Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Corbyn problem: it's not 1979 any more

In setting out thoughts on Labour's travails and continuing importance to the possibility of a non-Tory administration, the leadership election was not far from my mind.  As a non-member, non-"supporter", my views are those of a sympathetic outsider, rather than enmeshed in the internal rows that make the practice of Catholic apologetics straightforward and which are risible to the point of utter irrelevance in the face of the current political crisis.

There is nothing to suggest that Corbyn is an insincere man, nor that many of his policies would be unsuitable for a democratic socialist programme to pitch to the electorate.  The problems come with respect to the definition of his cause as being that of a movement rather than a political party; the articulation of the views and priorities of the dispossessed and excluded is vital to a change in the ideological climate, but it is not wrapped up in an individual and a retinue of cheer-leaders who appear hell-bent on conflating their own use of Labour party structures with a wider democratic polity that appeals to the electorate, the ultimate arbiters of whether any programme can be enacted.

A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to hear Labour activists proclaiming the need for mandatory reelection and the elimination of MPs whose views differed from their own.  This is exactly the kind of attitude that conflates the behaviour of political activists at constituency levels with relevance and resonance beyond the engaged.  It was the technique that Militant used to gain some leverage within Labour, and although any comparison of the Corbyn acolytes is facile, it is the attempt to force through rule by caucus that is so unappealing.

The vilification of much of the Labour right, extending across to those who are on the left of the spectrum but do not agree with the personality cult, is delighting the Tories.  It mirrors the behaviour of the left under Callaghan and Foot, where the Star Chambers determined the acceptability of politicians across the spectrum.  I have no personal agenda to support Hilary Benn or others, but it does not provide any encouragement to those of us who would like to be engaging in common cause for policy where there is agreement on the outcomes.

Some of Corbyn's on-line cheerleaders are calling for loyalty - forgetting the parallels between Foot, the most vociferous rebel before he became a minister in the 1970s, and Corbyn, whose attitude to discipline is at best myopic and at worst downright hypocritical.  If you are a self-defining rebel, the moral high ground needs to sink in order for you to occupy it when your supporters decry dissent.

If Labour had a coherent programme for government, and a set of high priority policies, this would not matter.   Inventing seemingly laudable policies on the hoof is fine, provided that you then do not undermine deliberative and constitutionally-defined party positions.  Good leaders know when they have to compromise.  We are not living through the early years of Thatcher, we are in a post-capitalist and post-functional governmental phase, and the allegedly leading opposition party is behaving as though it is at an early 1980s theme night.

If this continues, discussions around electability and the future of Labour become moot.  For anyone who cares about a change to the current hegemony this an immense abdication of responsibility.  That is the idiocy.  That is the betrayal.  It is also the reason why, if there is no resolution, the Tories will romp home in 2020 and the redefinition of the opposition will probably not include much of the current Labour Party.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Labour's pains - why they still matter

Another party, another leadership contest.  The coup that aimed to dispose of Jeremy Corbyn may yet succeed. although the sight of the legal system deposing the current leader for failing to secure sufficient nominations is unlikely to calm the stormy morass that has been created by a party over-sensitive to accusations from outside, and which has now turned in on itself at a time where even the slightest twitch of opposition would have met with relief from all sides save the Tories.

The ridiculous focus on Labour's internal splits cost the debate on Trident dear, if not the outcome.  There is a very strong strategic and economic case to review whether spending a huge amount of future defence budgets on a Cold War system, whose first use would demonstrate madness and whose use in retaliation the entire failure of the arguments upon which its procurement had rested, is in the country's interests, but instead it became a guessing game as to which factions in Labour would either oppose their own policy, abstain or provide uncritical cheerleading for Theresa May at a time when it was most unnecessary and unwelcome.

Even four weeks on, the impacts of the European referendum are still only beginning to be felt - both in the world which impacts upon most of us, and in the political alignments that reflect the London-centric narrative of the media and the machine politicians.  There is talk that, should Corbyn triumph over Smith, of a similar exodus to that which led to the formation of the SDP in 1981, but probably supported by a significant fraction, if not a majority, of those elected on a Labour ticket last year.

