Author Topic: UK politics 2019  (Read 3337 times)

dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2019, 09:11:30 AM »
One thing I would like to hear about is what kind of candidates the big parties find on such short notice: do the Conservatives replace the moderates who left with "hard Brexit or bust" fanatics?  Will the new Labour MPs be mostly anti-Corbyn and will they have a clear position on Brexit?  And what do they propose to do when they have decided whether they want to be in or out?

Jubal

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2019, 09:11:48 PM »
So, candidate selection is a complex affair, but most parties have candidates for any seriously contested seat in place already - the LD system is to have potential candidates in place pretty much constantly, sometimes called "spokesperson" for an area. The same will be true of other parties at least in target seats. Most parties' HQs can influence selections considerably, though local parties get more say in e.g. the Lib Dems than in the Tories. The exceptions to "has a candidate already" will be seats where an MP has only just announced their retirement, but the HQs of different parties will have lots of people they can drop in at short notice at least in the case of the bigger parties. Then the no-hope seats will also get random candidates parachuted in - students or older members there to fly the party flag without any serious chance of getting votes, in many cases.

I'd expect any newly selected Labour candidates to be  quite pro-Corbyn, with occasional exceptions, and new Tory candidates to be even more overwhelmingly people willing to trot out Johnson's line whatever it is that particular week. Labour constituency associations have tended to swing left since Corbyn's election and are probably less likely to put centrist candidates in place then before the Corbyn takeover (their membership is now much higher and the party's organised left faction, Momentum, has been very active in contesting selections). Their campaign messaging will differ according to the seat - remain leaning seats will be told that Labour want's a referendum with an option to Remain, leave leaning seats will be told that Labour will negotiate a better Brexit deal than the Tories. Meanwhile in the Tories their central office has huge power over candidate selection and they're not that fussed about holding onto Remain voters - their main message will be "get Brexit done" which is in keeping with standard recent Tory messaging not least in that it is an entirely inaccurate description of what they propose. And yes, there will be no new moderates coming into the Conservatives - they've decided, or perhaps realised, that as long as they can largely monopolise the leave vote, they don't actually need them. I think in either case there'll be some sort of candidate vetting procedure which will have given them their emergency candidate pool - the Lib Dems have an assessment day you need to pass, I don't know if the other parties are as rigorous. We're not as good at background checking candidates outside the assessment day as we should be, which is a problem the party needs to fix.

In any case, we've all known for a long time that an election was highly likely, so everyone is fairly geared up for it already and has been for months - the short notice won't make a lot of difference.

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Jubal

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #47 on: November 15, 2019, 10:31:16 PM »
A reminder of how messed up British politics right now is: Lord Buckethead, a political candidate who dresses up as a galactic overlord with a bucket on his head, lost the copyright to his own name, and is now faced with a new Lord Buckethead from the Monster Raving Loony Party who have somehow acquired the copyright, to which he has responded by renaming himself Count Binface and contesting the election anyway.

We are literally at the point where we have vote-splitting problems in the "galactic overlords with rubbish receptacles on their heads" voting block.

Please send help. Or possibly just a well timed invasion from outer space.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #48 on: November 16, 2019, 11:02:27 PM »
In Canada, the Rhino Party fielded a Maxime Bernier in People's Party Maxime Bernier's riding.  The upstart got a massive 1,084 votes (1.8%) which is a good 1.7% more than Rhinoceros Party candidates usually win.

One of the inventions which gets grouped with Neoliberalism is the discovery by right-wingers in the late 1970s that its much more popular to cut taxes and force service cuts than to raise the taxes which will pay for those services.  The British Conservatives obviously told the ghost of Maggie Thatcher to hold their beer and decided to go all the way back to austerity like John Maynard Keynes was never born.  To what extent have the LibDems and Labour been able to say "to bring back public services we will need taxes, but those taxes will fund services which the people paying them would have to buy at greater expense anyways"?

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #49 on: November 17, 2019, 11:04:46 AM »
Both Lib Dems and Labour will be fighting on a manifesto of raising taxes, but both shy away from being quite as blunt about it as they should be, or couch it with awkward other promises and issues.

