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Why is Johnson so popular when he has bungled the coronavirus crisis so badly?


I don’t get it.

A poll out yesterday (April 2) shows that most people believe Boris Johnson and his government have botched their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, endangering lives.

But popularity polls put him and his party at their most popular in years, with more than 50 per cent of people supporting them.

In the name of all that’s decent, why?

And don’t give me the old flannel about the alternative being worse. That’s a false argument; we don’t know that the alternative would be worse and can only judge the situation that we have.

The new poll by Ipsos Mori shows 56 per cent of said the social distancing measures were imposed too late while just four per cent believed they were brought in too soon. A further 35 per cent of respondents said they thought the measures were taken at the right time.

Even so, a majority of those polled said they thought the measures had been effective – while watching death figures increase steadily. This is contradictory; if Johnson brought in the measures too late, then he has endangered lives and they have not been effective.

Other critics are harsher.

“No 10 appears to be enamoured with ‘scientism’ – things that have the cosmetic attributes of science but without its rigour,” wrote Nasim Nicholas Taleb, professor of risk engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and author of The Black Swan, and Yaneer Bar-Ya, president of the New England Complex System Institute.

“Collective safety and systemic risk are the business of the state. Letting a segment of the population die for the sake of the economy is a false dichotomy – aside from the moral repugnance of the idea.” This is a reference to Dominic Cummings’s favoured ‘herd immunity’ idea that was, in fact, unscientific and would have resulted in the deaths of millions of UK citizens.

“Gambling with the lives of citizens is a professional wrongdoing that extends beyond academic mistake; it is a violation of the ethics of governing,” they concluded.

Foreign commentary has been even more unkind.

“Looking across the Irish Sea I find myself thinking surely now, surely the British can see how they’ve been hoodwinked,” wrote Joe Horgan in the Irish Times [boldings mine].

“Boris Johnson is incompetent in a way that is astonishing even to those of us who thought he was a mere showman charlatan.

“Johnson told you one week to carry on, everything would be fine, and the following week to not step outside the door. For a man so fond of wartime imagery there is one that seems to fit him. An image from WW1 that was used to describe British soldiers in the trenches and the generals that ordered them to their deaths. Lions led by donkeys.”

(Led By Donkeys is, coincidentally – or perhaps not – a UK organisation that ran a billboard campaign highlighting the contradictions of Johnson’s, and other Brexiteers’, words on Brexit.)

“Much like those generals, Johnson’s initial idea of herd immunity seemed willing to sacrifice thousands of you only for him to turn around in the middle of no man’s land and run for cover.

“Of all the European leaders he has looked the most out of his depth, the most shallow, and vacuous. These are dark times and rambling verbal buffoonery looks as essentially useless as it essentially is.”

He concluded that he felt the Irish people had been lucky, and: “I dearly hope you, our neighbours, our friends, and our family, on the other side of the Irish Sea, I dearly hope you get lucky too.” Because luck is all that can save us from Johnson’s disastrous policy blunders.

Perhaps most cutting was the New York Times.

“Boris Johnson has spent decades preparing for his lead role, honing his adopted character, perfecting his mannerisms, gauging the reactions to his performance and adjusting it for maximum effect,” wrote Jenni Russell in that publication.

“Now he has the national stage and the rapt audience he always craved… throughout these last weeks as the coronavirus crisis became apparent to everyone in Britain, Mr. Johnson has been indecisive, contradictory, confused and confusing, jovial when he should be grave, muddled when a frightened nation desperately needs him to be clear.

“The man picked for his supposed talents as a great communicator has stumbled his way through news conferences, occasionally hitting with evident relief upon a jolly riff he finds familiar.

“In the rare moments when he has struck the right note, he unerringly hits a jarring one minutes, hours or days later. His switches of strategy and his lack of clarity left far too many Britons oblivious to the importance of social distancing until far too late.

“As the virus spread into Europe in mid-February, an alert prime minister would have taken immediate charge, turbocharging preparations, aware that a possible pandemic posed a grave danger to Britain. Instead, he vanished from public view for 12 days, most of it spent on a private holiday with his pregnant fiancée at a palatial country house.

“It was only at the end of February, with 80,000 known coronavirus cases worldwide and the World Health Organization on the edge of declaring a pandemic, that Mr. Johnson began to wake up. By that time there were 20 confirmed cases and one death in Britain already — and surely many more coming.

“On Feb. 28, after the FTSE index had suffered its biggest one-week fall since 2008, Mr. Johnson finally said the virus was the country’s top priority. Only not enough of a priority, it turned out, for him to start work on it that weekend. He could have convened an immediate meeting of the government’s top emergency committee, Cobra, but he postponed it to Monday, as if the virus’s unseen and exponential spread would also be taking the weekend off.

“The next week Mr. Johnson announced that “we should all basically just go about our normal daily lives’’ so long as we washed our hands for 20 seconds, several times a day. It was advice he immediately undermined by boasting cheerfully that he was still shaking hands, as he had indeed done at a hospital with several virus patients just days before. He did not recommend stopping.

“Two days later, as Italy and Spain were shutting down, pleading for other countries not to repeat their mistakes, Mr. Johnson was explaining jauntily that one of the options for handling the virus was not to close schools or sporting events but to “take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures.” The policy, it was later revealed, was to encourage “herd immunity.” That implied some 40 million people getting ill and another 800,000 ending up in intensive care.

