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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:54 am 
Smeric
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Ah, thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:09 am 
Sanno
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Which reminds me of two further words that might need a little explanation...


Quango. A QUasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation. A quango is an organisation financed by, and sometimes given a purview by, or even given some authority by, the government, but that is not directly operated by the government itself. These basically do everything the government doesn't want to be criticised for doing directly. At one point in the 1990s, they accounted for 25% of all government spending, though later governments have eliminated hundreds of them. Ofcom, for example, is a quango. The term is not usually applied to the BBC, although it could be seen, conceptually, as a gargantuan quango avant la lettre.

Purdah. A convention that binds the government during formal election periods (about six weeks). During this time, codes of practice forbid civil servants from doing anything (making announcements, releasing reports, etc) that may appear to favour one party or the other. Likewise, convention dictates that government ministers refrain from announcing any new policies or trying to pass any new laws, other than those that are urgently required for security or budgetary reasons. There's no specific law enforcing this (except for in local government), but it's a highly respected convention, and breaking it would be seen as highly opportunistic and manipulative. Besides, government ministers probably like it - they'd rather make unfunded promises of future giveaways through their manifestos, rather than have to make actual giveaways through their policies today.


Speaking of which, this one is probably obvious, but just in case:

Manifesto. A specific written document detailing a party's proposed major policy initiatives should they be elected. All parties publish a manifesto in the run-up to each new election. The manifesto is not binding - the party doesn't have to do what they said they'd do - but "manifesto commitments" are treated as being, in a way, "serious" and "for real" in a way that the ordinary promises they make every week aren't. Breaking manifesto commitments is a bigger issue than an ordinary U-turn (c.f. Liberal Democrats and tuition fees). Conversely, the winning party is considered to have a democratic mandate for government, but a particularly strong mandate for enacting their manifesto - it's hard to rebel against your party on a manifesto commitment, for instance, and the powers of the Lords are specifically restricted as regards manifesto commitments, as these are seen as having been directly endorsed by The People.

As a result, writing the manifesto is an important position, but it's usually not given to a party leader (after all, nobody wants to be the guy who wrote a manifesto who lost, and everybody wants to be able to change their opinion the week after without being tied to a previous document). Instead, it's a collective effort, but typically driven forward by a (usually young) intellectual politician or activist who isn't well-known to the public, but who has considerable influence as an advisor to the party leader.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:52 am 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
Manifesto. A specific written document detailing a party's proposed major policy initiatives should they be elected. All parties publish a manifesto in the run-up to each new election. The manifesto is not binding - the party doesn't have to do what they said they'd do - but "manifesto commitments" are treated as being, in a way, "serious" and "for real" in a way that the ordinary promises they make every week aren't. Breaking manifesto commitments is a bigger issue than an ordinary U-turn (c.f. Liberal Democrats and tuition fees). Conversely, the winning party is considered to have a democratic mandate for government, but a particularly strong mandate for enacting their manifesto - it's hard to rebel against your party on a manifesto commitment, for instance, and the powers of the Lords are specifically restricted as regards manifesto commitments, as these are seen as having been directly endorsed by The People.


Mind you, that does begin to ring hollow when you consider that most people don't even bother reading the darn things, and indeed the non-reading of party manifestos is the subject of jokes on satirical programmes when they are released.

Also, do American political parties do written manifestos each election? Cause I'm not sure I've ever heard Americans discussing party manifestos like they do over here.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:56 am 
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American parties make a "platform" for each election instead of a manifesto. As in Britain, no one reads them. Knowledge of their contents come solely from the media.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:41 pm 
Smeric
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mèþru wrote:
American parties make a "platform" for each election instead of a manifesto.


Although it sort of makes logical sense, I still find it a bit weird that an individual part of a platform is called a "plank".


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:13 pm 
Sumerul
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Raphael wrote:
Although it sort of makes logical sense, I still find it a bit weird that an individual part of a platform is called a "plank".

