Sunday, September 13, 2015

What next for Labour

Labour has a new leader. Jeremy Corbyn won 59.5% of the vote. The party seems quite clear about this choice: Corbyn won a large majority - not just among recently-joining affiliates, but also among the full members of the party. They are clearly in it for the long haul - this was not just a campaign by a few blow-ins who wanted to sabotage the election.

And yet senior figures in the parliamentary party are resigning from their shadow ministry and spokesperson roles in protest. They fear Corbyn is unelectable, and will drag the party towards a position the electorate will not accept. Perhaps he will - or perhaps not.

But what these senior figures are missing,  or choosing to ignore, is that the party has rejected what they themselves are offering. They should think long and hard before plunging their party into a feud that will indeed make Labour unelectable!

Their party seems quite certain it does not want "more of the same." Now might be a good time to sit down and come up with an alternative to Cameron's Conservative austerity and Blair's almost-Conservative austerity lite.

picture: (c) Jim on Flickr, some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Party like it's 1997

It seems like both of Northern Ireland's main Unionist parties are stuck in the last Millennium, partying in the last chance saloon like it's 1997. The trigger was a murder, believed by the Police to be by members of the IRA, although sanctioned neither by the IRA's leadership nor by Sinn Fein (formerly known as the IRA's political wing).

First the Ulster Unionists walk out of the Executive. Then the Democratic Unionists join in the brinkmanship, with a secret ultimatum to the UK Government.

I'm not sure what to think.

Either the Unionist parties are still stuck in the 1990s, and have not noticed that Sinn Fein is firmly wedded to the political process, with no appetite for a return to "war" - or the two Unionist parties want to avoid the blame for the impending welfare cuts (and they hope that business as usual can resume after their teacup has calmed down, and their toys have been returned to the pram).

Is it too much to ask for some grown-up politics?

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Crisis in Calais?

How is a strike in Calais suddenly all about immigrants?

If you've been watching the news on the BBC, you'll know there is a huge crisis of illegal immigrants swarming through Calais, and causing traffic chaos throughout southern England. At least that's how the BBC and other outlets have been telling it. But is this really what is going on?

Sort of. A bit. Apparently a ferry company is stopping a route, and the ferry workers in Calais are on strike. Hence the traffic delays, as lorries pile up in Kent, waiting for the routes to reopen. There are huge queues for the tunnel, and the migrants and refugees camped near Calais are taking the opportunity to sneak on board vehicles bound for the UK.

So a strike is causing traffic delays, which have allowed a few hundred illegal immigrants (or, quite likely, refugees fleeing from war and oppression) to try to enter the UK. But somehow in the media the story is an immigrant crisis.

Something is wrong, somewhere.