Teresa May the real life ‘Nicola Murray’

After having to deal with another calamitous mistake by Nicola Murray ‘the thick of it,’  Malcolm Tucker tells her ‘You’re a fucking omnishambles, that’s what you are. You’re like that coffee machine, you know: from bean to cup, you fuck up.’ After the complete mess that Theresa May has made of the 2017 election there are probably many Tories who share the same view of their hapless Prime Minister.

When Theresa May declared an election it was according to her to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations and to give her the mandate to ensure it was carried through.  It was also a chance to increase the Conservative majority and to take advantage of what they perceived was a Labour party in turmoil.

However rather than leading to a landslide it was to be a disastrous campaign that far from being a ‘strong and stable government,’ led to a hung parliament and to a weak and unstable minority government. Rather than Jeremy Corbyn looking out of his depth it is Theresa May drowning in a pool of her own incompetence.

The Labour party ran a first class campaign and although they didn’t win enough seats to form a government they did enough to make a lot of ground from the last election.  It would have been one almighty swing to Labour if they had romped home but it is progress especially as the Conservatives now rely on the DUP to form a government.

Although there was still a lot of media bias against Corbyn he was still shown to be able to connect with the public.  To paraphrase the West wing it was best to let ‘Jeremy to be Jeremy.’  He connected with the electorate, was pleasant, personable, and was seen to be comfortable answering questions from the media and the public.

This was in complete contrast Theresa May who looked shifty, uncomfortable, and only seemed to speak in soundbites.  Everything was stage-managed from the public events that she attended to the questions being vetted.  At one news conference a journalist in Cornwall was shown the door for daring to ask a third question.

Theresa May has consistently performed poorly at PMQ’s but she was to take this to a new level.  Meeting the electorate seemed to be an inconvenience and there seemed to be an arrogance that the public would accept anything.  The so-called ‘dementia tax,’ policy backfired spectacularly when the Conservative manifesto made plans to make people pay more of their own social care.  The policy caused anger because payments after death could eat into the inheritance of offspring whose parents were unlucky enough to suffer from a condition – like dementia – in which reliance on social care is inevitable.

It lead to a u-turn by Theresa May who scaled back proposals but considering that she was meant to be a decisive leader who wouldn’t stand any nonsense in brexit talks, made May look as though she would buckle under the slightest pressure.

The campaign by May led to personal insults against Corbyn and negativity throughout.  It seemed that so long as May got in her buzz words of ‘strong and stable government,’ that people would believe that she was the only one that could deliver this. However it just seemed stale and clichéd as Theresa May stood there nervously.  When forced to take questions May would take a sip of water to quench the nerves of being out of her comfort zone.  Again a trait that hardly inspires confidence.

In many respects Theresa May is one of those company middle-managers who are promoted way above their ability.  As a result they cause mayhem and damage before being quietly moved on.

By now it seemed to be as though the Conservatives were seeing Theresa May as a liability due to her consistent poor performances in public.  The decision to duck the leadership debate was poor judgement.  After all if you couldn’t comfortably argue your case and take questions how could you be deemed fit to negotiate in Brexit talks?  Inadvertently May raised Amber Rudd’s chances of taking her job by allowing her to take her place and performing well.

Of course the election was more than Brexit it was about the cuts in social service, education, the NHS and how austerity is affecting the ordinary person.   Labour’s manifesto seemed to an attractive and fair solution to bring about a fairer society.

As election day drew near it was the hope that people would allow the sound bites and uncertainty thrown about Corbyn to stick with May.  Indeed many thought the Conservatives would still win comfortably despite the poor performances of May.  They were to be shocked when the final poll at 10pm on the 8th June 2017 rightly declared it be a hung parliament.

Labour may not have won enough to govern but they had made progress whereas Theresa May had spectacularly shot herself in the foot.  She had called an election believing it to be a formality and a chance to increase the Conservative majority in parliament.  Instead they lost seats and rather than bringing ‘strong and stable,’ May now presides over a minority government with less MPs.  Now they have to rely on the DUP which will bring about other issues.  Furthermore due to the lack of a majority May will have to deal with factions within her own party.  Rather than talking about moving forward it is now about uncertainty and when another election will be called.

