Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward

The Week in Politics

David Cameron’s mask finally slipped this week with a deluge of stories – no doubt to the delight of Thatcher and the blue rinse – indicating the nasty party were well and truly back: un-green, mean and ready for inaction. The week began with a vitriolic attack on the prime minister – no actual policies, you understand, just sneers and insults. He even had to bus in a crowd of young Conservatives to make him look good. Can’t let those common people in, far too dangerous, unlikely to clap on cue.

And the subjust of his speech? Reform, new politics, change etc. etc… The reality? As Left Foot Forward revealed on Monday, last year his MPs voted against proposals to reform parliamentary privilege, and on Wednesday, Cameron’s MEPs voted against proposals to crack down on tax dodgers and tax havens. Now why, you might ask, would he do a thing like that? I wonder…

He also gave a particularly illiberal interview to the Express. The face may have been airbrushed changed but it’s the same old Tories. All in all, you might even describe Cameron as a “roadblock to political reform”.

The “Robin Hood” tax campaign went live on Wednesday. A financial transactions tax, of the order of 0.05 per cent – 50p for every £1,000 spent – it could be implemented nationally, at European level or, ideally, globally. No other single measure would raise so much money or do so little harm.

Many of David Cameron’s Conservatives, however, described it as “hopelessly naive” and a “fairytale”, leading Tory bloggers seemingly enraged at the prospect of providing, in the time it takes to read this word, 9,000 children in Africa with a pencil and an exercise book. David Taylor’s excellent article earlier today exposes them and rebuts their myths.

The week’s other main story was the vote in the Commons for a referendum on electoral reform, opposed, you guessed it, by the Conservatives, Diane Abbott and the DUP.

The defeat prompted a quite extraordinary video performance from Eric Pickles, who claimed that, in England, “under AV, despite the Conservatives polling more votes, Labour would have more MPs in Parliament” – failing to mention that, under first-past-the-post, despite the Conservatives polling more votes, Labour got 286 MPs in England while the Conservatives got 194.

The referendum bill, however, might be held up and voted down by the Lords. That’s David Cameron’s unelected, hereditary peers in the Lords. How might one best describe such a person, what was that phrase of his? Oh yes, a “roadblock to political reform”.


Progressive of the week

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who announced plans to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400 million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines. The proposals, said Clegg, would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities. In an exclusive interview, he told Left Foot Forward:

“We need to remove the blockages – lack of space, access to facilities and transport to off-shore sites. Refurbishing seven of the ports will be a shot in the arm to increasing industry and manufacturing that will benefits regions like the North East.”


Regressive of the week

Leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, Jim Allister, who sought to turn back the clock 40 years on last night’s Question Time, describing the policing and justice agreement as “appaling” and “one of the worst deals”.

Much like Nick Griffin last October, he attracted next to no support among the audience, and was ripped to shreds by his fellow panelists, particularly the DUP’s Sammy Wilson and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, who told Allister:

“I have a huge mandate i belong to a party which has a huge mandate, you do not… Now here’s the thing: we all have to live here.

“I have a mandate, it’s a very strong mandate. People pick me. I don’t try and pick the people who represent Unionism, so don’t try and pick the people who represent Republicans and nationalists. I am there as of right as is every other elected representative…

“All that you are frankly is a political dinosaur.”


Evidence of the week

The “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” report, out yesterday, which said the Government’s plan to raise the retirement age “could be stopped dead in its tracks” as three-quarters of people will be “too ill to work” into their late sixties, with “everyone except those at the top” affected.

The report, by University College London’s Sir Michael Marmot, also said that, despite life expectancy for the worst-off improving by 2.9 years in the last decade, “up to 2.5 million years of life are being lost each year in England as a result of poor people dying prematurely”.


