We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing: 4th November 2020; ‘‘Life under a good government is rarely dramatic; life under a bad government is always so.’ (1)
‘Caught up in circles,
Confusion is nothing new..’
As the risk of more Samo, Samo, we must start with the latest U-turn, the 4-week lockdown II. The costs this time isn’t the usual egg on the face, its people lives.
As Kier Starmer said; when the scientists recommended the circuit breaker, on 21 September, there were slightly more than 4,000 daily infections and 11 deaths. ‘Forty days later, when [the PM] finally decided to announce a longer, four-week national lockdown, those figures had increased to 326 deaths a day, and 22,000 cases. That is the human cost of the government’s inaction,’ Starmer said.
Starmer, in a speech to the annual conference of the CBI, said that while it would be wrong to blame the government for Covid, ‘I do blame it for the way it’s been handled – and I can’t forgive the catalogue of mistakes that have cost lives and livelihoods.’
Starmer singled out Rishi Sunak for blame, saying the UK chancellor’s ‘name is all over’ the decision to reject earlier tough measures.
I can’t forgive the catalogue of mistakes that have cost lives and livelihoods
In a direct attack on Sunak, he added: ‘The impact on business, and jobs, will be severe. Make no mistake, the chancellor’s name is all over this. His decision to block a circuit breaker, to dismiss it as a ‘blunt instrument’ and to pretend that you can protect the economy without controlling the virus will now mean that businesses have to close for longer, more people will lose their jobs, and the public finances will be worse than they needed to be.
‘It makes me so angry and so frustrated that when the British people – and British businesses – have given so much and made so many sacrifices, they have been let down so badly by the government.’
As we reported numerous times before it is the ‘unfortunate’ that are most impacted by the virus. According to the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) the number of 16 to 25-year-olds sleeping rough in London has risen to 368 in 2020 from 250 in the same period last year, an increase of 47%. Young people now make up 11% of the capital’s rough sleepers, described as ‘a historic high’.
Josh, 24, from south-west London is supported by New Horizon, a charity aimed at helping homeless youngsters, said; ‘I was made to leave the place I was staying in sad circumstances. During lockdown I was working as a carer but I was sleeping on the streets. It’s been a fight to keep that going. And at night you wait and wait for someone from outreach who say they come to see you and then they don’t. You’re just stuck and unsafe. There’s still no shelter or stable housing available also due to peak of homelessness because of the pandemic. It’s hard, to say the least … This system just doesn’t work for young people. There is hardly any temporary accommodation and worst of all, young people are being ignored while also being made vulnerable by the same system.’
This system just doesn’t work for young people
Another area of neglect highlighted by the pandemic is education, I wrote last week of how the government was cutting the allocation of laptops to schools most in need of their support in providing education during a lockdown, and the lack of internet access for many children.
This is stark comparison to Estonia who, in 2001, classified internet access as a human right, making the development of digital skills, high-speed internet and a sophisticated IT infrastructure a national priority. Estonian schools have been using digital study materials and electronic school management systems for years, therefore when schools closed due to the pandemic children’s studies continued seamlessly online.
In 1997, a project called Tiigrihüpe (the Tiger Leap) was launched to provide computers and internet access for schools, and vital digital training for teachers. ‘Estonia has been preparing for digital education for years,’ said Laura Limperk-Kütaru, the head of Estonia’s international relations department. ‘For us this transformation to distance learning was not something new.’
Not every child in Estonia had access to a laptop or tablet, but where they did not, schools, local authorities and voluntary organisations stepped in. A team of university-trained ‘educational technologists’ who are based in schools worked with teachers to ensure the best use of digital resources.
The benefits of this focus are now recognised internationally, Estonia has established itself as the new education powerhouse of Europe, outperforming even Finland in the international Pisa tests. (2)
‘And we’re not little children,
And we know what we want
, And the future is certain,
Give us time to work it out..’
Spending is becoming a big issue for the government, not just because of the cost of the pandemic, but also because there is a north-south divide developing within the party as the newly elected Tory MPs, the Temporary-55, have organised themselves as a power-bloc know as the Northern Research Group (‘NRG’), impacting policy areas from coronavirus funding to planning reform and culture wars.