Even as the ceiling has come crashing down and with bits of plaster in her hair, May still acted as though she had won a massive majority.  Despite the clichéd key words that had fallen as flat as a fart at a funeral, May still couldn’t help herself declaring the coalition with the DUP as bringing a ‘government of certainty.’  It was as though May was hoping to hoodwink the public that everything was fine rather than being an almighty mess through her own making.

This didn’t go down with the party faithful especially the candidates who had lost seats.  To not even acknowledge that this was a massive set back was another poor error of judgement.  However Theresa May calamitous flounders around like Nicola Murray that it can’t be long before she declares a policy for ‘every day bat people.’

Prior to this election many felt that it would be the end of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party.  Many were probably already writing his obituary.  Instead it is a dazed, incompetent, and weak Theresa May who staggers on after losing all credibility.

After this poor performance and weak leadership it surely can’t be long before Theresa May steps aside.  Whether she makes that decision or is forced out will be played out in the coming months. There really is no way that May can continue as Prime Minister.  She looks weak and above all has been shown to be incompetent that another election probably seems certain by the end of the year.

 

 

 

Why Labour’s right are equally in denial as the left

Nick Cohen wrote an expletitive plea or should it be a rant telling Corbynista’s ‘to stop being a fucking fool by changing your fucking mind.’  In many respects it was akin to a spoilt child screaming ‘I’ll scream and scream, until I’ll make myself sick!’  By accusing Corbyn supporters of being in denial and that the party is in danger of going into meltdown unless they appoint their special one they too are very much in denial.  

To automatically assume that someone like Yvette Cooper or Chuka Umunna have not just got the personality but the ability to turn around the fortunes of the Labour Party is arrogant to say the least.  After all an illegal war in Iraq, presiding over one of the biggest financial crisis in recent years, and ignoring your grass root support on the assumption that the plebs will vote for ever is wearing the red rosette is one of the many reasons why Labour is in the mess it finds itself in now.

The problem with Labour is that it’s support is completely fractured.  In Scotland they have practically become an endangered species whilst in certain heartlands they feel the party no longer represents them with some even attracted to UKIP.  Added to which is the difficulty in appealing to the marginal seats to cross the line to form a majority government.  Ed Milliband and Gordon Brown in the last two elections were unable to convince the electorate and here lies the problem.  

Like everything in life nothing stands still especially as we react to the world around us.  That’s why it is always important to continually evolve and ensure that the party is not just in tune with its members but its electorate.  This is easier said than done but to not realise that New Labour is part of the problem of the party and not the remedy is a problem for the right of the party.

In some respects there is that smugness that only they know what is best and those that disagree about the direction of the party are fools especially if its a left slant.  Ever since Corbyn has been elected as leader he has been constantly undermined by  not just the PLP but the media such as the Guardian who in the past have supported the Labour Party.

Members voted for Jeremy Corbyn because they wanted what they perceived to be real change and what they feel the Labour Party should stand for.  Rather than showing support and working as best they can they have throw a tantrum akin to a spoilt toddler at a birthday party.  

New Labour was part of the problem as to why they lost the 2010 and 2015 election.  To persist that the third way still works and that the electorate will somehow be convinced by someone speaking in cliches and slogans is to continually row around in circles.  

It could be said that Gordon Brown allowed this void to happen where there was no one to step up to the plate that could lead and appeal to the electorate.  Obsessed with keeping power with power battles between Tony Blair anybody afterwards was always going to be tainted with either side.  This is certainly true of Ed Milliband and the other candidates such as Yvette Cooper for the 2015 Labour leadership election.

Nobody at present has the charisma or clout that would appeal to all voters.  Furthermore any of Cohen or the Labour right’s preferred choices would do any better than Corbyn.  At least he wants to offer an alternative.  Yes it can be argued that Corbyn seems to be out of his depth and the shadow chancellor John McDonnell certainly is but a tilt to the right isn’t going to balance the ship.  

The Labour Party is in a mess and needs to find a fresh approach that appeals to all.  Furthermore there is hard work in attempting to get a foothold into Scotland as well as appealing to the marginals that would swing an election.  

