Blair gets a gong and 1m signature balloon goes up!

Blair, if you put Iraq to one side, was the most progressive PM in generations; go on give me the name of a recent PM who was more progressive?

And the reason I’m blogging about Blair now? I’m told 1 million people have signed a petition asking for his Knighthood to be rescinded.

Yes he was too right-wing for me as a Social Liberal of the left, yes in my view (in European terms) he was akin to a Christian Democrat, yes he was a policy ditherer too, taking far too long to get on with things. But despite all that he’s still the most progressive PM we’ve had in generations, so doesn’t that show how right-wing the rest have been!

I’m ignoring Brown here as I never got where he was coming from, although he’s become a bit of a Jimmy Carter-type in retirement i.e. looked upon as a statesman, but only after he’d left office.

But the other thing for as an observer of politics like me is how much Labour Party members and supporters dislike Blair, indeed they seem to look at him in the same way they look at Thatcher! I’ve lost count of Labour backers slagging off Blair so I’m guessing many of the 1m signatures on the petition to get his gong removed will be Labour members and supporters.

Starmer has backed Blair’s award but then again he had little choice. If you think about it Starmer is of the Labour right-wing, some say he may even be right of centre with regard to British politics. On that basis, he’s going to want to back the award to Blair. However, I bet he’d rather have kept quiet as he knows his party members will be 80%ish against Blair. But saying nothing was not an option because it would make him look like a leftie and that’s the last thing he’d want as he tries to get the white, working-class, right-wingers back within Labour’s tent. So he was cornered and had to say he backed Blair’s gong.

My point here is that as someone of the left I’ve not been motivated to add my name to the petition, indeed I saw the award as an inevitability at some point. Yes, I know the vast majority of the signers will be to the right of my politics and I also accept that there’s a case for Blair to answer with regard to Iraq and its long-running humanitarian and terrorism consequences. But, from a cynical perspective, I see the campaign against Blair’s award being driven, at least in part, by those who find it a useful distraction to help turn away eyes and ears from the appalling government we presently have. We can’t do anything much about the things Labour did under Blair, they are history. However, we progressives can try to turn the screws on Johnson and his wretched government and frankly that should be very much our aim as opposed to refighting battles of the past no matter how much Labour members enjoy such blood letting.

The politics of hate and division – It’s peddled by many mainstream politicians and is almost everyday language in our tribal society

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/language-public-social-media-politics-repercussions

The Guardian has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

That we live in rather desperate and potentially dangerous political times is a given sadly, so this piece by James Graham is an interesting wake up call.

I have commented before about how Liberals were always looked upon with a fondness by the electorate generally but ever since Charles Kennedy stood out against the Iraq War, whilst Labour and Tories alike were on a war footing, attitudes have changed and some now have very negative attitudes to Liberals. At first I found this rather odd but I have come to rather enjoy being hated as a Liberal as to me it means that Liberal ideas are seen as a threat by the rich, by the powerful to the right and the left – we must be doing something right!

But ‘hate’ is an every day word these days and some point back to what the EU Referendum unleashed in terms of racism, intolerance and yes ‘hate’. There’s no doubt that Remainers and Brexiters have been pitched against each other and that there is little if any common ground between them. Do I act with intolerance towards Brexiters? Well yes, quite obviously I do if you care to read the many postings from me about Brexit. But is it right that a Liberal should be intolerant?

My brand of social Liberalism is all about radicalism, its about taking power from the rich and powerful so that the ordinary woman and man in the street has real control over their community and their futures. So hey a radical social Liberal is a threat and I expect to be disliked and indeed to be attacked (verbally of course) for my beliefs.

Ordinary people can only take power and use it if they are in full possession of facts. In the EU Referendum they were not, indeed they were lied to on an industrial scale. The referendum wasn’t an exercise in democracy it was an exercise in the abdication of responsibility by our leaders and of manipulating the electorate to do what the rich and powerful wanted them to do. It did not empower the people, as Brexit leaders claim, it cyclically used them in a way that shames our democratic credentials as a civilised country.

Am I angry with Brexiters? Hell yes. Do I feel my country has been had? Of course. Am I proud of my intolerance? No not really as I should not have had to find myself doing battle over such terrible lies and the consequences of them.

This radical Liberal and trade unionist is indeed angry and in no mood to compromise with people who are deliberately destroying my country and its way of life.

And on a different tack, since I have been using social media (Facebook in particular) I have noticed far too often the reach of huge levels of intolerance often about reasonably trivial matters. Swearing is now common and is almost expected as a social norm rather than the odd expression of shock and disbelief as it was once reserved for. I often ponder on whether folks use bad language on social media as they feel it is expected on them or that they will not be seen as fitting in if they decline to use it?

Yes our society has taken a turn towards anti-social behaviour being an every day thing, but how far will it go before the pendulum swings back towards a less racist, more intolerant and more inclusive society again? Or will we march ever further towards a hate filled fascist-type society?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Is Labour just an alternative Tory Party for those who consider themselves to be ‘working class’?

Does it go without saying that the vast majority of Labour voters would never vote Tory and that they will continue to vote Labour pretty much whatever the party stands for?

I ask as having been involved in politics for some 37 years now I really don’t know what Labour stands for these days other than not being the Tory Party. Just look at this:-

They started to privatise the NHS when in government but now say they oppose NHS privatisation.

They campaigned, if rather weakly, to Remain in the EU during the recent referendum but now support Leaving the EU.

They backed and promoted the war in Iraq, along with the Tories, but now seem thoroughly embarrassed (and rightly so) by what they did.

They were pretty much a social democrat party during the Blair years but now have a socialist leader and a predominately socialist membership.