So, when they fail to keep one of their promises, they can simply say “It's just a plank, bro”?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:09 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
They're not held within the campaign season probably for four reasons:
- predictability. You don't necessarily know when the campaign will be - even when it's not a snap election, until recently the specific date was set by the PM alone (though there were conventions), so you couldn't be booking everything far in advance.
- distraction. US elections are immensely long affairs, so everyone taking a couple of weeks holiday to produce a TV show isn't a problem. UK elections are usually very short


Oops; Sal forgot:

- third reason
- fourth reason

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:03 pm 
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Quote:
Oops; Sal forgot:

- third reason
- fourth reason

No, that's the way the British count reasons, according to some paper written several centuries ago!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:01 pm 
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alice wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
They're not held within the campaign season probably for four reasons:
- predictability. You don't necessarily know when the campaign will be - even when it's not a snap election, until recently the specific date was set by the PM alone (though there were conventions), so you couldn't be booking everything far in advance.
- distraction. US elections are immensely long affairs, so everyone taking a couple of weeks holiday to produce a TV show isn't a problem. UK elections are usually very short


Oops; Sal forgot:

- third reason
- fourth reason


woah!
Sorry, what happened there was that my computer crashed, and I thought reloading had restored the whole post, but clearly it didn't.

For the record, the other two reasons were, in short form:
- impartiality laws. Ofcom, the broadcast media regulator, requires impartial, balanced coverage during the election season (and the BBC's rules are even stricter, they can't even show focus groups or commission their own polls), so the profile boost from a conference would be watered down.
- party organisation. In the US, it's state parties that really exist, and the national convention is just a chance to meet up and unify for the purposes of a national presidential election. In England, parties are national, and the national conference is part of how the party is run. They therefore need to be annual, and elections are not (except at the moment...), so the two cycles have never synched up.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:26 pm 
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How about a different sort of explanation?

Why did it all go wrong?

As you all probably know by now, the election that was meant to give a landslide for the Conservative Party instead lost them their majority and resulted in chaos.
Why?

Well, nobody really knows, of course. But here are a few reasons...

The Leaders
Jeremy Corbyn grew in stature through the campaign. Accused of being largely absent in the Brexit campaign, he was everywhere here, his profile only expanded by the hysterical press coverage (the papers accused him of being a 'marxist extremist' and a 'terrorist sympathiser'). If he wasn't on TV speaking to a huge, adoring rally of supporters, he was on TV being an ordinary bloke chatting with other ordinary people. He made hardly any mistakes throughout, and largely managed to shield his weak front bench.

Theresa May attempted to do the same. Her advisors, particularly the Australian merchant-of-global-hatred Lynton Crosby, pushed her toward an extremely presidential campaign style, with 100% of the focus on her, to an unprecedented extent. Prominent cabinet ministers were essentially invisible throughout the campaign, banned from public appearances and in some cases forced to hide from the press. Their 'battle bus' did not say "Conservatives" on the side, but just "Theresa May". My local Tory candidate's advertising promoted them not as "The Conservatives - vote for so-and-so", nor "So-and-so, standing for the conservative party", but as "so-and-so, standing with Theresa May", and the name of their party only in small print at the bottom.

The thing is, that probably works if you're campaigning for Bill Clinton, or Tony Blair... or even maybe for David Cameron. Theresa May, however, is not Bill Clinton. Her demeanour is cold, dull, mechanical, and somewhat harsh. That too is not inherently a problem. In fact, like several other prominent female leaders, she leant into her persona, having friends leak that she was a "bloody difficult woman", drawing sharp contrasts between her substantive boringness and the shallow slipperiness of past politicians. But that sort of personal style does make it difficult to sustain a campaign based solely on her personal charisma. When you see Theresa May on the TV, you're not gripped by a desire to listen to her, and that made the decision not to allow more charismatic politicians on TV, or even just a greater variety of boring ones (the Tories at the moment not having a deep bench of charisma to draw on), rather odd.

The Sterility
Perhaps that wouldn't have mattered if May had had something genuinely interesting to say. Instead, Crosby's campaign focused on soundbites, rather than specifics. Particularly at the beginning of the campaign, pretty much everything she said involved the phrase - and indeed was largely limited to the phrase - "strong and stable". This was said so many times that it quickly became the subject of widespread mockery, and made it hard for her to have people pay any attention to her.

Again, repeating the same soundbites isn't new. Lots of politicians do it. But Theresa May does not do it well. She doesn't have the wit to vary the content of her words, nor the suavity to make old words seem new. As a result, she became known as the "Maybot", a mechanical AI experiment that spat out variations on the same stock phrases with no attention whatsoever paid to the context. If it wasn't strong and stable, it was being very clear, or it was Brexit. Or it was being very clear that only strong and stable leadership could deliver a strong and stable Brexit. An interview with a local journalist became famous as "the dullest political interview in history", and "three minutes of saying absolutely nothing". [and of four questions, she began three of her answers with "I'm very clear that..."]

