29 September 2009

Prisoners should be allowed to blog

Prisoners should not only be allowed to blog, they should be encouraged to do so. Why?

First it opens up Britain’s gulag to the public, so what is going on in a public institution is in the public domain.

Second, it seems an excellent way to get prisoners to improve their writing skills, computer skills and to have them reflect on their lives. All of these things will help them when they eventually leave prison.

Movements in the German elections

Overall looking at the German election three things happened compared with 2005.

One: on the right (CDU, CSU and FDP), the balance shifted from the Christian parties to the Free Democrats.

Two: on the left the vote shifted from the SPD to the Greens and more significantly to the Left Party.

Three: with a tiny swing, the right block (who are prepared to form a coalition with each other), secured a majority over the left who “won” the election in 2005 (but who were not prepared to form a coalition with one another).

Polarisation within the blocks (the left for social reform and to the right for market fundamentalism) is more pronounced than the swing from the left to the right block.

Brown to target parents of ‘anti-social’ children

The death agonies of New Labour are truly ugly. In a last ditch attempt to scrape a few Daily Mail votes Brown is planning a host of coercive and repressive measures against the Britain’s burgeoning underclass.

Few deny that in Britain’s broken society - now more unequal than at any time since 1945 - steps need to be taken to provide jobs, social help and wealth distribution for those inhabiting junk estates and the inner cities. Yet the swelling of these ghettos is the direct result of New Labour’s market fundamentalism, a policy resulting in mass unemployment, inadequate and insecure housing leading in turn to family breakdown and crime.

For Brown to court so-called Middle England voters by kicking the working class victims of New Labour’s own policies just about sums up Brown and his party.

28 September 2009

The success of the Left Party in Germany

What this article attempts to sideline is the amazing breakthrough of the Left Party as an all-German Party with over 12% of the vote.

The Schroeder government 1998-2005 pushed through policies similar to those of New Labour, and when the right-wing parties (CDU, CSU and FDP) failed to win a majority in the Bundestag, his Social Democrats – instead of building a coalition with the Left - went into government with Merkel. Progressive and socialist votes haemorrhaged to the Left Party.

The real tragedy is that Britain has no equivalent of the Left Party.

Brown doesn't deserve one progressive vote

If you juxtapose New Labour with the Tories, you might scrape together a case for Gordon Brown, in the same way that if you compared the Tories with the BNP you would find for David Cameron.

Yet the key point is that New Labour have been a foul government and don’t deserve a single vote from progressive people in Britain.

Progressive politics means a move to social equality and an expansion of freedom. Blair and Brown, by contrast, have made Britain its most unequal since 1945, have crashed the economy, have engaged in US imperial wars and have created a surveillance society with diminished political and personal liberties.

The Labour conference this week will decide nothing for itself because the party itself no longer enjoys any meaningful democracy or debate.

If the left wants a political party, it has to build one. Sniffing around the putrid carcass of New Labour is a perverse distraction.

Polish and Czech politicians with egg on their faces

So the situation is now clear. The US missile systems to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic were principally about military relations with Russia as opponents of Bush always claimed.

The idea that the non-deployment of these missile systems leaves these two countries uniquely venerable to Russian attack is nonsense. An attack on Poland and the Czech Republic is not only highly unlikely but could only occur in the framework of a major war involving the whole of NATO in which possession of these US military instillations would render these Prague and Warsaw targets for special attack.

The truth is that neither Poland not the Czech Republic is more militarily vulnerable today or in the future, but rather that the pro-Bush politicians who pushed these measures against popular opinion in their own countries now have egg on their faces. They are the only losers

17 September 2009

Three aspects of failure for the British Left

The left (by which I mean socialists, social democrats and social liberals) chalked up three failures, which has left British politics with two authoritarian and market fundamentalist political parties: New Labour and the Conservative Party. What were the key moments of failure for the left?

First, they were unable to prevent Blair’s New Labour project taking hold of the Labour Party after 1994, which resulted in the abandonment of social democracy in favour of market fundamentalism

Second, when the failings of New Labour in office after 1997 became obvious (growing social inequality, the Iraq War, etc.), they were unable to remove Blair – or even mount a challenge to his leadership.

Third, having lost the Labour Party to progressive politics, the left were unable to form a serious electoral challenge to New Labour from the Left (Cf. Die Linke in Germany).

Today in Britain there is no agency for progressive politics.

8 September 2009

The Smokescreen of the Alternative Vote

If (and it is only an if) the Alterative Vote (AV) were used for the 2010 General Election the New Labour wipe-out would be even bigger. Why?

Most of the votes of eliminated candidates would transfer to the Tories (i.e. most Liberal Democrat votes plus the vast bulk of those of UKIP and the BNP). Labour would pick a minority of the LibDem votes and most of the Green vote. So the question is why do some New Labour strategists peddle AV?

There are two reasons. First, proposing electoral reform is a bid for popularity and an attempt to be seen as doing something while in fact opposing proportional representation. Second, one can guess that Cameron’s Tories will lose popularity throughout their period of office, so in the 2015 (?) elections most of those eliminated third votes from Liberal Democrats and other might transfer to Labour.

What New Labour would never do is introduce a PR system for Westminster in which Labour could end up with a mere 20 percent of the seats in Parliament.

7 September 2009

The BNP in British democracy

As a left-wing socialist I have a deep loathing of the BNP, and if these fascists ever came to rule Britain I would leave.

However what makes Britain a valuable country to live in is that it is – despite new Labour’s authoritarianism - still a democracy. That means that a political party like the BNP, however vile, has a right to participate in the affairs of the country. It has to be defeated by democratic means not by means of an authoritarian state banning the participation of political parties in the democratic process.

I have no doubt that New Labour would love the power to limit the democratic political participation of political parties. I for one would not give them that power.

4 September 2009

Restricting teachers right to drink

The General Teaching Council has drawn up new rules which would restrict teachers’ rights to drink in public at the weekend. Teachers, however, are employed to teach, not to be 24/7 promoters of New Labour’s new model personalities in today’s authoritarian Britain.

3 September 2009

Children dancing for police powers

The idea of children rapping and dancing for the promotion of police stop and search powers is truly ridiculous.

Even with the massive extension of criminal offences, state surveillance and police powers, Britain are still not yet a police state. It is precisely that which makes this event so out of place and therefore absurd.

There is indeed a sustained attack on civic and political freedoms taking place in Britain. Some developments, such as the tracking of all email and internet use and the deployment of FIT officers to film political protests, are steps in the strangling of freedom. Other events, such as teachers preventing parents taking photographs at school sports day, are instances of sycophants who have attempted to internalise the spirit of the age, who have overstepped the mark and made fools of themselves. Children dancing for stop and search powers comes into this latter category.