How the Beeb marked May Day

theresa-may-2

Theresa May is now Prime Minister, and the coverage was predictably nauseating. Bereft of internet a few days into life at new digs, I sat and watched it on News 24.

Neutrality means offering as broad a range of viewpoints as possible, and not favouring any of them. The BBC always claims it’s neutral, but that’s not what it does at all. Instead, for decades, it’s consistently done something very different: portray anyone or anything conforming to the neoliberal-authoritarian post-Thatcherite consensus in a favourable light (being mildly critical at very best, fawningly biased at worst), and relentlessly undermine anyone who deviates from it. Being pro-establishment and anti-dissident, after all, is basically the default setting of British public life. Continue reading “How the Beeb marked May Day”

The consequences of Brexit

boris brexit

I don’t think I realised quite how much was at stake re: the referendum until the day itself. I hate the EU, even if I did vote Remain (reluctantly, weeks ago, by post). But the worst thing about what’ll happen now has very little to do with the practicalities of us leaving it.

The referendum has always been a sort of elite civil war – a split in the neoliberal governing class that’s been smothering us all for nigh-on forty years. Some see the EU as an excellent way of furthering the usual majority-squashing hyper-exploitative objectives of rampant corporate capitalism. Some see it as an obstacle.

Cameron and Osborne have been trying to turn Britain into a rights-less poverty wage-paying Indonesia of a country for half a decade. That’s been bad enough. Now, though, they’re sunk. They emphatically tied their colours to the Remain mast – and now they’re near-inevitably going to be replaced with people who are even worse. Continue reading “The consequences of Brexit”

Only Tories Allowed

Eamonn-Holmes-Jeremy-Corbyn-940x557

Reflecting on the anti-Corbyn media maelstrom of the last few weeks, I think we’ve reached a stage where the only party allowed to win general elections is the Conservative Party.

Now, obviously, when I say ‘allowed’, I don’t mean that I think the assembled lizards of the Illuminati High Council decide which government we get. It’s not quite that rigged. And as Corbyn’s victory has shown, the establishment isn’t as all-powerful as it and we often think.

But I reckon the only political force the corporate-financial elite won’t do everything in its power to squash are the Tories. Because the Tories are the corporate-financial elite. Cameron, Osborne and friends are just its parliamentary wing, in the same way that the colossally influential, criminally impartial news media is its public mouthpiece. Continue reading “Only Tories Allowed”

Osborne, Budget ‘Responsibility’ and the Hall of Mirrors Society

Prime Minister David Cameron Visits Manchester

George Osborne has announced his intention to make budget deficits illegal. The government is going to ban itself from spending more than it receives in taxes. Its ultimate aim is a permanent budget surplus – government always spending less than it brings in each year, and therefore turning a profit.

If you’ve done A Level politics, you’ll appreciate how transparently meaningless and PR-motivated a measure that is. No parliament can pass a law that a future parliament can’t change or reverse. So, in essence, what the Tories are doing is making it a legal requirement to do something they’re ideologically committed to doing anyway – by passing a law that can be immediately repealed by the first government that wants to get rid of it.

And if, unlike George Osborne, you’ve studied A Level economics, you’ll appreciate how earth-shatteringly stupid the fixation with balancing budgets is in the first place. Continue reading “Osborne, Budget ‘Responsibility’ and the Hall of Mirrors Society”

GE2015 and Beyond: Anarch-ish

Super Mario's sister joins anti-government protests outside Downing Street
Super Mario’s sister joins anti-government protests outside Downing Street

This week, the liberal papers are full of chipper editorials all called something like ‘reasons to be cheerful’ that try and pick some positives out of Thursday’s electoral cataclysm. But there aren’t any.

Yes, Nick Clegg’s gone. Nigel Farage didn’t get in. Esther McVey, Danny Alexander, Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Mark Reckless all lost. Caroline Lucas kept her seat. Aside from Katy Clark, the one really regrettable casualty of the SNP surge, Labour’s few remaining left-wingers were re-elected, often with increased support.

And the Tories might have a parliamentary majority, but it’s one of the smallest in history. Bigger leads have dwindled to nothing in the past, as MPs died or stood down. Rebellious Tory backbenchers could make Cameron’s life a misery, as they did to John Major in the early ‘90s.

But that’s all pitiful up against the tsunami of human misery a Tory majority government will go on to unleash – “five more years of pure evil”, as Ken Livingstone aptly put it.

Continue reading “GE2015 and Beyond: Anarch-ish”

GE2015: Three Hours Past Midnight – Watching The Telly Watch The Election

As everyone knows by now, the pre-election polls were disastrously wrong, and the actual outcome on the night was crushingly terrible. The Tory vote didn’t fall, which looked inevitable beforehand. It rose. And the Labour vote didn’t recover, even to the piddling extent that was widely predicted beforehand. It fell. The polls said no party would win a majority, the result being another hung parliament, and another coalition government of one kind or other.

If you’ve always harboured a Luddite suspicion of ‘polls’ and hated the all-prevailing political obsession with them, last night might have been very satisfying if the real-world implications weren’t catastrophic, socially, economically, morally and ecologically.

By about 3am, it was clear that the Tories were doing far better than expected, and Labour were doing far worse. The Lib Dems were being annihilated. The SNP were clearly on course to win the vast majority of seats in Scotland.

