Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Reality Control - Ed Miliband would have you believe the Labour Party were victorious in the 2012 Local Elections…

Ed Miliband claims that Labour are winning back the trust of voters and some are even hailing the results of the recent Local Elections as some sort of validation of his Leadership. And of course the results have been taken as a validation of Labour in general, as a potential Government; the result returning Labour to power if played out in a general election.

    Ed Miliband amongst his followers
    For some reason Ed thinks he's popular...

As always it is b*lls**t, obviously perpetrated by the Labour propaganda machine, but also by a media that has little else to do, other than attempt to devise powerful headlines and sound-bites.

In these very hard times under a particularly unpopular coalition government, Labour could have wiped the floor with the Tories, as some opinion polls had been suggesting. But they got around 38-39% of the vote (Tories 31%) on a turnout of 32%...

12.5% of those able could be bothered to vote for Labour. Barely 1/8th of the electorate backed Labour and because of this the Labour party have both power in many crucial areas and also momentum. That’s a particularly small minority having a major say over what happens in British politics and society, if it was played out across the country in a general election it would be a travesty.

    A future Cabinet...?
    A travesty, right now...

While the apathy has of course been noted, no-one could fail to address it; they still trumpeted Labour’s ‘success’, alongside the Tory losses.

But it was only 12.5% of the electorate in these circumstances and you also have to look at the areas of the country involved.

Though granted Labour did well in places like Chipping Norton and Southampton, taken from the Tories, the rest was the North, Scotland and Wales; Labour strongholds

The SNP probably would have liked to stretch away from Labour in Scotland and it remains a fundamental area for Labour support, and in Wales the result is verging on meaningless, this is nothing new and I have mentioned it before. They’ll vote for Labour almost whatever happens; Labour could put a pig…

Still they spin results like those in Wales. Alastair Campbell thought Twitter users would be interested in his thoughts on Labour's success in Wales. The Labour propaganda machine never stops spinning...

    Alastair Campbell taking time out from the Ministry of Truth
    Still doing some freelance spinning…

Current cutbacks aside, around 1/5th of the working population is employed in the public sector, there are regional variations and where are the higher proportions…?

    Public sector map of the UK

In many of the areas that voted in the local elections.

Labour winning back voters’ trust…? It could just as easily have been their highly motivated supporters in the public sector. The Unions, students, the Left; those who’ve loudly stated their opposition to this Government, these groups could easily make up 12.5% in those areas, without any trouble. But no-one mentions that.

What the results really showed was simply apathy towards politics and perhaps a general disdain for politicians.

Labour are winning by default, Miliband certainly is.

Who in their right mind would want this man as Prime Minister??!

    Ed Miliband, taking it all in...
    We can't believe it either Ed, it's unreal...

The Unions?

    TUC Chairman Brendan Barber ready with prompts
    'Stick to the script you Muppet...' 

Just think if they’d picked David instead…

    Ed and David Miliband, brotherly love...?
    David probably wanting to say what we all think...

Boris Johnson didn't suffer from any backlash in London, although that election did take on a life of its own with personalities apparently overtaking everything else; the turnout was higher than the national average (38%) and they turned out to vote for a Tory.

    Boris Johnson - Very much a Tory…
    'What the f**k is he on about now...?!' 

There was a turnout of 41% in the local elections last year, though the referendum would have had some effect. The Tories and LibDems did worse this year but on a much lower turnout. The increasing ‘anger’ wasn't evident, though the Left would like to present it that way.

That’s not to say people aren’t unhappy with the Government, it’s just that they don’t see Labour as a credible alternative.

    Ed Miliband talks about his 'Alternative'
    Preaching to the choir...?

Although the whole country didn't go to the polls, as I suggested in the last post the recent opinions polls weren't played out across the nation. On Sunday (6th May) YouGov put Labour on a 12 point lead.

UKIP did better in terms of share (13%) and so did the LibDems (16%); not nearly as bad for them as polls had suggested and their more traditional heartlands in the South didn't vote. They did lose councillors, but it should have been much worse.

    Nick Clegg has a lot on his mind
    Trying to think of worse scenarios...?

Many commentators seemed to ignore this, for instance pointing to the drop from the 2010 election, but that result was less than polling at the time.

Commentators, like the Labour Party, want to pretend they know what ‘the people’ are thinking all of the time.

But look at that 2010 result; how much has changed if we compare to these recent results? The Tories currently on 31%, they only got 36% in 2010 and Labour have picked up around 10% since the general election, when they were supposed to be at rock bottom…! UKIP seem to have made the same sort of gains as Labour, looking at the 2010 figures, obviously a large proportion coming from the Tories.

