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Neil G

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About Neil G

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  1. Neil G

    Keir Starmer

    Exactly what the right want. Don’t do it. If all you ever do is vote in NEC elections you’re still making a difference.
  2. Neil G

    Keir Starmer

    Jesus wept. Absolute clown shoes moment, what was she thinking.
  3. Neil G

    Keir Starmer

    We’re not asking for entertaining though, we’re asking for a bit of passion and conviction to sell bold policies to the electorate in the face of what will be massive and relentless opposition. If Starmer sticks to his pledges he’ll be running for election as one of the most left-wing PMs in the UK’s history. Even without Corbyn’s baggage that will incur a tsunami of hostility and disinformation from the Tories and the media. He’ll need more presence and enthusiasm to cut through and persuade voters that his policies are credible and that he believes in them. Look at the three big instances in our lifetime of a progressive opposition leader ousting an ideological hard-right government: Blair, Clinton and Obama. As well as being telegenic they were all gifted orators and charismatic personalities who were able to sell an optimistic alternative vision for their country and take the voters with them. No matter that none of them ended up making any profound changes in office - voters didn’t assume that would be the case when they elected them. They still needed the strength of personality to forge a positive offer and capitalise on the public’s desire for change, rather than simply win as a safe pair of hands. Attlee is often cited as an example of how a low-key leader can win on a radical platform, but it doesn’t hold up nowadays. Attlee didn’t have 24 hour news and social media to contend with, and besides the public already saw him as a credible PM thanks to his role in the war cabinet. Policy wise the public were ready for radical change from the left because of the profound sense of social solidarity created by the war. Short of a similarly earth-shaking national or global crisis that upends political and social conventions - and it’s far from certain that Covid will meet that threshold - it’ll take an extraordinary job of salesmanship from a Labour leader to persuade the public that a radical programme is necessary and possible and that a Labour government can deliver it without trashing the economy. Right now I really can’t envisage Starmer in 2024 convincingly championing stuff like the Green New Deal and the biggest renationalisation programme since 1945. If he doesn’t rouse himself and show a bit more conviction voters are going to ask whether he really believes in the manifesto he’s espousing or whether he’s had it forced on him by the deluded fanatical Marxists that make up the Labour membership ((c) all mainstream media since 2015). That’s a serious credibility problem looming right there. If he does it then fair play to him, but at this moment I don’t see it. On the other hand if he does water down the policies he risks not marking out enough difference between Labour and the Tories to enthuse swing voters, especially as the Greens, SNP and possibly the Lib Dems will seek to exploit the space to his left. He could always win by default if the Tories fuck up badly enough, but with the media squarely behind them and playing dirty it’ll have to be an absolute catastrophe to reach that level - worse than the poll tax, Black Wednesday or the current clusterfuck. And if he does win on a diluted platform he might make things better for a while but won’t embed long term change, and the next Tory government will dismantle all of his positive achievements just like this lot have done with Blair’s.
  4. Neil G

    Keir Starmer

    “On the left of the party” refers to a positioning on the political spectrum using the leftmost members of the PLP as a reference point, i.e. views similar to Corbyn, McDonnell et al on taxation, public spending, public ownership and so on. You say that the policies Starmer has pledged to implement represent the political views he holds - I don’t think that can be assumed, because unlike Corbyn he doesn’t have any kind of history of actively promoting them. I take the point that his comments about the leadership election refer to his dislike of going up against colleagues and trying to best them, rather than having to sell something he doesn’t believe in to the members, but I don’t think the link is misplaced. As I said at the time, I felt the phrase “hated selling myself to the membership” was a really odd thing to say if he was genuinely committed to the policies. Most people who believe sincerely in a progressive political agenda find advocating it to a receptive audience to be a positive experience, and in the context of a leadership election, just as in the initial selection to be an MP, wouldn’t have any qualms about doing it in a competitive setting. When Corbyn first ran for leader he ran a relentlessly positive and upbeat campaign, focusing on his beliefs and ideas, without ever feeling the need to criticise any of his opponents. Look at it this way: if the Labour membership hadn’t been overwhelmingly left-leaning, or if we didn’t know what their ideological inclinations were, would Starmer have run on a left-wing platform so similar to Corbyn’s? I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s any evidence at all to support that assertion. He has no prior record that I’m aware of speaking up clearly in favour of any left-wing policy positions. While he was shadow Brexit secretary many of his shadow cabinet colleagues went on record championing left-wing policies like the Green New Deal, National Education Service, rail nationalisation etc, often when their briefs didn’t cover them. There was nothing to stop Starmer doing likewise but he never did. Likewise for his time as a backbencher and prior to being elected to Parliament. It’s absolutely fair to question just how strongly committed he is to the policies he’s pledged to uphold. Don’t misunderstand me - I don’t think he’s some cynical con artist who’s knowingly pulled the wool over Labour members’ eyes and has always planned to renege on his promises as soon as he can get away with it. I think he’s a decent guy with genuine progressive instincts who wants a Labour government and believes that he’s someone who can deliver it and lead it. But I don’t believe he has any particular attachment to any ideological tendency or position within Labour, in the same way as lots of people on here say they just want a Labour government and don’t care what kind it is, as it’ll always be better than the Tories. I think he’s a hard-nosed pragmatist who’ll do whatever is necessary to achieve what he sees as a worthy goal, starting with getting himself elected party leader by tailoring his pitch to his audience. I think he’d be perfectly happy to commit to and deliver a left-wing programme for government, and he may well do that, in which case he’ll have my wholehearted backing. But if at any point he concludes that a left-wing platform is an impediment to winning an election and that he can ditch it without alienating the membership and splitting the party, then I’ve no doubt he’ll do it. Yeah, likewise. See my previous post, most days my brain is fucked by the time I get my daughter to bed and it’s as much as I can manage to gawp at Twitter for a bit. Always happy to carry on a debate if you don’t mind it moving at the speed of postal chess.
  5. Neil G

