Thursday, 4 August 2011

Private Owners, Public Interests

I live in the North, in a town built on coal. Colliery towers stand like mute memorials; under a tree around the corner from where I live there's an unobtrusive little plaque telling you the tree was planted in memory of those who died in a terrible mining accident on that site a hundred years ago. And everywhere you walk you see the cracks, snaking under the concrete: subsidence. The ground shifts imperceptibly beneath your feet wherever you are - even temperate countries like Britain get minor earth tremors every now and again - but having big voids miles beneath the real estate amplifies that, and you wind up with cracks in the pavement, cracks in the road, and cracks in your walls which - left too long - undermine your house price - and then, eventually, your house itself.

A friend of mine had cracks in the walls of her house, and decided to do something about it. She got onto her insurance company, who engaged a firm of structural engineers, who surveyed the house with a view to eventually starting work. Said company sent out some serious men who planted devices in the ground which bleeped and flashed and took readings and reported back to their base and, after two years of all this, a schedule of works was sent out explaining how, after a summer of scaffolding and noise and disruption, the subsidence would be fixed. All she had to do was phone the company.

The schedule of works arrived on Friday. My friend called the company first thing on Monday. And then she had to phone the other company: the one that, in the course of the past week, had taken over the original company - a fact no-one had bothered to reveal to my friend - and who had also managed to lose all the data about her house. Data gathered, carefully and painstakingly, over two years of hard work.

The efficiency of the private sector: we hear so much about it, especially since our New Tory Overlords seized power last May. But sadly, as my friend's experience, and those of many others, reveal, this 'efficiency' is a myth.

I was reminded of my friend's experience this morning, reading the news that the rushed closure of the Forensic Science Service means contracts to examine DNA, store biological evidence and clean up crime scenes are being handed over to other companies without police forces having time to do due diligence. This on its own is bad enough, and yet another example of how the Tories' free-marketeering zeal is being applied without any consideration for how  their Hayekian fantasies will actually play out in the real world. But buried in the report is something more unsettling: the reason why the service has to be sold off is because it's at risk of going into administration. Hang on, you might well ask. How can a government department go into administration? Isn't that something that only happens to companies?

Indeed. But the thing is the FSS is a company. It turns out that until 2005 the FFS was, as you might imagine, a government department, but for some reason the Blair administration decided to reconstitute it as a government-owned company - the Home Office's only government-owned company, as the Wikipedia page points out.

To me this is, frankly, astonishing. Forensic science is crucial to policework and the administration of justice. People are convicted and sent to prison on the basis of DNA swabs which are matched to evidence from murders thirty years ago. Isn't that something you want to be centrally administered, subject to all the checks and balances of government oversight? Don't you want that to stick around? Don't you want to avoid the risk of that collapsing and having its work turned over to a bunch of cowboy outfits?

But saying something like that, of course, reveals you to be an unreconstructed big government socialist. A heretic who lacks faith in the innate goodness and omniscience of The Market. Why should we leave something like forensic science in the hands of the government? Shouldn't departments like that have to compete on the market with all the other companies? Exactly! So let's blue-sky this thing! Let's blaze a trail! Let's run this thing not as a department, but as a company! Let's show those old civil service fuddy-duddies the market can work!

And let's watch the whole thing fall apart around our ears, like a subsidence-damaged semi. Some things are too important to be left to the market. My friend's house will probably survive the cack-handedness of the private sector outfit losing her data. But what about the biometric data that might be lost if one of these private forensic forms cocks it up? What happens when someone winds up convicted of murder or rape because some lab assistant working unpaid overtime for the 21st night in a row has mislabelled a sample?