All very well, but in an electoral system that delivers landslides to parties which do not secure a majority of votes (looking at the Tories, Labour and the SNP) discussions of realignment fall foul of a mixture of the anti-pluralism that has enthroned the Tories as hegemonic dictators, and that ensures minority opinions are excluded, thinking along party lines is both dangerous and lets down the majority of the electorate who may well be anti-Tory, but who are not convinced by the argument that a vanguard party is the best way of expressing their views.

This also militates against the kind of quick fix that has been beloved of commentators and those impatient for power.  One of the many lessons that should be learned from the SDP's short life is that the politics of electoral pressure need to come after there has been a broad consensus on the do-minimum policy requirements.  There is no presumption that any new party has the right to claim leadership, nor that it will succeed purely by sheer force of self-defined "reasonableness" or "moderateness".

What will be needed to secure future success is a much more inclusive approach that permits degrees of convergence and pragmatism, as well as recognising that one's allies in delivery may have reached their positions from a different starting point, and will continue to do so.  Diversity and pluralism are the marks of a mature political system, and there is no reason why we should not be promoting this in advance of any electoral requirement.  The poor reputation of the Liberal Democrats partly derives from the naive and hurried coalition discussions by which they were shafted into the role of human shields by Cameron, but also from an immature set of beliefs on the self-proclaimed left of the immutability of one party, and one ideology.

A crystal ball has been proved useless in recent months.  What is clear is that for there to be the possibility of a non-Tory government in England and the UK is for a much looser convergence and consensus to emerge before the election - the sight of politicians who have things in common discussing and agreeing a key programme for a reforming government, one of whose key priorities would be the delivery of a constitutional reform programme that both modernised the process of government and ensured more representative democracy, might remove suspicion and increase the prospect of change.

Labour's internal machinations are important.  The climate that has been created, where there is abuse and threats, is reminiscent of a cult rather than a party that claims to have the right to be a broad church.  It is difficult to disagree with many of Corbyn's policy positions, but the approach being set out is a personal crusade and attended by a retinue who are clearly focused on internal machinations rather than facing out and addressing the questions as to what is needed to oppose this government, let alone surf the waves of disappointment, attrition and right-wing paranoia that will emerge when the Cabinet idiots fail to deliver a negotiation with the EU that meets the basic expectations of any shade of opinion.

In the UK's electoral malfeasance, Labour will be key to determining whether there is enough space to remove the Tories.  Its denial of its atrophying support base in traditional areas - Scotland, the North and Midlands, Wales - and its arrogance in assuming that those of us who yearn for change are its automatic adherents are manifestations of a malaise.  Untreated, it could doom the country to further irrelevance against the break-up of the Union and the decline in prestige and real power that follows from an act of insanity.  Some of Labour's behaviours are irrational - it should be fighting to escape the asylum rather than change the amount of padding on the walls.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The arrival of the Empress Caligula

In less than three weeks, what was the United Kingdom has become a failed state.  The sight of the Leave campaigners coming to terms with the scale of stupidity and evil they had unleashed commenced within minutes of the advisory referendum's result being confirmed.  The economic chaos and march of street-corner violence that followed was an inevitable process, and the unravelling of the coercive power of government should have followed.

Instead, we have an administration that is squatting at best, unaware that the machinations of the Conservative Party's selection of its leadership does not convey legitimacy or even acknowledgement of its authority.  Theresa May is a charlatan, a traitor and a disgrace to high office, and all the windy and hypocritical rhetoric of "One Nation" Toryism merely echoes the hollow misappropriation of St Francis of Assisi that Margaret Thatcher used as an emollient prior to another depression caused by ideological prejudice placed ahead of either common sense or genuine public service.  Judge by the actions, not the words.

If she is playing a Machiavellian game, then the stakes could not be any higher.  To elevate such scrofulous incompetents as David Davis, and the venal Liam Fox plays entirely into the hands of the lunatic right within the Tory Party - far more directly than would have been the case had there been a leadership contest and there had either been a Leadsom victory or no need to propitiate the headbangers.

The appointment of Johnson to the Foreign Office will have the same effect as unleashing a syphilitic in a brothel.  One of the few consolations of recent days has been the seemingly-reasonable assumption that his behaviour would have led the Tories to come to the same conclusion as the rest of the country that his vanity, self-promotion and clear amorality would not be an attractive trait.  Instead of which, he now represents the UK government on the world stage.  It is just as well that those abroad capable of reflection and simple analysis will be aware that the seditious fools do not represent even a majority of the English population.

