Discussion in 'Community' started by Ender Sai, Jan 6, 2015.
*sigh* the hollowing out of the state via austerity is a form of dodgy wealth transfer
It's fun having people tell me what happened literally on my own doorstep. I lived above a shop in Ealing at the time and helped guard the shop downstairs as crowds of 'yute dem' stormed through smashing shop windows and stealing ****.
I feel I should scrap my plans to visit later this year. Clearly it's a veritable tinderbox of cliched sentiment.
Not at all. Because the rioters were purely out to steal stuff and not fired up by any kind of cause, the sight of the extended Choudhary family (the shopkeeper) along with a few other tenants from the other floors above the shop standing outside the store was enough to put them off. None of us felt in danger at any point.
Just bear in mind that Rogue's contribution to this thread is on a par to every Briton's contribution to the "Ender rages on 'Murica" thread
did you by any chance, crush your enemies?
and did you see them driven before you?
I had a medium-heavy Indian club in my hand but no cause to use it.
They weren't the brightest bunch, ****ers smashed into a pound shop. Looting for packs of cheap lighters and plastic buckets, lol.
everything you need to know right there
so the story goes, during the broadwater farm riots of 1985, a supermarket was looted. after, when the investigators went in, they noted that the smoked samon was left untouched, but the tinned tuna was gone
@Darth Punk, I did hear the lamentation of one of their women. She cut herself on glass from a shop window.
@halibut, don't disappoint me and my goldfish by failing to hear the entirely tongue-in-cheek tone of that entire thread.
that's women with a 'b' i'm guessing?
Don't be disappointed my friend.
My favourite rioter was the one who stole a pack of Tesco value basmati rice.
Which highlights the desperation austerity measures caused.
What do you make of this? http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-30726499
I doubt the old Etonian debating society rules are motivating Mr Cameron here; is he just wanting to make the Greens look silly on TV so any Greens/Labour alliance is called into question? Would strike me as obvious choice - the Greens have a lot of good talking points on social equality but are thin on costed policies and economics.
But equally, it is a massive boost for the Greens too...
probably a divide and conquer play. they'll chew up a bit of time, and pose no real threat to him. on a long enough timeframe, the greens will screw the pooch
Cameron has no interest in doing the debates at all. They are already stretching them to include 4 parties rather than the 3, so to go to 5 is not feasible. Which Cameron knows. It's a no-lose situation for him. Unfortunately.
But the TV debates are pointless anyway. Clegg "won" them last time, simply by using the tactic of remembering the names of the people who asked questions. Look what's happened since
this gem springs to mind
I think it's probably a smart move on his part. He can press the green candidate on economic policy to further the 'only party you can trust to run the economy' argument. If natural labour voters are swayed to vote green by their more genuinely socialist policies, it can only help.
It also hammers home the fact that the lib dems are behind both UKIP and Green in the polls. Possibly playing with fire a bit in that respect. If he can't get a majority, they're the only viable option for a coalition.
'Muricans do what we can't to help.
Not seen that before. Love it!
The fixed term Parliament act means that Parliament will be dissolved on Monday 30th March with the general election held on Thursday 7th May.
At the 2010 election the Conservatives were the largest party with 36% of the vote and 306 seats. Labour slumped to 29% of the vote (their worst result since 1983 and their second worst result since 1918) but still achieved 257 seats. The Lib-Dems secured 23% of the vote and won 57 seats - A small reduction on the number of seats they won in the 2005 election.
The Tories were 20 seats short of an overall majority and formed a coalition with the Lib-Dem's.
During the past five years we've seen a huge increase in the rise of smaller parties - Including most notably UKIP and SNP, but recently there has also been quite a large rise in the support for the Green Party.
This rise in support for smaller parties has come at the expense of the "big three" with the Lib-Dems crashing down to under 10% during the first few months of the coalition and showing no sign's of recovery. The Conservatives saw quite a dramatic decline in the polls around 2012/2013 (starting with George Osborne's so called "omnishambles" budget of 2012).
Over the past year the Tories have stemmed the decline at around 33% of the vote, but show no real sign of recovery.
What is unique about this Parliament is that the Tories didn't lose a great deal of support to the principle opposition (Labour) Instead, they lost support mainly to UKIP.
Most of Labour's support came from the Lib-Dems in the first months of the coalition.
Labour did briefly go through a period in 2012 and early 2013 of taking a small amount of support from the Tories and at one point during the cold opening months of 2013 Labour was polling around 43% and had something like a 12% lead. Since the middle of 2013 Labour's support has been in slow decline as well - Labour now polls around 35% at best. None of this decline has gone back to the Lib-Dems though. Very little has gone back to the Conservatives (there wasn't much for the Conservatives to get back anyway)
So most of Labour's decline has gone to UKIP (even though UKIP is widely seen as a party that is to the political Right of the Conservatives) and more recently Labour has lost support to the Green's and SNP.
