29 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. The almost total lack of response in Australia to Corbyn’s spectacular showing at the UK elections is telling.

    He reduced May to a minority government in the face of consistently wrong polling and a uniformly biased MSM and he did this with a “social” manifesto accurately named “for the many not the few” (a clear reference to the 1%).

    Instead of frantically working out how we can get a “Corbyn”, it seems like the ALP is hunkering down and double-checking the systems they have spent years putting in place to ensure we DON’T get a “Corbyn”.

  2. And the only online comments I’ve found have been negative: a peevish Blairite put-down on ABC.net.au and today a wholeheartedly hostile comment reprinted from the Telegraph on the Fairfax site. Surely some pretension of impartiality would entail at least one positive comment.
    Then of course Shorten expressing his relief that our voting system means it won’t have to affect ALP policies. Head in the sand, much?

  3. Again we see a party (UK Consevatives) get x percent of the popular vote (42%) and take y percent (48%) of the seats.

    Real democracy will not arrive until all workplaces are run democratically as well the country being run better than in this pseudo-representative “democratic” manner.

  4. but we’ve always known that’s how it goes.

    way back during the referendum for a republic, the media wireless,papers and tv,made the point that all was decided and all anyone had to do was go along with it.

    when they didn’t, it was disappeared.
    almost as if it didn’t happen. (moooving forward)

    this is standard operating procedure.
    and given the gutting of on-the-ground reporting and reliance on almost unlimited smartphone images,the coherance of “from-above” public dialogue is splintering.

    just because this is occurring,doesn’t mean the swirl of individual opinion in mass is not effective.

    as the word goes “UK rocks”.

    it must be very irritating to put together a campaign in whatever media to influence the intent of Joe-blow and sally-somebody and see the whole effort of time, money and expertise in all sorts
    of socialogical and psychological areas vanish into flurb.

  5. “Following the surprising (to some) election result, the Guardian has seen their big-name Op-Ed writers desperately trying to claw-back their credibility. For those of us who could see, and understand, the real support that Labour have been gaining in the two years since Corbyn was elected it has been amusing to watch.

    Jonathan Freedland’s damp article tries to both rewrite the author’s history, morally justifying his outrageous bias, claim he was right all along and undermine the electoral result. In trying do all this it not only falls between two stools, but face-plants straight into a third.”


  6. The SMH reports some thoughtful reflection by the ALP on the UK result.

    ‘The success of the Corbyn campaign has “huge lessons” for the ALP, according to Senator Sam Dastyari, who spent the last week volunteering in the UK election.

    “But if we are lazy, we will take the wrong ones,” he said. “It would be lazy and wrong to simply look at what worked superficially – a few slogans and stickers – and not look at the underlying causes.”

    Senator Dastyari said the lessons he took from the result was “everyone hates the political establishment and you can’t be anti-establishment enough”, a need for strong grassroots campaigning and authenticity.

    “Standing for something will always beat standing for nothing – even if people aren’t invested in what that something is,” he said.

    “People are desperate for conviction over empty platitudes.”

    But Senator Dastyari, who sits in the Labor right faction, doesn’t believe that means his party should shift to the left, instead interpreting it as “having clear, firm positions”.

    Victorian Labor MP Andrew Giles also saw the need for conviction, taking to social media following the UK results with the message “hope, authenticity, and policies which respond directly to the challenges of inequality are the best antidote to cynical austerity”.

    Mr Giles wasn’t the only left-wing Labor MP to praise Mr Corbyn’s performance – Doug Cameron also highlighted his “progressive policies, a focus on tackling inequality and a commitment to fairness” in his message, while others co-oped the “for the many, not the few” slogan.

    As did ALP leader Bill Shorten, who responded to the UK results on Friday with a warning to Malcolm Turnbull to “look at the popularity of that message in the context that he is giving a tax cut to a few millionaires and to a few multinationals and he’s increasing taxes on the many”.
    On Saturday, he was still pondering that slogan – and how it related to his opponent.

    “I think Mr Turnbull should look carefully at that message – Australians want to see governments delivering for them, not just the top end of town,” he said.

  7. “Jonathan Freedland… not only falls between two stools, but face-plants straight into a third.”

    A clever word-play on the meaning of “stools”. 😉

  8. Speaking of taking the capitalists’ shilling (and the developers’ payola)…

    Q1. How many Queensland mayors have been on the take?

    Q2. How many mayors does Qld have?

  9. For a while now many ,like Waleed Ali ,have been asking ‘where is the Left ,at this time in history when you would think their time is now, why is the Left so weak ?’ . Given the long standing overwhelming opposition from on high I think a better question is ‘why is the Left still so strong?’ -the answer is simply that it is literally natural for humans to care for others.

    I cant remember them word for word but 2 Thatcher quotes come to mind – 1/ asked what was her greatest achievement -‘moving our opposition so far to the Right’ .2/ ‘Politics is the business of changing peoples souls ,and economics is the tool by which it is done.’

