Posts Tagged ‘Siôn Simon’

The Tory taste of death

28/04/2017, 02:20:10 PM

by Jonathan Todd

We’re having so many elections that Lynton Crosby is usurping Kylie Minogue as our most ubiquitous Antipodean. Painting campaigns in primary colours of risk and security, Better the Devil You Know is his favourite Kylie track.

So starkly are risk and security contrasted that it rapidly descends to Eddie Izzard’s cake or death sketch. This time the “security cake” is made of Brexit, Ed Miliband’s energy price cap, and Philip Hammond’s dearth of fiscal plans. If your pallet is trapped in May 2015, this cake will taste of what we were told was deathly risk. Then security supposedly meant EU membership, opposition to the energy price cap, and George Osborne’s austerity justifying fiscal plans.

Crosby now sells a confused security composed of what he recently told us was risk. Unknowable risks at that. We are not being asked to vote for Brexit but for whatever Theresa May, after a highly complex negotiation with the EU and its member states, decides Brexit means. As fiscal prudence has been redefined as whatever Hammond deems it.

Blank cheque Brexit, aligned with carte blanche fiscal policy, is no security at all. Making this understood is now the task of Labour PPCs.

Robert Harris, writing not long before the election was called in the New Statesman, “can’t quite understand how the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party can sit there day after day, month after month, year after year, knowing that they’re simply heading towards a kind of mincing machine at the next election.”


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Knife-edge West Midlands race points to Labour’s future

17/04/2017, 11:46:12 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour is on the cusp of genuine power where it can help shape the lives of millions of people.

Stay with me, I’m not deluded.

Next month’s mayoral elections will create powerful regional representatives in six key areas from Cambridge to Greater Manchester. And Labour can really win power.

The party has a chance in numerous mayoral elections but the closest and most interesting is in the West Midlands. It’s a nail-biter and the Tories fancy their chances.

Sion Simon is running as Labour candidate. Over the past week, Jeremy Corbyn has launched a series of eye-catching national pledges on a £10 living wage, free school meals, small businesses being paid on time and raising the wages of carers. Simon’s manifesto is another boost for those who want fresh progressive thinking put into action.

A victory here would be one-in-the-eye for the narrative that Labour is dying and point to a road to recovery.

Simon’s Tory challenger is former John Lewis executive Andy Street, who is posing as an outsider and attempting to shed the Tory brand.

His business profile has seen him garner national press attention and support.

But the reality is that a Tory victory will mean another compliant mayor doing Downing Street’s bidding on Brexit and the NHS in the West Midlands.


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Will metro mayors last the course?

11/08/2016, 11:48:43 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Westminster has woken up in the last 48 hours to the fact that there are shortly to be new centres of power in British politics.

Although Labour has merely unveiled its candidates for elections in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands, it is hard to see, catastrophe aside, how Andy Burnham, Sion Simon and Steve Rotheram won’t actually be running these great conurbations in nine months’ time.

That certainty aside, there still other uncertainties about the roles:

1) The metro mayors will create a cadre of ‘disruptive’ new players in British politics.

At least that was George Osborne’s hope. Will Theresa May see things that way? The jury’s out. She was certainly a fan of direct democracy when it came to police and crime commissioners, but the election of the first wave of metro mayors in the Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham ‘city-regions’ next May is almost certainly an all-Labour affair in the party’s heartlands. Not much for Tories to celebrate. Will the new PM thank the old Chancellor for lumbering her with a new gang of provincial opponents?

2) The devolution of power also means it spreads more widely.


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Labour’s metro mayors will have to be the next best thing to governing

06/08/2016, 10:21:52 PM

As the Labour leadership race gathers pace, another party selection process enters its final week.

Labour members in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and a big chunk of the West Midlands are choosing candidates to fight next May’s first-ever ‘metro mayor’ elections.

These powerful new roles will create a cadre of directly-elected civic leaders, with direct personal mandates, who will take charge of economic development, strategic planning and transport in their areas. The Greater Manchester package also includes the £6 billon health and social care budget for the city-region.

Given the three conurbations are each strongly Labour, the party’s selection process will, in all likelihood, choose who becomes the eventual mayor in each area.

