Time for a different approach?

There has been much talk of the Liberal Democrats failing to make any ground in the run up to this election. Like many others I joined up for a single issue and my belief that the LibDems simply could not fail to capitalise on their distinct position on Brexit. It seems I had misjudged their uselessness completely.

Having spent some (probably too much) time on a variety of LibDem forums it has become glaringly obvious that the LibDems are their own worst enemy. There is no central strategy, no evidence of any planning and no cohesion. The party is essentially a disparate group of people, many of whom are fervent believers and put in a great deal of effort. Imagine one hundred people in harness all pulling against one another. A great deal of redoubling of effort has gone on and the result is the same. An increase in effort with no change in outcome.

Being LibDems then most people are very pleasant to one another whilst all thinking that there is a different/better way to focus effort. Many do not feel encumbered by lack of knowledge of a topic and are happy to offer ill-informed and at times plain ignorant opinion that others are equally guilty of swallowing. If one contrasts this against the Conservative election winning machine it is depressing. The Tories may be toxic but when the time comes they manage to run with a modicum of discipline and focus that eludes the LibDems. In response many LibDems cite a ‘free-spirit’ vibe that they feels defines the party. That is as maybe but it is not going to win an election. Remarks like, “a solid second” are made. In UK parliamentary elections there are no medals for second place. Second is just the first loser. Bemoaning the unfairness of the First Past The Post (FPTP) System is no good. If you want Proportional Representation then the system requires change from within and that will only happen if they win under the present set-up. A game is being played whether you like it or not. Play that game, win at that game then set about changing the rules. Losing but consoling yourself that you remain on the moral high ground means that the party will never govern, but be relegated to the status of a disorganised think tank. To cap it all the leader, Tim Farron, may be a great guy though he lacks the charismatic leader qualities of Macron, Trudeau, Blair, Thatcher etc. You either have that or you don’t. Farron simply hasn’t got it.

There has been one superb article from Hugo Rifkind in The Times that describes very well the argument for a new centre ground party to emerge. Have this discussion with many LibDems and the amount of “yes but” replies is staggering. Funding, FPTP, no suitable leadership candidates within the ranks etc. All these excuses mean it is impossible: if they are listened to. A new party needs a great leader, funding and a bit of time.

If a start-up business approach was taken to forming a new party then it is a possibility. There needs to be a professional approach from the outset. This means a good team, a business plan and money. Rifkind observes that there are many disaffected Labour and Conservative heavy hitters that do not like the way their parties are lurching. They are career people and need to see a good proposition for themselves in much the same way as potential backers need to see an RoI. Why this can’t be pitched to potential backers in the same way a business idea is is beyond me. Capital wants a return and the added bonus of a political party is that it is selling a centrist ideology that I suspect many people will identify with. With the Labour party lurching to the left and insulting the electorate by being obsessed with itself in the form of infighting, whilst the Tories lurch to the right with the assumption of UKIP and their apparently useless stance on Brexit then there is a vacuum.

An economically sensible, environmentally and socially conscious middle ground party is something the current LibDems can never be. They are seeded with pseudo-marxists on the one hand and economically conservative liberals with a social conscience on the other. The two sides of this yellow coin will never see eye-to-eye. It is time for a new player.

Dear Labour, Here Comes UKIP.

In Great Britain the Labour Party (the party of the left, in all its guises) has pulled off the astonishing trick of disappearing so far up its own arse by squabbling amongst itself that everyone can see it for what it has become; Labour is a bunch of power-hungry people, so focused on their own gain, that they will commit collective suicide rather than back down to one another. This public, Faustian style death pact that all the warring elements have bought into is very worrying. These self-obsessed clowns are no longer representative of the voters and nor do they provide an effective opposition, so the Tories just march around doing what they please.

Labour used to be the antidote to the so-called ‘Nasty Party’ (the right-wing Tories) and provided an effective opposition, sometimes got into power and occasionally mitigated some of the more egregious things the hardline Tories do. However, these days there is a new force and it is going to subsume Labour.  I watched the address of the new leader of UKIP on a Channel 4 clip and it was terrifying. Terrifyingly good and terrifyingly dangerous if you are the Labour party. In fact, just scary for any person with even a semi-liberal outlook on life.