The final shape of the May administration will be as insubstantial as the mandate that her government now has.  She is as much a prisoner to the extremists as Cameron and Major were, but is temperamentally much more comfortable with authoritarian self-seeking plutocracy, as despite her carefully-calculated image she as enmeshed in the corruption and expropriation of power as those she is now showering with garlands.

In the meantime, the Tories bestride the English stage unmolested.  The absence of criticism and challenge by the BBC is risible.  This is in part down to the absence of the official opposition, engaging in the charade of the 1980s revival through a protracted internal battle and the suspicion of extremist infiltration.  This is convenient for the Tories, as their own entrists are now in the centre of government.  The unravelling of Tory authority is now creeping in at the fringes of England - they are encircled by a hostile Europe, a seething Scotland and a petrified Ireland.

May will doubtless be hailed by the sycophants and brown-nosers as a tactical genius - if only because she is holding the charlatans and liars in the centre of the web.  This will last until the first crisis that impacts on social order - and she will still be vulnerable to the Tory and Kipper fringe for whom nothing less than national suicide is a desirable outcome.  In these febrile times, prediction is unnecessary - it would have been incredible to have predicted that within three hours of acquiring office she had dissipated even the last vestiges of being a legitimate Prime Minister through crass appointments designed to appeal to her own Westminster bubble, irrespective of the way in which they play out beyond it.

This is not a country that a sane person wants to be a subject of - and the continued pretence that the islands' interests are played out through the farrago of inadequate grasping fools who form much of the modern Tory party will not be acceptable for much longer.  What we need now is for a few days of allowing this to play out and unravel, and for the seeds of a popular insurgency to be sown for the day when there is a potential unravelling.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

May - the coup and the confidence trick

The ruthless coup by which Theresa May has become Prime Minister (presumptive) was greeted by the BBC as though it guaranteed an end to the chaos, disasters and unraveling that her party has inflicted upon the country.  Fawning mavens swarmed around her, and the only voices of dissent permitted were from those Tory backers of Leadsom whose imitation of Trump and the Tea Party had spectacularly imploded over the weekend.

May’s platitudinous waffling bore more than a passing resemblance to those of Margaret Thatcher when she misappropriated St Francis of Assisi in May 1979.  In both cases they sounded emollient and anxious to draw a line under the past.  In Thatcher’s case this was clearly necessary, as her misguided and at times malevolent politics required a Year Zero to be declared.  In May’s case she has to pretend that the vandalism of the referendum and the self-harm it is unleashing belong to the previous era where putting party before people was the order of the day.

This would be easier if it were true.  In May’s history there is no real evidence of anything beyond authoritarianism and self-regard, and she will be reminded of her tendencies from the left.  For the Tory right, flirting with the racist and neofascist extremes that feed UKIP and their extremist fellow-travellers, even May’s vileness will not be sufficient to convince them that she is sufficiently pliable, so all her administration will be an effort to avoid falling foul of the self-seeking dolts whose actions have brought both their party and the country to the brink of implosion.

May has not made any self-aware statements to the effect that she has to earn any legitimacy.  She exhibits the standard Tory trait of entitlement and an unwillingness to acknowledge that government is by consent, not by fiat.  This may have worked for Thatcher in the 1980s, but shifts in institutions, politics and the tenuous nature of Tory power over vast swathes of the country means that she needs to tread with extreme caution in the face of insurrection and empowerment.

Not a word, therefore, around the democratic deficits across a nation state whose legitimacy is in doubt as never before.  Not a word to recognise that the referendum result was not a conclusive mandate, even had it been achieved through legitimate argument.  Not a word to those who are disenfranchised, fearful and dislocated.   Not a word to calm the disgusting passions of the street-corner racists.  Had it not been for the torrent of bullshit, she would have made a convincing Trappist,

The problems that she inherits are intractable, but a genuine leader would be looking to mitigate and share the burdens.  Notwithstanding the potential impact on Northern Ireland and the unraveling of the peace process, worked for across the political spectrum and wrecked by another Theresa, or the rekindling of the Scottish independence campaign far beyond the boundaries of the SNP, both of which would be causing any politician with a conscience sleepless nights, she is concentrating on an English nationalism which pits democracy and the rule of law against Tory hegemony.

