Vote Labour!

•May 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

Driving to Kidderminster station today and listening to Today, I heard a report from the East London constituency of Barking about how Margaret Hodge is fighting off opposition from the BNP. A similar situation pertains in Stoke South, and if I lived in either place, I would happily vote Labour. Hodge, together with John Cruddas in neighbouring Dagenham, is one of the few Labour MP’s who understand that the rise of the BNP is directly related to the failure of New Labour.

Other than in those instances, however, I agree utterly with George Monbiot writing in today’s Guardian. Don’t vote Labour.

Anyone here from Handsworth, I hear you ask?


Have I told you lately?

•May 3, 2010 • 3 Comments

Today, I’ve been writing my lovely new book and reading student work, not to mention watching a bit of the Snooker world championship. My Beloved pointed out that snooker is a bit like the election, in that the players spend much of their time trying to make life difficult for their opponents, rather than doing anything positive. One exception to this rule is Kirsty Williams, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales (and our local AM). At the conclusion of the Welsh leaders’ debate last night, all the others tried to snooker their opponents with negative messages; only Kirsty went for the pot (excuse the extended metaphor) and actually said something positive.

But I’ve also been dickering around on political betting sites. There are lots, and in previous elections, they have been a more accurate pointer towards the result than the polls. The spread is beginning to point to a very narrow majority for the Tories. But look at this site; FiveThirtyEight. This is an American site which does very well at predicting US elections, and has taken a particular interest in the UK election this time around. It makes fascinating reading. And one scenario has Cameron getting the most seats,  refusing to go into coalition with the Lib Dems, and trying to form a minority administration. Which means that he could well be highly reliant on the Ulster parties, as I’ve already argued elsewhere on my blog.

And lo! Where is David due to campaign tomorrow? That’s right; he’s going to Belfast. He’s desperately trying to get out the mainstream Ulster Unionist vote; and he must stand a chance. I mean, would you vote for Peter Robinson, after the extraordinary events of Irisgate? And if the result is really narrow, Cameron really could be relying on Lady Sylvia Hermon, as I’ve also argued. So here’s a song from The Belfast Cowboy that Mr Cameron had better start learning to sing, not just to Lady Sylvia, but to Unionists everywhere….

Sod The Lot

•May 2, 2010 • 3 Comments

At the start of the election, I decided to blog something every day. And somehow, I’ve managed it, thus far. And most days I’ve managed to get riled up enough to have something to say. But for some reason, every Sunday I get filled with indifference. The sight of puir wee Gordon being smuggled between various safe houses in London, or Dave n’ Sam looking all tanned and windswept and yummily middle class in Cornwall fails to raise my temperature.

Sunday night therefore remains music night here on Radio Free Radnorshire, and tonight we’re hosting a P.F. Sloan special.

There’s The Turtles

and Johnny Rivers

and this Pogues rarity, because we might be. On The Eve of Destruction, that is.

I thenk yew.

Hang ’em all

•May 1, 2010 • 6 Comments

As readers of my blog during the election will probably have gathered, I’m not exactly a fan of New Labour. It’s not so much the erosion of civil liberties, the disastrous handling of the economy which could take generations to repair, the building of runways and coal fired power stations, the identification of education with testing and all the rest of it. Anyone could have done that. It’s not even the betrayal of ‘the core vote’, the abandonment of places like South Wales or the West Midlands to institutional poverty and welfare dependency. No, for me, it’s about the wars. You may sincerely believe they were legitimate; I do not. I think they were deeply wicked, and unless something extra-ordinary happens to change my mind, I always will. ‘Not in my name’, we chanted on the streets of London and Glasgow and Cardiff and Belfast: and by voting New Labour, I believe that we put our names to the terrible acts of cruelty that this government have aided and abetted.

So, in my first blog on the night the election was called, I argued that there might be circumstances in which it would be necessary to vote for the Real Tories. Yes, I know perfectly well that they might well have gone to war in Iraq; that in fact they voted in its favour. But I thought there was no choice; in a system which only favours two corrupt parties, we were morally obliged to vote for the one which has killed the least number of people; in recent times, at least.

But then, the debates, and Clegg-mania, and all that, and it seems like there might be something to hope for beyond punishing New Labour. This is the hope of real political reform. I want PR because I want to be able to vote for what I believe in (broadly characterised by the Green Party), and for my vote to have at least some small meaning. I want PR because I want government by consensus, not by a crude majority. I want PR because I want a weak government and a powerful Parliament, not the other way round. And for a couple of weeks I’ve been allowing myself to feel vaguely hopeful. But tonight the polls are showing the Lib Dems starting to fall away, and Cameron to pull ahead. He has the light of victory in his eyes. And tonight, I’m scared that a hoped for positive outcome might not come about, leaving us with a Government who merely supported an illegal war, rather than perpetrating it.

