Campaigning III

We did not expect to win the election. On election day, I circulated two cards, one saying the Tories are already celebrating, one saying Time is running out. These were to go to voters who had previously indicated they would vote Labour. We did not have the canvass data, and we did not have tellers at the polling stations. There was a Tory there when I went to vote, telling.

The card said “Only Beth Miller can hold the Tories to account”. Well, she would speak and vote against a Tory government, question them, and campaign in the constituency, but arguably a government MP is better for the constituency. He might bring home a few bribes. In a Labour-led coalition, the Tories would not need “held to account” as there would be a majority to defeat them. I suppose you could say a Labour government would be showing how badly the Tories had damaged the country, holding them to account in some sense; or defeating them held them to account, or punished them, for that damage; but I would rather Labour reversed some of the damage.

We need a full canvass. I put those cards through a few doors which had a Sun pushed through beforehand- with its vile propaganda. “Today you can rescue Britain from the catastrophe of a takeover by Labour’s hard-left extremists. Jeremy Corbyn would not just reverse seven years of job creation and growth under the Tories. He would chuck our country’s spectacular progress and prosperity over the last 35 years in the bin.” Headline- “Don’t chuck Britain in the Cor-bin” with a mocked up picture of Mr Corbyn in an old metal trash-can. Today it is back to its soft titillation- “Rhian frolics in the Sun”, a picture of a smiling, big-breasted woman in a bikini- with more Tory propaganda.

It works. “I’ve always voted Labour but I could not vote for that terrorist sympathiser Jeremy Corbyn” said one voter to the Labour candidate. Mr Corbyn promoted peace talks publicly as Tory ministers pursued them privately. And consider the DUP’s terrorist present, never mind their past: the Loyalist Communities Council, representing Loyalist paramilitaries, endorsed three DUP candidates, all now MPs. After a UDA murder last month, the DUP leader Arlene Foster met the UDA leader Jackie McDonald. She said all paramilitary groups should disband, yet she gives them credence and acknowledges their power by meeting with them? I give all this detail because voters have been divorced from reality, by the propaganda.

In this constituency the UKIP vote collapsed 6213 and the Labour vote increased by 4873. Unfortunately the Tory vote increased by 5511. Turnout increased by 3463. It is not clear where the UKIP vote went, especially without canvass returns. I hope the Green vote went to Labour, but perhaps people just stayed at home. The LibDem vote increased by a stonking 87 votes.

We could put the work in Corby town itself, but the constituency has a huge area of mostly Tory villages. There are radicals in all those villages- I talked to one yesterday, she was enthused about the campaign- but we have to get the vote out, which means canvassing and telling.

That election

As soon as the election was announced, I joined the Labour party and volunteered to take part in campaigning. I felt the Tory’s 2400 majority was assailable, so I had to campaign tactically: if we had fair voting, I would have stayed Green. I liked the members, but was not impressed.

I started on the tail end of the County Council elections. I leafleted Eagle’s Nest for our candidate, and stood outside the polling station on the day, taking polling numbers and chatting to the Tory teller, David. He is on the parish council with Caroline, and they get on, seeking what is good for the town. We talked of the local churches- he is Anglican- and the waste ground, now with permission for building. First there needed to be a check for anthrax. This shocked me, but as there used to be a shoe factory there, there was a risk of it, and if there had been a tannery it would have been a likelihood. There was often anthrax in the cattle. One voter seemed hostile to him- “I’m voting for [name]!” she said. That was the Independent.

At one time, Conservatives did not stand against Independents, I said. He explained she had been Tory until very recently, then declared herself independent, so they had to stand against her. “That could be good for my lot,” I said. He grunted. Yet the Tory vote was barely dented, and the Independent took half the former Labour vote.

Still. I leafleted Eagle’s Nest for the Parliamentary candidate, and that evening there was to be canvassing. They had planned to go round Pinetrees, but as the candidate was coming Ed decided to go for Eagle’s Nest, as people are friendlier here. When I canvassed for the Tories in the 1990s, I went out by myself, but Ed had a file with the addresses and names, and we went down a street in a gang. He would send each of us to different addresses, and we would report back to him. I only knocked on about five doors, which seemed a waste.