Conor Pope’s Blog The Week

This week Conor explains the Joanne Cash in/out/in/out shake-it-all-about affair and the intricacies of electoral reform, before going #Labourdoorstep-ping:


What’s trending on Twitter

According to our friends at Tweetminster, this week’s top political stories and trends are:

1) The Robin Hood taxmore people added the RHT twibbon (over 800) than party twibbons;

2) George Osbone’s Facebook Q&A;

3) The racist Daily Mail cartoon – Liberal Conspiracy’s post was the most shared link around this story;

4) Joanne Cash resigning and then being reinstated;

5) The debate around the “death tax“; and

6) Tory MP Andrew MacKay’s signing for Burson-Marsteller’s lobbying arm.

Tweetminster today published a report asking “Which is the most talked about party on Twitter?” – looking at the past nine working days, during which time there have been slightly more tweets about the Conservatives than Labour, with the overall volume falling sharply upon recess.


There was a tidal wave of condemnation for the Daily Mail’s racist cartoon yesterday. Here’s a selection of the best:

@jasoncharlton: #MailFail Why is anyone surprised at this neo nazi arsewipe publishing this cartoon.It s always been a sewer of homophobic, racist dross.

@eloquar: @johnuren1980 I really ought to stop being surprised at just how low the Daily Mail can sink #MailFail

@chodhound: The Daily Mail really is the least popular paper on the internet and because of this cartoon: http://bit.ly/bHrDEc #MailFail

@stop_jump: Today, The Daily Mail once more demonstrated why I read The Guadian #MailFail

@BevaniteEllie: Have the Mail pulled their disgusting cartoon yet? Comparing immigrants to animals-classy journalism. Ugh. #MailFail

@campbellclaret: RT @tim_nicholls: RT @BevaniteEllie: right everyone, let’s show the Mail the power of Twitter, and decency. Let’s get #MailFail trending

@tomjamesscott: Daily Mail.Obnoxious rag-publishes homophobic,racist,pro-death penalty articles.Smears, half-truths & lies.Gutter press.I hate it. #MailFail

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

23 Responses to “Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward”

  1. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Look Left 12/02/10: http://is.gd/8fpZc – @shamikdas looks at nasty Tories, the nasty Jim Allister & the nasty Daily #MailFail ft. @conorpope

  2. Rory

    Sorry, but comparing Jim Allister to Nick Griffin is absurd. He was the only person on the panel to rightly point out that Gerard Kelly, who you think ripped him to shreds, was a convicted terrorist who shot a prison guard in the head. Gerard Kelly did not rip him to shreds, he completely ignored this quite appropriate reference to Kelly’s past, for which he has shown no remorse whatsoever.

    When Kelly started babbling on about how terrible torture was, many people will have found this hugely rich coming from a member of a terrorist group that specialised in torture (after all, punishment beatings and knee-capping, surely that’s a form of torture). Allister was the only person on the panel to articulate this view.

    Did Allister say that Catholics can’t live in Northern Ireland? No. Did he try and pick the people who represent Republicans and nationalists? No, he did not.

  3. Disco Volante


    Please do not argue the truth with Shamik, he is easily confused

  4. euro millions

    http://www.mad2miss.ws Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/bYWOvP http://www.cash2day.ws

  5. Mike Law

    Erm… I thought the bussed in crowd of young Conservatives were UEL students, am I wrong?

  6. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: Look Left 12/02/10: http://is.gd/8fpZc – @shamikdas looks at nasty Tories, the nasty Jim Allister & the nasty Daily #MailFail ft. @conorpope…

  7. Liz McShane

    Rory – as you know, quite a few of polticians in NI have a ‘past’ I think the majority of people living there have moved on (I know from personal experience). Gerry Kelly doesn’t hide his past, just like Gusty Spence & Billy Hutchinson don’t either (admittedly the PUP do not have the same political respresentation – which is unfortunate). For some Nationalists/Republicans people with a UDR background evoke also nasty memories. That is just a result of recent history and is a fact but Thank God most people there have moved on. When Martin Magennis was Education Minister (after the initial shock to some) he was overwhelmingly lauded & commended for his grasp of his portfolio by people on both sides ( I witnessed this at a meeting in the House of Commons).

