Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The people are revolting

From Owen Jones in the Indy:
On Tuesday, I’ll be helping to launch the People’s Assembly with Green MP Caroline Lucas,my fellow Independent columnist Mark Steel, disability rights campaigner Francesca Martinez, Labour MP Katy Clark, and leading trade unionists. The aim of the Assembly is to unite all opponents of the horror show being inflicted on this country. On 22 June, there will be a 3,500-strong meeting at Westminster Central Hall, but in the meantime, I and others will be touring the country, encouraging local groups to be set up in every town and city.
So it's going to be yet another protest collective in a race to the furthest reaches of the left then.

Noting the union presence, we can expect a few strikes gaining about as much attention and public sympathy as the last lot, i.e. fuck all, and Ed Miliband held to ransom over Labour party funding. Looking at the electoral success of union candidates in previous elections, it's fair to say that there is unlikely to be much support for them at the ballot box should they go down that route.

The winner in all of this then is Owen Jones; supported on his grand publicity tour of Britain by friendly left wing newspapers and bloggers, he'll be awarded his campaign organiser wings and no doubt a cushy union job to supplement his Indy column. Up the workers comrades!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Occupying the ballot box?

The Common Councilmen elections took place in the City of London on Thursday and that's a timely reminder to revisit two blog posts of mine to see how Occupy fared in it's attempt to "bring democracy to the City".

Let's go back to July 2012 and failed Common Councilman candidate Bryn Phillips; he was promising some big things:
"We want to renew the balance of power in the City and then the country at large," he said. "There will be full elections on 13 February next year and Occupy will be fielding a full slate of candidates at that point. We hope today will be just the starting point."
What this boast has morphed into is the City Reform Group, which denies having anything to do with Occupy, although having the same activists, supporters, and conspiracy theories behind it say otherwise (as do the papers).

So let's check out this "full slate" of candidates - 100 seats were up for grabs across 25 wards. However if I'm not mistaken, they've only managed to scrape together 21 candidates covering 16 wards to take "the pledge".

How did they do? Well only one candidate, Paddy Streeter, described by the Guardian as "the poor man's Boris Johnson and would-be Lib Dem London mayoral candidate", was elected to the last seat in the Bishopsgate ward by a margin of eight votes.

Sounds like a resounding "no" to hippy politics then.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Minimum pricing U-turn

Good news - it looks as though the idiotic minimum pricing of alcohol is going to be dropped:
Drinkers are to escape a new minimum price for alcohol after David Cameron was forced into a U-turn in the face of a revolt by most of the Cabinet.
Home Secretary Theresa May has led criticism of the Prime Minister’s proposal to ban the sale of alcohol at less than 45p a unit in England and Wales.
The whole point of minimum pricing is to go after the problem drinkers but has two fatal flaws:

1. The problem drinkers will still drink. Either they will go without something else like food, brew their own hooch at home (apple juice, yeast, sugar, stick in the airing cupboard for a week), resort to stealing, or a combination thereof. Extra costs will not solve a drinking problem.

2. It hits the sensible drinkers and not just the poor ones. Check this out. It's Aldi's award winning Toro Loco at 12.5% alcohol and 9.4 units per bottle. It's a very drinkable red, goes nicely with a roast dinner, and astonishingly is only £3.59. It certainly isn't tramp juice but under minimum pricing plans it would be £4.23, an 18% increase. 

That's not the end of it though. The price differential between budget and premium brands would undoubtedly have been maintained pushing the price of alcohol up for everyone.

Looking back on it, with no public support outside of the usual lobbying organisations and no plans to introduce it as a means to raise revenue, what on Earth was Cameron thinking?