Saturday Waffling (May 9th, 2015)

(36 comments)

In case you missed it, The Three Doctors commentary

The Super Nintendo Project will be running on Tuesdays for the duration of Game of Thrones. Tomorrow's review will be up as soon as I can get it, but it won't be quite as fast as the first four I'm afraid. Relatedly, I'll try to get to the Marcelo Camargo essay in the next couple weeks. Patreon is at $315 a week, $10 away from me writing the McGann/Eccleston book's essay on "Night of the Doctor as a public blogpost in the next month or two.

Everything proceeds apace. There are too many things right now, and things are slipping through the cracks more than I'd like, but I should get the first set of pages of Volume 6 of TARDIS Eruditorum out to the editor today. 

Absolutely gutted by the election results, of course. The polls gave so much false hope, and were so shockingly wrong. The size of the rightwing turn is so depressing; the policies proposed so self-evidently destructive and with such potentially devastating longterm consequences. Please go ahead and vent in comments. Or, if you're a Tory, gloat, but let's be honest, everyone's gonna hate you for it. 

Comments

Scurra 2 years ago

Trying to put a brave face on it and looking for interesting things.
For instance, seeing whether or not Cameron has the political ability of John Major in 1992 - whether he can handle being held to ransom by his extremists or whether he'll miss the moderating influence of the LibDems that he basically chose to eat alive. The downside is that the opposition is so fractured that he can probably not worry. Set against that is the EU problem: if the opposition are indeed so fractured and remain so, then there is a real danger that England might actually vote YES to leaving, which Cameron certainly doesn't want.

I'm not entirely convinced there was a rightward swing particularly - the two main parties remained pretty much where they had been (the Labour/Conservative marginals had a bit of movement but that's all) and the few Conservative gains came almost entirely from the LibDems. The map remained largely the same: the urban areas stayed solidly Labour, the shires solidly Conservative.
The key change was in what happened elsewhere. At the last election, the LibDems got around 24% of the vote; this time they only got 8% so that missing 16% must have gone somewhere, and it didn't go to the main parties. Instead, it went to UKIP and the Greens. That's not necessarily a sign of coherent political movement - the anti-EU sentiment is real but it's not automatically a right-wing position, and UKIP support seems to have been fairly evenly split between Labour and Conservative voters - the depressing part is that it also seems that when it came to the crunch, it was the "former" Tories who chose to return to the fold.
Meanwhile, of course, Scotland was in a very peculiar position of having a single issue party that had been given several years of non-stop publicity and an incumbent party that had become horribly complacent. That's a recipe for disaster on a huge scale. (Set against that is the fact that all of these new SNP MPs have exactly zero power, so they aren't going to find themselves with the 2010 LibDem dilemma. Which may actually be a worse thing for them in the long run - although to be honest, not a lot could be worse than what happened to the LibDems.)

My own feeling is that the true impact of this election will be felt in whether or not the "third" party can survive. Because if the LibDems do, in fact, fold, then we've potentially got a bigger problem than the Union or even a theoretical Brexit. I have a lot of respect for the Green party, but, like UKIP, they are a single issue party who have more impact through activism. Losing a third mainstream party would mean that there is even less hope for nuance than before (not that it was a terribly strong thing but at least it was there.) It means that our brief flirtation with multiparty democracy is over; we proved that we haven't grown up at all.

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dm 2 years ago

Well, I mean, in not entirely unrelated news, it turns out Osgood's death was a Farage resignation...

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dm 2 years ago

I broadly agree but I bristle whenever Greens, anywhere in the world, are described as a "single issue party". It's literally down to a colour choice. They are environmentalists, yes, but they are also hard leftists in every other area. They are a legitimate, aggressively progressive party. That said, Natalie Bennett needs to submit to some media training or abdicate, because she's doing us no favours.

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dm 2 years ago

Electoral reform (which probably only the LibDems could bring about) would allow the mainstream left centrist parties to swing further left, as more people would feel confident voting for genuinely leftist parties. It's the only way to pull the centre out of its current rightward momentum. If votes for the Greens and Socialists become votes for Labour, then Labour has to start to respect its Leftist core voters. Right now, people are too scared of "throwing their vote away" to give their vote to someone who genuinely represents their interests.

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dm 2 years ago

(by electoral reform I mostly mean the introduction of preferential voting)

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Tallifer 2 years ago

Canada has long experience with a seemingly powerful separatist party. Since the 1980s, le Bloc Quebecois held the majority of Quebec's significant share of parliamentary seats. Nevertheless, that strength neevr translated into final rupture. Quebeckers were happy to vote for any symbolic separatism, but consistently backed off whenever there was a referendum.
Of course my own knowledge of Scotland is minimal, but the Quebecois ethnic identity is extremely strong.