    The QT audience (from all sections of the community) made their feelings & distaste clear re Jim Allister’s dinosuar’s views which would undermine the peace process and political administration led by the DUP & SF. He is, deep down, not for power-sharing and obviously does not accept the democratic mandate of certain people which is ultimately bestowed by the electorate.

    Just to remind you Jim Allister has NO electoral mandate!

  8. Rory

    Just to be clear, are you saying that it is unfortunate that more people in Northern Ireland don’t vote for the PUP, the political wing of the UVF?

  9. Liz McShane

    Rory -as someone who comes from thenationalist tradition i was saddened by the premature death of pup leader david ervine, he was forward looking and one of the few progressive voices in modern unionism. You know if you dig deep enoigh you will find that the more tradiotional/established voices in unionism have had unsavoury link ups with certain south african right wing groups in the past and it was well known that when it suited middle class/golf club aka ‘respectable’ unionists they were more than happy to use and encourage the less respectable face of unionism/loyalism to do their dirty work.

    All i saying is that i am glad that people with a ‘past’ are now actively engaged in the political process? This is a massive step forward but you don’t seem to think so.

  10. Liz McShane

    Apologies for typos but am using my iphone. I didn’t mean to put a ? After process in my last para.

  11. Rory

    Yes, sorry, I forgot the PUP have moved on and are a ‘progressive’ party. I was also very heartened by the news this weekend that the BNP now are allowing non-whites to be members. Maybe he’s not so bad after all, that Nick Griffin.

  12. Fony Blair

    “The “Robin Hood” tax campaign went live on Wednesday. A financial transactions tax, of the order of 0.05 per cent – 50p for every £1,000 spent – it could be implemented nationally, at European level or, ideally, globally. No other single measure would raise so much money or do so little harm.”

    Hard to know where to start with this. If it’s not implemented globally where do you think transactions will occur? Errrr they will be done in location where the tax is not incurred especially as they are just computer transactions. So the lefties would love the idea of having a tax and feel really smug about getting one over on the banks…..and see corporation tax plummet.

    It really is child liek student politics.

    Go back to your constituencies and prepare for opposition…

  13. Liz McShane

    Rory – I detest the BNP and I am shocked that you have a simplistic view of he situation/recent political developments pre & post GFA ie a post-sectarian NI.

    I think you are confusing the PUP with the UDA who well known to have and still do have some links to far right racist groups eg BNP & Combat 18. I can tell you that the vast majority of people in NI have moved on, accept but not do not condone certain people’s past activities – however distasteful these may be to each side. People do not want to go back to the ‘bad old days’ that someone like Jim Allister & his TUV party are advocating.

    So I can only deduce that your comments are disingenuous.

  14. Liz McShane


    ps.. Just so you know where the PUP is positioned as a party in terms of Left/Right etc… I think it still is, or at least was the only party in he UK to still have a Clause 4 (aka what the Labour Party used to have) in their constitution and it was the first NI party to produce its election literature in Chinese, Urdu etc. so to compare them to The BNP is ridiculous as well as completely incorrect.
    I suggest you should watch QT on iplayer (if you haven’t seen it already). It will give you a good measure of current views of the people – not one person in the audience (which was a broad mix of people and social class) did not speak out in Jim Allister’s defence. who just looks to the past as opposed to the vast majority of public opinion which is looking to build a better future for NI.

  15. Rory

    Liz – I’m not really interested in where they are positioned on the political spectrum. I am concerned about parties such as Sinn Fein and the PUP that have links with paramilitary groups (who are responsible for punishment beatings and knee-cappings remember) being treated as progressives and people who are against them being derided as ‘dinosaurs.’

  16. Shamik Das

    Rory, Mr Allister is a dinosaur in that he wishes to take Northern Ireland back 40 years, to see an end to power sharing – the consequences of which you don’t need me to spell out.

    Sinn Fein has a far greater mandate than the TUV, who have negligible support – I don’t think they have a single elected representative. If anything, the Ulster Unionist Party should have been on QT and not the TUV; I can only think they were there because they needed someone on create a stir and shake up the consensus.

