More Business As Usual in Manchester By-Election?

As I did before – with Who’s Best For Chester MP? – I’m doing an ad hoc SWOT analysis of the first 5 candidates to post their profiles on Who Can I Vote For? (5 this time as the website was a bit tardy and gave candidates only 2 days to get organised!) It’s light-hearted and (hands up) I am a member of one of these parties – can you guess which one? I do try to be fair.

CANDIDATESTRENGTHS – from WCIVF? Public Twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn/ Party profile
Andrew Western: Labour PartyHas twice fought a Westminster election before; experience as councillor and Leader of Trafford City Council; responsibility for Transport; Director of a Housing trust; school Governor; supported firefighters’ pay; campaigned to save local amenities; established party infrastructure available.  
Christina Glancy: Freedom Alliance – The Real AlternativeLocal businesswoman with 15 years experience running a catering company; informed on local issues; volunteer for Manchester homeless charity.
Dan Jerrome: Green PartyExperience as Trafford City Councillor; informed on local issues; established party infrastructure available.  
Emily Carter-Kandola: Conservative and Unionist PartyPhotogenic; cute wee doggie; established party infrastructure available. 
Paul Swansborough: ReformLocal. Has fought a Westminster election before.
CANDIDATEWEAKNESSES
Andrew Western: Labour PartyMay be taking credit for party for achievements of Council. No mention of charity work.
Christina Glancy: Freedom Alliance – The Real AlternativeNew, small party with controversial policies.
Dan Jerrome: Green PartyOnly gained 681 votes for last parliamentary election. May be taking credit for party for achievements of Council. No mention of charity work.
Emily Carter-Kandola: Conservative and Unionist PartyNot yet 30, no political experience, Twitter account all about the Tories, nothing local. No mention of charity work.
Paul Swansborough: ReformRode the UKIP Brexit wave well previously but then only polled 75 votes in 2021 local election. No mention of charity work. Reforms all theoretical. No evidence of what party would do in power and even those in favour of Brexit complain about its impact.
CANDIDATEOPPORTUNITIES
Andrew Western: Labour PartyLabour recently undergoing a resurgence due to chaos at Westminster. Bold biscuit choice with McVitie’s (toffee) Trio!
Christina Glancy: Freedom Alliance – The Real AlternativeMay attract independent voters tired of older parties as well as women – as her party supports female safe space and robust child safeguarding – as well as older voters and their carers. May attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies. Dark Chocolate Digestive is a popular guilty pleasure; not sure it tops Trio but definitely trumps Custard Creams in the biscuit stakes!
Dan Jerrome: Green PartyRoad safety is a cross party vote-winner.
Emily Carter-Kandola: Conservative and Unionist PartyMay attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies. Fresh face.
Paul Swansborough: ReformReform want to reform everything and that may be attractive to some.
CANDIDATETHREATS
Andrew Western: Labour PartyPopular resentment of by-election triggered by resignation of Labour councillor. May attract blame for unpopular Council policies and Transport problems. Women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding – especially as a school Governor would know about that. May be tricky respecting Purdah, given Council role. Climate change agenda is a real vote divider.
Christina Glancy: Freedom Alliance – The Real AlternativeVoters may be put off by what Freedom Alliance is against and not know what it’s for. 
Dan Jerrome: Green PartyWomen & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding. Green self-ID trans agenda not popular with older voters – who vote more than the youngsters. Climate change agenda also a real vote divider.
Emily Carter-Kandola: Conservative and Unionist PartyConservatives may be facing early General Election, despite new PM appearing to be a steadier pair of hands that the last one. Voter statement ticks some boxes but difficult for voters to back the party responsible for the problems she aims to solve. Despite featuring powerful women on Twitter, women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.
Paul Swansborough: ReformLeader of the Reform now courting the Freedom Movement (the voter base of Freedom Alliance) but did not voice any resistance during lockdown so that appeal is likely to fail. Biscuit choice: if you can’t top Trio it may be best not to try. What’s more boring than a Custard Cream?