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timber-munki 2 years ago

'5 Years' is an excellent response. I'd suggest Planetary #7 as well.

Apologise if it's a bit ranty/venty I live in a safe Labour seat in Liverpool and there's been no attempt by any political party to engage me or anybody I know, so here are a few of my thoughts:

39% of a 66% turnout is not a mandate.

Not looking forward to the snoopers charter, the Transatlantic Trade Treaty surrender of democracy, the triumphalism of the right wing getting a vote on a withdrawal from Europe (Which they'll probably just win) no doubt backed by millions of people who travel there on a regular basis and do business with it yet fail to connect the ease of travel with membership , the gradual erosion of the BBC & NHS. That's off the top of my head, too annoyed and down about it to formulate much beyond a 'it's going to suck to be poor or different for the next 5 years' attitude.

Interesting to see Farage talking about the fact that UKIP got 3.8 million votes and 1 seat and recall how the Mail, Express and the other members of the right wing press that have formed a symbiotic realationship with the UKIP eye-swiveller mouth breathers (They allied with a bunch of holoucaust deniers in the European Parliament so they're fair game AFAIC) over the past five years yet heavily supported no change on the election system when we had the chance in 2011, claiming that it was only the 'Islington' metropolitan elitist liberal set that wanted change. Conversely the SNP got 56 seats with less than 1.5 million votes. So the proposed boundary changes that the Lib Dems blocked from the Tories are going to be interesting (In their 'At last now we can sort it all out after we've got rid of all those lefties we can guarantee us success for years to come and we don't see anything wrong with this because we make the rules now glee' whilst ignoring the fact that their power base has been effectively in control and running the show for the best part of the past 40 years).

When the 2014 vote was a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' for Scotland according to Salmond I don't think you can have another Scottish Independence vote with it having any credibility whatsover. I'd rather see a UK wide referendum on retaining the Union as opposed to a Scottish independence vote but the situation in Northern Ireland means that's never going to happen unless God and /or Jesus turns up in Belfast and says 'you're all taking this a but too seriously don't you think?'

On the plus side it's a small majority and if there's one thing the Tories do it's go a bit crazy when in power so maintaining it is going to be fun. Combined with the prospect of a 5 year-war that dare not speak it's name of a Tory leadership contest it should at least be entertaining in an 'interesting times' sense . Also Farage is gone so there should be an even crazier battle there.

tl;dr **** the Tories

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Doctor Memory 2 years ago

Any election wherein Nigel Farage and George Galloway fail to keep their seats isn't entirely a bad one; Gorgeous George's loss to Naz Shah being particularly piquant.

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Anton B 2 years ago

I now find myself living in an island of sanity in a sea of rabid Tory blue, The Labour/Green (recently named on social media sites) 'People's Republic of Brighton and Hove'.
Interesting times.
https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1613213145559715

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Seeing_I 2 years ago

From what I've read, it looks like this might be set in between "Day of the Doctor" and "Death in Heaven," but either way will almost certainly involve the Osgood duplicate.

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Scurra 2 years ago

OK, you're right of course - but it's predominantly a single issue which defines and drives the Greens, UKIP and the SNP in a way that isn't so applicable to the other three big parties (if the LibDems can be called "big" any more...) even though all of those parties also have policies on everything else - I suspect most people have no real idea what they are. The main reason the LibDems had such a nightmare in 2010 was that they had to choose between broadly rightist economic policies and broadly leftist everything else - that's why they are a separate party, after all! They chose poorly, but to be honest, anything they chose would have been wrong, and the lesson of history everywhere else in the world is that junior coalition partners are always punished.

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elvwood 2 years ago

First thought: What the...?
Second thought: Shit.
Third thought: Fuck this, I'm moving to Scotland.

Ongoing thought: Okay, where do we go from here? It should be obvious that Labour's big failure is not actually Ed Milliband's personality (though fair enough, it doesn't help), or that his manifesto was too Socialist (yeah, that must be why the SNP did so terribly then), or any of the other things their people seem to be coming up with; it's surely that they are seen as (a) simply Tory-lite, and (b) liars who will promise anything to get back in. You can't do much about the second except over the long term, but you can provide a real alternative.

