Saturday, July 26, 2008

Not Everyone's In Love With Obama

The tightly controlled stage-managed Obama love-in rolled into town with the usual media suspects positively drooling over 'The Chosen One'. Yesterday we had to suffer the Independent front page. A huge messianic photo of Obama in Berlin with his adorning flock of activists and fervent followers. Today it was just his eyes.

Get real people. He was just in it for the photocall for the folks back home. Playing out to a pre-determined media grid, not seen in politics since the heyday of Blair and New Labour. 

Ordinary Americans are not so sure about this man. Sure, he can talk the talk. He's a good-looking guy (maybe a little too thin) but underneath the hype and spin there are many more questions than answers. What they're saying is - there's something not quite right about Obama.

Has he been manufactured to appear as all things and to appeal to all people? Are his speeches deliberately put together to mean anything, any which way you choose? 

Is he just an advertising man's dream, a PR composite? Is he, as the McCain camp are pushing, just too good to be true? 

The massive security team and media managers around Obama during the Middle East and European tour is unprecedented and part paid for by the US taxpayers. Yet this is just a presidential hopeful not the President nor even the official candidate. A hopeful who called it for himself in the US primaries as the Democrat candidate and has yet to be formally and officially adopted by his party. 

A hopeful who refuses to allow any European journalists in the press corps. A hopeful whose Berlin speech said nothing but got coast to coast media coverage in the States. A hopeful who allows just enough time for a photocall and chat with Brown and Cameron - after all, Berlin was job done - but also a big one with the familiar face of Blair, already doing the rounds back in the US. 

Der Spiegel got the Obama/Berlin take right. A presidential hopeful who is more interested in being a world superstar than talking about the ailing economy back home. We had one like that here. He was called Tony Blair.

In the race for the White House, all the washing is hung out. Politics is a dirty and dangerous business. That's expected when you are voting for the most powerful person on the planet. 

The cartoon of muslim Obama and his black power wife in the New Yorker was justified by the magazine as satire. But the US doesn't do satire. That cartoon was designed to call his bluff and to bring the very issues of race and religion which Obama himself plays up to, out into the open. He even subtly played his race card in his Berlin speech. 

Now, the lack of any substance in both domestic and foreign policies, is beginning to show him up. 

So far he could afford to be a one ticket presidential hopeful - a promise to pull out of Iraq - but even that's just a vague timetable. Afghanistan, mentioned in Berlin, was left wide open to interpretation. Back home there are unresolved issues surrounding his funding, an alleged forged birth certificate and his links with dubious Chicago politicians. 

That funding has been spun as grassroots internet donations but there are strong rumours circulating in the US that the cash is actually coming from powerful sources in Saudi Arabia. 

It was just such a dogged investigation which 'followed the money' once before in a presidential funding scam called Watergate.

Obama can talk the talk but now he's gonna have to walk the walk.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Listen To The People Brown And Go!

Voters in the Labour stronghold of Glasgow East have delivered a devastating and heartfelt message to Brown and his Westminster cronies. Just go. Brown and his New Labour elite should put their money where their mouth is and call a snap general election.

Fat chance. The Labour Party doesn't have enough money to fight an election and this is the New Labour gang who are just all mouth.

Glasgow East wasn't just snatched from Labour. The swing was a huge 22.54% to the SNP. But this wasn't a defeat for Labour or a victory for the SNP. This was a clear vote of no confidence in Brown and New Labour.

Glasgow East is true Labour territory and it always will be. It is Brown and the gang who are despised in Glasgow East not the Party, just as in the rest of the country.

Cameron is right to urge Brown to call a general election. Mason, the SNP's winning candidate, is right when he summed up the situation: "This SNP victory is not just a political earthquake; it is off the Richter scale. It is an epic win and the tremors will be felt all the way to Downing Street."

But instead Brown has fallen back on the only pathetic excuse he ever comes up with to "get on with the job" of dealing with the economy.

He told the BBC, the government had to "listen and hear people's concerns" over rising food and energy costs.

"I'm getting on with the job. My task is getting on with the job. It's exactly what people want me to do."

Oh no it isn't. If he would actually listen and hear people's concerns then he would go and take his arrogant ministers with him.

It has taken the people of Glasgow East to tell him that. It should now be ringing round the corridors at Warwick where Brown meets union leaders and party faithful for the National Policy Forum.

Brown's plea to fill the Party coffers will come at a price. And that price should be Brown and New Labour's scalp.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gordon Gets The Glaswegian Kiss

With the Labour Party in disarray in Scotland, riddled with sleaze allegations, the people of Glasgow East have sent a clear message to Westminster. Brown is now down and out in Glasgow East.

They are fed up with Brown and his cronies who have no place in the hearts and minds of the people of this area. 

This is much more than a disastrous result for New Labour. It should mark the end for Brown. Glasgow East was a solid Labour stronghold where the Party runs in the blood of the people. Even with a lack-lustre candidate from the SNP in John Mason, Labour couldn't pull it off. 

The SNP majority was 365, an incredible 22.54% swing against Labour on a turnout of 42.25%. In 2005, Labour recorded a majority of 13,507 over the SNP on a turnout of 48%. This SNP victory and Labour's utter humiliation will go down in political history.

New Labour's recent attempts to spin evidence of a Brown bounce has evaporated. If you can't win in Glasgow East, with no Conservative or LibDem opposition to speak of, you can't win anywhere. 

And it's also a well-deserved and stunning victory for Alex Salmond who played his charisma card by fielding a boring SNP candidate who wouldn't take the limelight away from him and the SNP movement. 

But, like the turn towards the Conservatives in England, this was more a vote by people fed-up with Brown and New Labour rather than a vote for the other parties. 

The brutal fact is that Brown once again bottled it. He had a golden opportunity to pull a rabbit out of the hat ahead of the by-election. Back-bench true Labour MPs like Cruddas and McDonnell were showing him the way and shouting it from the newspapers. 

Just one big popular policy announcement would have done it. A cabinet reshuffle to clear out the dead wood would have done it. A clear announcement over troop withdrawal from Iraq, while not directly relevant to voters in Glasgow East, would have galvanised the Party and kick-started the campaign. But nothing happened. 

In the end, the arrogance of the New Labour Westminster elite was their downfall. They may have hijacked the Labour Party but they cannot highjack the people of Glasgow East.

Now a humiliated Brown will be forced to go cap in hand to the unions at the National Policy Forum to plead for cash to keep the Party afloat. 

With the devastating result of Glasgow East still fresh in everyone's minds, the unions will drive a hard bargain, if indeed they want to continue to prop up Brown and his New Labour gang at all, ahead of September's Labour Party conference.