“It was instantly apparent to an aghast public that a creaking, underfunded health service with fewer than 5,000 intensive-care beds; an acute shortage of ventilators, masks, suits and gloves; an inadequate testing capacity; and a disease running free would fall apart just as Italy’s had done.”

Was it? His opinion poll ratings seem to suggest otherwise – in defiance of reason.

““Herd immunity” was quietly reversed. Suddenly restrictions started piling on, but sometimes only as recommendations: 14-day isolations, a warning against pubs, restaurants, theaters; a ban on mass gatherings; school closings. Each day brought new shocks as the government ran to catch up. Each day it acted as if taken by surprise by the virus’s spread.

“Mr. Johnson found it impossible to maintain either consistency or seriousness. He delighted in describing cutting peak death rates as “squashing the sombrero” and declared with verve that we would soon “send coronavirus packing.” He has veered among solemnity, evident boredom and grins, as if his virus briefings were the Boris Johnson Entertainment Show, not the grimmest of necessary broadcasts.

“He said the elderly must be protected from contact, then declared he hoped to visit his mother. Desperate doctors and nurses were warning of imminent disaster, and some of his cabinet were in revolt at his failure to grip the crisis, risk his jolly image and order Britain closed. On Monday, finally, he had to announce that Britain’s lockdown had begun.

“Even then, at this time of profound national fear and disorientation, Mr. Johnson could not speak with gravitas, only with the odd, stagy emphasis of a man pretending while half his mind is elsewhere. His whole political appeal has always rested on his capacity for artful ambiguity, for never necessarily meaning anything he says, for amusing and uplifting people, for avoiding hard facts. It’s what he knows, but not what we need.”

(Apologies to the NYTimes for quoting so much of the article but the facts it contains, and the conclusions it draws, should be drawn to the attention of the UK’s population.)

Given all of these criticisms, it is perhaps unsurprising that Mr Johnson has decided that discretion is the better part of cowardice and is remaining in retreat from the public.

Apparently he still has coronavirus symptoms and is therefore continuing his self-isolation.

Some of us are sceptical, including This Site’s old friend Samuel Miller.

He said Johnson “may stay inside a fridge” – referring to the incident in which our great and illustrious prime minister hid inside a refrigerator to escape having to answer difficult questions.

That’s Boris Johnson for you. That’s the prime minister we elected. A man who spouts nonsense at us and then runs away and hides.

And the people, we’re told, love him for this genocidal stupidity.

In the name of all that’s decent, why?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Wondering why BoJob’s tweets get so much support? The #BorisBotArmy is on the march!

Surprise: Boris Johnson can work a computer. Actually I wonder if this was the moment he realised that someone besides himself has apparently created a huge army of fake followers to make him look popular online.

No – Boris Johnson isn’t fantastically popular. But it seems BoJob loyalists are trying to make it seem that way, using automated Twitter accounts to artificially boost the amount of support his tweets get.

And it seems they’ll try to silence anyone pointing this out by trying to log into the critic’s Twitter account for malicious purposes.

What charming friends Mr Johnson has! Can they be prosecuted for this behaviour?

Chris Furlong is the left-wing activist who discovered the rather clumsy attempt at sleight-of-hand. He pointed it out as follows:

And he continued with a thread on the subject, beginning as follows:

It’s a long thread, in which every entry continues in the same vein as the above. Check it out for yourself.

Then matters took a more similar turn, when he revealed that his account was suffering multiple attempts to hack into it:

Is the Conservative Party telling its paid social media campaigners (the Tories admitted employing such a group a while ago) to falsely boost its leader’s social media profile? And is it also telling them to target whistleblowers?

That’s what Skwawkbox has suggested – and you can read its account of this phenomenon here.

Personally, having written the piece you are reading now, I’ll just wait and see if anything untoward happens to any of my own accounts.

Let me know if you see any weird tweets purporting to be from me, won’t you?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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EARLY POLL RESULTS: Which Corbyn policies do the public oppose?

Jeremy Corbyn: Apparently some people thought he didn’t do enough during the EU referendum. They also thought he “sided with the Tories” when the result became known. In fact, he accepted the decision of the majority of voters. There’s a big difference.

After 500 responses to the poll posted on This Site on Sunday, it seems the public is not quite as unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn and his policies as we’ve all been led to believe.

The article had been viewed 5,790 times by then, indicating that more than 10 times as many people did not oppose any of Mr Corbyn’s policies than did.

The most popular option in the poll, which asked people to indicate which Corbyn policies they opposed, was “Other” – with 400 votes. But This Site did not receive 400 comments on the feedback form saying why they had chosen it, which is frustrating. It certainly seems that some of these respondents were using it as a way to indicate support for Mr Corbyn, despite the article having made it plain that the poll was not intended for people who approve of him. We shall come to those comments shortly.

Of Mr Corbyn’s policies, the least popular was his desire for a foreign policy based on peace, rather than war, with 35 votes out of 500 – that’s just seven per cent of the total number of respondents.