May seemed to be aware of this weakness, but magnified it through her cowardice. She hardly ever met any members of the public, and when she did it was one or two people at a time, with little warning and little press coverage, in case anything went wrong. She didn't have rallies like Corbyn, not just because she couldn't find enough people who liked her, but also because ordinary people seem to have ruled out as too unpredictable and irregular. Perhaps that was a good idea, except that the presidential campaigning style required constant coverage of her. The result was constant coverage of her, giving snippets of speeches, to tiny crowds of handpicked supporters and her own advisors, in front of artificial backdrops, usually in aircraft hangers or other large empty spaces. Politicians always do that - it's an easy way to generate a five-second TV clip without worrying too much about security or logistics - but having a campaign consisting of nothing but these artificial soundstages made it look like the PM was a robot who couldn't be trusted with, or worse perhaps disdained, any actual human contact. Rather than minimising her robotic image, it magnified it.

Worst of all, she didn't dare debate her rivals. TV debates are a new thing in the UK, but they've quickly become popular and expected. May flat-out refused to debate Corbyn. She did give in and allow a weird sort of time-lag debate, in which Corbyn and May each answered a series of questions from an interviewer, with the two interviews shown back-to-back... but that just highlighted the fact that she didn't dare be in the same room as him! That in turn was amplified when Corbyn made a surprise appearance in a debate with the leaders of the minor parties, and May again declined to show up. Tip for any politicians reading: boycotting the "minor party" junior debate session can look good, if your serious rival does so too (so that it looks unimportant, not in the same league), but when he turns up and you don't, you're left with a stage holding every candidate to lead the country except you, and that's not a good image.

The Manifestos
It's wrong to say there was nothing to the campaign beyond "strong and stable". There was some content: in the Tory manifesto. Not a lot of content, because they refused to give any actual figures for anything ("the only numbers in the Tory manifesto are the page numbers", as a rival quipped). But there was content. And that may be where they went wrong.

In essence, the manifesto attempted to persuade voters that if they voted Tory, they'd be miserable. It was an odd strategy. Highlights included:

- ending a promise on pensions, effectively implying that pensions would be cut, at least relative to existing promises
- taking away winter fuel allowance from some pensioners
- stop giving free food to poor children
- cut taxes for big corporations
- reintroduce grammar schools
- build more schools for Catholics
- legalise fox-hunting

Much of this could be conceptually defended. Some pensioners are rich enough not to need subsidies to pay for fuel, for instance. But taken as a package, it came across as miserable, cruel and unfair, and at the same time as returning to the old Tory 'nasty party' of out-of-touch aristocrats, scaring potential new working-class Tories back to safety with Labour. It was also completely disconnected from the rest of the campaign. While Crosby was having May focus everything on Brexit and stability, her chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, took the opportunity to write a manifesto that focused on their personal dream social policies. Because Crosby's May was focused on Brexit and stability, and no-one else was allowed on camera, there was no-one to actually defend the manifesto, and because the manifesto said very little about Brexit and stability, it wasn't able to flesh out the missing detail in May's vague on-screen reassurances.

Worst of all, however, was the so-called "dementia tax", in which old people with dementia would be punished by taking their homes away from their families after their death and selling them. Again, her advisors seem not to have realised how things might look to anyone who wasn't a policy wonk. They thought that what they were doing was raising the threshold of wealth at which people started having to pay for their own care, but including houses in that wealth calculation, and allowing payment post mortum. But what that would mean in practice, and how people saw it, was that old people who happened to need care would have their houses stolen by the government the moment they died. This appeared heartless and unjust.

May then attempted to assuage fears, and made it even worse. Early suggestions along these lines had included a proposed upper cap on how much would have to be potentially paid by the estates of the deceased, but the manifesto version pointedly removed that cap, making it potentially limitless. Within a day, May reversed this policy change, and reintroduced the proposed cap. Accused of a U-turn, she then made it even worse again, by insisting that nothing had ever changed and there had been no u-turn. This made it look as though she were either lying to people or didn't understand her own manifesto...

Labour's manifesto, meanwhile, was launched to a chorus of jeers, as it was filled with promises that amounted to political suicide, with ridiculous ideas like renationalising the railways. Unfortunately for the Tories and the press, it turned out that Labour's policies were really, really popular. Which we all knew, because they'd always polled well. But it was assumed that because they were left-wing, they'd be political suicide. Perhaps in other times they would have been. But in the depths of austerity, and opposite a Tory manifesto that stopped one step short of reintroducing workhouses and compulsory gruel, Labour's message of life not being shit if you voted for them resonated. And Tory attempts to deride Labour's "magic money tree" to pay for all this stuff were deeply undermined by the fact that Labour had produced detailed and specific (if predictably optimistic) costings for all their proposals, whereas the Tories hadn't explained how they would pay for anything at all.

