The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sir Keir Starmer, KDB, KC...PM

A few hours ago, HM King Charles III invited Sir Keir Starmer (Lab) to become his Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, and form a government in his name:

Keir Starmer has said the “sunlight of hope” is now shining in Britain again as Labour won a landslide UK election victory, bringing a crushing end to 14 years of Conservative rule.

Labour had won 411 seats, while the Conservatives were on just 119, with five left to declare by 9.30am. The government’s likely majority is set to be about 170 seats. The party dominated in Scotland, with the SNP reduced to eight seats so far, while the Liberal Democrats gained at least 71 seats – their best performance ever.

There were five shock victories against Labour for pro-Palestine independent candidates, with Jonathan Ashworth, one of Labour’s election chiefs, voted out in Leicester South, and the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn winning in Islington North. Plaid Cymru was expected to win four seats.

At the last general election, in 2019, the Conservatives had a majority of 80, with 365 seats to Labour’s 203. The SNP won 48 seats and the Lib Dems had just 11.

Former PM Liz Truss lost her seat, as did former leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, incumbent leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt, and Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps. Outgoing PM Rishi Sunak has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

It wasn't all good news: racist demagogue Nigel Farange (Reform) won a seat in Westminster, and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, expelled from the Labour party for anti-Semitism and also leading the party to its worst loss in generations, won election as an independent in his constituency in Islington. (For US readers, Islington is the Logan Square or—and I am aware of the irony—SoHo of London. So exactly the kind of area that would elect someone like Corbyn.)

Proportionally, the Scottish National Party had the worst night, losing 38 of its 47 seats, while the Liberal Democrats jumped from 8 to 71 seats and will get to ask questions on Wednesdays again.

Right now, Labour front-benchers are meeting individually with Number 10 to find out what exciting new jobs they get in government. But as the Zen koan that the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg just posted, "none of these appointments are confirmed, until they are confirmed." Angela Rayner has become the deputy PM, and it looks like Rachel Reeves will has become the UK's first female Chancellor, an office that often leads to election as PM later on.

It took 14 years for the UK's voters to remember why right-wing governments suck. I just hope the Labour government takes at least that long to fall apart. We all need a strong center-left government somewhere in the West while Putin still breathes.

Good morning, United Kingdom!

The UK general election is going on right now. UK law prohibits editorializing or publishing poll results while polls are open. The major exit polls will come out at 22:00 BST (4pm Chicago time), at which point I will be madly refreshing The Guardian.

For now, if you live in the UK, just vote. No matter which way it goes, I'll still visit.

Holiday weekend

I'm about to leave the office for the next 4½ days. Happy Independence Day!

And who could forget that the UK will have a general election tomorrow? To celebrate, the Post has a graphical round-up of just how badly the Conservative Party has screwed things up since taking power in 2010:

There’s a widespread feeling among voters that something has gone awry under Tory government, that the country is stagnating, if not in perilous decline.

Nearly three-quarters of the public believes that the country is worse off than it was 14 years ago, the London-based pollster YouGov has found. More than 46 percent of people say it’s “much worse.” And to some extent, economic and other data back that up.

Before Brexit, a different word hung over Conservative policy: “austerity.”

Cameron pushed spending cuts intended to reduce government debt and deficit. The goal was never achieved — public debt this year hit its highest rate as a percentage of economic output since the 1960s — but austerity had many side effects, including huge cuts to local governments that hit services such as schools and swimming pools.

Britain’s beloved National Health Service was one of the few places to see funding rise in real terms during this period, but it mostly failed to match pre-2010 trends, let alone keep up with spiking inflation, immigration and the needs of an aging population. Under the Conservatives, waiting times for treatment have surged.

I'm sorry I can't be there tomorrow, but I will be there in September, eagerly questioning my friends about the election and its aftermath.

For this weekend, though, expect some Brews & Choos reviews, and probably some blather about other things as well.

How have I never seen this before?

John Cleese did a political advert in 1987 for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, a moderate coalition of small UK parties that, as one would expect, got annihilated in the election that year, and ultimately became the Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP went on to get the shit kicked out of them in every election until the Tories found them useful for a hot second in 2010, whereupon they got kicked to the curb as soon as the Tories had an outright majority, before everyone forgot about them in 2015.

Anyway, his rant about extremism still has a lot of resonance today:

Finally get to breathe

But only for a moment. I've spent most of today trying to fix things, or at least trying to figure out what problems need fixing. One of the problems has generated a comment thread on a vendor website, now at 44 comments, and I think after all that work I found the problem in an interaction between my code and Microsoft Azure Functions. If I'm right, the confirmation will come around 3pm.

