Hillary isn't the only woman in the Democratic Party

Should Barack Obama pick Hillary as his VP? On balance I think not; the narrative that Obama won on was that of a change, a new way of doing things. Hillary, as a Clinton, quite clearly doesn’t embody that narrative (and it’s in the rules of narrative that you have to embody it). To have a Clinton as VP would undermine his narrative and would endanger his election. Plus, it would be very awkward in the White House.

I always veered towards Barack Obama but I was very well aware of importance of Hillary’s position; the first woman to have run a serious campaign for the democratic nomination. I understood, in the face of the misogyny that she endured during the campaign, why she had to keep going. Why it was so important not to let the (largely male) party grandees pat her on the head and tell her to let the man through unimpeded. Even as someone who has leant towards Senator Obama during the campaign, I can see that a woman with a similar CV would’ve been laughed out of the race straight away.

So, do those of us who long for real diversity in politics have to sigh wistfully and just be grateful for all the ways, just by standing for the nomination, that she has made a difference to politics and women’s place in it; as candidates, as voters and as commentators. Politics, in the US in any case, has changed forever as a result. Should we just wait out the next 4 years?

Well, no.

An article from The American Prospect website has got me thinking. Just because Hillary would be the wrong Vice President, it doesn’t mean to say there can’t be a woman Vice President. As Dana Goldstein points out, in the VP contenders women make up 2 out of 3 of the top choices (if you discount Hillary herself). Goldstein goes on to say:

“We've experienced unprecedented interest from male politicos in women's participation in the electoral process. And demands for women's leadership have been given their fairest hearing to date in the United States, with Democrats nationwide expecting Obama to give close consideration to female vice-presidential prospects -- not only because there are a few wildly successful and talented women who would be great at the job, but also as a gesture of good will toward the feminist energy that animated so many Clinton supporters”.

And so:

“…in addition to Clinton herself, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas are among the top three most frequently-mentioned vice-presidential prospects, trailing only Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

The Vice President is a funny old job and can be fairly made into whatever the holder wants it to be. However, the VP must be good enough and at no point would I suggest that anybody without the right qualities to become the Vice President should get there just because of their symbolic value.

But if they were to meet the criteria and have a symbolic value, as a role model to half the world population, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

So, I’m going to count up the differences that Hillary has made for women in politics and hope those differences translate from the US to the UK. But I’m also going to hope that Barack obama, a symbolic candidate in his own right understands that value of role models and that leadership of change, of cultural change comes from the top.

Living with Boris

Well, thankfully not literally but having had a very harrowing last few weeks, it has come to my notice that Boris really did get in.

And it’s like this: I was really against Boris getting in, not so much because he was a Tory as I don’t much like non nuLabour Ken but that I didn’t think he was really up to the job. However clever he is (and I do believe he’s clever) he lacks the experience to run an £11bn budget and my lovely city. And I’m not convinced by the idea that he will gather a group of knowledgeable people around him; he lacks the experience to know and recognise when someone is mucking it up.

Still, he’s in and I find my desire to make London the best city that it possibly can be, is greater than my distaste for this man. So, I’m not sitting back to watch him fail, with glee in my eyes. I am hoping that he doesn’t fail; I am hoping that he brings in good policies and improves this city. Because if I’m honest, I love this city more than I love party politics.

So, how is he doing?

The Drinking Ban: pointless and illiberal. It’s not people with open alcohol containers that create the problem, it’s people disturbing the peace and being violent. I don’t think that alcohol containers being open of not makes the slightest bit of difference. This is nuLabour gesture politics. I dislike it’s illiberalness but apart from that, I don’t think it’ll harm London, it just won’t help London. A wasted opportunity. The ‘riot’ will be neither here nor there in a few months.

The break up with Chavez: This I actually applaud. I haven’t given much thought to why Boris has done it; I suspect it has more to do with not subsidising bus fares than an ethical foreign policy for London (it’ll be easier to cut the subsidy later, without a fanfare). After all, the Tory just lurve the Saudi’s, don’t they? So, I’d be surprised if Boris was put off by the whiff of corruption that follows Chavez around. Still, I’m happy about it, because I don’t like having a deal with London giving Chavez, the man who shuts down TV stations that don’t agree with him, any airs of respectability.

