Archive for October, 2009

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Tardy Response To The Question Time Shitstorm Special


This Is What Britain Looks Like

Cheers to James W Bell for the original.

Good morning Lemmings and holy crap, you are actually reading the second post in the space of a week. Trust me, I have better things to do (my kill kill/death ratio in Team Fortress 2 is not going populate itself) but something’s really got my hackles up this week, hackled enough to prompt a response. I’m talking about the Question Time shitstorm. It’s been nearly a week now, but this seems to have really got under everyones skin, generating tremendous amounts of heat and preciously little light. Somehow, I think we’ve missed the point.

OK, first things first, a small confession. I’m a complete Question Time geek. Seriously, it’s my equivalent of sport and Thursday is a hallowed day in the House of Ribs. I’ve toyed with the idea of producing a post-match report every week and posting up but have yet to do so because a) I’m usually too drunk on the night (I like booze with my bile) to make anything coherent out of it and thus too hungover the next day and b) I think I will have crossed some sort of nerdy Rubicon from which there is no going back. Anyhoo, I love it. When I watch it there’s a weird mental commentary that goes on in my head (“Prescott lunges at Widecome, lands a glancing blow on her cheek, but leaves himself exposed….And Widdecombe’s in there, pummeling that gut!”) and naturally, having Griffin on was going to lend it a whole new element of visceral eye scratching to it. And so it turned out to be, but not as I expected.

Given the extensive lead up to events, I had plenty of time to ponder who my dream line up would be. It looked like this:

Labour: There should be no debate in this matter as Cruddas was clearly the man for the job. A grassroots man of the people with impeccable left wing credentials, a sharp mind and extensive experience of combating the BNP on his own doorstep, he’s the real deal. Tony Benn came a close second for his slightly offbeat gravitas and the fact that he actually did fly planes in the war. Take that, Spitfire purloining Nazi’s!

Conservatives: New boys need not apply. This is the sort of thing that one of the old monsters should be well suited to, Heseltine perhaps, but in the end I plumped for David Davis. His ‘I’ve killed before so don’t fuck with me’ manner combined with his alarming (to Conservative Central Office) tendency to speak his own mind would have made for a killer combo.

Lib Dems: A clear win for Shirley Williams on this front as she’s got that whole righteous anger/eminent wisdom thing going and isn’t averse to telling people off. Ashdown did cross my mind (for reasons similar to my Davis punt), but then I realised that he had, at one point, been a de-facto dictator. That took the wind out of his sails a little.

The Non-Party One: This was the hardest one as there was so much choice about. I toyed with Lenny Henry as saying anything remotely nasty about race around him would look like a fat kid punching a baby and National Treasure status would give him a leeway the others don’t have (even if he isn’t funny any more). However, George Galloway won out in the end on pure value-for-money terms. His to-do at that Congressional Hearing is still one of my favourite bits of TV and the opportunity to hear Griffin being called a toady/lickspittle/poppinjay/brigand was too good to turn down. The Specials or a reanimated Joe Strummer were turned down for reasons of practicality.

That was what I wanted. This is what I got:

Labour: Jack Cocking Straw? Really? I mean, I don’t debate the fact that he’s a crafty (to the point of underhand) and canny (to the point of war criminal bastard) operator but his credibility is shot to pieces and he has a nasty habit of defensive wriggling. Not appealing.

Conservatives: They made an interesting choice in Baroness Warsi. On the one hand, she’s not afraid to get stuck in, is a poster girl for successful cultural assimilation and is quite quick on her feet. The downside is she overextends herself. Time and time again on Question Time I’ve seen her land a skillfull jab and then suddenly turn into some sort of Ruth Badger on PCP, relentlessly piling in until she’s dangerously off-kilter and then crashes and burns. Could have been worse though. It could have been Boris.

Lib Dems: Chris Hulne is a steady politician. And that’s the problem, he just reeks of generic, career, politician. He never says anything too rash, never overplays his hand and is ideal for the ‘steady pair of hands’ role. But for the fight of a lifetime? Nope.

The Non Party One: I was kind of pleased to see Bonnie Greer in. She’s got an air of confidence and authority that play well and is free from political constraints to say whatever she damn well pleases. However, there is a down side: She can get a little tangential and lose her focus, chasing after dead points. Not a bad choice though.

 nerdy rubicon

Oh great... it finally happened... I'm crossing the Nerdy Rubicon.

