Friday, 8 June 2007

So what exactly ARE they thinking?

Recently Conservativehome attempted to do away with the "Tory Bigot" characterisation that dogs their Grassroots (sample claim: "only 65% of us think immigration is bad - so we're only 35% racist!").

It's not just on ConHome that the subject of race has loomed large recently. It seems that, because Dave has put a bird blender on his roof, the caring sharing Tory membership is suddenly entitled to lecture everyone on the subject of race. Or something.

It started with Donal Blaney's attempt to excuse away an eight year old complaint made against him to the CRE via Margaret Hodge's "British homes for British people" speech. He then moved onto the Big Brother Race Debate mk.2.

It's the Big Brother thingy that's really annoyed me. (Funny to think that this has been caused by some daft bint whose parting words on British television were a disclosure that she wasn't wearing any underwear.) What annoys me is that even though we know they're bigots, and they know they're bigots, it's almost impossible to nail them down on it enough to properly call them on it.

Tory comments on BB were predictable: "not racist", "freedom of speech", "overreaction" blahdeblah. They're predictable because we know they're bigots. It's when they say things like the death of thousands of people is excusable on the grounds that it controlled inflation and prevented a communist takeover of a foreign state. It's a belief that certain classes of people are somehow below the rest of us. That's what I mean by Tory bigotry.

After Donal's effort on BB, Dizzy had a go, and purely for the fact that he was once voted Tory Blogger Most Likely To Construct A Meaningful Sentence, Iain sang his praises. And so the circle of Conservativism was complete.

Yer Tory approach to the Big Brother debate seems to be this:
because the "N Word" is used in American rap music by black people, then white middle class Tories can use it too. If you don't agree, then you're a racialist, racist racemonger - do you see? Oh, and Channel 4 is the work of the devil/Labour supporting media consiracy (delete as appropriate, or not at all) anyway.

Now, far be it from me to trample all over the civil rights of a load of white, privately educated middle class British men - especially after Dr King and Malcolm X fought all those years ago to establish those rights - but they're talking bullshit. Again.

Fact One: The word "nigger" is the most hateful, racist term that can be used against a black person.

Fact Two: A white adult cannot use that word to a black adult in a "jokey" way. At all. See fact one.

Fact Three: And this is the complicated bit: This debate is an American import. Because of the ghettoisation of Black America, the word has been reclaimed by elements of the black community. This has been brought to our attention, in little old England, by rap music. But just as I wouldn't ask Doug E Fresh to give me his opinions on the Tory Grammar Schools row, I'm not going to ask Donal Blaney to give me his opinion on the finer points of the relationship between linguistics and popular media in black America.

Black people calling black people "nigger" is a matter for black people - it's not a matter for people like me. Or the Tory blogosphere. And it's not an excuse for white people to call black people "nigger".

And as for Dizzy's argument that it must be OK "cos I heard some kids saying it on the bus, innit" - well where do I start? A bunch of teenagers do it, so it must be OK? Please. Kids do things to shock. Tell a kid that a word is wrong and they're gonna use that word - you have to be immature before you can be mature. In fairness, Dizzy almost gets this. But the Big Brother housemates are adults, not schoolchildren. They might not be an example of maturity, but they should be treated as adults.

In his post, Blaney relies on freedom of speech to defend one's right to say the word. This is another false argument. Freedom of speech is not the freedom to call someone the most hateful name possible. It is the freedom to criticise without fear of recrimination. There is no human right to call someone a racial slur. (And isn't it amusing how people who seemingly send a green-inked letter to the Daily Telegraph every time the concept of "Human Rights" is mentioned seem particularly keen on claiming a Human Right to Free Speech every time racism or homophobia is mentioned?)

In much the same way, the word "queer" has been reclaimed by the gay community. If someone referred to, say, a senior gay member of the Tory Party as a "queer" - "albeit in a jokey way that the recipient didn't find offensive" - would it be a defence to say that it was their entitlement to do so under the principle of free speech? No.

In the US, your education and career prospects, your average earnings, your likelihood of going to prison, your expected life-span - in fact pretty much every other social indicator you can think of - are severely reduced if you are born black rather than white. In the UK the story is not as bad, but it's bad. There are therefore differences between black and white on either side of the Atlantic. And those differences extend to language as well as social indicators. Different rules apply - we don't want them to, but they do.

One of the things that the Tory hierarchy realises - and this is not just David Cameron, it goes back to Teresa May's "Nasty Party" speech - is that the Tories have abdicated the right to lecture anyone on the subject of race. Of course, they can say what they like: that's Freedom of Speech. But they can't expect to be listened to or taken seriously.

That's the price you pay for dog-whistle politics and "Fulham Homes for Fulham People" literature. Cameron, for all his vacuous photo opportunities and Diet-Blair, policy free politics, at least realises that the party has a way to go before anyone asks their opinion on race. He keeps his head down as low as possible.

Witness his ruthless expulsion of Patrick Mercer. No-one in the party accused him of being overtly racist, they simply knew that a Shadow Minister who used the words "black bastard" in an interview - in any context at all - was a liability. Cheerio Patrick. In the past, treatment like this was reserved for Shadow Cabinet members who were incontrovertibly racist, like Ann Winterton.

Winterton is one reason among many why people don't trust the Tories on race, and why they have ceded the right to comment on it. And consider this: after she made the "ten-a-penny" Pakistani comment in 2002, she was re-elected on an increased majority. It's not like she made a "mistake" or was quoted out of context - she's made similarly racist statements since then. It's hard not to draw the conclusion that there was at least an element of her constitutency party that approved of her racism, and voted Tory because of it.

So people think Tories are bigoted. But - Cameron and a few others aside - do the Tories know they're bigoted?

On Irish television the other week, Iain Dale was asked (part two at 18:10) by a member of a panel: "Is your party any different from the filthy old bigots they once were?" Iain couldn't or wouldn't answer the question, but it showed three things:

1. The Tories are unable to recognise that their public image remains tarnished by bigotry

2. Because they won't recognise this, they can't do anything about it.

3. Despite the evidence of months upon months of 18 Dullty Street panel discussion, it turns out that it is possible to have a television panel discussion featuring Iain Dale that is in some way entertaining.

And until the Tories address their reputation as bigots they will have nothing to say about race that can possibly contribute anything useful.

(Incidentally, can someone PLEASE explain this to people who write things like this - the reason why no-one has set up a "White Police Officers' Association" is because it already exists - it's called the Metropolitan Police Force. That's why they've set up the Black Police Officers' Association).

So when Cameron is looking around for his Clause IV moment - as surely he must - he would do well to find one that expels the image of the bigoted old Tory. Because that's the last bastion of old Toryism that really could ensure that they win the next election.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

It's Like Eton and Oxford and Being Rich

Gweirdo goes from strength to strength

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

It's a Long Way from this codswallop to any serious debate...

Wahey! Won the pub quiz yesterday, found a fiver down the back of the couch and to cap it all off, those lovely Tories have obliged with yet GCSE politics essay to point at and laugh. Life is good.

This time it's about the Falklands. Sort of. Recently, those Tories have been prattling on about the conflict and why it denoted the greatness of Thatcher, the weakness of Blair and the clarion call for Britain's demise as a superpower. A few bloggers have penned short pieces on the subject, but Tim Montgomerie, founder of Conservativehome.com has helpfully gone into more detail, setting out the right-wing arguments behind their South Atlantic article of faith.


