Intermittence

Due to various personal bits and pieces (mostly good) I’ll be posting a bit less for a little bit. That looking at politics in 2016 is like looking down a chasm of despair and seeing that there is actually a bottom only to see a video of your own imminent death projected onto it is completely besides the point. I’m sure, all else considered, I could summon the effort to write about how having a non-EU immigrant for a partner (like I do) is going to get immeasurably worse under the new government headed by a person who’d have put them into camps if anyone would have let her and it would have dissuaded a couple of foreign students from coming to the UK.

Yeah, not depressing at all.

Here’s a video of a cute fox.

More united my arse

Paddy Ashdown has launched More United, an ultimately well-meaning attempt to gain a coalition of liberal-minded voters to fund liberal-minded MPs which is going to crash and burn like an airliner made of cake without achieving anything of note. Here are the reasons why this is so:

  1. More United’s purpose is to fund candidates who agree with and say they will implement their principles when in office. These principles include a “fair, modern, efficient market based economy that closes the gap between rich and poor and supports strong public services” and an “open and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated in all its forms”. Leaving aside that basically everyone who isn’t in Ukip or the SWP wants those things, what these principles essentially are is a paraphrase of fundamental Liberal Democrat ideology.

    Not wishing to be a negative Nancy here, but if you want to support Liberal Democrat aims and values, have you ever considered the Liberal Democrats? They’re quite big on Liberal Democrat policies, are the Liberal Democrats. Even better, you can vote for them and if their candidates win then they’ll be a unified voting bloc in Parliament, unlike if you were voting for Labour, Lib Dem, Green or whoever candidates who if they were elected could well be whipped against each other, non-binding pledges to third parties aside.

    Let me say it as I see it – it’s founded by Paddy Ashdown and it’s encouraging people to sign a pledge relating to distilled Lib Dem policies. It’s a Lib Dem front. There’s no real shame in that, but that’s how I see it and I don’t know how more obvious it could be. It’s also worth pointing out that Labour moderates (a group whose disaffected members are the clearest targets of this) and the Lib Dems come from totally different ideological viewpoints even if they arrive at the same conclusions, so they’re not all that compatible except in a very shallow sense.

  2. It’s not even clear whether More United is compatible with party membership. The organisation itself isn’t a party, but by donating to it you would, according to the group’s aims, funding the electoral campaigns of candidates across multiple parties. Political parties are, understandably, tetchy about you endorsing other candidates if you’re a member of theirs; Labour, for instance, has the following in their rule book:

    Chapter 2, Clause 1, 4B. A member of the party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.

    The Lib Dems, meanwhile, can revoke your membership on the grounds of “membership of or support for another political party in Great Britain“. Of course, being a member/supporter of More United doesn’t mean you are directly supporting another party’s candidate (your £5 or whatever doesn’t knowingly go directly to the coffers of a named candidate of an opponent party to whichever one you’re part of) but it’s still got the aim of donating to candidates who sign up to a pledge regardless of what party they are part of, which I could definitely understand various bodies in various parties not wanting to condone. If I give a friend naked pictures of myself to distribute to my girlfriend and a number of other women besides her, I do not then get to argue to my girlfriend that I’ve not distributed nudes to other women, my mate did after I gave them to him.

    I’ll also have blinded numerous innocent women, but that’s by the by.

    But anyway, my strange analogy aside, you can by all means sign up to More United; but there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll lose your party card. Labour MP Jess Phillips has signed up as an early member; let’s see how that plays out.

  3. Even if you sign up to More United, and it supports lots of candidates, and those candidates win, there is absolutely nothing binding those candidates to vote in line with More United’s principles. Political parties have whips. They can whip their MPs to vote in accordance to their party’s wishes and discipline or sanction them if they don’t. A pledge to a random organisation that isn’t the party you’re a member  of the parliamentary party of is worth jack shit in the scheme of things. How is this going to achieve anything?
  4. Even if More United’s candidates win, assuming that they’re a patchwork of different parties (Labour, Lib Dem, Green etc), then related to point 3 there is nothing saying that they will have to work in concert. They can be whipped against each other. A putative “More United” majority would most likely end up being a coalition of Labour and the Lib Dems. Doesn’t sound too horrible, but there’s also no guarantee of such a thing (especially since, as noted, the two are ideologically at odds in numerous ways).