This was the runaway leader, with almost twice as many votes as the next-least-popular policy, his plan to reduce wealth inequality with a maximum wage ratio and progressive taxation. This attracted 18 votes – 3.6 per cent of the total.

The plan to re-nationalise public utilities attracted 12 votes (2.4 per cent); the plan to strengthen workers’ rights, end zero-hours contracts and support trade unions attracted 9 votes (1.8 per cent); and the national investment bank attracted seven (1.4 per cent).

Six of you voted against protection from discrimination and prejudice (1.2 per cent); five against a National Education Service (one per cent), and four against everyone having a good home (0.8 per cent).

The other policies – ending the underfunding of the NHS and restoring the public healthcare system, and protecting the environment from pollution – attracted only two votes each (0.4 per cent), out of 500.

The above tends to indicate that Mr Corbyn’s policies are not unpopular at all.

Perhaps the problem must be something to do with the man himself, then? Let’s turn to the comments.

The poll generated almost 90 of these – but several had to be disregarded as they did not contain information other than a claim that he is not a good or effective MP. Without evidence to support them, those comments were useless. Fortunately, some were more meaty – but be warned: Many were also misguided.

Here are a few of them. I’ll follow them up with my own observations, to provide factual accuracy and perspective.

“Corbyn continues to support both the UK’s membership of the EU and Unrestricted Mass Immigration. Both of these policies are proven to increase the poverty of the very poorest in the UK while increasing the wealth of the already wealthy. Stop pretending that increasing the Supply of Labour doesn’t drive down wages or that increasing the Demand for Housing doesn’t push up its Price. It is insulting to even suggest that either of these points doesn’t make the poor very much poorer and that YOU and LABOUR support this increase in poverty for those who already have almost nothing!”

You have probably spotted the faults in this argument, which are that Corbyn and Labour do not currently support the UK’s membership of the European Union. The party has bowed to the will of the people and has dedicated itself to finding a way of turning Brexit to the advantage of the wider population, in co-operation with socialist political parties across Europe. There will be a conference of these parties in the very near future.

Nor do Mr Corbyn and Labour support “unrestricted mass immigration”. This is a misinterpretation of the EU’s ‘free movement’ policy. The UK has never had “unrestricted mass immigration” – it has always been controlled. Even within the EU, controls on immigration have been available – but the Conservative government has never ratified them or used them. Mr Corbyn and Labour were willing to support continued ‘free movement’ under EU conditions (which allow foreign citizens into the UK for three months, after which they must meet certain conditions or be ejected). This Site published an article on the subject directly before the poll, so it is odd that anyone would make this false argument.

The comment included a third claim, about increasing the demand for housing in order to push up its price. As we can all see from the list of Mr Corbyn’s policies, his Labour Party wants to increase the supply of housing, pushing down its price.

“Corbyn needs to strongly oppose the plans to leave the EU. The majority of labour supported voted remain. Staying in the EU will help protect the most vulnerable, help protect workers rights and help protect the environment. These are all in tune with labour party values.”

So Mr Corbyn both supports and opposes the UK’s membership of the EU? No. It seems some people have become confused. Mr Corbyn himself – and many in the Labour Party – did support remaining in the EU when the referendum was held (do not believe the nonsense claim that he voted the leave, put about by his opponents to cause mischief). But the vote went the other way and the Labour Party must respect that. Now, it is Mr Corbyn’s duty to argue for the best possible conditions – for ordinary people, not the so-called “one per cent” – after the UK decouples from the EU. Claims that Brexit can still be stopped are based on a fantasy. Theresa May has no choice other than to push it through because any other course will split the Conservative Party down the middle, and even she isn’t stupid enough to do that to her party. It is worth remember that, when you hear Liberal Democrats positioning themselves as “the Party of Remain”. It means nothing; they cannot change what will happen.

“Perhaps all policies should be offered to the public with no party attached. This way we get proper balance, and can hold the governing party to account on their policies, not personalities. Politicians are in place to implement the policy, it’s not a popularity contest.”

The suggestion is impossible; policies are offered up to make parties electable; we cannot choose the policies and expect a government to enact them because the likelihood is that we would choose a spread of policies from all party manifestos. None of them would implement such a plan. For one thing, it would throw all the parties’ costings completely out of balance. The comment that it should not be a popularity contest is well-made; however, UK elections have been increasingly presidential since the 1980s, with party leaders presented to the public in the most favourable way possible by their parties, and with the mainstream media choosing a party to support. It has been remarked that media support of a particular leader has been what has won elections in the UK, certainly since Rupert Murdoch became a major newspaper proprietor in this country. That probably explains why the country has reach the dire straits in which it is currently floundering.

“The Labour Party stance on siding with the Tory party on all matters to do with Scotland means the union is finished.”

Clearly, this is a mistake. Notice it is unevidenced. The commenter may be thinking back to the Scottish independence referendum, in which Ed Miliband’s Labour took huge criticism for campaigning alongside the Conservatives for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Nationalists seized on this to put out propaganda that Labour and the Tories were allies. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the claim was hugely damaging to Labour in the 2015 election and, clearly, some voters are still clinging to it.

