millionreasons: (men)
In 1992, I was 18 and it was the first election I voted in. It was Easter but it was hot. Thatcher was gone, John Major was a joke, the Tories were a spent force. The opinion polls were good, the exit polls were good, it seemed that the last 13 years, almost my entire youth, were at an end, and Labour were about to win the election and cancel the student loan I'd just taken out. I didn't stay up. I woke up to Nicholas Witchell's grinning face on the TV and knew it was all over.

In 2010, I was pretty much convinced that the Tories would win with a small majority and so was reasonably pleased with the hung parliament, not foreseeing that the fucking LibDems would sell their souls down the river (but of course they would; the prime purpose of politics is to win).

In 2015, I believed the opinion polls and thought the exit poll might be wrong, which it was, but not in the way we wanted it to be. I therefore received a triple whammy when I woke up this morning. Not only was there no Lab/SNP coalition, not only was there no hung parliament with no party able to form a majority, but there Wasn't. Even. A. Con. LibDem. Coalition. A Tory majority. How the fuck did that happen? John Lanchester explains it pretty simply here, although fails to mention the appalling "reporting" by the right wing press. How it all hinged on how the leader of a political party eats a sodding sandwich.

In 2010, I was angry and manic, now I feel sad and depressed and I don't feel that I don't want to feel like that. I'm finding it hard to focus on anything else and am wallowing and making myself feel worse by reading things like this and this. I feel as you do when you have a bereavement, that you don't want to think of anything else but you know you must - to move on, not to sink.

I once opined that people who vote Tory are either stupid or selfish (or both) and I can't move away from that. It feels horrendous that stupid and selfish people decide what kind of country we live in.

On the other hand, UKIP lost one seat and didn't gain another, but still, they received 13% of the vote, coming second in many Labour heartland seats. The only real positive I can find is that Red London may vote in a Labour mayor next year. Unless the execrable Katie Hopkins stands for the Conservatives, they'll have lost their personality (sic) candidate, and so I'm hoping that the people of Enfield, Redbridge, Barking, Ealing, Hammersmith, Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon, Hendon, Harrow, Brent, Waltham Forest, Bexley, Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Newham* will vote Labour.

* the boroughs with at least one Labour MP.

millionreasons: (men)
1. Emily Thornberry shouldn't have posted that tweet.
2. If Grace or Caitlin or whoever is currently Queen of twitter had posted it, it would have been guffaws all 'round.
3. The right wing press is extraordinarily hypocritical - where would their journos rather live: a townhouse in Islington or a terrace in Strood?
4. The Sun and its ilk pick on working class people all the time, from Eastenders actors (remember David Scarboro?) to White Dee to pre-cancer Jade Goody.
5. Calling him White Dan Man is as patronising as Ms Thornberry's original tweet.
6. I do believe that Mr Ware's "Danifesto" was just written by a Sun hack. The ur-white van man's concerns are pigeons and free screenwash. Right. This is what people who live in Chipping Norton think that the plebs like. Talk about condescension.
7. Seriously, his 15 minutes are up now (c.f. Gillian Duffy/Joe the Plumber).
8. Whilst it's depressing that the shitstorm has taken negative coverage away from the Tories' loss, it's also taken the positive coverage away from the UKIPs, which is ridiculous to begin with. The story should have been: Incumbent MP wins seat, despite being a racist tossbag.
9. I'm glad George Orwell is not alive to witness this, mainly because he would be 111, but the very idea that the two main political parties are arguing over a flag, rather than whether Balls or Osborne is more able to run the economy drives me up the wall. It's copying the nonsense of US politics. St George flag good. Organic fairtrade latte bad.
10. As if the Tories don't hate the working class. Their Modus Operandi seems to be to crush the poor, e.g. cutting welfare (including to in-work claimants), cutting the top level of tax whilst raising VAT, forcing councils to cut services, cutting funding to charities who mop up government failure, privatising the NHS and so on.

millionreasons: (photo)