So what happened? Weirdness, that’s what. It was always going to be a highly charged event but there was blood in the air that night. Griffin did awesomely well in proving himself to be an utter shit and the audience did a stand up job at making it clear that his brand of crap is not going to fly. For the other panelists, it was open season with low hanging fruit positively cluttering up the place. The man was (rightly) damned, pilloried and exposed as the fuckface that he is and by the end, it looked like the forces of progress and reason had triumphed over the vile standard bearers of hatred. Yes, Jack Straw practised some of his trademark chicanery, Warsi briefly got stuck out on a limb and Bonnie Greer got totally sidetracked with genetics, but all in all it was a case of mission accomplished. Personally, I thought it was a riot. Far right twat gets pwnd by more palatable people and Britain once again displays its famed tolerance? What’s not to like? At least that’s how it appeared at the time.

The morning after, amid the usual post QTime hangover I started thinking about it a bit more. One thing in particular was grating at me, the immigration question. As soon as the question was uttered, you could see all the party panelists have an ‘Oh Fuck’ moment and they immediately turned to point the finger at each other. A minor scuffle ensued, a few cheap blows were traded and then things rapidly moved on. But the funny thing was that crowd also hushed themselves. Suddenly, the elephant lumbered into the room. From a personal point of view, I haven’t got a problem with immigration. I think it makes this country richer in many ways but I have to concede that it does make a lot of people very angry for various reasons (some valid, some not) and for a smaller proportion, it is the most important political issue to them. Yet the politicians couldn’t bear to look it, just in case that somehow validated it and made it real. Unfortunately, it is real.

While this episode may seem like a minor crack in the facade, briefly glimpsed from the corner of an eye, it belies something deeper and something that all the post QTime fuss has not yet addressed. The BNP got a million votes from regular people. In that pool, there will be a certain proportion racist, hateful nutters who are repulsive to everything this country stands for, but the rest of them are probably aren’t your regular skinhead thugs. So who are they? Stand by for me to sound slightly sanctimonious.   My job means I spend a lot of time in poor, white areas of a large city in the north. My bread and butter is woe and anguish, so naturally, these places tend to get a lot of my time. The weird thing is that before I did these sort of jobs, these places might as well not have existed. They were bus stops that you don’t get off at, a place of ‘others’ and of potential danger. It inhabitants could usually be summed up as chavs or scallies and to all intents and purposes I had no reason to give them the time of day. However, now I have to (the early days were fucking scary) and over time, I’ve had to revise the way I look at them. Something that struck me early on was that everyone in these places looked like they had had the life sucked out of them. Physically, people were either too thin or too fat, their skin pasty and their habits destructive. But it was deeper. In none of these places was there any sense of hope or a vision of how things could be. Basically, ‘life’ was something that happened to them, not something they had a say in. Various do-gooders like myself would occasionally pass through their lives, promise the earth and deliver very little while the state’s carrot and stick approach would usually want the responsibility up front and the reward on the never-never. Watching the news in one of these households would usually end up with a weary round of “I’d like to see them live off sixty quid a week” and “they’re all same”-ing while the adbreaks would taunt them stuff they could have, if only they weren’t them (although sometimes, by means of dodgy credit or DLA back payments, 40” LCD’s would magically appear). To them, the world outside the estate was as unreal and ethereal as their world had been to me, the only difference being that in their eyes my world was intent of fucking over there’s.

These people were largely invisible because no-one really represented them. The left had pretty much collapsed with Labour morphing from the party of the people to the party of whatever keeps the fun times going and nothing came along to fill its place. As a result, this clutch of people effectively wrote themselves out of the game. They did this by not voting. Now they were really in the shit because no one could see any benefit in fighting their corner. The battle for power became about Middle England and the underclass were left to fester, an angry boil tucked out of sight but getting bigger with every passing day. Unfortunately, someone is offering these people a vision now and in their eyes, it’s a far better prospect than the helping of Shit Pie they’ve got right now. That someone is the BNP.

In the eyes of the rest of the world, the BNP seem to stand for one thing and one thing alone: Racism. Whilst I wouldn’t argue for a second that they are anything other than a bunch of biggoted fucktards who appall me, that’s only half the picture. The part we don’t talk about is the vision that they are selling which is far broader. They are offering these angry, pissed off people something that no-one else does: Pride and a perceived righting of perceived wrongs. To some of them, the BNP are people who do have an idea of what it’s like to live in a shitty estate, they are people who will stand up for their interests, will not cave in to Big Money and they are people who can conceivably make life better for them, even if that means swallowing a hearty dose of race hate. After all, what has immigration ever given them? From their point of view, it’s made a housing system that was already buckling completely collapse and made those elusive career prospects even scanter (and in some cases, there is an element of crude racism). The benefits that we reap from it simple aren’t visible in their world and if someone was going to frame the debate in terms of ‘Us or Them’, then they’re going to plump for ‘Us’.