This group represent a higher number of blue-collar workers and their constituents tend to be more pro-Brexit. They have more in-common with the left-behind coastal communities in the south, than with the ‘traditional’ Tory safe seats who typically more affluent voters. MPs in these traditionally ‘safe’ seats are concerned their constituents will lose out if No.10 favours keeping the red wall blue in preference to tightening the Tory hold on the south.
The Temporary-55 feel their constituencies have been under tighter restrictions than the south and, that when the coronavirus infections were worst in London the country was put under national lockdown, whereas that hasn’t happened when it’s the other way around.
more in-common with the left-behind coastal communities in the south, than with the ‘traditional’ Tory safe seats
Whilst there is no southern equivalent of the NRG there is the so-called ‘housing algorithm concern group,’ led by the former No 10 adviser Andrew Griffith and the Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, formed to oppose the government’s planning reform algorithm designed to support the government’s mass housebuilding plans.
Planning is an issue bubbling under, hidden by current events, but one that will be very divisive within the party. The NRG are generally supportive of the proposed planning changes, regarding anything that means more funding as a positive. They also see property ownership through cheaper housing as the pathway to voting Conservative. Whereas MPs in more affluent seats take the view that cheaper housing not only spoils the countryside and upsets current residents, it also changes the makeup of their constituencies bringing in younger voters what are more likely to vote Labour.
If the virus leaves the pot dry for infrastructure projects, Johnson will face increasing pressure from blue-collar Tories to take a stronger stance on culture war issues, which they view as a cost-free way to unite their base and remind people this is the Tory party.
Fortunately, Tory MPs representing seats in the commuter belt see this differently; ‘Starting a culture war is a short-sighted plan that will isolate Liberal Democrat or Labour voters we ought to be trying to win over,’ says one such MP. ‘As a general rule, the posher the MP, the softer they are [on fighting a culture war],’ adds a fellow Conservative MP.
Adding to Johnson’s problems is the looming figure of Farage, or, as Donald Trump said when he introduced him a campaign rally in Arizona, ‘the king of Europe’. Trump went on to say that Farage was ‘one of the most powerful men in Europe’. What Farage’s appearance did serve to achieve was to further undermine any chance we have of a trade deal with the US should Biden become president, reminding to Biden’s Democrats of their long-held conviction that Brexit and Trump are of a piece.
increasing pressure from blue-collar Tories to take a stronger stance on culture war issues
The Brexit party, Farage’s current platform he uses to wreak havoc, has applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK in a bid to rebrand the party as a voice in the anti-lockdown movement. In a statement on Sunday, Farage said: ‘As promised, we continue to keep a very close eye on the government’s trade negotiations with the EU, to ensure a proper Brexit. Further reform in many other areas is also vital for our nations’ future.’
What I find remarkable is that a party with no elected representative carry’s such influence, and can put fear into a Tory PM, and therein lies the enigma that is Farage. Other than Brexit, what are his policies?
To say they are nebulous might be charitable, he appears to read the sign of discontent and emotionally fan the fire of whichever is the most pressing or current, e.g. his new vehicle, the Reform Party aims to oppose the lockdown, whilst that is unconnected to Brexit is strikes a chord with many who support Brexit. His appeal is a mix of ‘little England’ meets the Darling Buds of May’, opposition to the lockdown and closing the pubs, and immigration.
‘And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die..’
The ‘little Englanders’ are the ‘it was better in my day’, ‘we didn’t have much but we made the most of it’, ‘we fought a war for you’, brigade, many of who were, at best. in school during the war. The rest they have conjured up from the television, and the Daily Mail. You cannot criticise or pour scorn of their visions because their perception is their reality, it’s not substance it’s emotions.
The anti-lockdown sentiment is a strange one in so much as many are in the at-risk age group, which is the elegance of his solution. These are people who thrive in this situation, to them we are once again standing alone, unbowed, and unafraid, Covid is a chemical version of ‘jerry’, all that’s missing is Cpt Mainwaring.
Covid is a chemical version of ‘jerry’, all that’s missing is Cpt Mainwaring
As for immigration, you won’t win, ‘I’m not racist I just don’t want ‘em over here’ is the refrain. Or, ‘they are only here for the benefits’. As for patrolling the channel to stop their boats landing, this lot favour the navy using them for target practice!
You can’t with him or supporters, primarily because it’s all so emotive and nebulous that you end up shooting at a goal that isn’t moving, it is actually invisible. They only option is an alternative.