The minor parties and reconfiguration
The minor parties all saw declines in support, pushing both main parties to historic highs (Labour had their best election for 16 years, while the Tories had their best election, in raw vote terms, for three and a half decades). The Tories knew they were doing well, but didn't realise Labour would do even better. Expecting to take seats directly from Labour, the Tories focused too many resources on safe Labour seats, and failed to realise how much of UKIP's collapsing vote would flow back to Labour.

Part of the problem here, and part of the reason the results feel more epic than the numbers say they should be, is the role of Brexit. Faced with an orthogonal issue, the party system a year ago looked on the verge of collapse; instead, the parties are striking back and their vote is reconfiguring along Brexit lines. The Tories did much better than before in many Labour areas, particularly in the northwest, and also of course in Scotland, and saw particular gains in strongly Leave constituencies. Labour, however, ate into Tory leads in Remain seats across the south. In particularly, not only have Labour picked up a few completely unexpected gains in London (including Kensington and Chelsea, one of the richest seats in the country), but the Tories have been left with dramatically reduced majorities across the capital, to the extent that outside of a few outer suburbs there's basically nowhere in London where they are more than a few thousand votes ahead.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:17 am 
Sumerul
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That's a fair and detailed analysis, Sal. I'd add only that Northern Ireland similarly focussed on their two major parties (DUP and Sinn Fein, rather than the more moderate SDLP, UUP and Alliance) although I don't know the details of how that happened.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:37 pm 
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Ok, I'll byte...

Salmoneus wrote:
Accused of being largely absent in the Brexit campaign, he was everywhere here, his profile only expanded by the hysterical press coverage (the papers accused him of being a 'marxist extremist' and a 'terrorist sympathiser').



What's "hysterical" about telling the truth? He is a Marxist extremist, and he is a terrorist sympathiser. Ok, Brits are used to libel laws under which something can be true and still be libel, but still...


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:41 pm 
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Well, he's more of a Marxist softie (as in, not extremist within Marxism). Also, I imagine that said Hamas is an ally because, like most politicians not from the Middle East, he has no idea what he's talking about.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:56 pm 
Avisaru
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Raphael wrote:
He is a Marxist extremist
ITT: John Keynes was a marxist.
Raphael wrote:
he is a terrorist sympathiser
To be fair, he is a politician, and therefore not only a sympathiser, but a terrorist himself — there's a reason most official definitions of terrorism specifically exclude actions done by terrorist organizations other terrorist organizations allow to exist recognized states.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:14 pm 
Smeric
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Aili Meilani wrote:
Raphael wrote:
He is a Marxist extremist
ITT: John Keynes was a marxist.

How so?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:24 pm 
Smeric
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Aili Meilani wrote:
Raphael wrote:
he is a terrorist sympathiser
To be fair, he is a politician, and therefore not only a sympathiser, but a terrorist himself — there's a reason most official definitions of terrorism specifically exclude actions done by terrorist organizations other terrorist organizations allow to exist recognized states.


Honestly, the Hamas thing is a bit stupid of him (I bet he thinks that they speak for Palestinians as a whole, if someone bothered to tell him they don't I reckon he'd stop, but that wouldn't stop him from supporting the Palestinians in the Gaza strip in the face of how Israel is treating them). More to the point, how does "we should be willing to engage in constructive talks with the IRA and other terrorist organisations" make hhim a terrorist sympathiser? The troubles were only ended when the two sides actually sat down and talked, bot because the British government bombed the republicans into oblivion (and let's not forget the awful actions of the unionists as well during that time).

Raphael wrote:
Aili Meilani wrote:
Raphael wrote:
He is a Marxist extremist
ITT: John Keynes was a marxist.

How so?


He's a Marxist because some people can't tell the difference between Marxism and socialism: Keynes himself was actually highly critical of Marxism and Communism.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:50 pm 
Smeric
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Frislander wrote:
More to the point, how does "we should be willing to engage in constructive talks with the IRA and other terrorist organisations" make hhim a terrorist sympathiser?


It's one thing to be in favor of talking to people; it's another thing to praise them at every opportunity. Besides, while I don't support the IRA, apparently their ultimate goal is a united Ireland, which wouldn't be the end of the world. A lot of other terrorist organizations (and individual terrorists) active in the world these days have the ultimate goal of completely eradicating whatever group they don't like (be it Muslims, or Jews, or black people, or whoever) from the world, or at least force them into permanent subjugation. I have my doubts about the value of constructive talks with such people, to say the least.