Their MP’s are mainly social democrat in outlook and belief but their party membership has no time for them, often labeling them as Red Tories.

Their ‘working class’ supporters are seemingly rather right wing and are tempted to support UKIP at times when tribal loyalty starts to wear a little thin.

Is ‘not being the Tory Party’ now Labour’s strap line and main selling point?

And I never cease to be amazed by the number of champagne socialists there seem to be around Labour. Top of the range cars are often a give away but then you discover that the drivers/owners are Corbyn backers. How does that add up because for all his faults Corbyn is an unlikely champagne socialist. Indeed, having personally felt he deserved the benefit of the doubt and that the press were out to hound him, I think it may well be fair to say that he’s a socialist from a previous era. A throw back to Michael Foot’s idea of what Labour should be all about? Certainly he does not come across as someone at ease with our diverse society, more as though modern ways leave him with a hankering for the good old socialist days.

I often use the somewhat jokey phrase these days ‘Hey I’m a Liberal, most Labour Party folk seem too right wing too me’ yet, whilst this line often brings about a wry smile when I use it, I really do think it fits many Labour politicians.

Being known as a ‘not the Tory Party party’ is one thing but supporting Teresa May’s off to the far right Government, as Labour has done over Brexit, just puts them on a charge of being Red Tories in reality rather than just by insult from their own left wing.

Chilcot – A short briefing – Charles Kennedy and other anti-war protesters were right!!!!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36721645

Above is a link to the initial assessment of the contents of the Chilcot report from the BBC web site.

So proud that I stood with Charles Kennedy and opposed this unnecessary war where so many lives were lost. Shame on those Labour MP’s who voted for war and a Tory Party which followed Blair’s troops into the lobby to vote for war.

Surely every MP who voted for that appalling war must feel utterly ashamed of themselves today. I still recall Tory MP’s calling Charles Kennedy every rude name under the sun for his anti-war stance. He was a brave man who sadly did not live long enough to see the report which has vindicated his view.

RIP the Iraq war dead, our political leaders let you down badly and created the instability in that region that still haunts us today and will do so for generations to come.

Here’s a link to Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron’s speech in the House of Commons today:-

www.itv.com/news/update/2016-07-06/tim-farron-iraq-war-now-threatens-the-safety-of-all-of-us/

Chilcot Report – The truth will out!

Tim Farron writes

The publication of the Chilcot Inquiry today will finally expose one of the most shameful moments in our nation’s history.

It is likely that the report will confirm Tony Blair and his Labour government wilfully misled Parliament and the British people on the imminence of the threat from Saddam Hussein and his possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

That deceit led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 which cost the lives of around 100,000 Iraqis and almost 5,000 coalition forces, including 179 members of the British Armed Forces. With no plan for what would happen next, Blair and President Bush left a power vacuum that enabled the rise of Daesh and caused many more years of bloodshed and instability in the Middle East.

The findings published today will be a vindication for the Liberal Democrats and for everyone else who fought against this illegal war. In particular, Charles Kennedy’s leadership of our party at that time provided a voice for millions of British people who knew that this was the wrong thing to do, as this video shows:

Today the Liberal Democrats are calling for the current British government to pledge that we will never go to war again without an assurance that the action is legal under international law, that we have a clear exit plan, and that the intelligence on which we base our decisions is free from the influence of political spin doctors.

The War in Iraq eroded the public’s trust in politics, damaged Britain’s moral authority on the global stage, and made our country and world less safe. This must never, ever happen again.

Best wishes,

Tim

Tim Farron MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

And watch the late great Charles Kennedy leading the charge against Tony Blair’s war:-

www.facebook.com/libdems/videos/10154338066583270/

Jo Cox – Thoughts on the consequences for UK politics

I have to be honest and say that I had not heard of Jo Cox MP before she was murdered but what I have learned about her since leads me to think that in a Parliament with few shining progressive stars these days she must have been one of them.

With the Lib Dems severely reduced in numbers, a Labour Party that is inward looking, authoritarian and at war with itself and the SNP looking like an uncomfortable marriage of supposedly social democratic and narrow nationalist values the left of British politics is frankly in a mess.

Jo Cox, we are told was far from being in the usual Labour mold (tribal and authoritarian) so she is both a big loss to Labour and to progressive politics in general. This was well summed up by Nick Clegg (not someone I would usually quote) when he said in a Tweet on the day of her murder – Jo Cox was unusually free of the tribal pettiness of politics – always friendly, cheerful and kind to friend and foe alike.

But as we have all read since the murder people in public office do receive threats. Yes, often they will be from nutters who have no intention or ability to carry out their threats but at the fringes there are the genuinely dangerous crack-pots.

I think I have posted previously about some of the crank mail I got when I was Leader of Sefton Council and how I was warned about it by my predecessor – Labour Cllr. Dave Martin. Indeed, I will never forget his advice ‘Within 6 weeks every nutter in the Borough will know who you are’.

I also recall how my colleague and former Sefton Councillor Andrew Blackburn got some very odd and worrying letters during his time on the Council so threats, hate mail, etc. are sadly what elected folks can and do get at any level of governance.

Where this latest tragedy leaves politics is difficult to say but it must not lead to those who hold elected office becoming more remote from the people who put them there. That is the road to democratic ruin. We must strive to be more open, less tribal and more inclusive in our politics.

And a final word about Jo Cox. I wondered more and more as the story of her all too brief life unfolded in the media how despite her being a Labour MP she came across more like a radical Liberal.

So sad that that this bright star was killed seemingly because of some irrational hatred issues in the head of one man.