The fact is Labour’s strong core support has remained and it is quite obvious why I have been writing about it since the general election, and there were many around the fringes of that core that quickly went back to them when they saw the alternative.

    Anti-cuts protesters in 2011
    Flooding back to the Labour Party...?

    Ed Miliband addresses the protesters
    Hanging on Ed's every word...?

With the Socialist leader Francois Hollande winning the French Presidency there does seem to be the beginning of a seachange in European politics as many hail this as the first major rejection of austerity. We’re living in hard times and few like cuts in spending, least of all the French. The Greeks too are not happy and there was a backlash in their recent elections, but then their economy is ruined and it’s going to take a lot of work to sort it out, it'll be no picnic, publicly funded or otherwise…

But there seems to be a need to state the blindingly obvious; Britain is not France, Miliband is not Hollande, so to their parties.

I don’t pretend to know a great deal about the current state of French politics; but the Left in Britain cheering Hollande’s win as if it is some sort of endorsement of the Labour Party and their policies are quite simply having a laugh, whichever way you look at it.

    Francois Hollande and Ed Miliband
    'What is ze joke?'

    Ed Miliband is still amused...
    'Whatever ze joke was, it is over now...' 

A low turnout is no good, the results are manipulated for propaganda and power is given away too cheaply, to the often undeserving. People need to vote for something else, to go out and vote, but choose something different (certain extremists excluded…).

Clearly there is a dislike of the main parties and this has to be seen in the next election. Maybe then some real reform can happen.

Miliband and the like say they want to engage and reach out to the disaffected but the fact is if people don’t vote, it won’t matter to them. Labour haven’t changed and they won’t need to unless voters go out and force change in politics.

12.5% of the electorate holding sway over the rest of the population? Is that fair for all...??

    The cover of Labour's 2010 Manifesto
    The public servants controlled all they could see...

Do people really want to let the Labour Party control the future…?

    Gordon Brown...

    Is always watching…

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

“No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it” - Would the British people really give power back to the Labour Party..?

With the Tories seemingly desperate to f**k up at every turn and the LibDems hiding in a corner, probably crying at the prospect of a further drubbing at the upcoming local elections; the national opinion polls have been quite concerning.

             Nick Clegg
             A lot on his mind...

The polls had settled back to an average Labour lead of perhaps four or five points. But a recent YouGov poll put Labour on an 11 point lead! Particularly concerning for the LibDems, with UKIP overtaking them. They’ve been bad for a while and UKIP rising but this is marking a low point…

              Clegg reflects
              'It's hardest at night...'

                            Clegg breaks down...?
                           "Sneezes", but must squeeze out a few tears...

              Clegg and Cameron
              'Don't you ever embarrass me like that again Clegg!'

So how did Labour manage it?

               Mr Ed Miliband
              'What was the question again...?'

Well Labour didn’t really do anything. The lead grew soon after the Tanker Drivers strike debacle, when there were calls for Francis Maude to resign over misjudged advice to stock up on petrol that caused panic buying of fuel and apparently even led some people to fill jam jars with petrol, not to mention set themselves on fire… It was pretty stupid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he should be held responsible for all stupidity that can be linked to it… Labour’s lead then jumped to 10 and stayed around that level for a while.

               Frances Maude
               Something of the reptilian..?

Earlier in the year there was a period when the two main parties were neck and neck but it seems the Labour lead has grown and been maintained since the furore over NHS reform. That’s a contentious issue of course and with unemployment rising and, whatever the reasons, economic growth stalling; after the petrol ‘crisis’ the Coalition inexplicably decided to relinquish the high ground on Civil Liberties by raising the prospect of greater monitoring of internet and mobile phone use, something that many had thought had been thrown out with totalitarian Labour. And the Labour Party are then the ones who then benefit from this seemingly incompetent and certainly uncertain government. As if Labour are above a fuel crisis

Along with the more significant factors testing the faltering Coalition there have over blown issues, inflamed by Twitter use; for instance “PastyGate”.

There has also been "outrage" over “Grannytax” and more recently "Charities tax", following the spring budget. The Guardian even questioned the focus on the 'Grannytax', but it wouldn't stop the Labour Party trying to exploit every single opportunity to attack the Tories.

Determined to appear inept at every opportunity, it seems that Coalition is staying together perhaps only because the LibDems know they would be scr*wed if they left. And they’re hoping given time, if things improve for the government, then so in turn it might for their party, in it for the long haul now.