Still, at least the Real Tories will look after their own.

And at least there is still pop music. If anyone knows a more uplifting song, please post it here. Tonight, I need cheering up.

Soft on bankers, soft on the causes of banking

•April 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

Just back after a gig in Lancaster and an all-night bimble round some deserted Cumbrian motorway service stations. I put 450 un-Green miles  on the clock, so I thought I’d update on my unscientific posterwatch poll. It’s good to report that I’ve seen a good few Green Party posters, most especially in the little village of Bircher, where every hedge and every house seems given over to the Greens. , for some odd reason. Other than a sprinkle of Green, then, it was almost wall-to-wall Real Tories in the hedgerows and Lib Dems in the towns all the way from Presteigne to Lancaster.

With a few exceptions;  In Craven Arms, I’m sorry to report I saw two BNP posters pinned high up on lamp posts (is that legal? Note to self; ring Shrophire Highway Dept.) UKIP popped up here and there on my drive up through Shropshire and Cheshire; maybe five or six in total over the whole 450 miles? Just south of Shrewsbury I saw my first New Labour poster, which was quite exciting, because until that moment, I’d seen twice as many BNP as Labour posters, anywhere, at any point in this campaign.

Cheshire was as Real Tory as you’d imagine, with the Lib Dems doing all right in the towns, and the Greens still popping up more than UKIP. Round Warrington and onto the M6, the Lib Dems were outnumbering the Real Tories; but I didn’t see any more new Labour posters, until I got to Lancaster, where I saw another two, almost lost in a small sea of Green.

Over 22 hours of wakefulness and 450 miles of driving, then, the poster count goes something like this; Real Tories, hundreds, Lib Dems, also hundreds. Greens, dozens, UKIP half a dozen, New Labour three, BNP two.

It just occured to me; what does Nick Griffin mutter under his breath after he’s met one of his core voters? ‘Liberal scumbag?’

A highlight of my trip to Lancaster was popping in to see my old chum Ian Dicken at the Lancaster Musicians Co-Op. He played me a song that we’d written and recorded one night in, he thinks, about 1999. It’s called ‘End of the World’. Drink may have been taken; certainly we’d all had a pull on our trusty old briars. Ian plays piano, bass, mixing desk and drums, I’m singing, and Lancaster’s legendary Melvin ‘Melvis’ Dodd blows some pretty mean trumpet. Apropos of nothing this, but when Ian played it to me last night, that was the first time I’d heard it in 11 odd years, and I thought it sounded great; so here’s a link to the MySpace page Ian has kindly dedicated to that night of recording. He seems to have decided we were called The Sexy Puffs….

On the road again

•April 29, 2010 • 1 Comment

Sadly, I won’t be able to watch tonight’s final Prime Ministerial debate, as I’m doing a Your Dad gig in Lancaster. And then I’m going to spend the night hanging out at Killington Lake services for my new book. Which endangers my daily election blog project. So here’s a mere placemarker, as it were.

Lots of ‘liberal’ big beasts like Jeannette Winterson and Richard Dawkins have signed a letter to today’s Guardian in support of the Lib Dems. I thought you might enjoy looking at links to political parties who are very much against Cleggy’s boys…

such as The Liberal Party

and the SDP

Back tomorrow, full of service station doughnuts…

Dreadful Old Man

•April 28, 2010 • 9 Comments

When old Perry Venus and I were out doing The Longest Crawl, we met a lot of lovely people. One rosy-cheeked old gentleman who we met in a Worcestershire cherry orchard could not have been more charming or more helpful when telling us about the old days in the hop yards. We said goodbye to this ancient paragon, and drove up the road. Neither of us said anything for thirty seconds, until I said ‘What a dreadful old man.’ We laughed, quite a bit more than the gag deserved. After that, everytime we met somebody nice, we would always say something snobbish when we drove away. ‘Dreary old shit’, for example, or ‘Foul old woman.’ It was a running joke, and I’m very glad that no one could hear us.

I’m very glad no one was taping our private conversations, and glad we didn’t have to listen to them back. Whoever kept their tape recorder running while poor old Gordon laid into that foul old woman should be sacked, and so should the jumped up shit of a news producer who played it on air. So should I, probably, for linking to it here.

And yet…. we were joking. Gordon wasn’t. He couldn’t take one Lancashire lady telling him the real concerns of real working class people without classifying them as ridiculous bigoted disasters. We shouldn’t have heard it; but he should have been able to listen to what the lady was saying, without tantrumming.

In the meanwhile, here’s Denim singing about The Osmonds, to help keep us focussed on the forthcoming Seventies come back.