At the moment Labour support has dropped back to it's traditional "I've never voted anything else and I never will" core. Unfortunately there is nothing to entice other people to vote for them beyond "they aren't Tory", and since Cameron's folks have won the PR and political education battle it's going to have to get a lot worse before that's enough. And I want more anyway.

Sometime over the past couple of days I wryly summed up my opinion of our democracy by saying, "periodicals should have the right to publish pictures of the Prophet Muhammad; they should then choose not to do so. Similarly, people should have the right to vote for whoever they choose; however they should only actually vote for the people I think will do them the most good."

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years ago

Now I'm wondering did Kate Stewart and Osgood recognize the 12th Doctor right away in Death in Heaven, or did they just piece together who he was? I think the latter, although the former would indicate they had a previous adventure with this Doctor.

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David Anderson 2 years ago

I don't think it's right to say this is going back to the Thatcher era. Based on my memories of the Thatcher era, this lot are worse. It's like a qlippothic Hegelian synthesis of the Thatcher era and the worst aspects of the old Tory estabishment she tried to replace.

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Matthew Celestis 2 years ago

Those of us in Stevenage Conservative Association worked really hard to get our MP Stephen McPartland re-elected. We're delighted at his success, with a hugely increased majority.

Naturally, we're also impressed by the success of the Conservative Party across the country. The election victory represents the hard work of thousands of hard-working activists.

The people voted for the Conservative Party because they see that we are the party prepared to put the interests of the nation first. They rejected the socialism of the other parties.

As a progressive Conservative, I have some reservations about some of the party's current policies and I'm wary of the increased power of right-wing backbenchers. I would not have minded another coalition with the Liberal Democrats. I felt their moderating influence was good for the Tory party. However, there are plenty of talented and intelligent MPs on the new government benches who will hopefully steer the country in the right direction.

Come on and hate me!

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dm 2 years ago

I'm predicting the Zygon posing as Osgood choosing to stay as Osgood because she always felt she had been born in the wrong body...

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dm 2 years ago

Which could either be really good or really cackhanded and awful

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dm 2 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Aylwin 2 years ago

The size of the rightwing turn is so depressing

In terms of votes, if you class the Lib Dems as centrist and the SNP as left, I don't think there was a right-wing turn. Viewed in those terms, the comparative size of the right and left blocs is about what it was last time, with each boosted to a similar extent by former Lib Dem voters (cumulatively, the gain in votes was largely to the SNP, Greens and UKIP, with Labour and Tory gains from the Lib Dems offset by their losses to those three parties).

It's because of the scale of the Lib Dem collapse that we have a Tory majority government rather than a Labour minority one. The Tories stood to gain more from that collapse than anyone else because they were the other main contenders in the majority of Lib Dem seats, a more important fact than exactly where the defecting voters chose to take their votes, and since they were already not that far short of a majority last time, their twenty-odd gains were enough to push them over the top.

Not that any of that makes a difference to the coming horror, but there it is.

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Adam Riggio 2 years ago

The simple fact that you've been a regular part of the community around Phil's blog while having such different political beliefs shows that you're a reasonable human being. I'm glad that folks like you exist in different political camps than my own. But if my own situation in Canada can offer any evidence for the future of British conservatism, I'm not sure how long you'll last in the Cameron majority years. David Cameron reminds me very much of Stephen Harper, but with an extra layer of grease and condescension thanks to the heritage of the class system.

I have moderate conservative friends who have completely left the Harper train since he won his majority government four years ago. The Harper minority years of 2006-2011 were a less insane time, though the government was an unstable minority, as no other party in our parliament was suited for a coalition with him. For some, it was disgust with his , or how the Prime Minister's Office enabled enormous levels of corruption among political appointees and election operatives. One former student of mine faced outright misogynist bullying from fellow members of her university's Young Conservatives club. That was at McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario, and the entire student union at Carleton University in Ottawa has been taken over by Conservative Party activists. That student union now sells "No means Yes" shirts, or slogans of equivalent wit, at Fall orientation. At the upper level, female MPs – even ones deep in the Harper circle – are treated with contempt, and all but a few are booted from the cabinet or else marginalized within the backbench. The misogynist habits of our Conservative party operate at every level.

Research the recently passed Bill C-51 in Canada to see the bevy of restrictions my online speech is now under thanks to the Conservative focus on the security of their financial and petroleum interests at all costs.

This is the culture of modern conservatism and Conservatism in Canada under a Harper majority. And I suspect it will go quite similarly over the next four or five years in Britain. I sincerely hope it doesn't, and that your more optimistic vision comes to pass. I hope you never have to regret your decision, as so many of my conservative friends do here in Canada.