Don’t get me wrong, I in no way condone anything that BNP stand for and don’t think for a second that these areas are exclusively made up from the downtrodden and repressed masses of toiling salts of the earth. The truth is that there are some real shits who don’t take responsibility for anything, harbour some sickening views and generally weaken their communities. But the same can be said for any walk of life. That’s humanity. However, what I do caution against is turning this into a one dimensional conflict where if you’re with the BNP, you’re a racist and that’s the end of the argument. It achieves little than to confirm our own prejudices and mask the wider argument. An interesting parallel is Germany in the 20’s and 30’s. Looking back after the event, it is easy to equate pretty much everything the Nazi’s did to their racial policy and thus conclude that the German people were simply a nation of closet racists just waiting for the opportunity to unleash their hatred upon Europe. But it’s not that simple. Many of Germany’s people either did not share the Nazi’s opinion on the Jews or simply didn’t feel very strongly about it. What they did feel, and oh so keenly, was that their nation had been broken, humiliated and given the beat down by a world that was exacting revenge. That was the fuel that allowed the Nazi’s in and although the aspects of racial hatred were often explicit among the hardcore supporters, it simply wasn’t the big issue for the many and the ghastly policies that eventually emerged developed at a slow but relentless pace. It was a trade off the people may not have been comfortable with, but the pro’s outweighed the cons. A graphic illustration of how this operates in our time is that I’ve met Asians who are considering voting for the BNP. While this fact is by turns mind boggling and stomach turning, it warrants further examination. The said people I’ve met have also lived in grotty areas, have very few prospects and feel that no-one stands up for them. They and their families have lived in Britain long enough for them to consider themselves ‘British’ and like their white counterparts, see immigration as a further threat to the tenuous existence that cling on to. When you try and point out that the BNP has an extensive history of hatred towards Asians and explicitly bans them from membership, there doesn’t seem to be any resonance. It’s about the trade off. These guys might believe some pretty horrific stuff, but at least they also have some of my interests at heart. And that’s the problem.

I’m guessing that some of the stuff I’ve written might make a few people very angry and I want to make it clear that have a lot of sympathy for the argument that racists shouldn’t be given the time of day. It’s easy for me, being white and never having been the victim of direct racism to spout off about ‘grey areas’ and I’m sure it would be very different if I had grown up with the NF at my school gates, singling me out for no better reason than the colour of my skin. Nor do I want to be misunderstood as believing that racism isn’t a problem in this country. It is and I encounter it far too often in my work to write it off as anything other than a serious and ugly blight on our society.  However, I think it’s of the utmost importance that we avoid this argument become polaraised into a battle over one issue and one issue alone. If we do that, we risk taking our eye off the ball to the issues that actually count for the people who are considering voting for the BNP, fail to do anything about them and then let in an abhorrent party by the back door. Again, Germany springs to mind where the debate in the 30’s became about Communists vs. Fascists. The middle ground simply ceased to exist as mainstream parties failed to recognize that the battle wasn’t just about a very select few specific beliefs. What I believe Question Time demonstrated was that the mainstream parties are on notice: There is an army of people who you have forgotten. They are angry, hurt and at the point where they will consider actions that we feel to be the unreasonable. They may not have voted in the past, but that’s because they felt there was no-one to vote for. Now they do. Cater for these people now or face genuine and widespread support for the diabolical on your doorstep. You have been warned.

Oh great! I ended all depressing again! It ain’t easy being me.

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Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Belated Post-Conference Season Catharsis


Morning Lemmings and welcome once again to the agonizing grind that is my Curmudgeonry Corner. Now that we’ve managed to make it through the hell that is conference season, I thought it might be opportune to look back and heave a collective “WTF?!” at the frankly confusing events that occurred during those three weeks. But first, a brief wander down memory lane.

Many years ago, I was a fresh faced A-level student who uncool enough to take Politics and Government as one of my subjects. Part of our studies revolved around political theory and ideology, something that I thought would probably be quite interesting at the time. As it turned out, our lecturer managed to extract any semblance of relevance or meaning from it and managed to convert what should have been an inspirational eye-opener into the dried out husk of a reverse engineered exam. However, I did learn stuff…and things for that matter. One of the greatest bits of stuff (or perhaps a thing) was Hans Slomp’s Projection Of The European Political Spectrum, handily displayed below.