“Jezza is just too nice which appears to be a major factor against him. He needs to “retrain” to more resemble the Beast of Bosolver or Tony Benn – a “Fire in the Belly” implant needed? I’ve seen claims that since 1979 subsequent PMs attained power through Murdoch’s approval which is why JC probably won’t make it. The root problem is that we have an electorate that can’t wipe their backsides without the TV or Murdoch’s rags telling them how to do it (in the case of Sun “readers”, in pictures).”

So more “fire in the belly” needed. Constructive criticism!

“I’d feel a lot more confident about him if he had clear plans for clearing out the traitors (and exposing them as such)- if he doesn’t do that his chances of winning are slim, and that would be a pity, since he speaks for many. Even the poll (thus far) would indicate there’s not much opposition to his ideas. We also need to know far more about the selection committees behind these creatures. What are their interests, that they’d put a Tory masquerading as labour for an MP? And how will this treason be outed so that constituents are ALL made aware of the treachery and deceit? The only other thing I’d add is an overhaul of the legal system- and, indeed, greater access to it, so we can, as the public, tackle such things as police corruption and thuggery, bent judges, corrupt civil servants and of course, local authorites.”

This is a reference to those members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who conspired against Mr Corbyn’s leadership last summer. Several of his more vocal opponents have since quit Parliament, and other face the threat of deselection as MP candidates by their local Labour Party organisations. This is the way the Labour Party works. Right-wing candidates may, in the past, have been ‘parachuted’ into constituencies (This Writer does not know what arguments were used to persuade local members to accept them; to be honest, any insight on this would be appreciated) but this is now seen as a vote-loser.

“I like mr Corbyns manner and the way he speaks , but do not feel he is strong enough to do all his programme , he appears unable to command a strong labour management party . Why !! I also don’t like the Euro.”

Mr Corbyn was strong enough to overturn a conspiracy against him by a majority of his MPs – and he used the power of democracy to do it! This Writer has to wonder where these claims of weakness have their origins. The evidence simply doesn’t bear them out.

“He will lose the next election unless he stresses that immigration will be controlled.”

Another comment about immigration. It is controlled, and may be controlled further, but Mr Corbyn and his team may benefit from witnessing the strength of feeling and depth of misunderstanding in the country.

“I cannot give my support to a Party that has the ‘Absolute Racist Dianne Abbott’ in any position. Be that in the Shadow Cabinet or worse still to have her in any Future Cabinet (if elected).”

This refers to a comment made by Ms Abbott: “White people love playing divide and rule.” She apologised for them but that is not enough for some voters and, while the issue is not specifically about Mr Corbyn, it may relate to his leadership choices.

“Corbyn has to lead our party [bolding mine, for clarity]. He constantly states his policy, then seems unsure about it when challenged in interviews. His cabinet is not speaking with a single party voice so one of them seeks to clarify or back off on the policy statement he has made and then he himself backtracks. This is not leadership its a shambles. Clarity and vision is needed not just one line principle statements but worked through, clear underpinned policies.”

This argument may be based on media misinformation more than any failing of the Corbyn leadership. For example, when Mr Corbyn floated his ‘maximum wage’ idea last week, BBC reporters demanded that he provide a set amount that he thought such a wage should be – and it was never about that. It was about setting a maximum as a multiple of the minimum wage in any particular company. When this was explained to them, reporters claimed he was backtracking. No. They deliberately misinterpreted him.

“His lack of putting forward any real opposition to Teresa May and her approach to Brexit has really disappointed me. This issue is too important to my generation and future generations to let slide and I think I will end up having to vote Liberal Democrat. A lot of people who voted Remain are very frustrated right now that nobody is speaking for them.”

How will voting Liberal Democrat in a general election that will take place after Brexit has happened help the UK remain in the European Union? It won’t. Mr Corbyn, and Labour, want to unify the UK after the rifts created by the Conservative Party, with its unwanted referendum that was called solely to placate Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers. The party accepts that Brexit is going to happen, but also that many people are extremely upset that they voted for it on the basis of bad information – so the aim now must be to get the best possible deal – or put the system in place to ensure a future Labour government can do so.

“His policy on Scotland and refusal to consider independence. This leads to a Scottish labour party who are dead in the water as Scots have lost trust in them to be anything other than servants of Westminster. This also indicates an unwillingness to listen from Corbyn. He has a lengthy history of activism and campaigning. Not of leadership and the need to bend at times to provide appropriate opposition.”

This opinion is based on Scottish nationalist propaganda, it seems. Scotland voted against independence. Not all Scots have lost trust in Labour – and what, exactly, is meant by “servants of Westminster”?

“Mr Corbyn has some good policies but is an ineffectual, uninspiring leader and cannot put across the policies to the public in a coherent way. He has also created Momentum which is splitting the party and making it fractious. I am a party member but will not go to the CLP nor help unless Momentum is closed and Mr Corbyn is replaced by someone with leadership qualities and is inspiring.”

The claim that Mr Corbyn is incoherent is evidenceless. He certainly managed coherence on Andrew Marr’s interview show on Sunday (January 15). Momentum was founded by Jon Lansman, not Jeremy Corbyn.

