A Billon Reasons to vote Obama

Anyone doubting the true record of Obama and thinking Republicans deserve a shot in the White House should perhaps read this

It says everything I want to and more. Though with great restraint and fewer jokes about the Tea Party….

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The U.S. Election from the other side of The Pond

The site of so much drama and glamour over the years, the US political system is viewed with a certain amount of jealous affection by us in the UK. At their core both American and UK politics are exactly the same: both predominantly feature middle-aged (mostly white) men in nice suits trying to speak as tepidly as possible yet at the same time attempting to stay on the right side of the Accountant Line. But putting British and American politicians side-by-side is like comparing the glamour of Mad Men to the Office; Ricky Gervais to Don Draper.

Yes, they both use balloon arches, but what looks tacky in the UK, looks exciting and innovative over there. Both use words such as: ‘change’ and ‘freedom’ but doesn’t American freedom just seem so much more alluring, more free? British change appears like a political ploy, nigh on impossible in such a staid society.

Maybe that is my British cynicism coming though, maybe I should try to be more wilfully optimistic like Americans.

Barack the Tired and Mitt the Mist slug it out. But why?

Though throughout this election cycle there has definitely been a dampening of spirits amongst the electorate. Both the supporters of the Democrats and the Republicans are trying to get fired up despite the best efforts of the candidates. Barack the Tired looks as if he wants to sleep for the next four years and would happily sit this cycle out and run again in 2016. Whilst Mitt the Mist is a man lacking in substance, someone lacking in a developed emotional range and imagines the middle-ground as a place you can say anything to anyone in the hope that they will vote for you, even if it contradicts a previous stance.

But to me, Romney is not a statesman, he is a local politician who can’t cut it internationally (is it that difficult to turn up to the Olympics and smile?) The Mitt-ster has only enthused his base because Obama must have been solving some logic puzzle during the first debate. The fundamental lack of choice for Americans is not just unfortunate, but more an indictment on the polarised toxicity of politics in recent times.

Even after four years, Obama still oozes charisma and cool; and whilst he has let down his supporters with his penchant for drone strikes, he has had some of the largest obstacles to overcome in recent memory. Namely, a Republican Party willing to roadblock any substantial policies that Obama put forward and then label him an ineffectual President. The move to the right (read ‘crazy’) of the Republican Party seems a vote killer to us over here but apparently a large portion of Americans are happy voting against their best interests (a refutation of Rational Choice Theory if ever there was one) and placing trust in unelected corporations rather than elected officials. And the Party’s oppressive use of the word freedom in every sentence which works at cross-purposes to it’s definition, serving to ensure all Americans conform to one specific, dizzyingly contradictory notion of it (Protect the Constitution (apart from the mentions of Church and State), stop the Government interfering in our lives, apart from the times when it acts as a medical safety net – they have to remain).

So hopefully you can see why we are entranced by American politics not just in Britain but around the world; here is a country with an actual ideological debate (albeit one-sided), where passions frequently erupt and where we can view from afar with a joyous sense of superiority mixed with a tinge of disappointment as the closest thing we in Britain have to a political celebrity is Boris Johnson.

No More Local Heroes

I’m sure the morning after the local council elections was the time that Ed Miliband finally put the order in for Labour leaders business cards and changed his job title on his LinkedIn profile. After 18 months in the role, this is the first time he has appeared safe; not election-winning safe, but moving away from the hushed calls for him to return from whence he came.

But is Labour a viable alternative again or were they just there? WIth confidence in the establishment at an all-time low, with politicians at  the nadir of a very downward facing bunch, no mainstream party can claim they have caught the public’s imagination. Labour in particular have repeatedly failed to learn lessons laid out very clearly on the table by the misdeeds of the Brown and the Coalition Governments. There were even big neon signs and an instructional video to help them find their way.

Blindfolded, Labour have waddled on, blithely ignoring opportunities like they were mirages in the desert. Whilst they were gaining favourable press, their message has not been translated to the public at large. Take the pasty debacle as an example, Labour had a clear run to broaden the debate beyond petty pasty politics, but instead pranced straight to Greggs and paraded in front of cameras brandishing their Cornishes like local fundraisers holding an oversized cheque. If I was a Labour Party activist, I would be embarrassed.

