Election Round-Up Week 2

Sunak as a Corbyn tribute act?

At the launch of the Conservatives election manifesto Sir Keir Starmer, prospective Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, accused Rishi Sunak, failed Prime Minister and failing Tory Party leader, of publishing a “Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto”. We checked and could find no promise to recognise the Palestinian state, no commitment to nationalise key industries, no suggestion that the world should be rebalanced in the interests of the many, so what did Sir Keir have in mind? Apparently he feels that promising to cut taxes for ordinary people is a little too like socialism for his liking. In case you needed a reminder that not only has Labour drifted far from its original purpose but those now in command are very clear that socialism far from being an aspiration is now a useful insult. (DM)

Trust in politicians is low, but it’s the fault of social media

Former Labour Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell, who suppressed correspondence between Blair and Bush over the Iraq War, says that trust in politicians is low because of social media. It could not possibly be because Blair and his cronies not only lied over Iraq, but have since continued to lie. That the heir to Blair, Sir Keir Starmer, has made a succession of promises to gain office only to ‘forget’ them once there. It could not be because, as we all now know, during the Covid era politicians lined the pockets of their friends and families whilst leaving ordinary people to die because of their inability to listen to, let alone read, scientific evidence. Nope. It’s all the fault of Twitter and Facebook. (DM)

Don’t mention the G Word.

Gary Lineker is being accused of breaching the rules that forbid BBC presenters from commenting on “any issue that is a matter of political debate during the election period”. His crime was to share a social media post that said, following the Israeli massacre at the Nusseirat refugee camp, “What kind of fucked up species can’t look at endless scenes like this and collectively agree what Israel is doing is abhorrent”

In any other conflict in any other part of the world – Ukraine, anybody? – a massacre of hundreds of civilians would not be a matter for political debate. It would be universally condemned. The irony is that all the major parties, and the media themselves, have conspired not to debate the war on Gaza during this election campaign. Thanks to them attacking Gary Lineker, they have made the genocide in Gaza into the news story they are desperate to avoid. (MS)

Farage the Great

A YouGov poll giving Farage’s Reform Party 19%, ahead of the Conservatives on 18% has sent the media into a frenzy. Like Frankenstein looking down on their monster they cannot believe what they have created. And if anybody doubts that Farage is a media creation just compare how much media coverage he gets compared to, say, George Galloway (who is actually an elected MP). But, this is a dull election and playing with fire safe in the knowledge that somebody else’s house will burn down (or at least get dog waste through the letterbox) is an old pastime of bored, elitist, know-it-all journalists who will tell you that we have to expose the right. YouGov, we should note, have typically had Reform 4-5 percentage points higher than every other opinion poll. But YouGov, much like Farage, tend to grab headlines and from there to start trends. Reform will not win the election but what the media want is a story other than a Labour landslide which they are already bored with. The resurgence of the right in Europe, instead of acting as a warning, is giving mainstream journalists a frisson of delight. (DM)

And some things they don’t say…

Life on earth may be fast approaching its end, but do our main parties pay heed to it? They mutter confidently about ‘net zero’ while promoting the development of gas and oil fields. No matter that the number of displaced people could be in their billions. And already, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than half of refugees currently, that is more than 60 million, are climate refugees. Our politicians do not look into the causes, only lament the effects and try to outdo each other over their plans to close the borders.

Our politicians never mention the word ‘degrowth’, a term used by Jason Hickel and others. It is all about growth. Growth, growth, growth. Hundreds of climate scientists argue that we have to stop growing, put a stop to all the climate-emitting activities we promote. We have to stop producing carbon. No politician hoping to be elected would dream of arguing the case for no more growth. Despite the logic. Despite the necessity.

The House of Lords? Is anyone going to give the peers the boot? Oh no – although this was once the policy of the ill-named Labour Party. But of course many of their policies have gone west.

The sick and disabled are almost never mentioned. The political parties are always banging on about ‘hard-working families’. All sorts of schemes are touted for getting anyone on benefits into work. There is no caring concern for those who are on benefits and simply unable to work. There is a general assumption among some that people will use any old excuse to conceal the fact that they are work-shy. I don’t see many people as being work-shy. Most people want a job, to get out of their homes, save on their heating bills, mix with others and earn enough money at least to get by and hopefully more. The pitiful amount paid to the recipients of benefits would not encourage anyone to apply for them by choice, nor to to go through the punitive and unpleasant process to obtain them. And as for the pittance paid to asylum seekers, it shames us all, but raising the amount they have so that they can at least manage life’s basic necessities would never be on anyone’s manifesto. (JB)

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