Ed would tell people the candidate is with us, “That young girl over there”. I objected, and so did all women I have told. I approached him circumspectly: “Some feminists might object to you calling her a ‘young girl’.” “It’s an age thing,” he said. He did not like calling her a woman for some reason. Just possibly I can imagine “that woman” might seem disrespectful, and “lady” is clearly out, but “Young girl”? I suggested he just used pronouns. “Our candidate, Beth Miller, is over there.” He assented.

I did not really discuss politics with her. I said I wanted rid of Trident. “I’m Multilateralist,” she said. After, I thought I could have asked her how she imagined that being successful, but I did not, supporting the British Bomb is mainstream Labour and anyone would be better than the Tory. Beth chatted to a few people on the doorstep.

The monstering of Mr Corbyn is taking its toll. I asked a woman if she would vote Labour, and she said she always had, but- I think she saw my face fall, and said she would, probably. On the street, there was a man whose black t-shirt had white capitals reading “Still hate Thatcher”. Even he was unsure about Mr Corbyn. I have my talking points- the strong principles and bravery of the man being arrested at an anti-Apartheid demonstration- but he is unconvinced.

I have done hours of leafleting, and not as much as others, but on Saturday 27th we had a street stall. The best pitch is by the public toilets, between the car park and Tesco Express, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses have bagged that. (The slogan on their poster said “Your family can be happy”, brilliant if you believe it. Two Hovahs hovered nearby, not approaching us as we went to the cars.) We were outside the vet’s. It’s further along, and there is less foot traffic. The man who was MP from 2012 to 2015 turned up. He recognised me, and I told him the Greens’ progressive alliance was a missed opportunity. He said he is completely out of that now.

So many people shake their heads, not even wanting a leaflet. Ed remarks it’s the stupid-looking ones who refuse a leaflet, who don’t know what damage the Tories will do to them. They can point out the benefit claimant up the street who they think is working the system, but if you ask about the bankers they don’t know about banks. I end up talking to David, an ex-teacher who tells me he has a Dementia diagnosis before his friend warns me about it. Apart from the ex-MP, his daughter, and Beth I am the youngest. We end up talking amongst ourselves.

We drove off together to Raunds for campaigning. We walked along the street from the Co-op to the library. I carried an A2 plastic sign saying Beth Miller. We chatted to a few residents, then had chips and went to the coffee shop. Ed took photos. Beth chatted to one or two voters on the streets, and we handed out a few leaflets, but mostly we seemed to be talking to ourselves, rather than engaging with voters. We have photographs, and can say Beth campaigned in Raunds. She told me she was eating a lot of chips as campaign headquarters is next door to a chip shop. I am not photobombing the pictures, exactly. I feel Beth is almost certainly the most glamorous person in them- but I look the most glamorous.

Vote Labour

or whoever in your constituency has the best chance to beat the Tories.

Like most people, I have a few fbfnds who don’t share my political views, but the algiarithm rarely shows me their posts. The things they see and share are frightening. After the London Bridge terrorist attack, one wrote, “Arrest or deport all potential Islamist extremists on the watch list. Make it illigal to preach hate. Demolish all known mosques related to radicals.”

There is an atmosphere of fear, hatred and authoritarianism stoked by the right wing press. Seven years of austerity are excused by the idea that this is the only way to reduce the deficit, and we have to pay our debts off- though our debts are half the proportion of GDP they were in 1930. Then they pretend that the Tories are the workers’ friends, though they conspire to make strikes illegal and workers’ rights unenforceable. So Mick imagined Labour supporters:

What do we want?
-Free stuff!
Who is gonna give it to us?
-Jeremy Corbyn!
What don’t we understand?
-Economics!