Labour are promising sizeable tax hikes for the wealthy, but are also trying to pretend they won't need any tax increases (no VAT, income, or national insurance increases) for the main personal taxes for the bottom 95% of the population. Which given they're trying to give massive tax injections to public services and afford a string of renationalisations, seems, uh, optimistic to say the least. It's not that the top 5% don't have an exponential-curve amount of wealth, but that isn't always accessible via their personal income, and given a lot of them can afford to shuffle money around you do get a problem where solely going after the super rich and not the moderately well off end up with it being really hard to estimate the returns. It's possible they have other tax rises in mind, but these would probably be less fair than just raising income tax. And basically this means Labour don't have to sell people the idea that tax is good, because they're telling just about everyone that it won't be them that pays.

The Lib Dems meanwhile are set to raise the basic rate of income tax, but hypothecate it (promising to spend it all on healthcare) which, eh, doesn't really work very well. But the party is at least set on selling people the idea that for social democratic level services, they need to pay higher levels of personal taxation. Unfortunately, the Lib Dems' problem is that they're also trying to scoop up Conservative leaning remain voters, so they're trying to combine this with some very un-Keynesian strict rules on attempting to run fiscal surpluses for non-infrastructure spending, which as broadly a Keynesian myself I think is nuts. That said, all the parties are claiming to be aiming for balanced budgets - I think it's the new cross-party economic madness of the day, honestly. So the Lib Dems are trying to sell the idea of broad higher taxation, but coupling it with a scepticism of state borrowing that I'm not sure will work well.



Meanwhile the aforementioned Lib Dem internal elections are over. Mixed result - I think broadly speaking the Federal Board swung to the left/radical side, and the Policy and Conference committees to the right/centrist side, though not by huge margins in any direction. The Radical Association held its leader's policy committee seat and was twenty votes off getting its treasurer on there too (which means he's high on the "reserve list" if members resign). One of the executive members also made it onto Conference Committee due to diversity rules, though FCC now looks noticeably less radical since three of the five most senior LBT women in the party resigned over the Phillip Lee affair. Most impressively, the Association's director topped the Federal Board ballot despite not being an incumbent. That said, the centre-right Liberal Reform group also got five of their candidates onto committees, so it's a mixed bag and I think a lot panned out more on who was able to campaign and mobilise their personal networks better - given the upcoming election there wasn't as much debate on party direction as there ought to be with these things, and what there was probably didn't get read by enough of the voters (the main official candidate discussion group on Facebook has 1200 members - but over 10,000 voted in the Federal Board election). The presidential race will be counted after the election, presumably to avoid it having any potential fallout for the candidate who's defending a parliamentary seat right now.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #50 on: November 17, 2019, 10:23:29 PM »
And what about climate change and ecosystem collapse in the oceans?  Do any of the three biggest parties have serious plans, or is it just "electric cars and more wind farms and a few marine protected areas that nobody in the fishing industry minds"?  (My impression is that local politicians in Scotland tend to have some idea of what the best evidence tells us is coming down the pipe, but I don't know England or Wales).

The way today's financial systems are set up to enable the very rich to hide money from the taxman is another of those big structural problems.  The US or EU could do something about it, but its hard for a country the size and weight of Canada or the UK, especially when so much of the economy of London or Vancouver are centered around helping the very rich move their money between jurisdictions.

I can't imagine trying to talk about politics on Facebook, it would be like trying to do it in a noisy club.  I would consider it a disaster if any serious information were only available there (or birdsite).
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 09:20:40 AM by dubsartur »

Jubal

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #51 on: November 18, 2019, 02:43:17 PM »
So, on climate change:

> The Greens as you might expect have the most radical plan, promising net zero emissions by 2030. Even Greenpeace sounded a bit wobbly when asked whether this was plausible, but better to aim high on this sort of thing probably. Their plan sounds quite similar to the Labour or Lib Dem one to me, just they think they can do it faster - they frequently tag more optimistic numbers onto things than anyone else does, as a rule.

