Friday, August 15, 2003

Holier than thou alert

Blairista links to Will "So I was smacked out on the Prime Minister's jet, big deal" Self article in the Evening Standard today.

It appears Will's sensitive artistic soul is troubled by political hardball.

If Will really wants to hear about distorted campaigning, he should talk to his friends at the Liberal Democrat group, who advise their candidates to "‘Be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly, and embarrass the administration.’

‘Don't be afraid to exaggerate. For example, responses to surveys or petitions are always "massive". If a council is doing something badly public expressions are always of 'outrage.'


‘Oppose all service cuts.No cut is going to be popular and why court the unpopularity that goes with the responsibility of power.’

It's a rough business, sez I and those Libdems are a nasty lot when you poke 'em with a stick.

Yet even on the facts of the accusation made against labour, Will is being a little.. unfair and unbalanced.

He claims that the Labour candidate quoted officials out of context and distorted the facts.

" (Labour's candidate) also claimed that the council's head of community safety had said: "We will not use the Government's new power to issue penalty notices."
The penalty notices in question are a fast-track way of clamping down on crack houses that isn't even law yet. Doh!"

Will doesn't say which law is being referred to here, but the only bill going through Parliament at he moment with any provisions in this area is the Anti-Social Behaviour bill, which recieved a 3rd reading in the Commons in June and is going to be passed by the Lords in September.

The Liberal Democrats voted against the bill in the Commons, and if their officers are even halfway competent they will have now reached a view on whether they will use the new powers. If they're really saying they won't use powers to close crackhouses in September/October time that's a real political issue and Bowyers point seems pretty reasonable. (This is not an argument on the merits of the bill, just over whether it's a fair subject for political debate.

I have absolutely no idea about the recycling scheme, but to be honest, it seems a minor issue. If Bowyer parlayed recycling outrage into 31 LibDem defectors, I'd be amazed. So, with that caveat, I give Bowyer (who I don't know and have never met) a pass on these accusations of mendacity.

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BNP success.

The BNP win another council seat- again in the penine belt. An interesting seat- previous Labour councillor resigned, and stood as independent, getting over 1,000 votes.

I'm in danger of repeating myself, but I direct you to this post I made some months back about the possibility of the BNP winning their first ever MEP. Although the bar for the BNP is higher now (fewer Euro seats in each region) I would still regard it as a risk worth being aware of and acting on.

"it would only take the BNP to achieve a base vote of around 5% plus a strong performance in places like Rochdale, Pendle, Bolton, Hyndburn, Macclesfield, Stockport (all places where the UKIP did well in 1999) as well as in the new core areas of Burnley and Oldham. In short, if the BNP can take the UKIP vote and add it too their new strength they might just win a seat."*

*slight amend made to quote for reasons of clarity

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Fight! Fight! Fight!

Jackie Au Currant calls Vivienne one of the "most tiresome individuals on the planet."

Surely up with this she will not put.

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Cutting the Gordian Knot

Surely the way out of this Fox News Channel sueing comedian imbroglio is for Al Franken to copyright the words "Fair" and "balanced"?

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Thursday, August 14, 2003

all enquiries to

The Spectator splashes on how Labour has subverted British intelligence (terrible, awful how dare they, etc). The author mentions every relevant American comparison of possible political pressure on intelligence services, except one. Can you guess which one it is yet?

(actually, there is a slight mention of the SotU speech- but it appears only in the context of blaming the British government for wanting to subvert UK intelligence- bullied the poor president into it, they did)

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Blog Fantasy football..

Great idea from Nick Barlow. Real Politik (geddit?) are now registered. If I say the names Shearer, Robbie Keane, Sherringham, Dyer, Izzett, Berger, Scimeca, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Gallas and Howard, I trust you will bow down before me.

Yes, I know there are a lot of Portsmouth and liecester* players there, but all are goalscorers, and I don't think Leicester will ship that many with Elliott and Taggart in central defence.

*Not a mispelling, a protest against their use of going into adminstration to distort last year's division 1 race.

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How on earth did he get caught?

So the new Director of Public Prosecution has a criminal conviction for cannabis posession, according to the BBC.

"Ken Macdonald was prosecuted when he was an 18-year-old student after sending 1g of the drug, worth 25p, through the post to a friend "

What I want to know is how on earth he got caught. I mean, 1 gram, through the post. How on earth did anyone find out? Not that I'm au fait with these things, but I'm assuming that 1 gram of cannabis, is you know, kind of small. Anyone know any more?

By the way, on a seperate issue, why is it, that when George Bush asks business allies to be his administration leaders in fields which directly impact the profitability of their former industrial concerns, he's saluted as a man who uses the power of business in government and surrounds himself with expertise, yet when the Labour government appoints a leading QC, with special expertise in human rights (which are kind of important in prosecution cases, no?) to be Director of Public Prosecutions, taking a huge pay cut to do so, it's called cronyism? Answers on a e-card to*.

*No it's not a real address. Come on. You think I've got time to sit around doing something utterly futile and pointless? Oh. Yes. Right. I see your point there.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The Media, bias and so on

I’m not blogging about the Hutton enquiry, just about the media coverage of the Hutton enquiry. Why so, Mr Spin, you cry, how much more internal nonsense can we stand?