It is he who does not understand economics, politics, or international affairs. Labour wants those who have had the greatest increase of wealth to pay more in tax, while the rest of us have had static or shrinking incomes.

Stoking despair, the Tories have nothing to offer except hatred. That leads to C’s authoritarian demands. Perhaps he means “preach hate” on a narrow and literalist interpretation, ie preaching from a pulpit rather than on facebook. Before, he posted a video calling for deportations of “anyone with links in any way shape or form with these kinds of actions”- not just terrorist attacks, but suspicion. “Why was he in the country?” asked the hate-monger. Well, because he had a record of petty crime but not been flagged for radical views. He had been reported by community leaders and family members, who would be less likely to co-operate if they thought their mosque might be demolished.

The terrorist attacks are used by the right wing. Would Mr Corbyn, who wanted to talk to the IRA, be sufficiently hard on terrorists? Well, Mr Major talked to the IRA and Mr Blair made the Good Friday Agreement, bringing peace, but Corbyn is vilified. I blame Mrs May, Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016. She is the one selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

“This man refuses to sing the National anthem” says one, as if that mattered. Honestly. That was September 2015. It claims, falsely, he would not swear allegiance to the Queen.

Then there was B, aged 76. Is she worried about the Tories ending the current system of increasing state pensions? No, she is worried by lies, when Mr Corbyn’s actively seeking peace is twisted to “Share if you will never vote for the Labour party led by this anti-British traitor”.

Ordinary people are seeing and sharing these lies. The NHS and the education system are in peril- my local school will lose £460,000, the equivalent of twelve teachers, under Tory plans, and schools across the country are similarly threatened. Manipulated by lies, we are sleepwalking towards Tory authoritarianism, the Tory Brexit for Billionaires, and the Tory destruction of the State. Get rid of them, for all our sakes.

Here are the Tory cuts:

Toilets in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives, which had previously blocked Texas Senate attempts at a Bathroom Bill, has now passed one. Schools must provide single-occupancy toilets, changing rooms and locker rooms. Schools which now allow trans children to use the locker room for their gender would have to revert. Separate does not mean equal.

The Bill goes to the Texas Senate, which will likely pass it, as the Senate had a much wider Bill requiring all people in Texas government buildings, including schools, to use toilets matching their “biological sex”. The wider Bill was blocked by the House Speaker, who refused to refer it to a committee.

The Texas Governor endorsed the legislation as a priority, and the lieutenant-Governor threatened to block periodic legislation which re-authorises some State agencies, unless it was passed. Without that legislation, those agencies would be shut down.

SB 2078 regulates school districts’ “Multihazard Emergency Operations plans”, considering things like school shooters, natural disasters, and now trans children. The right of each student to access restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities with privacy, dignity and safety [shall be accommodated by] requiring the provision of single-occupancy facilities for use by a student who does not wish to use the facilities used by persons of the student’s biological sex.

This section may only be enforced by the state Attorney General, but nutcase objectors will still demonstrate against trans children, to force him to act. It does not require or authorise a school to disclose intimate details about a pupil, but using a separate locker room will be noticed.

The stalled SB6, applying to all government buildings, is longer than the Bill concerning emergencies. The Texas Senate discerned an “utmost moral obligation” “to protect the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children… and all Texas residents”, and found that schools providing access to restrooms, showers, and dressing rooms based on an individual student’s internal sense of gender is alarming and could potentially lead to boys and girls showering together and using the same restroom prejudicing a safe and secure learning environment. It is wearying to read of trans children being seen as so dangerous. Trans boys are called girls. The cubicles which prevent me ever embarrassing others in a bathroom are ignored- I am in the presence of others in a state of undress.

All government buildings should require that each multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility located in the building be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex.

“Biological sex” means the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate. My birth certificate says I am female, and Texas allows amendment of sex on a birth certificate if ordered by the court.

The Bill which is to be passed makes monsters of children.

Report in Texas Tribune.