ANALYSIS

Andrew Western definitely has most political experience but in this election that may be a two-edged sword. Not only is there popular resentment against the Labour councillor stepping down to take up another post but, as Leader of the Council, any gripes voters have may land at his feet. A hail-fellow-well-met personality (see Facebook video) in a politician feel like more of the same and the mood in the country is for change. That said, he’s certainly capable and informed about local issues – and supporting the firefighters will be popular.

Christina Glancy is a fresh face in politics but combines novelty and maturity as well as sound business sense. What she has to say about running a small catering business under Covid restrictions may go down very well with middle-class voters. What’s less likely to please are some of the policies of Freedom Alliance however, with vaccine injuries being reported more openly (and not censored on Twitter now) and even hardline lockdowners calling for an amnesty for Covid collaborators, what may impress voters most is her passion for charity work with the homeless. As we face a winter of fuel poverty and food banks, anyone in favour of feeding the hungry may get the popular vote!

Dan Jerrome does frown at the camera, librarians are not known for the extraversion associated with political leadership and the Greens have some very dodgy policies at the moment (though the English & Welsh have been recently excommunicated by the Scottish branch office for not being radical enough) which only tend to appeal to the age group that doesn’t tend to vote! However road safety is a neutral topic that anyone responsible will support. Not sure being speed checked by the Green neighbourhood watch will be popular though. Shades of Desperate Politicians.

Emily Carter-Kandola will win or lose (let’s be honest) on her party’s policies and her looks. There doesn’t really appear to be anything else to go on. The problem with the former is that they’ve caused the mess we’re in so Vote Tory for Change just won’t work. The problem with the latter is that lithe and lovely aren’t characteristics normally associated with politicians. Leaders tend to be either hard-faced or stolid and she’s neither.

Paul Swansborough has a pleasant enough face for the camera – one can’t imagine babies screaming in horror on walkabouts and this isn’t his first Westminster rodeo. The problem here is that that was then and this is now. UKIP may (arguably) have changed the constitutional status of the UK massively by being the catalyst for Brexit but that party now feels like the SNP post-independence: what would be the point? (Let’s not get sidelined with that issue!) Jumping ship to Reform doesn’t leave him trailing glory either – especially now that their party leader is trying to woo the Freedom Movement without having expressed any solidarity with any of their aims or core values during lockdown.

PREDICTION

Labour may win the next GE as the alternative but that’s hard to sell here with this very well-established candidate. Voting Conservative here is simultaneously choosing inexperience and the status quo. I can’t see that combination going down well anywhere in Greater Manchester. The Greens may be impressing 16-18 year olds with their identity politics but, unlike further north and west, in England they can’t vote and the recent antics of Extinction Rebellion (especially when the food-spoiling perpetrators are outed as Chelsea public school jet setters) haven’t endeared anyone to their cause – I’m vegan and I can’t stand them! Yes road safety is good, and very necessary, but none of these parties are safeguarding kids at school and that’s another rebellion that’s gaining momentum. Let’s just burst Reform‘s bubble before it blows itself up any more. There are so many self-congratulatory parties that are a phenomenal success – on social media. It’s quite another thing to have boots on the ground – and not just the party leader flying in for a photoshot.

So that leaves Freedom Alliance. Do I think they’ll win? Honestly, it’s extremely unlikely. Twitter (surviving so far, despite predictions) may have opened up a bit but the impact of all the smear campaigns isn’t going to lessen all at once. Gradually, however, voters may come to see that there’s a consistent message of personal liberty, of protection of the vulnerable and a willingness to challenge the status quo and do something different. That’s all very well but the real problem is that the people who support all that quite often won’t vote. They’re not too lazy, they just oppose representative democracy. I think their day will come but only when one demographic group stops considering them too much part of the establishment and the rest stop considering them too radical.

Meanwhile, I regret to say, it’ll most probably be party politics and business as usual in the Stretford and Urmston parliamentary by-election on Thursday 15th December 2022.

Unless you, the voters, decide differently.

Thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing his photo Crowd of People into the Public Domain.

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A House Divided: Voting for the Unaparty USA

As I begin this blog, the Democrats have 48 and the Republicans—recorded as the “GOP” (Grand Old Party)—49 but, with 2 independent senators in New England who mostly vote with the former, even if the latter gain Georgia, the carrying vote of the Vice President means that, for all intents and purposes, the Dems will control the Senate of the United States of America.