Many thanks to wikipedia user Mcduarte200 for making the original Public Domain.

Many thanks to wikipedia user Mcduarte200 for making the original Public Domain.

It’s basically a graphic crib sheet that you figure out where certain people were on the political spectrum. For example, Old Labour were usually pretty progressive in both social and economic matters so we could plonk them squarely in the top left segment, just about where social democracy sits. The Tories, on the other hand, were pretty much conservative on both fronts so they got to sit in the bottom right pane while the Lib Dems, being all things to all men had the joy of hovering around the middle. Looking at it, there was a nice sort of symmetry to it…the little X’s for all the major parties were pretty evenly spaced , formed a nice straight line if you connected them and stayed away from the dangerous corners of communism and fascism. To me, that looked like a pretty good recipe for a healthy democracy, a fair spread with something for everyone but nothing for real lunatics. And like all things great, I bloody well took it for granted. Fast forward 10 years and a very different picture emerges, a picture that this conference season threw into sharp relief, but more on that later. So without further ado, let’s delve into the maw of the beast and pray to god that we somehow manage to clamber back out.

In the Used To Be Red Corner…..New Labour:

I feel a bit sorry for Gordon Brown these days. No matter what he does, it is always spun in terms of ‘the fight of his political life’ or ‘the speech of a lifetime’. I’m sure that if he makes a cup of tea in the morning some hot headed apparatchik will burst into the kitchen to yell “Gordon, for God’s sake man! This is your cup of tea of a lifetime! DON’T FUCK IT UP!”. And so the scene was set for yet another ‘[insert activity here] of a lifetime’. Where I start to lose sympathy for Gordon Brown is the way he always just manages to scrape through but never has the guts to try something that veers too far from the script. The performance is usually muddled, lacklustre and a hodge-potch of ‘whatever looks good this season’, thrown together in the hope that this scattergun approach might spray enough political buckshot over a wide enough arc to at least clip someone and leave them with a nasty scratch. What he doesn’t do is radical departures or bold thrusts into the unknown and that’s pretty much what we got from the conference.

Let’s look at the economic side of things first, because this is where Brown has the greatest leeway for calling bullshit on the Tory’s. It’s no great secret that pretty much every economist worth their salts (so minus the crazy free market fundamentalists) are frankly appalled at the Conservatives latest take on money matters. Their plan basically amounts to paying back everything we owe in record time and a middle finger to public services. It’s a seductive argument, if you’re into the business of relating the macro-economic behemoth to a simple household budget, but also an argument that is made of bricks of pure stupid. If Brown had any sense/gumption he would have trashed the Tory’s plan in the crudest terms and then proudly declared that he would continue spending with wild abandon until it became clear that the world as we know it was in no danger of imploding. Instead, he did what New Labour usually does and fudged it by basically saying “Yeah, we won’t cut back that much and we will pay back a little”. The very act of doing that is bloody stupid because it credits the Troy plan with a modicum of sense, rather than shitload of crazy that it actually is. As a result, the Tory’s now have the initiative and are dictating the terms of the economic argument. Nice one Gordy, way to miss an open goal. As for the bankers, Gordy tried to sound well ‘ard, but ended up sounding just a bit bland. Again, this is another fumbled ball as he could well have got away with a policy aimed at tarring and feathering errant bankers. The public would have happily obliged, feasted riotously on the pound of flesh that they have (justifiably) hankered after so long and then  gone to the polls with a song in their heart and blood round their chops. Alas, it was not to be.

So how about social policy, surely he’ll fare better here? Well, yes and no. As is obligatory at New Labour Conferences, he did The Big List. “We got X-million benefit claimants into crappy temporary agency jobs, X-million families in poverty into the arms of Cash Converter, blah blah blah”. OK, I sound a little churlish now, but that’s the nature of the beast. Labour has done some good things, to which I doff my cap, but I’m a fickle voter and I don’t want to hear about what you’ve done. I want to hear about what you’ll do. On that front, he got into even more of a pickle with an epic exercise in hedge betting. For the left, there were the back down on compulsory ID cards, the commitment to foreign aid, abolition of means testing for elderly care and the protection of school spending. All well and good, except that some of these things will really wind up the right of the party and the overly powerful Middle England crowd. To remedy this problem, some of the other announcements pandered to that end of the spectrum (tighter booze controls, gulags hostels for single mums and benefit cuts for parents of ASBO kids who don’t fall into line) but also had the effect of then pissing off the left.  In the end, you get the political equivalent of Modest Mouse’s “Good News For People Who Like Bad News”, an album that is half solid gold, half turgid shit. The same applied to electoral reform. The bold move would be to realise that the chances of winning the next election are pretty much slim to nil and to go out with a scorched earth policy by allowing a referendum for PR (thus restoring a modicum of sanity to a lunatic political system and denying the Tory’s any future landslides). Again, he went for the triangulation approach and opted for a referendum on AV if they win the election. Given that AV is widely regarded as worse than first-past-the-post and that their current chances of winning look like a turd in the rain, this was nothing more than a fop to shut up the awkward squad. Which pretty much sums up the Labour Conference.

