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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,499

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It's a no brainer

Voting to remain means things stay pretty much as they are.

Voting to leave will make things considerably worse.

The EU is not perfect, but the single market is a huge benefit to this country. One that many people take for granted.

Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Mayoral, Local Government and PCC elections

It's that time of the year when I do a thread about upcoming elections. On May 5 we have the following elections

•National Assembly for Wales
•Northern Ireland Assembly
•Scottish Parliament
•Police and Crime Commissioners
•Local government elections in England
•Mayor of London and London Assembly

The only elections due where I live are for Derbyshire Police & Crime comissioner. I only realised this is due when I got my polling card through the door this week.

Please feel free to keep us posted on what's happening in your neck of the woods and what you expect to happen in these elections. Please also feel free to keep us informed of any local issues. I'll be looking most at Sheffield City Council elections, where I expect Labour to lose a few seats thanks mainly to discontent over a PFI scheme for road maintainence, which many people are unhappy with.


It's actually Tory policy to push the NFL over here

Along with Major League Baseball and NBA Basketball


I do not agree with this. Rather than importing American sports, the government should be exporting British sports to America. Rugby League inparticular is something I think Americans could really take to.

Also, in the case of Basketball, we already have The British Basketball League, which needs to be promoted far ahead of any American NBA "franchise".

The perils of rhetorical bullsh*t....

The Tories use the toe curlingly embarrassing "Northern Powerhouse" term to sell any of their ideas for Northern England, and this gets used against them by their opponents on a regular basis.

Meanwhile the general population are left with little to no idea of what a "Northern Powerhouse" actually entails. The politicians selling & opposing it are doing far more to obscure than inform.

I think it's much easier for politicians to target those who already vote

As opposed to those who haven't got into the habit. Also, if a politician can't persuade you to vote for them, the next best thing for the politician is for you not to vote as that way none of their rivals will benefit from you not voting for them. Hence all the nonsense you hear from politicians about how not voting for their party is a "wasted vote".

I agree that getting involved in political parties needs to be something that is enjoyable and rewarding for grassroots members. Otherwise the party won't be able to compete at a local level. And I do worry that the people who run things in Westminster often don't seem to grasp this point. There's only so far that political parties can go with central control.

You say that it may come down to relatively simple things, and IMHO one major problem for Labour is that for some time they've been doing the basic things badly.

And it's also worth remembering that many of these problems also apply to the Lib Dems, who now face an uphill struggle just to survive as a party.

Both parties are divided on this issue

But Labour's divisions are so much worse. Especially on just about any defence related issue.

I must also add that I heard the Conservative chairman of the defence select committee (Dr Julian Lewis) on Radio 4 this morning talking about the possibility of military action in Syria and I agreed with almost every word that he said! There are many good arguments for military action, but we need to be sure that we do not make mistakes when it does happen, and that such action is taken on the right terms.

I do remember the Sheffield referendum in 2012


There was pretty much no campaigning on the subject one way or the other. The Tories have virtually no presence in Sheffield. Labour & the Lib Dems weren't keen and chose to concentrate on council elections instead.

But the big problem with the proposal was that it did not specify what powers an elected mayor for Sheffield might have. That I would suggest was the biggest thing that sunk the proposal. Very difficult to persuade people about the merits of such a vague scheme.

One issue I have noticed with the current proposals is that apparently the elected mayors won't just be for the cities themselves but for "city regions". So as an example, the Sheffield Mayor will also have powers over Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Chesterfield and even parts of Nottinghamshire.

Now I live just over the border from Sheffield in Derbyshire, and one of the advantages of living where I am is that we get better public services than our friends in South Yorkshire. If our libraries and bin collections are run from Sheffield instead of Chesterfield and Matlock that will not be popular round these parts.

A lot depends on what powers an elected mayor would actually have.

I have issues with the "clothes peg" argument

For one thing, it's an entirely negative argument, one that tacitly acknowledges that Labour policies have had many faults. And Labour desperately needs to be able to start offering positive reasons to vote for them.

