Saturday, 25 June 2016

That's What You Get

So it's Brexit after all. That's what happens when there are so many "protest" votes the protest wins. It's not necessarily what people wanted, what they wanted was to "put one" on the "establishment". This in itself is futile as most of the establishment are at an age and a level of wealth where they won't be that affected anyway. However, the voters will. Labour are now in the absurd position of "fighting for" the rights of those who are going to get screwed. Most of whom voted out. Welcome to Politics.

Onto Jeremy Corbyn. For whatever reason, Jeremy's campaign was far less vigorous than his election campaign to become Leader and I think we all know why that was. I believe he wanted to remain but had misgivings so did not paint himself into a remain corner. Unfortunately this gave the impression that he was somehow being coerced into a position he did not believe in, something that was impossible from the back benches for 30 years and something surely impossible now when he has huge levels of support in his leadership from the grassroots. This perception was never refuted, so the image of Jeremy with one hand tied behind his back slowly grew and quietly encouraged dissent.

Following the campaign there has been a motion "no confidence" tabled against Jeremy Corbyn. This is doomed to failure as the grassroots support from people who played no part in the campaign will eventually save him. Labour has failed to engage its voters and our recommendation to remain was ignored by many of our supporters and members. What a surprise then for Jeremy's supporters, who would support him even if we got no votes at all, now distance him from any connection to Labour's performance in the ballot. If the leader was a "Blairite" the howls of discontent from the hard left would drown out almost anything else, but Jeremy is spared any responsibility for his role in Labour's failure, despite being the reason many of the supporters follow Labour in the first place.

So what will happen now? The local parties will pass a number of pointless motions "backing the leader" brought to meetings by starry-eyed Corbynistas who swoon around as if they are part of a cult completely unaware (it seems) that if we do not govern the Tories will, forever. Almost none of them pounded the streets during what was a very difficult and challenging campaign, they stayed at home. But as soon as Wor Jezza is facing a challenge, there they are ready to be counted. I am not anti-Corbyn. I just don't believe Corbyn will become Prime Minister and for that reason I see little point why he, or anyone else whether left or right, should lead when they have no chance of winning.

We have seen a swell of Labour voters move towards UKIP and if this is repeated at a general election we will begin to lose safe seats. But still the Corbynistas remain unmoved. They need to wake up. Despite the bleak outlook, any attempt to remove JC will be beaten back. Like the country with Brexit, we've made our bed and must lie in it. When Labour meekly changed the rules to try and win the support of as many people as possible, the result was the mass infiltration of the hard left that effectively took over the party. It is now impossible to dethrone whoever is the hard left candidate so Corbyn will only go when he chooses to stand down. When he does go, expect opportunistic candidates to suddenly reveal their left credentials, so there will be no "middle" candidate for some time. Add that there is simply no decent alternative. Nobody. Many of the decent ones are now seeking to become Mayors and escape the increasing madness of Westminster.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Verdict

QUESTION 1: Basic facts of the disaster

Do you agree with the following statement which is intended to summarise the basic facts of the Disaster:

"Ninety-six people died as a result of the Disaster at Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989 due to crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, following the admission of a large number of supporters to the Stadium through exit gates."

Yes.

QUESTION 2: Police planning for the semi-final match

Was there any error or omission in police planning or preparation for the semi-final match on 15 April 1989 which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match? Yes or no.

Yes. The jury feels there were major omissions in 1989 operational order.

QUESTION 3: Policing of the match and the situation at the turnstiles

Was there any error or omission in policing on the day of the match which caused or contributed to a dangerous situation developing at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.

Yes. Police response to the increasing crowd at Leppings Lane was slow and uncoordinated. The road closure and sweep of fans exacerbated the situation. No filter cordons were place. No contingency plans were made for the sudden arrival of a large number of fans. Attempts to close the perimeter gates were made too late.

QUESTION 4: Policing of the match and the crush on the terrace

Was there any error or omission by commanding officers which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace? Yes or no.

Yes - Commanding officers should have ordered closing of central tunnel.