Maybe I’m doing to harsh here. For a party that’s been in power for as long as New Labour have, it’s pretty hard to learn new tricks. While their future prospects look grim and changes are needed, a wholesale deviation from the blueprint is a tricky thing to pull off (remember, for every Sgt. Pepper there’s a St. Anger). However, I can’t help but think that what we got here was the worst of both worlds, a wrong headed attempt to fuse together the incompatible (much like my partners brain wave to try All Bran with orange juice instead of milk. Trust me, it didn’t end well).

Final Verdict: File under ‘L’ for ‘Lacklustre’

In The Probably Still Blue Corner: The Conservatives

This was the scary one. If, like me, the sum of all your fears boils down to the Tories back in power then this was the conference to watch. After all, the pressure was on and it was apparent that they couldn’t carry on by just making vague statements and praying people will vote them in on account of not being Labour. This was the time when they had to look a bunch of people who could govern rather than just criticise. From my point of view, it got off to a belting start with Ireland giving a resounding ‘Yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty. “Thank God!” I thought, “Europe is here to plunge the Tory’s back to the Dark Ages and spare us all 4 years of Bullingdonocracy!”. David Cameron tried his best to defend the indefensible by resolutely refusing to answer any question about what happens if the Czechs also ratify the treaty but was soon outflanked by Boris who took it upon himself to make numerous harebrained and impossible proposals in the opposite direction, all good times in my book. As it stands, we’re yet to hear a definitive answer on the question of  “will you really tell the entirety of Europe to get bent and thus undo decades delicate diplomacy” question. It could yet prove to be their undoing.

However, the glory of a foes folly was short lived and the conference began to take a very scary turn with George Osborne’s speech. As you may well have guessed by now, I have little love for the boys in blue, but I reserve a special ring of hell for Osborne. To me, he is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with British politics. His perma-sneer, that look of a raging cokehead (speculation, of course), the old school tie elitism and his complete disconnection from reality as we know it all combine to make me shudder whenever I see him. The only thing in his favour is that he is very bad at disguising these character flaws and usually comes across as Head Smarmy Bastard, something that tends not to endear him to voters. So imagine my horror when he gets on the stage and somehow manages to conceal these usually all too obvious traits under a veil of bullshit. Somehow, I guess with the aid of superglue between gums and lips, he managed not to sneer and present himself as vaguely credible. I say vaguely, because the content was all over the show but in the world we live, presentation pwns content to the power of ten. So what of this content?  Well, how about the (oft repeated) “We’re all in this together” line? Excuse me? From a party that has both a base and a front bench full of multi-millionaires? A little fatuous don’t you think? Then came the “We have become the party of the NHS” swizz. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no love for New Labour’s meddling with NHS and having spent three years as a front line clinician during the height of their reforms, I can tell you that they were wrong headed, ill-conceived and destined to failure. That fact, however, does make the Tory’s (who have said or done nothing to indicate otherwise) any better on that front. And the bankers? Osborne apparently “reserves the right” to get hot under the collar about it so I wouldn’t hold your breath for that pound of flesh you so desperately crave. Finally, there was the “age of austerity” business, designed (I suspect) to conjure up wholesome images of 50’s nuclear families settling down to a hearty meal of rationed spam before darning their socks and counting their blessings. Personally, I see all this as a softening up manoeuvre for another bout of ‘for your own good’ Thatcherism, clad in the clothing of ‘compassionate conservatism’. The thing that bothers me is that he may have got away with it.