Because outside of Ayn Rand fantasies, this is what happens in the private sector as it really is. Corners are cut. Regulatory frameworks are avoided, circumvented, or simpy ignored. Unspoken contracts of working beyond the agreed hours and 'going the extra mile' exist uneasily alongside 'official' contracts to which employers pay lip-service. There is a mission statement that speaks in glowing terms of how the company will satisfy all objectives while neglecting none; but there is a budget, and a bottom line, and bonuses to pay, and shareholders to satisfy: and dissonance sets in. The centre cannot hold. Cracks begin to form, and things fall through them. As a society we have to decide what things we can allow to fall through: and, especially at a time when people are seriously discussing bringing back the death penalty, it ought to be clear that justice should not be one of those things.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pull the Other One

One could be forgiven, when watching the news of what inevitably became known as 'Hackgate' for wondering what the Hell is wrong with David Cameron. I mean, he can't run an economy, we know that much; he can't win elections without help from his valet, Nick Clegg; basic human decency is something so foreign to him that his initial response to any ethical question is to apologise politely and tell the questioner he doesn't speak Swahili _ but a scandal like this should, surely, be right up his alley? This whole thing is, when you get down to it, a matter of public relations - and that used to be Cameron's job, for goodness' sake.

It's at that point that I remember Dave never got one of the limited range of jobs he's done on merit. Every single career opportunity he's had has been presented to him on a plate, on the 'who you know' principle. Why study and graft, after all, when you can just get a mate from Buckingham Palace to put in a good word for you?

So I don't buy the lazy idea that David Cameron is a 'master of spin'. Blair - he could spin. Blair got landslides. Cameron's much-vaunted PR skillz only got him a deeply unfulfilling political cohabitation with the Lib Dems. And Blair knew how to get angry properly, too: how to project just the right sense of wounded feelings while still rhetorically defending himself. When Blair got angry - even when you were equally angry with him - you had to fight back a strong urge to nod, admire his spirit, and admit you had to see his point of view. When Cameron gets angry, he looks like a petulant child telling Nanny his Papa could have her killed. David Cameron, angry, is one of the most pathetic sights I have ever seen, and I have seen a man vomit into a self-service cinema popcorn machine.

Still, you can't hang around with the real media sharks without some of their tricks rubbing off on you, and I'm not just talking about being able to chop out three lines on the rim of a seatless toilet in Hoxton while keeping the lockless, barely-hinged door shut with your pinstriped buttocks. So, reading the Guardian this morning, I wasn't surprised to see that Cameron's Tory-led coalition have wheeled Vince Cable out to talk about crackers:

The inclusion of that Christmas crackers bit by Cable - or whoever wrote his speech for him - is a damn cute piece of PR. The reason it works is that it makes journalists' jobs so much easier. First of all, it gives them a ready-made hook on which to hang the story, and it plays into a well-established tabloid myth about 'health and safety gone mad'. But there's also something appealing about the word 'crackers', a faintly-comic, ludicrous, almost retro word for behaviour that is supposedly insane, but not in a serious way; a word you might find in Whizzer and Chips, or that Bart Simpson might say in the 'cockernee urchin' voice he does sometimes. And one of those words, like 'romp', which seems to find its most natural home in the pages of newspapers. It's irresistible.

Weirdly, the only paper I can find which has went the whole hog and put the word in their headline is the Belfast Telegraph, with 'Crackers: the silly trading laws about to be scrapped'. Maybe the sub-editors decided this was a little too cute, and rejected it in the way that you can find yourself turning down people you desperately want to get off with when they make their own intention to get off with you too obvious. But most papers picked up on the ludicrous crackers rules prominently in the body of their reports. And in that sense, the work was done, and the real agenda of the Tory-led government concealed, as usual, in the last paragraph of the article - or in a hanging sentence, as in the Guardian:

'Cable said the Red Tape Challenge would be extended to 25 more themes and sectors, including employment law, by next summer.'

The italics there are mine: because those three words, 'including employment law', are really what this is all about.

