...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 3558: Mr Potato Ed

Tuesday (again):

And so the party assembly has anointed the younger son of the aging communist to be the next leader. But enough about the Labour Party, let's talk North Korea

No, no, no, let's talk about Mr Ed Millipede, the Ed Boy, the Big Ed, Ed and Shoulders, Ed's you Lose Tails we Win [that's enough "Ed's", er, Ed]

He says he wants a NEW politics, a GROWN-UP politics, and he doesn't like being called names [oops!].

Well here's your FIRST challenge, Mr Ed. If you don't like name-calling, then tell your chums to stop with the "Con-Dem-Nation", okay?

All summer, your Party has been hooting like a chorus of gibbons in full cry with "Traitor" and "Gerrymander" the FIRST resort in any argument. You NEED to tell them to stop. You need to tell them to GROW UP. And you need to do it SOON if anyone is going to believe you have authority over your rabble.

Grown up politics ISN'T saying "don't call me names; you smell!" It's putting your own childishness aside FIRST, and asking others to join you.

Look, the Coalition are DOING the new politics.

So either you get on board, or you stay in your playground with your "I've got my own new politics too, so nerr".

Because, believe it or not, it WOULD BE terrific to welcome you on board. If you're willing to contribute IDEAS rather than JEERS then there is a place for you at the table.

You say, for example, on the economy that the plan of outgoing shadow chancellor Mr Alistair Dalek is a place to start; you say that you won't oppose ALL the Coalition cuts. Okay. So lay out the things that you think SHOULD be cut. HELP the Coalition to form a plan that is FAIR.

You say, for example, that our politics is broken and that you will vote yes to AV; well, hello, but Captain Clegg's been saying that ALL YEAR – would one little "I agree with Nick" hurt that much? You should be getting your Party to campaign as a whole for reform, and you should stop with the opposition for opposition's sake about the size and number of seats. Everyone knows that the system is biased in your favour, and you just look selfish and partisan when you whinge about your advantage being cut. Drop it, and you'll look more mature and statesperson-like overnight.

And you say that some of the political figures from history whom you admire most are Keynes, Lloyd George, Beveridge; you should probably be straight with people and use the "L" word.

Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian.

Er, no, you should use "Liberals".

During your leadership election campaign you spoke of "exterminating the Liberal Democrats"; and how VERY not in keeping with your heart-warming story of your parents flight from the Nazis, I am sadly forced to add. You've really got to get over that.

And then you say:
"I won't let the Tories or the Liberals take ownership of the British tradition of liberty"
Well, begging your pardon Mr Millipede, but if you think you can "take ownership" of Liberty (like you used to think you would "take ownership of the means of production" before you jettisoned those principles) then you're DEAD WRONG.

Liberty isn't yours to take. It belongs to ALL of us, and the Liberal Democrats exist to protect it, not possess it.

You say that too often your Party seemed too casual about Civil Liberties.

You're DEAD WRONG about that too.

You weren't CASUAL; you set about DELIBERATELY to DESTROY some of our ancient liberties and protections.

  • Freedom from being locked up without trial;
  • freedom to go about our business without intrusion by the state – whether it's being watched by CCTV wherever we go, or retaining our DNA even if we're innocent, or fingerprinting and database-ing our kids;
  • freedom to just LIVE without having to prove our identity to the state.

And you PERSONALLY voted very strongly for introducing I.D.iot cards, very strongly for allowing ministers to intervene in inquests, and very strongly for Hard Labour's anti-terrorism laws.

And you PERSONALLY voted very strongly for a stricter asylum system; how VERY not in keeping with your heart-warming story of your parents' flight from the Nazis, I am sadly forced to add. AGAIN.

I will say I am GLAD to hear what you had to say about IRAQ (even if your brother wasn't).