It's a long way from Port Stanley to the Shatt-al-Arab waterway

Today is the 25th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the Falklands. The recapture of the Falklands became the defining event of the Thatcher years.
Ah, "the defining event". This is ALMOST a great piece of Esperantory, but for the important fact that it's a phrase used across the political spectrum. Lefties, for example, see "the defining event of the Thatcher years" as the crushing of the Miners' Strike. Rightwingers see it as the crushing of the enemy within (i.e. the Miners' Strike). Ma*k That*her sees it as the time he had the whizzer idea of flogging a load of guns to the Saudis. Everyone else sees the defining event as the little matter of the end of Communism and the cold war. But no matter. I'll shut up and let you read in full the gushing prelude to the article from britainandamerica.com:

A nation that had been in decline since WWII found a new confidence. As Robin Harris wrote in yesterday's Independent on Sunday, the Falklands campaign restored Britain's status in the world and provided Margaret Thatcher with the authority she needed for her domestic reform programme and for her to become Ronald Reagan's leading ally during the Cold War. A quarter of a century later the role of aggressor is being played by the much more deadly Iran. On this morning's television screens, for the fourth successive day, we watch kidnapped British sailors being humilated by their Iranian captors. Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is surely right to say that more should be done to put pressure on the regime in Tehran. His suggestion of a suspension of EU nations' export credits to Iran seems an immediate and minimum necessary response. For the longer-term, however, what this current crisis exposes is the decline of Britain as a serious power. In these early years of the war on terror, Tim Montgomerie, Editor of BritainAndAmerica.com, lists ten key factors that have contributed to Britain's vulnerability in 2007.

An overstretched and under-resourced military:
Britain's armed forces - although made up of brilliant individual servicemen - are small in number and under-resourced. Recruitment rates are down and 'quit rates' are up. As Conservative defence spokesman Liam Fox has noted: "This year we will spend only 2.2% of our GDP on defence. This is the smallest proportion of our national wealth that we have spent on defending our country since 1930." You see, with Tories, all Public Spending is BAD, unless it's spent on Guns n Ammo, which is GOOD. If Argentina reinvaded the Falklands today the Royal Navy would be unable to send a task force to free them.
Well that's a stupid bloody sentence because:
1. They won't invade, because Blair has
shored up the shaky relationship between the UK and Argentina (or, as it's known in the trade, "diplomacy")
2. We wouldn't need a task force because there is a permanent deployment of 1200 troops, ships and RAF Tornados on the islands... unlike in 1982 when the Argentinian invasion was preceeded by the MoD removing practically all the island's defences
3. The Argentinians are no longer ruled by a tinpot despot shored up by our bezzie mates the Americans

The Iraq war. Although this blog was and is a supporter of the decision to topple Saddam Hussein it cannot defend the subsequent campaign. Britain and America attempted to prevail 'on the cheap' CHEAP!?. This might have been forgivable at first but when it was obvious that Rumsfeld's light footprint doctrine er, I think that should be "light fingers doctrine" was failing there should have been a change in strategy. US Senators McCain and Lieberman were calling for extra troops in early 2004 but their calls fell on deaf (and stubborn) ears. On the other hand, Former Secretary of State James Baker was calling for a drawdown in troops at the start of this year (but that's not helpful right now) President Bush's troops surge is a belated attempt to re-establish American authority. Britain's withdrawal from southern Iraq only reinforces the view of our enemies that we lack either equipment or resolution to prevail.

Appeasement of Iran. Tehran has watched Britain and America consistently fail to respond to its militancy thing is, Tim, we're already fighting two wars in the Middle East, and we're a bit, well, tied up at the moment . Its subversive agents have - until recently - been unchallenged in Iraq that's because - until recently - Iran's subversive agents were being more than adequately challenged by Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. Until the Neocon geniuses in the Pentagon got rid of them. I mean, what's a good Iranian subversive agent to do on a Saturday night? Sit around kicking his heels? HELL NO! Go out and blow shit up! (I'm sure a good neocon like Tim could understand the attractiveness of this option.) It bore no cost for its material support of Hezbollah during last summer's Lebanon conflict. There appears to be no limit to the EU nations' commitment to a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions which is, apparantly, a Bad Thing. While the talk goes on and on Iran could be less than a year away from realising its dream of becoming a nuclear power. Yes, it could be. Or it could not be. Either way, declaring war against a nascent nuclear power is Not a Good Thing. Of course, we would have been in a much stronger position to argue for international consensus if we hadn't neutered the UN a couplathree years back...

Appeasement of internal threats. The 7/7 bombings showed that within the home-grown population there were people who hated Britain so much that they were willing to kill themselves and their fellow countrymen in suicide bomb attacks. Although the situation is beginning to improve from the darkest days of 'Londonistan' That would be the Melanie Phillips polemic that was rejected by 20 major publishing houses, right? That was three years out of date before it hit the shelves? That one? the British authorities have for many years tended to encourage extremism by only dealing with the more extremist 'representatives' of Britain's Muslims Now, I understand that rejecting diplomacy on the international stage is kind of possible if you've got the biggest guns. And I understand that there's some pretty extreme extremists out there. But what I don't understand is how the hell you're supposed to stop bomb attacks from within the home grown population if you stick your fingers in your ears and pretend they're not there.... As Michael Gove MP has written, Michael Gove, eh? Shit. **gives up and goes home** this effective cold-shouldering of moderate voices is a repeat of the way Tony Blair promoted Sinn Fein's status at the expense of the SDLP during the Northern Ireland peace process. Yes, and we all know what a dramatic failure the Northern Ireland peace process has proved. Eh? Oh. And would that be the same SDLP whose leader, John Hume, sat on the Labour benches in the Commons?

The weakness of the transatlantic relationship. The special relationship between Britain and America has been historically central to Britain's national interests but is now in danger... because everyone from Number 10, the Foreign Office and the MoD right down to the man in the street has seen what a stupid bloody idea it is to follow the Americans in their Project for a New American Century. As Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas of Chatham House puts it, there was no evidence Mr Blair had been able to influence the Bush administration in "any significant way... loyalty in international politics counts for nothing". Washington sees Tony Blair - rightly - as a staunch ally but he will soon leave Downing Street and his successor will inherit the leadership of a country that is overwhelmingly hostile to the Iraq war - a war that many see as a war of choice and chosen by George W Bush and America...er, your point caller? It was a war of choice and it was chosen by George W Bush and American Neocons. And who or what is "Washington"? Didn't Bush's Republicans just get annihilated at the polls? Bush may see Blair as an ally, but the Democrats who control the Senate and the House, and shortly the White House, see him as inextricably tied to Bush. Contrast with Brown, whose Democrat connection are impeccable and... wait a minute, I think the editor of Conservative Home has just outed himself as a Brownite.... Tony Blair has found it difficult to combine support for America with necessary criticism of US policy failures. Er, I think you'll find that's "US and UK policy failures". Or are you saying that we just do what we're told? Not much of a "special relationship"... The British people want In case, you weren't aware, editor of Neoconservativehome.com Tim Montgomerie is officially the voice of the British people. That means you, citizen now to see a reassertion of Britain's national interests and the challenge for Britain's next government is to persuade voters that US and UK interests are closely connected. So... that's a reassertion of British National Interest through subsuming British National Interest into a Foreign National Interest. It really is very simple...

By the way, you'll notice how the Falklands theme has been dropped by this paragraph. That's cos it's quite hard arguing for the Special Relationship view on the Falklands when the Reagan cabinet were split over the UK action. Reagan himself couldn't understand why two US allies were arguing the toss over "that little ice-cold bunch of land down there". Or, to quote Robbin Harris (as Tim does in his opening paragraph, above): "The Reagan administration could have signalled much earlier its opposition to such a mad venture. It preferred to equivocate, so as to retain the bibulous and unpredictable General Galtieri as an ally in its wars in Central America."

Decline of NATO. Membership of NATO was once a pillar of Britain's defence strategy yerrrrs, but so was the defeat of the Soviet Union. Or Spitfires. Or the application of blue face paint before battle. THINGS CHANGE. but NATO is a shadow of its former self. Many of its member states have been unable or unwilling to make any serious contribution to peacemaking operations in Afghanistan. And many have - 37 countries and 30,000 troops. And anyway, weren't we talking about the Falklands? What were the serious contributions made by NATO there?