Canvassing

I was out canvassing this evening with Beth Miller, Labour candidate for Corby and East Northants. I want to avoid a Billionaires’ Brexit: we need a Brexit for Britain. Vote Labour! It was wonderful to canvass, with so many enthusiastic voters. Of course they will vote Labour, they have always voted Labour. Or, yes they will vote Labour, they do not like the current MP, a Conservative who “volunteered” for a Brexit campaign then paid himself £40,000 from it. Yes, they want posters.

On 8 June, we might get rid of this weak, chaotic government and their huge increase in the National Debt, and their Back to the Fifties policies with Secondary Modern schools, fox hunting- what next? Hanging? Labour is our chance to reverse the destruction of our welfare state, all the things we do together for the good of all.

I delivered leaflets for three hours today. Getting Beth elected motivates me more than anything else this year!

What we know about global warming

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. The more of it there is in the atmosphere, the more heat will be retained, leading to warming. This has been known since the 19th century, and this is true though the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere is relatively tiny, now four hundred parts per million, and though plants require to breathe CO2 to survive.

Burning fossil fuels produces CO2. Heat is released when the fossil fuel reacts with oxygen: for example, methane, CH4, plus O2 produces H2O plus CO2. Children are taught this at different ages, but a fifteen year old who will never be capable of a university degree will be capable of understanding this.

Volcanoes produce CO2, and a lake in Cameroon belched forth a vast quantity of it, killing all animal life nearby; but the amount produced by industry is orders of magnitude greater.

The Earth’s climate and atmospheric CO2 levels, have changed in the past. However, now, both are changing catastrophically quickly, with results such as increased bleaching of coral, species migrating to cooler habitat closer to the poles or higher up mountains, alterations in climate such as rainfall patterns, and species extinction.

Sea levels will rise as ice on land melts and warming water expands.

Most people are capable of understanding these facts, but some wilfully deny or obfuscate them.

There is a great deal of doubt about how the world will be affected in the future. How quickly sea level will rise and how climate round the world will change are uncertain, though scientists get better at making predictions as more data emerges. However, the basic facts, showing that climate change is a threat, are clear.

Burning fossil fuels has been an abundant source of cheap energy, fuelling the Industrial Revolution and producing a huge improvement in human living standards. Making the equipment to get energy from other sources, such as solar, wind and tide, has an environmental cost, and often that energy is more expensive than fossil fuel energy, especially if environmental degradation is not factored in as a cost. Obtaining energy in different ways causes other environmental damage, such as pollution, as well as CO2 release. There are complex political and economic arguments to be made, and for these decisions we need the best possible data.

There are political and economic arguments that humanity should continue burning fossil fuels for the energy. I would have more confidence in them if those arguing for fossil fuel use did not feel driven to lie about the basic facts.

There are climate-change denialists, who would claim there is doubt about the basic facts, or minimise the damage that fossil fuel use will do. Human beings are often selfish and irrational, failing to defer gratification, or denying facts which they find uncomfortable. However highly paid and educated people, or politicians, should be able to acknowledge the basic facts.

Misgendering

When people want to complain about “Political Correctness gone mad” they name Misgendering. It frightens me when they say Democrats or other relatively Left parties should drop PC, and pick on trans folk, as if we had lost the Left the elections, and throwing us under the bus was the route back to being in contention. Constantly complaining about dopey things, from pronouns that “misgender” to whether Ann Coulter should be allowed to speak at Berkeley … has become a hallmark of Team Blue over the last decade. It’s no small part of the reason Red America threw up their hands, looking for any alternative to push back against the inanity wrote Matt Labash in the NYT. Labash is a Republican, but Democrats say this sort of thing too.

This gets wearing. The archetypal PC idiocy is treating trans folk with courtesy. Possibly the complainers felt even gay marriage was off limits; too many people support it, no-one is particularly attacking it. They may in the future, but not now. But some people take pride in misgendering- calling me “he” and feeling self-righteous about it. I slip up myself, so don’t object to people making mistakes, only to people who do it intentionally, or do not see why it is offensive, like Labash here- I think he finds the complaints dopey, not the “mistakes”.