Secondly, the "vote for us or it's the Tories" argument has been over used by Labour for many years now. Worse still, it's often been used by Blairites as a way to ride roughshod over anyone with concerns about Labour policy.

As to Toynbee's stance during the Labour leadership election, she was a big supporter of Yvette Cooper, whom I personally considered to be the weakest of the candidates on offer. And she did devote a lot of time to attacking Corbyn on the grounds that she considers him unelectable. The problem with this argument being that Yvette Cooper came across as even less likely to win votes for Labour.

Here's the problem with that

The Parliamentary Labour party is still very Blairite and such a move would cause a major split similar to what happened in the early 80's when a bunch of Labour centrists broke off to join the SDP, splitting the left wing vote and ensuring that Thatcher won in a landslide in 1983.

Labour is already in the midst of an open civil war as it is and to be honest, Corbyn is going to have to do a LOT of compromising to stand any chance of staying in the job.

Owen Jones hits the nail on the head about the moderate left's current woes

A very good article about the problems facing the moderate left, especially in the Labour leadership contest. Whilst I will admit that Jeremy Corbyn is too left wing even for my taste, I can see why he is doing well. Positive policy ideas, expressed clearly and simply. Which is something the moderate left struggles with far too often at the moment.


How have the Labour left, from arguably its lowest ebb in the party’s history, apparently ended up on the brink of taking the leadership on a wave of support? If you listen to many self-described “centre-left” voices, it’s because the Labour party has gone quite, quite mad. Cod psychology now abounds to describe the rise of Corbynism: narcissism, people wanting to show off how right-on they are on Facebook, mass delusion, an emotional spasm, and so on. Corbyn supporters are having a temper tantrum against the electorate, so this patronising narrative goes, they think voters have “false consciousness” on a grand scale. Some sort of mass psychological disorder has gripped one of the great parties of the left in the western world, and the only real debate is how it must be cured or eradicated. And the tragedy is this: the great “centre-left” condescenders are able to identify any factor for Corbyn’s spectacular rise other than the culprit: their own political cause, or rather its implosion.

Some of these commentators huddle together on social media, competing over how snarky and belittling they can be towards those oh-so-childish/unhinged/ridiculous (delete as applicable) Corbynites, unable to understand that rare thing, the birth of a genuinely grassroots political movement. And that’s the problem: this snarkiness is all some seem to have left. Much of the self-described “centre-left” – I’d say Blairism, but some embrace the label more than others – now lack a clear vision, or a set of policies, or even a coherent distinct set of values. They increasingly define themselves against what they regard as a deluded, childish left. They have created a vacuum and it has now been filled by the Corbyn left.

Their plight is quite straightforward. The battered remnants of the left in the 1990s – cowed by the global onward march of free-marketeers – often critiqued New Labour as being indistinguishable from Toryism. “Tory Blair” and all that. They were wrong, despite the terrible failures and even disasters of New Labour, from the Iraq war to deregulation of the City. New Labour delivered large-scale public investment, in contrast to the underinvestment that characterised Thatcherism; that would mean not only more money for health and education, but also transformative projects like SureStart; the public sector would be expanded; the state would set a floor in workers’ paypackets, in the form of the minimum wage; the gap between low pay and the reality of life would be subsidised through tax credits; child poverty would be confronted; LGBT people would be emancipated from legal harassment and discrimination. New Labour may have accepted many of the underlying assumptions of Thatcherism, but it clearly had a vision that was distinct from that of the Tories.

George Osborne may have legislated to make the working poor poorer, but his pledge of a £9 minimum wage by 2020 outbid Ed Miliband’s paltry offer by a pound; the Labour leadership supported a scaling back of tax credits and a benefit cap that will achieve nothing but an increase in child poverty; and austerity has been embraced, and Labour’s past spending record renounced. What is left for the New Labourites to call for that is distinctive? As things stand, very little. If you are a budding New Labourite, there are plenty of prominent media commentators to look to for inspiration. But while you may find an abundance of negativity, sneer, and pseudo-Freudian psychoanalysis, you’ll struggle to find any coherent vision.
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