The truth is they’re damned if they stay and damned if they don’t, if they do get crucified in May or something else goes bad for the Government (looking likely…), some in the party might want them to cut their losses and leave the Coalition.

And then what? Then Labour win? The same f***ing party that got us here in the first place. They haven’t changed; Miliband and Balls were balls deep in Brown’s s**t and they have not had to pay like the last Tory Government did following 1997.

              Balls and Brown
              'Yes Ed, go on...'

              Miliband and Brown
              'I wonder what I'll be having for tea...'

              Miliband, Brown and Mandelson
               All in it together...

If an election was called this year and Labour did win; we would simply have a reconstruction of the government under Gordon Brown, but potentially with the Unions having an even greater influence and with more benefit to the public sector…
               But seriously, this lot?? In Government???

Labour are benefitting not only because of their investment in creating dependence, but simply because people don’t like the Tories and they don’t like ‘cuts’ to public services. Who does...?

Fortunately nothing is that certain, Labour can’t be sure that the current polls will play out across the country in an election. George Galloway recently won the Bradford West by-election while the Coalition was dropping to some of its depths.

               Galloway - In touch with the people...?
      Peace, freedom and a few less fat bastards eating all the pie...

Labour could only get the backing of 12% of the electorate in one of their safe seats. Irrespective of Galloway’s politics and why people voted for him, that was a kick in the teeth for Labour.

12% when they are showing 40+% in opinion polls? You can’t rely on anything, thankfully…

They seem to now realise it. The results in the 2011 local elections didn’t reflect exactly the national polls at the time and in the Scottish elections they were well beaten by the SNP. Only in Wales did they succeed to any meaningful level and that doesn’t actually mean much. Even now Labour could put up a pig in most Welsh constituencies and they’d still vote for it and that says everything…

If anything Galloway’s win showed a lack of real support for the mainstream parties, as Galloway said, which goes alongside the continuing general apathy (Only 50% turnout in Bradford West).

Apathy aside, that’s good, for many reasons. But forgetting the possibility of alternatives and genuine choice, just for one very crucial reason; it is good because then Labour don’t win by default.

Labour haven’t really gained directly from the Tory dip; UKIP have benefitted. So it’s just the right dividing and Labour have gained the Left of the LibDems and in that case, the division of opinion remains at similar levels.

The elections in May will be interesting, though the London Mayoral election has a life of its own…

             Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone
             Old Muckers...?

The local elections will be more telling and it’s doesn’t look good, with all the problems outlined.

The NHS in particular stirs the passions, greater than most other matters of public expenditure. Obviously the economy will remain the core issue, but the NHS is an issue which can clearly divide the parties and apparently unite opposition. The fear is privatisation by the backdoor, the type of thing that was already occurring under Labour. The Tories are a bit more up front about it. Though the immediate intention is still for the services to remain free at point of service, it will obviously change how the services are delivered and affect a lot of people’s employment, and many fear for the longer term prospects of the free service.

Well apparently the NHS does employ something like 1.7 million people, in a working population of somewhere around 30 million that’s a lot. So it’s no wonder there is such interest and concern.

How many people rely on the NHS, for services and for employment, whether directly or indirectly?

Is it the very centre of what Blair, Brown and New Labour tried to build? Dependence at every turn, whether intentional or as a fortunate side effect?

And this is what could see them return to power, anytime from now until the 2015 election deadline.

Even though what Labour built was based on an unsustainable economic boom and this was clear for two years before the 2010 election, the Tories were unable to secure an outright majority and now Labour could see their way back into power, without having to provide any evidence of change.

The fact is Labour won't have to do much to get votes in the public sector. The charts below give some indication of the strength of Labour support in the public sector compared to the private sector before the general election.

The Tories must have got some votes from public sector workers in 2010 and certainly the LibDems did; it would be interesting to see the breakdown of voting intentions now…

Considering what they took us to and everything that has happened and been identified since the economic crash, Labour have managed a neat trick. They’re close to getting away with it; the greatest trick the Labour Party ever pulled…

             The Devil Inside..?
             He wishes…

There are problems throughout the economy and essentially all can be linked back to the last administration (they did have 13 years), so why would anyone in their right minds think this Labour Party could do anything about the economy?? Well, some do. But the key issue for Labour voters, their first thought, must be services and spending.

Of course services should be available to those in genuine need, but they can be delivered more efficiently and a majority of people should understand that, certainly those in the private sector. It may mean job losses, but genuine efficiency should lead to benefits elsewhere.

The Tories seem to view private sector involvement as the only mechanism that can deliver efficiency, but it doesn’t necessarily mean benefit to wider public and that is one reason they lose support. Money is leached out of the system and the fallacy has already been illustrated by Labour’s use of Private finance initiatives.