Unfounded faith in the United Nations: Large sections of the British public - led by the BBC BOO!! HISS!! - have come to see the imprimatur of the United Nations as necessary for any military action to be legitimate. Well, they're not really "led by" the BBC, more by International Law Experts, or indeed anyone that can spell the words "Geneva" and "Conventions". The people of Rwanda and Darfur know that waiting for the UN to arrive at a resolution is a very dangeous thing to do. The people of Iraq, on the other hand... Last week's UN statement on the Iranian kidnapping fell well short of London's hopes "they didn't do as they were told = they were wrong" and we should not have been surprised. Three of the Security Council's permanent members - China, France and Russia - have a track record of putting commercial interests and relationships with unsavoury regimes before the high principles of the UN's founders. Whereas the other two, Britain and the US, have an untarnished record of acting completely without vested interest in the greater interest of mankind as a whole. Can I bring up Galtieri's status as a US ally again here? Or the fact that the Argentinian Navy fought the Falklands War with British-built Type 42 destroyers? Conservatives who are rightly sceptical about the multilateralist EU are too willing to give a benefit of the doubt to the UN. Nice. "Hate the EU? Hate the UN too! It's much more fun!"

The BBC Oh. For. Crying. Out. LOUD. Although the BBC has given extensive coverage to the hostage crisis it has not reflected the breadth of opinion in many of Britain's newspapers trans: The Mail where there has been much impatience with the Blair Government's weak response to the Iranian situation. The BBC has certainly been a leading contributor to public opposition to the war in Iraq. That's right: opposition to the war in Iraq is the result of the BBC. 2 million antiwar marchers in London were only there because of top secret subliminal brainwashing in the middle of Countryfile. There has been a relentless focus on the failings of the Iraq campaign but next to no analysis of how coalition forces might ensure that their mission succeeds. Here's a thought Tim: Perhaps no-one has Any Bloody Idea how to ensure "the mission" succeeds. What even is the mission? Coverage of the campaign's failures cannot be questioned but the lack of a balance is a failure of its public service mandate. This is one of the constant weaknesses of the British landscape. Note how renaissance man Tim makes the seemless segue from geopolitics to physical geography there. I think he's claiming that the Peak District was formed not by periglacial movement during the last ice age, but by Robin Day giving Willie Whitelaw a hard time during the hustings for the 1979 general election. Sadly, the great man doesn't elaborate. The BBC's sympathetic treatment of the Argentinians' claim to the 'Malvinas' was a great source of controversy in 1982. In 1982, Balance was Bad. In 2007, Balance is Good. But this is IN NO WAY hypocritical. Got that?

Little strategic thinking. There are very few thinkers in Britain who are preparing for future threats. not like the Philosopher Kings of the Thatcher Government, who removed the only Royal Navy ship from The Falklands three weeks before the invasion. There is, for example, no appreciation of the likelihood of nuclear proliferation and there was me thinking that Trident was renewed last month and the need for missile defence as our only likely protection. That'll be the missile defence that doesn't actually protect Britain. At all.

A distracted Opposition. These weaknesses that Tony Blair will bequeath to his successors are an enormous burden. The Party of Margaret Thatcher Does he realise that those initials are PMT? has every chance of winning the next election and has decided that discussion of public services and climate change is much more likely to win that election trans: we're all cute n cuddly right now, but as soon as we get into No.10 we'll be breaking out the SA-80s and yomping across the Middle East like Suez never happened... That is understandable but is not likely to steel the British public for the sacrifices that future stages of the war on terror will undoubtedly demand "Steel the British public?" Sounds like Tim foresees a new Blitz... Anderson Shelters in the garden? Ration cards in Starbucks? Clockwork internet? It is also unclear if many British Tories have the strategic clarity that Tony Blair has shown since 9/11 But you just said that we are in the middle of a "weak response" to the Iranian situation. I'm confused. Oh wait, this is on britainandamerica.com, which means you can't criticise Tony Blair for the response to 9/11 cos the Yanks won't have it. Know Your Audience. A clarity that was never, sadly, translated into effective applications. "Tony means well, bless him, but he's a bit fick".

And what exactly are the Opposition "distracted" by? I think what Tim means is "A Shit Opposition". But he doesn't want to crap on his own doorstep.

And that is that... well thought out, meticulously researched and rhetorically flawless.

Well, my bit was.



Saturday, 31 March 2007

Keeping your trap shut

We're constantly being told that trust for politicians is at an all time low. That's because we don't know what politicians bloody *do*. Show an average voter a picture an average feed from the House of Commons and the first thing they'll mention is that there's practically no-one in there. The obvious conclusion is therefore that all the snout-in-trough lazy bastards are pissed in the bars. And the distrust of politicians is reinforced.

So MPs have voted themselves an extra £10k each for communications. Good. How can it be a bad idea for politicians to have more communication with the electorate? If they waste the money, or have nothing to say because they haven't done anything, then we'll know. And we'll vote them out. If, on the other hand, we learn more about what our MPs are up to then maybe - maybe - we'll have a bit more respect for them. And that is worth £6.5m in my book.

The Tories claim it's another example of Labour politicians with their snouts in their trough, that it's a waste of public money, that it protects the incumbent. That last one is a gem: it only protects the incumbent if the incumbent has something to communicate: if they can point to a job well done. In that respect, it is a diadvantage to Tories because they'll have to work even harder to show that the sitting Labour and Lib Dem MPs are deserving of replacement.

But there's another reason why the Tories are unhappy with the Communications allowance.

Consider this. In the past two months, two Conservative politicians have been embroiled in race rows. Patrick Mercer was the Shadow Defence Secretary, while Brian Gordon is a Councillor in Hendon. I'm not going to go into the detail on these, others have done it already (or not, as the case may be).

But it's worth pointing that both episodes were sparked by the politicians themselves. They were not "outed" or "duped" (even though Patrick Mercer claims he was off the record). Councillor Gordon sent the offending photo into the local newspaper himself.

Say, for the sake of argument, that you were a Tory politician. One of the nice new ones that we keep hearing about. Worried about the environment, big fan of the NHS, solar panels on your roof, cycle to the golf club, all that.

Now, would you, as a New Conservative, really want all those nasty old-school Tories running off down to Prontaprint? With Jack Straw's ten large in their back pockets and their essays on why "multiculturalism is a failed experiment" scrawled on an old Garrick Club menu in their sticky paws? Would you?

No. Which is why all the Tories voted against the allowance.

If you can't trust a shadow cabinet member to keep his trap shut, how the hell are you going to trust 650+ Parliament Candidates?

The Big Right Winger Giving It Eyebrows At The Back Stick

If you've never read John Redwood's blog, you really are missing out: it's a peach. Deliciously placed midway between parody and rant, it brightens up an otherwise dull afternoon like finding a six-month old can of Stella that had rolled under the TV stand.

Take this entry. Our John tells us that there are no differences between the parties, only within the parties. Except, says John, for the Tory party. The Tories hate Cameron, says John, because they don't understand.

They will come to appreciate that “hugging a hoodie” before he goes off the rails does not mean their Leader is soft on crime, that sharing the proceeds of growth does mean lower taxes allied to economic prudence to avoid high interest rates, and seeking powers back from Brussels whilst keeping trade arrangements with our partners is the mainstream view in the UK.

I find the above sentence is much more fun if you imagine Johnny saying it with a vacant stare and an unsettling demonic half smile his normal expression while holding a dentist drill and standing over a shackled and sweating dissident Tory.

But he's a man of the people is Our John. He proves the point by donning the metaphorical sheepskin and sallying forth on the misfiring England footy team:

Of course when there are too many poor performances in a row we should ask if a different coach and/or captain would make a difference.

Gosh! Poor results leading to a change of boss? Bit radical isn't it? I mean, it's not as if fotball is famous for its high Manager turnover is it?

It maybe time to look at the whole organisation of the game and the league in England to see if an overseas player rule would give English talent more chance - and curb the costs for clubs.

Erm, doesn't his advocacy of an overseas player rule ignore one major incurred cost - the legal costs incurred for breaking EU freedom of movement legislation...? And how would this curb costs.

But if you think that the boy Johnny's farcical attempts to cash in on the popularity of football (albeit 15 years late) mark him out as some kind of Redwood-come-lately, you're wrong. He's got form. He penned a startlingly insightful prescis of the last World Cup.

