To what exactly did the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini originally take offence in The Satanic Verses?

Standard

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”

Matthew 18:9

Ayatollah Khomeini lived for a while in Paris before the Iranian Revolution.

Whilst living there he moved amongst the Parisians not exactly in a daze, but averting his gaze from the decadent, depravity of Gay Paree.

Khomeini averted his gaze to the point that he stared at the pavement whilst walking around the French capital, protected by the Government agents of a Western liberal democracy from the unhealthy attentions of the secret police of an autocracy.

One might be forgiven for thinking that Khomeini in his railings against the corruption of Western civilisation, might have made a deep study of it or at least sampled it a little whilst living in Paris.

Seemingly not.

From whence did I learn about all this?

Why, from reading The Satanic Verses, of course.

I read The Satanic Verses when the book first came out and, frankly, found it hard going.

Clearly, the Iranian clerics who went in for literary criticism as a sideline had not read it or maybe they were really offended by the obvious, to my reading, mocking of Khomeini himself within its covers?

Was that as much of a reason for getting worked up over the book as any perceived slight of Islam?

After all, sometimes, a cigar is just a smoke, but taking personal offence is not the behaviour one expects of a Holy Man (although it is common amongst followers) so best to make it about your faith rather than about yourself so as not to seem petty and, well, rather worldly?

Had the French Government not extended him the protection of its security forces during his time in Paris, Khomeini might well have been murdered by the Shah of Persia’s secret police.

Khomeini in 1981, like Lenin in 1917, was late to the start of the revolution.

And until his return from Paris to join the fray Khomeini had not been experiencing the arduous conditions under which many of his fellow revolutionaries had been living in Iran.

Allah (or, if you prefer, the Great Satan) had moved in a mysterious way, using the forces of Western liberal democracy to preserve the life of a prophet.

Khomeini certainly never expressed any gratitude for the intervention of very earthly powers at a key moment in his life when he was personally very vulnerable.

Never any thanks to people thinking his life was worth preserving, even if only for sordid political motives.

Paris has often been a hangout for revolutionaries tolerated by the French Government whilst it enjoyed amicable relationships with the very governments those revolutionaries would overthrow.

And they have the cheek to label us, Perfidious Albion.

Birmingham is, as some folk discovered recently, the proud beating heart of a Western liberal democracy.

A Muslim chap, a fellow Brummie, interviewed by the BBC here in Birmingham some years ago said, of course, you have got a right to spit on my doorstep, but why do you feel the need to exercise it?

To behave like a bully.

That chap was not an abstract concept and I felt at the time and still do that he made a reasonable point.

Islam is as much as anything else a religion of the downtrodden, the poor and the marginalised.

Every day it gives hope and solace to 100s of millions of our fellow members of the human race.

In all the talk about free speech and the right to offend, middle class Western liberals seem to forget that or maybe they do not care about the feelings of those 100s of millions when they are punching down.

I do not think you may claim to be a liberal or a progressive if you do not have at least a degree of empathy with the views of those with whom you would disagree.

Proudly displaying a lack of empathy is hardly a great advert for the moral superiority of Western liberalism.

Perhaps they need to check their privilege on such occasions?

Those 100s of millions cannot respond to what they have been told by people they trust to be a slighting of their faith by writing a letter to The Times or The Guardian or by posting an article on Unherd.

They must sit down under it and turn the other cheek or do the other thing.

To march; to demonstrate; to protest, even violently, and to undertake acts of violence, both premeditated and unpremeditated.

Khomeini and zealots of all stripes, liberals amongst them have no time for the messiness that comes from not believing in absolute truths.

And they have an unfortunate tendency in this context to see fellow human beings on the other side of the argument as abstract concepts, not individuals like themselves.

“As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any the worse for it.”

George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius

However, “… what is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small …” in the battle of ideas.

Orwell went on to write, “He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil.”

How does they are standing for their faith, their ideal, their principle, which has the power to absolve them from evil sound, in place of Orwell’s “serving his country (blindly)”?

“Righteous people terrify me … Virtue is its own punishment.”

Aneurin Bevan

However, no one has a right to stick a knife in Salman Rushdie’s eye, whatever their motivation, even if they may have a right to spit on his doorstep.

An Agnostic, an Atheist and a Theist Go Into a Café …

“The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the …” people “… he has around him …”

Standard

We’re meeting because Labour thinks it can do better. As the Conservative Party descends into what is likely to be a scrappy and savage leadership contest, a Labour victory at the next election is starting to feel distinctly possible, perhaps even likely. Keir Starmer, if he does end up being prime minister, doesn’t know one end of a yield curve from the other. So Reeves, his economics Yoda and close political adviser, is auditioning alongside him to get us out of the acute mess we find ourselves in.

…..

“Her thinking has evolved quite considerably,” says a senior colleague from her Bank of England days, noting that her first pledge on becoming shadow chancellor was that Labour would buy, make and sell more in Britain. “I wouldn’t say she’s been a radical thinker — she’s not going to scare the horses. But she has a real command of the concepts and detail.”