As Justine pointed out in our last post, the Tory idea of helping businesses is to make the labour market more 'flexible': code for a world in which you sell your time to corporations for peanuts and can be sacked at any time. Since before the election  they have carried out a propaganda campaign against two key pieces of legislation: the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equalities Act 2010. Christine Burns has taken note of how the Red Tape Challenge seems unusually preoccupied by the latter of these; many other bloggers have noted the deluge of anti-human rights propaganda in the right-wing press. With that in mind, there can be little doubt as to the true aim the Tories are wrapping up as a silly-season story: they want you to think they're making it easier for you to buy Christmas crackers; but what they actually doing is making it easier for your boss to give you the sack. And if that happens, it won't matter how old you are when you go to the shops for some yuletide cheer: you won't be able to afford it anyway.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Selling Cheap

(We've been quiet of late at You Didn't Win  due to me (AJ) being rather busy with poetry gigs, so apologies for not posting as often as we'd like. In our time away, we've been gratified to see how tough things are getting for the Tory-led Coalition, and we're particularly pleased to see that the moral bankruptcy of their backers in the Murdoch press has been publicised to such an extent that the Digger has been forced to sacrifice part of his media empire, the News of the World newspaper, like a chess player frantically throwing pawns away in suicidal moves to buy his Queen (Rebekah Brooks) another second's breathing space. We're less pleased about the fact that the grunt-level workers of the NOTW will now find themselves added to the unemployment statistics, but not to worry - You Didn't Win blogger Justine has been thinking on the words of Tory rent-a-gob Philip Davies a couple of weeks ago, and may have the perfect solution for them...)

The Tory MP for Shipley, one Philip Davies, caused something of a stir while discussing the Private Members' Bill that would 'allow' employees to opt out of the minimum wage. As one might expect, the response to his comments has been pretty much one of anger and dismay. With a bit of eye-rolling; he's a Tory - would we really expect anything less?

His defence has been the standard attack on left-wing strawpersons and to claim that he was just saying what people with learning disabilities had said to him. Because that makes it all OK, apparently. (Looking at his other twitter interactions with those who don't agree with him, he doesn't come over as a particularly nice person. You remember that thing when we were kids, repeating something back to someone in a singsong voice? I'm reminded of that. And this is an elected representative of the people.)

Never mind that it was probably a small group of people that he spoke to, or that some of those with developmental disabilities have sometimes got issues of vulnerability that mean they can be easily taken advantage of. Given that so many in society believe that people with disabilities and impairments are less productive members of society and need to be SPOKEN. TO. AS. IF. THEY. ARE. DEAF. as well as patronised, is it any wonder that some of them may internalise that and really believe that it's them that need to accept lower wages to be accepted by the rest of us? I have misgivings about a society that places ones' worth so entirely on paid employment; this serves to erode my already-shaky belief in it further. That we would seriously discuss paying the most vulnerable members of society even less than those who are just managing to hang on on £5.93 per hour?

Because if this came into effect, it wouldn't just be those with developmental disabilities who would be affected.

The current Parliament are wanting to overhaul the welfare system, as we are all already aware. One of the things they would like to do is to 'get the long-term sick' back to work. Those claimants fortunate enough to get through the ATOS assessments will only be able to claim Incapacity Benefit (or whatever they'll rename it under the new system) for a year. After 365 days (of if you're in 'luck' and it's a leap year, 366 days) that stops. Perhaps you'll be able to start a new claim. If you need to, there's a chance you'll be more ill than you were a year before. Hopefully you'll be at least about the same. You'll have to be assessed again. It's unlikely that the DWP will leave you alone for that year after your successful claim, too. They will probably want you to maintain your claim over the year, just in case you get better after 6 months or so, and can stop the claim and get to work. Having been chronically ill and claiming for ESA in the past, I have an inkling of how stressful that can be. Stress is generally not conducive to good health or recovery.

So, a year has passed and your claim is over, or you failed the ATOS assessment because, by proving you can jump the flaming hoops they ask you to jump through to pass, you were set up to fail. The Government really don't want to give you any money. The last of your benefits will run out in a couple of weeks, and after that your council tax and housing benefits will run out too. You need a job. But you have this long-term condition that means it's very hard to find an employer who will take you on; your illness may make you 'unreliable'. This Private Members' Bill suggests that you might want to work for less than an employer is legally required to pay you. The Tories suggesting this are at pains to point out that it's the employees who opt out; the employer cannot. Remember when they also said that universities could charge up to £9000 a year for fees? That was suggested to be optional, with only the very best institutions charging the top rate? Well, every university likes to think it's better than average, I suppose. The average for 2012 is about £8,400.