So here we have a group that, while well-intended, has very broadly written principles which, while being so, almost literally paraphrase a single party’s central ethos; could possibly lead to you getting chucked out of any party you’re currently in; means basically nothing since party whips can overrule it; and wouldn’t result in any kind of meaningful coalition. Sounds like a great idea. I’m sure it will achieve all sorts of great things.

Sorry, but if you want to split off the centre lefties from Labour into a (second) social democratic party, that can then ally or merge with the Lib Dems, as is the only real viable option for the party as it flays itself apart like a chicken in a centrifuge, then fucking do it already and do it properly. This pisspoor half-compromise, while again completely well-meaning and utterly inoffensive on the face of it, is just pointless. It’s something you can sign up to to make you feel good about yourself for a moment about how you’re standing up for a liberal Britain. It will achieve nothing and go nowhere.

Nuclear weapons: Meh

I don’t have an opinion on the renewal of Trident, which makes this a rather boring basis for an article. Might as well stop reading. No real point even writing anything. But while I keep trying to wrap my head around exactly what sort of prime minister Theresa May actually wants to be, given that her speech on assuming the throne (so to speak) sounded like it came from Ed Miliband’s mouth rather than her of all people, this is the big news – Trident’s replacement is up for a vote, and it will probably win.

And in all honesty, I don’t care. My position on it is simple – Trident will probably never be used, its cost is steep but ultimately (when amortised over its useful lifespan) a drop in the bucket of stale piss that is government expenditure, it is something somewhat needed out of geopolitical necessity and, most importantly, getting rid of it is politically impossible. While it hasn’t noticeably deterred anything we’ve also got no real evidence that it hasn’t deterred anything, because if it had deterred something then we would never know (Trident not deterring something of consequence being something evidenced by explosions, mushroom clouds and people melting.) We, as a country, piss away money on other ridiculous bullshit that doesn’t achieve anything meaningful but that also doesn’t have any societal benefit at all (e.g. obscene tax cuts for corporations, as pushed through repeatedly by our Eldritch abomination ex-chancellor), whereas Trident at least keeps some sailors and dockyard workers employed. All that said, I’d love to live in a world where nobody had nuclear weapons, and I’d love to be in a UK where we don’t have nuclear weapons, but that world is one that does not and probably will never exist and so is that UK.

I thus, ultimately, couldn’t give a sun-blushed shit whether we keep Trident or not because we are never going to unilaterally disarm in any event as it is political suicide (as Jeremy Corbyn has discovered) and so talking about it is pointless. We may as well talk about the possibility of dressing up sheep as ice cream men and having them dispense Flake 99’s made of ambrosia from vans that have been knitted together from unicorn pubes. And I say this as a former paid-up member of CND.

There is one tiny caveat to that. While Trident’s cost is indeed a drop in the ocean, that does not mean it is not a substantial amount of money. That substantial amount of money is something that the Government has, for the last six years, relentlessly hammered home that it does not have, which is why public sector provision must be slashed, benefits for the disabled pointlessly rejigged and cut and JSA claimants made to feel sub-human in order to try and save their pissy £72 a week. I have no particular opposition to renewing Trident at its lifetime cost of over £200billion, so long as the Government also does not try and tell me on the other hand that it can’t spare any money for other things. Spending a shitload of money on weapons that by definition should never be used if they work at their intended purpose while also going to great lengths to stop someone claiming £72 a week for food and essentials while they’re in between jobs solely in order to “save money” does not strike me as a particularly consistent position.

As mentioned, I don’t know what sort of government Theresa May is going to run; if we take her maiden speech at face value it indicates she will probably be more centrist than Cameron was, which is welcome – we may see a retraction of some of the cold-hearted bullshit that has happened. Whether we should actually take a Tory prime minister who was balls deep in Cameron’s government at face value when she nicks the language of Milibandism is another matter; but I suspect I’ll probably be more comfortable ignoring Trident under her government (with the above caveat) than I would under Cameron and Osborne.

And now back to not thinking about it.