…..

Starmer was advised by his Blairite counsellors to pick Reeves as a replacement, which he duly did last May. Since then the pair have become genuinely close. Starmer relies on Reeves for regular economics guidance but also recognises her political savvy, honed over 12 up-and-down years at the Westminster coalface.

“We developed a rapport quite quickly and he sought out my views on issues wider than my brief,” Reeves says. “We message pretty much every day. He says, ‘I forget who works for you and who works for me.’ ” The harmonious relationship between their offices is a strength for Labour, for it was not always so. “It’s different from my other experience of a leader and a shadow chancellor — Ed and Ed [Miliband and Balls] did not always work constructively together,” Reeves adds. “We’ve had none of that with me and Keir.”

Starmer is many things but a natural politician is not one of them, which elevates Reeves. “He lacks political experience and political judgment,” says the former Labour shadow minister. “Rachel offers him more than just numbers. He relies on her and others to make up for a lack of experience.

…..

“Coherent is definitely within her wheelhouse,” her Bank of England colleague says. “Compelling remains to be seen.”

Is Rachel Reeves Labour’s secret weapon?

“The choosing of ministers is a matter of no little importance for a prince

… and their worth depends on the sagacity of the prince himself.  The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men he has around him.  When they are competent and loyal he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognize their competence and to keep them loyal.  But when they are otherwise, the prince is always open to adverse criticism; because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.

No one who knew messer Antonio da Venafro as the minister of Pandolfo Petrucci, prince of Siena, could but conclude that therefore Pandolfo was himself a man of great ability.  There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the second appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others.  This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.  So it follows that Pandolfo, if he did not have the first kind of intelligence, at least had the second.  If a prince has the discernment to recognize the good or bad in what another says or does, even though he has no acumen himself, he can see when his minister’s actions are good or bad, and he can praise or correct accordingly; in this way, the minister cannot hope to deceive him and so takes care not to go wrong.

But as for how a prince can assess his minister, here is an infallible guide: when you see a minister thinking more of himself than of you, and seeking his own profit in everything he does, such a one will never be a good minister, you will never be able to trust him.  This is because a man entrusted with the task of government must never think of himself but of the prince, and must never concern himself with anything except the prince’s affairs.  To keep his minister up to the mark the prince, on his side, must be considerate towards him, must pay him honour, enrich him, put him in his debt, share with him both honours and responsibilities.  Thus the minister will see how dependent he is on the prince; and then having riches and honours to the point of surfeit he will desire no more; holding so many offices, he cannot but fear changes.  When, therefore, relations between princes and their ministers are of this kind, they can have confidence in each other; when they are otherwise, the result is always disastrous for one or the other of them.”

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Further down the line, many in Labour can imagine Reeves — who has a strong support base inside the parliamentary party — as a future leader.

Is Rachel Reeves Labour’s secret weapon?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose … #LabourLosingWomen

Standard

“Discrimination knows no party boundaries. A former chair of my local Ward Party berated female members about their not campaigning on issues like the equalisation of the pension age.

A little while later, he nearly had apoplexy when the party put on women only learning and development sessions to help them with campaigning and seeking election. The sessions were, understandably, on Saturday mornings and on site crèche facilities were provided.

He had, like I had, received through our work the sort of training needed to turn raw talent into campaigners and candidates. I got the impression he failed to grasp that.”

Another sorry chapter in the history of institutional misogyny within Labour?

That chap was very much Old Labour in the 1990s.

Today in 2022:

“It is perhaps stating the “bleeding obvious”, but Starmer needs to clean up Labour’s act on women’s rights. A leader who, at his own party conference, struggled to state clearly what a woman actually was, is now not trusted by a growing segment of Britain’s women, particularly those who are politically active. And, while Labour continues to support the politically-suicidal policy of trans self-id, that group will continue to grow.

If you are one of Labour’s many members and supporters who still firmly believe “this never comes up on the doorstep”, or “it’s not important, it will never swing anyone’s votes”, let me tell you two things.

First, you are probably a man. Women understandably find it hard to duck this one.

Second, please wake up: you are underestimating the potential of this single issue to provide a razor-sharp dividing line between Labour and Conservatives come the election (if it is not, why are almost all the Tory leadership candidates coming out against self-id, including Penny Mordaunt, so desperate to row back from her previous support that she outright lied about it?)”

The real work for Keir Starmer starts here

Reforming or weakening, depending on your perspective, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 is only popular with Labour Party members and 18 to 24 year olds.

It is not a wedge issue, but a Tory General Election steamroller.

Odds on, the next leader of the Tory Party will say no woman has got a penis whilst the current leader of the Labour Party is giving the impression he thinks some men have got vaginas.

How does that credibly advance the cause of trans-rights and improve Labour’s chances of winning a General Election?