When it comes to maximising income and minimising expenditure, in a capitalist society, of course the fess are going to go up. Of course employers will pay as little as possible for labour. So there won't be outright statements of 'you've got the job if you'll work for less', but there will be a huge pressure on people to offer to work for less. In all my working life, I don't think I've ever gone for a job where there hasn't been a lot of interest. Or, at least, so I've been told at some point in the application stages. Whether it's a bland statement of fact, or a tacit method of pointing out just how replaceable I (and pretty much everyone else) am, I couldn't say. I guess it doesn't hurt to try to make new employees as compliant as you can from the outset.

Put someone who is desperate for an income in the interview chair. Or someone with a disability (not that the two are mutually exclusive; with the planned cuts they will morph into one and the same more and more). Everyone in the room knows that they could increase their chances of 'success' by saying they'll work for less... The job market may end up like a silent auction, but in reverse. The person who 'wins' is the person with the lowest bid.

As part of the defence of Mr. Davis' comments, a number of people have mentioned people working for free, to get experience. There are a number of comments on this Daily Mail article but I'm loath to link to it properly, so that's to the istyosty page of the same, but without comments. Internships are presumably what the commenters refer to. Internships of a fixed period of time (six weeks in the comment I refer to, the time period is more often than not up to a year) of unpaid work. They hinge on a certain amount of privilege; someone has to pay the living costs for that period of time. Lots of people volunteer for charities, but they also have to pay for their costs too, either by also having a job or being on JSA or pensions. To compare internships and voluntary work to working for less than the legal minimum wage is to compare apples to elephants.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: do we want to live in a society that devalues people, based solely on the job they can find? That agrees that those who have disabilities are worth less than those of us who currently don't?

(Note from AJ: this isn't the first time Philip Davies has popped up on my radar. Like Nadine Dorries he seems to be one of those annoying new Tory MPs who see it as their duty to ape the worst excesses of the Tea Party movement - the main difference between Davies and Dorries being that he chooses to do a cack-handed imitation of Glenn Beck rather than Sarah Palin. This piece, on the Telegraph's reporting of a European LGBT conference, contains a short digression on Davies which gives, I think, the measure of the man.)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Best Misdirection Joke Ever Told

Here at You Didn't Win, we've been pretty consistent in directing our anger at the current government's decisions against the man who, let's face it, makes them: David Cameron. Occasionally, we also include Dave's loyal sidekick, Chancellor of the Exchequer George 'Gideon' Osborne, in our attacks: the coalition is stealing our money and giving it to bankers and George is, after all, the bagman in this little caper. But, by and large, we've kept aloof from what's currently the most popular bloodsport in current political commentary: beating Nick Clegg repeatedly like a human pinata covered in Lib Dem rosettes.

Others, however, have wholeheartedly joined in the Clegg Abuse. We think this is a mistake; below, Neil Ackerman, one of our new Guest Bloggers explains why. - AJ

When David Cameron responded to the fact he had named Nick Clegg as his favourite joke, I don't think even he realised how right he was. Most of the anger aimed in demonstrations over the past year seems to have been aimed at the best joke Cameron ever told. While yes, the feeling of betrayal from Lib Dem supporters may be justified; and yes, promises have been solidly broken; and yes, Nick Clegg has made some monumental judgement errors, where is the criticism of Cameron?

There are people asking questions of him, and since Nick Clegg pulled on his big boy pants and disagreed with him over AV I think this will continue and grow. However, it does seem that most of the questions that Cameron and co. should be answering are being directed towards the Lib Dems and Clegg. Cameron should not be under-estimated; he is exceedingly clever. He has made a man who seemed weak and naïve, but kinda cute, into a man who seems weak and naïve but no longer cute. Clegg is now a dangerous and evil liar who must be stopped. For a young generation claiming to be politically savvy, we have fallen for the most basic trick in the book: “he did it”.