I’ve only watched 2 of the Secret History Of Our Streets documentaries (due to our Humax DVR becoming sentient and trying to decide for us which TV progs we should watch. It has a particular dislike for the Daily Show Global Edition) but enjoyed both. The first one was about Camberwell Grove, which I found interesting as I realised a tiny bit of my history was in there. I used to walk up the Grove reasonably often (it’s near Lyndhurst Grove, which Mr Cocker wrote about) and I remember noticing builders working on what I thought were new build houses, done in an olde worlde style. A guy from Walworth was interviewed about his living there in the 70s and 80s. He was offered a new flat at Elephant and Castle that he didn’t want and he persuaded the council to let him rent one of the dilapidated Georgian houses at the end of the Grove. He split up with his wife, turned the house into an anarchist squat with vegetables and trapeze artists in the back garden. He was eventually evicted and the council sold the buildings to a developer who did them up and sold them in 1996 – which is when I moved to Camberwell.

The second programme focused on Portland Road in Notting Hill. Now, I am old enough to remember W11 as a bohemian area: Rough Trade, Portobello Market, Record and Tape Exchange. I have known people who’ve rented there. I’m not sure when it changed – when East London became fashionable? When Cameron et al moved in? That awful Curtis film? From working to middle to upper class - the old boozer that became a wine bar in the 80s is now a beauty salon for yummy mummies. However, the bankers interviewed didn’t seem happy about living there. One complained that it cost an awful lot to be a banker nowadays - £3mil on the house, chauffeur, private education, togs for the missus. I must be heartless because I didn't cry for them. Another one was fed up of the Hill lifestyle and had moved to the countryside and was living in a shack. This was contrasted with someone who had lived in social housing on the street for 20 years, but now resides in a mobile home on the coast. The programme didn’t mention the middle-classification of council estates, people like me who can’t afford a Victorian conversion but can put down a deposit for a 1950s or '60s bed council flat. That is a new social trend that will probably have repercussions in the future when there's nowhere left for the working class to live.

Of course, the producers were manipulating the average viewer’s class hatred, which seems to have made a comeback, I think due to the recession. In good times, we look up to the rich, thinking we could become like them. In bad times, we see them as part of the problem. Even the most rabid working class/lower middle class Tory surely can't believe that the deficit is caused by the disabled. The increasing gap between rich and poor is no good for anyone - crime occurs not when everyone is poor but when there’s a chasm between the people at the bottom and the people at the top. The posh people up one end of Portland Road were very scared by the last remaining council block at the other end of the road.

Talking of housing and class, Mr Cameron’s ludicrous notion of cutting housing benefit for 25 years olds, i.e. stopping mobility (literal, not social), stopping people taking part time jobs, stopping matri- and patri- cide (I would’ve gone insane if I’d had to live with my parents one day past the end of my A-levels). When I lived in France, everyone under 25 got housing benefit, whether you wanted it or not. Even I, as a) a student and b) an English person, got it. Maybe Sarkozy put paid to that, but it seems such a contrast to Cameron’s vision of the UK as USA-lite.

millionreasons: (men)
I watched a little bit of Newsnight last night, before remembering why I don't watch Newsnight. I understand that the news-media must put a narrative on events, but theirs made no sense. They were determined that Ken Livingstone is an unpopular man amongst the left. I really don't get this. Unpopular with Tony Blair, yes, but amongst the populace? He was popular in the GLC days, he was so popular he won as an independent in 2000, and then again as the Lab candidate in 2004. Newsnight tried to sell the idea that although the voters of Camden and Barnet had voted overwhelmingly for a Labour London Assembly member, they'd also chosen Boris rather than Ken, because the latter is so hated. This fails to take into account that a) Barnet is a heavily Jewish area and Ken is viewed as anti-semitic; it's possible that the Hasids of Barnet voted Boris and then didn't bother with the London Assembly voting forms, and b) Brian Coleman, the current B&C GLA member is actually hated by pretty much everyone.