QUESTION 5: The opening of the gates

When the order was given to open the exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, was there any error or omission by the commanding officers in the control box which caused or contributed to the crush on the terrace? Yes or no.

Yes. Commanding officers did not inform officers in the inner concourse prior to the opening of Gate C. Commanding Officers failed to consider where fans would go. Commanding officers failed to order the closure of the central tunnel prior to the opening of gate C.

QUESTION 6: Determination on unlawful killing issue

Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 7: Behaviour of the supporters

Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.

No.

Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which may have caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.

No.

QUESTION 8: Defects in Hillsborough stadium

Were there any features of the design, construction and layout of the stadium which you consider were dangerous or defective and which caused or contributed to the disaster? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 9: Licensing and oversight of the stadium

Was there any error or omission in the safety certification and oversight of Hillsborough Stadium that caused or contributed to the disaster? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 10: Conduct of Sheffield Wednesday FC before the day of the match

Was there any error or omission by SWFC and its staff in the management of the stadium and/or preparation for the semi-final match on 15 April 1989 which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation which developed on the day of the match? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 11: Conduct of Sheffield Wednesday FC on the day of the match

Was there any error or omission by SWFC and its staff on 15 April 1989 which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed at the Leppings Lane turnstiles and in the west terrace? Yes or no.

No.

Was there any error or omission by SWFC and its staff on 15 April 1989 which may have caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed at the Leppings Lane turnstiles and in the west terrace? Yes or no.

Yes. Club officials were aware huge number of fans were still outside the ground at 2.40 and should have requested delay in kick-off.

QUESTION 12: Conduct of Eastwood & Partners (SWFC engineers)

Should Eastwood & Partners have done more to detect and advise on any unsafe or unsatisfactory features of the stadium which caused or contributed to the disaster? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 13: Emergency response and the role of South Yorkshire Police

After the crush in the West Terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the police which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster? Yes or no.

Yes.

QUESTION 14: Emergency response and the role of South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS)

After the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop, was there any error or omission by the ambulance service (SYMAS) which caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster? Yes or no.

Yes

#JF96

At 11am today the jury verdict will be made known. It has been 27 years now since that fateful day so any feeling of justice that can be delivered by this verdict is long overdue.

I attend many Football matches and never really feel at risk. Neither did those people when they went to an FA Cup semi-final dreaming of Wembley. The lucky ones who survived that day have carried the burden of the events they witnessed in 1989 ever since. This morning's verdict will hopefully set the record straight. It was not their fault. 96 people lost their lives and 766 more were injured.

Football stadiums are now a lot safer and lessons were learned, but at a terrible and tragic cost. Thankfully we have not seen anything like it since and hopefully we never will.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Are y-EU Ready?

Thursday, 23rd June is the day we decide whether the future of our country is inside or outside of Europe. I will be voting in and I hope you do the same.

What to do if you are uncertain? Read around the subject and think about it carefully. There will be tons of information from all sides and you need to decide what's important to you. Then cast your vote on the day, it's as easy as that. The more people that participate the more authentic the result, which will be either 'in' or 'out'. I will post something larger nearer the referendum date.

Vote for Watling Wood at Tesco between 27th Feb and 6th March

There is some money waiting to be won which can be used to help improve Watling Wood in Leadgate, tidy up around the ponds and even put in a pond dipping platform so kids can get nice and mucky looking for bugs.

The Leadgate Partnership and Groundwork Trust) need your help. You know all the money Tesco make from selling 5p plastic bags? Every penny of that money has to go to charity. The Partnership have asked me to request you support their wish to get a share of that cash for Watling Woods.

From this Saturday (February 27th) until 6th March every time you go to Tesco at Consett, Annfield Plain or Blackhill you can get a token to vote for Watling Wood. The more votes the more money they get so please remember to grab a token. Ask your friends and neighbours to remember to vote for Watling Wood as well.

Every little helps!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Just a Small Blog Hiatus

You probably know by now that Pat has been promoted to Shadow Europe Minister. It is a great job for her to take on leading up to the European Union (EU) referendum and I know she will be fantastic at it.

