Overall, we know about as much about what’s going on as when as we did when I woke up eight hours ago.
Things we do know: the Lib Dems got screwed, probably by the sustained 2-week barrage of media lies about them.
Troll-like ex-home secretary Charles Clarke lost his seat, which is delightful.
Pro-science campaigner and all-round good egg Evan Harris lost his seat, which is a terrible shame (bad work, Oxford people).
And although the Tories have cleaned up in the Home Counties and the Midlands, Labour have mostly held London.
The Tories are trying to subvert the constitutional convention that the sitting PM has the first right to try and form a parliament. This makes them scumbags, and the complete and utter opposite of anything that might be described as ‘conservative’.
Finally, the appalling Hazel Blears kept her seat in Salford (where they weigh the Labour vote) albeit with a 10% swing to the Lib Dems, so I don’t have to drink a bottle of Scotch and streak through Sydney. Which is probably just as well.
Update: excellently, we have our first Green MP, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion. Revoltingly, Zac Goldsmith has won Richmond Park. If your feelings towards Zac Goldsmith include anything other than disgust and hatred, there is something wrong with you.
Not sure if these are downloadable, but listening on the radio I was really struck by the difference between Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s speeches on winning their constituencies.
Mr Brown is in the wrong job, and needs to resign tomorrow no mater what the final results, but the speech was heartfelt, interesting, passionate and genuinely moving.
Mr Cameron sounded like the kind of personality-free senior manager who gives corporate Powerpoint presentations that mean nothing, are full of waffly buzzwords, are delivered with intensely loatheable smugness, and generally make you want to die.
I don’t think I could stand living in a country where someone that personally dislikeable (which Gordon Brown, for all his faults, isn’t – you might hate his politics and/or his competence, but I genuinely can’t imagine anyone disliking the man, personally, on meeting him) was main national figurehead and spokesman. So I suspect I’ll be out here for a fair while then…
It’s lovely to see Peter Robinson, the head of Northern Ireland’s DUP (the Paisley-ite, hardline Unionist party), losing his Belfast East seat to non-sectarian Alliance candidate Naomi Long. Anything which makes NI less sectarian-driven has to be a good thing…
The thing which makes it even funnier, by which I mean “if I was properly awake I’d literally be rolling on the floor with laughter”, is that insane ultra-Unionist blogger David Vance (of A Tangled Web and Biased BBC ‘fame’) won 1856 votes, presumably from people who felt that Mr Robinson didn’t hate the Micks enough. Ms Long’s majority over Mr Robinson was only 1533.
In other words, by attracting crazy sectarian bigots with his crazy sectarian bigotry, David Vance has actually made Northern Ireland a less crazy, sectarian and bigoted place. Hahahahaha!
I’ve been challenged to state what policy goals I’d actually favour:
* Unlimited migration of people with A-level equivalent qualifications, or any non-academic skills in demand (defined as “more than no job adverts specify this, and it can be quantified”) in the country of relevance.
* Equal tax on all “getting more assets”, whether house, work, parental snuffing it, or whatever, with an exemption for “appreciation in price of a house you haven’t yet sold”. With a gbp10,000 per year minimum limit before you pay any at all.
* Annual 10% cut in NHS budget, applying NICE’s calculations to treatment rather than just drugs. “You’re going to die in six months no matter what we do? Well, here’s a kilo of prescription heroin, enjoy it whenever you prefer, but don’t bother us at the hospital again.”
* Legalisation and taxation of all drugs.
* Massive relaxation of “IP” law, based on the fact that the entire concept of intellectual property is insane made-up nonsense. All copyrights and patents will last for 20 years maximum, to be granted only if the applicant can demonstrate to the government’s satisfaction that this special favour will do good for society at large.
Whilst I’m not quite willing to go to dsquared’s levels of defence of unpopular bands, I can’t quite believe that in my last, trolly, incoherent post the only thing I’ve so far been picked up on is suggesting that Paul McCartney’s solo output is better than John Lennon’s. That wasn’t part of the trolly incoherence – it’s just an obvious truth. Even if you’re a Lennon-ist, you have to base that on the conjecture that he contributed more than Paul to the Beatles, because nobody could possibly class any solo track by John Lennon as anything other than “disappointment”.
Paul McCartney recorded this:
…and this, which is also an alternative theme song for this blog:
Paul McCartney was always my favourite Beatle. Not only because of his superior songs, although Jet is better than any of John Lennon’s solo output. But also because he never followed the absurd craze amongst arty types of “pretending not to be middle-class” (this is a middle-class home, whatever Mr Lennon’s pretensions).