In this post-factual political world Paul Nuttal, the new leader of a very unpleasant right-wing party, has marched up to the centre ground and declared that UKIP is the voice of the working classes. His message and delivery are very convincing. An apt metaphor is the new dog in the neighbourhood seen peeing higher on all the lamp posts. These lamp posts are the parliamentary constituencies that the Labour infighting has let go unattended. Anyone who has had a dog knows that they regularly remark their territory, lest the other dogs forget. Labour has failed to do this and the new dog is here.

Nuttal is appealing to traditional Labour voters and I believe that – important caveat now – if he can galvanise UKIP he will decimate the Labour party. If they think he won’t because commonsense dictates that no sane decent person will vote for such a bunch of unpleasant people as UKIP then I have just the one word: Trump. People identify with his message and he is skilled in its delivery. Watch out.

Why Trump Will Win

The words ‘President Trump’ are some of the most repulsive and terrifying ones imaginable. Nonetheless, I think it will happen. If you haughtily cock your head and allow the merest hint of a Billy Idol sneer then you are one of the reasons why.

In my earliest days of selling I remember the old adage that you never called someone else’s baby ugly. It can have a face that looks  like it has been chasing parked cars, but it is still beautiful to its mother.

Trump appeals to the masses. That mass of people that we, in our intellectual bubble (that is you, you can read, you’re reading this ergo you are intellectual to them, plus you know what ergo means) simply don’t understand.

These people  lack identity and Trump’s message resonates with them. He knows this and he assures them that they can identify as American again and that he will make America great again. They will be great. Many have never been great, feel overlooked, neglected, passed over, victims. Well, no more. With ‘The Donald’ at the helm America will be great and they will be great once more.

Whether that can be intellectualised away means nothing to them. Donald has told them what the problem is and has promised to fix it. A nice and clean message from a guy that talks their language.

The intellectuals think that this is stupid. I agree. There is no sense in the demented ramblings of this egotistical sociopath. However, what I think Does. Not. Matter. Whatsmore, I and my ilk are not the gun-totin’, immigrant blamin’, downtrodden minority . This not so small minority votes too and they are voting Trump.

Hilary isn’t peddling a heady cocktail of freedom, identity, God and whiteness. Oh no, she is a criminal elite that sucked the fine United States into this mess. Her and that pseudo Kenyan guy that made it into the White House. They are the people to blame according to Trump.

If there are more who swallow the rousing ‘yee-hah’ chorus of identity, greatness and blame, than us thoughtful folks then tough shit, common sense loses. In the meantime we can wrap ourselves in our intellect, make snide remarks about egomaniacal racists etc and write articles in magazines that the Trump voters never read, and cometh the day we’ll all be wringing our hands and setting the Internet on fire asking how it could have all gone so wrong.

The answer is you. You sneered at ‘those people’ who couldn’t think like you can. You called the dang baby ugly. It is more than scary: it is quite possible. Brexit anyone?

 

Education, Education, Education.

I can’t say I agreed with Tony Blair (Bliar? not sure) over many things but this was one quote I approved of wholeheartedly.

When I was married, my wife and I were discussing the ins and outs of paying for schooling for our daughter. An older friend, the guy who introduced us, related a story about his experiences. After marrying, he and his wife bought an Landrover and drove it from the UK to Australia. What is known as a right proper hard-core trek. In those days driving across the Middle East was possible as the religious bitching was at a relative lull. Not only was it a bold undertaking but the people they met left a lasting impression on them.

When Graham offers advice, you listen. He said that regarding children; you can only give them two things, love and education. That informed our choices re schooling and in getting divorced. Our daughter goes to a great school and she knows that, above all, that she is loved and that her Mummy and Daddy are friends. In all things to do with her we resolved to continue backing each other up so my daughter, H, got a single message. We may have our differences but we talk about and plan around H. As she is on the cusp of turning into a scheming teenager (they are all devious and scheming even if you think butter wouldn’t melt…) she knows that I won’t be sold the “but Mummy said…” story without checking first.