The public sector managers the Tories don’t trust to deliver efficiency, making them want to use the private sector, are the same managers who will be implementing the cuts… Do they apply the constraints of their budgets appropriately, fairly, sensibly and responsibly? Are jobs defended over services..?

Central Government make the budgets cuts and so the public institutions that Labour built to their current forms and the Labour Party that brought us to the current state of affairs, are not the ones who stand accused.

               Cameron and Osborne having a laugh…?
                I’m not saying they’re blameless...

Fortunately there are people who are not so easily fooled and many feel the often well paid managers making the decisions in the public sector are the ones who should be cut. The Tories have a lot of cause not to trust the managers to deliver efficiency. I have worked in both sectors and the differences are stark. If you could apply some of the culture of the private sector (the better bits…) to the public sector, there would be less need for cuts to services and therein lies a crucial problem…

In the end they, like the Labour Party, look to protect their lot and their power. And the Tories are damned either way; it’s either jobs or services, or both… It doesn't go down well. For many swing voters, it’s perhaps more ‘Better the Devil You Know…’

              The recent history of the Labour Party
               It's all there...

People need to look beyond the immediate concerns and through the Labour propaganda and spin.

Mandelson’s left the limelight, but Labour spin writes itself now…
'When I said I'd no problem with people getting stinking rich...'

It’s particularly people in low and below average paid private sector positions (and very much so those without children), because ultimately they are the ones that pay the most, one way or the other. But here again, Labour used another method to secure support by creating apparent dependence outside of their core dependents; by giving with one hand and taking away with the other, in the form of tax credits and the like. They disguised it; but in the end you pay…

Labour’s, and the Left’s, only economic policy seems to be maintaining public spending to increase growth… That wouldn’t restructure the economy and the debt would still have to be serviced, well who would pay for that? The rich..? Don’t bank on it…

              Miliband, Brown and Mandelson; entertaining rich people
             Brown talking a good game...?

And Labour would still outsource and cut where necessary, that’s why the trick is so intricate, the public sector would still lose, pensions for instance would have to be reformed (even the IMF think so and Labour wouldn't ignore that...). However, Labour would lessen the blow in the public sector and transfer more of the hit outside the realms of their supporters. The Unions will get their voice heard under any administration and the noise continues unabated for Coalition - Civil service and health staff call May strike over pensions.

Ultimately Labour will look to strengthen their power base, because that’s all they know… And surely they’ll not want Scotland to go their own way…?

In an election, unbiased and reasonable people must be able to see through Labour and if they don’t like the Tories or are offended by the Libdems, there must still be a choice..?

                     Real electoral choice…?
                     Which nutter?

               But better than this...?
               Which pr**k...?

And on a good turnout if there were votes outside of the main parties then change could happen and real consensus created. Not have one party of whichever persuasion holding the majority to ransom, one way or the other.

The socialist dream will not happen to wider society under Labour; it’s saved for their supporters. Brown spent a good 10 years trying to create his dream in the public sector, financed by a private sector open to the effects of world competition, and we all know how it ended. And still to this day, reform pending; you either join the party or work to pay for it…

The Labour Party don’t know how to improve society at large and I’m no longer sure that they even care.

If the British people give power back to Labour; they’ll try their damnedest to never it see it slip from their grasp again.

               If you want a picture of a Labour future, imagine this...
                Because nothing has changed...

“Power is not a means, it is an end”

                And Brown knows it...
                ‘Was it all just a bad dream…?’

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Momentary lapse of reason? – Roger Waters can’t help diving into the Falklands dispute…

So now Roger Waters has waded into the Falklands dispute, following Sean Penn blundering in, as discussed in the previous post.

Well to be fair to both of them they were in the area, apparently specifically asked to comment and one doesn’t like to be rude to the host (Waters in Chile, but on his way to lucrative concerts in Argentina...).

And Roger Waters has something more of a history with the topic and perhaps interest in it; the Pink Floyd album Final Cut was inspired by the 1982 conflict.

Clearly he has issues, he’s sung about them for a long time, and it seems he stated “I am as ashamed as I possibly could be of our colonial past” and this apparent internal strife can lead to very tortured music and lyrics, as well as some confused political beliefs. As with Sean Penn, judging this dispute along long held beliefs, Roger Waters thinks the Falkland Islands “should be Argentinian."

Then it seems he later drifted into the realms of contradiction, going on to add that; “they (residents) are British, aren't they, so they have a point of view and there is a case to be made.”