Stitched up

Welp, that’s me and the Labour party done for. I thought we’d escaped the stitch-up of Jeremy Corbyn not being on the ballot – as much as I didn’t especially want him to continue leading, I wanted him to not continue leading as the result of a fair fight against a clearly better alternative. Admittedly, I want a lot of things that are equally implausible, but at the very least the “fair fight” bit would have been accomplished, if not the “decent opponent” bit.

But, of course, there had to be a but. Why wouldn’t there be? The number one lesson of 2016 so far is that if something good happens then it will almost immediately be followed by sixteen thousand shit things happening at exactly the same time. This time, the turd dropped in everyone’s lap was the announcement that if you joined the party in the six months prior to the NEC convening on the 12th July, you would no longer have a vote in the leadership election… unless you wanted to cancel your membership and re-register as a registered supporter. For £25. In a two day window.

To give a full history: I have been a member of Labour, on and off, since 2010. I originally joined, from the Liberal Democrats, in May 2010, and voted for Ed Miliband in the leadership election that year; membership lapsed for financial reasons (i.e. I went through a lot of shit in 2011). I rejoined again in October 2013 after seeing Ed finally coming out of his shell a bit and saying things that really chimed with me again; a few months later I started doorknocking and delivering leaflets. I was a member of the party up until November 2015, when I (as I previously wrote about) quit after seeing John McDonnell somehow respond to an open goal by setting himself on fire and shitting on the ball. I rejoined, as I found out today, on the 18th January this year after reconsidering, and have since then attended multiple branch meetings, done telling for the party during the local elections and delivered a shitload of leaflets – not as many as I would like to have done, but what I could with my circumstances. As I found out, ironically after getting home from my local branch meeting, being an active member and supporter of the party is apparently not good enough to earn a vote in the leadership elections; as I “joined” six days after the 12th January cut off, it was confirmed to me today, I will not get one.

Unless I quit again, and part with £25 to be a registered supporter.

You know what Labour: you can suck rancid drops of sweat from my hairy taint before I will even consider parting with more money for something I thought I had paid for the right to do as part of my membership of your party. Take my membership card and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. I’m out. Oh, sure, you’re building a social movement, you’ll miss my money, nobody else can beat the Tories, yada yada, but why the everfucking fuck should I not take it personally that I rejoined you six days late and therefore one of the most basic rights of membership has been stripped from me in an effort to stymie imaginary hordes of entryists who joined well before this pathetic excuse for a leadership competition was a twinkle in anyone’s eye? I rejoined because I realised that despite McDonnell’s idiocy I did still think that the party was our (the left’s, and the average working person in Britain’s) last hope for a better future, and I’ve stuck with it even as the party tears itself asunder in the most undignified manner possible; as the leadership continues being bumbling and incompetent and as the PLP see this bumbling incompetence and respond “well we can be shittier!”… but this is not good enough. Six month rule.

I’ve been disenfranchised on a technicality. Many people haven’t even got that; they’ve just had their vote nicked off them retroactively simply for the crime of not being in the party long enough. I personally know two people who joined recently – yes, both supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in a rather less qualified way than I could ever claim to be – and why should they stick around when the first message they get loud and clear is that they’re not good enough and the things the Labour party sticks on its website as a paean to potential new members aren’t worth the photons they’re borne upon? Why should they not feel like they’ve been sold a pup? Why the hell should they trust Labour again? Why should trust Labour again? Oh sure, you can get around it by joining a union, or another society, but at the end of the day the principle counts – why should I have to?

The answer is; I won’t. I couldn’t give a sun-blushed shit what it has to say to me or anyone else, I’m gone. Apparently I’m not good enough, and neither are the hundreds of thousands of people who showed enough faith in it and its embattled leader to join it even amongst all the tumult. Sure, go ahead and tell me they’re all entryists, they’re all Trots, they’re all communists, SWP members, CPGB members, sandal-wearing lentil-eating north London hippies that chuck bricks through windows and tweet rape threats at MPs, or they could be just good, decent people who appreciate what Jeremy Corbyn believes in and who have now got every reason to feel bitter and disgusted with the party he leads after it has taken their money and then changed the deal. Good job repelling the people who fund you, you absolute shithouses.