Channeling Sepp Blatter, he bemoaned the paucity of goals in an average game and railed against the ridiculousness of the absurd offside rule (yes, really). Apart from advocating the end of the most iniquitous law since the introduction of the welfare state, the best bit is this:

Many talented players failed to deliver the fine free flowing attacking football we have seen on many occasions from Chelsea , Arsenal and other leading clubs.

Look again at that sentence. See the spaces either side of the comma after "Chelsea"? That's textbook. What's he done there is he's written out the paragraph minus the team names. Cos he didn't know em. Then he's looked them up on the internet ("Search Google "attacking football", ctrl+c, ctrl+v") and stuck em in the piece. The "...and other clubs" is good too: like when Chief Wiggum lists the world's major religions as "Christian, Jewish... and miscellaneous".

And Chelsea? Free flowing attacking football? I must have missed the memo...

+++++EDIT+++++

Holy Mother Of God. A Post on John Redwood and I didn't add this...

Monday, 26 March 2007

Labour Future Tense

Yesterday, the Observer's headline, "Miliband Could Still Succeed Me: Blair", preceeded 800 breathy words on the Labour succession. In short, Blair thinks Miliband could beat Gordon, and Westminster is frothing with rumour and innuendo concerning the chances of Miliband standing.

Only problem is, Miliband ain't standing. Well, we presume he isn't, cos he ain't said nuffing.

Nuffing, that is, apart from his review of Tony Giddens' latest tome - a "review" which is actually only 1 part book review but 2 parts conference speech and 7 parts leadership manifesto. He's putting forward the "New Labour" stance, arguing against centralisation, paternalism and top down control (remind you of anyone?)

Word analysis:
"Brown" - 0 mentions
"Blair" - 1 mention
"Leadership" - 2 mentions
"Labour" 3 mentions
"New Labour" - 12 mentions

It reaches its shuddering climax thus (my emphases):

None will be solved without a different culture of politics recognising that while leadership comes from government, innovation and mobilisation comes from the bottom up. Devolution is not just a question of policy; it is the foundation for a renewed efficacy in politics. In the 1940s and 1950s, the dominant theme was 'I need'. Paternalist government was the result. In the 1980s, the cry was 'I want'. We all know what happened. In the 21st century, the driving ethos is 'I can'. People want to make a difference by taking decisions for themselves and with others. That is the basis for a new progressive project that builds post-Blair politics - bold Labour, not old Labour - of an exciting and attractive kind."

It's therefore just a shame that the Observer hacks didn't notice this bold and enlightened 900 word futurology. In their own paper. But after all, why would they? It was buried at the back of the Review section ferchrissakes and who reads that?

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Pete's Golden Rule

Sod prudence - when it comes to budgets, the golden rule is this:

The Red Book is massive and designed to hide and obfuscate the detail. There's no point trying to work out what it all says. Let someone else do it for you, and ignore the bloody budget until they have.

In the mean time...

This is amazing - a Buenos Aires Family who photograph themselves once a year, every year, and have done for the past thirty years. It makes me feel very, very mortal.

Hat tip: Bryan Appleyard

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Reading Hansard is *sooo* Billy Hague... but on this occasion it's quite useful. Have a look at the Delegated Legislation Committee last Friday, when the Equality Act (Sexual Orientations) Regulations were debated.

The Committee was out in full, but there were a number of guests. 24 MPs who were not members of the committee turned up to give their views - as they are entitled to do. Surprise of surprises, 23 were Tory (there was one Lib Dem).

Two funny bits, both from Chris Bryant:

Mrs. Laing: (speaking for the Tories) We support the principle of equality and we support the Equality Act 2006.
Chris Bryant: Hooray! (Camp as y'like)

And then there's this exchange with "Vulcan Johnny" Redwood...

Mr. Redwood: The majority of clothes shops in this country discriminate against me, as a man, because they sell clothes only for women. I see nothing wrong with that, because, fortunately, there are other shops that sell clothes only for men—[Hon. Members: “Come out, John, and be honest about this.”] We should not say to all women’s clothes shops that they have to sell clothes that are suitable for normal men.

Chris Bryant: Ah, normal. You would not stand a chance.


Mrs Laing did indeed vote for the regulations, as no doubt she was whipped*. This means that David Cameron can say that the Tories voted for the regulation and that they are open-minded paragons of 21st Century inclusivity.

But what he won't be saying is that 23 members of his party turned up with bulging eyes and scarlet cheeks to fulminate against this latest moral corruption by a Godless Government. (And if you don't believe me about the eyes and cheeks, check out Edward Leigh some time*).

That's 23 Tories up* at 8.30 on a Thursday morning. The ONLY thing Tories get up that early for is a bloody good foxhunt. Maggie Thatcher's funeral wouldn't get 23 Tory MPs at 8.30 on a Thursday morning. So there's some depth of feeling there.

Some of the Tories' speeches were... hmm. Int-eresting:

Dominic Grieve: (Yes, that one, the member of the shadow cabinet... but here purely as an interested observer) If a website designer who has Christian principles is asked to design a website promoting gay sexual (gaysexual?! Does anyone still say that?) relations—about which, I wish to make clear, there is nothing illegal... ("...disgusting and immoral perhaps, but nothing illegal...)

Tim Boswell: The only way in which I can register dissent is by voting against the motion on regulations that, in a sense, I wish to proceed with ("... so I can tell my Constituency Association I 'did the right thing' in the hope that they don't read this sentence, while at the same time appearing all touchy feely to Dave".)

Credit where it's due - IDS made a very sensible and even-handed intervention which did him credit:

"We want to make those points in a debate and to tease those matters out. We want to be able to tell our constituents, “We tried to get this changed,” or, “We got it changed,” or, “The Government listened and modified it.” The debate should be about modifying legislation and making it good, rather than just railroading it through because it was conceived by the Government—who, by the way, are not always right, whether they are Conservative or Labour."


But, of course, the committee divided and the Tories (as opposed to the Conservative Opposition) lost. So, will they be out tomorrow?*



*(Not in that way).

What the Swivel-Eyed Loons Don't Want Me to Know

This is truly jaw-dropping:

What struck me about it was that there is no attributable source. Who made it? The author of the video, according to youtube, is "campaign2007". The campaign referred to at the end is the Sexual Orientations Regulations Campaign". This produces a sum total of 0 direct google hits.

According to the end of it, the campaign is backed by MPs, Judges, Doctors and the majority of the British public.

So I'm going to pop along to the demo and see who I can see. (It's on Wednesday at 12, for one hour - nothing like a bit of hate filled bigotry to set you up for a *really productive* afternoon in the office - get the old juices flowing.) (Not like that).

If you're planning coming along, say hi if you see me! (I'll be the one in the arseless PVC chaps).

Hattip: Bloggerheads

Monday, 19 March 2007

From the New York Times letters page...

To the Editor:

The Irish, Scots and Welsh are suspicious that the pronouncement from the University of Oxford that they are genetically related to the English is a thinly veiled attempt at social climbing by the English.

James M. Farrell
Flemington,
N.J.,
March 12, 2007

(Great post here by Tom Watson (not that one) on the international roots of modern Irish mythology.)

Friday, 16 March 2007

Man-made hot air
















Oh dear.

The 18DS boys have struck again with one of their "attack adverts". Once again it is not only laughably bad, but contains about as much accuracy as Ann Widdecombe's erotic fiction.

This time, the bee in the collective Tory bonnet is the "hypocricy" of climate change advocates. The 18DS stance is that, in order to comment on the subject you have to have lived as monk for the past three centuries and never ventured out of your postcode (or if you have travelled more than three miles, you have to have done this using ONLY ONE FORM OF TRANSPORT. EVER.)

According to 18DS, the holy trinity of climate change campaigners/hypocrites (the terms are interchangeable) are Al Gore (fair enough, he won an oscar for his film, so clearly he does have a *bit* of a profile), David Cameron (because he rides a bike and also travels by plane) and The Independent (cos they run climate change related headlines while at the same time advertising foreign holidays in their travel section. For Shame!).