New Labour has become old Labour with the public just as distrustful of the old guard or anyone associated with the third way.   To move forward is to work together and slowly build up bit by bit.  They do say that loss (which is the case of the right losing control of Labour) brings denial, anger, and acceptance so maybe Cohen, Toynbee, and the others on the Labour right are now on the second stage before realising the reality they now face.  

That is a party that needs re-building with fresh ideas, working together rather than fighting, and not looking back to the past.

The Downton Abbey effect on history

Nostalgia,” as George Ball the American diplomat once said “is a seductive liar.”  This is certainly the case with dramas such as Downton Abbey, Victoria, and the Crown.  They paint a different world that indicates a gentler more British way of life than today.  However the reality is different to the world that it portrays which is why it needs to be challenged lest the voices of those who really helped shaped our world are forgotten.

Downton Abbey in many respects is guilty of this and portrays for some nostalgists how they like to think Britain once was and still should be.  In that world the Lord of the manor smiles benevolently whilst those down under not only know their place but are happy with their lot.  If there are any problems  then the Lord of the manor will sort it out.

Looking at the period that Downton Abbey covers from the beginning of the twentieth century is a world away from what it was really like to work as a servant in those times.  For starters the servants world would consist of virtually working from the crack of dawn right through to the late hours of the evening.  There would hardly be any time to call your own and you certainly were not expected to be seen never mind tell their betters what problems you had.

Therefore it was not a surprise that the majority of servants were recruited from orphanages  from the other side of the country so that they had nowhere to run back to.  They were seen as chattel who were there to serve and certainly not to fraternize to the extent that the chauffeur marries the Earl’s daughter and is welcomed into the bosom of the family.

Robert Crawley would be more likely to say to his butler ‘As you know Carson, one likes to run a progressive household but damn it I wouldn’t be able to show my face at one’s club if the Chauffeur was my son-in-law.  So show the bolshy sort the door forthwith Carson my good man.’

If you were to believe the historical depiction of the Edwardian period in Downton Abbey it was a relatively peaceful one.  The British Empire was at its peak and although everything might not be perfect everybody seemed to be getting along. For sure the rich and the upper classes were enjoying the prosperity of the Edwardian golden age but life for the ordinary person was one of poverty, poor living and working conditions.  Just look at any pictures from that period.  The children are mainly bare-footed and dressed in tatty clothes.  The adults fare no better with most looking small and even malnourished.  The houses were slums and were unfit to live in that the life expectancy for working class people was low.

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Consequently it was not surprising that workers demanded improvements as they wanted fair pay, better living conditions, housing, education, to name but a few issues that anyone today would feel is a basic right.  The ordinary person era of that era had to fight for it that it was a turbulent period that frightened the political elite.

Now in the world of Downton Abbey there are no talks of soldiers being sent to Llanelli during the first national railway strike of 1911 who shot dead two strikers.  Nor of Churchill sending gunboats up the Mersey during the Liverpool 1911 Transport strike.  This was in response to riots that broke out after mounted Police had charged a 80,000 crowd at St. George’s hall who were there to listen to the Trade Unionist Tom Mann.  Thousands were injured with the Liverpool Echo at the time likening the scenes to revolutionary Paris of 1789.

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More strikes and unrest during that period between 1910-14 broke out across the country in places such as Hull and Belfast.  The period was one of uncertainty with workers fighting for a better more equal world.  For instance just look at the 80,000 crowd at St. George’s hall, Liverpool that it looks very similar to the Arab spring a few years back.  Yet this is never widely mentioned in history never mind someone making a drama of it.

Liverpool_transport_strike-1911

Recently there has been a spate of what can only be described as PR films for the Royal family such as Victoria, and the Crown.  These are lavish biscuit tin productions that belong in a Disney fairy story.

The stories are sold as young Queen’s who at times reluctantly have to make the tough decisions that they may not like to bring stability to the country.  Again it depicts that only the nobility have the grace, wisdom, and benevolence to rule the country.  There is nothing about the poverty and the wrongs of the British Empire.  Instead the ordinary people are there as a background as they sit back and listen to their betters.

Both ignore about whether having a Monarchy is actually democratic but instead portray the Monarchy as a positive good.  The aristocracy are born to rule whilst its subjects are there to serve.   It is an inconvenient truth that the upper classes did not want the working class to be educated nor did they feel that they were entitled to free health treatment.