The end result was a Conservative majority government. Unfathomably, we’re now faced with a worse situation than the one we found ourselves in 2010 – more of the same nation-plundering, majority-disdaining austerity agenda, but this time shorn of the erratic, smidgen of moral conscience that the Lib Dems brought to the table. Continue reading “GE2015: Three Hours Past Midnight – Watching The Telly Watch The Election”

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband Rules Out A Labour Government, But That Might Not Be Too Bad After All

Ed Miliband Spring Conference in Birmingham

We’ve run out of time to talk about the election, thankfully, and this’ll likely be the last post until it’s all over. We’re quite pleased, because thinking and writing about our risible excuse for a representative democracy all day is wearing in the extreme, particularly when there’s starvation, drowning immigrants, earthquake-ravaged Nepal and oodles of other harrowing human misery all going on at the same time.

With about a week to go, it looks like neither of the two main parties will win enough seats to form a majority government. The Tory vote will drop, but they’ll probably still be left as the largest party. Labour will do better than they did in 2010, but not by much. They’ll be annihilated by the SNP in Scotland, who could win 40-odd seats. The Lib Dems will lose a lot. UKIP will win a substantial wedge of total votes cast, but not many seats, thanks to First Past the Post. For the same reason, the ‘Green surge’ will come to nothing at a parliamentary level, although thankfully it seems Caroline Lucas will hang on to Brighton.

It looks very unlikely that the Coalition will be able to continue – even together, the Tories and the Liberals won’t be left with enough seats for a majority. The Tory-UKIP-DUP doomsday scenario almost definitely won’t come to pass either, mercifully.

We’ve spent about a month exerting the titanic political influence we wield over our three readers to try and bring about a minority Labour government, propped up and pulled leftwards by an anti-austerity bloc made up of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. It turns out some sort of Labour-SNP deal is one of only two feasible scenarios that’ll produce a workable government, unless things change substantially over the next week. The other is a Labour-Tory unity coalition. Continue reading “General Election 2015: Ed Miliband Rules Out A Labour Government, But That Might Not Be Too Bad After All”

Defensive Voting: A West Country Case Study

Wells
Wells

Further banging on about Defensive Voting. Which, come to think of it, is probably just tactical voting with a specific political purpose in mind – namely stalling neoliberalism through the Westminster infrastructure long enough to nail together some kind of radical left-wing alternative outside of it (there was an excellent bit of analysis published by Counterfire this week which came to similar conclusions). And this time, we’re looking at it in relation to a conveniently local real-world example.

Wells in Somerset is one of the most marginal constituencies in the country. It also happens to be the next one over from ours.

Most constituencies are ‘safe’ – the people living in them reliably vote for the same party in election after election, and that party easily wins by a mile. Yeovil, for example, has been Lib Dem for over thirty years (well, technically, it was Liberal from 1983 to 1992, then Lib Dem ever since). At the last election, Lib Dem candidate David Laws got 31,000 votes, 13,000 more than the next placed candidate.

As such, safe seats don’t really matter. The ones that do matter are the marginal ones, the swing seats as they’re often known – constituencies like Wells that are much more likely to change hands. These are the places that will decide who’s in government this time next year. Continue reading “Defensive Voting: A West Country Case Study”

We’re All Stupid: (Not) Watching The Leader’s Debate

tv debate

After whole minutes of thought, The Bemolution decided not to watch last night’s seven-way leadership debate, and took in a 1997 episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer about hyenas possessing people while simultaneously watching Twitter watch the debate instead.

To lazily quote an old blog post rather than have to think of a different way of saying the same thing, the debates are an “awful development, further chiselling down what should be a vast, complex, citizenry-engaging discussion about how societies are run into a rubbish squabble over who gets the top job. They’re a stunningly shallow American export we never should’ve touched, and need scrapping immediately”.

We did actually watch the first thirty seconds while fiddling with the DVD player. The announcer burbled some codswallop about Salford. There were some sub-Apprentice/Spooks stop-start swooping camerawork over the Mancunian skyline, set to plasticated techno that sounded like it came from about 2001. Presenter Julie Etchingham said something about the ‘big iss-oos’ facing the country. Clegg looked terrified, Nicola Sturgeon looked stilted, Miliband looked calm, Leanne Wood gave a nice happy smile and looked delighted to be there, and David Cameron did a face that made him look like Michael Howard. All of which are the kind of profound, substantive judgements the debates encourage you to make. No-one ever really offered a satisfactory explanation for why the Irish parties weren’t invited. Then the DVD kicked in.

After two hours of watching 140-character opinions dribble out from the #leadersdebate hashtag, we’d gleaned many an insight into the woeful state of twenty-first century public discourse, including 1.) that a lot of people labour under the misapprehension that you can calculate the definitive winner of something as subjective and un-scientific as a debate, 2.) that a lot of people were just going to declare victory for the person they already liked the most going into it and 3.) that according to numerous self-appointed arbiters of truth – more numerous than those calling it for any other leader, anyway – the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon was the most impressive. Continue reading “We’re All Stupid: (Not) Watching The Leader’s Debate”

Bem Bulletin #5: March 2015 – Budget 2015, Richard III and Bring Back Clarkson

Budget osborne 2015

THIS MONTH: Vote Defensively (But Voting Isn’t Enough)

Observations on The People’s Strictly (featuring Michael Sheen)

The Capitalist Anti-Capitalism of Yanis Varoufakis


On the menu today:

  1. Budget 2015
  2. Del Boy Shapps
  3. Richard III
  4. Bring Back Clarkson
  5. Russell Brand and Aditya Chakrabortty

Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #5: March 2015 – Budget 2015, Richard III and Bring Back Clarkson”