Far be it from me to suggest that:

a. David Cameron is not one of the names that trips off the tongue when asked to name a client change campaigner; and therefore
b. The whole thing is just an excuse for the 18DS boys to have a crack at their favourite hate figures and climate change was just a nice zeitgeisty hook upon which to hang said crack.

But there you go. I also feel a bit wary about posting this. As a commenter on here pointed out, criticising 18DS is like shooting fish in a barrell: their insistence on adding comedy "sources" to their swivel eyed rantings makes it almost *too* easy. And given how poor most of the sources are, it hardly seems worth attributing them. Added to this, 18DS have a marvellous habit of erasing parts of their website that become a bit embarassing, so future ads will probably not be sourced in the same way, denying me the fruitful and enjoyable pastime of pointing out their bullshittery to both my readers (Hi Mum).

Thus, with the heavy air of a man settling down to a meal of what may just be the last cod in the ocean, here are those accusations and sources in full:

1 AL Gore’s Electricity Bill

The Tennessee Centre for Policy Research recently reported that the electricity bill for Al Gore’s 20 room house was thirty thousand dollars.

SOURCE HERE

Note how the link doesn't go through to the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research itself. The reason for this is that the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research is not the kind of organisation you'd want to be seen sourcing material from. Not only does it refuse to list it's board members (in contravention of Federal US law), but it is run from someone's apartment.

It also has the enviable economic skill of managing on a research budget of precisely nil. Yep: a policy research institute with no research budget. (Source for this: the TCPR's Form 990 on www.guidestar.org - registration required).

(Allegations that the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research is a shadowy right-wing organisation set up to fling shit at Al Gore were considered so bloody obvious that no-one could be bothered to refute them.)

That said, the $30k figure has not been disputed by the Gores. Their aide did point out though that the home also acts for as offices for both Al and Tipper. Still though - $30,000 for electricity must mean an awful lot of nasty carbon, no?

Well, no. Turns out the Gores purchase their electricity through Tennessee's Green Power Switch Programme - which supplies electricity exclusively from green sources. So the Gores' electricity bill could be $30m, and it still would have hardly any environmental impact.

Oh, and if you think that the 18DS boys were unaware of the falsity of their information, 'fraid not. Most of it is in the article they use as their source.

Nice one fellas.


2 David Cameron cycling to work

It was reported on the BBC that David Cameron cycled to work but his car followed behind him carrying his papers.

SOURCE HERE

Riiight, with you so far... but would it be rude to point out that in the report to which 18DS link, Cameron is quoted as saying the car accusation is "not true at all"?

Or the fact that 18 DS last week took the BBC to task for "selective reporting of facts", but this week see them as the perfect source to illustrate their political point?

3 David Cameron’s Journey to Scotland

It was confirmed by a party official that David Cameron and his shadow cabinet flew to Scotland for a cabinet meeting instead of travelling by train.

.... so he uses bicycles AND planes? The BASTARD.

Strangely, they haven't provided the source for this. Or the source for Al Gore's plane trip to London this week.

But that would bring up all sorts of inconvenient truths - for example the truth that one of his reasons for coming was to address the Conservative shadow cabinet.

And while 18DS and ConHome see Cameron as Diet Blair, there remain quite a few "good eggs" in the shadow cabinet, and 18DS don't want to start criticising them. Like Patrick Mercer for example. Eh? Oh.

4 Cameron encourages rail travel

He argued on the Today Programme that he would promote rail travel as an alternative to air travel.

SOURCE HERE

So, the main point of this section is that Cameron is whoring himself around modes of transport like Phileas Fogg on crack. It's not exactly Black Wednesday is it?

5 The Independent Newspaper says travel locally

Last year, the Independent Newspaper’s front page urged readers to travel within the UK instead of flying abroad on holiday. It argued that this would help to tackle global warming.

SOURCE HERE

So, when Cameron flies by plane, it is incontravertible evidence that he is contributing to global warming. But when the Independent make the same link, it is only an "argument".

6 The Independent Newspaper advertises foreign holidays

On the same day, it also advertised cheap foreign holidays on its travel section.

SOURCE HERE

That's not really a source, by the way - it's a comment article from Conservative Home whinging about the Independent.

So the 18DS point is that newspapers that tackle global warming lose the right to publish a travel supplement? Hardly "free speech" is it? Or does 18DS's campaign for free speech only extend to racial epithets?

But, that said, I'm convinced. Clearly, Travel Supplements are the work of the devil and need to be eradicated with a crusader's zeal.



And that's that. Barely time to ask where the promised 18DS Arms Trade advert is (it's "been in production" for about three months: they made two Harry Potter films in less time than that), or point out Iain Dale's latest undeclared interest. To those I shall return later.

Image: Gweirdo (inspired by this and this and with sincere apologies to Banksy)






Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Monday, 12 March 2007

Saying more than he should?


From the Conservative press release on Cameron's green speech today:


The consultation calls for submissions in response to three main policy ideas: charging fuel duty and/or VAT on domestic flights; replacing APD with a per-flight tax based more closely on actual carbon emissions; and introducing a 'Green Air Miles Allowance' so that people who fly more frequently pay tax at a higher rate


I can't see how you're going to introduce a "per-flight tax" or a "green air-miles allowance" without tracking the flights of 60 million people.


And if you're going to do that, you're going to need the e-borders scheme.


And if you're going to do that, you're going to need the national ID database up and running before you even start to consider how you're going to spend all that lovely tax revenue.


All of which makes this statement from David Davis all the more meaningless.


The Tories only have about three policies and two of them contradict.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Wot, us? Racist?

So another Tory politician is slung out of a job after making racist statements.

It's getting to the stage where being called a "racist bastard" is a normal part of Tory Party life...

Why won't ANYONE interview Robin Aitken?

Jeremy Paxman, yesterday
Robin Aitken was a BBC journalist for 25 years. He left this year and has published a book which sets out claims that the BBC is institutionally biased. As such, he is fast becoming a darling of the British right, and especially those who see the BBC as the broadcasting arm of the Guardian.

Writing on his blog today, Iain Dale has championed Robin Aitken. Dale advertises Aitken's book and what appears to be Aitken's only TV interview under the headline "Why won't the BBC interview Robin Aitken?". "The book has received widespread coverage in the press but Aitken believes he is the subject of a blanket ban by the BBC", says Iain.

So - the BBC is ignoring a book which has had newspapers flying off the shelves in a manner unseen since the sinking of the Lusitania?

Well, no, not really.

The book has been reviewed: glowingly in the Telegraph (unsurprising since, according to the review, the solution to Aitken's biased BBC is "to hire more journalists from ... the Daily Telegraph") [no link - 18 Feb 2007] and less glowingly by Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times (but then, this is perhaps also not so surprising when you consider that Liddle was Aitken's boss at The Today Programme)

Although Liddle agrees that there is bias in the Beeb, he criticises the paradox inherent in Aitken's argument.

"He does not seem to grasp that all journalists have opinions and it doesn't really matter if they are right, left or centre so long as there is a profusion of all three across the output."

The Mail on Sunday gave Aitken about 1500 words to put his point across, but the MoS's weekly sister title appears to have only given the book a 60 word insert into a diary column - about the same as the famously lefty Observer.

And that, apart from Tim Montgomerie (of 18 Doughty Street fame) sounding off about Aitken in the Business, appears to be yer lot.

So - two book reviews, a couple of diary pieces and a Mail on Sunday rant. Nothing on Sky, ITV, C4 or any other broadcast news outlet. Hardly a news storm. Colleen McLoughlin got more converage than that. And yet the failure of the BBC to cover the story is evident of the BBC's Pravda status?

Rubbish.

As Liddle points out, journalists are inherently biased. There is no surprise that there are more left wing journalists in certain areas of news gathering - espcially in foreign policy. There are areas of news gathering that really get up the collective Tory hooter - coverage of American foreign policy ranks pretty highly on this list. Most British people believe that American foreign policy is a force for bad in the world today. It is unsurprising that most BBC journalists believe that too.