“Mr Corbyn could do so much for the country. We need a man of his depth, character and constitution in power. Now more than ever we face together the rise of populism, Russian aggression, Trump and AI. But we need to be playing a leading role in the EU to do this we need the strength of our friends and allies, those we have forged our history, both good and bad with. Not to mention there are 16 million voters out there, desperate to heard. Crowd funding legal cases against the Government for Christ sake! We need a leader. If Mr Corbyn worked with remain, the likes of March for Europe, the 48%, Professor A.C. Greyling, and the lib Dems we might stand a chance to wrestle back the country from the 1%. Perhaps I’m still no good at this game, perhaps Mr Corbyn has a strate that I can’t see, for all our sakes, I truely hope so.”

Again: Labour is working to reunify the UK and close the rifts created by the Conservatives’ divisive referendum. It would be worth remembering that the Liberal Democrats, by claiming to be the “party of Remain”, are working hard to keep those divisions.

“There are two issues on which I seriously disagree with the positions he advocates: 1) he has adopted an argument about Syria which says there are atrocities on both sides and we should seek a negotiated settlement. This underestimates the disproportionate destructiveness and murderousness of the Assad regime and its supporters. 2) while I have some sympathy for his interpretation of Brexit as a cry against negligent and arrogant politics, he does not appear to have any vision for Britain as a part of Europe. Personally I might wish that he continued to oppose Brexit; I can see why politically that is unlikely to be possible in the near future. But I would like a Labour leader who was better able to articulate their vision of both the enormous strengths and the significant problems with the continent in which we happen to live–and who can unequivocally stand up for the rights of EU residents in the U.K.”

The attitude on Syria seems, to This Writer, no different from the attitude adopted by all parties in the Northern Ireland peace process, which has delivered lasting stability for more than a decade. In those negotiations, all sides had grievances; they were put aside, in order to discuss the issues that were the cause of the violence. In Northern Ireland, it worked. Why not in Syria?

The LabourParty’s policy on the UK’s future relationship with Europe may become clearer after Mr Corbyn has his conference with European socialist parties in a few weeks’ time.

“We need a strong opposition that can stand up to the Tory maddness of Brexit. Corbin keeps changing his mind, can’t seem to speak for all his party nor those who voted for Labour. Someone has to stop this and if Corbyn cannot it will be a disaster for the UK as a whole. Those who felt disenfranchised by governments in general and voted for Leave, should have been better supported by Labour and Corbyn should have explained to them how voting Leave will affect them badly the most, how those areas who had the highest Brexit vote actually had some of the lowest number of immigration and the highest amount of EU funding …these were Labour heartlands and yet UKIPs lies succeeded to persuade them to vote Leave! Where was Labour and Corbyn when the country really needed him. He’s no statesman…what ever you may think of Blair, he had prescience and conviction. Corbyn has none of these attributes.”

On what has he changed his mind? No party leader speaks for everybody within their organisation – look at David Cameron, who had to hold an unwanted referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, to placate Tory Eurosceptic backbenchers who would have split his party otherwise. The best leaders represent the views the majority can support. Mr Corbyn worked very hard to explain why remaining in the EU was the best choice, but that did not deter a majority from voting Leave – maybe based on false information, but that was their choice. Obviously he could not talk about the areas with the highest Brexit vote, before that vote had been cast; this commenter seems to be confused about that. It should be remembered that Mr Corbyn persuaded a majority of Labour members and voters to support remaining in the EU; if David Cameron had managed to persuade as many Tories, we would not be preparing to leave the EU now. When the country really needed him, Corbyn was out campaigning for it. David Cameron was nowhere to be seen.

“he has lied about his intentions re europe he now supports brexit these are red lines for me would have, but now will not vote unless he changes to support remain.”

What good will that do? Brexit will happen, no matter what. Corbyn did not lie; he campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU but, as the vote went against him, as a responsible political leader he must accept the will of the people and do what he can to make it work. That’s not lying.

“Mr Corbyn as the Leader of the Opposition should be fiercely challenging the blatant lies and mal-practices of the present government who are taking this country down a disastrous path which will lead to our country in ruins. I can only presume that he, like so many of our politicians, simply do not understand how the EU works and the inevitable results of a hard Brexit, and this is why is does not respond. Can he not understand that there is a huge move from both labour and the Tories towards the LibDems going on? Does he not understand the fury of the remainers? Does he not understand the fragility of his position?”

Mr Corbyn certainly understands the dangers of the hard Brexit that Theresa May is triggering – that is why he is working with socialist colleagues across Europe to find a way of minimising its impact, either immediately or as soon as a Labour government can be returned to office. Anybody transferring their vote from Labour to the Liberal Democrats is doing so on the basis of a lie, which is no different from the reasons people voted to leave the EU in the first place.

“My primary grievance with our present leadership is over Brexit: I was disappointed with the halfhearted support for Remain from the leadership, furious with the “open letter” issued by JC the day after the referendum which essentially boiled down to “Oh dear, how sad, never mind, moving on”, and I am in despair at the leadership’s failure to defend the many social benefits accrued through membership of the EU and also the rights of those non-UK EU citizens who have lived here for many years, established homes and families here but now find themselves in limbo, callously regarded by our Tory government as nothing more than bargaining chips in the forthcoming negotiations. I recognise that JC was never enthusiastic about the EU: he regarded it as an unwieldy structure created to underpin capitalism in Western Europe. This is fair comment: it is precisely that, but in doing so it has also weakened the artificial barriers which divide the peoples of nation states, has ensured that workers in one part of the Union have the same relatively robust protection from exploitation as those in another part. The EU, imperfect as it is, has evolved into a socially conscious body dedicated to bringing about internationalism: it has a long way to go, but it is not going to get there if we choose to allow a secession based on naked xenophobia to succeed. The present leadership’s failure to champion internationalism is deeply dispiriting: I regard it as nothing less than a betrayal of the movement. Brexit was and is my primary issue: I have other points of difference with the leadership but (1) you allow only one option to be selected, and (2) you reduced complex policies to meaningless inoffensive platitudes devoid of detail.”