I’ve joined another party, for what it’s worth; I won’t disclose which one (here at least, some people on the /r/LabourUK IRC channel know; at least know it’s not the fucking Tories) but frankly it seems like a better home for me right now than a party that, while everyone I’ve met on a local level has been friendly, welcoming and nice to have a pint (or diet Coke in my case) with at meetings, doesn’t appear as an institution to give any basic respect to me as a member or anyone else who has committed the grave, unforgivable crime of looking like they might possibly vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Clarification

A few people have asked me what my position on Jeremy Corbyn being leader is. I appreciate it seems a bit ambiguous.

I voted for Corbyn last year. I wanted the Labour party to go leftward and I felt he was making the right arguments for domestic and economic policy. I voted based on his platform, no more. I think most people who voted for him were the same.

That was then, this is now. Corbyn being leader of the Labour party is completely untenable; his MPs have no confidence in him, and regardless of how you feel about member democracy the MPs are pretty fucking important for a parliamentary socialist party. He has simply, for a variety of reasons, failed to cut through to the public. I hoped he would, but he hasn’t; you can blame whoever you like for this, but it’s true, and you have to deal with that basic fact at some point. He’s made some appalling decisions (going “we need to invoke Article 50 right now” a few hours after the result of the referendum became clear was jaw-droppingly insane) and most people can’t imagine him as Prime Minister. It isn’t so much the ideas that are the issue but the lacklustre execution.

However, while I can’t stand Corbyn’s poor attempts at politics I can stand less people pissing on my head and telling me it’s raining. The leadership candidate who came forward today came across as a crushing non-entity who couldn’t articulate any real reason to have the job other than a vague notion of “electability”. If the hill Labour MPs are planning to die on is competent leadership, then putting forward someone who can’t even seem to put forward a coherent reason for her to be elected in the name of “electability” is ridiculous at best. Please don’t ask me to forgive basic errors by Corbyn’s opponents while they set about him for being shit at politics, since from where I’m standing both sides are shit at politics. The rebelling MPs are just asking to get curbstomped, again, by Corbyn.

In short, ask me to choose between someone I agree with who’s shit at politics and an idea-free vacuum who’s also shit at politics and I’ll choose the former. I need something more to sway me to a new leader than just telling me how shit Corbyn is, because I already know he’s shit, it’s just I’ve not really got any other compelling choices. Give me a compelling alternative and I’ll gladly vote for them; field a non-entity and I won’t. Fairly simple.

Angela Eagle: A lack of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Angela Eagle did, indeed, announce her leadership bid on Monday, thus confirming point number one of my five predictions. Too bad it was immediately overshadowed by the fact that the news media didn’t give a shit and immediately ran away to report more interesting news, like that we have a new Prime Minister. I will say this for the Tories; they are ruthless cunts. It takes a level of cuntism that can only be described as pure genius to schedule your press conference for the new Prime Minister to be anointed (as that’s effectively what it is) over the top of your rivals’ leader’s rival’s leadership challenge announcement. My hat goes off to them.

Of course, points two and three (that the leadership bid will involve moving to the right on immigration policy and an obsession with the public finances in order to capture “swing voters”) haven’t had time to bear fruit. They especially didn’t today as Eagle didn’t talk about any policy at all, any kind of driving ideology, any kind of anything really that would motivate anyone other than “I am not Jeremy Corbyn and Jeremy Corbyn is shit”, something bound to really, really excite and motivate the 60%+ of Labour members who still support Jeremy Corbyn. The most we got was a declaration that she’s “Not a Blairite, not a Brownite and not a Corbynista”, which is first of all meaningless since it is a statement that applies to basically everyone from David Cameron to Hitler, and doubly meaningless because she’s not said anything that she actually stands for other than winning elections and not being Jeremy Corbyn.

In fact, just to be fair, I went to her campaign website and read some of the materials therein. Her key selling points seem to be, according to her statement, that:

  • Labour is good and wonderful and has achieved many good things
  • Northern. Socialist. Joined Labour because of Thatcher.
  • Likes winning elections. Labour winning elections leads to nice things.
  • Can unite the party

To which my responses are:

  • Yes
  • And?
  • How?
  • How????