As a confidence trick this is both breathtaking and predictable. With no programme, no electoral accountability and not even an inkling that this is risible and dangerous, we are moving into territory where even an imperfect democracy is under threat.  May’s tactic acceptance of the divine right of the Tories to govern will be her undoing, as it was for Gordon Brown (whose accession to the premiership May regarded as an outrage without a General Election), especially as she will be impotent to deliver either prosperity or security.

This is not a legitimate government. It has legal power. It maintains the charade of continuity within an “unwritten constitution” that will be seen as a means of controlling the plebs.  Its mandate does not extend across its presumptive jurisdiction, either morally or In terms of securing the discourse, and she will doubtless be preparing for repression rather than emollients.

May’s hope for survival rests solely on the continuing absence of organised opposition. Labour’s absence from the field has allowed her to usurp without real challenge.  The internal convulsions of Labour politics are not my direct concern, but for the leader of the principal opposition party not to be touring the news studios on the night of another Tory coup is a failure of duty and ambition.  The Cuba Solidarity Campaign may have gained by his presence, but those who seek balance and challenge as a tsunami unfolds may draw conclusions as to his priorities.

Resistance, repulsion and challenge will continue, and be invigorated.  May presents herself as a safe pair of hands, whereas her instincts are dominated by the far right, her radicalism as bogus as any other Tory talking about privilege. She has come to power as her certainties collapse and from early indications her ability to cope and to restore even a vestige of order are as minimal as her predecessor’s. It has a morbid fascination.  As with Major, she will be in office but not in power.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Loathsome Leadsom's vileness is a calculated risk

Frankly, the prospect of another two months of the Conservative Party's self-abuse is frightening.  It is not quite as disturbing as the reality that at the end of the process one of the candidates will be in charge of the British nuclear button, and crowned head of a country that is disintegrating both economically and politically.

The preposterous and surreal degeneration of public life will be fascinating for historians but it does not make for an edifying spectacle for those of us who are collateral damage.  It is incredible that a mendacious, hypocritical and delusional candidate has been placed in front of the Conservative Party, unless you believe that most of the last thirty years of politics has been manipulated to push a rabid form of neoconservative cretinism into the mainstream.

Andrea Leadsom is a foul concoction of lies, cant and wind.  The manufactured outrage over her playing the Christian Coalition family card and then trying, unconvincingly, to row back when her interview was published is a prime example of the faux naif school of politics.  She is deliberately skewing her message to the chuntering hinterland of the Tory/UKIP borderlands - the racists, the fearful and the self-entitled - with a view to upsetting the "establishment" that she has used to feather her own nest over decades.

There are some who argue that this is a mirror of the Corbyn takeover of Labour last year, which too is causing unravelling and stasis just when there needs to be UK-wide opposition to a party whose contempt for the electorate extends to this current farrago of a leadership election.  At least with Corbyn his political trajectory has been clear, and he has stuck to views over decades.  Leadsom has been inconsistent, a liar and a fantasist.

Her victory would probably fracture the Tories, but this would pave the way for the rightist authoritarian party she really wants to lead.  Closer in attitude to Marine Le Pen, in fact, than any mainstream politician.  Doubtless there would be cheering from Arron Banks and Vladimir Putin, and it would be intriguing to work out where the financial interests and money flows are going to and from.

Leadsom's approach to truth has been amply demonstrated.  Her behaviour is a disgrace.  A self-publicist with narcissism off the scale does not inspire confidence in her ability to engage at any level of politics.  She is trying to manipulate the Tory leadership contest to create the narrative of the insurgent outsider, which is as risible as her CV.  If the Tories fall for it, they will not merely reinforce their previous image as the Nasty Party but the Stupid Party makes a resurgence.  In my more nihilist moments this might even be a price worth paying, if there is a centre-left alternative that can rescue the countries from perdition.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Blair, death and Brexit - the toxic legacy

I suspect that very few people, other than those paid to do it, or with too much time on their hands, will ever have time to read the whole of the Chilcot report into the Iraq War.  Of all the ironies, its publication at the time when another venal and self-mythologising Prime Minister has just pushed the nation further over the brink, the final verification that Blair's behaviour was not that of a leader with either basic morality or the national interest even within his compass merely fuels the disgust that it is legitimate to feel at most contemporary politicians.