In Merseyside, the contest is a race between Liverpool’s directly-elected city mayor, Joe Anderson, and Liverpool Walton MP (and Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary private secretary) Steve Rotheram. Anderson, a powerhouse local government veteran who is well-regarded in Whitehall, is pitching himself as the candidate with a clear plan and a record of delivery and job creation.


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How to think about the next ten years for Labour

09/10/2015, 04:59:41 PM

by Jonathan Todd

We have transitioned from a summer of hard truths to an autumn that painfully strains credulity. On BBC Question Time, we’ve had everything from John McDonnell’s non-apology apology for IRA comments to Chris Bryant’s self-depreciating “aww shucks” routine when Labour is reduced to mirth; from Stephen Kinnock’s failure to make anything straight from the crooked timber of Labour on the nuclear deterrence to Lisa Nandy’s struggle to disassociate Labour with violence at the Conservative Party conference.

At the time, I thought we’d reached the bottom of the market for the Labour currency on 7 May 2015. That the cycle would move in our favour from that point. Things could only get better. Actually, we’ve not only continued to fall, we have debased our stock. And debasing money, as Zero Hedge notes, debases trust.

Parties win general elections, as Uncut has long observed, when their leader is most trusted to best execute the functions of prime minister and their capacity for economic decision making holds the trust of the electorate. Electing the most unpopular new opposition leader in the history of polling does not seem the way to build these forms of trust.

The breakdown in relations between Labour and the country is such that we can arrive at another hard truth: It is unlikely that Labour will form a government after the next general election, expected in May 2020.


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The Labour right does not belong to Tony Blair

12/01/2015, 10:17:30 AM

by Jonathan Todd

There are worthwhile endeavours within the Labour family that are devoutly non-factional. The point of Pragmatic Radicalism, for example, is to get away from left and right labels and to debate the way ahead in this unencumbered and comradely form.

Unsurprisingly, however, Prag Rad has not succeeded in moving our party beyond having groupings within itself. As much as the vibrancy and relevance of Labour depends on not over emphasising internal differences, which are never as substantial as the things that unite us, and interweaving ourselves with the communities that we serve, such groupings fall into that awkward category of thing that we might prefer not to exist but in all likelihood are always going to and which, therefore, we might as well be grown-up about.

To the best of my knowledge, if this is not too ridiculous a segue from talk of being grown-up, the only person who has ever blocked me on Twitter is a notoriously prolific tweeter, squarely on the party’s left. I’ve never exchanged views on Twitter with this person. I’ve never had a face-to-face conversation with them. I’ve never had any direct engagement with them of any sort. But somehow, I’ve upset them. Being Deputy Editor of Uncut is probably “crime” enough.

It’s not personal. It’s political. I know that. Which is why I don’t take it personally (though, it is petty and is not something, I hope, I’d find myself doing). This activist has one view of what Labour should be and I have another. The party is a broad church. In this context, there will always be different views.

In terms of my views, I have written plenty for Uncut that might be broadly associated with a Blairite position: the importance of fiscal credibility; bring pro-EU and reform in the EU; admiration for Jim Murphy; the desirability of big tents; applauding bridges built with business and wealth creation; embracing the contributory principle; and so on.


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We need to send the Tories packing

02/05/2012, 02:38:08 PM

by Siôn Simon

Fifteen years ago the country went to the polls, cast their vote for Labour and sent a message to the incumbent Tory government. People said: we won’t be treated like this; we won’t be lied to, conned, taken for granted; asked to work harder for less, while the rich get richer; we don’t want hand outs, but sometimes we need a hand up. And Labour voters delivered that message and sent the Tories packing.

But they came back.

It didn’t take long for David Cameron’s mask to slip, or for them to reverse the work of the last Labour government. Snatching tax credits away from millions of working families, scrapping the education maintenance allowance, increasing tuition fees and, with Osborne at the wheel, driving the country back in to recession.

Tomorrow we have another opportunity to send a clear message to the Tories and their Liberal Democrat houseboys that we won’t stand for their lies, cozy kitchen suppers, daily updates with media barons and shambolic handling of the economy. In polling booths up and down the country people have the chance to tell David Cameron and George Osborne exactly what they think of them.