Roger Waters


This is part of the reason confirmed Leftists (mostly British) run into trouble and tend to avoid the subject:

- They ‘know’ that “colonialism” is bad and the islands are much closer to an independent nation, other than a major European former colonial power or the U.S. (let’s leave it at that for now…), so that must mean they have a rightful claim over the islands, surely…?

- Yet there is a long settled population that wishes to remain under British rule, and the independent nation in question does want to annex originally uninhabited islands to control oil and it’s effectively the same political aim as a formerly Right wing military government, that launched an unprovoked attack and invaded the islands in the not too distant past…

Must be confusing for people who think the world is now both righteously and neatly aligned against the old evil European and U.S. dominated world (while not thinking about all the other tin pot dictators and oppressive/aggressive regimes throughout the world)…

Roger Waters performing The Wall

'Which side you on..?'

He did admit in a separate interview that “it's not a simple situation”…

But again being fair to Waters, he’s over there, it’s a relevant topic and he has a track record on the subject.

Sean Penn still seemed to hang on to his black and white version of both history and current affairs.

He didn’t think the “world today” would tolerate Britain’s colonialist ideology, well as things appear to be coming to some sort of a head in the run up to the anniversary, while Roger Waters’ comments broke and mentioned in a linked article above; the Argentinian government has instructed many of their leading companies to stop importing British products.

How very diplomatic at this “sensitive” time. I wonder if Sean approves?

And does he believe the ‘world today’ will tolerate this deliberately antagonistic trade sanction as part of an imperialist objective to secure territory for oil?

Who knows many countries probably will accept it, but not because the world is the place that Penn and Waters and so many in the Left believe it to be.

Hugo Chavez and Sean Penn

'Are you with us Sean..?'

With all the self righteous rhetoric spewing over the debate this is a ridiculous action. The Argentinian Government are beginning to show very clear signs of desperation and could actually make David Cameron and his Government appear in control... They were quick to denounce this action.

But where do we go from here..?

Roger sees walls everywhere he goes...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mystic Rambling – Is Sean Penn out of his depth wading into the Falklands affair?

24/2/12 As I was finishing and publishing the post below, Sean Penn having taken a breath and thought about his comments, has written for the Guardian and responded to his critics and the "transparently corrupt and non-diligent propaganda machine that is much of the British press". It often takes a week, as it did for this post...

Mr Penn raises the effect of the oil deposits on the situation, as mentioned in the post below, but again does not seem to consider that the desire for control exists on both sides of the dispute. He also mentioned immigration which I alluded to at the end of the post, but I don't know the specific details of the immigration policy and this is obviously the tricky ground, especially when you take into account a possible oil rush.

He seems to focus more on 'UK support' for Pinochet in Chile, when he needs to focus more on the "legitimacy of Argentinian claims" and the motivation for the claims.

I can understand his calls for dialogue but not the way he's doing it. From his Guardian article (and overlooking possible sarcasm 'God Save the Queen', etc) it does seem he's a principled and intelligent man, I'm just not sure he's being very objective here, as discussed below:

There is a simple answer to (the title) question, but these are complicated matters, as it is with so many things. The world economic situation and Britain’s position in the world are extremely complex. In some ways the sheer enormity of the situation has led to a lack of posts on this blog, along with the problem of limited free time…

However, old Sean has popped up and raised an issue that appears simple on the surface - Sean Penn accuses Britain of 'colonialism' over Falklands, but it's actually a lot more complicated than he’s assumed.

It does also relate to the wider issues of Britain’s place in the world, as well as the Left’s view of the world. So while there has been a torrent of abuse and criticism directed at Sean Penn from a variety of mostly British commentators, I’ll still add my thoughts on the matter, he really has shown himself up and consequently highlighted a lot of problems.

Sean Penn


Sean Penn has chosen to wade in just as tensions rise higher than they’ve been since the war. The 30th Anniversary is approaching, Prince William has now been stationed on the island and there is the apparently significant deployment of HMS Dauntless.

The Prince is only posted for search and rescue and perhaps one could question the timing, but the truth is that it certainly doesn’t alter the circumstances of the islands and the reasons for the dispute. Some MPs might be visiting, but surely that can’t bother the Argentinians..? Must again be the timing, it’s a sensitive issue…

It is very sensitive, on both sides of the dispute. So why did Sean Penn stomp in with his size nines??

Well clearly he thinks it’s an uncomplicated black and white issue. He’s rocking around South America taking photo opportunities with political leaders, as he does.

Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez

Old muckers...

Sean Penn and his dad, apparently...

No, it's the Uruguayan President, apparently...

