Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The hills are alive with the sound of knifing

Ole, hoorah. Oh Frabjous day. What a day it is to wake up in the morning to a concentrated barrage of IDS abuse. On the morning of questiontime no less. How much better does it get for the amused cynic?

What an eclectic mix of briefings too. The Times seems to have the grandees pushing an anyone but IDS line. The Guardian seems to have a more backbench line. The Telegraph at least has the decency to sound mournful. . Sky's Adam Boulton gleefully interviews hacks on IDS's imminent demise.

Even the defence of Duncan Smith seems somehow depressing. The BBC reports that a "veteran MP" can only think of 15 MP's who are prepared to go public with their despair and loathing. Not exactly a vote of confidence. When IDS's spokesman says this is "fantasy politics" even that makes it sound like something desirable, like a fantasy football team.

The amusing thing is that the objection to the hard right IDS isn't political, isn't ideological. It's personal. Iain's just not up to the job, these voices say. He's our Estelle Morris, they say, perfectly nice of course, just not up to snuff. A shame, really, but one has to be honest. This is presumably done to soften up the party in the country for the execution. It's not policy, the MP's will say to their constituents, it's just he wasn't good enough. Cue MP's taking out onions.

On a serious point, it's important to remember that such tedious things as election rules can make a huge difference to politics. If 25 Tory MP's sign a letter calling for a ballot, they don't need to nominate a candidate. They raise a question of confidence. In that question of confidence MP's in secrecy can vote for an alternative, any alternative. Portilloites, Davis bovver boys, Clarke's soft shoe merchants all of them can gang up on poor little IDS. If they win half the vote, IDS is then disbarred from standing in the subsequent election.

Remember, even on the final Ballot last year, Mr Duncan Smith got barely 50 supporters in the leadership election. Even at his maximum level of support IDS had less than half the parlimentary party on his side. Those who didn't vote for him can see huge advantage in just barging him out of the race by expressing no confidence in him. If you don't like IDs, all you have to do is vote against him and cross your fingers that your guy wins.

These rules were designed to prevent challenges. These rules were designed to create stability by preventing stalking horses with limited suport. In fact the new rules just replaced the Stalking Horse with the Trojan Horse, a motion of no confidence able to conceal the ambitions of many rivals.

The Tory party leadership rules have always hurt their leaders, in a way that Labour's never have. Look at it this way. Heath, Thatcher and Major all faced internal challenges. Hague only escaped one by the skin of his teeth. Only Kinnock has faced a challenge as Labour leader since WW2 and that was the last kick of the dying left. IDS is in serious trouble. Only Ulrika can save him now.

<< Home

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Turf war

Turf war and self interest are facets of all politics. The motives behind the construction of a case is often hidden from view. This often leads to statements being made which while pausible at the time are later founfd to have no basis in reality. The people concered aren't lying, at least not clearly, just presenting data in a way that chimes with their existing view of the world. They might not even be wrong next time.

Fred Kaplan explains this hypothesis with real life examples in Slate.

<< Home

Monday, October 28, 2002

Job Advert= Milk round 2004

Accountacy, the Law, Civil Service. The normal routes for universtiy high flyers. However, if you want a real challenge, why not think consider a job where you get to tell everyone else what to do?

Elected politics is one of Britains fastest growing Industries and we're recruiting now for our next generation of leaders.

Whether you'd like to be a traditional westminster parliamentarian, A Euro MP, a Mayor, or a member of one of our new devolved assemblies and parliaments, the opportunity to make a difference to our country and develop your own career at the same time is not to be missed.

There are currently 1082 positions*, an increase of 64% compared to 5 years ago, and every position is advertised at least once every 5 years. There are roles to suit applicants of al views and abilities, though familiarity with mobile telecommunications equipment (especially pagers) is a definite advantage.

That's not all. We're looking to build our business further. We hope to be taking on at least another 200 members of the House of Lords. This demanding role, based in the heart of London, will give jobseekers the influence of a traditional Westminster seat without the inconvienience and demands of a constituency. We're also hoping to open more regional assemblies, with perhaps another 100 elected positions available.

Our ambitious expansion plans mean an increase in staffing of more than 100% in less than 10 years. What other industries can match that rate of growth?

If you've ever wanted to be elected there's never been a better time.