Not included is any discussion of policy, the direction she’d like the party to go in (other than winning elections and being united, of course), what she would want to achieve once she’s won those elections, how she would win those elections or any statement of ideology, intent or an overarching goal for any government she might conceivably one day lead. This is embarrassing compared to the former leadership campaign site of, for instance, noted political incompetent Jeremy Corbyn, with its bushel of policy documents.

I’m sorry, but even without her conference being interrupted by major events, this is just embarrassing. How long has this leadership bid been going on for now? It’s been trailed heavier than most Disney/Pixar films; they’ve all but had Angela Eagle bobbleheads in Happy Meals the amount that this bid for leadership has been promoted. You’d think in that time that she’d have been able to knock up a side of A4 or two on policy, wouldn’t you? And this is supposed to be the “professional” side of the party? We’ve put up with two weeks of some of the shittest public relations this side of our hiring Rolf Harris to do the grand opening of the Ian Huntley Day Care Centre, and the sort of sabre-rattling usually experienced in the weeks before a North Korean nuclear test, only to have it turn out like, well, a North Korean nuclear test – underwhelming and, while supposed to be concerning, actually rather calming in its own way.

I’d dearly love to have a more media-friendly leader than Jeremy Corbyn – his approach to public relations (i.e. hiring Seumas Milne to do it for him) has been about as successful as Josef Fritzl’s. But a policy vacuum who’s not even that good at media relations herself and whose sole selling point appears to be “I’m electable”, a bald statement that is never followed up with any reasoning as to why or how this will be achieved (and is in fact, given the abysmal messaging surrounding this whole thing, a statement that gets less plausible by the day), is not particularly something you’ll motivate Labour members to vote for after they’ve quite categorically rejected triangulating policy vacuums en masse. The fact she can’t appear to put any goals down on paper other than the winning of elections and that she’s a socialist (so was Tony Blair) demonstrates an alarming paucity of ideas and, worse, a cynicism that you have nowhere else to go if you want to get rid of Corbyn, so we’ll just run any old shit and hope it works. Christ.

In my previous post, I said this:

I hope that Eagle has enough nous to know who she’s pitching herself to – 600,000 people (and counting) who aren’t in hock to Corbyn because of some strange Marxist-Leninist personality cult but because he actually speaks a language they understand, shares the same concerns they do and is quite vocal about wanting to do something radical about it rather than tinkering around the edges of a system that is failing people.

Just based on the fact that her pitch is of absolutely nothing other than an end goal of winning an election with nothing specified before and after, I don’t have high hopes for this to be the case. Once again; I’d be pleased to be proved wrong.

Come and gaze at Bloon’s crystal balls

Indulge me for a second. I’m going to make some predictions about the now actually-imminent (as opposed to the supposedly imminent) leadership challenge by Angela Eagle. I’ll make a note somewhere to come back to them in about a month’s time and then we can all see whether my powers of basic logic can predict the future.