Sean Penn and the Argentine President, Cristina Kirchner

And asked to comment about the Falkland Islands, the situation is clear to him:

“The world today is not going to tolerate any ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology”

He called the Islands ‘the Malvinas’, he was in Argentina of course, but still it is apparent he knows little about the situation, or at least doesn’t understand it, hasn’t thought it through.

This has become increasingly clear as he responded to the criticism of original comments, calling it “hyperbole” and went further to condemn the insensitivity of Prince William’s deployment to the islands.

Politicians, Journalists, Bloggers, and a multitude of internet commentators pointing out specific details and criticising his partisan contributions to a very complicated matter is “hyperbole”, but Mr Penn accusing Britain of a “ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology” during a period that he does recognise is sensitive; well he must believe that’s appropriate and reasonable…

The legacy of colonialism is central to the issue of course, the imperialism that he so despises is fundamental.

“My oh my, aren’t people sensitive to the word colonialism, particularly those who implement colonialism."

And therein Sean Penn highlights his lack of understanding and how wildly he is missing a crucial point.

We have the UK that once ruled over a something like a quarter of the earth’s land masses and now oversees a few small territories dotted around the world, having relinquished control of almost all of its colonies and only retaining influence where the populations still desire it.

And then there is the claim from the former Spanish colony that wants to take control of originally uninhabited land, now populated by people that would like to remain under British control.

So who’s trying to “implement colonialism” now?

The Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has stated that Britain is a colonial power in decline, certainly in comparison to Argentina seeking new dominions; a colonial power in the ascendency…?

The Leader of Argentina

Your Majesty...

And when David Cameron recently accused the Argentinian government of colonialism, they certainly seemed a bit touchy. Sensitive one might say, Mr Penn?

A little upset and they seem to believe that their claim doesn’t relate to colonialism. As if their colonial population prior to 1833, was ‘essentially’ indigenous and not at all colonial. There is a clear case of double-think going on with many Argentinians, the paradox is should be obvious.

In this article, written in response to Cameron’s comments, it states clearly that the word “original” was removed from a statement about the removal of the pre-1833 population. Former, not original, but such detail is trivial semantics it appears…

It seems one form of colonialism is better than the other for Sean Penn, amongst others. “Archaic” colonialism is out, but the neo-colonialism of former colonies is fine by Sean..!

Except that of the USA, of course…

And along that line we come to crux of the issue, the reason for the passionate claims, and counter-claim; oil.

Sean Penn has actually rather cleverly been dragged into territorial claim motivated by oil.

If it weren’t for the possible presence of a large amount of oil in the vicinity, ‘Las Malvinas’ really would be nothing more than some windswept rocks in the South Atlantic. They’d be the ‘Falklands’ to everyone; populated by a few crazy Brit farmers and fishermen. Not the apparently extreme affront to the national sovereignty of Argentina.

Falklands Islands or Las Islas Malvinas?

Whatever you call them, they're bleak...

Here the BBC lay out the respective claims.

Why aren’t the Argentinian government’s claims imperialistic?

In response to Sean Penn’s comments a number of examples of other similar territorial situations have been pointed out, mostly to illustrate the absurdity of many of the aspects of the Argentinian claims. Each situation is different, but they are relevant; why are some originally uninhabited islands with a settled population that has determined its own nationality fundamentally different to any other similar example?

Not to attempt to try to list all of the possible similar cases, but it is worth mentioning some. One that probably got the most coverage last week was this Telegraph blog post: Sean Penn should return his Malibu estate to the Mexicans

The US did annex a number of states from Mexico following the US-Mexican war. I don’t believe that Sean would defend many of the acts perpetrated by US Governments, in the more distant past as well as in recent times, but it’s still technically relevant(the British historian, Dan Snow, directed a question to Sean Penn on Twitter about the circumstances of Guam, but it was pointed out that he probably wouldn’t attempt to justify such American overseas actions).

One of the main arguments that the Argentinians use is that self-determination is not applicable as the former population was removed by force, citing a UN resolution (so post 1945, in fact 1960 for the particular resolution).

The Mexicans would have a good case, maybe someone should tell them..? Maybe Sean didn’t know? He likes Latin America it seems and dislikes US foreign policy, so should be happy with that kind of ‘regime change’…

Many will simply say this is ancient history, but it was still extremely relevant less than 100 years ago, in part bringing about the US entry into the First World War – The Zimmerman Telegram. And with the Falklands we’re talking about force applied nearly 180 years ago whereas the Mexican-American war ended 164 years ago.