I don't know if Ken is anti-semitic. His comments to the Evening Standard journalist were idiotic, but one only has to look at the controversies section on Boris's wikipedia page to see he's said much much worse. Ken had links with nasty Islamic fundamentalists but Boris has links with News International. Worse, he has links with George Osborne. Ken (legally) puts his wages into a company to pay his staff, Boris uses the office of a non-tax paying company for his telephone canvassing. Ken was accused of cronyism, Boris had to sack his first deputy mayor after a month amid claims of that old Tory chestnut, financial irregularities (and oh! he's just lost another one. Losing one deputy mayor is unfortunate....etc). This LRB article on Ken and his memoir is pretty good.

The news has also decided that it's Boris's whif-whaffery, blond mop and hilarious (sic) personality that won him the Mayoralty. Maybe it's just that there's more fucking Tories in London, now that the Conservatives are doing their best to get rid of the poor within the city limits. Maybe it's just that unpolitical people aren't sick of Boris yet. Also, in 2008, Ken got 149,884 less first votes than Boris. This time around the first vote gap was 82,013. KL got more second votes than BJ and thus a larger share of the popular vote overall. It's hardly a landslide for Johnson. Ditto, although I'm glad Tories have lost their seats on councils and the Greens look like they could become the third party, replacing the yellow-belly LibDems, local elections don't mean that much in terms of who wins general elections. We're not even half way through this parliamentary term yet.

When the Tories were (not really) elected and I was trying not to move to Sweden, I thought one silver lining of living under a right wing government would be that support for the BNP would decrease. I was right. I'm trying to find a silver lining now: Boris's win means he becomes more of a threat to Cameron - live by the TV personality, get shafted by the TV personality. Talking of, I hope no Tory women were standing too near BJ when the result was declared in case fell on them like a wardrobe with the key sticking out (pace Nicholas Soames).

Anyway, I hope the people who voted Boris are looking forward to £2 bus fares and £15 day travelcards*. Oh no, they won't, will they, because they just drive around in their massive fucking cars.

* When Boris was elected, an off-peak zones 1-2 one day travelcard on an oyster was £4.60. Now £7. 52% increase.

In non-Mayor news, I was sad at the death of Adam Yauch. I hated the Beastie Boys when they burst into 1986 with their frat-boy humour and annoying songs. Ok, I was 13, I didn't know what a frat-boy was, but I didn't like their schtick. But then suddenly, they were great. Hey Ladies! Sabotage! Intergalactic! They went from having caged female dancers and blow-up dicks on stage to this:

millionreasons: (men)
Letters page, Guardian

So now we know the real reason for the failure of the economy to grow. It's the 50p tax rate, and not, as earlier thought, Gordon Brown, the
bad winter weather, the Icelandic volcano, the royal wedding, the European debt crisis, Gordon Brown again, the American credit downgrade,
the Arab spring, leaves on the line, riots in English cities, turbulent economic headwinds, the phone hacking scandal, and Colonel Gaddafi with
Gordon Brown. Just nothing to do with me, gov.

Adrian Jackson
millionreasons: (men)
The more I see of Cameron, the more I feel some kind of grudging respect for Thatcher, that hideous old bag who I expect the Teselecta from Dr Who to visit just before the end of her 'timeline'. But at least Thatcher had some kind of plan, some kind of vision, some kind of idea to turn England's economy away from unionised northern working class manufacturing towards non-unionised southern aspirational financial services. Replace one industry with another. Britain weathered the '30s depression by sacrificing the ship building of the north for the house building of the south. Tough tits for everyone in Jarrow, hurrah for Metroland.

It wasn't until after the war that the north rose again. In the '50s and '60s, it seemed that everyone: writers, musicians, artists, politicians originated from beyond the Watford Gap. My 1970s childhood was voiced by Northeners (The Flumps, Blue Peter, Ivor the Engline). But in the '80s, Eastenders replaced Corrie, Martin Amis displaced Alan Sillitoe, there were New Romantics rather than the Mersey sound. Norman Tebbit not Dennis Healey. Under Thatcher, the working class went out of fashion.

Thus it is again. Cameron's had his riots, his colonial-esque war, his high unemployment, even a strike which didn't last quite as long as the miners' strike. The Tory Coalition is just an '80s tribute government, but I still don't really know what they are for. Small government, yes, but then what? The Big Society, based on the idea that people will volunteer after or instead of their jobs, is not so much laughable as dismissable. It's a blue sky focus group concept rather than a political ideology.