In his MoS piece, Aitken gives a number of examples of BBC bias:
  • That Scottish coverage in the 1980s was anti-Conservative because of the decline of Scottish industry. Well, duh. What rankled most with Conservative policy in Scotland was not just the decline of Scottish industry, but the callous Thatcherite attitude to the newly unemployed. This was not just newsworthy but arguably the defining set of circumstances in Scotland in the 1980s.
  • That, by 1989, Thatcherite monetarist economics were "working" but the BBC chose to focus on "doomed privatisations". Again, those that lost their jobs and houses didn't need the BBC to tell them that Thatcherite policies were emphatically not working.
  • That Major was attacked over the ejection from the ERM and the sleaze scandals of his government. Well, given that he had promised "family values" while his Ministers were bonking anything that moved, you can't really argue with that. The BBC in 2006/7 haven't exactly been backward in coming forward in criticising Labour sleaze, have they?
  • That the BBC was supportive of Blair's Kosovo war while it had been critical of the Falklands and the first Gulf War. Setting aside the issue of the Falklands war which remains a bone of contention between left and right, the first Gulf War was hardly the idealistic engagement that Kosovo - a humanitarian intervention - patently was.
  • That the BBC was too critical of the second Gulf War. Well, they weren't wrong were they? And Aitken's precis of the Andrew Gilligan affair - who I'm prepared to bet doesn't know all the words of the Red Flag and doesn't drink his tea out of a "Benn for Leader" mug - neglects to point out that his criticism of the government certainly didn't come from the left.

He says "Today and the Corporation would certainly have disowned Gilligan's story had it not fitted so perfectly with their own narrative." But Gilligan is a right wing journalist (he now writes for the Mail and the Standard) - surely an anti-right organisation would have hung him out to dry at the first opportunity rather than defending what was patently a sloppy piece of journalism.

He criticises the BBC for their treatment of Kilroy's "what have the Arabs ever done for us" piece as being evidence of further anti-right wing bias, while glossing over the nature of the piece itself (he calls it "presumably contraversial").

And finally he points to Fox News as the "answer" to left wing bias.

Great. 25 years of journalism at the highest level and the answer is Fox News.

It's no wonder no-one (Apart from Fox News Lite) will interview him..

Something tells me Mr Aitken is not going to see his ambition of a state funded right wing broadcaster come to fruition. He will have to make do with the weekly column that will no doubt be forthcoming from the Mail.

The rest of us will be left wondering - as Greg Dyke was when confronted by Aitken's claims of bias - "Who was that fucker?"

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Conservative thinking

Conservapedia is the Conservative version of Wikipedia. It is the sum total of all Conservative knowledge. It's grate.

My new hobby is hitting the "random page" button. It is one of the funniest things on the web. The only downside is, as the sum total of all Conservative knowledge, it's not very big.


Some good uns, chosen at random:
(You've got to bear in mind that this is a serious academic exercise, and isn't meant to read like 1066 and all that....)

Unicorn: The existence of unicorns is controversial. Secular opinion is that they are mythical. However, they are referred to in the Bible nine times


Africa: The continent south of Europe and south-east[citation needed] of Asia. Is that all we know about it? Somebody add something please.

Godfrey of Bouillon: ... After the armies had captured Jerusalem the crusaders wished to make him king of the city, but Godfrey refused this title and said "I will not wear a crown of gold wear Our Lord wore a crown of thorns." So instead he declared himself the Defender of the Holy Sepulcher.

Blue-collar workers: Blue-collar workers are laborers who work in factories or other union-type jobs. Blue-collar workers often use their hands, get their clothes dirty during the job, and do not sit behind a desk.

Potsdam Conference: ...Truman’s biggest concern was how Stalin might react to America’s development of an atomic bomb. Stalin simply shrugged his shoulders and took an attitude of “so what?”.

Element: All atoms that contain the same number of protons. Musician-satirist Tom Lehrer wrote a song which includes the names of every element known at the time the song was written. Because they are in no particular order, the song is of no particular use to chemistry students, but some of them learn it for fun anyway.

Conservative Language...

CPAC is the annual loonfest for the right-wing in America. Delegates to the event last week heard speeches from many of the prospective Republican presidential candidates and several inside-the-Beltway conservative grandes fromages. One of these was Ann Coulter. Long story short, in a nationally-reported speech on the conference floor she called John Edwards a "faggot". To raptured applause.

Ann Coulter is a truly American phenomenon in that she is a political thinker who doesn't think. However wrong-headed people on either side of the British political divide see their opponents, very few are seen as stupid. Coulter, on the other hand specialises in personal, hateful attacks from any podium upon which she finds herself. Think John Prescott's end-of-conference speeches, but delivered by Vinnie Jones.

Many people, on both sides of the Atlantic, still have a great deal of admiration for her. 18 Doughty Street's stablemates the Young Britons Foundation sell her books on their website, for example.

But, according to one American blog, her contraversial speech this week carried a hint of the lady protesting too much...

"By the way, a woman friend of mine in DC whose favorite color is lavender told me some really interesting things about Coulter, but I can't say a lot more. I really can't risk using the phrase "pussy-licking wildcat" in the same sentence as her name without having to go into rehab. Don't ask, I can't tell."

Hattip: Popbitch

A World Without America?


It's not all bad... I mean, Burkhas have some uses...
Hat Tip: Gweirdo


Monday, 5 March 2007

Good reads

The Appalling Strangeness on conservative frustrations with the Conservatives
Sunny Hundal on criticising minority communities (compare it with this joke of an effort from 18Doughty Street - the black community is "racially immature" apparently)
Guido 2.0 on his namesake's "colourful" early career
Bloggers4Labour on the shortcomings of 2020vision

Oh, and Recess Monkey's Thatcher episode is summarised perfectly by Unity... but more to the point gives me an excuse to post this...

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Apparently I'm angry...


This is good. 18 Doughty Street have responded to the Independent's leader on the link between terrorism and the Iraq war. It's anti Islamic polemic from start to finish. Its first word is a typo and it goes downhill from there. The typo will probably be fixed when they read this, but the fact that they didn't spellcheck doesn't say much for their factchecking...

"Your are not the only ones grieving" "All your base are belong to us"
1. Increase in Terrorism
The Independent’s leading story has laid the blame for the rise of terrorism at the feet of America. Well actually, it lays the blame at the feet of Britain and America, but the 18DS boys are off fundraising factfinding in DC this week, so they need to play to their audience... It argues that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have radicalised a new generation of young Muslims who are angry about the treatment meted out to their fellow Muslims.
Further, the paper claims that its view is backed up by evidence provided by the United States National Intelligence estimate. Outrageous! As if the US Government would say such a ridiculous thing!

One should ask, even if these claims are true, which they are do they justify the slaughter of innocent women and children? Sorry, which innocent women and children are we talking about here? All of them? Or just the Christian ones? Why is it that the rest of the world is expected to ‘understand’ the anger of these radicalised Muslims? Oh right, just the Christian ones. Are they the only ones who are angry?

2 Africans are Angry
Black Africans are angry that Condoleezza Rice was described as a black monkey by Palestinian newspapers because she supports Bush’s policies. Dear oh dear. First of all, she wasn't described as a black monkey, she was described as a "black woman". cf. "Black Africans" above. The monkey element comes from a cartoon. A racist, unfunny cartoon, for sure... but who but a fundamentalist would be outraged by a cartoon? Eh? Oh.

Also, there doesn't seem to be any evidence (certainly from that link) that this has anything to do with Africans, black or otherwise. The link leads to a US right wing nut-job blog. The story tells the reaction of conservative Americans to Middle Eastern newspaper editorials on Condoleezza Rice. Africa isn't mentioned once.