All of this as well as better living conditions were fought for by workers and were given to appease the working classes lest they went one step further and overthrew them.

It is important that this is re-addressed otherwise history will be distorted from a view that the establishment want the world to be seen as.  Furthermore the real life stories such as the 1911 Transport strike is more dramatic and real than the lavish period dramas of Victoria biting her lip as she has to make a tough decision.

A drama like this would be more realistic of a Britain whose inhabitants were in poverty and fought for their basic rights.  The likes of Downton Abbey, Victoria, and the Crown are more about portraying the aristocracy in a better light and only shining a light on history that is more pertinent to them or simply cannot be ignored.

Maybe just maybe someone will make a drama of the ordinary, brave people who fought and helped to establish the NHS, education, and better living conditions that we are used to today.  After all the ‘Great unrest,’ from 1910-14 appears to be now a forgotten period of history when it’s stories deserves to be as much celebrated as well as giving an understanding of the world that we are in now.

In the thick of it for real

Capaldi-Addison

As Angela Eagle is about to launch her Labour leadership challenge you can picture Ollie Reeder of the Thick it racing frantically through the corridors like the Keystone cops trying to tell Eagle that a much bigger news story has broken as Andrea Leadsom calls a last minute news conference to declare she is no longer standing to be the Conservative leader.

Its too late though as Ollie crashes through the door only to see a awkward, gurning Angela Eagle calling out journalists who have long scarpered to a much bigger news story as with no challengers, Teresa May will not only be the new Tory leader but the new Prime Minister.

The last few months in politics seems to be a drama that would rival Kevin Spacey’s House of cards with the farce of the thick of it thrown in for good measure.  If anything Angela Eagle’s pitch to challenge Jeremy Corbyn has so far summed up the PLP’s attempted coup.  A half arsed attempt that has so far swerved from one calamity to the next.  So much so that the shadow chancellor John McDonnell joked at a pro Corbyn rally “that the only good thing about it, was that as plotters, they were fucking useless.”

Malcolm Tucker would have blown up by now at the inadequacy of the Labour rebels and the way the ‘rise of the nutters,’ as he would no doubt see the Corbynistas have ran rings around them.

With regards to the Labour rebels and the way they have acted there are so many faults that it’s hard where to start.  From the deluded arrogance of not understanding the mood of their own membership to their inability to pick an appropiate time and more importantly a candidate who could offer a realistic chance of challenging the Tories.

Like Boris Johnson the Labour rebels were probably hoping for a close vote to remain in the EU so that they could get the best of both worlds to get rid of Corbyn.  No doubt they would have cited the reason that they gave when the leave vote won that Jeremy Corbyn had not done enough.

There was no doubt that it all seemed pre-planned.  The “it’s with a heavy heart…” delete whatever job you currently held template that was sent en masse smacked of the attempt to pressurise Corbyn to step down as losing the support of his MPs.

Unfortunately there was a slight flaw in that plan in the sense that Corbyn knew that he didn’t have the full support of his MPs.  It wasn’t as if they had kept it a secret with the constant attempts at undermining him through the media that Corbyn and his supporters knew that an attempt would be made at his leadership.

So when the first bullets of “it’s with a heavy heart…” started to fly followed by attempts to strong-arm Corbyn in stepping down it was never going to happen.  Yes he might not have the support of most of his MPs but he had the support of the membership after his outright victory almost a year ago.

This was something that the Labour rebels seemed to have realised as they looked at ways at ensuring that Corbyn had to have enough nominations from Labour MPs to re-stand.  After much deliberating the NEC stated that Corbyn could be stand but then ruled that unless members had paid the full membership of £25 within the past six months rather than the £3 would not be eligible to vote.  Critics accused the NEC of social exclusion and attempting to restrict voting in an attempt to get the result that they wished.

All that has happened so far is a widening rift between the PLP and its members.  There are some who see their MPs as London-centric, careerists who are not in tune with their constituents.  The Guardian’s John Harris whilst conducting a survey regarding the EU vote summed up the mood the divide that seems to have engulfed the UK with a quote from a Manchester voter.   “If you’ve got money you vote in.  If you haven’t got money you vote out.”