If transwomen were women they would not need discreet rights and services.

They would just need to campaign for enhanced rights and services for women.

That is patently absurd.

Transwomen clearly do need discreet rights and services for which they needs must identify as transwomen.

Labour is brave enough, it seems, to advocate GRA reform that is unpopular with almost every group of voters, but will not advocate electoral reform, deals with other parties and softening Hard Brexit to “build a coalition of voters to win an election” as Rachel Reeves says is necessary, because those policies would make Labour unpopular with some (Tory?) voters.

Labour currently seems to be doing its level best to give the finger to every group from which it needs to draw voters to build that necessary coalition.

By the way, 51% of the electorate are women.

I gather the concerns that many women have over self-id are not a big issue for Tory Party members.

I wrote this passage a while ago about Team Corbyn.

To be fair to Team Starmer, there are many more women amongst their number than were in the ranks of Team Corbyn.

Many of the women in Team Starmer are middle class, some of whom say Labour needs to (re?)connect with socially conservative voters to win a General Election …

“The vast majority of those with a stake in formalising trans rights for transwomen want a solution that establishes those rights without subtracting from or trampling on the hard won rights of women.”

Smouldering skip fire of misogyny and the intolerance of extremist activists

As I see it, only a tiny, tiny minority of transwomen want to dismiss the legitimate concerns of women.

A minority of blokey blokes within a minority group think the world should revolve around them and that they should be free to trample over hard won women’s rights.

The fact that group of blokes does not empathise with those concerns rather suggests they have not transited much, if at all, because if they had they would not surely be so dismissive?

That at heart, they remain blokes?

Is it too much to ask that the leader of the Labour Party advocates seeking a solution that satisfies the vast majority of those with a stake in this matter rather than speaking up for a vociferous, intransigent minority within the trans community?

“There is one important subject I do not want to pass over, the mistake which princes can only with difficulty avoid making if they are not extremely prudent or do not choose their ministers well.”

Standard

“There is one important subject I do not want to pass over, the mistake which princes can only with difficulty avoid making if they are not extremely prudent or do not choose their ministers well.  I am referring to flatterers, who swarm in the courts.  Men are so happily absorbed in their own affairs and indulge in such self-deception that it is difficult for them not to fall victim to this plague; and some efforts to protect oneself from flatterers involve the risk of becoming despised.  This is because the only way to safeguard yourself against flatterers is by letting people understand that you are not offended by the truth; but if everyone can speak the truth to you then you lose respect.  So a shrewd prince should adopt a middle way, choosing wise men for his government and allowing only those the freedom to speak the truth to him, and then only concerning matters on which he asks their opinion, and nothing else.  But he should also question them thoroughly and listen to what they say; then he should make up his own mind, by himself.  And his attitude towards his councils and towards each one of his advisers should be such that they will recognize that the more freely they speak out the more acceptable they will be.  Apart from these, the prince should heed no one; he should put the policy agreed upon into effect straight away, and he should adhere to it rigidly.  Anyone who does not do this is ruined by flatterers or is constantly changing his mind because of conflicting advice: as a result he is held in low esteem.

I want to give a modern illustration of this argument.  Bishop Luca, in the service of Maximilian the present emperor, said of his majesty that he never consulted anybody and never did things as he wanted to; this happened because he did the opposite of what I said above.  The emperor is a secretive man, he does not tell anyone of his plans, and he accepts no advice.  But as soon as he puts his plans into effect, and they come to be known, they meet with opposition from those around him; and then he is only too easily diverted from his purpose.  The result is that whatever he does one day is undone the next, what he wants or plans to do is never clear, and no reliance can be placed on his decisions.

A prince must, therefore, never lack advice.  But he must take it when he wants to, not when others want him to; indeed, he must discourage everyone from tendering advice about anything unless it is asked for.  All the same, he should be a constant questioner, and he must listen patiently to the truth regarding what he has inquired about.  Moreover, if he finds that anyone for some reason holds the truth back he must show his wrath.  And though many suppose that a prince may rightly be esteemed shrewd not because he is so himself but because of the quality of those there to advise him, they are undoubtedly mistaken.  For this is an infallible rule: a prince who is not himself wise cannot be well advised, unless he happens to put himself in the hands of one individual who looks after all his affairs and is an extremely shrewd man.  In this case, he may well be given good advice, but he would not last long because the man who governs for him would soon deprive him of his state.  But when seeking advice of more than one person a prince who is not himself wise will never get unanimity in his councils or be able to reconcile their views.  Each councillor will consult his own interests; and the prince will not know how to correct or understand them.  Things cannot be otherwise, since men will always do badly by you unless they are forced to be virtuous.  So the conclusion is that good advice, whomever it comes from, depends on the shrewdness of the prince who seeks it, and not the shrewdness of the prince on good advice.”

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Labour “will change rules on insurance, which are currently taken directly from EU regulations, to allow British pension savers to own and build British infrastructure.” One of those elusive #Brexit benefits, Rees-Smug?