Naturally, I haven't had time to read any of these:

I wrote the intro to this post around 2:45 and had to pause for a while. It's now 3:25, and I appear to have solved the problem. I will now document the solution and apologize to the vendor. Fun times, fun times.

Tories throw it in

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Cons., Richmond-Yorks) has gone to His Majesty and requested to dissolve Parliament, calling for an election on July 4th:

Rishi Sunak has called a surprise general election for 4 July in a high stakes gamble that will see Keir Starmer try to win power for Labour after 14 years of Conservative-led government.

Addressing the nation outside Downing Street, Sunak said it was “the moment for Britain to choose its future” as he claimed the Tories could be trusted to lead the country during a time of global instability.

The rain-soaked prime minister was almost drowned out by the New Labour anthem, D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, blasted out by the anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray, as the surprise early election was called.

Sunak’s words were met with alarm by senior Tories who are concerned that their party, trailing 20 percentage points behind Labour in the polls, could face electoral wipeout, with some MPs even considering submitting letters of no confidence.

It will be the first July election since 1945, when Labour leader Clement Attlee won a majority of 145. The campaign will also be fought during the Euro 2024 football tournament, with polling day falling just before the quarter finals.

Two things. First, it's about fucking time, as the Tories have driven the UK into the ground, giving the country two of the worst PMs in history and certainly the worst Home Secretary in my lifetime.

Second, what bliss only to have a six-week public campaign period! But then again, the UK government does get things done even when the ruling party has such low polling numbers.

I remember the big vote the UK took in June 2016 and what that said about our own politics. I will watch the July 4th election intently for clues about our own future.

When is bad butt not bad butt?

Cassie got a bad result from the lab yesterday: a mild giardia infection. It's a good-news, bad-news thing: The bad news, obviously, is that she can't go to day camp (meaning I can't spend a full day in my downtown office) for at least a week. The good news is that she's mostly asymptomatic, unlike the last guy. So we just went to the vet again, got another $110 bill for dewormer.

But at least she wasn't crated for three hours with her own diarrhea. Poor Parker.

In other good news, bad news stories today:

Actually, they're all bad-news stories. Apologies.

Smelly criminals appeal to SCOTUS

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Johnson v Grants Pass, Ore., the result of a 2018 lawsuit against the rural Southern Oregon town (pop. 39,000) for imposing fines of up to $1250 for the heinous crime of sleeping in public. Naturally, the usual suspects seem to think that's just fine:

Kelsi Brown Corkran, representing the challengers, argued that because Grants Pass defines a “campsite” as anywhere a homeless person is, within the city, with a blanket, it is “physically impossible for a homeless person to live in Grants Pass” without facing the prospect of fines and jail time. The order barring the city from enforcing its ordinances, she insisted, still leaves the city with an “abundance of tools” to address homelessness.”

At the oral argument on Monday, the court’s liberal justices largely seemed to agree. Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that the city’s ordinances only apply to homeless people who sleep in public. Police officers in Grants Pass, she suggested, don’t arrest others who fall asleep in public with blankets – for example, babies with blankets or people who are stargazing.

By contrast, Justice Clarence Thomas emphasized that the law at issue in Robinson barred both the use of drugs and being addicted to drugs. Do the city’s ordinances, Thomas asked, make it a crime to be homeless?

The justices also debated whether they needed to address the Eighth Amendment question at all, or whether the challengers’ contention that they cannot be punished because they have nowhere else to go would be better addressed through a “necessity defense.” Justice Neil Gorsuch was one of the justices to broach this prospect, suggesting that it would apply to bar fines or prosecutions for actions like eating or camping in public.

I'm reminded of two videos I've seen recently. The first, from British comedian Jonathan Pie, could have been about Grants Pass but actually came out of a new UK law that does approximately the same thing:

The other, from 2020, explains the thinking behind "since we can't solve homelessness in one go, what's the point of trying?" Essentially, conservatives think in binaries: either we have homelessness, or we don't. Here's Ian Danskin:

But I do find it interesting that the Tories and the Republicans came up with the same inhumane idea. Hm.

Busy news day

It's a gorgeous Friday afternoon in Chicago. So why am I inside? Right. Work. I'll eventually take Cassie out again today, and I may even have a chance to read all of these:

Finally, a milestone of sorts. The retail vacancy rate in downtown Chicago continues to climb as a longtime institution on North Wells finally closed. That's right, Wells Books, the last adult-entertainment store in the Loop, has closed.