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Member since: 2001
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We anti-war protesters were right: the Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos

Article that sums up my own views of the situation in Iraq very succinctly.


I have encountered no sense of vindication, no "I told you so", among veterans of the anti-war protest of 15 February 2003 in response to the events in Iraq. Despair, yes, but above all else, bitterness – that we were unable to stop one of the greatest calamities of modern times, that warnings which were dismissed as hyperbole now look like understatements, that countless lives (literally – no one counts them) have been lost, and will continue to be so for many years to come.

The catastrophic results of the Iraq invasion are often portrayed as having been impossible to predict, and only inevitable with the benefit of hindsight. If only to prevent future calamities from happening, this is a myth that needs to be dispelled. The very fact that the demonstration on that chilly February day in 2003 was the biggest Britain had ever seen, is testament to the fact that disaster seemed inevitable to so many people.

In a way, opponents of the war were wrong. We were wrong because however disastrous we thought the consequences of the Iraq war, the reality has been worse. The US massacres in Fallujah in the immediate aftermath of the war, which helped radicalise the Sunni population, culminating in an assault on the city with white phosphorus. The beheadings, the kidnappings and hostage videos, the car bombs, the IEDs, the Sunni and Shia insurgencies, the torture declared by the UN in 2006 to be worse than that under Saddam Hussein, the bodies with their hands and feet bound and dumped in rivers, the escalating sectarian slaughter, the millions of displaced civilians, and the hundreds of thousands who died: it has been one never-ending blur of horror since 2003.

The invasion was justified as an indispensable part of the struggle against al-Qaida. Well, to be fair, large swaths of Iraq have not been handed over to al-Qaida: they are now run by Isis, a group purged from al-Qaida for being too extreme. Iraq and Syria are trapped in a bloody feedback loop: the growth of Isis in Iraq helped corrupt the Syrian rebellion, and now the Syrian insurgency has fuelled the breakdown of Iraq, too. Those who believe that the west should have armed Syria's rebels should consider the fact that Isis reportedly raided an arms depot in Syria which was stocked with CIA help. Support from western-backed dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar has fuelled the Syrian extremists now spilling over into Iraq.

Ah, tactical voting...

...at the last European elections I saw a number of parties all arguing that you should vote tactically for them as the only way to stop the BNP. You soon realise that with so many parties making the same claim about themselves they cannot all be right.

As you say, the BNP vote appears to be collapsing but now a large proportion of the knuckledraggers appear to be lining up behind UKIP. And most of the minor parties standing appear to be UKIP splinter groups. In fact I would go as far as to say that this European election is starting to resemble a right wing version of the "Peoples Front of Judea" scene from Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

As to the Lib Dems, they are the only genuine option left for people who are all in favour of all things EU. However, as much as I want Britain to stay in the EU, there is a lot about the EU that I do not like and would want to see reformed. As such I have never considered the Lib Dems at European elections, even in the days when they were half decent under Charles Kennedy.

European Parliament and Local Council elections on 22nd May

As we are having elections for the European parliament and some local councils so I thought it best to start a thread about that. The date for both of these is 22nd May

Please feel free to comment on any local elections in your area and the situation with local politics where you live. There are no local elections for me until next year so the nearest local elections to me are in Sheffield, where no doubt the Liberal Democrats will continue their decline outside of the wealthiest corners of the city.

Please also feel free to comment on the likely outcome of the Euro elections. These are the elections where you choose from a party list rather then choose a party's candidate. These are also the elections where UKIP tend to do best, in spite of their many faults.


I don't think it's the electoral system itself that is the problem

I think the problem lies with the political parties themselves. Even if I agreed with a political party about the right way forward for this country (which I don't, voting at the moment really is a matter of choosing the least shite of a very poor bunch) I can't see any real benefit to joining a political party.

I agree that grassroots pressure groups, and organisations such as 38 Degrees are far better for those of us who don't have a spare million pounds to chuck at politics.

Owen Jones hits the nail on the head

Unfortunately this is the direction that political discourse in the media is heading, and it is not good.


Basically Hopkins's schtick is to oh-so-subversively repeat the mantra of mainstream politicians and journalists about people at the bottom of society, but with even fewer facts and more venom. It's just panto (which I reckon is where Hopkins will end up when the media requests dry up). She was even practising arching her eyebrow - a facial expression she's inexplicably very proud of. “They're just lazy.” Booooo! “I don't care about anyone else.” Boooo!