They are angry that black people
Right, I see where we're going here. The rest of this paragraph will be about how "Islamists" and "Muslims" are attacking "Black People" and the "Black People" are angry. Therefore Africans are angry. QED.
This is geopolitics for primary school students.
Stupid primary school students.
Would this be a good moment to point out that 45% of Africans are Muslim?
are being killed in Sudan by an Islamist government.
Hmm. look at this: "Characterising the Darfur war as 'Arabs' versus 'Africans' obscures the reality": Alex de Waal, international expert on Darfur.
They are angry that black people were killed when Tanzania and Kenya were bombed by Al-Qaeda.
I think they're angry that people died, not that "black people" died.
They are angry that black people are taken as slaves by Muslim Arabs
Those "Muslim Arabs" are the Baggara tribe - Black Muslim Arabs.
They are angry that when the Trade Towers collapsed, killing black people, there was rejoicing by Muslims on the streets of Gaza. Never mind that 9/11 also killed a great number of Muslims. Pointing that out would ruin the article.
So, with all the problems in Africa, what really makes Africans Angry (according to the fine journalists at 18DS) is Muslims: taking slaves, blowing up a US Embassy almost ten years ago, and 9/11. Oh, and drawing crap cartoons about Condoleezza Rice.

3 The British are Angry
The British people
Ah the "British people" - a term that covers an amorphous group upon whom you can hang any view you like safe in the knowledge that to challenge it would be "unpatriotic". Choice Esperantory
are angry that they have offered hospitality to Muslims fleeing persecution in their home countries only for clerics to call for the destruction of Britain in return.
No, the Daily Mail is angry. But the Daily Mail is angry about everything - fat children, skinny children, bikinis, Charlotte Church, the Human Rights Act, speed cameras, David Cameron...
The British people are angry that British Muslims whose parents were welcomed to this country decided to blow up the underground trains killing over 50 people
This is a great line of argument - it skips the fact that the bombers were British and focuses on the fact that the bombers' parents were foreign. That's the great thing about British xenophobics - even when examining their own, they know that you only have to go back a couple of generations and you find a foreigner...
The British people are also angry that during the cartoon protests, Muslims carried banners warning Britain to expect another terrorist attack.
But the British people are absolutely NOT angry that they were taken to war alongside a chimp in a cowboy hat...

4 The Americans are angry (well, duh)
The Americans are angry that despite intervening at the cost of their lives to prevent genocide in Kosovo, Muslims cheer when America is called the great Satan ("forget Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Guantanamo, all that stuff - we lobbed 1,000 tomahawk missiles with NATO flags on em into central Europe in 1999! We spent three months doing it! That's gotta count for something...") .
The Americans are angry that despite the huge amounts of financial aid they provide to Pakistan and Egypt, the populations of those countries hate America.
"We're angry that you hate us, so we're going to carry on doing exactly the same stuff. That'll learn ya."
The Americans are angry that despite the fact that they provided security to the Arab countries when Saddam Hussein threatened to attack them
This wasn't exactly altruism was it though? It was because those countries were providing support for America to attack Hussein. And, to be fair, Hussein was threatening to attack them with weapons that the Americans had sold him...
people danced in the streets during 9/11.

5. We are all angry
Well, Independent, as you can see, there are a lot of people angry on the planet. Therefore instead of appeasing fundamentalist anger,
(but hold on, I thought you just said "We are all angry"... and you're definitely a fundamentalist... I'm confused)
it would be perhaps more advisable to explain to these people that they should join the peacful political processes in Iraq
(Er, peaceful? Iraq?... loving that typo by the way...)
Afghanistan and Palestine. Other groups (check the link - he's talking about the apartheid regime in South Africa. My, how the Tories have changed their tune over *that* little lot) have done the same and thus they have no excuse for murdering innocent people in the name of ‘grievance’. After all, they do not have a monopoly on ‘grievance’.
(But we, apparently, do.)

Great stuff. Pure fundamentalist claptrap of the first water...

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

"You've missed a bit"





18DS must have had second thoughts about calling themselves "the home of the conservative movement": they rewrote that part of their website.


Or they thought they did... but they missed a bit.


So now the page doesn't make sense. Can you be "the home of the conservative movement" and "the home of an antiestablishment movement" at the same time?


Attention to detail boys!
(The picture's one of Gweirdo's BTW)

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Esperantory: Lesson One.

Apparently, the Tories are ahead of Labour in more than just the latest ICM poll. The general consensus is that Tory MPs are blogging MPs, switched on, wired in, blackberried up and blogging like their majorities depended upon it. Labour MPs, in contrast are reputed as old-school fusty luddites, clanking away on imperial typewriters, writing "letters" and sending "post". Inky of finger and gummy of tongue, the Labourite looks at his Cameroonie counterpart and sees an iMP, Politician 2.0.

Of course, this is all arse. There are plenty of blogging MPs on both sides of the house. Which is great for a cynical, lefty layabout like me cos I can cut parts of the Tory blogs and paste them into my blog to make them look silly.

It isn't hard. It's the language that they use - it's a completely separate tongue from English. Despite having the same Anglo-Saxon, Viking and latin roots as English, it's an animal all of its own: Esperantory.

Esperantory is pitched midway between a Daily Mail editorial and a vicar's sermon. But it's not just the patronising, pulpiteering tone: it has its own grammar, speech patterns, indicators and rhythms. I'm going to take you through a couple of examples.

Nadine Dorries is just the kind of MP that has taken to blogging like a Conservative Deputy Chairman to slopping out. Before I flag up her Esperantory, let's enjoy this choice quote:

Since David Cameron became leader of the Conservative party he has been pressurised by the extreme right and the media into declaring who he is and what he believes in.

(The Bounders! Imagine: there you are, leader of the opposition and you have all these fusty old Tories demanding you tell them what the bloody hell they should be doing! It's enough to drive you to drink. Or dru.... no, that's too easy.)

The prime example of Esperantory on Nadine's Blog comes in a piece on the need for children to have boundaries. She employs a classic Esperantory language pattern - False Reverie (or "FR")FR is best defined as a fond recollection of more innocent times that never actually existed. This is choice Esperantory: "Oh, how it was before this lot got in and destroyed the country".

Nadine takes us back to her childhood:

Imagine this scene. Two teenage girls walking down a street. A Policeman is walking behind, as he was about once every fifteen minutes or so.

Er, once every fifteen minutes? When was this? Where was this? Did Nadine grow up on Oxford Street? I bet even Tony Blair doesn't get a Policeman walking down his street every "fifteen minutes or so".

Now to you, this may just be a laughably bad attempt to play to the "Bobbies on the Beat" Tory element (itself a lesser element of Esperantory). But to me, this is a clarion call - I immediately know I'm in for some prime False Reverie. Mentally, I've made the leap.

Nadine goes on...

One girl swore. The other ducked, to miss the hand she knew would be straight out from behind – it was – it got the girl who swore by the scruff of her coat and marched her down her path to her parent’s front door.

This is classic Opposition Reverie from La Dorries - textbook stuff. She's got three of the big four:
1. the innocence of childhood
2. the uniquitous bobby on the beat
3. a story that ends (implicitly or explicitly) with "... needless to say, my parents were horrified"

It's just a shame she can't work in the remaining member of the big four - a reference to street upon street of unlocked front doors. But in my heart of hearts, I just know that parent's door was unlocked.

Nadine Dorries, Esperantorist extraordinaire, pete salutes you.

As impressive as Nadine's False Reverie is, there is one Esperantory phrase which supercedes all others. When I hear it, I know that, despite Dishy Dave, "hug a hoody", and the "Decontamination of the Conservative Brand", the British Tory is thriving. Shouting at foreigners, quaffing port and generally behaving like an Oxford Undergraduate at a private restaurant party - alive and kicking.

That phrase?

"You Couldn't Make It Up."

Even writing it down gives me a warm glow.

It's a true favourite of the Tories - and well reflected on their blogs. Let me take you through an excellent example.

Richard Spring MP's blog is pretty good really. Alright, it's not really interactive, so it reads like a teenager's diary that has been accidently-on-purpose left out for his parents to read the day before they do the Christmas present shopping, but he goes easy on the moralising.

But on February 8th this year he launched forth on the snow fall that week.

Well, not really the snow *that* week, but a particularly bad snow fall four years ago. Long story short, he got caught in the snow. I know - it's not exactly Lord of the Rings, but bear with me.