Another commenter who misunderstands Labour’s stance on the EU and Brexit.

“He appears to have accepted Brexit. All his other policies are meaningless if Brexit isn’t stopped!”

And another. It seems clear that, if nothing else come from this poll, a clarification on Labour’s position with regard to Brexit is vital.

“Labour’s support for Brexit coupled with Corbyn’s absence during the Referendum campaign, and his failure to galvanise Labour heartlands to vote Remain, lost us the benefits of being in the EU, and lost me my EU status. So having always voted Labour, next time I will vote Lib Dem.”

And another. Mr Corbyn was not absent during the Referendum campaign and he galvanised a majority of Labour members and supporters to vote Remain; how quickly people forget. If we’re going to blame anyone for the vote being in favour of Brexit, we should be blaming David Cameron, who failed to build Tory support for staying in the EU, Nick Clegg, who supported Cameron’s plan to have an EU membership referendum while the Liberal Democrats were in coalition with the Conservatives, and Tim Farron, who failed to achieve more than a roughly 55/45 split among his party’s voters and supporters. The Liberal Democrats carried out research on the vote in all the constituencies they had after the 2010 election and found 31 voted remain (including five of the eight they were left with after the 2015 election) and 26 voted leave (including three of their current seats). For the Lib Dems to claim status as the ‘party of Remain’ is ridiculous.

“JC does not deliver his policies with passion, he has no charisma, he sounds as if he doesn’t have the faintest idea about peoples’ fears and concerns. He may well have all those attributes but as I, a life- time Labour voter, do not get that impression how is he ever going to persuade a Tory or UKIP voter to change? Incidently I would like to add that I may not vote Labour next time round as I totally disagree with my own MP Jonothan Reynolds about building a massive housing estate on our green belt land. If Labour is to have any hope of being in government within the next 20 years it needs a new leader, no doubt about it!”

Oh, so politics is about personalities, not policies, then?

“Jeremy Corbyn has a record of support for extreme left wing organizations and groups, which in some instances is contrary to what the majority of UK citizens either want or deserve. He is divisive, incompetent and unfit to be the leader of a mainstream political party. He is unable to bring his politics into the 20th Century, and is stuck in the class war struggles that were not even relevant 100 years ago.”

I think we’d all – including Mr Corbyn – like to know what these “extreme left wing organisations and groups” are! Another example of unevidenced opinion based on… what?

“He has no experience of leading and this makes him a very poor leader with no leadership skills. This results in a split party and very inconsistent messages. He’s like an old dog trying and failing to learn new tricks. His arrogance comes across in media interviews when he is also very poorly prepared. The language he uses does not chime with the people.He focuses far too much on talking to his own people e.g. online Overall, many of his policies are excellent but his message is very poorly delivered. There is no clear believable ‘story’ as to how he’d pay for these policies. He is out of touch over immigration and trident. He has no idea what it means to lead his party.”

Tony Blair had no experience of leading. Neither did David Cameron. Lack of experience doesn’t make one a poor leader, or unelectable. Mr Corbyn’s skills are remarkable – he defeated a concerted attempt to remove him as Labour leader. People often forget that he didn’t win by accident. Splits in the Labour Party were due to right-wing members trying to destabilise matters and discourage people from supporting Mr Corbyn, even if it meant other parties gaining footholds in Labour areas. It seems strange that Mr Corbyn has to take the flak for their misbehaviour. I see no evidence of him “talking to his own people” – his speeches and statements are made for everyone, in language that everyone can understand. All Labour policies have been costed. He has a stronger grip on the immigration issue than any other UK political leader. He has accepted that his desire to rid the UK of Trident is an idea whose time has not yet come.

“80% of the media are Tories their propaganda has worked very well on the general public who seem to be apathetic on the whole unless something happen to them . The Labour Party needs to be more present in the media and brings home the message that this country is going down and what the Labour Party is going to be doing about it. Every fake news against Corbyn needs to be tackled head on. The message from Labour MPs needs to be clear loud proactive and united unless this happen the general public will be left in the dark confused undecided. Also polls are skewed in favour of the Tories.”

I could go on, but I’m sure you have the gist by now.

So, by far the most contentious issue is Brexit, based on a false assumption that – by accepting the will of the majority who voted – Mr Corbyn is somehow betraying ‘Remain’ voters and siding with the Conservatives. He isn’t siding with the Conservatives; he is accepting the will of the majority. And, if any of those who expressed anger at him is willing to listen, he is working to ensure that Labour finds practical solutions to the problems that will be created by leaving the European Union. Neither the Tories, Liberal Democrats or UKIP can say the same, and the SNP solution appears to be to threaten another independence referendum (maybe).