If they’re using a relatively modern convention to settle a dispute that began over 100 years before United Nations was founded, how far can we go back? And what other examples can we then include? Certainly the former Mexican states.

Do the Spanish want Jamaica back? It was taken by force (damn British pirates...) and therefore self determination of the current population doesn’t apply…?

Is it just that the Spanish don’t actively raise their potential claim? As with Mexico and their former territories, because they should probably think about staking a claim…

Is it that a treaty was applied at the time? Surely effectively agreed under duress, due to the act of force that is now crucial to the stipulations for sovereignty? Where does current international law stand on such treaties signed following acts of perpetrated long before the international mandate of the UN existed?

If the Argentine forces of Galtieri had been victorious in the 1982 conflict and some sort of terms and handover agreed, would that have applied under any international law?

As far as I can tell looking at any summary of the islands’ history, the Argentine ‘population’ that was ‘forcibly removed’ in 1833, wasn’t much to speak of and so I doubt anyone thought it warranted a treaty. Who knew how things would pan out..?

The Spanish seem to get involved a lot… There is the ongoing issue of sovereignty over Gibraltar. Acquired by force many years ago, but the current population have determined that they want to remain British.

But it’s so close to Spain??? In fact, so close, it’s practically in Spain..!


So close...

Unlike the Falklands… Where it’s just that Argentina is the nearest country.

South America, the Atlantic and the Falkland Islands

So far..?

And proximity as a claim? Can it really be that simple?

A lot of your everyday average internet commentators (Argentine, British and others) have stated that they believe such islands should be ruled by the closest nation, so again regardless of the inhabitants’ wishes. Well if there were some crazy turn of events and a selection of these people were given power, there’d be a few island states getting ready for some interesting regime change…

The Canaries Islands (once more the Spanish and again taken by force many years ago), the Channel Islands (oh wouldn’t the French love that..?), the Faroe Islands (closer to Britain, but also close to two nations other than the sovereign power) and Greenland (though granted we’re talking autonomy, but what does it matter what the people want..?), Bermuda, Guam, Puerto Rico and there’s more…

Hawaii was mentioned a lot in the recent reactions, it is relevant, in terms of proximity (although no major nation is closer than the US) and the way in which it became part of the USA. And though they did have a choice in officially becoming a state; in the referendum they didn’t have the choice of becoming independent.

Many of the internet based advocates of the Argentinian claims, used examples such as the Hebrides and what if they were under Argentine rule? The world would be a vastly different place for one thing, but in response one could use all the examples above and the Hebrides are inhabited by peoples other than those of the hegemonic state of the UK. They might become independent soon, determined by them and their mainland cousins.

What if the Faroe Islands were controlled by another state? What if Ireland….. No, the Argentinians ruling and populating, because that would the equivalent, the Hebrides, is a ridiculous example; the course of history has led us to this point.

Proximity in itself should almost be irrelevant when you look at all of the different situations in the world. And many of the possible examples have had an indigenous or ancient populations, the Falklands didn’t. But it seems in the righteous world of Sean Penn and Argentine politics this is overlooked.

They talk about the use of force, but what happened to the indigenous populations of the Americas? What are their rights now under international convention..?

What happened to the aboriginal people of the Americas happened for hundreds of years, before and after whatever exactly happened to the tiny colonising population of Las Malvinas.

Again the double-think becomes apparent. It seems to be some belief that as this is an independent former colony wanting to takeover the land of a colony still ruled by the Mother country, under an ‘archaic’ system; then it is a righteous cause.

If the people of the Falklands had gained independence, would that change the situation? Of course, if it had happened some time before 1982 and the UK had not intervened, then we wouldn’t have ended up talking about UN conventions for actions taken well over 100 years ago, in 2012.

On a much smaller scale the situation of the two nations is in some way similar to that of the US and Canada; the US became independent and Canada remained as a dominion. Canada was on their doorstep, not fully independent until 1982, an affront to their freedom and sovereignty, they should have invaded..! Maybe gone into cohorts with the French, again…

Invade Canada..?

Oh they did...

None of it is as clear cut as some believe. And again how far could you go back with the principles of the Argentinian arguments?

The US, Australia, the original tribes of Britain, most of the world outside Africa… Even in Japan, though few would think about such a case. Land often taken by force, territory annexed, etc, and now things have changed.

Despite the many examples throughout history, in the present day the Falkland Islands do remain an oddity, something of an anomaly. Although there are notable ongoing disputes throughout the world; between Russia and Japan over the Kuril islands, Kashmir and it’s not even worth going into the Arab/Israeli dispute here… There’s Tibet and the Tamils in Sri Lanka, how’s international law working out in those areas???