Worse was to come as Call Me Dave performed a similar trick. Credit where credit’s due, he has worked some sort of miracle in decontaminating the Tory brand, from the point of view of perception at least. In his speech, this boiled down to a masterclass in political cross dressing. On the one hand, he paid lip service to the old touchstones of conservatism: Labour are too statist, love taxes too much and want to monitor how many times you go to the toilet each. It was  your basic ‘down with Big Government’ call to arms’. So far, so Tory. However, the surprising bit was his sudden new found social responsibility: It will be the Conservatives who save the poor (who stand to do sooooo well out of their inheritance tax reforms) and heal the sick, who will stitch our fragmented society back together and go back to the good old Blighty of cricket and young boys in short shorts and knee high socks. All those people we used to call slackers and scroungers are now the downtrodden we will  lift out of poverty with our benign and paternal endeavours. While I can’t disagree with such a mobile intention, I have grave reservations about whether they really mean it. For a start, the funding for all these plans is fanciful. The general plan is that services will be cut, waste will be dealt with ruthlessly, taxes won’t go up and then spontaneously a recovery will appear and we’ll all be made up, free to pursue our now poverty free lives without the state getting all up in our faces. The trouble is that the economics just don’t stack up. The service cuts will hit the poor the hardest, the ‘savings’ probably won’t materialise and the cuts themselves only cover a tiny fraction of the money we owe. Again, I see this as pretty much the same old Thatcherism, just this time garnished with New Labour platitudes. In short, it’s a fantasy, but one he sold very well. Colour me worried.

In other news, the party as a whole were under strict orders not to look like a bunch of multi-millionaires, yahooing their way to power and Bono made a video appearance. Just when I thought I couldn’t  hate Bono any more.

Verdict: File under ‘F’ for ‘Frightening’.

In the WTF?! Corner, The Lib Dems.

*sigh* Ok, I’m going to be brief here because I found this to be a heart breaking experience. On the face of it, the Lib Dems should have making a shitload of hay for the last 5 years, but are still scoring around the 20% mark. Part of that is not their fault and is to do with our demented political system. However, a lot of it is to do with the fact that they are simply not coherent. They’ve got some great political real estate in the shape of Vince Cable (who would look great in a shop keepers jacket a la Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours) and Shirley Williams (Sarah Tether and Norman Baker put in some good work as well), but it is squandered because a) the party as a whole have no idea what they’re doing and b) they’re leader is as memorable as whoever came 7th in The X-Factor last year. Take for example Cable’s proposal to tax homes worth over a million. I’m on board with this and there’s an appetite for it out there. Not only that, but it would put clear water between the Lib Dems and the other parties. However, once it received a savaging in the right wing press the party simply fell apart on the issue and ended up looking a bunch of startled cattle. And that’s the problem: they don’t seem to have the ideological gumption to find a cohesive position on anything. Sense would dictate that now is the time for them to move left as there is no competition and plenty of demand, but they simply don’t have the stones. And that’s tragic.

Srsly Vince, it's a good look. You carry it well.

Srsly Vince, it's a good look. You carry it well.

Moving onto the next problem, WHY THE FUCK DID YOU ELECT CLEGG? His speech was the political equivalent or weak lemon drink in a plastic beaker. Seriously, whenever he’s on TV I seem to suffer some sort of absence, only to come round five minutes later wondering what just happened. The speech itself was crap. Every time he claimed he could be PM (which was many, but I simply don’t have the will to look it up), something inside of me died. He wants to out Cameron Cameron and out Blair Blair but just ends up coming across as a creature with all the substance of a set of net curtains. Seriously, have a coup. You guys are quite good at that now so why not do us all a favour and send him quietly into the night.

Final Verdict: File under ‘F’ for ‘Futile’

So that was the conference season, but there’s another point here. Go back to the marvellously named Slomp Projection and have a crack at plotting where the parties stand now. In fact, don’t bother, I’ve done it for you.

O hai! I fuxed ur politcal spectrum!

O hai! I fuxed ur politcal spectrum!

As you can see, it is by turns mind boggling and depressing. The left has completely caved and what we are left is an amphorous mass, slowly cannibalising each other and offering voters a choice of basically nothing. Over the last 12 years, politics in this country has gradually turned from a real battle between competing versions of reality to a pissing match in which the distinction between parties is measured only in tone and the issue of substance is but an afterthought. The more frightening aspect is that leaves the door open for real nutters like the BNP. With such massive gaping holes in the graph, the people left in the desolate sections have no choice but to gravitate to the extremes, much to the detriment of all. Politics should be about offering people a hopeful narrative and the promise of something better. I fear that in this country we have lost that fire and now simply treat politics as an exercise in management, a mundane necessity that whirs away in the background while life trundles on. And that cannot be a good thing.


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