But that is just the opinion of This Writer, based on the evidence I have seen. It seems clear that the Labour leadership should act to clarify its position on Brexit – and will need to keep hammering the point home until the naysayers understand and accept it.

I will, of course, pass the results of this poll on to Mr Corbyn. Hopefully it will provide insight and illumination on the way his detractors see him.

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POLL: If the public don’t like Jeremy Corbyn, which of his policies do they oppose?

Jeremy Corbyn: Is it his unflinching determination to stand up for the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised that has turned the general public against him?

Much is being made of the difference between two polls on the National Health Service – the first suggests the Conservatives would handle the NHS crisis better than Labour; the second suggests the opposite.

The difference is that Jeremy Corbyn’s name is attached to the first poll.

The obvious question must be: What is it about Jeremy Corbyn that the general public (we are told) dislikes so strongly?

The membership of the Labour Party – Europe’s largest political organisation, since he took over as leader – absolutely love him. Not in a cultish way, but because he stands for policies they admire and would like to see returned to the British political debate.

But the inference from the polls is that the public at large dislike Mr Corbyn – and therefore do not want these policies.

For clarity, here is an infographic showing his many policy objectives:

Now, let’s have a few poll questions. These are only for people who oppose Mr Corbyn:

Alternatively, perhaps it is Mr Corbyn himself who causes offence?

If so, please use the contact form below to explain exactly why you think he, personally, is bad for the United Kingdom; why you believe he is not a good leader of the Labour Party; why you think he does not lead a government-in-waiting. Please do not use the form to write simple abuse as this will not be accepted as a reasonable argument (why would anybody think it was?) and your comment will be deleted.

I’ll publish some preliminary results tomorrow, and a final analysis when I’m satisfied that everybody who wants to respond has done so.

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Right-wingers grossly underestimated popularity of Jeremy Corbyn

Part of the dialogue on Twitter about Jeremy Corbyn’s suitability for the job of Labour leader, mentioned in an earlier blog post, included this gem from one Jon James, who seems to misunderstand where Labour belongs on the political spectrum:

150713jeremycorbynpopular

Ah right. So he’s not popular among the wider Labour membership at all. Let’s pass this one over to that illustrious right-wing gutter-trash Guido Fawkes blog for a perspective from the Uptight Right:

150713jeremycorbynguido

You have to read between the lines a little – Guido author Paul Staines wouldn’t understand a mature political argument if it spat in his face (at least, not when he’s in character), so his opinions must be taken lightly.

He’s saying that a vast majority of Labour’s grassroots members are practically ordering their MPs and CLPs to back Corbyn.

“Everyone I speak to” wants him to win, according to a Kendall supporter in the article. Clearly, then, that person should follow the wishes of their constituents.

Guido reckons Labour’s incumbent right-wingers are angry that Corbyn has been given the chance to widen the debate – showing, again, that he totally misunderstands Labour politics. You see, Labour still agrees with democracy. It’s the Conservative Party that prefers the opposite.

So, in answer to the question highlighted in red… It’s working out just fine, thanks.

As for Mr James, the tweeter who claimed Corbyn was only popular among Lefties on the social media… Your move, squire.

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Corbyn’s TV popularity terrifies Tories

Outspoken: Jeremy Corbyn addresses the audience in Nuneaton, during Labour's first televised leadership hustings.

Outspoken: Jeremy Corbyn addresses the audience in Nuneaton, during Labour’s first televised leadership hustings.

Read between the lines of the Telegraph‘s article and you can see that Conservatives are terrified of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity.

Corbyn was an instant hit with voters during the Newsnight-hosted televised leadership hustings in Nuneaton, and his policies were more popular than anything suggested by his colleagues on the Labour leadership ballot paper.

So the Torygraph strapline suggests that this has stoked the “fears of centrist Labour MPs and aides”.

Reporter Ben Riley-Smith described his as “far left” and a “veteran socialist” in an attempt to pigeonhole him as something undesirable, and added that the audience’s reaction “appeared to confirm fears of senior party figures who warned Mr Corbyn’s inclusion would encourage Labour to move Left rather than returning to the centre ground after its heaviest defeat to the Tories in a generation”.

These are symptoms of Tory fears. And what exactly does Riley-Smith mean when he mentions “returning to the centre ground”?

This Blog has mentioned the Overton Window before. It’s a concept intended to describe what is politically possible at any particular time. Owen Jones, in his book The Establishment states: “This ‘window’ is relentlessly policed. So, when Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze – a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable policy – it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalising the energy industry lock, stock and barrel.

“Policing the ‘window’ helps ensure that neo-liberal ideas generally favoured by the Establishment are deemed moderate and commonsense; anything that even slightly deviates is written off as beyond the pale.”

Ben Riley-Smith and the Torygraph are trying to police the Overton Window with this article. The Overton Window, in the UK, currently allows for the presentation of political views that only a few decades ago would have been considered right-wing or far-right. The centre ground would represent a significant move to the political left.

So when the Islington North MP declared he would “never consider myself part of New Labour”, he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.

When he criticised Tony Blair for “the promotion of markets rather than the planned economy”, he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.