Rant over.

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Adam Riggio 2 years ago

Well, they almost backed off. But the second referendum in 1995 saw the separatists lose literally by a single percentage point.

I think Labour actually could learn a lot from Canada's NDP when it comes to curtailing separatist leaning political parties. The SNP and BQ/PQ are very similar: left-wing parties that base their popular appeal in their countries of Scotland and Quebec on protecting the social services, government powers, and a more equal existence. Separatism is a means to this end.

But the 2011 election in Canada saw the federal separatist vote completely collapse, because the New Democratic Party implemented a years-long plan of political organization and networking across Quebec, promoting themselves as the left-wing bonafides that you can trust (unlike the slippery Liberal Party that can just as easily slip neoliberal as it is safe left).

Mind you, the Canadian situation was quite different. The PQ government at the provincial level in Quebec collapsed last year, largely because of popular blowback about a law enforcing secularism in the public sector which was obviously about marginalizing non-Christians by preventing them from working in government agencies or health care. No hijabs, kippahs, or turbans, but big crosses were okay. And BQ policy at the federal level basically involved doing no work whatsoever. I've met a couple of federal NDP MPs from Quebec who've told me that their constituents were so surprised that they actually got town hall meetings, consultations, and updates on the work of their MPs, because districts that had been BQ for years had MPs whose policy it was to do nothing.

But the basic idea of finding common ground with ostensibly separatist parties, and incorporating their policy ideas and energy into your own structure can revitalize Labour, just as the Quebec caucus revitalized the Canadian NDP.

Miliband treating the SNP with such contempt and hostility probably helped the SNP vote too.

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Adam Riggio 2 years ago

I think I meant, disgust with his autocratic way of running his cabinet and police-centric solution to social and political problems.

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Daru 2 years ago

As a Scot I feel pretty happy on one level about the surge of SNP support and enjoyed looking at the colours on the maps afterwards, at least in the north. The one thing that still pisses me off is that for some reason, despite the swing in the rest of Scotland, the Conservatives still managed to hold their seat in my constituency (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale), making where I live the only Tory seat in Scotland!

I know this is primarily because there was a constituency boundary change - it was basically enlarged to the point where there are areas that are part of our boundary that I have never been to and it even extends to the English Border - at some point in the past that the Tories enacted. Despite being beautiful, our area though is pretty conservative thinking.

Positive thoughts though in all of this - no increase for UKIP and at least Doctor Who as a show will have something to really push against, as will many of us.

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Kit 2 years ago

the party prepared to put the interests of the nation first. They rejected the socialism of the other parties.

What interests of the nation do you see as outweighing and excluding social well-being and engagement?

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BerserkRL 2 years ago

The size of the rightwing turn is so depressing

Clearly you're confining your attention to south of the Wall.

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Anton B 2 years ago

Now it's in the Guardian so it must be true.
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/shortcuts/2015/may/12/britains-latest-breakaway-nation-peoples-republic-brighton-hove?CMP=twt_gu

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Daru 2 years ago

"Set against that is the fact that all of these new SNP MPs have exactly zero power"

Well I don't think so, especially as they dominate Scotland and now have many more MP's now in Westminster, and us Scot's aren't really known stereotypically as being quiet, shrinking violets.

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Daru 2 years ago

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Daru 2 years ago

"Miliband treating the SNP with such contempt and hostility probably helped the SNP vote too."

I'd certainly agree with that Adam, good points. Especially as I perceive the Scottish sense of identity being pretty strong, but not in a patriotic way. I am a Scot myself.

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Daru 2 years ago

Absolutely.

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Daru 2 years ago

I find myself bizarrely in an island of Conservative blue, inhabited by a lone shark, surround by a meadow of SNP yellow.

I'll keep ranting about this, but still can't believe that my constituency (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) is the only blue seat in Scotland - where I live!!

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Daru 2 years ago

"Come on and hate me!"

Why?

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Daru 2 years ago

Or the Demarcation Zone as we know it up here.

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Daru 2 years ago

"Third thought: Fuck this, I'm moving to Scotland."

Please do, our population has been decreasing so much we have had events running for entire years twice in the last 6 years called 'Homecoming Scotland' to attract people to move back here.

This link might help you:

http://www.snapsurveys.com/swh/surveylogin.asp?k=135843674284&q0=3

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Daru 2 years ago

We'll build bridges with you all up here in Scotland.

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Seeing_I 2 years ago

Ugh. Please no.

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