I can see why, despite the carnage wrought by the Conservative Party with their three-in-a-row Prime Ministers, the Labour Party aren’t entirely convinced they will come out on top in the forthcoming General Election.
Sir Keir Starmer is the Micky Beale of British politics. He comes across as a decent guy with extensive experience in the game he loves, but he’s not a winner.
Beale talked a good game, but he couldn’t deliver for Rangers when it came to the crunch. Celtic fans are worried that they might be in the same boat with Brendan Rodgers.
Is the old adage then that you should look back but never go back going to apply to Rodgers?
After all Leicester City under Rodgers were relegated and the Northern Irish coach hasn’t covered himself in glory since he returned to Celtic Park.
He promised to make Europe his priority at Parkhead, but it doesn’t look as if he is going to take the Hoops as far in that competition as the Celtic fans want.
It is generally accepted that Brendan Rodgers is no Jock Stein. Or even Ange Postacoglou.
Football is important, very important, these days.

Micheal Beale, Ange Postacoglou, Brendan Rodgers and the late Jock Stein.

Keir Starmer name-checked Arsenal in the very first sentence of his opening address at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre.
That was before he was cruelly brought down in the [soap] box and showered with glitter by a protester who remarkably managed to get past security and on to the stage to howl down the microphone to delegates that what Britain needs now is democracy. Real democracy.
The shouting protester was hauled off by the scruff of the neck and thrown into the back of a Merseyside police van before being blue-lighted off to the station.
Keir Starmer’s intention was to start his speech with a joke –  “Now, before I get going – I know what you’re thinking: please, please, please – no more Arsenal jokes” – but this was serious.
Some smart-assed reporter or Tory spin doctor was bound to ask if Labour under Starmer couldn’t run a conference then how could they possibly run a country.
Sir Keir tried desperately to ridicule the Conservatives, but his jokes were not new and had the delegates struggling to bring a smile to their faces and any real laughter to the proceedings.
The Tories are sitting ducks right now, lame ducks even, but Starmer appeared to have left his blunderbuss at home.
“It’s been thirteen years now and what does Britain have to show for it [their time in office], he asked his far from spell-bound audience.
Where is their minimum wage?  Where’s their Sure Start?  Crime down by a third. More students than ever.  Devolution.  The shortest NHS waiting times in history. Half a million out of child poverty. Peace in Northern Ireland. I’m not going to do the whole list. I haven’t got time. But isn’t the contrast stark?  Thirteen years of ‘things can only get better’ versus thirteen years of ‘things have only got worse’.”
Starmer was struggling like an English comedian in the old Glasgow Empire Theatre on a Saturday night.
“Conference,” he told the packed hall: “This is what we have to fight: the Tory project to kick the hope out of this country. Drain the reservoirs of our belief. That’s why I started with our achievements. I wanted to remind everyone there was a time – and it wasn’t that long ago – when questions such as “is Britain destined for decline?” would have felt ridiculous even to ask.”   
He added: “I have to warn you: our way back from this will be hard. But know this. What is broken can be repaired. What is ruined can be rebuilt. Wounds do heal. And ultimately that project – their project – will crash against the spirit of working people in this country. They are the source of my hope.”
Change is going to be the buzz word at this next election. Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader and undisputed star of the show, says the changes under a Labour government will be transformational.
Sarwar’s speech in Liverpool was inspirational.
However, Starmer’s was not. It was passable, but his words didn’t cut the mustard. They failed to fire up the crowd. Or excite the journalists present.
And if things remain the way they are at present then the odds against Labour winning at the polls will increase to the extent that the Tories will begin to consider they still have a chance of coming in first past the post.
For that not to happen Labour will have to embrace change, real change, tangible change. They will have to start thinking outside the box. Same old … same old … just won’t do.
Something like the following, I suggest, should be the new political scenario.
Rachel Reeve should take over as the Prime Minister at Westminster and Anas Sarwar should be groomed to succeed her there as and when …
Sir Keir Starmer should be diverted to the Ministry of Justice and become Cabinet Secretary, or promoted from his present position to the Bench in the Royal Courts of Justice.
The way should be cleared for Dame Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, to take over as the First Minister of Scotland and the LibDem leader Alex Cole Hamilton should, in coalition with Scottish Labour, elevated to become her deputy in the Holyrood parliament.
Now that would be real change, not just something that looks like change or simply passed off as it in a torrent of fine-sounding words such as we have just heard at the main party conferences.

Contenders all – Rachel Reeve, Dame Jackie Baillie, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Sir Keith Starmer. Top of the page – Anas Sarwar, a future Prime Minister?