When he dismissed the need for deficit reduction and called for a “more radical” economic policy than the SNP – which ran on a fake “anti-austerity” ticket at the election that would have cut more spending than Labour – he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.

And even Mr Riley-Smith could not obscure the fact that Mr Corbyn received “the most positive responses from the Nuneaton crowd as he repeatedly called for policies to the Left of Ed Miliband’s election-losing manifesto”.

In essence, he proved that the public wants more left-wing policies, that the Overton Window is out of line with the British people and that Corbyn has his finger on the UK’s pulse.

The claim that “the positive reaction he got from the audience will increase fears among some shadow ministers and MPs that his presence in the race will distract the party from returning to polices that can win the 2020 general election” is merely indicative of Tory terror that someone has arisen who actually wants to promote good government.

In contradiction of the Torygraph, Corbyn has shown that his policies are exactly what Labour needs if it is to win any elections in the future.

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Farage’s popularity plummets as voters realise what UKIP is

Nigel-Farage

Sanity seems to be returning to British politics – if only in a small measure – with the revelation by The Independent that UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s personal approval rating has lead-ballooned.

According to pollsters Ipsos Mori, he’s now equal in unpopularity with David Cameron – which seems about right, considering their political similarities.

Voter satisfaction with Farage dropped 14 percentage points in the last month after a sex scandal involving UKIP’s now-suspended general secretary and rows over public breastfeeding, expenses and immigration.

Of all voters, 53 per cent said they were “dissatisfied with the way Nigel Farage is doing his job as leader of UKIP”, while 33 per cent were “satisfied”. With “don’t knows” taken into account, Mr Farage now has a similar net approval rating to comedy prime minister David Cameron: -20 and -21 respectively.

Among UKIP’s own supporters, Farage remains highly popular, with 92 per cent saying they were satisfied with what he’s doing.

But then, UKIP supporters are a rum lot. Earlier this week the Vox Political page on Facebook endured an influx of Kippers who were incensed that this blog had promoted a Political Scrapbook story questioning their party’s record on disability.

Not one of them had a reasonable case to present. They turned up, insulted the blog, the page and anybody on it who pointed out that they weren’t making any sense. They spammed the page with endless pointless images promoting UKIP and denigrating the other parties, and with long passages of policy declarations from the party’s website – none of which were relevant to the issues at hand.

Then the page’s administrator decided enough was enough and started banning them, so those who remained declared that they had demonstrated that anyone speaking against them was wrong, deluded or stupid and that Vox Political wasn’t worth the bother – which was enough to get them banned as well.

The general change of heart about Farage is therefore a great relief, as it indicates that people are coming to their sense. The alternative – if he had remained popular while his people have been carrying on like bulls in a china shop – would have been to lament to depths to which British political sensibilities had sunk.

The Independent reported: “At the weekend – as the Ipsos Mori poll was being carried out – UKIP’s candidate in a top target seat, Kerry Smith, was forced to resign after it emerged he had made homophobic and racist remarks and joked about shooting poor people.”

That’s right – and the controversy earned this response when Farage tried to justify his candidate’s behaviour:

“Nigel defends candidate’s language: ‘If you were going out for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?’

“I say ‘Chinese’ Nigel.”

With a leader like that, no wonder the rest of his party are hooligans.

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When will the BBC get its priorities right?

Covered by the BBC: Today's rally against the violence in Gaza.

Covered by the BBC: Today’s rally against the violence in Gaza.

It seems the BBC is delighted to carry out saturation coverage of popular demonstrations against injustice – as long as they are taking place in a foreign country and not right here in Blighty.

Compare the huge amount of coverage being given to today’s (Saturday) rally for Gaza in London, where “tens of thousands” of protesters have turned out to protest against the deaths of almost 2,000 people since “violence” broke out between the Israeli government and Palestinian Hamas terrorists (as far as VP is concerned, both sides are terrorists) around a month ago (picture above)…

… with the almost nonexistent coverage of a 50,000-strong march and rally against UK Coalition government austerity policies that have killed tens of thousands of people – if not more than 100,000, by now. Think of the Department for Work and Pensions and the 10,600 deaths caused by its policy on Employment and Support Allowance – in less than a year. Here’s a picture of that event, that wasn’t shown by Auntie.

Not covered by the BBC: The anti-austerity rally that attracted as many people - if not more - to complain about austerity measures that have led to at least five times as many deaths.

Not covered by the BBC: The anti-austerity rally that attracted as many people – if not more – to complain about austerity measures that have led to at least five times as many deaths.

It would be wrong to say that the Israel-Gaza protest is not worthy of coverage, because it is.

But when one realises that the BBC – considered the greatest public-service broadcaster in the world – habitually ignores evidence of much greater harm taking place on its own doorstep (literally, in the case of the anti-austerity march – it started outside the main entrance of New Broadcasting House), one is forced to ask very uncomfortable questions about the priorities of its policy-makers and their intentions, in depriving us of vital information about our own country.

Let us hope the BBC receives a large amount of correspondence remarking on this discrimination.

If you want to contact the BBC and ask why it prioritises a foreign conflict that has cost a fraction of the number of lives lost here in the UK due to government policy, here’s how you can do it:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

Phone: 03700 100 222 *
03700 100 212 * (textphone)
*24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers

Post:BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

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