When I started writing, the Republicans had 212 of the available 435 seats in the House of Representatives, now I see it’s 214, while the Democrats have 203 (which may or may not have been 202 a moment before). The magic number here is 218. Oh, the Dems have just gone up one seat. The states who are yet to declare are mostly Maine, Colorado and California.

I don’t understand why they can’t just count all the Midterm votes instead of relying on the press to “call” the election. I don’t understand why California, home of Silicon Valley, has taken a week already and still isn’t ready whereas—right across the country—Florida did all 3 races basically overnight. I don’t understand why some margins are so small yet get confidently called while others are huge and don’t. But I’m a Brit (temporarily, it’s only been 300 years, nothing in Europe and we are taking steps to alter that situation) so my confusion is unsurprising.

As for the Governors, it’s 25 (really 26, as one or other of the Alaskan Republican candidates must win) to the GOP with the Dems getting 24. However, to my knowledge, there’s no political assembly for them—they may all get together for strawberries and cream somewhere central, like Kansas perhaps, I have no idea.

(It’s still 214 / 204 in the House for GOP / DEM and there are no seats held by other parties or independents.)

I must admit I’ve been doing this all week, clicking back and forth on the “2022 US elections” screen on my phone with data supplied by the Associated Press (the Dems just got another in the House—can they make up the necessary 13 before the GOP gets 4 more?) and it’s addictive. I’ve even found myself delving into the data to see the percentages and trying to predict which way the two party pendulum will swing next. I feel I’m participating in democracy yet I didn’t even vote as I don’t live on that side of the pond.

I don’t really know why I’m doing this. I don’t actually believe it makes a difference. I’ve just read Whitney Webb’s wonderful exposé of the complex webs of bipartisan, international political corruption, One Nation Under Blackmail: The Sordid Union Between Intelligence and Crime that Gave Rise to Jeffrey Epstein, and here’s my 5 star review. I seriously think I’m in love with this woman—I mean an author who averages around 150 endnotes each chapter deserves at least the warm affection of any serious academic.

(I just flicked back again. No change.)

What Whitney meticulously evidences is that there’s no difference between the crimes committed by the folks in office in terms of the colour of their jerseys. Red (Republican) or Blue (Democrat)—very confusing associations for us over here—they’re all merrily making money and quite a lot of them, quite a lot of the time, are not doing that honestly.

John H. Utz of Greenville, SC (which I presume is South Carolina) has a wake up call:

It is about time that “you’all” start to realize that WashingtonDC and all parts federal government are one big ‘Unaparty’! It is all Deep State! Oh, they kinda sound like there are two parties up there; President Trump claims to be fighting the Swamp; but really, just about all his advisors are part of the Swamp, the Deep State, advising him to ‘talk about bringing the troops back home (while he just moves them around a bit!)’. Also, the government is still operating on the Continuing Resolution charade, which continues the huge waste of billions (really trillions) for the military and particularly the middle east quagmire; meanwhile, the Dems (the so-called anti-war party who wants to run the only democrat Rep. who opposes the unconstitutional wars, out of the party (!)) get their bloated billions (totaling trillions) for the totally wasteful and unconstitutional welfare.

Letters to the Editor—The Times Examiner, 20th January 2020

That’s headed “The Unaparty, War, Welfare and Debt” and he goes on to say:

Waste, waste, waste, it just continues each and every year, and the debt piles up, basically a trillion in new debt each year! And nobody, I mean nobody (the GOP, the Dems, President Trump) wants to talk about the debt. When is American going to wake up???

I get the impression that I might disagree with John H. Utz of Greenville, SC, on some points political and moral but, I must say, that’s a great question. The debt and the Unaparty are not being talked about at all.

Maybe it’s time we stopped being distracted.

Dirty US flag in sunlight and shadow

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Grunge American Flag into the Public Domain.