So with just a few weeks to go until the dissolution of Parliament we have a bizarre situation where Conservatives and Labour are struggling to achieved 30% of the vote respectively and the Lib-Dem's are stuck under 10%. Between them the "Big three" are struggling to secure 70% of the vote.
Although this is an entirely new development in British politics in some way's it is not that surprising. Support for the duopoly of Conservatives and Labour has been in a slow decline since the 1974 general election's. This has only advanced since the 1990's. The Conservatives haven't won an overall majority since 1992 while Labour hasn't won a majority since 2005 (and even then Tony Blair only secured 35% of the vote and his 66 seat majority very much flattered Labour's national share of the vote)
If polling it to be believed (and there's not reason to assume it shouldn't be) 2015 will mark another occasion when Labour and Tories both fail to win an overall majority. The difference with this election is that a result where both the main parties are almost tied and well short of an overall majority is distinctly possible. With the Lib-Dems likely to lose up to half their seats a result like:
Con 280-300 seats Lab 280-300 seats and Lib-Dems around 30 seats
Would leave both Con and Lab well short of an overall majority and the Lib-Dems not having enough MP's to make a stable coalition viable (there has been some speculation that a Lab/SNP or Con/UKIP coalition may be possible but I'm doubtful that the SNP or UKIP would secure enough seats to make a coalition possible (I don't think UKIP will achieve more than five seats at best) And this is particularly the case if Lab and Con fall well short of a majority of course.
Talking of the SNP, our friend Alex Salmond from the Scottish Referendum upheval has announced his intention to stand for Westminster and in the aftermarth of his defeat in the referendum is clearly eyeing up some sort of coalition with Labour!
A coalition with Miliband as PM and Salmond as DPM would certainly be entertaining, LOL!
It seem's quite possible that the 2015 election may result in a Parliament that is not viable and a brief minority government with a second election in the autumn of 2015 perhaps look's the most likely outcome (though even this is complicated by the fixed term parliament act, which doesn't just give a fixed term to the current parliament but also to subsequent parliaments).
A period of political chaos and paralysis the like of which the UK hasn't seen for a very long time seem's probable, but for political anoraks and obsessives it could be one of the most exciting and unpredictable periods in history.
My own guess is that in the end the Lib-Dems will claw a little support back from Labour and the Conservatives and Labour will claw a little bit of support back from UKIP and the Greens so that in the end the minor parties do less well than polls currently predict.
Even if that happens a hung parliament still seem a near certainty, IMO.
I would suspect in that case the Conservatives will emerge as the largest party. One very clear trend during this Parliament has been the unpopularity of Ed Miliband - With Ed's personal ratings down with the likes Michael Foot and William Hague when they were LOTO.
In a tight election these leadership difficulties for Ed Miliband could be a decisive factor in whether Con or Lab emerge the largest party and in the events that the Tories end up with most seats I suspect they will probably attempt a minority government until holding another election in the autumn.
There is no confidence at all in that prediction, BTW.
It's times like when Ed Miliband speaks that you remember he was one of Gordon Brown's people. And how terrible Brown was as PM. Or when pretending to be human.
EDIT: Meant to share this earlier:
Life after power
The loneliness of Tony Blair
Celebrated abroad and reviled at home, the former prime minister struggles to fulfil his ambitions
COMPARED with the rather cramped office of the British prime minister at Number 10, Downing Street, the headquarters of the last-prime-minister-but-one is an impressive place. Tony Blair Associates is based in a porticoed town house in Grosvenor Square, once inhabited by John Adams, who before becoming America’s second president was an emissary to London. Framed photographs show Mr Blair with a generous scattering of world leaders. A separate, less spectacular office block not far away in the West End houses the Tony Blair Foundation, a multitasking charitable outfit that sponsors international programmes to combat religious extremism in over 30 countries. For good measure, there is a sports foundation in the north-east of England and one promoting improved governance in Africa. Cherie Blair, the former prime minister’s wife, a barrister, also runs her own charitable outfit, supporting female entrepreneurship.
