Thursday 17 September 2015

Nick Cohen: Why I've given up on the left

In follow up to my last post on Jeremy Corbyn, I wanted to show this video I listened to today by the journalist and writer Nick Cohen.

He's written the lead article in this week's Spectator magazine, entitled: Why I’ve finally given up on the left

After reading his piece which I re-tweeted and watching his video above, it made me realise that I share many of his feelings about the left and left wing politics.

I'm increasingly becoming disillusioned with the left and the attitude and mentality that many on the left now hold.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader may have energised a lot of young people to join the Party and helped older members reconnect with Labour's values. But there's also I think a growing number of people like me who may not immediately decide to vote Conservative but they are coming to the conclusion that Labour and the left in this country is no longer for them.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn new Labour Leader: Things just got interesting!

So no surprises with the announcement last weekend that left wing veteran Jeremy Corbyn had been elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

After making it onto the nomination list at the last minute, its been anticipated for a number of weeks that he would triumph in a result that will have ramifications for the Labour Party and British politics for years to come.

For those of you who have read some of my previous posts and tweets, you will know I'm not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn. When I say that, I mean I'm not a socialist and I don't agree with many of his views. In saying that I do think that some of the issues he's raised should and deserve to be discussed as part of a wider political debate.

We should talk about rising inequality, austerity and the housing crisis in the UK, particularly in London where house prices are no longer affordable for many people. That said, I don't believe he is a potential Prime Minister in waiting and far from increasing Labour's vote and seats in Parliament at the next election, his appeal amongst the wider electorate simply won't be large enough.

What does Corbyn's election victory mean?

Jeremy Corbyn's election victory tells me that the Labour Party has no interest in speaking to or understanding the electorate who occupy the centre ground of British politics.

Those of us who follow politics have to remind ourselves that for most people politics isn't really that important. A lot of the electorate are pretty middle of the road when it comes to their political views. Too many on the left of the Labour Party hold a disdain even contempt for the centre ground - they don't want to appeal to people there as they believe the centre is too right wing.

It's all very well Labour party members and activists voting for Jeremy Corbyn but is Mr and Mrs middle income in Nuneaton or Worcester prepared to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?

I don't think so but then I don't think many on the left even care. If I've learnt anything over the years, those on the left only care about 3 groups of people. They are: The poor and disadvantaged, the rich who they want to tax and thirdly they care about themselves and their own political beliefs and values.

A lot of politics is about gut feeling and instinct. My gut feeling says that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has nothing to say to me as an individual or those average middle income earners in this country who aren't rich or well off but at the same time aren't deprived or living in poverty.

Why I don't support Corbyn

We hear a lot about the politics of hope. That Corbyn's success is down to people who are fed up with 'politics as usual'. Fed up with 'the Westminster elite' and want something different. I understand this but Corbyn's election does not offer this hope to me in the way it does for many of his supporters.

Politically speaking I've always considered myself a Social Democrat, I'm centre left. However, what I've started to realise is that I actually dislike much of the hard left wing politics represented by Corbyn and his supporters. I find it quite distasteful!

Corbyn seems like a decent and principled person which I don't have a problem with. It's what his politics represent I dislike. Left wing politics likes to portray itself as progressive, inclusive and concerned with the welfare of the poor, the disadvantaged and those that don't have a voice but that's just part of the picture.

The reality is that all too often left wing politics is in fact incredibly self righteous, arrogant, hostile and bigoted towards those who don't hold or share their views and values.

The left likes to claim the moral high ground and those of us who don't share those view are dismissed as being Tory or Tory lite, this goes for those of us who have never voted Tory.

The Conservative Party have been known as the 'nasty party' but there is a nastiness amongst many on the left. I voted for Liz Kendall in the leadership election. The amount of hostile abuse she received on social media for being a supposed 'Tory' is a great example of this nastiness.

Those of us with a different political opinion whether it's on the right of the Labour Party, the political centre-ground or Conservatives are dismissed as selfish, neoliberal Tory scum who are only motivated by self interest.

This kind of arrogant view sums up why I have no intention of supporting such a left wing Labour party. Holding hard left wing views does not make someone morally superior which sadly appears to be the case for many on the left who support Corbyn.

No more excuses

Another reason why I won't be supporting a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party is that I'm tired of the endless excuses the left comes out with. For the last 25 years all we've heard is how the Labour party under the leadership of Tony Blair and New Labour abandoned Labour's traditional core values and beliefs. They accepted too many of Margret Thatcher's reforms of the 1980's and in doing so became 'Tory-lite'.

With Corbyn's victory there can be no more complaints or excuses. The left has taken control of the Labour Party and can put forward a distinct socialist alternative. If I hear anyone tell me that the parties are all the same I will scream! The electorate has been given a very clear choice between Labour and the Conservatives.

Nobody knows how things will develop over the next few months or years but what I do know is that if and when things begin to go wrong for Labour and Corbyn none of it will be because of him or his policies.

Instead we will hear a long list of excuses which the left specialises in.