I am writing this post to pass on that my blog activity will slow down. Let me explain why and, by the way, it's completely my choice. The press will now look more closely at everything and interpret comments more than ever, particularly anything to do with the leadership or the gossip surrounding the PLP. It's simply not worth me encountering problems because my views expressed on this blog are rehashed as comments made "by a Pat Glass spokesperson." I'm not sure that would ever happen, but I'm not taking that chance especially at such an important time. We've had a glimpse of that in North West Durham already and you probably know what I mean. It was a warning of what can happen. For the few that read my stuff, I hope you understand.

The issue of us remaining in Europe is important. For the record, I will be voting for the UK to remain in the EU.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2016: A Defining Year for Labour

In my final post of 2015 I am going to look at what 2016 might mean for The Labour Party. Before I do, let's look at the political lessons of 2015. Perhaps the biggest lesson of 2015 is not to predict anything as it's most likely wrong, but let's have a go anyway.

2015 saw the General Election deliver a Tory majority when even the most ambitious Conservative expected, at best, a strong minority government where they were the largest party. The polls got the result quite wrong, although they got a lot right regarding the collapse of the Lib Dems and the SNP gains across Scotland, a point I have made in previous articles. As we welcome 2016, there needs to be an urgent discussion on the influence and use of polling for future elections. I believe a line was crossed where the opinion polls significantly altered public opinion and thus, the election result itself. Polls should indicate the trend of public opinion but they should not be a massive factor in forming it.

2016 is shaping up to be a huge year in Politics. We expect David Cameron to announce the date of the EU Referendum soon which will immediately intensify the already fierce debate. What may be lost in that furore is the boundary review. Analysis is already underway as the boundaries will be based on the electoral roll as it stood on December 1st and the number of constituencies (and thus MPs) will drop from 650 to 600. This could lead to a serious constitutional problem where it is almost impossible for a Labour government to win without a monumental swing in our favour. It will also mean potentially difficult selections for sitting MPs and far fewer chances for new candidates to emerge. May 2016 will see the Police and Crime Commissioner elections and in many areas (not County Durham) local authority elections will take place. The speculation surrounded how will the Labour vote stand up and will Jeremy Corbyn's appeal go much further than the strong support he enjoys from grassroots will finally get some facts to back up or lay waste to the differing opinions on his progress or otherwise. For a Labour member, this is perhaps most interesting, whilst noting that our focus should always be on opposing the Government.

If the media are to be believed, Labour are perhaps as close to a serious split as they have been since Jeremy Corbyn became Leader. The standard filler piece for any journalist at present who needs to fill some space either online or in the printed press is to question Shadow Cabinet members and look for any subtle sign of trouble for Corbyn. To oppose Corbyn is to be accused of either wanting a split or worse still, being a Tory, although what they really mean is not being on the left. They have short memories. They have forgotten that during the Blair years, also known as the only years we have ever been in power since Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister on and before 1979, there was always the hard left members of the party that disliked the compromises we made to win power. The kinder politics we apparently stand for seems to only apply to those who agree with the views of the Leader. Personally I really hope we make progress towards a more tolerant approach to differing views in 2016.

I've no doubt that Corbyn is sincere in his wish for a more tolerant approach to differing opinions. This was admirably demonstrated by Corbyn himself when he allowed Hilary Benn to speak in favour of military action at the vote on Syria, which led (not necessarily because of Benn's excellent speech) to 65 Labour MPs voting with Benn. Few seem to have noted that even if Labour voted as one solid 'No' vote, it would not have affected the result. Majority matters. Corbyn wins my praise, but then I read the Facebook pages where the 'Yes' MPs stated their position on the free vote and received truly horrible abuse. This exposed the nasty underbelly from apparent Labour supporters that transact such justify the abuse towards these MPs whilst agreeing with Corbyn's wish for a kinder politics. Their vitriol came despite Corbyn authorising a free vote so Labour MPs could vote as they wished. This has not stopped the media in fanning the flames of speculation that Hilary Benn and Maria Eagle will be removed from their senior Shadow Cabinet positions and replaced with core Corbyn supporters like Diane Abbott.