> The Lib Dems I obviously know more about and are probably next down the list, having pledged a 100bn plan with a very rapid initial decarbonisation phase, 90% emissions cut and the end of sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030, and lots of measures like high investment in retrofitting homes with insulation to reduce heating energy consumption, with net zero by 2045. Also plans for all local authorities to be given new statutory duties to move to zero carbon and new money to make that happen, so a lot more of the Lib Dem plan would be locally administered than with e.g. Labour. There's also a lot of plans for decarbonising investment systems and taxing/penalising investments that have significant carbon costs, and ramping decarbonisation up to be a diplomatic priority area as well - given a lot of the UK's emissions are actually emitted abroad from manufacturing the stuff we use, this is likely fairly key.

> Labour actually initially matched the Green 2030 target, but have reversed tack on it today under pressure from the unions who think that rapid emission reduction would harm jobs. So now I've got no idea what their targets are any more, but their model is very much the "Green New Deal" a la AOC etc, they want a lot of big scale central state investment into green jobs/power production and lots of new electrified high speed rail projects, and producing centralised public transport strategies and subsidies etc to encourage their use.

> The Tories occasionally mumble something about climate change but don't do anything about it, obviously. Nominally they think it's a bad thing, technically, I think.

Broadly, I'd say that all three of the main progressive-wing parties do have fairly rapid and moderately credible plans on climate change, with the variation being in the detail level and thought given (LDs, Greens, Labour in that order), the rapidity of the main zero carbon target (Greens, LDs, no idea about Labour as of today), and the extent to which the parties want to deliver things like home refittings and public transport changes at local vs centralised levels (LDs most local, then Greens, Labour most centralised).



Agreed re the big structural problems, and agreed re the problem of using Facebook for anything politically sensible - I was quite annoyed that the party decided to use that as basically its main platform for candidate questioning etc, and I wasn't the only one.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #52 on: November 18, 2019, 06:19:10 PM »
That sounds similar to Canada where all the parties but the Conservatives are talking about serious emissions reductions, but often the plans are a bit vague and only the Greens have started communicating to the public that this will require changing their lives beyond reusable water-bottles and Meatless Mondays.  Elizabeth May explained it as the Liberals being aware of what scientists say in an intellectual way, but being more concerned with political viability now than whether we can still grow barley in 40 years.  (The Canadian Greens have been using the WW II metaphor too, it seems to be one which people all over the rich Anglo world turn to- I doubt it would be as popular in Bengal or Bayern). 

A 90-100% reduction in emissions by 2030 is very optimistic.  Back in the day, I remember that folks like David MacKay of Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air said "realistically, we need 20-30 years to decarbonize, so start yesterday."  One of the vicious circles is that to reduce consumption, you need to build a new infrastructure, and that consumes energy ... a lot of very smart people have been working desperately to find a substitute for concrete and steel or a way to make them without burning fossil fuels.  Combining it with balanced budgets (and possibly a devalued, post-Brexit currency) would be even harder.

Pentagathus

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #53 on: November 24, 2019, 11:19:06 AM »
Do any of the main parties state what they would replace fossil fuels with? From my very very small amount of reading on the subject it seems like nuclear is the most viable option but people think nuclear reactors = nuclear bomb waiting to happen.

Jubal

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #54 on: November 24, 2019, 04:46:16 PM »
Buttloads of renewables, is my understanding. How plausible that is may well be a fair question.

In any case, it's unlikely to be a relevant question: Farage has completely self destructed his campaign, the Tories have crushed the BRX vote and are now a solid 12-13 points clear of Labour. Pretty hard to see how the Conservatives end up without a majority, though there's still about two and a half weeks for that to change.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #55 on: November 25, 2019, 05:26:44 PM »
MacKay's Sustainable Energy- Without Hot Air focused on the UK specifically and gave some examples of the baskets of energy sources which would be required https://withouthotair.com/  Its a vicious problem because you can't just electrify everything, and you can't simultaneously use a piece of land for biofuel, and reforestation, and of course the increase in extreme weather which is already built into the system will interfere with transport and power transmission (floods, railroad tracks buckling in summer heat waves, high winds blowing cyclists off bridges, brownouts due to peak demand from air conditioning).