  1. Angela Eagle will actually announce her leadership bid on Monday as promised. This will be the conclusion to almost two weeks of the most boring telling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf ever. I’ve had people tell me that actually this was a really clever move to keep the Corbynistas at bay while Tom Watson tries to negotiate a compromise agreement (how exactly you compromise between “I want to keep my job” and “We want you to not have your job” is a matter for them) and I can only presume that they’re smoking crack, because Eagle has only damaged her own credibility with this pointless announcing and then re-announcing.
  2. Eagle’s leadership bid will involve talk about “recapturing Labour heartlands” and the means of doing this will involve moving to the right on immigration. Book it. Done. There are numerous assumptions that need to be dealt with here – that these places are our heartlands (they were, they’re not any more), that we have an automatic right to these “heartlands” (we don’t), that they will automatically come back to us if we become anti-immigration (they won’t), that if we become anti-immigration we’ll be trusted (we won’t), that the rank and file membership will put up with this (they won’t) and that our actual core vote/heartlands will also put up with this (they won’t). There’s a very basic political calculation in play here, one that betrays the very fundamental idea that Labour at the moment doesn’t think it can persuade anyone so therefore it must not try and make arguments; people in our former heartlands are switching to Ukip, we must be more like Ukip to win them over, become more like Ukip. Of course doing so pisses off our actual core vote but, fuck it, why not?
  3. We’ll hear more bullshit about “fiscal credibility” being needed to persuade swing voters. This is what we got last time. There were three candidates who, to varying degrees, accepted the prevailing logic of “we need to cut spending but in a nicer way” and one who questioned this for the complete horseshit that it is and all but took the other three out and horsewhipped them as a result. The idea that swing voters can only, only, be swayed by notions about the deficit (as opposed to, for example, public services, the need for an actual industrial policy and the fact that deficit obsession demonstrably hasn’t worked). I predict that we’ll get more of this shit and it will go down exactly the same way it did before.
  4. Eagle will get smashed to pieces. Unless both 2 and 3 are false then this will probably be the case because she won’t have actually thought about who she needs to sell herself to. The membership are in absolutely no mood to have another candidate who wants to “meet in the middle” with regards to policies after the party has used this strategy in multiple elections with diminishing returns, culminating in 2015. Corbyn has not had many returns on his strategy either, but at least it’s one that the membership can nod along with – and, ultimately, they are the only people who actually need to be persuaded in any way in this contest, doe-eyed appeals about all the people we’d be leaving behind by not electing Eagle who would inevitably win an election of course because she isn’t Corbyn aside.
  5. Nobody of any consequence will learn a single lesson from any of this. The result (if as described in number 4, with its necessary dependents 2 and/or 3) will be blamed on entryism or just the membership being idiots if Corbyn wins again. That Eagle wasn’t an appealing candidate, that she wasn’t in tune with what the membership wants and Corbyn is, that her strategy for winning an election would be the same basic one that has lost us elections twice on the trot, that she’s made herself look like a buffoon to anyone who follows Labour at all with the “will she won’t she” game…  all of these far more plausible reasons why she might lose will be completely dismissed if Corbyn wins, because it can only be because of SWP entryists, Momentum or because the membership are just fundamentally thick.

I genuinely hope I’m wrong on some level. I hope that Eagle has enough nous to know who she’s pitching herself to – 600,000 people (and counting) who aren’t in hock to Corbyn because of some strange Marxist-Leninist personality cult but because he actually speaks a language they understand, shares the same concerns they do and is quite vocal about wanting to do something radical about it rather than tinkering around the edges of a system that is failing people. I hope that rather than considering these people – many if not most of them long term Labour party members – a write off and generally just not worth engaging with in any way, she will actually properly listen to them and think about what motivated them to vote Corbyn last year and what could maybe be done to win them over to her side.

It’s true, of course, that there is some personal loyalty to Corbyn the man in play – unlike some, I don’t automatically consider this evidence of a “personality cult”, I consider it to be because the things he says are relatable to so many people and he appears to them to be the only one saying them to any great degree. Some people will dig their heels in and will see the entire thing as an excuse to get rid of a leader the PLP don’t agree with – fair enough. Let them, it’s as much of a legitimate choice as just wanting Corbyn gone no matter what. But just assuming anyone who voted Corbyn doesn’t have a point, can’t be persuaded and won’t vote for anyone else because they’re part of the cult is never going to work – if you can’t persuade your own party, how the hell do you expect to persuade the wider electorate?

I’m pretty confident that all of the things 1 through 5 are going to happen. Eagle will run, she’ll run as the “concede and move on” candidate, she’ll crash and burn and it’ll be Corbyn’s fault for having a fan club and not hers for not motivating people. But I hope I’m wrong. (I’m also working under the assumption that most horses I bet on tend to end up as glue, so if Eagle suddenly swings to the left instead and wins you’ve got me to thank.)

Chilcot

I don’t especially have much to say on Chilcot, but goddamn am I going to try and talk about it anyway.