  10. Pr Quiggin, I’m looking forward to your critique of the Finkel review. My own view is that the terms of reference – as is too often the case in these government requested reviews – sidestep the questions they know they won’t like the answer to, ie fail to make climate and emissions a relevant consideration. The time frame in question is too short, raising the potential for poor investment decisions that may look reasonable to reach interim climate targets but are inappropriate – an impediment even – to the more aggressive targets that must follow. ie investment in gas or HELE coal.

    The requirement for storage with wind and solar projects beyond the point where intermittency is expected to become problematic for system management is reasonable – as long as the assistance to give advantage to low emissions investment includes sufficient support for doing so rather than a financial burden on RE that makes fossil fuels more attractive.

    It looks to me that electricity generation in places like SA and WA are edging up against a crucial tipping point, where intermittent supply is reaching levels where it’s management is an issue, a taste of things to come at larger scale elsewhere. The introduction of storage looks not only appropriate, but a necessary precursor to future emissions reductions effort; it can be expected to be an expensive option in it’s earliest iterations however fast response gas is expensive too and the risks of being abandoned before it’s use by date are very real.

  11. Ikonoclast
    Agree BUT it seems artificial in the extreme to think dodgy donations stop at the council boundaries and then do not intrude beyond to State and Federal interests both at a seat level and the party level.
    Listening to and reading the transcripts of the Qld. CCC Operation “Belcarra” we have Liberals staffers disavowing party allegiance at election time though given assurance of their job back with the Liberal Federal member should they not win the election.
    The Mayor of Logan a former Liberal candidate for Rankin stood for Council as an independent received at least $300,000[so far] from donors including Chinese interests which appeared to be concealed and “washed” per the Logan Foundation and obscured by corporate nominees or unidentified and unquantified cash bundles.
    Remember any payment made in the expectation only of a benefit alone is an offence in itself [see Qld. Criminal code 442B].
    These parties are not aware serious penalties attach to such a situation – remember Gordon Nuttall got 7 years at least for receiving $300,000 in the expectation he would influence Cabinet decisions failing anyway.

  12. Regarding the UK, the Conservatives remain the majority party in a hung parliament. Northern Ireland is polarized between the DUP and Sinn Fein. Furthermore, there is a geographic division that can be seen in support. The disregard of the DUP for the open border and some attitudes to social questions and to climate change may cause a problem for PM May (or her successor). What I don’t understand is why the EU is putting so much pressure on to complete Brexit, scheduled to take effect in March, 2019.

  13. @wmmb

    “What I don’t understand is why the EU is putting so much pressure on to complete Brexit, scheduled to take effect in March, 2019.”

    PM May enacted article 50 in March 2017, which means she, on behalf of the UK, chose to complete the Brexit negotiations by March 2019.

    Setting aside the said legal aspect of the Brexit decision, there are social and commercial decisions by individuals and corporations to be considered. The longer the negotiation period the longer the period of uncertainty. Alternatively put, without a fixed negotiation period, negotiation games can go on forever and, if allowed, uncertainty is unbounded.

  14. @Ernestine Gross
    It’s worse than that for May. The UK leaves the EU in March 2019, whether anything has been agreed or not. Trade would default to WTO rules. What border controls default to, God only knows. The EU negotiators hold all the cards as a crash-out with nothing agreed would be a disaster for the UK, and merely damaging to the other 27.

  15. @James Wimberley

    I usually don’t like to form an opinion on an issue I believe requires a feel for the social and economic dynamics within a local economy that is best acquired by living there – Brexit is one of these topics. I have been to Greece not long ago but I haven’t been to the UK for a very long time. Having said that, your point about the relative negotiation positions applies to the pre- and post election scenarios. Nothing has changed in this regard. However, I find it interesting that after the election, Macron and Schaeubele have extended an invitation to the UK to reconsider the Brexit decision, expressed in such a way to leave it up to May to call for a new referendum on Brexit. I would not interpret this as a signal of an attempt to reduce ‘damages’ to the remaining 27 EU countries but rather as their interpretation of what the problems are within the UK, which have been revealed by the election result.

    Using a very broad brush when looking back over many decades, it seems to me there is a series of episodes when people from various NATO countries grow to like each other while government policies go in the opposite direction and vice versa. Never a boring moment.

  16. It seems fairly clear that the tragic events at Grenfell Towers in the UK can be traced to a lack of building regulation oversight and a lack of action despite warnings of the potential danger that go back more than a decade. It is a demonstration of the dark side of de-regulation and privatisation driven by neo-liberal ideology that has been at the root of government in the UK by both of the main political parties.

    The cut backs to cash starved local authorities that can also be traced back to the same ideology ensured that whatever ‘regulation’ remains in the building sector is not being adequately policed. The cosy relationships between developers (‘donors’) and the political parties has been central to this push for ‘deregulation’ and removal of ‘red tape’.

    In case people think such disasters are unlikely here in Australia, take a look at some of the problems in apartment buildings that we know about. ABC RN Background Briefing did a program on this a short while back, I have little doubt that the factors contributing to the Grenfell disaster are also present here in every state. Hopefully our politicians will take not of Grenfell and act before we have a similar disaster.

  17. A few years ago I argued with JQ and others on this blog that renewables would always be more expensive than coal and that therefore Oz politicians will never allow a transition to renewables, no matter how desirable for the planet that may be. I thought people like John were engaging in wishful thinking.