But Clegg didn't do it. Cameron is behind the cuts, Cameron raised tuition fees, Cameron is making changes to education that will damage social mobility for decades to come. Guess what, we're falling for it again, the most basic tricks in the book. He is waving the hand puppet of Clegg manically while quietly doing everything that matters with the other hand. Anyone who's ever done any kind of basic magic trick knows how misdirection works; and as I said earlier, Cameron is not to be under-estimated. He and those behind him are masters at magic tricks and have found the perfect misdirection instrument for us in Clegg.

It can't be assumed that in the next election all the disgruntled Lib Dem voters are going to go with Labour and that the Tories are going to go crashing out with a nationwide yell of “Jenga!”. Recent local council elections in England showed that the Tories are getting Lib Dem votes too. Labour made themselves incredibly unpopular, so the three main parties are all in the dog house. The Tories just haven't been in power long enough to be in there properly, so what's to stop much of the Lib Dem vote going to the Tories? Sitting in Scotland the whole idea of doing that seems unrealistic, but England is not Scotland, and Scotland's vote doesn't particularly matter in Westminster as can be made obvious by looking at the election map.

But Clegg made it all possible, right? No. If the Lib Dems hadn't formed the coalition with the Tory party, a coalition made up of Labour and all the independents and smaller parties would have been so weak it wouldn't have lasted a week. The Lib Dem choice took many, including myself, completely be surprise and many, including myself, were very angry. However, if you were in Clegg's boots, what would you have done? Suddenly you have the chance to be in power, a thing beyond your wildest dreams on the run up to the election. A very seductive Cameron says you can get your AV referendum, and after support from some big names and players over the election campaign you feel cocky. Also, if you're Clegg, you've probably not slept in 48 hours. A few months in and you realise the winning feeling you had at the start has just turned horribly Charlie Sheen.

I'm sure we can all remember going to a party when we were kids: parents have gone away for the week, it's summertime so nobody has school, the person you fancy is going and you just bought some snazzy new jeans. Everything is going well. Suddenly you realise nobody has any alcohol and nobody is old enough to actually buy any. What do you do? You find someone who either has fake ID or who is old enough to buy alcohol and phone them pretending to be their best friend. An hour later they arrive like a hero returning from a Spartan war with their shield of clinking carrier bags. Everybody makes awkward conversation with them for about half an hour before ignoring them. Suddenly the unsuspecting buyer of the alcohol realises nobody actually likes them at the party; they have just been invited to make the whole thing possible. They then spend the rest of the night watching a bunch of kids have fun then vomit all over one another.

Clegg is now a lonely figure in a dark corner of a party that he shouldn't have been invited to in the first place. All the while he's digging a grave for his party with a shovel bought for him by his “new best friend” Cameron, tied in a pretty blue ribbon. Little does he know that when the parents get back and find their best vase broken and their child in hospital with alcohol poisoning, he's the one who's getting the blame.

The Cuts Don't Work (but Dave and Gideon don't care)

Remember David Cameron's shiny-faced pledge to 'cut the deficit, not the NHS'? Of course you do. Like a badly-airbrushed ghost, Cameron's pledge has came back to haunt him recently in the wake of the reforms to the NHS spearheaded by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. But there's another reason to keep Dave's promise in mind: because, even as his health reforms begin the slow destruction of one of the greatest achievements of postwar Britain, an uncomfortable fact has come to light that - for any rational observer - casts doubt on the Tories' whole cuts programme.

Put simply, it isn't that Cameron can't cut the deficit without cutting the NHS; in fact, despite all the cuts he and his chancellor George Osborne push through, they can't cut the deficit either.

The False Economy blog has the facts:

'The latest official data for public borrowing show a sharp monthly rise to £9.9bn – a record for April. They also show that the government’s cuts policy has failed to work even for its stated objective: reducing the deficit.'