Corbyn at the very least offers a different alternative from the austerity lite that his “it’s with a heavy heart…” opponents seem to prefer.  There is with Corbyn a voice that speaks for them but that’s not to say that there are those that are equally as cynical with Corbyn with concerns over immigration and the decline of their areas.

The rebel Labour MPs have never been seen to give Corbyn a chance.  Instead they have acted like spoilt kids when the trophy goes outside of their own little clique.  After all Corbyn was seen as the ‘token leftie,’ whilst they had to suffer the inconvenience of members deciding which of their faction should lead the Labour party.  Inevitably it came as an almighty shock that Corbyn not only won the vote but raced away with it.

Even then they couldn’t be seen to give Corbyn a chance and offer their full support and seemed only active in opposing Corbyn rather than the Conservative government.  This tawdry episode has done nothing to impress voters who watch such petulant antics and feel ever more alienated from the Westminster bubble.

The rebels are right in the sense that Corbyn won’t win Labour the next general election but equally neither will Angela Eagle or Owen Smith.  Neither as Toast of London would say has the “charisma,”or the appeal of offering not only something new but hope and the opportunity for a better country.  Instead of just offering their support and biding their time whilst they wait for the right candidate.  Even if Corbyn had led them to an election which he still might and doesn’t win they can then say that they gave it a chance and it was time for a new alternative.

Now after all the mutterings and sneakiness they have taken the first shot at Corbyn without any real thought.  They now face the prospect of Corbyn not only winning again but the threat of deselection at the next election.  In the words of Omar from the wire “If you come at the King, you best not miss.”

 

Labour leadership

It seems that Labour lost the election due to it not being able to connect with the ‘squeezed middle,’ of the marginal seats. The Observer in its editorial last week even declares that there is a devastatingly large gap between Labour and British voters.

It’s as though the party only has to move slightly to the right and this will be enough to win the next election in 2020. What the article and many within the New Labour hierarchy seem to have forgotten is that the problem is a lot more complex and deep rooted. In short its support is badly fractured.

This is a fact conveniently not mentioned in the Observer article that Labour was wiped out in Scotland and still doesn’t seem to be addressed. It was not just a urge for independence in Scotland that attracted voters to the SNP but its anti-austerity policies. In short they felt the SNP listened and represented the views that they have. Labour was seen as taking its support for granted and only realised when it was too late.

To even have any chance of winning the next election it would need a similar amount of seats that they got in England and Wales in the 1997 General Election to have any chance of forming a Government if they were not to win back the Scottish seats.

The problem isn’t just about trying to appeal to the middle ground but to assess its traditional support base. It’s about listening to their voice and concerns. Unfortunately the Labour hierarchy seem to be stuck in their own bubble which explains the sudden shock and surprise that Jeremy Corbyn is actually quite popular. The reason for this is that he has made it quite clear that he is against austerity and wants to try and bring about a fairer society.

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Liz Kendall have made a poor job of what they actually stand for. Indeed they sound quite stale with no hint of charisma or that they provide the party that they can provide a fresh change.

The fact that the mass hysteria in the media from within Labour at how bad it would be for the party if Jeremy Corbyn say’s a lot about the other candidates. That they have to try and smear rather than arguing about what they can bring to the party highlights the lack of talent. If anything the petulant refusal of some to be in a Corbyn shadow cabinet has probably only increased his support.

As it stands whoever wins the leadership election will find it tough to win the next election. With the support fractured and nobody really knowing what the Labour party stands for it is going to be difficult. The fiasco over the abstention of the welfare bill exemplifies this. If Labour are not going to defend the very people who voted for them then what precisely is the Labour party for?

Nothing what Jeremy Corbyn has said seems to be extreme.  Wanting big companies to pay their taxes fairly, workers to be treated and paid fairly, a good education for all, and a health service that doesn’t rely on how much money you have got seems to be the best way of producing a fairer and more caring society.

Even if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t win the new leader will need to address the concerns of it’s traditional support base.  It needs to make clear that it is a party that represents the needs of the majority and not the few.  The cuts (and certainly if you are under 25) are hurting a lot of ordinary people.  Labour’s job is to at least fight for these people who expect Labour to at least live up to it’s ideals.