I think what Cam 'n' chums want is just to be successful. The MP Expenses Scandal was referenced when the rioters were being defended - the implication being that if the people at the 'top' are grasping and greedy and take what they can because they can get away with it, then why should the people at the 'bottom' be any different? Surveys in which kids say they want to grow up to be a celebrity and not a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, are constantly invoked when talking about the moral bankruptcy of the age. But if the people in government only want their political lives to be effortless rather than effective, then why shouldn't children emulate that?

Meanwhile, the BBC seems to be turning into the Daily Mail. Article on their breakfast news show yesterday asked if there was a correlation between the number of unemployed young people and the increase in immigrants entering the country. Not until young people are prepared to fruit-pick, bus-drive, old people-care or nurse can this question be answered.
millionreasons: (men)
On the proposed merger of the three Central/West London Conservative Councils (Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster), and the fear that the private sector will take over running sections of it, he writes:

"What people don't seem to realise is that I'm not just worried for myself. I'm worried about the other people who work here. There are a lot of people who are good people, who work hard above and beyond the remit of their job. Of all the places I've worked, I can honestly say that the council has a lower percentage of shirkers than anywhere else I've worked. Though I may complain at times, people here are genuinely helpful to each other and there isn't the office politics problems that dog most offices. It really riles me that a lot of these people will suffer because they're deemed an easy target by the current government. Forget the social workers, teachers and nurses. Councils are about so much more. The people in libraries, the planning departments, the cashiers, the council tax department, the fostering department and obviously the finance team where I work. The unglamorous jobs that people don't appreciate and don't/shouldn't notice. Imagine if any of them were run by a company such as Vodafone. The calls going into queues, never to be answered. The things that are supposed to be sorted over the phone, but then there's no record of it afterwards. The disparity between the people on the ground and the management. It all just riles me immensely."

Some years ago, Rotherham Council (Lab majority) took a look at its IT section and decided to outsource it to BT. Strangely, when BT took over, it was deemd that BT would also run the personnel section - where my dad worked. He, being 60, was offered early retirement, but what about when there aren't enough people taking voluntary redundancy and early retirement?

The first time I heard of George Osborne, I thought his name was a joke made up by the Guardian.
millionreasons: (charlie)
Good article in the Graun about the BBC colluding with the government over the presentation of the incipient cuts in order to (in my opinion) curry favour with Dave, Gideon & chums and avoid any cuts themselves, or a clamp down on the licence fee or BBC3 being handed over to the Murdoch Cosa Nostra. I wasn't aware of the Thompson/Hilton meeting, but I've certainly noticed that when the Beeb have been doing vox pops (usually with regionally-accented members of the public), they've managed to find people who believe the cuts are inevitable, and they're scared for their job, but they know we have to clear the deficit. This sounds like a pre-1980s schoolboy being punished for something a prefect did and saying that he knows he has to be caned, he's aware that it's going to hurt but he knows it's necessary. Strangely, no-one seems to be saying: Instead of cuts to spending on the public, who haven't done anything wrong, how about, say, a Tobin tax on financial transactions? Or a 75% tax rate on earnings over £500K? Or withdrawing the civil list (or indeed, taxing the Royal Family at the same rate as other people rather than 2%) or lowering capital gains tax or cancelling Trident or taxing the aviation industry to the hilt?

All of these things seem to be unthinkable in this increasingly masochistic and right wing country and the regionally-accented people with their average wages of £25,000 and their Sure Start centre shut down and their library hours cut and their housing benefit reduced and their elderly care cut and their kids in classes of 40 are like lambs to their own culling. The Tory coalition government must be the first elected not on promises of free milk and honey but on the commitment to cutting the state back to its bare bones.

We're all in this together, but some are (dropped) in it more than others. I understand why the Tories don't want to tax their pals in the city who caused the recession in the first place but I don't understand why le peuple don't think the government should do so - unless the BBC cut those interviews. The bankers get their tax-funded bonuses and we don't get street-lights? How on earth does that work??

January 2017

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