Ed and the Pasties

Labour now need to translate speech in to action. Move beyond rhetorical scoring points, and actually change the face of politics, lest they be stuck in the public’s apathy for a generation. And with the Conservative  and Lib Dems doing their best to distance themselves from public support , it is an opportunity they cannot afford to miss out on.

Now is a time, that more ‘ordinary’ (a word with such beige connotations, it makes Coldplay seem exciting) people to get involved with politics. To realise that the world is not what it is but what you choose to make it. Any party worth it’s upkeep should be recruiting more people off the street that broadly share their ideals to be the rising star’s in the party, and not just the sweaty fisted careerists that adjust their tie every time a camera and a baby are in the same room.

The reason that people are getting increasingly frustrated with politics is that it is always a competition,, but one with a very infrequent winner (if it can be called that at all). Citizens don’t care about who is right about the economy; anyone with half a brain stuck to the top of their skull can see that both sides of the debate are crossing their fingers when they proclaim they know the answer. Instead we just want action, a true understanding that Government is made for not against us.

Democracy at a local and national level is now more like the end of a night at a club; only the groping drunks are left and we have to decide which one we want to go home with, if any at all. In a clear sign, this time around the voters chose abstinence. Which is a first for  Britain.

Santorum Suffers Suspension In Campaign – Will Be Out Indefinitely

Now Rick Santorum has left the Republican Primary race, slowly backing away from the mess he has made, Mitt Romney can march on into obsolescence, trumpeting his own patented brand of mediocrity. For what seems like a lifetime, Mitt has been the presumptive nominee, and Rick was the perpetual thorn in the side, chasing some imaginary showdown at the RNC. But now he seems to have understood the basic logic that overturning a 400 delegate lead is impossible, save for an Act of God (though I have some core doubts about the likelihood of that…).

The Man With The World's Most Forgettable Face

Santorum was the outsider’s candidate: outside politically, morally and psychotically, but he proved a necessary counter-foil to the straight-edged Romney. He was the threat dangled in front of the GOP membership: ‘Vote Romney or you get him‘. Granted for some people that was a boon! ‘A candidate as deeply conservative and offensively prejudiced as me’ they gloat mawkishly, obscured to the realities of reality. A true sceptic could be led to believe that Mitt asked Santorum to stay in the race as long as possible to keep the Republican agenda in the news and by dint of that, make Romney look palatable by comparison (an idea made doubtful by the lack of mention Romney received in the concession speech. Genuine animosity or superb petulance?). Sadly, for most voters ‘palatable’ is just about the best adjective Mitt can be associated with. In reality, it may have just taken him that long to tot up the results on his fingers, so distrustful is he of anything resembling education.

It surely now must be time for the other two candidates to turn their backs on aspirations for the nomination, as neither Newt nor Ron have made an ant jumping into a pond’s worth of an impression. Ron Paul, can do what he likes as for the most part, he is motoring under his own steam, but Newt must be proving a point to Mitt, possibly angling for a cabinet position.

With Romney coasting home, and the interminable Primary fight nearly over, it will be interesting to see how the Republican team can still grab the media’s attention between now and August. For everyone’s sanity, hope that they can’t.

Not So High and Mitt-y

With Mitt Romney lurching ever forward be the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, there seem to be two elephants in the room that no one dares to talk about:

1) he has less chance of winning the Presidency than the Tea Party has of seeing the world in colour. The Right don’t like him, the left prefer him, but why would they be voting Republican? The Evangelical Christians think he is a cult member, regardless of how shiny his teeth are. Actually the whiter the teeth, the more cultish the person. The ‘average’ (pah!) voter distrusts him from his time at Bain Capital, whilst simultaneously championing the further incursion of big business into American culture. From all concerned, Mitt is the second pick, only in this instance there wasn’t a first choice

GOP settle for Jeff Daniels lookalike

2) The GOP know this election is all but over save for Obama spitting on a child, and so will be using this election as a chance to reorganise and sniff out those ‘rising stars’ ready for 2016. Faces like Rubio, Jed Bush and the ever-present spectre of Sarah Palin will be glued to cameras; their names and Vice-President being uttered in the same sentence with growing frequency. They know that with a well shaped message and the traditionally destructive Democratic primary fight, the prize is theirs for the taking.