Why I Love Whitney Webb’s Work

At the time of writing, there are 59 reviews on Amazon UK for Whitley Webb’s long-awaited dossier One Nation Under Blackmail (vol. 1) with an overall rating of 4.5 stars. Some of the comments seem to misunderstand what Whitney is trying to do: provide evidence for a thesis which is breathtaking in its implications. The subtitle lays it bare:

“The sordid union between Intelligence and Organised Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein”

It’s true that there are lot of names, dates and connections. Acronyms abound; each is explained at first but it’s a book so it’s fairly easy to flip back to the first occurrence if you get mixed up between BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commercial International, CCC (Commercial Credit Corporation) and CDC (Control Data Corporation) for example. There’s also an extensive index where they are written out in full. The obvious reason why Whitney is providing all this detailed evidence is that her meticulous and extensively referenced research cannot therefore be dismissed as mere fiction. That said, I can see lots of fiction writers rubbing their hands with glee and coming up with saucy scenes like the following:

Stubbing out his pungent Egyptian cigarette in the jadeite ashtray, Roy gave one last lascivious look at the exhausted naked young man chained to the radiator and exited the penthouse suite. Housekeeping would take care of him. Fun could wait – but Air Force One would not.

this was not written by Whitney!!!

I can see a whole new bestselling genre blending The Da Vinci Code, The Godfather, Tales of the City and 50 Shades of Grey. More seriously, Whitney’s work is a gift to investigative journalists and legal professionals wishing to focus on a particular event, person or crime out of this worldwide web. I must say that I was surprised, at first, that a book purporting to deal with a late 20th-century scandal would start its exposé in 1942. As I read on, I understood.

We react with horror at the news that our presumed democracy is under threat. We rejoice when heroes uncover the full facts of what we assume to be isolated incidents. Who doesn’t love Hoffman and Redford in All the President’s Men. What is more disturbing is to realise that Watergate, the Iran-Contra’s and the Profumo affair are not, in fact, isolated incidents. There are not even anomalous in the otherwise smooth operation of domestic and worldwide democracy. All that marks out these particular scandals is that they made the news. In other words, this is business as usual.

Why that insight is important is because there are three mechanisms preventing the public from realising the extent of the international organised crime and government intelligence network. The first is the control of the media by the kingpins. Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell feature heavily in these pages but it is a mistake to associate particular types of crimes and misdemeanours with any particular person. The point is that this kind of thing goes on, has gone on for a very long time, and will go on unchecked unless there is decisive intervention – and that the arrest or death of any particular criminal (inside or outside of any recognised mob or government agency) does not affect this network greatly. The foot soldiers of this army of saboteurs of the rule of law are sown by dragon’s teeth: where one falls, another springs up in his place.

The second mechanism is denial. Always to be relied on. The reason why Whitney provides such meticulous detail is that the de facto existence of this network can no longer be denied. While Nixon was making speeches about defending American democracy, while Reagan was supposedly warring against cancer, while the Clintons promised (with the backing of Fleetwood Mac) that yesterday’s gone, all this sordid corruption was taking place – and the evidence in this book supports the theory that they knew about it.

The last, and most insidious mechanism is that, in order to fully comprehend the state of affairs (in some cases, quite literally) that Whitney has revealed, it is necessary to undergo a painful and profound paradigm change. Most people would rather not face the fact that we do not live in a democracy. We never have. We live in a society ruled by brigands. A key difference between the modern day peasant and his mediaeval counterpart is that the latter was aware of the true nature of power. However there is another difference. This one is to our advantage. Nowadays we have a system of law which, still, supports our rights – if only we know how to use it. Yes of course there is corruption in the legal system and there is corruption in the legislatures but the one thing that the darkness fears is the light – and the best defence that we the people can employ is to expose these people and their nefarious practices in the light of day.

When I talk about the clear evidence of patent fraud, the proven scientific malpractice, the massive kickbacks,[1] methodological anomalies and widespread censorship of experts in the AIDS debate, people find it all very hard to believe. The same is true for the climate debate. Right now, in 2022, finally, there is some hope that the public have begun to see through the lucrative multinational narrative of the Covid pandemic that benefited only the pharmaceutical industry and big data. When we finally admit to ourselves that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then we will no longer be surprised by the evidence of such widespread corruption.

“They wouldn’t do that!” is the pious thought of every subservient citizen unwilling to face the criminal corruption of their own government. In One Nation Under Blackmail, Whitney Webb has shown conclusively that they would do that, that they have been doing that, and that they will go doing the same.

