Andy Coulson in the shit

The shit really hit the fan for Andy Coulson today, Labour bloggers calling it their McBride moment, Tory bloggers den(l)ying about ever knowing him. Guido asking whether he will survive the “Labour dominated DCMS Select Committee”. So it won’t be as easy as being in the (Mur)dock!

Alistair Campbell expects little from the Press Complaints Committee, but then this might be realistic since we’ve all come to expect this from most of the press. I feel sorry for the good press(cott).

Cameron was relaxed, but clearly too relaxed, and too early on for his party’s Director of Communications & Planning.

Bob Piper expected the sound of silence from the Tories, how wrong he was, for now silence is drowned out by the sound of s(p)in and dry repentance.

And as for Dale, he, after accusing the Guardian of targeting Coulson, is unable to eat his words tonight, leaving his readers with a free space to poke fun.

Coulson’s hands are up, and his flag is white, and all us folk who knew that it was only a matter of time before the Mur(ky)doch leeches and the filth-laden Tories proved to us once and for all that they were unclean. Not cool ol’ son, Coulson.

(This entry was made with attempted NotW-esque puns)

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The new Speaker and the Poles: Another bad night for the Tories

Its been on the cards for a bit, but the Tories, and David Cameron, are going to lead a new right-wing fringe group known as the European Conservatives and Reformists, the Guardian reports.

The Tories have taken themselves out of the centre-right EPP on a anti-federalist ticket, while Cameron has told other conservatives not to listen to Ken Clarke – known for his Europhilia –  who told BBC1’s The Politics Show that: “If the Irish referendum endorses the treaty and ratification comes into effect, then our settled policy is quite clear that the treaty will not be reopened.”

As the article in the Telegraph explains “Mr Clarke’s comments confirms that there is a serious shadow cabinet split on Europe”.

But this Tory split will not be the major focus for the next couple of days, since Conservative candidate John Bercow has tonight been voted new Speaker of the House of Commons, beating his nearest opponent Sir George Young by 322 to 271 votes.

Tories have been hard-pushed not to express their disgust at the winner. Already rumours are circulating that “Tories have been muttering about running a candidate against him at the general election, or trying to vote him out of office at the next election.”

Further in the above Guardian election run-down by Andrew Sparrow, he notes that “My colleague Michael White, who was in the chamber, says it was striking how little applause Bercow had from the Tory benches.”

And Michael Crick for the BBC, re-told this story;

A Labour MP was standing in the House of Commons gents and found himself standing next to David Cameron.

“For the first time in my life,” admitted the Labour MP, “I voted for a Conservative today”.

David Cameron inquired which of the Speaker candidates he meant.

“John Bercow,” replied the MP.

“He doesn’t count,” said Mr Cameron.

Is this the anti-Tory vote, as Sparrow asks?

The New Statesman attests to the Bercow vote as being, against all odds, a vote for the “most progressive candidate …. [s]tate-educated, and someone who sends his own children to state schools, he is no longer regarded as “one of us” by his party colleagues”.

But in an Guardian editorial, also on the left, and also against all odds, seemed to back Young, saying “His background will put many off and he shared his party’s opposition to freedom of information when Labour brought it in. Against that he has a dry resilience that could make him a tougher and more radical Speaker than his grandee status suggests.”

As for me, I was with Bob Piper and the anybody but Young vote (I do believe he was being sarcastic).

I suppose part of me didn’t want to see London oust another member of the working class in a political role for an Etonian that has a history of saying twatish things (when Housing Minister Young once joked that ‘the homeless are the sort of people you step over when you come out of the opera’.)

But I suppose at the end of the day the right person won. His Monday Club history well behind him, his willingness to reform the commons, and especially, his ability to get co-Tories all worked up.

So while Cameron mourns the Tories defeat (too far?) to a moderate, William Hague makes his position clear on the new European friends of his party;

“Hague dismissed “out-of-date and ill-informed” criticisms that Poland’s Law and Justice party was homophobic. “The Law and Justice party is a party committed to be against discrimination, for equality under the law,” he told the BBC.”

The same party that, in the run-up to 2005 elections, “accused gay and lesbian couples “of being a cultural and even biological threat to the Polish nation, lowering the birth-rate, and imperiling (sic) what ultra-conservatives lovingly call “natural law marriage and family.”

It seems that in an odd reversal, the Tories are reinvigorating a cross-European Monday club.

The BNP is far-right!: My two cents

(I shall start controversially – ) Modern day Francoist Daniel Hannan said today in his blog regarding the pro-Euro bias of the Financial Times and his reaction to their assumption that the BNP takes votes from the Tories;

“How often do we have to go through this? Even the New Statesman admits that the BNP is to the Left of Labour.”

How to define the politics of the BNP is talk of the day, and in the blog world has Tim Montgomerie (amongst others, Hannan included) saying the BNP are “if not a Far-Left political organisation, then one that should not be identified as belonging to the Far-Right.” Montgomerie had planned to write a letter to the BBC asking for it to properly define the BNP. On the other side, Sunny Hundal – blogger of the year – has said he too will draft a letter explaining why the BNP is far-right (although nothing has been written as yet).