Of course it is going to be difficult for whoever does become the leader simply because it’s not as simple as trying to appeal the marginal seats.  There is disillusionment within traditional Labour heartlands.  It was why some people voted for the Greens or UKIP because they felt Labour either didn’t listen to them or hold the same ideals.

The next five years are going to be difficult to try and win back the support.  However trying to outdo the Tories is not really going to help.  Indeed Labour may have to to ally themselves with the SNP and other anti-austerity parties whilst trying to bring about voting reform. Trying to be a party with a light austerity touch is not going to work. It’s hardly going to win back the seats in Scotland and only risks losing more it’s traditional support.

The Year that shook the world 1968

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The 1960’s was generally seen as the decade that brought about a lot of social change. However it was events in 1968 that made this more than apparent.   Indeed the generation gap between young and old had never been greater.

Many attribute this to the fact that the first grown up generation born during or just after the war. Critics believed that they were given a better insight into the events of the world thanks to radio and the new technology of television. Furthermore public education was becoming more widely attended and standardized. Added to which the world was becoming a much smaller place as people either mixed with people from different backgrounds or through television. It was a generation that was more self-aware and more united as a group than the generations before it.

Added to which this was the generation that was first brought up during the opening of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Consequently they were aware that a nuclear attack could end their world and consequently became more anti-war as a result.

There was also a big determination of equal rights throughout the 1960’s which also helped create this social movement. This was seen through the Civil rights movement and feminist movement.

In many respects it was an era of ideology of wanting to make the world a better and more equal one. Everything from music, fashion, and politics was seen as experimenting with something new and exciting. Even in the Eastern blocs there was focus for change. They too wanted a world of equality, free speech and something new from the lives of their Parents.

Although not all protests were successful it did bring around a change in social attitude and in many ways influenced the way we live in today. Below are some of the main protests of that year with the key at the bottom.

Prague Spring
Recently made First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party Dubcek wanted to bring in a wide range of policies which he ‘dubbed,’ ‘Socialism with a human face.’ Thus he launched an ‘action programme,’ of liberalisation including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, & movement as well federalizing the CSSR into two equal nations. The Soviets took a dim view of this as they feared it may weaken the Communist bloc during the Cold War. Consequently five countries from the Warsaw pact countries (Soviet Union, GDR, Bulgaria, Poland & Hungary sent in the tanks along with 200,000 troops entering the country. Despite protests the Soviets ensured that Dubcek was replaced by Husak to repeal the reforms with Dubcek given a job as a forestry official.

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Anti-war demo in Grosvenor Sq. gets heated
With the daily TV news beaming reports & graphic images of the US fighting the Viet. Cong into people’s living rooms, many people questioned the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Consequently protests (not just in the USA) but across the globe erupted with anti-war groups arranging demos. The trouble followed a rally in Trafalgar Square, when an estimated 10,000 demonstrated against US action in Vietnam.
Initially the mood at the rally was good-natured until the Police cordoned the US embassy in Grosvenor Square were the actress Vanessa Redgrave had earlier handed over a petition against the war.
Tensions rose as the crowd refused to back off and mounted Police charged at demonstrators. Bedlam then ensued as protestors broke through with a battle ensuing with the Police. Reports at the time spoke of protestors using their flags as spears by throwing them at the Police who in turn fought fiercely with protesters before finally dispersing them.

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Black Civil Rights Movement
Following the assassination of leading civil rights activist Martin Luther King in April 1968, a wave of riots broke out most notably Louisville, Baltimore, Washington, & Chicago were the City’s Mayor ordered the Police to shoot anyone in the act of looting or committing arson. The death of King saw the American black power movement become more militant in their fight for civil rights. It was during this period that the Black Panthers rose quite prominently which started the slow change in trying to end racial discrimination in America. There was controversy in the 1968 Mexican Olympics when the two Black American athletes Tommie Smith & John Carlos gave the black power salute on the podium after winning gold and bronze respectively.

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Anarchy French Style
Although the May protest of 68 could be deemed as a failure, the repercussions were seen as a water shed by the French. It saw a shift of Conservative morality to a more liberal morality which dominates French society today. The protest started out due to student protests of the political bureaucracy that controlled the Universities. Matters came to a head when the University of Paris was shut down by officials with the threatened expulsion of 7 students. On the 6th May over 20,000 students marched in protest towards Sorbonne University which had been closed by Police due to an earlier student protest. This turned into a full-scale riot with the Police’s heavy handedness making matters worse as the protest lengthened with the students getting support from the populous with large strikes and marches appearing to be bringing down the French Government to the point that the President De Gaulle had left the country. Instead workers returned back to work and De Gaulle won the following election in June.