So for this election year the Republicans will be ‘pouring their heart and soul’ into the fight, but giving more than a half glance at what is down the road.

Want a Future Fair For All? The shit on the BNP from a great height

St George’s Day saw the launch of the BNP manifesto, of course it did, because only the most English of parties would wait until the feast of the Middle Eastern born patron saint to declare an “end to immigration from Muslim nations“. Maybe they should have started with the man dressed as the dragon slaying Saint.

The BBC manifesto summary (link given above) gives a rather charming and reasoned sound to their policies, rather than the rabid, just-wiped-the-foam-from-the-mouth feel that is found on their website. The lack of costing is painfully clear from the commitment to withdraw from the EU (cherry picking the ‘policies’) with thousands of people depending on the European market for trade purposes, so to beat a hasty retreat would commend the economy to the doldrums. The commitment to a ‘greener’ Britain (calling the actual Green Party”a front for the far left of the Labour regime”) whilst simultaneously calling the research behind climate change an “unproved science” smacks of duplicity.

In their moment in the spotlight, the BNP were clamouring to state that their policies are not just on immigration yet immigration forms the backdrop of all their policies: “we’ll improve the economy – just get rid of the foreigners; we’ll stop terrorism – just get rid of the immigrants; want the perfect lasagna – kick out those who have come over here and nicked all the bechamel sauce”. It’s shallow, scaremongering and racist to make such claims, but we know that; they know that.

The BNP speak for those who feel disenfranchised, and this is a claim that cannot be ignored. With Labour moving away from their working class roots, they lost the right to lead, the right to set the direction, instead all they gained was a nice comfy position in the back pocket of Big Business. This left the BNP to encroach on to old Labour ground, to whisper sweet nothings (in this case ‘nothings’ is quite apt) into the ears of the workers and unfortunately some took the bait.

The BNP only lead through lies and misinformation, not trust and confidence, which is why the battle to regain their supporters is one that is not futile. Organisations such as HOPE Not Hate form the necessary vanguard against this new cleverer brand of racist bigotry, tackling the BNP head-on wherever they decide to stand. The success of HnH shows the message of positivity can triumph over that of hate, that the tables can be turned, that Britain is not how the BNP see it. And it is that last point which fills my heart with joy. The sheer number of people who are willing to give up their free time and volunteer for anti-fascist organisations is phenomenal, and the results that are achieved are tangible.

But that does not mean the race has been won, not by any stretch of the imagination. This election could possibly see the first BNP Members of Parliament, or the first BNP run local Council, so work needs to be done. This is my appeal to you, if you have any free time please see if there is any way you can help HnH pull the rug from under the feet of the racists, if not please vote and tell your friends, family, neighbour, other secret family that no one knows about, to vote as this time every vote truly matters.

The Dizzying Heights of Lib-Dem

Will the zero-to-zero rise of Lib Dems from everyone’s whipping Party to the belle of ball being too steep for the party to handle? With moral never seeming that high (possibly because they never get a full section of Parliament to themselves) and their ideas never really getting the true scrutiny they deserve, could this stratospheric rise come at a terrible cost for the party? If by some electoral miracle (they need about 40% of the vote to win a slender majority) they do get into power, their lack of experience could shine through rendering it a weaker party at the end of the Parliamentary session. Just a thought, but I’m sure in the end their knowledge will shine through!

Leicester South – Part 1

The race for Leicester South is hotting up with, at present, five candidates contesting the Parliamentary seat. So far I have yet to hear a peep from them, which is odd as you usually can hear a politician coming a mile off, so possibly they are under the impression that the student vote is one that isn’t worth winning.