They further note that there was a fall in the deficit over the course of the previous year, but Dave and Gideon have kept schtumm about that because of an inconvenient truth:

'...the trend towards lower deficits has largely been ignored because they have nothing to do with government ‘austerity’ measures. The improvement in the deficit began in April 2010. The election didn’t take place until a month later and the Comprehensive Spending Review didn’t take place until October.  During that time government spending was largely untouched.'

In other words, the fall in the deficit was the work of...Labour. The bad old previous Labour administration which, we've been told again and again, ran Britain into the ground, 'maxed out the national credit card' and left us with 'no money left'...actually initiated the policies which brought down a deficit caused, let's not forget, by the greatest economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930s. Not bad going for a supposed bunch of spendthrifts.

Whereas the hard-headed (and harder-hearted) cost-cutting of Messrs Cameron and Osborne, far from pulling us out of the deficit, has made it even worse:

'...central government borrowing is £2.6bn higher than last April’s total of £10.5bn...what we are seeing now is just the effect of initial cuts, plus falling confidence. Things are about to get worse and those arguing for even deeper cuts would make them worse still.'

So a government which failed to win an election has also failed to achieve its stated aim of reducing the deficit. But don't expect them to reverse course anytime soon. As many have pointed out, deficit reduction has always been little more than a cover for the Tory-led government's real goal of reimposing their brutal, Thatcherite ideology on the country. The announcement today that the government's new sexual health advisory panel will be advised by an anti-abortion group gives a flavour of just how distasteful that ideology is.

This morning, at a momentary loss for something to read, I pulled my copy of the Rapid Eye Movement anthology from the shelves and reread Simon Dwyer's article, 'Brazil'. Named after the Terry Gilliam film, Dwyer's long essay is a detailed examination of Britain under Tory rule in the 1980s. A country in which civil liberties are curtailed, opposition is spied upon, sexual minorities are persecuted, media are censored and the populace are 'educated to once more know their place' by a government in harness to neoliberal free-marketeers and what Dwyer rightly calls the 'pseudo-Christianity' of fundamentalist outfits like the sinisterly-named Festival of Light.

And now, in Britain 2011, a Tory-led government, helped into power by a media machine which hacks into innocent peoples' voicemail, imposes a neoliberal, 'shock doctrine' financial ideology on the country to help bankers get richer, talks of abolishing the Equality and Human Rights Acts, and tries to limit womens' right to abortion and introduce abstinence-only sex education to schools while restricting access to further and higher education on an unimaginable scale.

David Cameron can airbrush his face all he wants, but the ideology of the worst parts of the Tory party never changes. The deficit was only ever an excuse to implement policies driven by that ideology. Now the figures prove Tory policies have failed to reduce it, the deficit excuse will be quietly dropped, and a new justification for the programme will be found. But whatever it is, that justification will be as false as the deficit lie: because, in a country where a majority didn't vote for the current administration's policies - and where even those who did vote Tory voted them in on the basis of promises Cameron had no intention of keeping - the wholesale destruction of the NHS, state education, and civil liberties on which they are embarked can never be justified.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

End of the Beginning

So here it is, May 11th, the anniversary of the day the farce of an election no-one won ended in the tragedy of David Cameron being invited to form the government no-one elected. And now, the final day of our campaign to remind Cameron that we're all too aware of the fact of his non-victory. Have we succeeded? In our original aim, yes. But in doing so, we've set our sights higher and have decided to focus on some bigger goals in future.

The You Didn't Win campaign had its genesis in an angry outburst inspired not by the Prime Minister, but by his lackey, the Chancellor George Osborne. On budget day this year, one of our organisers was listening to Osborne talking about his 'budget for growth' (a budget which, by the way, is leading to UK growth forecasts being revised downwards  yet again - go go Gadget Gideon!) and she heard him come out with the opinion that 'you get a lot of political capital from winning an election'. Shocked at the casual revisionism she was hearing, she exclaimed 'But You Didn't Win!'