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Tet Offensive
The Viet Cong made what is now known as the Tet. Offensive and although the US and the South Vietnamese claimed victory it was the world-wide media coverage that changed American opinion of the Vietnam War. In 1965 the majority of American’s were in favour of the war but as coverage of the war and most notably the Tet offensive were broadcasting television reports (with some critics calling it a “living room war,”) to millions of Americans and even the world, people were shocked at the brutality of the conflict and for the first time questioned why the USA was involved in a war that was no threat to the US. A wave of anti-war protests broke out in America and the world, eventually leading to the US withdrawal in 1973. The legacy of the war in terms of media coverage ensured that future Governments kept a tight rein on what the press covered lest that there should be a backlash.

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Key
dirzXb5i9= Socialism with a smile! angry man= Annoyed Soviet cold_war_pic_prague_russian_tanks_1968= Invasion

_38372519_1grovesnorbbc300= Mass protest Kaizer_Chiefs= I predict a riot british_police_helmet= Rozzers

maxresdefault= Fisticuffs imagesMTKTSW79= Let down untitled= Black Civil Rights Movement             imagesZW5R8RDS= Shock

428px-Red_flag_II.svg= Revolution vietnam helmet= Vietnam WarTV = Media coverage

!CDmOG9!CWk~$(KGrHqR,!iwE0FwCJVIbBNPIEEI2sQ~~_35= Black power salute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apathy In the UK, We don’t need no education, & Atletico Madrid

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Apathy In the UK

The recent Local and European elections saw all the major parties and UKIP claiming a victory of sorts. Labour declared that they had made significant gains which would win them the next election although polls predict they would be just short of a working majority. Meanwhile the Conservatives claim it was a decent result as Labour did not win enough of the vote as predicted. UKIP crowed that ‘the UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen-house.’ Needless to say they must have forgotten that a fox is seen as a shifty bastard with a hidden agenda but I digress. As for the Lib Dems, well it wasn’t all that some people did vote for them.

As always the truth is slightly different. Labour didn’t make the important gains needed to show that they are a force. The Conservatives votes and seats in the local elections were down whilst in the European elections they finished third behind Labour and UKIP.

Whilst UKIP despite talking about a ‘ruffling of feathers,’  gained no control of any local councils although they did make the most gains in the European elections. For the Lib Dems they were virtually wiped out and on this showing face near annihilation in next year’s election.

Despite all the analysis what seems to be overlooked is the actual turnout. Only just 36% bothered to vote in the local elections whilst in the European elections the figure was 34%.

On this basis nobody can claim any type of victory. Nearly 75% of the population did not bother to vote for any of these parties. It’s not just a case of people not being interested in politics but feeling completely disenfranchised.

Russell Brand in his interview with newsnight probably struck more of a chord when he stated that there was no difference between any of the major parties. They all have the same ideals and would be carrying out the same policies no matter who is in power.

This is precisely why people are turned off politics. Everything despite what happened with the banking crisis of 2008 is still all geared towards business. Austerity measures after all are seen as more to try and boost the economy.

For most people nothing is being done about the rising cost of living with wages remaining low. The rise of people using food banks is disturbing especially as some people are working all hours. Furthermore cuts to vital services and benefits are seeing people drop even further into poverty.

Job security is pretty grim with the rise of zero hour contracts and work fare on the increase. These are just some of the issues that the major parties are failing to address. It doesn’t help that  people think politicians are out of touch especially with the expenses scandal of recent times.

Much has been spoken about the 99% being ignored in favour of the rich 1% and it is certainly hard to argue against this opinion when the obsession is about how to remedy the economy for big business. It’s as though they think spreadsheets will feed people and improve living standards.

The electoral system needs a complete change to the first past the post. Proportional representation is something that should be considered. However the biggest challenge is that none of the major parties are offering any real alternatives. It still seems to be pretty much the same status quo. The only difference between the parties is the colour of the rosettes on their shiny suits.  Until the political system is changed and a party is prepared to represent the people and not the corporate businesses then the disillusionment will continue.  Indeed it could be argued that at present we just have a mirage of democracy.

