remotely near to that is David Miliband.

More on David Laws

He did nothing wrong, he was persecuted because of his sexuality!

OFCOM states that Sky News is biased, aggressive and Tory

The media regulator Ofcom has dismissed almost 2,800 complaints about Sky News's coverage of the general election.

Viewers had objected to Adam Boulton's treatment of the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, and his on-screen clash with the former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, aas well as Kay Burley's interview with an electoral reformist.

Boulton, the Sky News political editor, attracted 1,787 complaints. A total of 671 viewers complained about an interview between Boulton and Campbell on Monday 10 May. Most of the complainants objected to what they viewed as unprofessional behaviour by Boulton, who appeared to lose his temper after Campbell accused him of being "upset that David Cameron is not prime minister".

"Two well-known personalities from the worlds of politics and journalism were taking part in a debate about a matter of topical and serious concern," said Ofcom. "We considered that although the tone and content of this exchange was unusual, it would not have been beyond the likely expectations of the audience for this channel."

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Update on Gillan-gate

Just a quick update on the Cheryl Gillan issue.

After her answer to Huw Irranca-Davies' question, one might have thought that the issue would be dropped. Not so. Keir has never known a Welshman to drop a cause like that so easily. In fact, Keir's sure this one will drag on. "It would not be right to leave this one rest on just one bold attempt," were the encouraging words from the Ogmore MP. He e-mailed Keir to give his thoughts and pointed out how rattled Mrs. Gillan got after being asked the question. "The lady's not for turning", were his apt words. Keir thinks that Mrs. Gillan couldn't care less about the committees she sits on or, for that matter, about Wales.

Irranca-Davies went on to raise the issue again at the seemingly farcical Welsh Grand Committee meeting a few days ago. Reading Betsan's blog is what I'd recommend to get an idea of the somewhat bizarre and shambolic way the new government is running the Welsh Office.

And, finally, the Welsh media have taken up the issue it seems. The Western Mail featured this article last week.

So no developments, but an update nonetheless.


A Day At The Hustings

Doesn't Andy Burnham look well shady in that photo?!

Anyway, Keir was in attendance at a Labour Leadership Hustings on a typically grey Sunday morning in lovely South Wales. In what was a fantastic turnout of, apparently, over 300 people, members put a range of questions to the leadership contenders.

My brief summary on each candidate, should you be interested, was as follows.

Dianne Abbott was actually really good and got a good response from the Welsh members (and non-Welsh apparently; two of the questions were from English constituents in areas where no hustings are being held). Her passion is clear, even if some of the things she has done and said aren't exactly consistent. What Abbott does have is her voting record, which is a particularly powerful tool in relation to the Iraq war vote. She rightly pointed out that voting against it at the time and constantly speaking out against it is much more noble than changing your mind now. Ed 'n Ed: take note. But other than that, she also does help the debate and makes it a bit wider. Her closing speech was good too.

Ed Balls was much of a muchness. I think his whole campaign has been. Balls is at his best as a street fighter; a guard dog. He will make up an important part of the Opposition front bench, but this man cannot lead the party. At one point he said that Blair and Brown sometimes didn't listen enough, indicating that he would move the party away from the 13 years in which we followed Michels' "iron law of oligarchy." Very doubtful.

The other Ed (you know, David's brother) seemed to start the debate very well, with members responding well to his ideas on how to re-structure the party. But he seemed to fade out. His closing speech was very good until he said, "I'll finish with a pledge...I will not leave the party behind". Didn't quite get that.

Andy Burnham, who has already earned himself the "dark horse" tag, seemed good enough. I admire Burnham's speaking ability and think he will be a hugely important asset for the party for many years. He also had some good things to say, not least when he spoke about the National Care Service which I, like he, believe will be the next major step in health care in this country. It is something I hope he really keeps working on. Burnham's answer to the question about his proudest moment was also quite good. He talked about the Hillsborough disaster and it was clearly something close to his heart. He got a loud cheer when he expressed his disgust about Jeremy Hunt's absurdly ill-advised comments recently. And an even louder one for his comments about selective education, where he said he opposed it with every bone in his body.

You know where this is going, right?

Abbott was good, Burnham was very good, even Balls ticked some of my boxes. But there was one clear difference between the aforementioned candidates and the fifth one. There was only one Prime Minister sitting before the gathered Welsh comrades. As Huw Irranca-Davies MP correctly pointed out afterwards, only one of the 5 candidates genuinely scares the Tories and Cameron. Only one has a proven record of passing innovative, sometimes radical, reforms. Only one of the candidates has started doing the things they say they will do already. Only one cares about the party and it's ideals so much that he is investing money into things that will benefit the party, whoever wins this election. Only one can combine his anger and passion with cutting, constructive argument. If David Miliband wins this leadership election, Labour will be back in power by 2015. Led by a man who knows that the machine is not more important than the movement, the renewal of the party could be such that the Conservatives again have to sit in the wings, trying to change their image and trying to capture the Holy Grail that is the centre-ground voters again. Labour does not have to change it's values or it's image. Our values, unlike those of the Conservatives, will always remain the same. But the restructuring of power in the party that is being carried out already by David Miliband will get Labour back to where it was as the party of the people and by the people. One dodgy joke aside, Miliband was the clear star of the show. At no point was this clearer than when he gave his foreign policy comments that cut through the populist and slightly inexperienced answers that his opponents gave. Having been asked a question about the Israel-Palestine situation, a few of the other candidates said that the answer lay in standing up to the USA when necessary. Miliband disagreed. The situation would only be sorted, he said, when the UK and others engage the whole Arab world in this problem. It was an answer of a man who understands the world.