I, writing on the comment section of Liberal Conspiracy, offered this to the debate;

“It would not be controversial to say that socialism is an economy under which the state fully owns the means of production (with rough appeals to protectionism in some cases), which means it can be appropriated with ideas that stem from either left or right. The sense of the word socialism that I would use to describe myself includes the economic theory above, along with social policies on gender equality, democracy, human rights etc etc. This places me to the left.

The reason the BNP can adopt a similar looking economical outlook to a leftist, and be far-right, is because it appropriates this with social policies such as foreign person repatriation, gender inequality (they haven’t mentioned it too much – to my knowledge – but the FN in France – close allies – will pay women to stay at home and not be employed), homophobia, antisemitism and/or holocaust denial.

Any attempt to define the BNP as far left, is to suddenly forget that the party is not the sum of its economic policies, which just happens to have parallels with some leftist measures.”

I also commented on an entry made by Bob Piper, who said “Fascists are fascists to me. If you put lipstick on a pig…”

My comment was this;

“I’ve heard the word(s) ethno-nationalist being used to describe them, but what it was that positioned these groups to the right – despite of their economics – is their fetishisation of nation politics, and traditional outlooks on certain institutions. Despite what some political writers like John Gray and others say, the terms left and right DO still mean something in our day. WE just all need to remind ourselves what they mean to go any further with this argument”.

The word “ethno-nationalist” was considered by two leftwing writers in a piece explaining what the leadership of Nick Griffin would do to the political spectrum of the BNP.

I still cannot find the name of these writers but they had written a piece in the New Left Review (I think!?!?). Their point was where to position themselves when attending marches or protests, or even meetings about how to strategically deal with the BNP from a leftist perspective. They had become concerned about how engaged leftist criticism was towards the BNP since the bulk of it was to write the BNP off lock, stock and barrel as crypto-Nazi’s.

The writers could not help think that, though the case may be made for the BNP being secretly Nazi, critics should at the very least engage with the change Nick Griffin has brought to the party, from overt, fascist saluting, Hitler fancying John Tyndall, to a relatively more moderate party in suits concerned about economic migration and dwindling Christian values.

What is interesting about their piece, was that their radical conclusion at the time was that the BNP, like them or loathe them, were not a Nazi party, or an extreme-right party, but a far-right party, which shared sentiments with other European far-right parties (such as Le Pen’s FN) without actually and/or overtly praising Hitler. The BNP acted upon, not an established international political ideology such as Conservatism or Nazism, but how they perceived the best way to express their patriotism in the 21st century (which has been met with correct repudiation by such tag lines as: BNP is not British).

The terms left and right in political theory are said to date back to the French Revolution, and indeed terms such as far-right were designed to imply ultra-royalists, conservatives and counter-enlightenment thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre and Louis Gabriel Ambroise de Bonald who felt that Good could conquer Evil, the monarchy were the pillar of Good in France, and Conservatism could counter the more pluralistic charges of enlightenment philosophy. These thinkers have been held as “good conservatives” over the years, by some less-than-palatable conservative thinkers. Which does prove difficult when trying to bracket the BNP in this corner. If the BNP are far-right, do they have to qualify as “good conservatives”? Certainly those modern-day Tory thinkers don’t think so, who refuse to accept the BNP are in any way right wing for the sole reason as “I am right wing, and I don’t recognise anything the BNP are doing to be for ourselves”.

Of course, this argument proves fatal (and rest assured, looking at other comments replying to Tim Montgomerie’s or Sunny Hundal’s entries, these arguments are circulating).

Take a look at Sam Swerling. He was once a member of the Conservative Party, and formerly a Councillor on Westminster City Council. He was also an original member of the Conservative Democratic Alliance. Of late, he had been an activist for the BNP.

Take a look at Edgar Griffin. He was once a freemason, and after that a Tory councillor, and then vice-president in Wales for Iain Duncan Smith’s party leadership campaign. He was sacked after it was revealed he was assisting with the campaigns of the BNP, of whom his son, Nick Griffin, is the leader.

Take a look at Matthew Single. He was the man who was charged with leaking the names and addresses of the BNP activists. He started his political life in Ukip, a party that has comparable policies to the right-wing of the Tory party (lets see, erm, Norman Tebbit!!).

There are many more examples of conservative elements becoming expressed within the BNP, and not conflicting with their core principles. But so far this only proves there is an appeal to the BNP by very right wing conservativism. It does not suggest they are indefinitely on par with one another.

After all, a hot topic for the BNP is immigration, and recently the Dutch Socialist party created a policy opposing high amounts of economic migration for its opposition to free movement of labour, adding that such an initiative is the logic of capitalism.

So there are certain agenda’s of the BNP that do not have an obvious left/right homebase (and here I am reminded of a National Front tag I once saw whilst in a phone box in Southend: We are not right as opposed to left, we are right as opposed to wrong). And these agenda’s could be as high a priority for the BNP as immigration.