It matters to us. We transition whether or not the circumstances are propitious. We fail to thrive, or get murdered, where they are not. The callous answer is something like “Well, truth matters to me, you’re really [or not] a man”- but it is an excuse to be callous, a preference for being nasty to us, a way of finding someone to look down on. Some prefer the liberating chance to be cruel over the chafing requirement to be courteous.

They have such an elegant way of expressing it! We named the microaggression “misgendering”, one simple word for when someone uses pronouns as if I were a man. That means when the Right wants to allude to trans folk, they merely need quote “misgendering”, in scare quotes because they deny it is a real word, though it usefully names a phenomenon and has wide currency: it is in the Oxford dictionaries. And some Left-wing writers say the Left should abandon the more extreme political correctness, and the example they choose is Misgendering.

They might choose abortion in the US, and write of “reaching out to pro-life Democrats”. This article in NYT points out abortion is an economic issue. Poorer women have more unwanted pregnancies, where they cannot afford a child, then where they could not continue in work or education fall further into poverty. On that basis, misgendering is economic too: we will transition even though in an atmosphere of hostility will lose our jobs.

Inequality matters. The inequality of badly paid workers with insecure jobs matters, and I want them to vote Left; and the Right makes them angry, then diverts the anger against out-groups, such as immigrants or LGBT folk. The Right-wing siren song is that nothing can be done about the inequality, but at least you can feel better if you can express anger against an out-group. They want to blame immigrants, then call third generation British Asians “immigrants”, then foment hatred for us. First they come for the immigrants, then the queers. Who’s next? Might it be you?

Elections and the Moneyed elites

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has announced an election. Buoyed up by the success of Mr Erdogan, Mrs May will follow him to go full-on Putin. Politics all around what used to be called the West is a conflict between the people and the moneyed elites, who use right wing populism to gain power, for a programme that will involve destruction of public spending except on weapons, and the end of legal protection of workers, consumers and the environment. Mr Trump is moving this programme forward in the US, such as with a drugs policy which will increase mass incarceration of ethnic minorities, though his attempt to withdraw health care from those the Affordable Care Act granted insurance was foiled.

Democracy is under threat across NATO countries. Russia seeks to destabilise us with fake news, sock-puppet tweets, facebook shares and comments, and hacking of progressive political parties. Billionaires buy politicians to reduce regulations on billionaires, increasing their freedom to pollute, shove up rents, and despoil the biosphere.

In the British election, with first past the post votes for single-member constituencies, I will vote Labour. Labour has a chance in my constituency to unseat the hard-right nationalist who is standing for the Conservative party, formerly thought to be a centre-right party but now wholly in the hands of the anti-democratic hard right lie machine. Tactics the BNP used twenty years ago, the Conservatives use now, with the difference that at least the BNP promised its supporters council houses. The Conservatives offer nothing but higher taxes on workers, higher rents for the benefit of international investors, and the destruction of public services. For example, they incite hatred of immigrants, but admit they will not reduce immigration after Brexit.

The Right attempts to demonise a “Liberal elite”. Well, globalisation will not favour workers over rentiers, but with strong democratic control it can be managed. We could tax multi-national companies, and reduce the curse of transfer pricing and opaque offshore companies with no clear ownership. Better a liberal elite than a moneyed elite.

The Right, offering nothing, has good slogans. “Take back control,” they said, and a small majority voted for them. They will reduce regulations protecting us, and increase surveillance on us claiming to protect us from an almost entirely imaginary terrorist threat. In Britain, Get Rid Of Them: find the party most likely to defeat the Conservative, and campaign for it. In France, probably Mr Macron is the most sane candidate. Mr Putin’s lie machine working against him is the best indicator I have.

Mr Trump’s flotilla steams towards North Korea, which will destroy Seoul in a murder-suicide rather than surrender. The world has gone mad. But there is something I can do: campaign for Labour in my own constituency.