Quote:
(and let's not forget the awful actions of the unionists as well during that time).


Sure. I never said that Corbyn sympathizes with all terrorists, or that only people with whom he sympathizes can be terrorists. And actually, while I still don't like him, I'm warming to the idea of him as PM now that May is doing the DUP deal.

Quote:
He's a Marxist because some people can't tell the difference between Marxism and socialism: Keynes himself was actually highly critical of Marxism and Communism.


Exactly. Keynes is best known for his advice on how to keep capitalist economies from collapsing (whether you agree with that advice or not); I have the impression that Marxists generally don't want to keep capitalist economies from collapsing.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:07 pm 
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I think he would make an awful PM regardless of what he believes in (although I'm staunchly opposed to his Israeli policy) because he simply isn't good at leading his MPs and is too ideological.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:17 pm 
Sumerul
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Frislander wrote:
Honestly, the Hamas thing is a bit stupid of him (I bet he thinks that they speak for Palestinians as a whole, if someone bothered to tell him they don't I reckon he'd stop, but that wouldn't stop him from supporting the Palestinians in the Gaza strip in the face of how Israel is treating them). More to the point, how does "we should be willing to engage in constructive talks with the IRA and other terrorist organisations" make hhim a terrorist sympathiser? The troubles were only ended when the two sides actually sat down and talked, bot because the British government bombed the republicans into oblivion (and let's not forget the awful actions of the unionists as well during that time).

You missed Aili's point.

He's a politician. He's seeking an office in a national government and, from an anarcho-communist standpoint, there's no difference between a national government and a terrorist organization (maybe except that national governments recognize each other). Hence, he's seeking an office in a terrorist organization. Hence, he's a terrorist. And so is Theresa May, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Donald Tusk, Angela Merkel, Jarosław Kaczyński, Vladimir Putin aso. aso.

(Do I really need to explain the joke?)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:09 pm 
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But at that point the use of the term "terrorist" is purely polemical, and thus loses much of its value, when one refers to all force as "terror", and glosses over that not all use of force is equal. One is better off limiting state terror to referring to actual terror by the state (torture, executions, disappearances, terror bombing, and whatnot) than using it broadly just because one does not like the state. Also, I think you are confusing anarcho-communist with pacifist for starters here.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:52 pm 
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Quote:
Brits are used to libel laws under which something can be true and still be libel, but still...

A common misconception, perpetuated by the press, who take any restriction as tyranny. Just come spend a few weeks reading the papers to see just how hard it is to sue someone for libel here. For one thing, if you can show that something is even probably mostly true, it can't be libel. For another, even if it's not true, if a reasonable person could honestly have believed it to be true on the basis of any known fact, then it's not libel. If it's related to a matter of public interest, it's not libel (and the public interest extends to things like celebrity sex lives, not just politics). If it was reasonably believed to have been in the public interest, it's not libel. If it's in a journal, it's not libel. And it can't be libel unless you can prove it actually caused substantial harm to you.

Of course, Germans are used to prison sentences for 'insult', and libel laws under which something remains libel until it's definitively proven to be true, a far more wide-ranging offence than the English equivalent. Similarly, German law makes it libel simply to defame, rather than requiring substantial direct harm. We certainly don't have any equivalent of the German protections for politicians, whereby intentional defamation of a politician carried a five year jail term!

In any case, what I said was 'hysterical', not 'untrue'. Many true statements may be expressed hysterically. That said...

Raphael wrote:
Ok, I'll byte...

Salmoneus wrote:
Accused of being largely absent in the Brexit campaign, he was everywhere here, his profile only expanded by the hysterical press coverage (the papers accused him of being a 'marxist extremist' and a 'terrorist sympathiser').



What's "hysterical" about telling the truth? He is a Marxist extremist, and he is a terrorist sympathiser.


Well, I guess if you're a fascist then things might seem that way to you. But to those of us not frothing at the mouth, these accusations are patently absurd.

What he said about Marx was that he was "a great economic thinker". This is true, and is recognised as true by almost all economists. Corbyn further said that Marx, Smith and Ricardo were all worth listening to. Which is, again, a sensible, centrist position that few people could seriously disagree with. And he's said that he thought he should probably have read more Marx than he has, which is an intellectually honest thing to say and which, again, most economics professors would support. If you were following the brouhaha, you may have noticed who leapt to Corbyn's defence on that one: among others, The Economist, the bastion of right-wing economic orthodoxy, who ran a headline reading "Labour is right" on the subject of how much there was to learn from Marx, noting his increasing relevence in the modern economic situation. Not only is Corbyn not a Marxist extremist, he's not even a Marxist!