Standard

“Now we’re no longer a member we can change our domestic legislation as much as we want and sell new (financial) products to a market of 67 million rather than the 450 million in the EU.”

“Being able to change rules for our domestic market is very small beer and not a great Brexit benefit.”

Charlotte Moore, Twitter, 11th February 2022

The Labour Party has an especial obsession with buying, making and selling more in Britain and now investing our money in Britain.

This economic philosophy, if one may call it that, borders on autarky with a dash of mercantilism.

Labour’s obsession with buying, making and selling more in Britain is not unique to them. It is one they share with the Conservative Party.

The pledge set out in the title of this blog post was made by Sir Keir Starmer QC on Monday 4th July 2022.

“We will not seek regulatory equivalence for financial services as that could constrain our ability to make our rules and system work better.”

“Labour will use flexibility outside of the EU to ensure British regulation is adapted to suit British needs. 

As an example, we will change rules on insurance, which are currently taken directly from EU regulations, to allow British pension savers to own and build British infrastructure.”

Turn “toxic” Brexit around, says TSSA

Rachel Reeves has good friends in the City of London, if not future employment prospects there. Reeves once turned down an exceptionally good job with Goldman Sachs, she says to go into much less financially remunerative public service.

Labour’s proposed policy is actually one currently being pursued by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer as I discovered earlier this year on reading this informative and accessible blog by Charlotte Moore, entitled, “The government’s new piggy bank“, although, in December 2021, Reeves told City AM that Labour would “keep the City close to the EU post-Brexit”.

“Hot on the heels of Ian Duncan Smith’s suggestion that pension schemes should invest in unicorn technology companies came last week’s challenge from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor for institutional investors to participate in an investment big bang.”

“While the pensions industry made polite noises in response to …” a joint letter sent to them by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak “… it wasn’t hard to discern the frustration with the government’s latest wheeze to use pension schemes as its new piggy bank.”

“The letter says: “For example, over eighty per cent of UK defined contribution pension funds’ investments are in mostly listed securities, which represent only twenty percent of the UK’s assets.”

In other words, the government would like pension schemes to provide capital to those UK businesses which are not listed on an exchange. That would mean allocating assets to private equity and infrastructure funds.

It’s not clear why private equity companies would need a significant cash injection from UK pension schemes. These strategies are popular with other investors and often suffer from a dearth of investable companies.

The government’s new piggy bank

……………

“The letter also makes clear the government sees pension schemes as their new source of capital to fund the infrastructure projects needed to convince their Red Wall voters it can deliver on its promises of levelling up.

“It’s time we recognised the quality that other countries see in the UK, and back ourselves by investing more money into the companies and infrastructure that will drive growth and prosperity across our country,” says the letter.

This is not the first time the government has seen pension funds as a way to fund infrastructure projects.

In 2015, George Osborne announced the pooling of the local government pension scheme’s 89 separate funds in England and Wales to add efficiency and make infrastructure investing easier.

That pooling has now been completed with the 89 funds grouped into eight pools. This scale has enabled pools to negotiate better rates with investment managers and made them more professional.

But there has not been a material improvement in infrastructure investing. That’s because it is not a lack of capital which is holding this back.

Pension schemes around the world are thirsty for these projects – they have just the right kind of long-term income streams which match their liabilities. This is why, as the letter acknowledges, pension schemes from Australia and Canada, have invested in the UK.

The hold-up in infrastructure investment is lack of supply. These are highly complex undertakings which take years to implement and are frequently held up by planning headaches.

(Editor: Rachel Reeves wants to make procurement processes for major projects like HS2 more complicated to aid buying, making and selling more in Britain …)

It is also a question of risk management. While pension schemes like infrastructure as an investment, they want projects which have a guaranteed income stream.

They will not fund speculative developments. Often schemes want governments to take the initial risks and become involved later on. And that’s because a pension scheme’s primary purpose is its fiduciary duty to its members not a government’s economic agenda.”

The purpose of a pension scheme is to provide the best possible retirement income for its members. This fiduciary duty is the guiding principle of its investment policy.”

And even if a pension scheme were to decide to allocate to either private equity or infrastructure, it would not only be invested in the UK.

The government’s new piggy bank

Is it perhaps not insignificant that both Rachel Reeves and Rishi Sunak are graduates of Oxford University’s (in)famous PPE course and have strong links with Goldman Sachs?

Sir Keir Starmer QC freely admits he does not understand much, if anything at all about trade, industry and economics so he leaves all that to Rachel Reeves, “by far the best economics brain in the Labour party.”