    The TUV also have close links to UKIP. “Dinosaurs” is an understatement.

  17. Liz McShane

    Rory – as I have said repeatedly without wanting to sound boring,,, there are a lot of parties in NI who have a ‘past’ – the Alliance & SDLP are ones that clearly do not.

    In order to move on (and clearly this has been happening albeit at a slow rate – but that’s NI for you), the majority of people want to move forward even if that includes recognising the legitimate democratic mandate of parties that in the past and still are to some, are distasteful, but hey that’s democratic politics for you! Take it or leave it.

    Those that don’t want to share power and refuse to recognise the electoral mandate of the people will take us back to where NI was in the 1960s – when there was no power sharing or mutual respect in fact there was very little democracy – hence the emergence of civil rights movements and then The Troubles.

    Are you really suggesting that you want NI to return to that sort of place….? because I know that the vast majority of people there DON”T!! Basically, if you don’t talk/engage with your political ‘enemies’ there will never be any progress or peace & reconciliation.

    By the way you might have heard that The IRA decommissioned their weapons a few years back and the Loyalists did the same recently.

  18. Liz McShane


    A question – do you think that NI is a better place pre or post GFA etc?

  19. Rory

    I would like NI to be a normal part of the United Kingdom. I think it is still massively divided and is likely to remain so as long as it is ‘governed’ by a completely artificial coalition of terrorists and bigots.

    Here’s a question for you? Why don’t people in Northern Ireland have any say in who governs the UK? They don’t just now because Labour doesn’t field any candidates there? Why is that?

  20. Liz McShane

    Rory – you are really conflating things now. I would say that NI is still on the journey to ‘normalisation’.. I can tell you hundred of reasons/examples why it has had not had a ‘normal’ existence in the recent past.

    I am not sure if you ever talk/engage with people, over there on a regular basis and if you do, is it a broad spectrum of society.

    Every conflict situation requires peace & reconciliation, people/political leaders/voices to take big steps . These are bitter pills to swallow but the prognosis is much better that what they had.

    NI is now a much better place to live and work than it was 10-15 years ago. No army on the streets, a very progressive equality agenda, political discourse and engagement at all levels and between all parties – it is a massive achievement that the DUP and SF can sit together in parliament. Years ago they wouldn’t have shared the same TV studio.

    I agree that there are still some who hate/ SF, PUP etc but the vast majority of people have moved on. Did you watch QT last Thursday.

    You know Nelson Mandela was part of a terrorist organisation- – now I am NOT for one minute putting Gerry Adams etc on a par with him – so please don’t think that at all. But the point I am making is that political discourse can does and has to come out of a violent struggle/past.

    The GFA is an international legal treaty and the form of government we have at Stormont and its representatives is based on that. I also think you should respect the electoral wishes and intelligence of the voters of NI – they are more savvy than you give them credit for.

  21. Rory

    Yes, I watched QT.

    I think we will have to agree to disagree about Sinn Fein, the PUP etc, but do you not think people from Northern Ireland should be able to vote for Labour in the UK general election?

    In answer to your previous question, yes I do think NI is a better place than before 1998.

  22. Liz McShane

    Yes I do think the option of voting Labour/Lib Dem etc is ok but I don’t think they would get many votes and parties that you don’t like would still get the lion’s share of the votes – plus there is the question of sister parties etc.

    SF is one of the oldest parties on the island of Ireland by the way. If people don’t like what they are vote then it is their job to challenge them politically and convince those people that vote for them to cast their votes elsewhere.
    We are in a post-violence NI which is great and if the DUP etc can work with SF and vice versa then I am not sure why you don’t see that as progress – in the bigger scheme of things.

    I am prepared to accept the electoral mandate of parties I have historically found distasteful & bigotted but people (polticians & the electorate, with the excepetion of Jim Allister etc) have thankfully moved on and so should you.

Leave a Reply