That aside, I got to thinking about my time in the Specials (Police Reserves for you dang foreigners). I was talking w. a mate today who is a full-time officer and we agreed that the  vast majority of police time is spent dealing with a small but significant minority (and most are repeat customers) of the population. What common distinguishing feature is shared by these people?  Most of them are thick, dense, dumb etc etc but I don’t actually believe that. I have always wondered if it was genetic but have decided that it is through lack of formal education. Sure, some of them will never be the brightest coal in the barbecue but I’ll bet they are capable of learning to read and write properly. Some are downright crafty and ingenious in the way they commit crime. In fact, they’d be a proper menace to society if they had basic Maths and English. I once spent 6 hours taking statements from two muppets that were being horrible to one another on Facebook. Neither of them seemed familiar with the concept of Unfriending someone. Gaaarrrgghh.

Amongst this small and select band of idiots, education seems to be actively sneered at and discouraged. Being unencumbered by burdensome basic literary and numeracy skills is something to be proud of. It seems that there needs to be  lessons in  education and the benefits of being educated. In Western society most countries have mechanisms for assisting those without the means to cope. In the UK we refer to the Welfare State and I believe passionately that this is a correct mechanism to have for those that actually require it. However, here comes the but, there needs to be some sort of active disincentive for those that shun the opportunity to learn and then expect to be supported by the state and waste police, doctor, teacher, court time – along with many other resources – as they know their rights. For all their knowledge of their rights there seems to be very few obligations in their mind.

This is a thorny question and much, much smarter people than me have approached it and to date failed to fix it. I believe that, a bit like National Service was obligatory back in the day, then being educated to a minimum standard should also be obligatory. You can just picture the enforcement officers. Imagine getting  stop-checked by a man with suede patches on his elbows and be made to do basic maths and punctuate a sentence or get sent back to school in a big yellow bus. Stop tittering in the back, I know I wouldn’t pass the latter part of the test.

With an education around some of the basics of life the EDL, and many of the Tabloids, would die on their arse. Small minded and ill-informed rhetoric relies on people being too stupid to be able to process the facts and come to their own conclusion. Manipulative people with access to the poorly educated can then move in and control the dumb masses. With a basic education I daresay that many more people would have the intellectual toolkit to laugh at splinter groups and move on or the radical religious whoever is the hating flavour of the month.  That poor bloody innocent soldier was hacked to death by impressionable morons, imho. Allah’s work. My arse. If there was any sort of a God then I reckon he’d frown on that, don’t you?

There Is Nothing Wrong With Elitism

FYI – I am talking about intellectual elitism and not the abhorrent social elitism that leads to dumb people getting jobs beyond their abilities, purely because they exist in the social structure where those jobs are doled out. Old School Tie, Jobs For The Boys, the Right Club and occasionally nepotism. Think Tim Nice But Dim or Giles Wemmbley Hogg. Call it what you will, it still exists.

But before you read on take a moment to enjoy some inbreeding: 

The hard facts are that some people are smarter than others. As we consider ourselves a civilised society we try to be inclusive of all levels of intellect, which is as it should be. However trying to reach a norm that just reflects the average is crazy. It’s like mixed ability classes at school. It makes the designers happy taking intellectual socialism to the logical conclusion but it doesn’t actually help the kids, nor I imagine the teacher. The less able ones are too challenged and the brighter ones  bored. Suits the kids in the middle just fine. All that this is exclusion camouflaged under the auspices of being fair to everyone. Life isn’t fair. Get over it.

Society should be run by the intellectual elite and not forced to function to the lowest common denominator. As long as there are rigorous checks and balances, in recognition that as smart as someone may be they are human and prey to all the usual weaknesses, vices, corruptibility etc then I imagine that you’d like to know that the decisions of government (that you elected) made on your behalf are the best they can be and place intelligent thought about what is best for you at the forefront.

Wait….you say that the UK has a political system that is driven by ideologies that are at best half-baked? That’ll never work. Choose me as your benign dictator and I promise to try not to go all Hugo Chavez on you.