But the Dutch Socialist Party do not oppose immigration on the grounds of xenophobia, or even how the Northern League in Italy conduct their dislike of foreigners, an appeal to historical tradition, suggesting that;

“We,” hints [party founder Umberto]Bossi, “are the heirs of small local authorities [The party’s symbol, il Carroccio, represents a cart drawn by oxen, around which foot soldiers would gather to fight in medieval city-states. The warrior depicted on its logo is Alberto da Giussano, who defeated the emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1176] who have always fought against foreigners.” (see rest of article, here)

This is not the reason why the Dutch Socialist Party oppose economic migration, but it is the BNP’s reason – its an (Celtic-esque) appeal to history of defending ethnicity from the foreign invader. The reason why the BNP are far-right is because they juggle xenophobia, nationalism and race pride in order to serve an outmoded historical justification for fighting the foreign enemy. And for those of us who travel to or from London to Essex via Barking, are reminded of the link the BNP has with this mode of thinking, with graffiti showing the celtic cross under a huge white painted slogan: BNP (although obscured now, I think, by scaffolding, perhaps put up by American labourers).

At the heart of the BNP’s main aims, is reactionary conservatism, and with a closer look at where these terms come from, we realise that this expression would have been originally defined as far-right. And so it remains.

So why are people getting their knickers in a twist over whether the BNP are right wing or not? Its obvious; some, if not most of the BNP’s latest publicity has been about the downturn of capitalist economies, from their attempts to hi-jack the Ford/Visteon workers feuds, to expenses (pigs in the trough etc etc). And these are notions normally taken up by the left (though no confusion of political positions were entertained when Sarkozy told the world that capitalism was failing, or when Merkel told her infamous anti-capitalist joke: “What’s the difference between Communism and Capitalism? Communists nationalised companies first before running them.”)

A report by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis points out that a feature of the far-right is to exploit economic downturn. The report adds;

“These “accusatory” tactics are employed to draw new recruits into rightwing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs.”

Its no secret that the BNP targeted areas with dwindling Labour support (like my own. In fact the BNP had a campaign called “Target Basildon”) and they are aware that overtly fascist policies will turn away most voters (they didn’t do quite as well as they wished in Basildon, because of a concerted effort by the other parties to remind voters of what the BNP really stood for), so they not only moderated their message to make it seem more palatable and family friendly, but they intertwined it with messages that would appeal to workers locked in economic downturn.

My final word on the matter, the BNP more or less fit neatly into the category of far-right with their reactionary, and ethnocentric view of history. Their policies on immigration and the economy (which have moderated relatively since their early days and from their National Front split) seem to be more strategic, and more to do with the image change to appeal to more voters.

The occasional reference to Le Pen’s National Front Party will help; to secure electoral appeal they modify their policies on ridding the foreign enemy, be it the Jews, the Turkish, or Muslims in general. It’s strategic, and it gains votes (from voters who often may find solice in the simplest answers, i.e. immigrants are the reason the economy is failing, etc etc). Their ethnocentric and reactionary reasons for doing such a thing are what makes a political party far-right.


An alternative manifesto

It was not too much of a surprise over the weekend to see the Tory undead wake from their slumber to criticise David Cameron on his decision to remove the Conservatives from the European People’s Party, and shift to the non-attached – that murky layer utilised by detached fascists and cretinous cro-magnon (the sophomoric, the asinine yada yada).

I was hardly surprised at the time because I knew there were mildly pro-European Tories, and that even the likes of Ken Clarke didn’t like the sound of those “neo-fascists” and “cranks”.

But Bob Piper’s slating of Jackie Ashley’s article on a centre left coalition made me think about the weekend reporting again. If, as Piper states against Ashley’s thinking, those “centre-right Cameroonies” look to be as congruent with any Lib-Lab centre, does this not mean that the government and the opposition have both moved into a political no man’s land?

For sure Cameron doesn’t belong in that strata of coalition for he doesn’t fit the criteria given by Ashley, that of “pro-welfare, mildly pro-European and support[ing] constitutional reform, including PR”. But certainly some Tories do fit this bill.

So how did this remind me of the weekend reports; there operates in Cameron’s Tories a sagging group of grump’s that don’t conform to his vision, those that I once thought occupied the right of the Tory party. But I’m having second thoughts. Perhaps it is Cameron who is on the traditional right of the Conservatives, and a wallowing group, maybe even unbeknownst to them, have shifted naturally to that point Piper identifies as being the space occupied by “Jackie Ashley, Martin Bright, Polly Toynbee and the rest of the chattering classes on their cocktail circuit.” The point where elections seem pointless since all major parties meet head on there.

To be sure, if Piper is correct – and I really rather suspect he is – that all party rebels are in the same shoes (dwindling in that so-called “centre”), the two main party leaders – Brown and Cameron – are to the right of them.

Which means that a space needs filling on both the left of those leaders, and of that political no mans land that occupies that so-called “centre” (but which I suspect is just a meeting of “unrelated solutions” as Piper has it), and since Nick Clegg is the political homo sacer, that left space can be filled by someone of the Labour Party willing to trump the wrongdoings of the last 20 or so years…