Having a trawl around their respective websites (though for the BNP candidate all I found was a photo of a rudimentary cave painting with a chalk stick figure and an arrow pointing to it saying “good” – though that basically is their whole manifesto. They actually give them out on slabs of granite, which helpfully transforms into a weapon for when they feel like clubbing immigrants) it pains me to say that the Conservatives have put up a good show. It is ‘branded’ very well, not amateurish in the least, constantly updated and linked very well to Twitter. Just goes to show that Lord Ashcroft has spent his money rather well.

The Tory candidate, Ross Grant has grabbed the bull by the horns and wrestled the digital behemoth to the floor and is the only candidate running who is using the power of social networking to show their human side. A tweet a day takes about 20 seconds to do, spend 2 minutes a day doing it and it really is time well spent. Granted this election will not reach the dizzying New Media heights as the 2008 US election but we really should be further ahead than this.

But searching through his website, you begin to understand that he cut from the same old Tory cloth (the once expensive material that has been patched up to appear new). He opposes Trade Unions, possibly because of the smell they leave when he meets them, or because the Conservative Party don’t care about the working class. As much as they try to hide behind the inclusive banner when it comes down to real social change they run to the hills of privatisation in search of a cure. To stand against Trade Unions is a clear-cut sign of where your priorities lay, as TUs are for the workers who exist because time after time ordinary people have been silenced by the very people who back the Tories: tax dodging aristocrats.

Mr Grant also doesn’t know what to say about climate change. In his world, scientists should no longer publish papers for fear of getting drawn into a debate surrounding their findings. No scientist will say that what they have found represents cold, hard 100% pure fact, instead they say science is the quest for knowledge and regarding climate change the knowledge seems to be pointing in one clear direction. Why should one group of people cease and desist talking about their evidence (of which there is a lot) purely because some people disagree? To use another example, say the Holocaust; the vast majority of people are aware that this horrible event existed, yet because there are a few that don’t (*cough* BNP *cough*), does that mean we should forget about it? This is an illogical position and one that leaves those with the evidence held at ransom by those acting with special interests.

But again credit to Ross Grant as at least he is making an effort via new media to reach out to people. I’ll do another one of these once more information from other candidates comes my way.

Party Leader Debate #1 – Yay?

*Cue 2001: A Space Odyssey music*

Tonight, Britain will head into the unknown, into the abyss, heading into uncharted territory, for, yes, the leader’s debates will commence. Picking up where the United States left off 50 years ago, our main Party leaders will be standing shoulder to shoulder for the first time and ‘having it out’.

*screeches to a halt* Yet for all the artificial buoyancy created by the media, I predict this will be a colossal waste of 90 (x3) minutes. Gordon, the man with the deflated face, Dave, the man with the inflatable face and Nick the man who looks like the man with the inflatable face will be so tightly scripted, infused with the biteyest of bites that nothing of any true import will happen. This is especially true considering the 70-odd rules governing the whole affair, placing truth and spontaneity at a more removed location. The result of this will be similar to sitting in a First Class carriage on a train, listening to three different conversations bloated to the max overlapping yet never gelling cohesively.This is not the essence of debate, the verve, the passion, the ability to see people’s assumptions, rather than their ability to market us into voting for them. Everything will be aimed toward the centre that it will be impossible to think of the terms ‘left’ or ‘right’ afterward, they will be collectively deleted from the national memory banks.

But for all these rules regulating their behaviour and that of the audience: “don’t clap, don’t shake hands, don’t run with scissors”, there remains one question. What happens if one Party breaks the code? If Nick Clegg decides to follow in Bill Clinton’s example and engage with the audience and leave the podium what will happen? Will Davey C break out a knuckle duster and once and for all erase the public schoolboy image, or will the PM send in *dur dur duurrrrrrrr* Mandy to sort things out. The Lord of Darkness could end someone’s life in half the time it takes to give his full job title. But the answer is nothing; he will look compassionate, compared to the others shocked yet stilted approach, resulting in the other two complaining bitterly in the press and end up sounding like bad losers.

So that’s the plan: be a bad boy, look empathetic and debate victory will be yours. Unless your Brown and it may just seem threatening. Poor lad.