The Plastic Hippo

March 11, 2011

Barnsley chop

Filed under: History,Politics,Walsall,World — theplastichippo @ 3:57 pm

Seven days is a long time in politics, be it in Walsall, Westminster, Benghazi or Barnsley. Only 168 little hours since Walsall council was tweeting self-love and William Hague was desperately trawling Youtube for Winston Churchill speeches and Colonel Gaddhafi was howling at the moon outside his tent, the Barnsley Central by election result is all but forgotten.

Extrapolating the national zeitgeist from a by election result is always a futile exercise. Local issues, the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates, the glare of media speculation and the historical loyalty of the bemused electorate muddy the already murky political waters. The retention of the copper-bottomed safe Labour seat of Barnsley Central came as no surprise but, more significantly, the reaction of coalition apologists proves that the game is up for both Clegg and Cameron.

The few remaining Liberal Democrats with the courage to dare to speak its name in public whispered: “just like Cheadle in 2005”, a reference to those far off days when the Labour candidate lost his deposit set against the abject failure of Tony Blair’s adventure in Iraq. Blaming a low turn out in a constituency that is home to the National Union of Mineworkers is really no excuse for finishing sixth. Now it is the Libdems turn to clutch at Jack Straws.

Prolific tweeter, Times columnist and shameless self-publicist David Aaronovitch was quick to express outrage that an increased Labour majority and share of the vote was in some way a reward for Labour party corruption. The former darling of the bohemian Hampstead Heath left lost his intellectual chutzpah when he took the Murdoch shilling, hid behind the News International pay wall and started to end his tweeted plugs with (£) symbols. If Andy Coulson was an isolated bad apple, then so too was Eric Illsley.

In summoning up the ghost of the Cheadle by election to find some comfort in facing the grim reaper, the heirs of Whiggery forgot to mention the disgraceful negative campaigning that tainted the 2005 humiliation of Labour. The Libdems came close to taking legal proceedings against their new Tory best mates over some particularly poisonous election leaflets and all this was years before Phil Woolas was rightly booted out of Oldham East and Saddleworth.

The cuddly Libdems, though, are not beneath a bit off nastiness when on the stump. There was a suggestion that Dan Jarvis, the Labour candidate, would not be welcome in Barnsley because he was born in Nottingham where, during the dark days of the miners strike, Nottingham miners refused to take industrial action. Mr Jarvis was 12 at the time of the miners strike and can hardly be described as a scab. Ever gracious in the ignominy of defeat and seeing his deposit wiped out, Liberal Democrat candidate Dominic Carman suggested that the Barnsley electorate who rejected him were racist and homophobic.

It is a good job then that Carman did not model his campaign on that of the self-styled voice of reason Simon Hughes when he stood against Peter Tatchell in the Bermondsey by election of 1983 when the issue for the Liberal Democrats was not political, but was about sexual orientation. Hughes claimed to be “the straight choice” and won, but years later confirmed that he was bisexual after some newspaper revelations. The lust for power and the expedience within the party facing extinction confirms that they will do and say anything to cling onto any hope of credibility regardless of principle.

In spite of his bitterness towards the people of Barnsley, one must feel some sympathy for Dominic Carman. Abandoned by Nick Clegg, who was otherwise engaged with a skiing holiday in Klosters, his target constituency went unvisited by Liberal Democrat leaders too busy discharging their duties in high offices of state to even think about setting foot in South Yorkshire. They might just end up in the apres-ski fondue as Clegg negotiates the nomination for a European Parliamentary seat representing the Swiss canton of Graubunden including Klosters and Davos. After all, these days, Clegg is more familiar with the pistes of Switzerland than he is of the chalet maids and ski instructors of his Sheffield constituency. Clegg`s ministerial chauffeur will need to ask for directions to the venue of this weekends Liberal Democrat spring conference.

Interestingly, the boy Dominic is the son of the late George Carman QC, defender of the rich, famous and infamous. In 1979, it was George who got former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe off a charge of conspiring to murder his lover, a certain Norman Scott. Present day cabinet ministers might wish that Carman senior was still around to share his expertise after getting Ken Dodd off charges of tax evasion.

Even though Carman the younger was unfortunate enough to represent a party that is both dishonest and ridiculous, he never stood a chance anyway. Coming up against Dan Jarvis, the Labour candidate, Saint Francis of Assisi would have lost his deposit. A former major in the Parachute Regiment, Jarvis served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Intelligent, erudite and now, tragically, bringing up two young children on his own, he would have taken the seat even if he stood for the Chimps Tea Party.

As the coalition government make a total pigs ear of the crisis in Libya, Liam Fox and William Hague would be well advised to give the new member for Barnsley Central a quick call. After cocking up the evacuation of British nationals, Hague speculated that Gaddhafi had legged it to Venezuela. This pronouncement prompted the oppressed of Libya to take to the streets in celebration directly into the gun sights of Gaddhafi`s mercenaries. It’s okay, though. Britain has sent medical aid to treat the injuries caused by British supplied ordnance and Muammar is checking his Paypal account with the British “businessmen” who recently accompanied Cameron on his arms dealing jaunt to the Middle East. As for Hague`s no-fly zone, the RAF are currently queuing up at the job centre.

The Liberal Democrat leadership now face the faithful in Sheffield, just a stones throw from Barnsley. Grass root members might like to remind the future MEP for Klosters and my Tory Lord Clegg of Sheffield Forgemasters of the broken manifesto pledges and the enthusiastic destruction of Liberal values in return for a sniff of power without responsibility. The delegates have the opportunity to save the NHS and halt the wanton vandalism of public services, education, welfare and the criminal abandonment of people with disabilities.

If not, their Libdem MPs in the House of Commons will continue to flock into the government lobby like so many yellow sheep, only to find that government office is actually an abattoir. Chop, chop, chop.

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1 Comment »

  1. To me the issue is not about the right or wrong about the Labour Party winning Barneley, but why anybody in their right mind would want to vote for Labour in the first place ??!!

    In my judgement those who got us into this desperate mess in the first place [that is the former members of the last and hopefully last Labour Gov’t, as well as some bankers I suppose], should be treated like outcasts were in ancient Rome – sent packing on a horse without food, water or sleep for 400 miles East, West, North and South of the compass.

    Now where was Spartacus mentioned oin this blog…………?

    Comment by IAN PAYNE — March 22, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | Reply


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