Sir Keir Starmer QC just reads out what he is given to say, like Make (Hard) Brexit Work

Why is Sir Keir Starmer QC a moral coward and a lousy electoral politician for not putting down a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson? He’s no heir of Major Clement Attlee that’s for sure …

Standard

Mogadon Man

“Sir Keir Starmer has all but withdrawn his previous calls for Boris Johnson to resign as he said the country needs “unity” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Now is not the time to call for PM to quit – Starmer

Putting down a Vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson’s Leadership

Sir Keir Starmer QC does what he does best, arguably all of which he is capable, and takes Boris Johnson to pieces at the Despatch Box.

Johnson has to sit for hours and endure a debate about himself and his character.

Many Tory MPs have to squirm to give Johnson vocal support, even those who have come to hate him.

Fabricant and Dorries make themselves look prats, again.

The Tory whips use up more of their power to intimidate recalcitrant backbenchers, threatening and pleading with them to sit throughout the debate and vote for Johnson.

Tory MPs known to have submitted letters to the backbench 1922 Committee, calling for a vote on the fitness of Johnson to lead their party would be taunted by Opposition MPs to speak in support of Johnson in the debate.

All of this would take place before the world’s media and attract way more interest amongst voters than any performance of Starmer’s at PMQs.

But Starmer would lose the vote cry Starmerites who frequently whine about Labour not getting enough media coverage.

Attlee and Morrison did not expect to win the division during the Norway Debate in May 1940 when Chamberlain had a bigger majority in the House of Commons (242 seats) than Johnson has today (81 seats) and we were actually at war.

They knew they were putting down a marker.

“In view of the gravity of the events which we are debating, that the House has a duty and that every Member has a responsibility to record his particular judgment upon them, we feel we must divide the House at the end of our Debate to-day.”

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing …”

If you do not think Sir Keir Starmer QC would win the argument in the light of the world’s media and screw Tory MPs to the sticking place, even those who have come to despise Johnson then maybe it is about time Starmer resigned in favour of, say, Yvette Cooper?

One has to question the future of a leader of the Labour Party who is a moral coward, who knows sod all about electoral politics and is in thrall to a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk in a Leigh café.

Incidentally, no one ever dared to say to Major Clement Attlee, the second to last man off the beaches at Gallipoli, that he was any sort of coward.

Aneurin Bevan did not join the wartime coalition Government. He remained on the Opposition benches and sometimes even criticised the Government not for continuing to fight the war, but for the manner in which they were going about it.

He reminded people of that for which they were fighting, suffering and dying, a functioning democracy even in a time of war. Something we have seen in Ukraine where Parliamentarians have met under the threat of death from Putin’s thugs to carry out their democratic duties.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s instinct at the first whiff of grapeshot is to beat a sensible retreat when past Labour leaders would have marched towards the sound of the guns.

Someone once said that wars are not won by evacuations.

Sooner or later Sir Keir you have to turn and fight.

Better to do it on a ground of your own choosing than on a field of battle that favours Johnson.

“Lord Patrick Cormack, who had been an MP for 40 years before joining the Lords, said the setting up of a national government should be considered given the huge significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the time is coming when we should think of a national government,” he told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, as he praised Mr Starmer’s response to the Ukrainian president’s address.”

ITV News Politics, Tuesday 8th March 2022

Why is Sir Keir Starmer QC a moral coward and a lousy electoral politician for not putting down a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson? He is no heir of Major Clement Attlee …

Standard

Mogadon Man

“Sir Keir Starmer has all but withdrawn his previous calls for Boris Johnson to resign as he said the country needs “unity” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Now is not the time to call for PM to quit – Starmer

Putting down a Vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson’s Leadership

Sir Keir Starmer QC does what he does best, arguably all of which he is capable, and takes Boris Johnson to pieces at the Despatch Box.

Johnson has to sit for hours and endure a debate about himself and his character.

Many Tory MPs have to squirm to give Johnson vocal support, even those who have come to hate him.

Fabricant and Dorries make themselves look prats, again.

The Tory whips use up more of their power to intimidate recalcitrant backbenchers, threatening and pleading with them to sit throughout the debate and vote for Johnson.

Tory MPs known to have submitted letters to the backbench 1922 Committee, calling for a vote on the fitness of Johnson to lead their party would be taunted by Opposition MPs to speak in support of Johnson in the debate.

All of this would take place before the world’s media and attract way more interest amongst voters than any performance of Starmer’s at PMQs.

But Starmer would lose the vote cry Starmerites who frequently whine about Labour not getting enough media coverage.

Attlee and Morrison did not expect to win the division during the Norway Debate in May 1940 when Chamberlain had a bigger majority in the House of Commons (242 seats) than Johnson has today (81 seats) and we were actually at war.

They knew they were putting down a marker.

“In view of the gravity of the events which we are debating, that the House has a duty and that every Member has a responsibility to record his particular judgment upon them, we feel we must divide the House at the end of our Debate to-day.”

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing …”

If you do not think Sir Keir Starmer QC would win the argument in the light of the world’s media and screw Tory MPs to the sticking place, even those who have come to despise Johnson then maybe it is about time Starmer resigned in favour of, say, Yvette Cooper?