Unless we stop them.

Front cover of One Nation Under Blackmail Vol. 1 showing three besuited White men and dark clouds over the US Capitol

[1] Detailed in Chicago Tribune writer John Crewdson’s (2003) Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-up and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo.

Who’s Best for Chester MP?

Taking a break from studying Constitutional Law, I’ve done a hasty SWOT analysis of the first 4 candidates to put their profiles on Who Can I Vote For? the popular and informative (if sometimes tardy) website that does what it says on the tin. My reasoning is that this lot are at least organised – which is the minimum you want for a Westminster election. Integrity would be great too of course and the ability to do the job. Here’s my thoughts. Full disclosure – I’m a member of one of the featured parties. Can you tell which? I have tried to be fair.

CANDIDATESTRENGTHS – from WCIVF? Twitter/ LinkedIn/ Party profile
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyBest surname; grandfatherly face; local with 42 yrs of customer service in health food retail; 11 yrs teaching computing especially to sheltered housing sector; Border biscuits!
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyExperience as city councillor in Cheshire; established party infrastructure available.  
Rob Herd: Liberal DemocratsExperience as parish councillor in Chester; forties, fit and handsome; teacher & governor; charity trustee; local; established party infrastructure available.   
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyExperience as city councillor and council leader in Chester, elected by 2,182 votes; local; MBE; established party infrastructure available.  
CANDIDATEWEAKNESSES
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyNew, small party with controversial policies
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyOnly gained 934 votes for post.
Rob Herd: Liberal Democrats 
Samantha Dixon: Labour Party 
CANDIDATEOPPORTUNITIES
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyMay attract independent voters tired of older parties as well as women – as his party supports female safe space and robust child safeguarding – as well as older voters and their carers. Only candidate to post a biscuit preference – so may get the fun vote.
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyMay attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies.
Rob Herd: Liberal Democrats 
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyMay attract voters who want to vote for a woman, whatever her policies. Labour seems to be undergoing a resurgence due to chaos at Westminster.
CANDIDATETHREATS
Chris Quartermaine:Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, EconomyVoters may be put off by what Freedom Alliance is against and not know what it’s for. Dousing a bit of a wildcard: may put off fundamentalists (as would any liberal policy) but a touch of the Dumbledore may attract others, especially the holistic minded.  
Liz Wardlaw: Conservative and Unionist PartyConservative facing General Election, despite new PM appearing to be a steadier pair of hands that the last one. Women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.
Rob Herd: Liberal DemocratsLGBT early education/ gender self-ID is the wildcard: divides voters like Marmite. Women & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.
Samantha Dixon: Labour PartyWomen & male allies may not vote for a party that does not support female safe space and robust child safeguarding.

Summing up – if voters just vote for their party then the experience and qualities of the candidate don’t matter. However, especially with a General Election looming, Chester voters may want to see someone who connects with their issues rather that whatever instructions they’re getting from HQ. In that case, Rob Herd’s flagging up the raw sewage issue may be a winner, although he’s the least experienced of the three legacy party candidates and a Green candidate could still try to corner the environmental market. Voters may be swayed by a local, in which case no-one can beat Chris Quartermaine’s 42 yrs in retail but Samantha Dixon did get a lot of support last May, unlike Liz Wardlaw.

In terms of identity politics, if having a female candidate matters to women then the Labour and Conservative candidates are ahead. However, these days, what may matter more is a party that supports female safe space, single sex sports and robust child safeguarding, in that case Freedom Alliance overtakes them both. Rob Herd also flies the LGBT flag (as well as the EU flag) on his Twitter bio which goes down well with younger voters – but it’s the older generation who actually get their votes in on the day. The tipping point, I feel, is to engage that generation. They tend to vote for legacy parties and for social conservatism.

If Chris Quartermaine can leverage his local connections and work with older people to persuade them to abandon their usual party and vote for Freedom Alliance, the only party wholeheartedly against the isolation they experienced over lockdown, then he may be the dark horse that wins the race. If not, then my money would be on Labour…or possibly Lib Dems because their candidate is just so good-looking!

Chimpanzee looking pensive in Chester Zoo

Thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing his photo Relaxing Monkey into the Public Domain.