7 January 2021
Diary of a Corbynista
Obeying with a few questions
by Don Urquhart
Today’s Guardian headline:
Dovetailing neatly with reductions in the foreign aid budget and a Brexit which many believe is aimed at reducing workers’ rights and making the rich richer, we are now officially a recipient of aid from other countries to feed our children.
As Richard Burgon says:
Britain is one of the world’s richest nations. UNICEF, for the first time ever, is now delivering emergency food to children here.
Poverty is a political choice. The Government could end UK child poverty by making the super-rich pay fair taxes. It refuses to.
Politics Live kicked off with Brexit. Jo Coburn asked should the Brexit deal live or die over fish. Baroness Fox told us that it’s not about whether the deal flounders over fish and Amber Rudd noted that fish has an important plaice in the negotiations. I guess they were picking up fivers from their acquaintances afterwards for doing this. The meaningful discussion added nothing to the sum of human knowledge but boy can that baroness rabbit on.
Socialists will tell you ad nauseam that they are at a huge disadvantage electorally because the mass media are owned top to bottom by the Tories. It’s not quite true. The Morning Star has been around for a long time but has low circulation and poor funding. For people like me it’s a good read but I just dip into it occasionally online. In the last few months I have been drawn increasingly to the YouTube journalists. Novara Media has the extraordinary Michael Walker with Ash Sarkar. The Canary is just getting into its stride. Kerry-Anne Mendoza interviewed Jeremy Corbyn – basically letting him talk. Owen Jones is a new boy on the YouTube block. Jury’s out. All of these worthy people are looking for funding and I reiterate an old theme – they need to cooperate rather than compete for the meagre spare cash of their would-be subscribers.
The Canary asks for a minimum of £5 per month. Owen Jones starts at £3 per month. Novara Media also starts at £3 per month. The Morning Star has a more sophisticated subscription structure starting at £4.99 per month. It is a newspaper rather than YouTube channel. The ByLine Times is also an online journal with subscriptions starting at £2.50 per month. The DoubleDown News starts at £2 + VAT per month. So to keep all of these good people going you are looking at £20+ per month. At some point they need to stop eating each other.
The Health Secretary is on Sophy Ridge and Andrew Marr denouncing as “totally irresponsible” people at St Pancras trying to get up North before the restrictions kick in.
It would have had more force if he or anyone one else on the Tory front bench had spoken in similar terms of Dominic Cummings earlier in the year.
Matthew Paris’ item in The Times complained that we are being nannied too closely in dealing with Covid-19:
This was commended to me by a friend, who was upset by my response:
We are all on our own because nobody trusts Nanny.
I feel good about the bounceback – I think people have been sitting at home, building up some savings hopefully and we would like to go and spend them when we get back.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer at the weekend.
Does he realise that there are 4.5 million children in poverty? A situation not improved by the government’s Eat Nowt to Help Out initiative on school meals – fortunately overturned by footballer Marcus Rashford.
Everyone I speak to has some anecdote about a situation where there was no attempt at social distancing. My wife for example went to Marks & Spencer yesterday for our Christmas order and had to organise the people around her generally finding them biddable. But she will not always be there and the M&S staff do not seem bothered.
That’s how the BBC reports it. All over the media there are archive photos of the Prime Minister burning the midnight oil at his desk, phone to hairy ear.
This will be reported as Boris sticking it to the foreigner and I guess the foreigners will report it the other way round. From what you can gather there will be several hundred pages kicking various cans down several streets. And it was probably concluded many weeks ago and only the optics mandated it must be presented as a hard fought bout going to the final bell.
The Future Relationship Agreement is a weighty document for MPs to wade through and vote on next week. I would find it easy – don’t vote for anything proposed by Johnson and his fellow shysters.
I listened to Louis Theroux interviewing Miriam Margolyes earlier this year. He asked her what she thought of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. She thought there was much more in the Tory Party and the shires. England was a nasty anti-Semitic country.
It seems that the Labour Party will vote with the government on the Brexit trade deal. I am reminded of an early Doctor Who episode in which the Time Lord impregnates some Daleks with the human factor. When instructed by the Dalek Emperor to exterminate, one of the humanised Daleks responds:
I obey… but not without question.
So, taking a forensic approach.
Parliamentary Labour Party… Daleks with the human factor?
A teacher friend has just tested positive, due she thinks to a symptomatic child being sent to school. It’s easy to blame the parents but the whole population is confused and suspicious given the hokey-cokey approach to lockdowns and the inability of our betters to follow their own rules. And although we have a world-beating vaccination plan, a Tel Aviv friend reports that by the end of today all Israelis over 60 will have been inoculated.
Starmer’s Dalek (I obey… but not without question) PLP is to be whipped to support the Brexit trade bill. There’s no rush – the European Parliament is due to ratify the treaty sometime in March. So the Labour Party has plenty of time to table amendments of all kinds such as guaranteeing workers’ rights, climate change compliance, security of tenure – the sort of thing that the party is supposed to stand for.
As I watch the Commons wave through Johnson’s Future Relationship Bill I have a disturbing insight – he and I have something in common. Many years ago I sold software and was doing quite well or so I thought. At my appraisal the MD started promisingly – Happy Customers!
If I had started to rub my hands together it would have been too previous.
Happy Customers and not surprising as the deals are always on their terms.
And so it is today as Tories vie with each other in obsequiousness proclaiming a magnificent achievement by their hero although all he has done is acquiesce with the EU agenda.
Laura Kuenssberg lobbed up some easy ones to the Prime Minister before pointing out that there was nothing in the unprecedented Trade Agreement about services. He told her that the EU had never operated a free market in services so nothing would be changing.
One area where things have improved is our entanglement with Middle Eastern terrorists. Thank goodness we no longer have to watch intimidated aid workers reading out propaganda scripts prepared by their captors.
That being said the Downing Street Press Briefings come close. Why else would Steve Powys tell us the Nightingale Hospitals are part of a contingency plan when he must know they will never be used? For one thing we do not have the staff.
According to the Daily Telegraph :
Nightingales will not have enough nurses to help overwhelmed hospitals, nursing boss warns.
So the Department for Education wants children back in school, the London Mayor and the National Education Union disagree. It is heavily rumoured that SAGE is advising keeping the schools closed, but the usual scientific suspects are conspicuous by their absence when the government is clearly not following the science.
Andrew Marr suggested to the Prime Minister that SAGE appeared to be in favour of keeping schools closed. Johnson explained that there were differing views among scientists. So much for being led by the science. An hour after he was off our screens the National Education Union hosted the UK’s largest ever online Zoom meeting – 400,000 people among whom the consensus view was that many more people would die should the schools be forced to re-open too soon.
I spoke to a teacher who works in a London comprehensive. She is relieved that schools will be closed until half term but still expects to be going in every day for the disadvantaged and key worker children. There is an upside in that GCSE’s and A levels are cancelled. Not only does this remove a cause of anxiety, it also gives schools the opportunity to educate rather than teach to the test. Could this be one of the positive aspects of New Normal resulting from the pandemic?
The media give us the true victims of the pandemic:
The businessmen not getting enough of a bung from the Chancellor;
The Home Counties couples whose holiday plans are disrupted;
The tragic parents forced to talk to their children or turf them out into their spacious back gardens.
Thank goodness they do not dwell on the multigenerational households where the terms of employment of the breadwinners send them to work regardless of what plague they are suffering and transmitting.