If Labour are trailing in the opinion polls or perform poorly in next year's local and European elections, you can guarantee it will be because of the following:

1. Tory lies / the right wing media brainwashing the electorate
2. Blairites and the right of the Labour Party.
3. Tony Blair
4. The Iraq War
5. BBC bias
6. Policies that were right but the electorate didn't get it

If that sounds cynical I make no apologies, it's what I've learnt about the left after 30 years of following British politics!

The reality of real politics

Jeremy Corbyn has built his career on the politics of protest and opposition, he is now in a position of genuine power and influence. Politics can't always be about holding onto your principles 100% of the time.

It's also about compromise and accommodating others. It's about accepting what can be achieved within specific circumstances and parameters. This might not be exciting or visionary but this is the day-to-day reality for many involved in politics.

It's going to be interesting to see how some of his views and principles hold up in the next few weeks and months, I may not agree with his politics but I'll admit I'm looking forward to the entertainment value that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will provide.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

World Athletics Championships: A look back

With the Athletics World Championships over, I thought I'd have a quick look back at some of my highlights.

I don't want to talk about doping, I know it's an important issue but it's the athletes and the performances that really matter so that's what I want to focus on.

Stand out performances.

It's too easy to focus on Usain Bolt, even though his performances in the 100m and 200m were exceptional. The same goes for Mo Farah, instead I wanted to highlight some other performances which caught my eye.

Dafne Schippers

A silver in the 100m and gold in the 200m winning with the 3rd fastest time in history. I think she made the right choice to give the Heptathlon up. Schippers has proven the Europeans can compete and beat the best of the Americans and Jamaicans.

Dina Asher-Smith.

Surely the future face of British athletics. She's had an amazing season running under 11:00 seconds for the 100m and finally breaking Kathy Cook's 200m records set back in the 1982.

Wayde van Niekerk

One of the great 400m of all time. Certainly didn't expect South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk to win but look at the time - no wonder he had to be taken to hospital after collapsing after the race! Anytime someone runs the 400m under 44 seconds it's always a special event.

Allyson Felix

I remember Michael Johnson saying that there is only room for one global star in athletics and we all know who that is. A certain Mr Usain Bolt.

But in the world of athletics Allyson Felix is a superstar! her ability over 100, 200 and 400m is exceptional. She's been around for so long, competing in major championships since she was a teenager and her record is incredible. Her performance in the 3rd leg of the 4x400m relay will live long in the memory. It was sensational.

Felix with her 4x400 teammates

Greg Rutherford

You can tell from some of his interviews that Rutherford doesn't feel he's got the respect he deserves for his performances over the last few years. He's probably right but after winning here in Beijing and holding the World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic titles there can be no more debate about his talent.

I think his problem is that coming into the Olympics in 2012 the general public weren't really aware of him and I didn't know he was in such good form coming into that competition. His problem is that the long jump doesn't have the same profile as it used to when the likes of Carl Lewis and Mike Powell were around.

Secondly, we don't see people consistently jumping over 8.50 and up towards the world record mark of 8.95. I think if Rutherford was jumping 8.60 - 8.70 his profile would have been higher. But the thing that really matters is that he delivers when it matters and for that he deserves all the respect for his achievements.

Breaking down the stereotypes

In athletics we get used to seeing certain countries dominate in certain sports. The USA and Jamaica in the sprints, East Africans in the distance events, and Europeans in the field events. One thing that stood out for me in this Championship is that we've seen different nations succeed in events that we might of previously thought unlikely.

I've noticed both China and Japan are producing good sprinters and this was confirmed with the Chinese winning a silver medal in the mens 4x100m relay.

Kenya emerged from their middle and long distance 'ghetto' with Julius Yego winning the Javelin and Nicholas Bett winning the mens 400m hurdles!

In the distance events America has been producing a number of good distance runners for a few years now even though they didn't manage to win a medal last week.

In the sprints we had Dafne Schippers coming second in the 100m and winning the 200m in the 3rd fastest time in history and Russia's Segey Shubenkov winning the 110m hurdles. It just proves that white European sprinters can run just as quickly as the Americans and Caribbeans.

I think one of the reasons I've highlighted this is that it's easy to become lazy and make assumptions that certain countries and races of people are naturally better at some events and sports than others. If Kenya's Julius Yego thought that as a Kenyan he could only run distance races he would never have become World Javelin champion. Like wise, Dafne Schippers could have stuck with the Hepthalon if she didn't think she could ever beat the Americans and Jamaicans.

The sports that we do and excel in are related to culture, opportunity, hard work and training just as much as natural talent and ability. Jamaica's success at sprinting has encouraged kids in Jamaica to emulate their winning sprinters the same in Kenya and Ethiopia with distance running but these things are not set in stone.

Japan and China have proved that East Asians can run fast and in Britain with the success of Mo Farah there's probably kids out there that can see themselves having a go at the distance events and not thinking it's just for East Africans.

Its' good to see that different countries are winning events outside their perceived natural strengths, it makes athletics more interesting and more competitive.

I'm already looking forward to seeing some Jamaican long distance runners and a Chinese sprinter running under 10 seconds. You might laugh but there's no law saying it can't happen.