For a couple of paragraphs, the story meanders inconequentially and appears to go nowhere. To the unitiated, this looks like just another Tory whinge, but to the expert it is clear that a nice bit of Esperantory is stirring just beneath the tugid surface.

What had happened is that the Highways Agency had neglected to grit the road surface, despite the earlier warnings: allegedly because of windy conditions.

By now the fluent Esperantorist is on the edge of his seat, heart rate rising, cheeks flushing: he knows full well where this is going. When you start recalling paltry excuses made by faceless bureaucrats, you're on a six-lane blacktop to only one place. And Richard takes us there, in fine style, dropping the immortal phrase like it ain't no thang:

You couldn’t make it up.

Now, for me, YCMIU should always be followed by an exclamation mark, purely for stylistic reasons. But otherwise, this is a classic YCMIU: a perfectly common everyday story, a poor excuse from a public service worker, then... BANG:

You couldn't make it up.

YCMIU raises some philosophical questions: its very existence shows that Tories are a cursed people. To so frequently express such childlike surprise from such ordinary events can mean only one thing. They are born with an entirely non-existant imagination.

For them, the very concept of a fictitious story (apart from an election manifesto, or an expenses return) is anathema. Don't make the mistake of thinking that YCMIU is hyberbole or sarcasm - it isn't. They literally cannot make stories up: they're incapable. Hence their disbelieiving incredulity at the most banal events.

Someone once said that if you gave an infinite number of monkies an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite number of time, they would eventually rattle off the complete works of Shakespeare. Not if the monkies were Tory they wouldn't. You wouldn't even get the complete works of Jeffrey Archer.

Many people have criticised Jeffrey Archer's writing, claiming that, despite his stratospheric success at the checkout, he is actually an awful author whose illegible drafts are slashed to pieces and reconstructed by a phantom editor cum ghostwriter. I cannot agree.

The very fact that Archer - Tory through and through - was able to even formulate a story is of amazement to me. That he was able amass an extraordinary fortune through the sale of fiction is for me the equivalent of a deaf Beethoven writing Ode to Joy, more impressive than David Blunkett rising to Home Secretary despite his blindness, more of an achievement than Steve Redgrave's fifth gold.

Jeffrey Archer - fantasist, perjurer and author, pete salutes you.

If you have any other examples of Esperantory, let me know...

Interesting Reads

These are good:

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

How Many "V"s in "Ken Livingstone"?

This is good. Conservative Home are running the following. I think my favourite bit is that he even did the crossword in the search for pro-communist brainwashing. He's nothing if not thorough, this lad... Anywhere, here's the ConHome piece:

Tory Mayoral hopeful Lee Rotherham (well he might be hopeful, but no-one else is - Pete) has written to the Advertising Standards Authority this morning about Ken Livingstone's latest propaganda newspaper:

"Last night, I received a copy of The Londoner magazine unsolicited through my letter box. It is dated March 2007, and can also be found in electronic format on the Mayor’s website.

This purports to provide “news”. On its launch, in a press release the Mayor of London said that, “The Londoner newspaper contains lots of useful information for people who live and work the capital.” (Including such "news" as information on beating diabetes, the London Assembly debates over the provision of free bus travel for pensioners and children and the chance to win a meal with Seb Coe - all clearly some kind of socialist plot)

This morning I discussed the content of the publication with someone who has attended a NATO course in psychological operations (clearly such a high-end spook that his name is top secret), who indicated that it appears to “primarily be a method of providing biased, politically-orientated material for the purpose of supporting the incumbent of the mayoralty.” (obviously said spook is a top-level operative in NATO's top secret anti-mayoral-incumbency division).

In his words (so the last quote wasn't his words?), it is “a publicly-funded propaganda sheet rather than a newspaper in the traditional Western sense of the term” (traditional western sense? Oh I see - it's the old "Ken is a Commie" meme. Would it be churlish of me to label this as "biased politically-orientated material for the purpose of opposing the incumbent of the mayoralty?").

He added, “There is editorial slant, and there is outright political marketing. This is the latter.” (Well, we can't have that now, can we?)

I have forwarded a copy of the paper to an associate, who was a dissident in the former Soviet Union (back to the Ken is a Commie meme, eh?) and spent a number of years imprisoned there, for follow-on comments. (I bet the ASA are sick to the back teeth of those pesky former Soviet dissidents barging in with their tuppence worth. "If that bloody Fyodor Dostoyesky sends one more letter about size zero models on the bus stop at Edgware station...". Still I spose it keeps em in borscht and vodka)

In particular, I draw your attention to the following aspects, drawn from a rapid analysis (trans: I knocked this out in five minutes) :

Name frequency. At a quick count, “Mayor” appears 21 times (21 times! In a Mayoral publication! The CHEEK!) and variants of “Ken Livingstone” appear 10 times. This is a simple trick of repetition for brand recognition. (You're telling me. The Evening Standard pastes its name all over the front page! The other day I was in Westminster, and there, on a little road off Whitehall was a big sign saying "Downing Street"! Bold. As. Brass.)

The Mayor is given five opportunities to provide short in-piece quotes. (In a Mayoral publication! The sheer brass neck of it!)

There are eleven cases where the Mayor is given opportunities to provide lengthy quotes, or where articles directly support stated policy positions. (Supporting his own policies. The naked corruption of it all!)

The lead article on page one would successfully operate as a press release from the Mayor’s office in support of his budget and policies, and acts as a lead to his editorial. (If there's one thing I can't stand it's coherent editing. Pravda have nothing on this lot.)

Key word analysis highlights the following examples of editorial bias in article construction: “vowed” (look at all those v's and w's - a communist word if ever I saw one!), “despite”, (how biased can you get?!) “enjoy” (as in "strength through enjoy", no doubt!), “all” (as an emphatic) (what's wrong with a good, English "just a bit for me"), “advantage” (there's that v again - brainwashing I tells ya!), and “benefit” (saves the best til last - the most communist word in the English language.)

There are some eleven (ELEVEN!!) instances of quotes from third parties (damn those impartial third parties!) being used in a supportive manner; and just one instance of quotes to oppose policy.

Two full pages are bought (BOUGHT! He even charges them! The CHEEK!) by a Mayoral Agency as overt advertising Quangos (Loving the capital Q here). Transport for London gets four name checks (I suppose he'd try to justify that with some spurious "but the article was about Transport for London" argument. BUT WE'RE NOT FOOLED) (one as “Your Transport for London”); three quangocrats (Where's the capital Q gone. Oh well, I don't suppose they deserve it, the turncoat Quisling scum) supply articles.

Our (Oops, bit of a slip into third person there) contention, therefore, is that this publication performs neither the public service role nor the public information role which it pretends.

If there was any doubt about bias (and let's face it, there isn't), 29 Across in the Crossword rather spells out the hidden agenda. It reads, “Fidel Castro’s Island Republic”. (It's Cuba - I checked. And you're not going to believe this - my mate Dave says Cuba's a Communist country! OH MY GOD WE'LL ALL BE RED BY APRIL)

It may be that this falls beyond your remit (trans: I couldn't be arsed to check). I wonder, then, in such an instance if you could tell me from previous experience whether such might fall within the Electoral Commission’s bag? ("Bag" - Brilliant - just when Lee feels it's all getting a bit "heavy", he drops a bit of "jive" to show he "ain't no turkey", he's "sticking it to the man".)

Putting out such strongly biased material during a policy consultation period may be in breach of the law in its own right. (trans: I checked the relevant statute but it was full of long words n stuff)


Yours faithfully,
Lee Rotherham.

What Lee forgets to mention:

1. That he's a Tory mayoral hopeful (is this catching?)

2. That the offending publication is paid for out of public money. The anti-Ken Nato spook spots it - nothing gets past anti-Ken Nato spooks, I'd wager - but Lee doesn't. Which is a shame, because it is kind of the point of his letter.


Oh well. At least we've got the ASA's reply to look forward to.

Lee's book, "101 Blatantly Commie Words In The English Language" is in all good bookshops now.