Which of his policies is Marxist? Marx advocated the abolition of private property. Corbyn advocates that railway franchises are not renewed, and that there be a slight increase on income tax for the top 5%... to a level that's still 10% lower than Margaret Thatcher set it! "Almost as far left as Margaret Thatcher" is not the same as "Marxist"! Is increasing corporation tax to 26% Marxist? If that's Marxist, I can't imagine what the USA is, because there it's 39%! [and btw, this may be being spun as an extremist increase, but it's just restoring corporation tax to where it was in 2011, under a Tory-led coalition government!] Or is it the school meals for children you don't like? The slight increase in the minimum wage? The stunning increase of 1% of GDP on infrastructure investment (back to 2009 levels)?

I can only assume we're all communists, because only 17% of the British public say they disagree with Corbyn's nationalisation programme (which only concerns rail (via passive non-renewal of private licenses) and basic utilities).

BTW, Angela Merkel is already to the left of Corbyn in most of his policies. On utilities, for instance, Germany already takes steps to moderate prices, and allows public ownership of many utilities, albeit on the municipality level rather than as single national enterprises. Merkel's corporation taxes are 4-7% higher than Corbyn proposes (though they're more complicated, hence the range).

To sum up: calling Corbyn a Marxist of any kind is risible; calling him a Marxist extremist is flat out absurd.

------------------

You have a stronger case on terrorism. However, it should be noted that in common parlance the phrase 'terrorist sympathiser' refers to someone who sympathises with the objectives and methods of terrorists, not just with them as individuals.

It's true that Corbyn is less pro-war than most politicians of the current era. But that's not the same thing as being a terrorist sympathiser - saying that slaughtering thousands of people is neither humane nor strategically advantageous may be controversial, but it is not the same as sympathising with terror.
Yes, he's called for peace in the middle east, but that doesn't make him inherently a terrorist. Here's what he actually said:
"Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree … There is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that.

Sure, some people prefer the "kill them all and God will know his people" approach. But Corbyn's expressing a valid strategic (and moral) theory, not declaring support for terrorists. It's worth noting, moreover, the slight double standard in declaring any cultural diplomacy with Hamas to be terrorism, while negotiations with Al-Qaeda (or their affiliates, at least) and the Taliban are now government policy in both the US and the UK.

Sure, back in the eighties he was criticised for supporting the IRA terrorists who had bombed Guildford and Birmingham. But let's remember, those people weren't IRA terrorists and hadn't bombed Guildford or Bradford, but had instead been set up by the police, so Corbyn was pretty much right on that one. And when he said that peace in Northern Ireland could only be possible by talking to the IRA? People called him a terrorist, but that is what happened and now people mostly aren't killing each other there and my relatives don't feel they have to flee the country every time it's marching season anymore, so I'll put that down as a positive.

Did Corbyn perhaps show too much enthusiasm on the Irish Question in the 1980s? Perhaps. But it was a complex moral and strategic situation, in which both murderous paramilitaries and the British state were engaging in systematic oppression, and it's not clear that Corbyn's sympathies ever went beyond sympathy for the humanity and suffering of the Catholics into actual sympathy for the methods of the IRA. In any case, that was three decades ago now and I'm not sure we should be trying to make that the centrepiece of a national election in 2017.

----

So yes, those accusations were hysterical; and what's more they were pernicious, a dog-whistle for the worst excesses of the right. I'll remind you that this is not just a thought experiment here. This is a country where almost exactly a year ago a prominent supporter of Corbyn within his party was brutally murdered on the street because right-wingers considered her a traitor for her political views. Calling Corbyn a traitor, accusing him of hating Britain, of trying to undermine our way of life, of alliance with terrorists, this isn't just a game, it comes with a very real and deadly context. [Just today there was an attempted mass-murder of Muslims in London]. We should not just accept the campaign of fear and intimidation by the right-wing press (and let's remember, the last person the Mail admitted had 'sound Conservative policies' was Oswald Mosley) as normal or acceptible.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:53 pm 
Avisaru
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Sal: The 2015 election was bonkers in part because voters didn't seem to understand that they have a first-past-the-post voting system, and that anything other than a 2-party system is guaranteed to fail sooner or later. I assumed that they would slap themselves on the forehead, say "How did we not understand that" and go back to sanity in the next election. Have the voters wised up, or will we see another cock-up in the future where people throw their votes away on purple and yellow and give the Tories a fake majority again?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:49 pm 
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Hydroeccentricity wrote:
The 2015 election was bonkers in part because voters didn't seem to understand that they have a first-past-the-post voting system