One has the question the future of a leader of the Labour Party who is a moral coward, who knows sod all about electoral politics and is in thrall to a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk in a Leigh café.

Incidentally, no one ever dared to say to Major Clement Attlee, the second to last man off the beaches at Gallipoli, that he was any sort of coward.

Aneurin Bevan did not join the wartime coalition Government. He remained on the Opposition benches and sometimes even criticised the Government not for continuing to fight the war, but for the manner in which they were going about it.

He reminded people of that for which they were fighting, suffering and dying, a functioning democracy even in a time of war. Something we have seen in Ukraine where Parliamentarians have met under the threat of death from Putin’s thugs to carry out their democratic duties.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s instinct at the first whiff of grapeshot is to beat a sensible retreat when past Labour leaders would have marched towards the sound of the guns.

Someone once said that wars are not won by evacuations.

Sooner or later Sir Keir you have to turn and fight.

Better to do it on a ground of your own choosing than on a field of battle that favours Johnson.

“Lord Patrick Cormack, who had been an MP for 40 years before joining the Lords, said the setting up of a national government should be considered given the huge significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the time is coming when we should think of a national government,” he told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, as he praised Mr Starmer’s response to the Ukrainian president’s address.”

ITV News Politics, Tuesday 8th March 2022

Sir Keir Starmer QC went to Grim Oop North Land with Lisa “Down Your Way” Nandy to play a discarded Faragiste card on the state of UK manufacturing. Now they’ve got Angela Rayner at it …

Standard

It is a classic journalist’s and politician’s mistake to measure the importance of manufacturing to the economy of the United Kingdom by the number of direct jobs within it.

The latest politician to make that error is Sir Keir Starmer QC, who recently went Oop North to the very part of England in which a significant number of manufacturing jobs and companies just happen to be located, to pledge a revival in manufacturing under a Labour Government he led.

A revival in the context of Hard Brexit.

The casual observer might be inclined to think UK manufacturing in 2022 was a basket case.

Au contraire, Sir Keir …

Faragiste card?

Well for a while, Nigel Farage too used to run UK manufacturing down, in fact, in 2014 Farage made much of ukip’s plans to make our country a great trading nation again.

An early sighting of Global Britain?

To be fair to Farage, he did, a month or so after announcing his party’s trade ambitions, do something few in the media or politics ever do and revised his view of UK manufacturing and its place in the world.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s chief policy adviser, Claire Ainsley, whom he appointed on becoming Labour leader, is a Brexit advocate.

Ainsley has no background in trade, commerce, industry, economics or, it would seem, basic research.

Ainsley’s last taste of political campaigning was at university when as a member of the Socialist Worker’s Party, she campaigned against the Labour Government elected in 1997.

Ainsley compared the conflict in Kosovo to the Vietnam War and tried unsuccessfully to convince her student union to formally condemn the US-led intervention in Kosovo. “People see that what Nato is doing is wrong,” she told Nouse, the university’s student paper, at the time.

I trust that she is now in line with Labour’s position on NATO in 2022.

One would hope Lisa Nandy and Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, with their Parliamentary seats in the North West and Yorkshire, respectively, would be better informed about the state of UK manufacturing at least in the places they represent.

Seemingly not, given Nandy was Starmer’s minder during his procession through the North and Reeves recently told the Financial Times that Labour was now pro business, planned to reverse a decade of lost growth with capital (not revenue) spending and wanted partnerships with businesses, but that the UK would not rejoin the Single Market in her lifetime.

A renaissance in UK manufacturing when manufacturing in the UK is being hard hit by the Hard Brexit Labour has now adopted as policy seems highly unlikely.

Would our economy be safe in the hands of folk who seem woefully ignorant about its fundamentals?

Starmer’s pledge, combined with Hard Brexit might well appeal to folk like those pensioners in that café in Leigh, but it is not a credible one for the young; the working aged, especially those in work in manufacturing and business people.

Did Farage change his position, because he thought he might come across as unpatriotic in a place like Leigh, perhaps be seen as running Britain down or because he knew he was making one claim too many about the benefits of Brexit or a combination of both?

Whatever the reason for Farage’s change of position in 2014, Sir Keir Starmer QC’s pledge in 2022 to revive a relatively healthy industry sector, slowly being ground down by Hard Brexit, is hardly grounds for folk in business in England to vote Labour at a General Election.

And just to confuse matters further, there are currently 1.298 million unfilled vacancies in the UK as of March 2022.

And, despite that, the leader of the Labour Party and his advisers want not to fill those jobs, but to create more vacancies …

Late Breaking News

“Research carried out by the Labour Party has found that more than 230,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost across the UK since 2015 as Angela Rayner prepares to set out the party’s vision to “make Britain work for working people”.”