Why are we so interested in what’s going on in Gaza? Because the UK is sending navy ships and spy planes to ‘support Israel’ and prevent ‘further escalation’

And West Dunbartonshire has has long and close ties with the Royal Navy through the Service personnel serving here for more than half a century, and the hundreds of Navy families who live and raise their families, mainly in Helensburgh, Garelochside and northwards into South Argyll.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is currently on a Royal Navy warship in the Mediterranean showing support to Israel and was seen on TV this morning serving breakfast to the officers and crew.

Vane frigate Rishi Sunak also asked for all military teams in Israel, Cyprus and those across the region to be bolstered to help deal with the impact of instability in Israel following the attack by Palestinian terrorist  group, Hamas.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) of RFA Tidesurge (left), carrying out a replenishment at sea with another RFA vessel, RFA Argus. RFA Tidesurge arrived in Belfast earlier this week, and Captain Karl Woodfield and his crew are hosting the design team for the three new ships to share their experience and expertise. Issue date: Friday February 10, 2023.

RFA Argus, right, which has been seen from time to time  in the Firth of Clyde and at HM Naval Base Clyde in the Gareloch is being is being sent to the war zone.

The UK will send RAF aircraft and Royal Navy ships to carry out surveillance over Israel in a show of support following the Hamas massacre there last Saturday.

RAF aircraft will begin patrols in the next 24 hours while two ships will be sent to the eastern Mediterranean.

A Royal Navy task group will be moved to the eastern Mediterranean next week and will include two ships – RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus.

The military package will also see P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, three Merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines, who also have Faslane connections,  put on standby “to deliver practical support to Israel and partners in the region, and offer deterrence and assurance”.

P8 Mediterranean Deployment..120 Sqn have deployed from RAF Lossiemouth in a P-8A Poseidon aircraft to the Mediterranean. Image taken 12/10/2023

The military package will also see P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, three Merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines put on standby.

The prime minister has also asked for all military teams in Israel, Cyprus and those across the region to be bolstered to support contingency planning and the efforts of neighbouring countries to deal with the impact of instability in Israel.

According to Sky News, Rishi Sunak said the “deployment of our world-class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation”.

Reports from Gaza have revealed that hospitals ‘risk turning into morgues’ as food, medicine and water have been cut off by the Israelis.

“We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated,” he added.

“Our military and diplomatic teams across the region will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists.”

The military support is just the latest provided by the UK in the wake of the surprise attack by Hamas on Saturday.

Sky News chief reporter Stewart Ramsay reporter visits site of music festival massacre.

To date,1,300 Israelis have died while 1,417 Palestinians, including 447 children, have been killed in retaliatory strikes in Gaza – where electricity, water and fuel has been cut off.

Israel has said it will keep blocking supplies until Hamas releases nearly 100 hostages.

The Foreign Office said flights have been organised to get British nationals out of Israel, with the first plane for “vulnerable” people expected to depart today.


Friday 13 October 2023 11:29, UK

What The Democrat does not support is Israel’s order for more than one million Palestinians to move to the south of Gaza as it continues to move its defence forces to the border ahead of what could be a ground offensive, which would almost certain lead to a pogrom in Gaza.

The United Nations has said it would be  “impossible” for Palestinians to move to the south of Gaza in the next 24 hours, after citizens were ordered to evacuate by Israel’s military.

The order came as the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency warned Gaza was becoming a “hell hole” and was on the “brink of collapse”.

The evacuation order is the strongest hint yet from Israel that it is preparing to launch a ground offensive on Gaza almost a week after Hamas’s terrifying assault.

It also began dropping leaflets written in Arabic into the Gaza Strip urging people in the north of the area to move south across the Wadi Gaza – a piece of coastal wetland with a river running through the middle.

UN officials in Gaza “were informed by their liaison officers in the Israeli military that the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement in New York.

“This amounts to approximately 1.1 million people,” he added, or nearly half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population.

A map showing the evacuation zone of northern Gaza down to the Wadi Gaza.
A map showing the evacuation zone of northern Gaza, including Gaza City, down to the Wadi Gaza.

Mr Dujarric said the UN “considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences”.

It came after the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said “this evacuation is for your own safety”, but in response, Hamas has called the warning “fake propaganda” and urged Palestinians “not to fall for it”.

The UN has appealed for the order to be rescinded to avoid turning “what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation”.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) called for an “immediate intervention” from the international community to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

“We don’t have the means to evacuate the sick and the wounded people in our hospitals or the elderly and the disabled,” a spokesperson for the humanitarian group said.

“Humanity is on the line – the world must intervene to stop this catastrophe unfolding in the next few hours,” it added.

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