Since Mr Blair was edged out of the premiership in the middle of his third term by Gordon Brown, his restless chancellor of the exchequer and successor, he has built himself a life of foundational do-gooding. He reckons he spends two-thirds of his time on his work for his various charitable bodies, alongside lucrative consultancy and speechmaking. He thinks of himself as a “geopolitical and strategic consultant” and multi-project philanthropist. The good works are funded by a broad range of consultancy projects for governments ranging from Kazakhstan to Kuwait and connections with Qatar through high-profile international deals. On top of this comes an unpaid role as a peace envoy promoting Palestinian economic growth, plus work for banks and investment companies opening doors and smoothing the way around the world. Occasionally, he seems to have difficulty keeping up with himself. A climate-change initiative he founded in 2008 had its “latest news updates” on its website in 2011.
A frenetic political afterlife seems to suit him. At 61, despite heart surgery in 2007, he looks physically fit, with blazing blue eyes and a disarming grin. A chipped front tooth has been restored to pristine evenness. Yet there is an uncomfortable side to Mr Blair’s existence. While he is welcomed and celebrated abroad, in his home country he is reviled. The ostentatious combination of money-spinning, globe-trotting and commercial deals with some unappealing governments sit uneasily in austere, post-crisis Britain.
A YouGov poll in 2013 concluded that just under half of Britons thought he was a war criminal. Five people have tried to carry out citizen’s arrests on him. The Labour Party, which he led to victory more often than any other leader in modern times, might be expected to turn to him in its current troubles, but seems to regard him as an embarrassment. An award this year for his charitable endeavours from GQ, a men’s magazine, elicited scorn in the media and social networks. Another plaudit, from the American branch of Save the Children, spawned a petition signed by 500 staff members, calling for the award to be rescinded. Private Eye, a satirical magazine, jokes that he is in negotiations with the devil over the sale of his soul, “which I have not needed for some time”. At the extremes, the hostility takes alarming forms. He and his wife have received death threats, and a law student allegedly inspired by Islamic State to try to kill them is on trial in London.
Inevitably, there is dark comedy about an existence that features being feted on the American lecture circuit one day and ranted at in Britain the next. A waiter in a fashionable east London restaurant recently tried to arrest Mr Blair on the grounds that his customer launched “an unprovoked war against Iraq”. The “unprovoked” bit riles him, but the tale elicits a rueful grin. “You order a mixed salad and the waiter tries to arrest you. What can I say?” He tried to engage the outraged citizen in a discussion about Syria, but “he looked at me as if he had never heard of the place” (the waiter inferred that his target was just trying to change the subject).
That Mr Blair is disliked does not set him apart from all his predecessors. A recently published story entitled “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” was spawned in part by the “boiling detestation” that the Booker Prizewinning novelist Hilary Mantel felt for the former prime minister; but then Thatcher, who died in 2013, was loathed as well as adored while she was in office. Sir John Major aroused no strong public emotions either in or out of power. Mr Blair, by contrast, was widely approved of while he was prime minister. He transformed the Labour Party from a grumbling socialist backwater into a centrist electoral machine that won three stonking victories, including an historic landslide in 1997. For most Britons, Mr Blair’s time in power was a calm and prosperous one, with a bold centre-left leader who began long-overdue reform of public services.
His personal ratings were battered by the humiliating aftermath of the Iraq war, but it is since his departure from office that his star has fallen precipitously. The unravelling of Iraq after the fighting and its contribution to the chaos that has spread through the Middle East, have left a stain on his record far darker than when he was prime minister. Yet those events are not the only explanation. Although George Bush was the main architect of the war, Mr Blair attracts more hostility than the former President does, especially in his own country.
That may be partly because the British were less enthusiastic about the intervention than the Americans were, and Mr Blair used his formidable powers of persuasion to sell it to a dubious public. Much of the distrust springs from the quality of the evidence presented to the British public for the existence of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was said to possess: it was questionable at best, shoddy at worst. The outcome of the Chilcot inquiry into his government’s handling of the war (the third and most thorough review since 2003) is pending, but few expect an uncritical verdict. And although Iraq signalled imperial hubris for America, it arguably had a more devastating effect on Britain’s appetite for projecting force in the world.
But the difference in attitudes to Mr Bush and Mr Blair may also spring from their different lives after office. Mr Bush has published a couple of books, founded a library in Texas, practised bipartisan matiness with Bill Clinton and keeps largely stumm about his record. Mr Blair volubly defends his. He denies responsibility for the chaos that now bedevils the region and will not—“until my dying day”—concede that it was wrong to remove Saddam who, he insists “retained the intention and the capability to revert to the weapons of mass destruction”. He knows that he is infuriating people by distinguishing good intentions on Iraq from the messy outcome, yet remains defiant. “What annoys people is my refusal to change my mind. I don’t shut up about it and I know that strikes some people as provocative. But it is much more progressive to get rid of Saddam than leave Bashar Assad to murder 200,000 of his own people in Syria.” At the least, he adds, the Arab Spring would have challenged Saddam and the consequences “would have been truly terrible”.