Iraq was the first actual political event which properly motivated me to try and take an interest. I was 13 when the drums started beating and almost immediately, the whole thing seemed like intuitive bollocks. Why are we preparing to bomb this place? It hasn’t done anything to me, to us. Why are we doing it? For oil? For prestige? Why are we getting involved in it? I pissed off basically everyone 13 year old me knew who wasn’t already pissed off with 13 year old me by constantly talking about Iraq and what a load of complete shit it was – that we, the United Kingdom, were going into a pointless conflict that would just cause upheaval and bloodshed for no good reason. The only people that seemed to be talking sense at the time were Charles Kennedy’s Liberal Democrats and the Stop The War Coalition, whose “Not In My Name” poster I proudly displayed on my bedroom wall. (I still thought George Galloway was a penis, mind.) I don’t have any copies of the shit I posted online on various awful, abortive blogs about the affair, because when I was 13 I was a fucking annoying idiot and I want to bury basically anything I wrote from before the age of 18 in the same fashion as high level nuclear waste, but I wrote about it constantly. I slept with the TV on on the night of the 19th March and vividly remember waking up very early in the morning of the 20th to see rockets hitting Baghdad. The absolute stupidity of Tony Blair and most of the Labour party in nodding through this absurd war which served us no purpose and which only had the capacity to cause horror in the world is something that was a formative moment in my life and my political opinions; I was a Liberal Democrat (and briefly a member of the Greens) from that point onwards, until making peace with and joining Labour for the first time some time after the 2010 election. The point being, Iraq was probably the defining moment for me in terms of thinking about and being interested in politics, and in having such strong opinions – as far as I was concerned, Iraq was an awful, pointless mess and it was never going to end well at all.

That was 14 years ago. The Chilcot report came out today and essentially confirmed all but the more contentious aspects of what the anti-war crowd said about the Iraq saga – that the war was pointless, that we’d done basically nothing to avert it, that Blair was hell-bent on going into it for whatever reason, that the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was at best sensationalised and that, most damning of all, Saddam Hussein was no imminent threat to the UK. This is the ultimate tragedy and the real thing that makes me sick to my stomach; that we’d wasted time, resources, money and and lives – actual human lives, of all creeds and colours – bombing the ever-loving shit out of a country that posed us basically no threat whatsoever. That country may have been led by a ruthless, dictatorial cunt who was worth less than the noose that they hung him from, but he was a ruthless, dictatorial cunt who, in the final analysis, couldn’t have even dreamed of killing as many Iraqis as our pointless, quixotic war did in his loneliest, most despotic fantasies, and looks like Shami Chakrabarti next to the fanatical cunts that are ISIS who took advantage of the resulting power vacuum in order to build up a base from which they could spread to other countries and, irony of ironies, actually pose a threat to us. Imagine that. And we called it. The late great Charles Kennedy, the millions who marched in Stop The War demonstrations up and down the country, right down to prickish 13-year old me with his shit blog; we called it, and there is absolutely no pleasure to be taken from this fact, since by being right all it means is that we predicted correctly suffering, death and misery on an immense scale. I’d rather have been wrong.

Blair, on television today after Chilcot finally delivered the killing blow to his already sordid reputation, didn’t have the common decency to cry even fake crocodile tears for the hundreds of thousands of people his actions – their motivations disputed but ultimately irrelevant – pointlessly slaughtered, and the millions more they’ve affected through consequence. He still thinks the war was a good idea, that it was right to do; he is so tragically, catastrophically wrong that it’s almost comical, and so deep in denial I doubt he could ever be retrieved. It calls into question his grasp on reality if he can see the horror and misery the invasion of Iraq that he was such a vocal cheerleader for has caused and somehow come away thinking it was still the right thing to do. It instead fell to Jeremy Corbyn, someone who vociferously opposed the war from the start and was, indeed, high up in Stop The War, to apologise in a dignified and sombre way on behalf of Blair’s party for the misery the whole sorry saga caused to Iraq, to our armed forces and to the country as a whole. Thus the upshot of the Chilcot Report, the final result, has been that the man with all of the culpability acknowledged and apologised for none of his poor decisions, while a man with absolutely none did so for him. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like justice has been served, and although nothing will bring the thousands of dead back, it feels like we could probably do more to atone for them.

The “Awful Middle Aged Woman Who Andrea Leadsom Looks And Sounds Exactly Like” Trilogy

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, which you should, then you won’t be aware of the fact that sometimes I go slightly crazy and post long, incoherent rants. This magical occasion doesn’t happen very often, but it’s worth following just on that proviso.

The main thing is that one day, I realised who Andrea Leadsom, the Tory leadership candidate who appears to be there merely to make Theresa May look better by way of comparison, looks like. And she looks like this.