Assuming everyone who voted in the 2011 electoral reform referendum also voted in the 2015 general election, then about 65% of voters in 2015 either did know we have a first-past-the-post voting system, since they voted on whether to keep it or not, or they didn't pay enough attention during the run up to the referendum to know what they were voting on :P

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:28 am 
Avisaru
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Raphael wrote:
Aili Meilani wrote:
Raphael wrote:
He is a Marxist extremist
ITT: John Keynes was a marxist.

How so?

The Labour manifesto — which I'd presume Corbyn would try to implement if Labour won, even with taking the fact that "politician" is a Sanskrit word for a "lying pig" into account — is much closer to Keynes than to Marx.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:49 am 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
Quote:
Brits are used to libel laws under which something can be true and still be libel, but still...

A common misconception, perpetuated by the press, who take any restriction as tyranny. Just come spend a few weeks reading the papers to see just how hard it is to sue someone for libel here. For one thing, if you can show that something is even probably mostly true, it can't be libel. For another, even if it's not true, if a reasonable person could honestly have believed it to be true on the basis of any known fact, then it's not libel. If it's related to a matter of public interest, it's not libel (and the public interest extends to things like celebrity sex lives, not just politics). If it was reasonably believed to have been in the public interest, it's not libel. If it's in a journal, it's not libel. And it can't be libel unless you can prove it actually caused substantial harm to you.

Of course, Germans are used to prison sentences for 'insult', and libel laws under which something remains libel until it's definitively proven to be true, a far more wide-ranging offence than the English equivalent. Similarly, German law makes it libel simply to defame, rather than requiring substantial direct harm. We certainly don't have any equivalent of the German protections for politicians, whereby intentional defamation of a politician carried a five year jail term!

In any case, what I said was 'hysterical', not 'untrue'. Many true statements may be expressed hysterically. That said...


Case in point: the Leveson inquiry. A while back we had this massive inquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson into allegations of phone hacking committed by papers such as the Sun the Mail and the Mirror (including in one case leaving voice messages on the answer machine of the parents of a murdered teenager giving them false hope she was still alive). It went on for months and months and months, taking huge numbers of testimonies, and brought certain people at News International who had previously been friendly with top politicians behind the scenes (including Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks) into the public eye. In the end it came out with a massive report with recommendations as to how to move forward, including setting up a press regulator by royal charter. It was going to be partly run by the press themselves, however, which was a serious oversight. So the report came out and immediately people in the right-wing press attacked it as somehow "betraying our long history of a free press" and proceeded to ignore it completely, with those in the companies who had been forced to resign because of this enquiry effectively getting their old positions back, and everything basically carrying on as before.

Just one example of the sheer ugliness of much of the print press in our country.

Quote:
More: show
Raphael wrote:
Ok, I'll byte...

Salmoneus wrote:
Accused of being largely absent in the Brexit campaign, he was everywhere here, his profile only expanded by the hysterical press coverage (the papers accused him of being a 'marxist extremist' and a 'terrorist sympathiser').



What's "hysterical" about telling the truth? He is a Marxist extremist, and he is a terrorist sympathiser.


Well, I guess if you're a fascist then things might seem that way to you. But to those of us not frothing at the mouth, these accusations are patently absurd.

What he said about Marx was that he was "a great economic thinker". This is true, and is recognised as true by almost all economists. Corbyn further said that Marx, Smith and Ricardo were all worth listening to. Which is, again, a sensible, centrist position that few people could seriously disagree with. And he's said that he thought he should probably have read more Marx than he has, which is an intellectually honest thing to say and which, again, most economics professors would support. If you were following the brouhaha, you may have noticed who leapt to Corbyn's defence on that one: among others, The Economist, the bastion of right-wing economic orthodoxy, who ran a headline reading "Labour is right" on the subject of how much there was to learn from Marx, noting his increasing relevence in the modern economic situation. Not only is Corbyn not a Marxist extremist, he's not even a Marxist!