None of them quite have the characteristics and profile of the territorial disagreement in the South Atlantic.

The presence of oil and the accompanying propaganda have certainly inflamed what must seem such an insignificant dispute to many around the world; the population is after-all very small.

(There has been some scoffing from Americans about the reaction to Penn's involvement, the comparison to the former Mexican territory must seem ridiculous…)

It can seem a clear-cut issue to many, with the colonial history and geographical set up, but it is more complicated. Nowhere near as simplistic as the Argentinian government claims; citing the relevant aspects of history that suit their argument.

It is developing into the same patriotic fervour and clamour for territory that an extreme Right wing government whipped up into a war. Now it’s a Left Wing government, it’s fine? To Sean Penn at least…

It’s not a black and white issue and it is clear the British Left are unsure where to stand; many are not drawn on it. The Guardian the main mouth piece of the Left in the UK did not set out a clear opinion on the dispute itself but commented on Sean Penn and his freedom of speech - Sean Penn has every right to wade in on the Falklands

But there is an uncertainty in the Left, the lack of opinion made this clear. They can see the factors I’ve laid out, this not a simple anti-colonial issue.

Probably more importantly though, whatever their specific opinion is, they know it’s a vote loser. Sure fire. It was a vote winner for Thatcher in 1983 and don’t Labour know it.

Michael Foot and Margaret Thatcher

No contest...

I think a lot of ‘principled’ Leftists, in and out of Labour, would rather the Falklands were handed to Argentina, if only to stop the nagging conscience, but few would utter it out of their circles…

Some Left wing and anti-British commentators will use the standard simplistic view of history; British Empire = bad, everything opposed = good! Except America; was good, independence from Britain an’ all that, but now bad… America boo!!!

As I say there has been limited opposing opinion in Britain, but it’s there and for a moment I thought it would be clearly exposed on BBC Question Time (16/2/12). However, I didn’t see the programme and can find no further reference than this remark on Twitter. John Prescott in un-spun mode, no advice, no stage management, possibly letting his anti-Tory, Leftist apologist conscience get the better of him..? Til they shut him up???

Labour out of touch with the public opinion..? Never let it be said…

Lord Prescott

Always in touch...

Sean Penn’s politics are perhaps a little different to those of the British Labour party and the Liberal Left in the UK, but his background is different and he’s not afraid to speak his mind on topics that in the US can adversely affect his image.

He’s clearly an idealistic man, who knows perhaps in his mind there is no contradiction; if he could bring it about maybe he’d happily give California back to the Mexicans? Handing the whole of the United States back to the Native Americans might be a step too far and into clear contradiction…

Though there is indeed a lot of hyperbole surrounding the issue, propaganda and passion on both sides of the debate, we all have to hope there can be some resolution without permanent and damaging division, worst of all conflict. No-one can want another war.

The fact is the world is changing and there are huge power shifts occurring. The South American continent, particularly the big three of Argentina, Brazil and Chile will be able to wield more influence. There is also a power issue underlying it as well as the oil and I think as time goes on, with the road Britain is on (as many gleefully indicate; ‘in decline’) it’s hard to see what will happen to the Falkland Islands, especially with such a hard existence surrounded by relatively hostile neighbours. Although as things stand, oil money can be a real game changer either way…

And it’s only a small population, the balance could be tipped perhaps (I haven't look into those technical details) and there you go Argentina..!

(The issue of immigration is raised in his article in the Guardian "The legalisation of Argentinian immigration to the Malvinas/Falkland Islands is one that it seems might have been addressed, but for the speculative discovery of booming offshore oil in the surrounding seas this past year". As it stands the Islanders and the authorities are holding the right to maintain the islands as they see fit)

It’s also true that in this changing world with territorial disputes in the subcontinent and China, two of the new power houses in the world, I’m not sure about Sean Penn’s patronising ‘the world today’ statement. That’s the world he sees, the world the Left imagine outside of the hegemonic and imperialistic American dominated West.

I used to like his films… He does try to raise important issues and perhaps his heart is in the right place, he has apparently done a lot of good work in Haiti, but in this case he’s taken a side assuming the opposing arguments are based along the same lines as his usual perspective and his firmly held assumptions.

He sidles up to the relevant politicians using his position and high profile, but how many people does he help and does he further his fundamental causes?

Hard life Sean?

And I didn't mention Team America once!

The Falklands issue will continue of course and will reach a peak this year around the various anniversaries of the war. There is certainly more to write, this post was meant to be brief…

I wonder what the Occupy Movement think of the Falklands/Malvinas issue..?