More than 230,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2015, Labour research finds

I wonder what happened between 2016 and 2021 …

“This is Doctor Frasier Crane, sorry, Lisa Nandy, I’m listening, Leigh …”

Standard

“When I talk to all the people who have children who’ve had to move hundreds of miles away for work, who don’t know they’ll see their grandchildren and are growing older alone at the other end of the country. It breaks my heart.”

Lisa Nandy blasts Tories

Does Lisa Nandy know any young folk; people of working age or businessmen and women?

Worthless traditions of the ignorant tight ass club

I have no problem with my party consulting voters, informally or formally.

I do have a problem, I do object to my party outsourcing its conscience and, seemingly, much of our policy making to, say, a bunch of small minded, exclusive voters, often elderly, most of them white, many Leave voting, some racist, in a café in Leigh.

Standing there in public like you suddenly realise you have got your flies undone; apologising for your principles; reinforcing victimhood and despair, reflecting back the worst natures of some of the electorate, like you might just be agreeing with them is not leadership.

I call that an abrogation of responsibility, a lack of leadership.

Leadership is about setting out that for which you stand; making, arguing your case and ensuring it is the right offer for the country, the whole of the country.

If I were regenerating Leigh, I would want to involve the locals in the process from beginning to end.

I would want to take an inclusive approach and that means not biasing the process of engagement in favour of one particular group.

It also means having a conversation not simply taking down dictation.

And a conversation sometimes means, sensitively, challenging what you hear, and undertaking sense checks.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s fans believe their idol, who will not have a free and frank exchange of views with voters in a Leigh café would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson.

Not exactly a high bar, at a time of crisis.

Possibly the QC would best Vladimir Putin if he could get him into court?

Claire Ainsley, a Brexit supporter, whom Sir Keir Starmer QC appointed his chief policy adviser on becoming leader, was conducting similar focus groups in late 2019 to that of Nandy’s in Leigh earlier this year.

They were on the theme of moving on from Brexit.

Their members were drawn from overwhelmingly white local authority areas.

For those of us who have worked in socio-economic regeneration over the years, the participants trotted out the usual guff, the usual prejudice; the odd pearl of insight; the odd revelation; the useful alternative view; the usual ignorance about where they live and the usual evidence of how little they know about business and their local labour market.

Sir Keir Starmer QC has begun to mouth some of the lines from those focus groups.

The wrong lines.

The Blue Labour, Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be lyrics, singing a song that was a hit before many Leigh voters were born.

Lisa Nandy is a long standing champion of Blue Labour within the Labour Party and is now Labour’s point woman for the next General Election.

English Labour’s self styled expert on levelling up.

I recently came across Nandy’s plan to level up the (English) Midlands.

It is good to know she has finally found us.

Nandy’s plan was published in the Birmingham Evening Mail to coincide with the Erdington, Birmingham by election.

Now, as it happens, I was born and brought up in Birmingham and have lived here most of my life.

For much of my 27 year career in the Civil Service, I worked in socio-economic regeneration, what we adults like to call levelling up, as a Jobcentre official.

And for a lot of that time, Erdington was in my bailiwick, especially when I was the Employment Development Manager for the East Birmingham and Solihull Regeneration Zone, a regeneration vehicle of Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands.

Oh, and I am a lifelong member of the Labour Party, sometime activist, as well as having worked as a volunteer in Jack Dromey’s office for a good few years, ending my time there after the 2017 General Election.

I campaigned in the constituency whilst working for Jack Dromey.

Both sides of my family are from Kingstanding, a Red Wallish council ward within the Erdington constituency and I live just across the border from the ward in a neighbouring constituency.

However, even I lack the arrogance, sorry, the confidence of a Nandy to knock out a regeneration plan for a by election campaign.

Lisa “Down Your Way” Nandy is not a first offender, though.

Nandy, by the way, is from Manchester via Wigan.

Let us consider Nandy’s Five Point Plan for Erdington.

“First, jobs. Good opportunities must be spread throughout the country and indeed throughout our big cities, so young people have choices and chances and don’t find themselves having to get out to get on. With the right investment and community-led regeneration, jobs and opportunities will begin to thrive. Last week I saw exactly this in Grimsby, where a major local employer was investing in green technology for the future and providing secure, well-paid jobs for local people.

Labour in government would take this example and put clean-energy rocket boosters on it. We’d invest £28 billion each year in green projects across the country, creating more jobs and apprenticeships in industrial and coastal towns.”

We wait with bated breath for the detail as to how the ex SpAd with no background in business would honour these pledges in the context of a Hard Brexit.

What is a good job opportunity?

How does one define community led regeneration when all the people associated with your think tank on Small Towns have no insight into socio-economic regeneration?

Nandy does at the beginning of her article describe, “Places that once powered the country have been neglected. GKN on the Chester Road in Erdington is moving operations abroad. Dunlop Goodyear moved out of the area years ago.”

A nice bit of local colour.

Nandy omits to mention that the 519 jobs at GKN are being transferred to Poland.

