Poverty

I saw a post the other day – I’m sorry I can’t remember the author – which bemoaned this new Supreme Court justice in the USA, who I’ve also heard describes as ultra-conservative. One of their beefs was that abortion would become more restricted.

Let me tell you what happened in Ireland.

For years, Ireland banned abortion. It was only made legal – following a staggeringly one-sided referendum in 2018. Even now, it is not particularly “available”. But the result of abortion being banned was that rich people travelled to England to have their abortions, where it has been legal since the late 1960s. Poor people, being unable to afford the transport cost, had to stay home and have their babies.

If you restrict abortion in the USA, rich people will go out-of-state, or disappear to Mexico or especially Canada for a few days, and still get their abortions. Poor people will not be able to travel and will end up having unwanted babies.

Make no mistake, this is about penalising poverty, not choice.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…Too Late

I thought I would form a political party,
I’m thinking it is about time,
There are many political parties already.
But none of their views match with mine.

My party would be called The Sensible Party,
To discern from the nonsense we hear.
The name says it all – take a prudent approach,
To all of those things we hold dear.

But what should I find when I start to peruse,
Somebody had got there before me,
I wonder who that is? I follow the link,
the spadework already done for me.

Alas when I load up this promising page,
The details are sketchy and scant,
No idea who’s behind this anonymous site,
Or what thoughts they might wish to implant.

It’s back to the drawing board, Find a new name,
But really, the best one has gone.
A fruitless result of a few hours searching,
But now time for lunch, must move on.

The Sensible Party is a party formed by sensible people to promote sensible policies.

The Sensible Party
thesensibleparty.org.uk

Unfounded Optimism

On a world-beating island we bloom,
Over highest of mountains we zoom,
The rest of the race
Must accept second place,
As you observe our prosperity boom!

When I logged on this morning, I saw a news feed from the BBC.

It appears that Boris Johnson has been using that phrase “world-beating” again. This time, it was in the context of offshore wind farms. “How can a wind farm be world-beating?”, I hear you ask. Well, I don’t know. The headline was enough to make me jog on.

It’s not the first time Johnson has used the phrase “world-beating”. Early into COVID, the UK was working furiously to build a track & trace app. In May, Johnson announced that we would have a world-beating app, by the start of June. The app that was finally delivered was not only late, but fell flat on its face as soon as it got near real users. England finally released an app in September, thanks to US tech giants Apple and Google.

My point is that Johnson is full of these grandiose gestures. Very Churchillian – we are the country that stood alone against the Luftwaffe, we will fight them on the beaches… In real life, it is meaningless. He makes these promises, the media lap it up, and out of the other side comes a pile of dog-doo. I wonder, does anybody actually care about this?

Johnson clearly doesn’t. He keeps repeating those words, “world beating”. Maybe, in his mind, that’s how he sees it? Ot just maybe, he has worked out that the words are a good jingo, and that there is zero backlash when the delivery falls flat?

Come on, Britain. He said it once, and we saw what happened. He says it again, and what changed? Boris has form here.

Smart or Scandalous?

Can I get a feel on how bad people think this is?

For the last couple of days, a news programme here has been highlighting a database of voters.

The database is big – 5,000 Gigabytes – and is eerily accurate.

The political party recorded people’s main issues, and as a result put each voter into one of about eight categories. They had the extremes – definitely one of us or definitely not one of us, but it is the grey area where it gets interesting.

“People who might vote for us” were specifically targetted with things like Facebook ads extolling the virtues of their candidate.

“People who probably won’t vote for us” were sent different ads, encouraging them not to vote at all.

You can hopefully see that if these strategies paid off, they would both benefit that political party.

Where I’m not convinced is that our news programme seems to think it is a bad thing. I look at it and just think it is smart.

Surely, as a political party, you have limited resources – time and/or money – it makes sense to keep as comprehensive a database as possible? Surely it makes sense to understand what people’s issues are? Surely it makes sense to make sure that potential supporters vote for you? And that potential “not-supporters” do not vote for your opponents.

I don’t know, it just seems smart to do all these things, as far as I can tell. Every political party should be doing this, surely? Anybody have a view on this?

The Trump/Corbyn Parallel

In 2015, the UK had a General Election. The Conservatives won. Licking its wounds, the Labour Party elected a new leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn was hardly a natural leader – a socialist straight out of the mold, he had been a dissenter all his life – but he reflected members’ resentment at having been stage-managed for so long. This effect went two ways – with Corbyn’s election, many people who broadly agreed with his views were motivated to join his party. And they became easily the largest party – a half million members, 10x that of any other party.

But in terms of the electorate (about 50M), that’s a tiny number. To many members of the general public, Corbyn was fatally flawed. He was known to sympathise with groups like the IRA (Ireland) and the PLO (Palestine), which the UK media likes to present as terrorists – any group which opposes the UK is conveniently labelled “terrorist”. And Corbyn did not play cricket.

Fast forward to 2016. Our Brexit referendum. The day after losing the vote, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigned. To be replaced by Theresa May. At this point in time, their government had a slim majority, but a majority nevertheless. As long as they weren’t too radical, they could pass their agenda.

Dissatisfied with the slimness of this situation, May decided to call another General Election in 2017, in the hope of crushing the opposition. My own feeling was “how can she be so flippant? If we’re going to deliver Brexit, we don’t have time to get distracted”. But, aware of Corbyn’s history, May called an election. She was Aesop’s fabled hare, the general public resented her attitude, and Corbyn did very well. He didn’t quite win, but he erased May’s majority – it took a couple of years, but May had been fatally wounded.

Fast forward to 2019. Bear in mind that throughout all this time, the public did not really like Corbyn. We saw countless interviews on tv which went along the lines, “I can’t vote Labour, not while he’s in charge”. By now Boris Johnson had replaced May, and he limped to yet another election. This time Corbyn was beaten. Trounced.

If you’re still with me, I’ll get to the point.

In 2017, the public voted for Corbyn in numbers, to give his arrogant opponent a bloody nose. But they never really warmed to him, not in the numbers he required to become PM. As soon as the opponent was someone who was palatable – I used the word “charisma” the other day – the electorate showed Corbyn the door.

My point is, I think the US went the exact same route. In 2016, Americans really did not like Hillary Clinton, so they voted for Trump, to give her a bloody nose. The only difference is that Trump won. But I don’t think people particularly voted “for” Trump, so much as “against” Clinton. By extension, put a decent candidate up against him, he will fold.

I don’t really know if Biden is the answer to that – I’m too far away to make a judgement. From what I hear, I’d probably have as many issues with one as with the other.

But I think their first issue is credibility, just like it was with Corbyn.