If he was guilty of a misjudgment, he says, it was that he “failed to properly understand the causes of 9/11” and was too hopeful about the aftermath of the war. “We reckoned if you removed the brutal dictatorship, let people decide their future democratically—which they embraced wholeheartedly, by the way—and put an unlimited amount of funding behind it, things would settle down.” The reason they did not, in his view, is that violence and terror from extremist groups destabilised the country before new institutions could grow, and thus created a vacuum into which increasingly vicious fundamentalist groups expanded.
This belief now drives his charitable work. He has embarked on a campaign of speeches and debates on the need to understand the nature, range and depth of religious extremism and to develop better strategies to counter it. His faith foundation’s projects aim to combat extremist ideas in countries ranging from Nigeria to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia, focusing on creating school curricula and training teachers to promote open debate and religious tolerance. But why does he think people should listen to him? “Precisely because I have been through all this,” he says with irritation. That is unlikely to convince the many Britons who feel that if the Iraq war did not single-handedly create the Middle East’s current problems, it contributed to an almighty mess.
Although he resists the conclusion that ousting Saddam was wrong, his analysis of what has happened in the region has changed his attitude to dictators. The man who rallied for “liberal interventions” against figures such as Slobodan Milosevic now cites the “strategic necessity” of dealing with autocrats from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who has common cause with the West against fundamentalism, to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, president of Egypt, who came to power in a military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood and whom he thinks the West should back more strongly. From the failures of the Arab Spring, he deduces that it would have been better to leave Hosni Mubarak in power in Egypt and try to affect a more gradual transition. Criticised for giving (pro bono) economic advice to Mr Sisi, he warns that freezing the former military leader out will “take away a major bulwark for our security”.
This argument is intellectually coherent, but leads to moral tangles—as highlighted by Mr Blair’s involvement in Kazakhstan, where he has set up a team of advisers to counsel Nursultan Nazarbayev, president for a quarter of a century. In 2011, two months after Mr Nazarbayev hired Mr Blair’s outfit to advise him on reform and the transition to democracy, police opened fire on demonstrators in Zhanaozen, killing at least 15 people. Repression remains fierce and Mr Nazarbayev, untroubled by anything as vulgar as a real election, looks like a dictator who has hired a convenient figleaf of respectability.
Mr Blair denies this, saying that he is “not a PR adviser to the President of Kazakhstan”, but there to “assist the country in the way it is changing”. Its geostrategic position between Russia, China and various Central Asian states, as well as a mixture of faiths alongside a majority Sunni Muslim population, makes it “vital to engage with”. Of the Zhanaozen massacre (Mr Blair carefully uses the word “issue” to describe it) he adds, “There was a very violent confrontation and people died. It was a terrible thing, but nearly all the people associated with that have moved on or changed.”
His argument that the West needs to deal with dictators because they can protect people against the fundamentalists who are the new, more dangerous, enemy is respectable, but hardly complete. For one thing, it leaves open questions of when to walk away from oppressors like Mr Nazarbayev, who are prepared to oversee massacres of their countrymen to stay in power, and whether the incarceration of opponents by autocrats such as Mr Sisi fuels rather than combats extremism. Nor is Mr Blair’s championing of this argument likely to win sceptical compatriots round.
Iraq is the main, but not the only, reason for that. Another is money. Mr Blair has quite a lot of it these days. The business arm of his operations, Tony Blair Associates, made some £13m ($18.2m) in 2013, his most profitable year since quitting Downing Street. It advises government and companies, but also gets involved directly in deals, oiling the wheels of the Glencore commodity-trading megalith’s takeover of Xstrata in 2013, for example. Mr Blair’s personal wealth has been estimated at tens of millions. Exactly what it comprises is hard to figure out. He says that he “gives away as much as he has earned”, and that he has given away around £10m. The Blairs and their offspring co-own ten flats and houses.
A further factor is that Mr Blair’s links with dodgy regimes—inevitable, given his belief that the West needs to deal with autocrats—has raised questions about the opaque sources of his revenues. The complexity of his interrelated roles also invites suspicion that he fails to distinguish between pro bono and purely pro-Tony work. He insists that he does not “make money personally out of Kazakhstan” and his main income derives from advising financial institutions, such as JP Morgan and Zurich Insurance, as well as a slew of lucrative speaking engagements.