    Keir Starmer

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree for the time being on the deficit and public spending. In normal circumstances I’d be happy to write a mini essay on it but I don’t really have time to go into it at the moment. Homeschooling and otherwise entertaining a 5 year old is a constant slog, hence the time it’s been taking me to reply to anything longer than a paragraph. I’m sure it will become a major topic in the months to come, so we can revisit it then. As for the speed of the recovery when it happens, I’m a lot more pessimistic than you are. The longer restrictions continue, in whatever form, the longer lasting the economic damage will be - more businesses will fold and more people will get into financial difficulties, making a consumer-led recovery more difficult. I don’t think we’re out of the woods with the pandemic by a long way, and unless the virus peters out Sars style I think a second wave in the UK is more likely than not. Given the damage to public infrastructure from a decade of austerity - the NHS, social care, local government - I don’t believe this country has the capacity to get a proper grip on the virus before we get either a vaccine or an effective antiviral treatment. I don’t see either of these becoming widely available until next year at the earliest, meaning I expect the economic disruption to continue until then at least. I don’t think millions of people will be made homeless. My original comment referred to “millions of people being made homeless or burdened with unsustainable debt”, meaning that millions of people would fall into one of those two categories, with the latter presumably outnumbering the former. I can see how my wording would make my prediction sound more grave than it actually is. Even so it’s still a very serious situation that demands more attention from Labour. As regards what an appropriate solution would be, I think an offer from the government to cover all rent arrears for any tenant who requests it, with repayments deferred until the economy has recovered and spread over a much longer period than two years, would be a much more practical approach than placing the onus on landlords. The latter will inevitably means-testing landlords to decide which ones are entitled to a mortgage holiday from their bank, which will be complex and have huge scope for error, inequity and disputes with tenants. I don’t have access to any figures on this, but I’ve seen numerous people online saying they’ve been refused relief from their mortgage payments. To reiterate though, any policy that guarantees landlords’ rent income shouldn’t be undertaken in isolation, but should be followed up with action making it easier for more people to buy their own homes and harder for landlords to charge excessive rent and provide a substandard service to tenants. Another subject that I could go into in great depth if I had more time. The reason I think Labour needs to go big on this is that whatever it suggests, the government will inevitably implement something far less generous and effective as far as tenants are concerned. Labour’s opening gambit has to be ambitious in scope and has to be widely publicised and aggressively pursued, in order to generate the kind of public and media attention that pressures Tory governments to go further than they want to in helping people. I cited the case of the government dropping the surcharge for NHS migrant workers in my last post, and now we’ve got Marcus Rashford’s campaign to add to that. With the public losing trust in the government, the government crying foul at even the mildest of criticism from Labour and Labour’s poll ratings improving, Starmer has now got the political space to go on the offensive without being accused of opposition for its own sake. The case for caution and constructive support has collapsed, and I don’t see what Labour has to lose from upping the ante on this issue now.
  6. Neil G

    Ian Holm

    Died aged 88. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jun/19/ian-holm-dies-alien-chariots-of-fire-bilbo-baggins You have my sympathies.
  7. Neil G

    Racism in Southern America..

    I may have been overly generous in my assumption here.
  8. Neil G

    Coronavirus

    Central banks have this one mad trick they don't want you to know about!
  9. Neil G

    Should Corbyn remain as Labour leader?

    I think that was Angry’s point.
  10. Neil G

    Should Corbyn remain as Labour leader?

    He retweeted the antisemitic mural Corbyn got into trouble over, and doubled down when challenged by a Jewish journalist (Michael Segalov, staunchly anti-racist and pro-BLM).
  11. Neil G

    Coronavirus

    I don’t actually think this one is the government knowingly pulling a con job. Most MPs believe this fallacy themselves.
  12. Neil G

    Racism in Southern America..

    I didn’t avoid it. I chose not to engage with it in the terms you set it out in because I didn’t think they were helpful to the debate, and I told you why. I don’t think you’re a racist, and I think you’re approaching this debate in good faith. But the particular way you worded your original question - “can anyone offer anything that the black community can do to improve their plight” - was really quite patronising and lazy, as if black people themselves hadn’t already considered that question at length and answered it, and those answers weren’t readily available for you to look up. I know that won’t have been your intention, but that’s how it came across. The reason I jumped on it is that I have an instinctive aversion to members of privileged groups discussing and deciding things about disadvantaged people without seeking their input. I spent just shy of 15 years in the charity sector, working and volunteering, and it was jarring to repeatedly see well-meaning people make statements and decisions about or on behalf of service users / beneficiaries without consulting them or trying to understand them. I was guilty of it myself sometimes without realising it. It stung when I was called out on it, but I always tried to not get defensive and instead listen, learn, reflect and do better. I still fuck up now and will inevitably continue to do so, but I always try to think before speaking / posting and do my homework when necessary. Your revised question about differences in attainment between ethnic groups is perfectly reasonable. I’m not going to attempt to answer it because I don’t know enough about it, it’s a hugely complex subject and I haven’t really had cause to engage with it as yet. I’m in the education sector now but in a very white part of the country.
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