The local elections aren’t just about individual communities, they are a report card on this government. Whether it be in Birmingham, where the Tory and Lib Dem controlled council has done nothing to support, speak up or stand up for our city against their central Government cronies cuts. Or in London where Boris Johnson has done nothing to help the woman on the street but managed to find time to campaign for tax cuts for his wealthy mates. We need to send the message.

Because if we don’t kick them out of power in Birmingham, if we don’t send Boris packing in London, then Cameron and Osborne will think they can get away with it. That they can keep looking after the few and make life harder for the many.

The message to wavering Londoners is clear: it doesn’t matter whether you like Ken. You need Ken. Because you can’t afford Boris. He is an out-of-touch playboy who has taken Londoners for a ride, and charged you 50% more for your bus trip on the way.

Ken has an unparalleled track record of putting ordinary Londoners first. Now, of all times, that is what London needs.

In Birmingham, eight years of Tory-Lib Dem misrule – during which they never won the popular vote – has devastated our city. They have attacked our must vulnerable people with disabilities. Twice their cuts have been found to be illegal. The fight back for ordinary Brummies needs to start tomorrow.

We must show them that we won’t stand for it – we won’t be made mugs of by these privileged chancers. We need to stand up and tell them no. Enough is enough. We want our great cities back.

There’s only one way to send this message: vote Labour on Thursday, vote Ken and vote Yes in Birmingham’s Mayoral referendum.

Siôn Simon is running to be the first directly elected Mayor of Birmingham

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Common sense socialism

12/10/2011, 09:19:56 AM

by Jonathan Todd

“We are signposts of the modern kind, electronic ones flashing on the motorway, changing as the traffic or weather changes. And the people interpreting the conditions, deciding what to write on the signs, should be guided above all by common sense, by the axioms and attitudes of the people in the cars”.

Siôn Simon’s variation on Tony Benn’s dictum that there are signposts and weathervanes in politics is worth keeping in mind as the Tory-led government crawls from crisis to crisis.

While Bennites are signposts of a certain kind, “old, wooden affairs, pointing in the wrong direction, to a way through the woods so overgrown that it can scarcely be seen”, the modern Labour signpost is an altogether more interactive and adaptable affair. This ceaseless revisionism applies to both means, switching from wooden to electronic signage, as technology allows, and the contemporary meaning of our ends. (more…)

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The Sunday Review: the Adjustment Bureau and l’Immortel

06/03/2011, 02:30:06 PM

by Siôn Simon

L’Immortel is set in Marseille. It stars Jean Reno, was produced by Luc Besson and directed by Richard Berry. Released in France a year ago this month, it was made available for rent on UK iTunes this week.

I watched it because it is set in Marseille, a city I have known my whole life and about which I feel strongly. I thought it would be nice, on a sub-zero March evening in Birmingham, to see the sunshine and hear the accent.

You don’t hear the accent. There is one character (the most brutal in this violent film) who speaks with a strong Marseille twang. Everybody else could be from anywhere. This is the most interesting thing about the film. In any British and most American flicks, it would be inconceivable. Imagine a gritty mafia revenge drama set in Glasgow (the Marseille accent is even more distinctive than the Glaswegian) in which every character sounds like they’re from the Hampshire suburbs. Wouldn’t happen, and you couldn’t watch it if it did. (more…)

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The Sunday Review: The Fighter

06/02/2011, 01:22:54 PM

by Siôn Simon

By coincidence, I re-watched Rocco ei suoi fratelli (Rocco and his brothers) a few weeks before going to see The Fighter. Visconti’s family melodrama had its half century last year. It is one of the best films ever made. Claudia Cardinale is beautiful, Alain Delon even more so. The moral ugliness of the older brother, Simone, is terrible. The pain inflicted and borne for no reason, the need to hurt mixed in with love, tell enduring truths about families and relationships. It is an operatic, Shakespearean film.

The same cannot quite be said of The Fighter. But Mark Wahlberg’s David O. Russell-directed biopic of Micky Ward is another boxing film which is actually about families, not boxing. And, even if it is not quite Rocco, it is a good film.

And the similarities between the triumvirates at the heart of the two films are striking. (more…)

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