The disaster of Iraq is not disputed.  Blair's craven acceptance of a bizarre messianic agenda that Bush was putting forward, and his continued desire to act as patsy for a dubious neocon has been spelled out at great length.  Countless thousands, if not millions, have paid the price for this - and I am neither eloquent enough nor able to articulate the level of amorality that this implies.  Victims cannot speak back, and the mute testimony of the wasteland is witness to the adventurism and arrogance that led to the current morass.

Blair's corruption of political discourse is, in my view, one of the proximate causes of the distrust of the political classes that reinforced the punishment instinct demonstrated by the Leave vote.  He demonstrated  combination of smarmy arrogance, disdain and what appears to have been a total disconnect from either the paucity of evidence or the impact of a botched policy.  Disconnect from the electorate, the idea that politicians can get away with murder if they don't get found out, and a rootless ideology based around currying favour with Bush, all while expecting Labour and floating voters to back him against all odds.  A dangerous fool.

Running away from the consequences of actions is a running theme at the moment.  It is not a moment for triumphalism for those who were proved right - especially since two of the key figures are no longer with us.  Charles Kennedy and Robin Cook's stature increases with each new revelation - and as good, principled politicians they stand above the cesspit that Cameron and Blair have created.  Their loss is never more keenly felt than when the vindication of the minority is so comprehensive - and a warning for the glib idiots who are currently rejoicing in the Brexit result.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

In the name of whatever deity you choose, go!

The Conservative Party is currently selecting a new leader.  It is assumed that the winner of the race will become Prime Minister, and then commence the serious business of enacting Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.  The choice that the Tories make will be compromised, without authority and will have very little freedom of action given the overwhelming complexity, futility and impotence of the diminished England that they will represent.

Given the deficiencies in the electoral and governmental system that exists within the territory that still forms the nominal United Kingdom, and the blatantly unrepresentative result that catapulted Cameron into power last year, there is a nascent crisis of legitimacy that will now become the preserve not merely of political animals but the mass of aggrieved victims of the referendum fall-out. The build-up of expectation that the Leave campaigners sold will never be met, and the destruction of economic stability that is already well-established will make the 1980s and the post-financial crisis depression look like a picnic.

However wise the Governor of the Bank of England, he cannot stop the Stupid Party from opening their mouths and continuing the self-harm.  At the same time, the investigation into electoral malpractices in 2015 will, in all probability, disclose further creative cupidity and downright obstruction on the part of Conservative Central Office, which adds to the apocalyptic atmosphere.  All that will be left in the lockers of the establishments will be calls for unity and calm, and to shut up and enjoy the medicine.  For those of us who remember the impact of dogmatically-misapplied policy in the 1980s this does not bode well.

The steady defenestration of the sock-puppets of idiocy continues.  Cameron, architect of the chaos and betrayal, will retreat to family wealth and insulation from the consequences of others.  Johnson's tactical withdrawal will allow him to amass income and carp from the sidelines.  The Tories will turn on Gove, rightly, as a turncoat and traitor.  The cut-price racist demagogue, Farage, has made his annual retirement speech, having humiliated himself in the face of people who he claims would still be allies even after Britain's exit from Europe, and will doubtless be grateful that his MEP pension will be paid in Euros after the collapse of sterling.

There is no programme for government that has now been supported by a plurality of the electorate, under a rigged system.  There is certainly no mandate that even approaches a majority endorsement across the country, and there is nothing to indicate that any of the Tory contenders are prepared to recognise this.  If they had confidence in their own wisdom, popularity and mandate then they would seek to secure this for a full Parliamentary term, given the immense task of attempting to minimise the damage inflicted to the countries of the UK.

Instead there is the constant parade of self-entitled, unrepresentative insiders - a foulness that corrupts any attempt to create a political climate where all parties can work together.  The contest seems to be around competitive fecklessness, appealing to the 150,000 entitled Tory members whose dyspeptic bile will determine the fate of the nation (they think).  This is the moral equivalent of a military coup, and they should expect to be treated as squatters rather than as legitimate leaders.  The only way to assert Parliamentary sovereignty is to re-elect it, and this is too frightening a prospect for a group of marauding hypocrites who will run a mile as the collapse of the economy and overall credibility further weakens their own status.

