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

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

Vote Defensively (But Voting Isn’t Enough)

Generic voting image

Generic voting image

The biggest political event of the year, if not the decade, is obviously going to be the General Election in May. You’d struggle to describe the mangled, dystopian thing we’d be left with after another five years of the present government as ‘a society’.

The Bemolution’s political views aren’t especially well represented within the Westminster mainstream, what with pledges to essentially dismantle modern civilisation and start again tending to go down like a lead zeppelin in the key marginals. This makes elections morally challenging.

A lot of fuss was made in the media last year when Russell Brand supposedly endorsed not voting. Brand – someone we unashamedly like – clarified his position after a fusillade of criticism from across the political spectrum: he doesn’t vote, he said, because there’s nothing worth voting for.

Broadly, in our irrelevant opinion, he was right. But we’ll still vote, and would encourage other similar-minded types to do the same. It’s what we call ‘defensive voting’.re Continue reading

Bem Bulletin #1: November 2014 – Julien Blanc, Building Castles and the Negative Dialectics of Myleene Klass

Clash of the titans

Clash of the titans

This month at Bem Towers: we lamented society’s magpie-materialism in the wake of the release of Apple’s iPhone 6; we got annoyed at blatant BBC bias as it stuck to its guns over excluding the Green Party from next year’s leaders’ debates; and in the third and final part of what we might as well call our Pretentious London Trilogy, we finished our politicised amble around the capital in the plutocrat’s den itself, Canary Wharf.

And, on the Bemolutionary turntable this month: wholesome wanky guitar music from the glorious Guitar Trio, in our continuing tribute to dear departed flamenco messiah Paco De Lucia; and squeaky banjo-communist Eugene Chadbourne, with his perennially relevant geopolitical ditty, ‘Dirt’.


In this month’s Bem Bulletin:

1. Welcome to the jungle/first Bem Bulletin

2. The Negative Dialectics of Myleene Klass

3. Julien Blanc, ‘Pickup Artist’

4. Big buildings, wastes of time, wastes of life


1. Welcome to the first Bem Bulletin! In the old, Further Education-related days, the then-embryonic Bemolution put out about two issues of the Bem Bulletin, a rubbish half-satirical newsletter filled with in-jokes written for and read by five people.

Ever on the lookout for ways to avoid having to think of anything original, we’re now nicking the name and sellotaping it to an entirely different concept – namely a new monthly blog feature in which we prod at mainstream news stories we haven’t got the time/mental stamina to cover in customary 1.5k-word shamblo-essay format. On the side, we’re also going recap what we’ve been writing this month and talk about what we’ve got lined up for next. Continue reading

Ed Miliband Did A Speech

Ed

Ed

The commentariat might have obsessed over it past the point of self-parody, but Ed Miliband’s Labour Conference speech wasn’t too bad. He’s already said that New Labour is over. In Brighton last week, he seemed to ever-so-tentatively hint that his party’s wholesale embrace of free market capitalism might not have been the best idea either.

As crabbily essayed last post, the modern party conference is a soulless and undemocratic PR exercise, the grim pinnacle of our cultural fixation with the over-hyped individuals with whom the buck stops rather than actual political substance. There’s something faintly repulsive about the stage-managed spectacle of it when you watch it on TV – the wrist-dislocating vigour of the Chinese Communist Party-style applause, the gun-to-the-back-of-your-head grin-grimace of the Labour Party celebrities sat in the front row, the no-doubt obsessively vetted panoply of faces sat on stage behind the Dear Leader for no other reason than to create an adoring tableau of party unity. Continue reading

Party Conferences Are Fairly Meaningless

party conferenceIt’s that time of year when arch-politicos and the commentariat take to the provinces to splash around in our puddle-shallow political mainstream.

Radically, party conference season involves the Westminster set actually leaving London, which must lead to many sleepless nights beforehand wondering whether mochas and running water have spread beyond the M25. For everyone else, the abiding question should probably be how so much time, money and media coverage can be blown on events where no-one really says anything.

Last week, the Labour Party – or at least the bits of it that could spare the £100 entrance fee – met in Brighton. This week, the Conservatives are congregating in Manchester.

The Tory Conference is unlikely to tell us anything we didn’t already know. Thanks to the kind of journalists who take DWP press releases as unassailable fact and churn out televisual variations on the theme ‘Why Are You Scrounging On Benefits, You Feckless Scroungers?’, we already bask in borderline-sociopathic Cameron-rays every day of the week. Labour might well be a neoliberalised sham of its former self, but at least hearing from Ed Miliband and co makes for a bit of a change. Continue reading

Boris and the Local Elections

The Mayor of London

The Mayor of London

Last week’s local elections trundled past with leaden midterm predictability.

Clearly peeved, a significant slice of the electorate stayed at home, and those that turned out roundly rejected the Coalition parties. Labour made huge gains, largely by default.

The Tories and Lib Dems were soon scrabbling to write off palpable public discontent as typical mid-term blues. Ed Miliband, on the other hand, was extrapolating growing public trust in his leadership from the protest votes begrudgingly cast in Labour’s favour.

Behind the dubiously rose-tinted interpretations, the cold hard statistics remain grim for the government. The Tories lost 419 councillors and 12 councils. The Lib Dems suffered a second successive electoral wipe-out: they lost 44% of the seats they were defending, leaving them with their smallest amount of councillors since they first emerged from the ashes of the SDP in 1988. Labour picked up 780 council seats, but based on the lowest voter turnout in 12 years. Continue reading