Andrea Leadsom: A New Hope For A Non-Dented Waitrose Duck A L'orange
Andrea Leadsom: A New Hope For A Non-Dented Waitrose Duck A L’orange
Andrea Leadsom - The Demise Of The Cheque Guarantee Scheme Several Years Ago Strikes Back
Andrea Leadsom – The Demise Of The Cheque Guarantee Scheme Several Years Ago Strikes Back
Andrea Leadsom - Return To The Country House Full Of Posh Inbred Cunts
Andrea Leadsom – Return To The Country House Full Of Posh Inbred Cunts

You may notice that these posts get longer as we get further into the trilogy. This is because thinking about Andrea Leadsom seems to inspire more bile the more I do it. I first heard of her in the BBC EU referendum Question Time event and am sorely depressed that I have ever had to hear her again.

I can’t be the only one who thinks of the above when I see or hear her though. Can I?

Poor bloke

Having seen the video of Jeremy Corbyn being asked whether he’s “running away from the media” while refusing to take questions from journalists and becoming, temporarily, a pub brawler for what I presume is the first and last time in his life, and coupled with the reports that he wanted to stand down as Labour leader but was convinced not to, I can’t help but feel sorry for the poor fucker.

Despite my repeated assertion that he’s shit at politics and messaging and that if a better left-wing option pops up I would vote for them in his stead, Corbyn to me comes across as nothing other than a genuinely decent, pleasant, well meaning and overall nice person; someone whose socialism is born purely and solely out of a wish for people to be happy, safe, well-fed and living in peace together. You can say that’s naive and utopian if you want to, and to an extent I’d agree, but I get the sense that it’s heartfelt and that he wants to try and realise that vision somehow – and again, you can say he’s inept at actually trying to realise that vision, and at best naive himself about some of the associations he’s had, but his heart is very much in the right place. Even his worst enemies tend to describe him as “decent”. He doesn’t even eat meat for fuck’s sake.

In response to his pursuing this well-meaning if far-fetched ideal, Corbyn has sustained an enormous shit-slinging campaign – some of the shit deserved (describing Hamas as “friends” and praising them as a force for social justice) some of it much less so (such as his supposedly comparing Israel and Da’esh this week, which he simply wasn’t on any level as is immediately evidenced by the context and the actual words he used) and some of it, as he’d possibly admit, brought upon himself (why Seumas Milne?). Most of the MPs in the Labour party have all but turned against him, the media have barely given him a fair hearing at all and a significant proportion of the party membership want him gone, even while the party’s actual electoral performance in actual electoral contests hasn’t measurably suffered to any great extent while he has led it. On top of this, he has been blamed even for Britain leaving the European Union through being a secret supporter of leaving it, which would necessarily mean that he is both unpersuasive for the cause he went up and down the country promoting (remaining) but also remarkably persuasive for a cause he didn’t espouse at all (leaving).

Corbyn, someone who even his detractors seem to think is a genuinely good person underneath it all who I doubt could or would ever hurt anyone, has spent a year now being vilified as a trot, a communist, dishonest, a cult leader, an idiot, a disaster, the ruiner of the Labour party, an anti-Semite, a racist and now, absurdly, personally responsible for an enormous political and economic catastrophe. Given all of this pressure on someone who has had no executive experience whatsoever, whose media training has been shambolic to non-existent (partly because he idiotically chose a tankie fuckwit to be his director of communications, in fairness) and whose apparently genuine positive and hopeful idealism has somehow not given way despite the litany of people he thought were his friends lining up to kick him squarely in the balls, I don’t especially blame him for looking like he was going to lamp someone who implied he was “running away” from a media that has, in large part, given him anything but a fair hearing and in many cases has taken perfectly innocuous statements out of context in order to make him look bad. So, despite being lukewarm on his leadership, I can’t help but feel sorry for the poor bloke on a personal level. No wonder he wanted to stand down; if I’d been him, under that sort of pressure and under these sorts of conditions, I’d have been up a clock tower with a rifle three months ago, and to merely turn around and tell the questioner to contact his press office if they want an interview in these circumstances strikes me as a sign of having the patience of a saint.