Archive | June, 2014

Robert Peel

25 Jun

For a long time I had thought I should read a biography of Peel. He who gave Britain a police force and recurring Income Tax. I was dubious about tackling Douglas Hurds semi recent one. Hurd and Peel , neither feature on the same horizon as me politically , what could possibly go right ?

Hurds writing style is actually not that annoying. He probably uses too many opportunities to make modern day political points , but after all hes a politician at heart. He also has an overwhelming admiration for his subject.

I lived in Bury for some time and there is a real cult of Robert Peel there , pubs , streets , shopping areas, schools and colleges are all named after him. And statues , everywhere there are statues. They have even named the skin of an orange ” orange Peel ” as a cruel joke on Peels time as Irish Minister. And yet Hurd gives it two sentences. It means nothing to him ( both of them ) it had no impact on his life and he cared for it not a jot . In that I share his disdain if nothing else.

Peel comes across as a 19th century geek. Little warmth socially , but well respected for his knowledge and competence. His lack of vision as Irish Minister is hardly his fault ( passim ) and he tackles the idea of a police force from a logical and conservative point of view. His Tamworth manifesto is really a bore and he tries to unfiy Tories more from desperation than ideology. He battles hard to get that through and then continues to be the battler. He battles for the Queens affections , he battles forn Tax , he battles for reforms ( Ireland , Voting amongst others ). He becomes a leading centre of gravity in the Commons , if not a personality. His tenure as Prime Minister is , as would be expected , industrious.

Hurd however tries to place him as a minor prophet , a premodern Tory. I think he is pushing his luck , but its no worse than the policy he advocated in Bosnia. Hurd uses the phrase ” dickered ” which I have never seen in a 19th century politics book before.

At times , as with all 19th century political writing , its hard to keep up with alliances and elections , Hurd tries his best and his insights onto the electoral politics are interesting. I am having to revise my view on the author , he can write ( lousy politics though ) and I am indebted to him for pricking the Bury Peel bubble.



In the fascist toilet …part one ….

5 Jun

I have been thinking about this …for too long perhaps.I think it was the similarities between Newark and Newham , and the use of the words ” people’s army “. UKIP you see, I am not sure they are Fascists but they are now urinating in the Fascist toilet. They leave enough odour for others to know they have been. And the response of others is worrying.

In 1974 the National Front came second in a Bye-election. It was the best result they had and although they didn’t get the media coverage of UKIP it still unsettled the establishment. Yet 5 years later they were no political threat at all. How ? Well a combination of poor organisation , a wake up call to those who despised them and a creeping into their ground by the Conservatives. The final point is worth thinking about. Today as UKIP look for at least a second place , with its nudge wink about Romanians, its anti Lenny Henry hysteria ( he once stood on my foot in a pantomime in Stockport by the way !) and its call for people’s army, mainstream politicians are looking at it as a wake up call ?

Sorry …

As Mann observed in The Dark Side of Democracy Politicians can engage the term ” the people ” for demos ( the mass ) and ethnos ( the common ethnic group ). In UKIP language the people’s army isn’t creating inclusion but creating a group who are not people. Ironically this very language is prevalent in many East European politicians …the countries UKIP don’t like. And somehow rather than closing the door on the toilet , rather than asking them to stop pissing there, Cameron says he understands , Labour politicians talk about people’s concerns about Immigration , as though anyone was an ethnic Englander. Only Tony Blair is left to make some sense of it all …don’t dance to their tune and don’t go all hardline on immigration.

There has been a long build up to this though , headline after headline of crime and fear stories. All blaming some bland scapegoat race. Not you and I you understand , but them. And something needs to be done about them. Prof Hall would have had a field day, its policing the crisis for beginners.

Sadly the Fascist Toilet has been in use before , but today it seems to have a queue.