The Conservatives under Johnson are directionless, they are simply following the prevailing wind and hoping for the best. This is why we need credible politicians.
Readers will know that, post-Brexit, I have found myself increasingly opposed to Conservative policies. However, like many I found it difficult to support the out-dated Marxism offered by Corbyn. I must admit to underestimating Corbyn, who seemed to be simply mis-guided and out-of-time, a latter-day Michael Foot perhaps?
The recent publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’) report found that the Labour party, under his leadership was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination in relation to antisemitism.
This column roundly condemns any form religious, racial, gender, or sexual discrimination in all any circumstances. Today no party that wishes to govern should be practising, supporting, or even turning a blind eye to discrimination.
Starmer, at a press conference gave Corbyn a platform where he could have simply accepted the Commissions’ findings, instead he claimed that ‘the scale of the problem’ of antisemitism in the party had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media’.
Corbyn’s natural stance is that of the victim
Corbyn’s natural stance is that of the victim; in his thoughts when he led the party to its worst electoral defeat since 1935, he wasn’t cause of it but its casualty, when the party he led ‘presided over an antisemitism scandal unprecedented in the party’s history’, it wasn’t his fault. And now, when he refuses to accept the findings of the EHRC someone else is again to blame.
He and his supporters must face facts. The findings by the EHRC against the party he led were as emphatic and the electorates rejection of his policies in the 2019 election.
The EHRC found that Labour was guilty of harassment and discrimination, and Corbyn’s office interfered in the handling of antisemitism cases to such an extent that it was ‘unlawful’.
The investigators ‘uncovered serious failings’ in the way complaints were dealt with and says ‘a significant number’ were not investigated at all. As for the man presiding over this, the EHRC observes that ‘a lack of leadership within the Labour party on these issues… is hard to reconcile with its stated commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism’. Put more bluntly: he said one thing while doing another.
We are at a point now where the country needs credible opposition to what is, quite honestly, incompetent government at all levels. However, credibility isn’t measured by competence alone, government must be totally inclusive irrespective or gender, colour, religion, or sexual orientation.
‘Check the facts, expose those cats
Who pose as heroes and take advantage of blacks
Your government’s gangster, so cut the crap
A war going on so where y’all at?’
- Oscar Wilde
- PISA is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment. PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges
A quick turnaround from Philip this week, as he’s going to treat us to an election special from across the Pond, as things over there appear desperately close.
Some familiar themes, but with seemingly no end to the incompetence, nor interminable stream of u-turns; the dithering over, and eventual inevitability of, Lockdown II will surely have cost very many lives.
But it’s just more of the same; a study shows that 80% of new cases of Covid were of a new strain emanating from Spain – how can it ever have made sense to anyone other than the powerful aviation industry to keep the airports open ?
There is an ugly faction within Tory ranks that believe that any human misery is justifiable to ‘protect the economy’; Nigel Farage’s repositioned Reform UK party is taking up the cudgel as the anti-lockdown party, but as Philip points out, the casualties are the homeless youngsters or those missing out on an education.
Division remains a strong theme, and here Philip skillfully explores the rift between the grittier northern Tories with a scrap on their hands and their soft southern colleagues; with impeccable timing to ensure his party is unable to take full advantage of this rift, Jeremy Corbyn was seemingly incapable of uttering the few words of conciliation that would have allowed Labour to move on from the anti-semitism row.
Philip’s description of Little Englanders would almost be comical if it weren’t so recognisable; ‘lyrically it’s a something for everyone week’ – electronic entries only please in light of the new restrictions.
Three apiece for each artiste and song title this week with a single bonus; first off the rank ‘initially people saw her as a Madonna tribute act, a song now seen as classic, even by me’ Cyndi Lauper and ‘Time After Time’.
Then ‘razor sharp NY post-punk was rarely done better than by this outfit’ Talking Heads and ‘Road to Nowhere’ with an extra 3pts for ‘naming the bass players other successful band’*
Next ‘this band was so rehearsed and with a first album written, their debut gigs were historic’ The Smiths and ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’; last but not least ‘hip-hop has been the most influential genre in the last 30-yrs, perhaps more, making it impossible to ignore, especially when it’s this good’ Public Enemy and ‘Harder Than you Think’. Enjoy!
* Tom Tom Club
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s