Rant O’Clock

Back when the last Labour leadership battle was on, I tried to officially join the party, for the princely sum of £3, so that I could vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

I say “tried” because they rejected my application on the grounds that they didn’t think I was a registered voter at my current address, despite me having been for a few years prior to the vote; indeed since living at my current address I’d voted in a General Election, in the EU Referendum, various council elections, and the vote about proportional representation. But, hey, if he didn’t want my support, no big shakes.

In a way – in fact, in three ways – this was a blessing in disguise.

  1. I was £3.00 richer
  2. My conscience is clear now that my support for Corbyn is utterly revoked, and
  3. I would have had to make a confession which would undoubtedly have led to me being expelled from the party.

For in the recent EU elections, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote Labour. I voted Lib Dem, purely on the basis that they were one of the parties whose position on Brexit is explicitly clear.

Of course, Alistair Campbell – former “spin doctor” for Tony Blair, and a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party – wasn’t quite so lucky. He announced that he had voted the same way as I, and was promptly ejected from the party.

Now, this is a bit rich, isn’t it? Especially when you have the likes of Kate Hoey practically joined at the hip with Nigel Farage, who are allowed to (ironically) remain. Or that a blind eye is turned to the oh-so many Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

There were – you’ll be surprised to learn – a couple of other things which annoyed me about the media coverage and analysis of the EU elections and the council elections a couple of weeks earler.

Firstly, that my vote for the Lib Dems was a “protest vote”. No, it wasn’t. It was a vote for a political party with whom I agree on the matter of Brexit. If Labour had said that they opposed the idea, instead of trying to keep a foot in each camp and appease all, then I wouldn’t have switched allegiances.

Secondly, the council elections – where the Tories lost 1269 seats (but, admittedly, still held the majority), and where Labour lost 63, UKIP lost 36, but the Lib Dems (+676), the Greens (+185) – was portrayed as the electorate telling the government to “get on with Brexit”. No it wasn’t. It showed a clear resurgance in the two parties who have categorically stated that they’re against Brexit happening at all.

Thirdly, the EU election results being described as “a massive surge” towards The Brexit Party. No it wasn’t. Sure, they won the most seats, with the highest percentage of the vote. But: look at UKIP’s share. For whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote – 29 seats – whilst UKIP lost 24.2% – 24 seats. I think it’s safe to say the other 7.4% are more likely to have swapped allegiances from Conservative to Brexit Party than to have come from anywhere else.

So, it’s fairly safe to say that there hasn’t been a massive swing towards The Brexit Party – it was their first election, so whatever happened was going to be an improvement on last time – rather all of UKIPs voters deserted them and a few Tories shifted their allegiance.

And then look at the two parties who explicitly oppose Brexit: the Lib Dems (20.34% of the vote, up 13.4%) and the Greens (12.1% of the vote, up 4.2%). Add those two percentages together: 32.44%. So that’s more support for the two Remain parties combined than for the one Brexit Party (for I don’t think you can call Labour or the Conservatives one or the other…at the moment…Tory leader elections pending…but more of that another time.)

So looking at the EU elections – which, traditionally, I accept, is the time when protest votes are likely as they’re not really considered to be important (which is half the problem, but never mind) – what we can say is that there was a resurgance in the two obviously Remain parties, and that The Brexit Party stole all of UKIP’s votes and a few others from here and there.

The other thing we can say is that yes, whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote, the turnout was very low: 37% of the UK population bothered to vote, which is quite some way down from the 72.2% who voted in the referendum back in 2016. And what that means is that in the referendum, Leave got 17,410,742 votes, and in the EU elections considerably less (I’ll admit, I’ve tried to find this figure, but my head is swimming with numbers, but it’s less, right…?). Which isn’t quite the same, now is it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Revolution (rebranded).

These are all, of course, statistics and facts. And I, more than anyone, knows that these are to be mistrusted. For I used the following quote in pretty much every essay I ever wrote when I was at college:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Or, to put it another way:

The other thing that we can say is this: people vote for Nigel Farage, no matter what. Unless it’s for him being an MP, of course (*coughs* defeated seven times *coughs*.)

And I find this utterly baffling.

See, to me, Farage is nothing more than an opportunistic ex-banker bully boy, spouting vile rhetoric supposedly in the name of a love of his country.

And then you look at the detail, and it doesn’t take too long because there is no detail.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto. So other than “We must leave the EU” it has no other policies. Nothing. Zip. Which means that in the unthinkable event that he ever gets anywhere near anything even slightly resembling power, he can do whatever he wants, because he never promised anything.

And, although it calls itself The Brexit Party, it’s not a political party. You can’t join it. But what you can do is support it, by giving Farage £25.

And I say Farage gets the £25 rather than The Brexit Party because Farage is the self-appointed leader, the sole beneficiary.