In that moment, our campaign was born. But it had to wait a while for us to get going. This writer had to take part in the March for the Alternative first, and then we were all busy with work for the next week or so, but after a week, through the magic of Twitter we got together and got the ball rolling. We came up with the idea of the postcard campaign, started the blog, set up facebook and twitter accounts, began getting the word out both online and in person, designed the official cards, came up with the text for them, dealt with printers, posted cards to Dave and cards for other people to send Dave, leafleted, made alliances with people in other campaign groups, and generally hustled our asses off, all in the name of pissing David Cameron off just a teeny little bit...of letting the Tory-led government know that we aren't going to sit back and let them rewrite history to claim victory in an election no-one won.

That's what we've achieved. Cameron and his staff at Number Ten - whatever names they're using - have seen our cards and know that people all over the UK are refusing to buy their triumphalist narrative. For a campaign whose nerve centre has consisted of precisely three people (yes, the vast numbers of staff toiling at the You Didn't Win HQ could fit in a Mini and leave one seat free for a box of postcards), that's pretty good going.

But with this year's campaign coming to an end and giving us time for a breather, we've decided to set our sights higher for next year. Remember, this year's campaign was organised on the fly by, yes, three people with very little experience of campaigning, basically making it up as we went along in a brief window of about five weeks between the end of March and today - a window which included two four-day Bank Holiday weekends which really screwed with our lead times. Next year we plan to start preparing and running the campaign earlier, making more links with the media, organising more impactful publicity stunts, pacing ourselves a little better...and involving more people.

Yes, we want you to be more involved in You Didn't Win 2012. We're looking for guest bloggers to write pieces for this site (we already have one), people to organise postcard distribution around the country for the next campaign, people to design new postcards and other items for next year (ecologically-conscious as we are, we will be reusing this year's cards too - but it's still nice to have new things as well!) and generally just boots on the ground to help us get more stuff done next year. You know the drill by now - contact us at, via our Twitter feed or on Facebook and tell us what you'd like to do. Together we can make the second anniversary of the election no-one won even more memorable for Cameron...

But for now, today sees the end of the first phase of the You Didn't Win campaign: a movement born in rage and improvised pretty much every step of the way. But, to quote a Tory coalition leader of sterner stuff than Dave, this is not the end, or even the beginning of the end. This is just the end of the beginning. We'll keep updating the blog, our Twitter and Facebook pages over the next year when there are things we want to talk about; and then at the start of 2012 we'll kick things up a notch and ensure that once again, Dave is reminded that...

well. You know what to say by now. ;)

And now, all rise for John Lydon pulling faces and having a good old shout...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Run Extended Due to Popular Demand!

Well, we here at You Didn't Win HQ sent our cards today, and we've been hearing from people who've sent cards all day, all over the country. Those cards will arrive at Downing Street tomorrow, just in time to put Cameron in a bad mood as he tucks in to his post-referendum kedgeree. But something we hadn't expected to happen has also occurred.

As we and others have tweeted and talked about the cards we're sending today, more and more people, hearing about the campaign, have expressed a wish to get involved. And that's why we've decided to extend our campaign a little further - as of today the deadline for sending your You Didn't Win card to Number 10 Downing Street (London SW1A 2AA, remember) is now May 11th. This is the anniversary of the day last year when Our Own Dear Queen Bess, Gawd Bless 'Er, invited David Cameron to form a government - despite his failure to win the General Election (no disrespect meant to Her Maj - it's her constitutional role and she has to do it. But we like to think she was giving Cameron the Royal V's behind her back with her left hand while she shook his right).

So don't despair if you've missed today's post - there's still time to send your cards! You can get official cards from us by tweeting us your address, or sending it to, but remember that you can also send local postcards from where you live too if you don't have an official one. We do ask that you take a photo of you sending the card and post it somewhere online - tagged with 'youdidntwin', naturally - and you could even send them to the aforementioned email address if you want - we'd love to put peoples' postcard pics here on the blog to celebrate our campaign.

A campaign which is well under way now: tomorrow David Cameron will see the first signs that the people of Britain remember that he didn't win the election. Let's keep up the pressure and keep sending him messages right up to next Wednesday!