    I was completely and utterly wrong about the relative cost of renewables; John in fact called this correctly before a lot of other experts in Australia. To see just how wrong I was, have a read of this report from some very hard nosed investment advisors.

    But as we’re seeing, the rich old white men in our parliament seem to be very slow to adapt to new realities. So I was not completely wrong about the politicians.

  18. Grenfell Tower:

    Approximately 600 residents.

    Approximately 78 survivors definitely accounted for.

    Possible death toll at this stage = 522.

    “Official” position is 58.

    There are logical caveats etc… and only listing confirmed dead is understandable, but low-balling the numbers (especially in the MSM which is never usually overly concerned with cautious accuracy) appears to be more damage control than concern for getting the facts right.

  19. The OzFail of 21 June 2017 carries a column by Maurice Newman under the title “MASKS SLIP TO REVEAL THE UGLY FACE OF THE FUTURE” and subtitled “Socialist attacks on free speech are the truth revealed”.

    The opening paragraph reads:

    In his 1960s bestseller, The Naked Communist, former FBI agent W. Cleon Skousen lays bare an ambitious Marxist manifesto. He identifies 46 goals ranging from reordering Western values and institutions to a one-world government under the UN.

    Basing himself on Skousen’s theory, Newman proceeds to enumerate the manifestations of the (neo-)(cultural-)Marxist subversion of Western society. Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop are among those whom Newman denounces as agents of influence.

    The inspiration for this article, W. Cleon Skousen, was a rather interesting character.

  20. I wonder if Pauline Hanson is ‘on the spectrum’ herself and somewhat ‘autistic’. It would explain why she is unable to present her ideas with any understanding of how other people will respond and her anger at being ‘misunderstood’ as she sees it.

    It would explain her lack of empathy for other people, her inability to maintain relationships or close friendships and the way that she seems capable only of using people for her own purposes.

  21. I wonder if Pauline Hanson is ‘on the spectrum’ herself

    I’ve only been saying that for, what, five years now?

  22. Julie Thomas :I wonder if Pauline Hanson is…

    Julie, add to your listed traits her deep conspiracy loves and fears, her designating people into absolutely good and bad generally, her pronounced sucking up to individuals and groups and lashing out at others, a long list already of just the people that are publicly known to have been wooed and brought in close and personal to her suddenly being outcast and designated and attacked as her worst enemies, her assurances that people are out to get her, to kill her even, and I’d say it’s BPD.

    The more I mull on it being BPD the more I think Malcolm Roberts may fit that bill too.

  23. @Collin Street

    It hasn’t been politically correct though to be ‘diagnosing’ people. It’s regarded as abuse by righties and giving Pauline an excuse by some lefties.

    And yeah Svante I agree that Malcolm Roberts is clearly ‘diagnosable’ and I’d say most of the so called conservatives who readily adopted the shallow and narrow and self-serving ‘rationality’ that is fundamental to right wing libertarianism are suffering from some sort of cognitive ‘disorder’ that causes them to imagine that they have the ability to judge that they and their values are ‘better’ than others.

  24. Smith @21, I’ve thought about the matter some more in the last couple of days. I think that there is a psychological dynamic at work with climate change denial that inevitably leads to the sort of perspective that Newman has presented. If you have decided, for reasons of partisan animus, that you are going to disbelieve something because people you dislike and disapprove of believe it, but you then find that all of the key agencies from which we derive our knowledge of the external world continue to provide confirmation of that belief, eventually you can only shield yourself from a nasty case of cognitive dissonance by constructing a vast conspiracy theory, a conspiracy theory which, if you’re an ageing conservative white male like Newman, you can also invoke to explain (or explain away) all the other things that you think are going wrong with the world.

  25. Hows this for an over-reaction

    “hundreds of people were evacuated from Grand Central (a shopping mall in Toowoomba) about 5.40am yesterday following reports two men of “Middle Eastern appearance” were seen walking into the centre carrying knives.

    “Surrounding streets were closed and the centre locked down as they searched for the two “suspect males” who were located among the evacuated crowd outside the centre.

    The “suspect males of Middle Eastern appearance” were in fact cleaners who are Toowoomba residents in Australia with valid work visas and employed by a business within the Grand Central shopping centre and the “knives” were paint scrapers and box cutters.

    The person who saw knives has some sort of disability created by the Islamaphobics who are so unable to


  26. It is fashionable among neocons to talk of the costs of regulation and compliance measures. What they do not talk about are the costs of deregulation and lack of compliance measures. But of course this is consistent. The former costs are to them in money and the latter costs are to ordinary people in life and limb. Neocon money matters more to them than people’s lives. Such are neocon values.

    We can’t afford this, we can’t afford that, but the neocons can always find billions to spend on unnecessary, immoral wars. It’s a twisted sense of values. Unfortunately, there is no justice on earth and no supreme being in the sky to do anything about it. It’s up to us, the ordinary people. As my old man used to say, “Society is like a pond, the scum rises to the top.” He was referring to politicians. We need to develop a form of governance without professional politicians.

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