Michael Gove ‘we don’t need no education.’

Once again Michael Gove shows himself to be narrow-minded by dropping US authors from the curriculum. Apparently he professes that he wants more focus on British authors particularly Dickens and Austen. As anyone who has read any of these tomes they are not exactly the easiest of works with some novels quite laborious.

It shouldn’t really matter were the author is from. Literature and indeed education as a whole is about opening people’s minds and allowing them to develop their own opinions. Reading such tomes as suggested by Gove is more likely to turn children off.

I wrote a while back on this blog about the perils of education is that you can be in danger of teaching how to pass an exam rather than understanding or even showing an appreciation of the subject. This to me is what will inevitable happen. The student will remember key themes and quotes to pepper the essay with rather than voicing a real opinion.

Cynics could argue that dropping the likes Harper Lee and Arthur Miller the Crucible is more to keep people ignorant rather than understanding the themes of prejudice and politics. I actually think Gove’s mindset is more old-fashioned in the sense that I believe Gove feels that English literature is being undermined by other foreign works. Furthermore I think there is an element of snobbery as the likes of Mice and Men is considered more childish by some critics.

Either way I think it is a depressing thing to do in terms of restricting literature. It should be about making it accessible and yes letting kids enjoy reading. Gove’s education policies are not about improvement but taking it back to were teaching rote is King.

Atletico Madrid gives hope

The Club side of the season has to be Atletico Madrid who have punched way above their weight in winning the La Liga and reaching the European Champions League Final. With Real Madrid and Barcelona vastly ahead of other La Liga sides in terms of money and resources it is an incredible achievement.

When Diego Simeone took charge Atleti were four points from the relegation places winning only five out of the sixteen games played. The first words that Simeone talked about was that Atletico was not about the individual but was for the club and the collective. Everybody had to work hard for the collective good.

These words were certainly taken on board as Atleti finished fifth and won the Europa League in 2012. The following season they won the Copa Del Rey beating Real Madrid and finishing third in the League.

This season the aim was a top four finish with many tipping Atletico as dark horses to win the Champions League. Whereas the league was largely considered to be between Real Madrid and Barcelona due to the gulf in resources between the two clubs and the rest of La Liga.

Atletico’s tactics is more of a counter-attacking style. Furthermore they normally wear teams down and as a result  ensure that they take advantage. Even half way through the season nobody not even the majority of Atleti’s fans expected Atletico to remain top. After all they have a relatively small squad and with European Cup football it was expected to take its toil.

Somehow though Atletico kept themselves up there although admittedly they did look like they were running out of steam. At times they were patching Diego Costa up who quite clearly wasn’t fit in both the Barcelona game and the Champions League final. This could also be said of Turan who had problems with his groin.

Nevertheless they managed to find some energy in the tank to snatch a draw at the Nou Camp to win the title against all odds. It was a well deserved title as Atletico were the best and most consistent team in La Liga.

Consequently they entered the Champions League Final with nothing to lose. A win would make this team immortal in Atletico’s history but even a defeat wouldn’t put a dent in a fantastic season.

As it was a scrappy goal from Godin (who incidentally had scored the equaliser against Barcelona) almost won the European Cup for Atleti who were two minutes away from victory. However Atleti’s legs had gone and they were holding onto the ropes until Ramos equalised. The 4-1 score line after extra time didn’t really reflect the result as Atleti didn’t have enough left in the tank.

Jamie Redknapp wrongly labelled Atleti as anti tika taka. Although their style is different nor is it a negative style. Atleticio know how to take teams apart when they are given the chance but also play to their strengths. The fact of the matter was they were running low on energy.

Personally apart from Souness I would have preferred having the Revista De La Liga team with Scott Minto, Graham Hunter, Terry Gibson and Guillem Balague who have more knowledge on Spanish football.

Either way Atletico have given other clubs hope such as Liverpool that with an excellent coach and a good team willing to work hard that you can win a major league, despite the obscene wealth of some teams. Personally it was a breath of fresh air to see someone else outside of Barca and Madrid win the league.

 

Brian Benjamin