Politics is striving to be an equal oportunity employer. We especially encourage applications from Lickspittles, Heeps, straphangers, machines and the craven.

*Made up as follows 659 MP's, 129 Scottish Parliament, 108 NI Assembly, 89 MEP's, 60 Welsh Assembly, 26 London Mayor and assembly and 12 local Mayors.

<< Home

New Europe Minister announced

Denis Macshane, MP for Rotherham, staunch Blairite, former European Trade Union official and ultra pro European. How to read? I'd see it as a sign of willing. Any hint of scepticism would be read as weakness or wobble, so here's an ultra pro-Euro guy. Likely impact on a possible referendum? Nil. Zero. None.

<< Home

Is there an American Empire?

Every morning, I make a point of reading the New York Times Op-Ed page. That I'm based in the UK, and can do this (as well as read all about The Anaheim Angels incredible, world series saving, late, late comeback on Sunday morning) never ceases to amaze me.

The furore amongst conservatives about Howell Raines's reign of ultra liberal terror leaves me cold. Papers can have an editorial line. It's fine. I know the New York times isn't reflective of opinion in Texas and I'm from provincial England. Get over it guys (umm, Andrew, how right wing is the Telegraph or the sunday Times old boy? Isn't there a chance you get jobs there because you're well, Conservative?) Besides, there are prominent Conservatives on the NYT op-ed page regularly. Which brings me late and straining, like a British Train, to todays topic.

One way reading the NYT is useful is that it reveal the gulf between British politics and American. To tell the truth, to me Paul Krugman isn't even left wing. He's just a skilled expositer of an ultra moderate form of social democracy. I wouldn't even say he was to the left of Galbraith. He's certainly to the right of Will Hutton, say.

So Bill Safire is worthwhile reading for a British Social Democrat in the same way a bucket of ice cold water over the head is sometimes good for you. It shocks you, but afterwards, perhaps you feel more alert and see thngs more clearly.

Today's article by Safire is just like that. It's opening paragraph sets out boldly that people who disagree with the US are allowed to do so, but they better know they'll pay for it.

"If the U.N. Security Council fails to adopt a resolution holding Iraq "in material breach" of its many disarmament agreements, that refusal will have consequences for the U.N. and several of its member nations. "

How come I can picture an imperial Viceroy writing something similar about some troublesome princely states?

Then comes the glimmer of prizes to come.

"After our victory in the second gulf war, Britain would replace France as the chief European dealer in Iraqi oil and equipment. Syria, the Security Council member that has been the black-market conduit for Saddam's black gold, would be frozen out. The government of New Iraq, under the tutelage and initial control of the victorious coalition, and prosperous after shedding the burden of a huge army and corrupt Baath Party, would reimburse the U.S. and Britain for much of their costs in the war and transitional government out of future oil revenues and contracts."

To the victor, the spoils. No more, no less.

"Rising production from a non-OPEC Iraq, matched by Saudi price cuts from princes desperate to hold market share, could well reduce world oil prices by a third. This would be a great boon to the poor in many developing nations, rejuvenate Japan and encourage prosperity worldwide, though it would temporarily impoverish Putin's Russia, now wholly dependent on oil revenues."

And if you cross us, you'll pay.

Of course, it's not us that are motivated by financial desires. It's only our corrupt kinda sorta allies.

"That moral dimension of the need to overthrow Saddam is of no interest to ultrapragmatists in the Security Council. That is why our resolution holding him "in material breach" of U.N orders to stop building mass-murder weapons and encouraging world terror is bottomed on self-defense against a serial aggressor. But the Paris-Moscow-Beijing axis of greed — whose commerce-driven politicians seek to prop up the doomed Saddam in the U.N. — will find its policy highly unprofitable."

Wow. Contempt, bullying, bribery and disdain in under a 1000 words and that's for our allies. The might not be an American Empire. There is an American Imperial Mindset.

Realpolitik lies at the heart of this debate. No matter what David Frum might say about Democracy being the ideological drive behind this war, it's hard to believe that America is so motivated by Democracy in Iraq and the Middle east that it's willing to let US soldiers die. No, this is about hugely destructive weapons and power. The first part is good enough for me. I want regime change. However, when you see the process of pushing that objective forward, your stomach churns.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

<< Home