As interesting as gossip always is to read, it is worth a moment of perspective in observing that Corbyn must have had detailed discussions with his Shadow Cabinet members before appointing them and thus he would have been well aware of their concerns and even opposition on a range of his ideas. The scenario that played out was surely no surprise to him, at least it should not have been, so I feel the media selling this as a huge split is overblown. Corbyn knows his support has never came from Labour MPs, but he will also be very aware that with his power base elsewhere than with his elected colleagues, he will need to maneuver very carefully if he is to manage both their concerns and the open goals this presents to the media. Each time a vote occurs there is a risk of the media focuses more on Labours internal discussions rather than the policies and we should not given the Conservatives such an easy ride as that. Corbyn knows that asking the Labour MPs to fall into line on every vote will be tricky because rebellions will occur and do occur for every party.

So how will it resolve? I do not have the answers, but it is a massive worry for 2016 that Labour might be so focused on internal political struggles our focus does not sit where it should which is to be an effective opposition.

Whichever issue interests you most, whether you prefer the EU debate, constitutional change or good old internal battles, 2016 is looking like being a very interesting year for politics. It could be a very good year for Labour if we get very encouraging results in May 2016 or it could be very bad year if the Labour MPs fall out in a big way and wholesale changes are made to the Shadow Cabinet. I believe that there should be no rash decisions made until the results in May are known. The proof of the pudding is in the eating after all. There is too much rhetoric and speculation, so we need cold hard and irrefutable electoral feedback before we start judging the new regime. There is a time for harsh judgment, but not yet and not based on flimsy speculation. If the results are not good in May there would always be tough questions for the Leader to answer, but in the meantime we need to keep working hard to make it work and stay loyal. No-one, however, will be more aware than Jeremy Corbyn that there could be fireworks ahead so we need all hands on deck and not just Facebook warriors talking to themselves to win over the public to cash in on our apparent popularity. Despite it's complexities politics can be a very simple game, when it all boils down to it you either win or you don't. The rest is just noise, however well-intended.

I wish you all a very Happy and successful New Year.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Other Politics Documentaries

In my final YouTube collation for the moment, here are four other Politics documentaries that you should watch. I know you will enjoy them. They are varied in political positioning but very interesting in their own right.

Heath vs Wilson: The 10 Year Duel

This BBC Documentary charts the political and personal struggles between Harold Wilson, Leader of The Labour Party and Conservative Leader Edward "Ted" Heath. They say styles make fights in Boxing and certainly Heath's very professional approach, a typical Tory grandee and Wilson's more "of the people" approach, saw a clash in styles and most other things. The documentary looks at their feud, the events that surrounded their battles and the elections they contested.

Gladstone & Disreali

Long before Heath and Wilson, at a time when seats were bought and not democratically earned, Gladstone and Disraeli were the political heavyweights of the mid to late 19th century. This BBC documentary looks at their lives and their lifelong feud for political power.

Mandelson: The Real PM

The third wheel in the reformation of Labour into New Labour under Blair and Brown, Peter Mandelson had a well-known love of status and his revelling in his nickname "The Dark Lord" after he joined the House of Lords. Obtaining high office during Neil Kinnock's reign behind the scenes, he became a Chief Strategist under Blair, before becoming MP of Hartlepool in 2001. Devastated by twice being fired by Blair, who Mandelson was both politically and personally devoted to, he returned to government prior to the 2010 General Election to work for bitter rival Gordon Brown. This documentary looks at the time prior to the 2010 election, where Mandelson had amassed a string of top level government jobs and titles.

Churchill (1 of 4) Renegade and Turncoat

This four part documentary from 1992 discusses the life and political achievements of Sir Winston Churchill.

Churchill (2 of 4) To Conquer Or To Die

Churchill (3 of 4) The Beginning Of The End

Churchill (4 of 4) Never Despair

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas for 2015!

I would like to read all (both!) of my readers a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy the day and remember, it's not just about enjoying one day but as many of your days as possible!