Today, I’ve been mostly riled by Internet-ists playing the “prolier than thou” game. A Twitterist entitled @MediaActivist believes that capitalism is evil and should be abolished, not regulated. He also believes that he doesn’t have enough to eat. The latter isn’t just lies, it’s offensive, mad, patronising lies. Thanks to the combination of capitalism and socialism that has prevailed in the UK over the last 100 years, everyone has enough to eat. Anyone who says otherwise on the Internet is talking shit [*].
I very much like Laurie Penny‘s writing, but it often falls into the same trap. Ms Penny is poor because she’s chosen to be: she has a degree from a respectable university, and hence could easily, were she into such things, get a horrible job as an accountant, IT project manager, recruitment consultant, or similar. The reason she’s got no cash is because she’s – completely reasonably, because working as a junior accountant, project manager or recruiter is horrible – decided to live in a rats-and-roaches share-house whilst making it in the media. I did the same thing 10 years ago; sadly, the lure of “no rats and no overdrafts” seduced me to the dark side.
People sometimes slate writers like Ms Penny for their privileged background. They should be boiled in oil. The point isn’t the background, and if you judge anyone by their background then you’re a worthless prick. The point is that, if you’ve got half a brain and the right to reside in a developed country, you are unspeakably and amazingly economically privileged, whether your dad was the Duke of Canterbury or a tramp.
If you’re capable of participating coherently in a debate about poverty, whilst having the unqualified right to reside in a developed country, then you’re not poor, even if your income’s a fiver a year. The only people who are really poor in the UK are the people who aren’t capable of participating in such a debate. We need to do more for those people at the margins of society, but that has absolutely cock-all to do with how the majority of people who’re basically middle-class [**] live.
Relatedly, this is you, me, and everyone else reading this post:
Unrelatedly, give money to these people. Also, whenever the UK next has a government, write to your MP and point out that it’s a revolting, unspeakable state of affairs that over a million British citizens don’t have abortion rights, purely because we’ve left the lunatic theocrats on both sides of lunatic theocracy to it rather than saying “no, fuck off, this isn’t a game, be sensible”.
[*] the only UK citizens who don’t have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc are people who are too challenged by whatever disabilities they suffer from to claim the benefits that otherwise mean that all UK citizens have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc. And someone who’s a coherent Twitter activist does not fit into that bracket. Many non-citizens are screwed, and I don’t believe they should be, but that’s a separate point and it’s to do with racism rather than capitalism versus socialism.
[**] spurious ‘75%’ stat removed. I’m willing to defend the proposition that on any sensible indicator, 50%+ of British people can be described as ‘middle-class’.
So there’s yet another alcohol-bashing study out. This one says [*] that sports stars’ drunk behaviour has no impact on young adults’ drinking behaviour (that’s ‘over 18s’, or ‘legally responsible adults’), but that alcohol marketing does.
This isn’t surprising. Of course alcohol marketing makes people drink more of the brand being marketed, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. But we need people to research things that seem obvious from time to time, because sometimes we find out that what we think we know is wrong. So, decent study, worth funding, all good.
“There’s always been a link made between alcohol and sport… the detrimental effects of that, in the same way as there was previously between cigarettes and sport,” Professor Kolt said.
Err, no. The difference is that smoking, full stop, is harmful. Alcohol consumption below 30 units (300ml of alcohol; 15 pints of bitter) a week has not been demonstrated to do harm, even compared to not drinking at all, and you need to get up to 50+ units before the risks of morbidity or mortality are substantially higher than for non-drinkers.
Unless the study shows that the impact of alcohol marketing is to encourage people aged 18-22 to drink more than 30 units a week, then it’s only of interest to alcohol marketers, and not to policymakers. And if they had found that, they’d most certainly have put it in the press release…
The problem with this kind of alcohol research (i.e. social science on consumption behaviour, rather than epidemiological science on health outcomes) is that nearly all the work commissioned and published by public bodies is carried out by miserable puritans who hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun. This is because researchers who don’t hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun work for drinks companies instead: they pay better, you get a free bar after work, and you don’t have to hang out with people from the first group.
But drinks companies tend to keep their studies private, because they don’t want their rivals to see them…
Therefore, the general pattern in the public arena is that some people will create a report which actually shows mildly interesting things about how people like to consume alcohol – but because of the prejudices of the people who’re writing it, the abstract and the PR make groundless accusations about negative impacts on disorder and health. And then the media reports the groundless accusations as “a study has concluded that”, and the public debate is ratcheted slightly further towards miserable puritanism.
[*] I have no idea what the study says. The above is what the press release says; the press release features quotes from and has been approved by the study’s main authors, and is what will shape the public debate.