Monday, 4 July 2016

The early days of a better nation?

Revolutions eat their own.  The defenestration of Boris Johnson and the likely humiliation of Michael Gove ate symptomatic of a Tory party in panic, which would be all the more potent if the alleged opposition party was not engaging in an internal spat to rival that which consigned it and the country to the doldrums after 1979.

Whilst the breathtaking arrogance and self-delusion that has propelled Johnson both to power and to his current status as a buffoonish vandal, standing in the ruins that he has created and snivelling that it's all down to those of us who remember the blatant lies, obfuscation and manipulation that he set in train, the world continues. The sclerotic disintegration of the UK is only of peripheral concern to others, either to mitigate the impacts or to take advantage of the collective idiocy. Yet the paradox is that this may prove the basis for a much more fundamental destruction of the delusions that have led to this debacle.

Those of us who have regarded the anachronisms and particularisms of the government and institutional set-ups as obstacles to progress may feel encouraged.  As the clock cannot be put back, there is now no option but to engage and set out an alternative path that does not feed either the neoconservative and authoritarian agenda or the false nostalgia perpetuated by a certain breed of middle-England Tory based on a romanticising of the 1950s where little people knew their places.

In unleashing the politics of the mob, Farage and Johnson knew exactly what they were doing, but they stand naked before their own creations now that it is clear there is no negotiating strategy and no attempt to engage with the other half of the nation that did not buy into the last-ditch imperialist delusion.  In bringing this to the point of cataclysm, in the long-run they may have done the countries a favour.

Watching the Tory leadership farrago, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is business as usual.  Yet the destruction of class-based politics and party loyalties is now nearly complete.  The Tories flattered to deceive in the Scottish Parliament elections this year, and are probably fatally compromised by the reversion to type of the English grandees in dismissing both the symbolic and practical implications of our vote to remain.  Despite the cynical and effective ploy to destroy the Liberal Democrats for their willingness to be complicit in the last administration, the Tory support level has not been rising.

As for Labour, shaking heads and despairing may no longer be enough.  There are still good people whose belief in the Labour Party's vanguard role, but the evidence is to the contrary.  Leaching support to the Kippers and out of touch in England, still waiting for revival in Scotland, and faction-ridden, this is not a good place.  A determinist view of politics suggests that a message based on class politics and a reliance on a declining core support is doomed to failure.

There is cause, despite all this, for optimism.  The forces unleashed by the schism are not immutable, and the reckoning will not be as clear cut as the cretins who attempt to portray the remain campaign as sore losers and anti-democrats would wish.  Those of us who objected to the leave campaign, as it was almost impossible to disagree with given the slippery evasions and lies that emanated from it, should not assume that all those who voted for it are the kind of ignorant, raging xenophobes whose rantings and spewings fill the airwaves and the social media space.

In the longer term, whatever the position with the EU, the United Kingdom is broken.   Running a nation state where there is a fiction of feudalism and subjecthood suits the oligarchs and neocons perfectly.  As a minimum, a constitution founded on citizenship and innate human rights is needed, within a federal structure that supports national and regional aspirations and independence.  Given the fissile nature of politics, an electoral system that supports pluralism and reduces impotence for those not unlucky enough to be in the 200.000 swing voter camp is required.  Scotland and Northern Ireland have established democracies, and the outcome was striking - it is necessary but not sufficient for a modern politics.

If this means that traditional party boundaries and loyalties are swept away, then so be it.  A programme of reconnection and democratic regeneration, alongside redressing the economic imbalance that has existed for decades and been exacerbated by the corporate welfare to the banks may result in an emergent realignment of politics.  The coming-together of groups who are excludedfrom the current system, or whose dispersed support means that they are under-represented, can only be seen as an opportunity. In the current emergency, ideological nuance needs to take a back seat, common interest and the need to salvage the country takes first place All is not lost - and as the country moves from shock, and in half its citizens, grief, there needs to be a focused anger and determination. I am not sanguine, nor optimistic, but exploiting the weakness, folly and delusions of the idiocracy and the plutocrats makes the game still worth playing.