Monday, 22 June 2009

Persian Tyranny

I have to admit to being unable to resist the emotional lure of seeing great numbers of people stand up and resist oppression. To do so in a non-violent manner when provoked by beatings, shootings and more, shows a level of courage and certainty that I find both admirable and inspiring.

Anyone that follows my Twitter feed knows that I have been trying to follow recent events in Iran closely. I have seen, and shared, a number of videos and photos with people around the world - some uplifting, some distressing.

There is one simple yet moving video which has really touched me - one that shows the passion and the deep-seated need for freedom behind the current uprising. I'd like to share it with you here.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Labour's Lost Love

Last night was the final nail in the New Labour coffin. Demoted to third place in the polls, behind the Eurosceptic far right UKIP with just over 15% of the popular vote, this is an utter humiliation. A party that has been in Government for twelve years, beaten by a motley group of no-hopers. Who would have thought it, back in 1997.

Much of the media focus - and, admittedly, my own wailing and gnashing of teeth - has been in relation to the BNP's breakthrough. Yes, it's the 21st Century, yet a slice of the people of (certain parts of Northern) England decided it was in their best interests to send two Nazis to represent us in Europe. In the capital of a nation which we helped free from, er, the Nazis. The embarrassment is palpable - but, just perhaps, the sense of the end of days is somewhat overstated.

The BBC's Nick Robinson has confirmed today that the BNP got fewer votes in their favoured area, North West England, than they did in the previous Euro elections in 2004. Their total vote in the region dropped from 134,959 to 132,094. Clearly they have held on to their core vote - now we know almost exactly how many racist idiots there are in the North West - but their increase in the voting share (from 1.6% in 2004 to 8% in 2009) is down entirely to people not voting.
So perhaps the "problem" we currently face in the UK is not, mercifully, the rise of intolerance and hatred.... but the rise of apathy and disaffection with the political process. Sadly, the latter is almost as dangerous as the former.

No doubt, many of those who neglected to vote will be complaining about some aspect of Europe or another, during the next five years. I suggest they address their complaints to Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons. After all, they - just as much as the 132,094 people who voted BNP - put them in the European Parliament in the first place.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Tory! Tory! Tory!

Just a short post today, in the aftermath of yesterday's local and European elections. Early results (as I write, 3 of 35 councils have declared) show a major swing from Labour to the Conservatives. Although this was not unexpected, it demonstrates that David Cameron's opportunism over the expenses scandal appears to have worked - despite the fact that, arguably, he and his MPs were amongst the most egregious claimers. Images of moats, duck ponds, and the like come to mind.

Those of us who had hoped for a radical shift in the political landscape - be that toward the Eurosceptics and nationalists, or toward the eco-friendly leftie types - will be disappointed again it seems. Except perhaps in the Netherlands, where the anti-immigrant nutters seem to have done quite well. Worrying, but again not entirely surprising (particularly in Holland).

So now we wait. And hope. Is the turnout high enough to negate the knuckle-draggers' votes for racists? It doesn't look good. How will Cameron's MEPs get on in their new post-EPP alliance with homophobes, climate change deniers, and the like? Bearing in mind there aren't that many of them, I'd guess not too well.

I can barely bring myself to look. It's bad enough that we elect these idiots domestically, but to send them out to represent us internationally is severely embarrassing.

Still - one good thing has come of all this: the chance to have another laugh at the idiots at UKIP, the party of racists who shop at M&S. Given the extreme length of the ballot paper this time around, poor old UKIP found their small band of intellectually challenged followers were unable to deal with a fold in a piece of paper. Hm - and they want to determine whether or not we remain in the world's largest trading bloc. I don't think so.

Now I'm off to watch Gordon reshuffle his cabinet. If he has any MPs left.