Which of his policies is Marxist? Marx advocated the abolition of private property. Corbyn advocates that railway franchises are not renewed, and that there be a slight increase on income tax for the top 5%... to a level that's still 10% lower than Margaret Thatcher set it! "Almost as far left as Margaret Thatcher" is not the same as "Marxist"! Is increasing corporation tax to 26% Marxist? If that's Marxist, I can't imagine what the USA is, because there it's 39%! [and btw, this may be being spun as an extremist increase, but it's just restoring corporation tax to where it was in 2011, under a Tory-led coalition government!] Or is it the school meals for children you don't like? The slight increase in the minimum wage? The stunning increase of 1% of GDP on infrastructure investment (back to 2009 levels)?

I can only assume we're all communists, because only 17% of the British public say they disagree with Corbyn's nationalisation programme (which only concerns rail (via passive non-renewal of private licenses) and basic utilities).

BTW, Angela Merkel is already to the left of Corbyn in most of his policies. On utilities, for instance, Germany already takes steps to moderate prices, and allows public ownership of many utilities, albeit on the municipality level rather than as single national enterprises. Merkel's corporation taxes are 4-7% higher than Corbyn proposes (though they're more complicated, hence the range).

To sum up: calling Corbyn a Marxist of any kind is risible; calling him a Marxist extremist is flat out absurd.

------------------

You have a stronger case on terrorism. However, it should be noted that in common parlance the phrase 'terrorist sympathiser' refers to someone who sympathises with the objectives and methods of terrorists, not just with them as individuals.

It's true that Corbyn is less pro-war than most politicians of the current era. But that's not the same thing as being a terrorist sympathiser - saying that slaughtering thousands of people is neither humane nor strategically advantageous may be controversial, but it is not the same as sympathising with terror.
Yes, he's called for peace in the middle east, but that doesn't make him inherently a terrorist. Here's what he actually said:
"Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree … There is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that.

Sure, some people prefer the "kill them all and God will know his people" approach. But Corbyn's expressing a valid strategic (and moral) theory, not declaring support for terrorists. It's worth noting, moreover, the slight double standard in declaring any cultural diplomacy with Hamas to be terrorism, while negotiations with Al-Qaeda (or their affiliates, at least) and the Taliban are now government policy in both the US and the UK.

Sure, back in the eighties he was criticised for supporting the IRA terrorists who had bombed Guildford and Birmingham. But let's remember, those people weren't IRA terrorists and hadn't bombed Guildford or Bradford, but had instead been set up by the police, so Corbyn was pretty much right on that one. And when he said that peace in Northern Ireland could only be possible by talking to the IRA? People called him a terrorist, but that is what happened and now people mostly aren't killing each other there and my relatives don't feel they have to flee the country every time it's marching season anymore, so I'll put that down as a positive.

Did Corbyn perhaps show too much enthusiasm on the Irish Question in the 1980s? Perhaps. But it was a complex moral and strategic situation, in which both murderous paramilitaries and the British state were engaging in systematic oppression, and it's not clear that Corbyn's sympathies ever went beyond sympathy for the humanity and suffering of the Catholics into actual sympathy for the methods of the IRA. In any case, that was three decades ago now and I'm not sure we should be trying to make that the centrepiece of a national election in 2017.

----

So yes, those accusations were hysterical; and what's more they were pernicious, a dog-whistle for the worst excesses of the right. I'll remind you that this is not just a thought experiment here. This is a country where almost exactly a year ago a prominent supporter of Corbyn within his party was brutally murdered on the street because right-wingers considered her a traitor for her political views. Calling Corbyn a traitor, accusing him of hating Britain, of trying to undermine our way of life, of alliance with terrorists, this isn't just a game, it comes with a very real and deadly context. [Just today there was an attempted mass-murder of Muslims in London]. We should not just accept the campaign of fear and intimidation by the right-wing press (and let's remember, the last person the Mail admitted had 'sound Conservative policies' was Oswald Mosley) as normal or acceptible.


Thank you Sal! I'm just so tired of people calling Corbyn's policies "Marxist"; by the standards of the continent they're frankly centrist.

sangi39 wrote:
Hydroeccentricity wrote:
The 2015 election was bonkers in part because voters didn't seem to understand that they have a first-past-the-post voting system


Assuming everyone who voted in the 2011 electoral reform referendum also voted in the 2015 general election, then about 65% of voters in 2015 either did know we have a first-past-the-post voting system, since they voted on whether to keep it or not, or they didn't pay enough attention during the run up to the referendum to know what they were voting on :P


Definitely the latter: another case where the coverage of an important referendum was intentionally design to confuse people and make them vote for the status quo.

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