The big bill for the transitions team: My eyebrow is only half raised. It is expensive, especially when you compare it to the permanent staff pay packet. But, but, if you look at the private sector incomes for these kind of people, especially if they’re working on a fee basis rather than salary, whilst it’s still pricey, it’s not so far removed from the market rate. It is, however, I fear down to the lack of experience that Boris Johnson has in actually running anything that he’s paying private sector market rate type prices. It’s all very well having an attitude of paying to get the best, when you yourself earn £250k for the part time job of penning a newspaper column, but there just isn’t the sort of money in the public sector when you can’t justify high costs with high profits. If he had more experience, he would know this. Instead he will just run out of money sooner and then have to run the place on a skeleton staff which will be no fun for them and no fun for us. Budget control, the lack of which Ken was rightly castigated for, was never going to be Boris’ strong point. I’m just trying to work out what is.

Routemaster Buses only an aspiration: Hahaha! Of course they are and they should not be his number one priority!

So, the verdict?

To be honest, he’s not had much time to ruin it yet and, veering back into party politics for a moment, my fears about the impact on a Tory revival have been realised. I wonder what those Lib Dems going around telling us how Boris was going to be the more liberal are feeling now, when the first thing he does is ban something?

Still, when my partner and I were walking across Trafalgar Square the other Sunday morning we looked at the Africa Day stage being set up and thought about how funding for cultural events such as this would be quietly dropped, just like funding for environmental schemes in the capital will no doubt be reduced. No big press conference, fanfare there. No doubt to pay the bills of his super duper transition team. It will be a decidedly different London. In fairness, I have castigated Ken Livingstone on live TV for being just a Trafalgar Square Mayor, but that was more for his focus on inner London boroughs at the expense of the suburbs, but I did enjoy the events that took place at Trafalgar Square.

One of my big interests in London though, is policing. And I am a big, big fan of community policing. I went to the commendation ceremony of my Safer Neighbourhood team the other day and wondered, along with a senior policeman whether funding for community policing would continue. We both hoped so. But whilst the number of police and PCSOs is important, as is parents and the wider communities responsibility for the behaviour of our children, one key factor in dealing with young people’s crime and unsafe streets is something for young people to do. My experience of living in a Tory borough is that whilst, they have done very well in clearing up graffiti, they seem to have made it their life’s work to reduce funding for young people’s facilities and activities. The link between bored and disillusioned young people and crime is clear; can Boris be the first Conservative, with the help of his Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis, to realise that it is better prevent young people from committing crime than just punish them when it’s all too late?

My darling dog Seth

I have been rather quiet since the May elections. No, it is not because I have gone into an almighty sulk because Boris is the Mayor of London but that I have been looking after my darling dog Seth. Although I had known for some weeks that Seth had an inoperable tumour (the first two he's had been removed), it wasn't until three weeks ago that we both had to admit that things weren't going to be the same and despite numerous rallies, the trend from then on would be downward.

We finally had to ask the vet to come over and put him to sleep this Saturday just gone. The house is so quiet and empty it is almost unbearable.

My darling dog Seth was with me for 9 years and for all but about 18 months of that time it has been him and me. He is part of what makes my home, home.

I could tell you the whole story of my wonderful, remarkable, unique dog but that would be indulgent. But I have found in the last three weeks whilst I have been looking after him I have been unable to write.

Pet bereavement is a much underestimated phenomenon and whilst I have had numerous other pets, Seth has been my longest and closest pal. His physical presence in the house was enormous; not because he was particularly big but because he was interested in everything and loved company. So you would find him at your elbow, supervising anything you were doing. He inveigled his way into the affections of my partner, my parents, friends, his dog sitter, various work men, decorators, kitchen fitters, gardeners, cleaning ladies and even the Ocado delivery man. I used to lie in bed and feel comforted by the synchronised breathing of the dog at the side of my bed and my partner beside me.

This loneliness will pass, I know but in the meantime, for all those of you who have ever lost a loved pet, I commend Blemie's Will to you, via the EASE website, written by Eugene O'Neill to comfort his wife.

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