To be within the Single Market, outside of which Sir Keir Starmer QC says Britain will be for the rest of Rachel Reeves‘ life.

It comes to something when a Labour leader feels incapable of making the case for joining a (trades) union in 2022.

How one wonders will Sir Keir Starmer QC react when a manufacturing worker and shop steward who has lost her job to the Hard Brexit he has embraced, bursts through his cordon of minders and asks what Labour in Government would do for her future job prospects?

Mumble unsympathetically, “Buy, make and sell more in Britain” or pledge to “Make (Hard) Brexit Work”?

Sir Keir Starmer QC has hardly been a great advocate for business since he became Labour leader in April 2020.

Brexit is not mentioned once in Nandy’s article.

Green jobs?

“… manufacturer of cutting edge green radiators says the expansion of his factory in Birmingham will now take place in Poland.”

Brexit: One year on, the economic impact is starting to show

Incidentally, as of March 2022, the UK has growing labour and skill shortages and 1.298 million unfilled vacancies, a UK record, but Nandy clearly likes a challenge so she aims to top that number.

You will notice the classic ignorant politician’s reference to apprenticeships?

Ainsley’s focus groups swooned at their mention, but being good, honest folk, horny handed men and women of toil, they felt too many employers wanted degrees as entry level qualifications.

A line Sir Keir Starmer QC, Oxford University, has begun reciting himself.

Improving the quality of management unsurprisingly did not come up in Hastings or Leigh.

“Second, thriving high streets. We need to see local economies growing, with good local businesses. That means no more papering over the cracks. It’s why Labour has set out plans to help 100,000 new small businesses get off the ground.”

Let me get this right, Labour’s answer to folk losing their jobs and people transferring business operations, if not businesses abroad or going bust is to go out of its way to encourage people to start up in business?

The attrition rate for new business start ups is about 60% by the end of the third year after commencement.

Nandy’s 100,000 might be 40,000 by the start of their fourth year of life.

I am assuming we are talking about 100,000 new start ups across the United Kingdom during a four, maybe five year Parliament.

There are 2,480,140 micro-enterprises in the UK.

“Third, our suburbs, towns and villages must be better connected through better transport links, digital infrastructure and affordable housing. For too long, we have missed out or seen promises rowed back on.”

Hard Brexit limits what may be practically achieved.

You may not lay bricks in a time of scarce bricklayers, HGV drivers and, well, bricks. Neither Labour nor the Tories are willing to publicly admit how much circumscribed they are by the deal the one negotiated and the other endorsed.

Labour and the Conservatives are trying to con voters into believing they may deliver outside of EU and in the context of a Hard Brexit, many policies that are only really deliverable with EU or at least SM/CU membership.

At a time when sizeable numbers of Leave voters say Brexit is not working for them.

“Fourth, power. For years, people have felt that politics simply isn’t interested in them. That too often, politicians come in and tell them what they need. This must end. Labour would hand communities the power and money to decide for themselves, ending the system where they had to go cap-in-hand to Westminster to do things they knew would work.”

There are some types of devolution Nandy likes and there are others as she has publicly stated she most certainly does not.

Twice recently in a list of places Nandy says are ripe for levelling up, she has included nowhere below a line between Wigan and Grimsby, but has included Aberdeen which the last time I looked was still in Scotland.

Michael Gove too hankers to extend his brief beyond England and is using the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund as a means to sideline the devolved administrations.

Do we see an area of common ground developing between Nandy and Gove?

Nandy has a novel take on localism, seemingly chatting with some old fogies in a café in Leigh, Lancashire, and then drawing up socio-regeneration plans for places like Yorkshire.

Gove with his eye on Number Ten, in contrast, communes with the thoughts of prominent Italians of 15th Century Italy.

Nowhere in Wales features on Nandy’s lists, but there be dragons or more accurately adults (in the Labour Party) who know about taking a measured, informed, inclusive approach to socio-economic regeneration.

“And finally, safety. Labour will bring back neighbourhood policing to ensure our town centres and shopping areas are safe and welcoming rather than plagued by anti-social behaviour. The Tory record on crime is appalling, with criminals being let off and victims let down.”

Machiavelli once wrote that “The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men (and women) he has around him …”.

How then should we judge Sir Keir Starmer QC, based on the quality of those he has appointed to be around him?

We have been told, the membership of the Labour Party by our leadership that we must now kowtow to the Red Wall and embrace Hard Lexit to win power, but taking an extreme position on trans rights that most in the trans community do not seem to hold themselves will not, it seems, be a vote loser in, say, Leigh or Nandy’s Wigan?

Maybe I have misjudged some of those habitues of that café in Leigh?

But, if I have then so has Nandy and that bodes ill for Labour’s Red Wall First strategy.

Maybe they are not all socially (or economically) conservative?

I am sure they do not want to eat crap, even on the off chance of being able to sell some more steel to the USA!

Sir Keir Starmer QC likes to wax lyrical about his Dad having been a toolmaker