Dead Men Left

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Forward March of Liberalism Halted

Touching honesty, really:

It is quite certain that most of the young men and women who have come forward as Liberal candidates know little (and care little) about the tangled history of the Liberal party in the two decades between 1918 and 1939. They have become Liberal because Liberalism stands for something different from Labour or from Toryism (even Toryism of the reform variety).

It offers something which, better than other parties, satisfies the desire for bold reform combined with freedom and personal initiative. The Labour party can reflect that this revival of Liberalism is a sign of Labour's failure to broaden from a sectional into a national party.

...followed by a small footnote on Labour's 1945 landslide. Another glorious defeat, Guardian comrades! Onwards! I don't think the paper's had a decent sense of history since c. Richard Cobden negotiated the Treaty of Paris, but no matter. Buy it for the Steve Bell cartoon in G2.

Hackney-Nike logo (pt. 37)

This one could run and run. Our friends in the north - way, way up north, along the bloodspattered Cambridge Heath Road - have an uncanny ability to prolong political grudges (with approximate footnotes):

I told Pipey[1] to keep schtum about this one, but he would have to open his gaper and make a fuss. Poor old Mikey[2] is in for a shock when he gets the reports back from his legal team. It seems that Nike is likely to argue that appropriate use of the logo was included in the deal for the Zoneparcs project to support playground sports activities targeted at the most deprived and socially excluded kids in London boroughs. Apparently they offered a sack of wonga to Mad Max[3] back in 2002 but he was scared of getting his fingers burnt so he refused to touch it and insisted it went to Nicky [4] over at Tender Loving Care[5]. I must ask Pipey to get together with Nicky to sort out where the cash went to and try to dig up the contracts (if there ever were any).

[1] Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney and lord of all he surveys;
[2] Gawd knows - some councillor?
[3] The unlamented "Mad Max" Caller, former Chief Exec at Hackney Council;
[4] Possibly Nicky Gavron, New Labour GLA stooge-creature. Could be wrong, though;
[5] The GLA?

Local politics, innit. Also spoofing a (it has to be said) rather easy target who - joy of joys - describes Brown's stance on thermonuclear destruction as "commonsense" and, again without the merest whiff of irony, calls the Chancellor's happy-clappy regime-changey chums "traditional Labour rightwing Atlanticists" - presumably packing their cloth-caps and whippets for trips to British-American Project meetings in Washington after a hard day hewing coal.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Bob Piper on Jonanthan Ross on David Cameron:

He squirmed in his boxers when Ross pinned him down to say he still thought the Iraq invasion was right, he looked distinctly uncomfortable when he said the old witch of Finchley was right to throw people out of work in Scotland, Wales and the North of England, and he squirmed again when Ross pressed him on the failure of privatised water companies. The highlight, though, was still to come. Ross raised the issue of decriminalising drugs (no, the conversation didn't touch on Dave's flirtation with the nose candy, although the guffaws from the audience indicated that was where they thought it was heading) and Cameron sort of giggled and said he didn't think that was right, and the proper thing to do was to care for the addicts - his touchy feely side showing, he hoped). Ross then said that drugs were actually available now, to anyone who actually wanted them, and that virtually any kid in the street could tell you where to get drugs (and, although he didn't say it, it was hanging in the air... even David Cameron knew where to score). It wasn't a question of caring for addicts, it was about driving the criminals out of the drug scene, said Ross. Dave said ....errrm, he didn't think that was right and the real issue was about caring for the addicts. Obviously not briefed beyond that, Cameron looked immensley relieved when Ross asked him if he could do a 'high five'. That was more like it for the lad... get me off the bloody policy stuff and play at being Ali G.

What's interesting about the Cameron thing is that this entirely superficial rebranding exercise, centred on one rather dull toff, has managed to cripple (if not break) New Labour. It speaks volumes for New Labour's underlying flimsiness that it has done so: we are, after all, talking about a government that slightly over 20% of the electorate actually voted for, and a government whose biggest single policy initiative - invading Iraq - is its biggest single weakness.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Cargo Cult Keynesianism"

Really good post over at Aaronovitch Watch on Aaro's bubble-headed attempts to whip up enthusiasm about neoliberalism in India. I'm not too sure about "Cargo Cult Keynesianism", though: partly it's a slight twitchiness about taking Keynes' name in vain (reinforced by the bloody awful posthumous treatment dished out to J.K.Galbraith), partly it's the strong suspicion that Keynes is better read (as Galbraith, arguably, read him) as an economist of institutions, rather than of behaviour - if that distinction makes sense (Toni Negri wrote a brilliant earlyish essay on just this, turning Keynes into a theoretician of "supply side" production relations, rather than effective demand - doesn't seem to be online, but these notes give a flavour).