I've heard members of your party saying they're glad to admit it was a "mistake". Iraq was NOT a mistake. Letting the gap between rich and poor get larger was a mistake (in the sense it was not the INTENTION of your policies it just happened in spite of them); arguably allowing the banking bubble to blow the economy to pieces was a mistake (you certainly didn't MEAN for it to happen, though it was highly negligent to carry on wishing that that boom would never end with not plan B in case it did); but Iraq was not a mistake. It was quite deliberate and it cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

I've heard your deputy, Harriet the Harminator, saying the Iraq War was wrong merely because there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction found. That is NOT good enough. Let us be quite clear: the ONLY justification in international law for war is an attack or imminent threat of an attack. "Intention to attack" was the Monkey-in-Chief's PRETEXT for the war (and a PRETTY THIN pretext it is too, basically: "well he MIGHT attack us one day"). The presence of WMD's would have been NECESSARY but not SUFFICIENT evidence that Mr Saddam meant to attack us.

So I am GLAD that you went much further than that, that you said the War was WRONG (not a "mistake") and that you laid out (some) reasons why it was wrong, even if your reasons don't go as far as mine.

And I think we can give you the benefit of the doubt on the "I was against the War but just didn't tell anybody". It's a stupid line, but we appreciate the need for a new leader to save face here. After all, we allow Mr Balloon a similar measure of benefit of the doubt.

I'm afraid I'm much LESS glad to hear your not-so-very-coded language on IMMIGRATION.

You say:
"All of us heard it on the doorsteps about immigration. Like the man I met in my constituency…"
Just activate your Mr Balloon Quote-o-matic, why don't you.

"I don't believe either that we can turn back the clock on free movement of labour in Europe. But we should never have pretended it would not have consequences. Consequences we should have dealt with."
How VERY not in keeping with your heart-warming story of your parents' flight from the Nazis, I am sadly forced to add. YET AGAIN.

You're in DESPERATE DANGER of turning the clock back. Do the lessons of the Labour Losership campaign mean nothing to you? Did Diane Abbot die in vain?

It's NOT about immigration, it's about JOBS, it's about HOUSING, it's about SERVICES. You NEED to keep the focus there and not slip into SCAPE-GOATING and the proto-xenophobia that follows.

Let's not get carried away and pretend that it was a GOOD speech. It was all a bit:
"Friends, Romans, Dinosaurs, lend me your ears; I come not to bury New Labour nor to praise it, but to do BOTH"
A ritual denunciation of the ancien régime while praising the Party for all their achievements in government. Praise for the Party for their victories in the election against Lord Cashcroft against the British Nasty Party, and then a sharp reminder of how BADLY they did in the election. A slap for the Left-wing Unions to prove to the Right-wing Press whose whipping boy you are. Er, aren't. (The battle is a BIT lost before you start if they can force you to denounce the unions who elected you inside of three days from your election.) You've clearly learned from Hard Labour's summer that the way for you to do best is to be as nebulous as possible so people can read any protest they like into your vacuousness. Your delivery was dreadful but you did the necessary.

I'm afraid I can't bring myself to TRUST you at your word. You've reneged on too many policies, adopted too many all-things-to-all-people positions, and you're frankly just too SYNTEHTIC.

So, I'm going to call you "Mr Potato Ed" because just as Mr Balloon looks like an empty plastic bladder with a smile drawn on it, so Mr Potato Ed could be a lumpy vegetable with a random collection of replaceable plastic expressions pinned to the outside. Don't like the Iraq War hat and I.D.iot card spectacles? Never mind, just swap them for a Civil Liberties bow tie and some sticky-out mea-culpa ears. Don't like that Hard Labour snarl? Not to worry, we'll replace it with some kissy-up-to-the-Liberals lips. And so on.

But it would be WRONG to judge you on just one speech. We will judge you by your ACTIONS, starting with who you pick for what job in your Shadow Cabinet, particular who gets to be Shadow Chancellor.

Best of luck.


Beware the redundant rhetorical flourish.
"And there was one more lesson that I learnt."
Sadly it clearly wasn't ARITHMETIC because
"We do not have to accept the world as we find it. And we have a responsibility to leave our world a better place and never walk by on the other side of injustice."
That's TWO more lessons, Eddy. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is asking for grown-up politics and an end to name calling, in the same post as calling someone by a silly name a bit hypocritical?

Millennium Dome said...

And the prize for missing the point goes to...

Tat said...

A horse is a horse, of course of course

Millennium Dome said...

Wise words, I think we can all agree with :)