But this explanation does not satisfy his countrymen. The left dislikes him for cosying up to bankers they deem greedy and irresponsible, the right for his preachiness, and both wince at his taste for glitz. He hosted a lavish party for his wife’s birthday which featured two of the stars of “Strictly Come Dancing”, a TV talent contest, and an impersonator doing impressions of himself. Tim Bale, a politics lecturer at Queen Mary’s college in London, believes that “a slightly preachy, evangelical side to his (Blair’s) character leaves him open to the charge of hypocrisy when he serves Mammon as well as God.”
Jonathan Powell, the former chief of staff who oversaw the Northern Ireland peace process, one of Mr Blair’s less-disputed achievements, thinks his old boss “massively unfairly treated because if you look at other ex-leaders, such as Sir John Major or the late Thatcher, they all made a lot of money after office.” (Sir John has worked for Carlyle Group, a private-equity company.) Mr Powell reckons that left-of-centre leaders receive undue criticism for getting rich after they leave politics.
Another reason for Mr Blair’s alienation from his compatriots is that he seems increasingly like a foreigner—an impression underlined by his high-profile combination of wealth and charitable work. Although standard practice in America, this is unusual in Britain, where political leaders usually fade into a discreet Valhalla of positions on company boards. Mr Blair’s political afterlife resembles those of former British leaders less than it does that of Mr Clinton, which it echoes in a number of ways—the power couple, the grandiosity (notepaper headed “Office of Tony Blair”), the preternatural energy combined with an air of self-conscious dash.
The company that Mr Blair keeps does not endear him to many of his compatriots, either. Earlier this year, in an episode that brought joy to the British press, Rupert Murdoch ended his long-standing relationship with the former prime minister over suspicions that he had had an affair with Wendi Deng, then Mr Murdoch’s wife. According to sources at NewsCorp, Mr Murdoch pressed the “mute” button during a confrontational phone call, informed colleagues that he was getting “politicians’ answers” to his questions, and has never spoken to Mr Blair (who is godfather to one of the couple’s children) since.
Mr Blair roundly denies any impropriety. Asked whether he was (at least) careless about his reputation, he says calmly that it is “not something I will ever talk about—I haven’t and I won’t”, and then bangs his coffee cup so loudly into its saucer that it spills and everyone in the room jumps. But did he find himself in a tangle over his friendship with Ms Deng? A large, dark pool of sweat has suddenly appeared under his armpit, spreading across an expensive blue shirt. Even Mr Blair’s close friends acknowledge that the saga damaged him—not least financially, since Mr Murdoch stopped contributing to Mr Blair’s faith foundation and cut him off from other friendly donors in America.
Scary Blair: this year’s Christmas card
But the main reason why the British have distanced themselves from Mr Blair is his refusal to admit to having done anything wrong. Premier cru politicians need more self-belief than the common man, and he is unusually well-endowed with it. Despite the unravelling of Iraq and an almost-universal belief that the invasion was a mistake, Mr Blair’s certainties remain ironclad. Martin Bright, a journalist who worked briefly at the Blair Foundation, wrote afterwards that he had felt “as if I was in the presence of an Old Testament prophet. The answers had been revealed to him and he was revealing them to the world.” Another former staffer jokes that, “Tony called his memoirs “The Journey”, without going on one. He was even more convinced at the end that he was right at the beginning.”
Here, perhaps, is the core of the problem. Because it is so important to Mr Blair to be right, he cannot admit to failings over the war in Iraq. Yet until he does so, people will continue to mistrust him.
That is a shame, for his mission to fight against fundamentalism needs all the resources and energy it can get. He has considerable talents, which he is prepared to devote to his cause, just as he energised a moribund Labour Party and made it a more powerful political force than the largely retrograde instincts of Ed Miliband, its present leader, could have done. Yet the main asset that any former politician has is moral sway, and because Mr Blair has forfeited so much trust, he has far less credibility than he should have. Some contrition or regret among those ironclad certainties would serve him and his cause better. The late Mo Mowlam, an outspoken minister in the Blair government, was on to something when she observed early in his reign that “the trouble with Tony is that he thinks he’s ****ing Jesus.” Mr Blair has plenty of the Messiah’s self-belief and sense of mission. He could do with a dash of his humility as well.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included the government of Qatar and Rwanda among Tony Blair's international consulting projects. This was not the case and has been changed. Sorry.
From the print edition: Christmas Specials
What is it with these lackluster PMs following more successful ones? Thatcher had her Major and Blair had his Brown. Did they groom these guys for mediocrity?
And I doubt Blair will ever admit to wrongdoing over Iraq. He's doubled down and seems more intractable than ever.
He won't and if you read his autobiography he justifies it then says "anyway, believe me or not. I don't mind.
(Better yet, get the audiobook - read by Blair himself!)