Pentagathus

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #56 on: November 25, 2019, 06:18:04 PM »
So what you're saying is, we all gonna die?

dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #57 on: November 25, 2019, 06:46:16 PM »
Most of the scenarios I have read involve something like the British rationing era 1939-1954, or Cuba's response to the fall of the USSR.  That does not have to mean real hardship and death, but it does mean fewer personal motor vehicles, fewer plane flights, buying fewer more durable clothes and electronics, eating less meat, sweaters and a space heater in the kitchen instead of central heating and an open-plan house ... but I have not seen anyone who has run the numbers and still believes we can just replace our diesel car with an electric car, find some way to put the carbon back in the ground, and continue like its 1999.

The alternative is that we trigger runaway warming, the permafrost outgasses and the icecaps melt, all the ports flood and agriculture breaks.  Its possible that could begin as low as 1.5*C of warming over the preindustrial average, we are at 1* and rising.  This has been known in outline since the 1970s but the evidence get stronger and the worst case uglier every year

Gwynne Dyer is a historian and journalist not a technical person, but he wrote this at the peak of his powers aged 65: http://gwynnedyer.com/2008/four-harsh-truths-about-climate-change/ 
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 07:04:15 PM by dubsartur »

Pentagathus

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #58 on: November 25, 2019, 08:07:24 PM »
I can't imagine people voting for rationing and genuine austerity anytime soon tbh.
Are fossil fuel deposits in far northern latitudes (Russian oilfields and Canadian oilsands) formed from fauna that lived so far back that these land areas were not in the far north or is it that these latitudes could sustain higher biomass in a warmer world? Cos I have heard many times that global warming will actually make extreme latitudes less temperate as well as ducking with rainfall thanks to changes in ze jetstream and weather systems, but it seems that in the past such areas have been able to sustain far more life than they do today, thanks to being warmer.

dubsartur

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Re: UK politics 2019
« Reply #59 on: November 25, 2019, 09:27:41 PM »
  That is complicated, but keep in mind that the problem is supporting a small range of grains, lentils, and domestic animals which evolved to grow well in a stable preindustrial climate.  It does not help if the biomass of ferns, cockroaches, squid, and midges explodes.  And there are many unpredictable factors, like what will happen if melting ice in Greenland breaks the Gulf Stream (that could cool Atlantic Europe while the rest of the world is warming).

  Its not the case that climate change will be good for northern countries.  Aside from the starving refugees from Florida or Singapore who will be flooding north, its no good that the climate is sort of right for barley in an area which does not yet have fertile soil, which is turning to mush because the permafrost melted, or which suddenly gets alternate years of hurricanes and droughts.

  It may be that we walk into runaway climate change and civilization dies.  The problem is that by the time things become too obvious to ignore in cities in the northern hemisphere, it may be too late to decarbonize + sequester + geoengineer (we have already killed 80-90% of the biomass that existed in the oceans 500 years ago, the coral reefs may be unsavable).  But anyone who tells you that something is inevitable is selling something: they are committing sorcery forbidden by Ea and the Wise Lord not describing the world.  So we are keeping organizing and planning and changing, and if we fail we fail.

Another great Briton had this to say in "Wells, Hitler, and the World State" back in 1941:

Quote
All sensible men for decades past have been substantially in agreement with what Mr. Wells says; but the sensible men have no power and, in too many cases, no disposition to sacrifice themselves. Hitler is a criminal lunatic, and Hitler has an army of millions of men, aeroplanes in thousands, tanks in tens of thousands. For his sake a great nation has been willing to overwork itself for six years and then to fight for two years more, whereas for the common-sense, essentially hedonistic world-view which Mr. Wells puts forward, hardly a human creature is willing to shed a pint of blood.

Human beings have built pyramids, constructed cathedrals, launched 900 year long series of astronomical data collection, and fought great wars against people that most of them have never seen.  The theory that all people want is softness and an easy life is just a theory, on the tenth of September 2001 would anyone have predicted the world today?
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 09:40:04 PM by dubsartur »