And as an unelected leader, he has already said that he can’t be got rid of.

We used to have a word for people like that.

And, whilst we’re on the matter of funding, let’s not forget that Farage is already being investigated by the EU Commission for the financial arrangements he has with Aaron Banks. Financial arrangements which Farage initially denied existed, then back-tracked when Banks confirmed they did, and which Farage then claimed he didn’t have to declare to the EU (which he did; under the (ART4) MEP’s Code of Conduct, he must declare support for political activity, or (ART5) gifts above 150 euros within 30 days). Not that it matters, because if found guilty, it’ll likely end up in either a fine – which Banks will pay – or a ban from EU – which, given he never turns up anyway, won’t be that much of a choker either.

The man is a cad, a bounder, a charlatan, a liar. And those are the nicest words I could choose.

And so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the local election results from my hometown of Peterborough this week. I can’t say I held out much hope: until very recently it’s been Tory through and through, and the one time in living memory (ok, in my memory) that it votes Labour, the MP in question goes and gets herself imprisoned for lying about who was driving her car when it got some speeding points, kicked out of the party, instigating the election.

Things did not look promising.

And to my delight – yes, even though I voted Lib Dem in the EU elections – Labour won, narrowly beating the Brexit Party candidate into second place. I would have been so sad if the town where I grew up had gifted the country with it’s first Brexit Party MP.

Want some stats? I got ’em:

  • in the 2016 referendum, Peterborough voted Leave, 61% to 39%
  • this time, Labour got 31% of the vote, whilst second-placed Brexit Party got 29%
  • the turnout was 48.4%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 General Election
  • in that election, Labour beat the Conservatives by 607 votes
  • on Thursday, they won by 683 votes
  • that’s an increased share of a lessened turn-out

I’ll make no bones about it, I think that Donald Trump waddling into the UK this week and announcing that post-Brexit negotiations would have to have the NHS “on the table” had an effect. Those who trust Trump in the UK are in the minority, and those who see Farage cosying up to him really should be alarmed by this.

For Farage, lest we forget, doesn’t agree with the NHS. No, he wants to scrap it with an insurance based system, like…oh, oh, coincidence alert…like they have in the USA!

Have a look at this, courtesy of our friends over at @LedByDonkeys.

Strange, isn’t it, how Farage is getting financial backing from a man who owns insurance companies….?

And if you need an illustration as to quite what switching to private helathcare means, read this, written after 2018’s Manchester bombings (and try not to let the writer describing themselves as a “social injustice warrior” detract from the point they make):

What was funny, though, was when it looked like The Brexit Party was going to win, Farage turned up in Peterborough to give his gloating speech to the cameras, only to arrive and find things not going entirely to plan….

Which reminded me of this GIF:

Anyway. I’ve ranted patiently explained enough. Here’s some tunes:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

And yes, I know I only posted this under similar circumstances recently, but nothing’s changed (by which I mean: I’ve not thought of anything more pertinent to post):

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

Here endeth the sermon.

More soon.

Looney Tunes

It’s a looooonnnnnngggg time since I posted anything from this album, so allow me to refresh your memories as to how it came into my possession.

I have family who live in the good ol’ US of A, and many, oh god so many, years ago, my aunt who lives on the other side of the pond, came to visit. This would have been when I was around 10, maybe a little older, maybe a little younger.

She came bearing gifts, namely this album on the legendary K-Tel Records label. Until last year, I’d only had a digital copy I managed to track down to call my own. But regular readers will recall that last year, my brother moved back to the UK, took all of his wordly possessions out of storage, and decided he no longer had any need for his vinyl, which he generously donated to me. (I do get to keep all these, right…?)

Imagine my delight when, as I sorted his vinyl out and slotted each record into it’s rightful place on the shelves, I found I was reunited with this record from my childhood.

This one always made me laugh as a kid, simply because it’s one of those where you think lyrics are going to include a swear word, but dodges the bullet at the last minute.

The Hustlers – Shaving Cream

Play this to your kids. See if they giggle at the swear-dodging bits. Ground them for knowing (admittedly, quite mild) swears.

More soon.

50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish #8

The last in the trilogy that my ex-girlfriend at the time loved, but – and I still hang my head in utter shame at this – I just didn’t get at the time.

I’m going to play my “but it has no guitars on it!” card once more in a rather pathetic attempt to justify explain my failings back then.

For who could not hear the genre-busting work of genius that is De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising album and not marvel at its wonders?

Me, that’s who.

I mean, I look at it now and genuinely scratch my head at why the nineteen year old me didn’t fall for its charms back then. The title even name-checks a Johnny Cash song, for chrissakes!

Anyway, this is the song which most makes me look back ruefully:

De La Soul – Eye Know

And, as it’s Saturday, a bonus track:

Welcome to the weekend.

More soon.