It's difficult to square, for example, the neoliberal enthusiasm for privatisation and mobile finance capital with Keynes' explicit calls for the "socialisation of investment" and the "euthanasia of rentier": "Keynesianism", in the sense Aaronovitch Watch intend, seems to refer to what Joan Robinson called "bastard Keynesianism": the postwar blending of some of Keynes' less radical insights with existing neoclassical theory. What we have now is still more watery substance, the so-called "new consensus": the reduction of Keynes to little more than a vague idea that interest rates matter, washed up with a framework that looks remarkably like the bankrupt free-market nonsense he spent the latter half of his life attacking.

'Ackney 'ypocrisy

You might remember Nike nicking Hackney Council's logo a few weeks back. Squeaky clean, painfully New Labour Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe was heard to fulminate about how terribly unfair all this was, Hackney Council poor innocent victims of copyright theft, boo hiss to nasty corporations, etc etc.

Well... I recevied this email:

Just days after making threats to sue Nike for stealing its logo, Hackney Council has launched its London 2012 Olympic Games logo to cries of hypocrisy and theft.

Hackney Council, which has done nothing to help Hackney's arthritis sufferers, has angered them further by stealing their representative body's logo to promote the Olympics, disability activists claim.

Hackney Council has angered many of Hackney’s arthritis sufferers by “stealing a logo well-known and respected by them, to use as its Olympic logo”. Ironically, Hackney Council recently complained that Nike stole their logo to use on their 'Hackney Marshes' brand of sports clothing and equipment.

Hackney Council’s London 2012 Olympic Games design appears to be identical to the NRAS Support Network logo and remarkably close to the main NRAS logo.

“How can Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, denounce Nike for nicking a logo while he carries out the same action himself?” said John Thornton, chair of Disability Sport Hackney and himself an arthritis sufferer. “In my book, that’s outright hypocrisy.”

“Mayor Jules Pipe has rightly come under criticism for doing less than nothing to help people with arthritis in the London Borough of Hackney. He has allowed the swimming pools here to fall into rack and ruin, and even when they do reopen, they will largely be inaccessible to disabled people and it will cost us more to use than to travel to surrounding boroughs, he said.

“He's done nothing for grass-roots sport, he’s working with Olympic planners to turn over the Hackney Marshes football pitches to tarmac crews. Hackney Council Cabinet members have given them to the Olympic crew to be turned into a massive car park. Re-opening London Fields open air lido won’t make up for all the facilities we’ve lost.”

Due to years of under-investment and maladministration it is now not possible to swim in a Hackney Council 25 metre pool and completely impossible to swim in a public pool. Instead the only pools available are the two or three small pools in private gyms. No hydrotherapy facilities exist in Hackney and the closed Clissold Leisure Centre, built at a cost estimated at £45,000,000, was not constructed to be accessible. The works to complete it, which have now been abandoned, have not been specified to improve access beyond what was absolutely necessary in law at the time of its original construction.

“To add insult to injury, the Council have purloined a well-known and well-respected national symbol – the logo for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society - and used it for their own self-aggrandisement. It wouldn't be so bad if he cared a jot about enabling disabled people to use sports facilities. Instead, we have no accessible pools in Hackney and, if we are on benefits, we couldn’t afford the exorbitant entry fees.”

Have a look for yourself.

Anyone but...

Sorry about the absence of posts lately. Been watching the football.

All right, I haven't. I did, however, catch England vs. Paraguay last weekend. The Whitechapel Respect celebratory meal coincided with the game, so a TV and projecter were rounded up and put into service.

I don't see anything unreasonable in doing this; if we hadn't provided the TV, fewer would have turned up. I find the argument that socialists should actively oppose England slightly tiresome: there seems to be no quicker way to have a futile and bitter argument with precisely the people we should be trying to win over. It would have been particularly absurd, in a room full largely of Bengalis, some in England tops, almost all watching the match, to have raised an objection.

I can't think of a single instance - indeed, I'm fairly certain there isn't a single instance - where anybody-but-England has advanced the cause of socialism. It is more absurd, naturally, to pretend that supporting England is a singularly progressive cause, dragooning poor old Orwell into service for the ocassion. But disentangling the threads of identity, culture, and recognition that lead people to support England is not going to be done through bloody-minded opposition.