The producers justified booking her on the basis that she got a response; I suggested that the same could be said about a live execution, but that probably wasn't an argument in its favour. And so producers will keep ringing her agent so long as people keep agreeing to “debate” with her, and the Hopkinsisation of political discourse will continue.

And then there was Edwina Currie, best known for a scandal involving eggs and boasting about her escapades with a former Prime Minister. Hopkins has moved in on Currie territory, and so an arms race has begun. On the Channel 5 programme on Monday, Currie was put on the same panel as Jack Monroe, a brilliant writer and inspirational campaigner with first-hand experience of poverty and food banks. She began confronting Currie with facts, the one thing Currie seemed to be bereft of. And so Currie's comeback was - wait for it - to bring up Monroe's dead grandfather.

The likes of Hopkins and Currie are a fascinating aspect of modern culture, with their outrageous politically incorrect opinions they have for money, to paraphrase Stewart Lee on Jeremy Clarkson. Going on TV is not something I hugely enjoy, to be brutally honest - it's just a means to get a point across - but for the professional troll, nothing beats the limelight, even if everybody is booing. But I feel genuine pity for intelligent right-wingers out there (and yes, they do exist!). They're being replaced by pantomime villains. Personally, I relish taking someone on who knows their facts. But ratings are ratings, and so the circus goes on.

All I can say is that I'm glad I don't drink Red Bull

I can't touch the stuff as it makes me go all hyper. However, if I could drink the stuff I'd feel a boycott of Red Bull coming on over this.


One is the world-wide market leader in energy drinks and employs nearly 9,000 people.

The other is a small brewery on the outskirts of Norwich that employs eight people.

But Red Bull, from its headquarters in Austria, has written to Redwell Brewing, based at The Arches in Bracondale, near County Hall, requesting it to immediately withdraw its trademark application, because it claims the names are too similar and would confuse consumers. In the letter, Red Bull’s brand enforcement manager, Hansjorg Jeserznik, says Redwell’s application “comprises Red Bull’s earlier trademark ‘red’ as a whole, which is a prima facie for the similarity of signs.

“Moreover, all trademarks consist solely of English words and contain the common element ‘red’. The term ‘well’ is merely descriptive and therefore of no distinctive character at all.

County Council elections on 2nd May

It's that time of year when I do the obligatory thread about the local elections, that are going on at the moment.

This year it's County Council elections in England & Wales. There are also mayoral elections in Doncaster & North Tyneside. Given the train wreck that is local politics in Doncaster that might be of some interest. Will Peter Davies (who has parted company with the English Democrats) keep the Mayor's job or will people in Doncaster find somebody sensible to do the job?



Please feel free to comment on the local elections, and local politics in your neck of the woods here.

I live in Derbyshire, and Labour really need to win back control of Derbyshire County Council from the Tories this year. However, I haven't seen any political campaigning round where I live for quite some time. Daft as it sounds I would actually appreciate some election literature as most of my interest is on what goes on over the border in South Yorkshire.

Would anyone else actually want to lead the Lib Dems at the moment?

Clegg has proved to be one of the most inept party leaders in British political history. However, if he goes could somebody else clean up the mess he's left behind? To be honest I don't see any senior Lib Dem who could make the party credible again.

The root of the many gripes that I have regarding the Lib Dems apply to much of UK politics, namely a tendency to see grabbing power for it's own sake as the main objective. It's certainly the main complaint I always had about New Labour.

The Lib Dems got themselves some power, but that in itself has not made them credible. In fact the concessions they made to get that power have caused them to lose credibility quite badly.

Tories call for new media inquiry that has recommendations they agree with


The Conservative Party have called for a fresh inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press after the one they’ve just spent £6m on didn’t reach the conclusion they wanted.

Speaking in the Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron opposed the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry on the grounds that they were different to what he had in mind.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a brilliant report,” he said. “It’s got loads of really good words in it and it’s impressively heavy. But what it fundamentally lacks are the recommendations that I want.”

Denis MacShane faces 12 month suspension from Commons over expenses


Former Labour minister Denis MacShane is facing suspension from the Commons for 12-months.

A Parliamentary committee found he had submitted 19 false invoices which were "plainly intended to deceive" Parliament's expenses authority. The committee said it was the "gravest case" which has come to them for adjudication.

The committee's report described Mr MacShane's false claims as "far from what would be acceptable in any walk of life" and "fell far below the standards of integrity and probity expected of every member of the House".

The false invoices related to work Mr MacShane carried out in Europe and he was particularly criticised for his use of public money for European travel.

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