Well, I wanted to give those of you confused and baffled by the totally different media coverage of the Hutton enquiry so far a little bit of a guide. After all, none of the media actors are neutral here, so you need to read their reports with, ah shall we say, context.

For example why does the Sun lead this morning with Andrew Gilligan telling “Lies, Lies, Lies”, The Guardian top the paper this evening with “Newsnight reporter Susan Watts's evidence to the Hutton inquiry today offered little comfort to her colleague Andrew Gilligan and employer, the BBC.” while the BBC itself leads with the BA flight suspension and runs it’s Hutton coverage as “The role of BBC reporters and executives has been in the spotlight at the Hutton inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly. ”? (this report was in itself was a change from a previous “Sambrook defends BBC" header)

Now, some of my friends on my right will read this guide and think aha, he’s talking about bias. He’s admitting that the BBC is biased. Chalk one up to us. Another kamm-like convert to our noble cause. I might even get a link to instapundit.

To which I answer,”well duh”. Of course the BBC is biased. It’s made up of individuals, competing interests, jealousies, the whole seething mass of ambition, jealousy, pettiness, self-defence and spite that makes up your average business. The question is not whether it the beeb is biased, but whether that bias invalidates it’s other uses as a public service broadcaster independent from government. It doesn’t. Ask the Italians or the Russians.

In any case, bias on a particular story doesn’t have to be because it fits into a particular ideological viewpoint. The media bias in today’s papers is related to self interest, commercial interest, personal ambition, sales, political outlook, personal animosity and in some cases, even spite and affection. Bias isn’t about selling your soul to an outside interest, it’s much more elusive and all encompassing than that.

The Guardian: Generally regarded as a left liberal paper, it is to be expected to be suportive of the BBC. But, also likely to be very questioning of any journalistic failings. Why? Well simply because the Guardian, is on these issues, an insufferable prig. It won’t be able to live with itself if it bend to it’s own ideological interests.

The Times and it’s demotic cousin, the Sun. Three things. First, News Corp wants to shaft the BBC on purely commercial grounds. Second, The government controls many of the regulations that affect News Corps commercial interests. Third, Ideologically both papers will want to support the US/UK intervention. Finally, Rupert Murdoch has form in moulding a story to suit his interests.

The Mail. The Mail supported the war, but this is a chance to dish the government on grounds of spin. Think they’re going to stay above the fray?

The BBC. Hard to call this one. You have to pit the self-interest of the corporation versus the traditional sheer bloody-mindedness of its staff. I suspect the newer and less self conscious parts (such as Online, 6 O'Clock news, news 24 and radio 5) will be very easily moulded to be pro BBC, Not because they’ve been told to be, but because of the kind of identification we all sometimes feel with our employers. However, Newsnight, News at Ten, World at One and a few others will pride themselves on being contrary. Today is the story (wich incidentally, if a news editor becomes the story, should we call for their resignation as we do a spin doctor- after all they're in the same position.

The Mirror: Will take up whatever position is diametrically opposite the Sun. This is known as ABC envy. Sad really, outrage largely synthetic.

The Star: Desmond is like Murdoch in terms of his commercial interests, but no-one takes the Star seriously, so can be quite free. Will cover enquiry fairly neutrally in-between pictures of busty models. Unless of course, one of the participants poses nude for one of Mr Desmond’s other publications.

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It's silly season in Blogland too.

Harry can't get down to the shops to buy a paper, Norman's writing about country music, Tom's on holiday, Nick's writing abut King Kong. Jackie on the other hand, despite her pop culture pretensions is read a slew of v. v. serious books. Me, I'm writing about funny website names.

I'm speculating that if this group of people are finding it hard to be infuriated, outraged, excited or anything else by, to take a random selection, The Hutton enquiry, The fact that a British based Indian citizen yesterday allegedly tried to sell a surface to air missiale to a US muslim terrorist group and 15 more dead in Afghanistan.

The major impact of global warming appears to be a national rise in apathy to unprecedented levels*

*look, shut up, I know you can't attribute the heatwave to global warming. But i need the cod scientific fiction for my joke. Leave me _alone_

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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

A bitty day for bitty things

It’s summer and I’m losing my high moral purpose. The BBC story that got my attention today was the one about the man convicted for having sex with a traffic cone in front of a cheering crowd. At least it was progress, his previous convictions were for shoe-shagging.

Things that I really shouldn’t spend time on: I spent at least 30 minutes today debating whether to set up a spoof site called, being the home of an extremely wishful Democrat blogger who is always off tilting at windmills. Then I decided no one would get the joke. You have to say the web address out loud and in a spanish accent.

Anyone get any better ideas for blogs the content of which would just have to fit around genius of the name (shameless Mcsweeney’s rip-off alert)?

How about a blog on the adventures of a deaf pagan Latino garage star, recounting the highs and lows of his baby goat sacrifices :- *

More seriously, I’m debating writing another piece about the strife in the Tory party, but after my previous effort was received with such overwhelming apathy, I’m not sure if I can be bothered. Let me know if you want some Tory stuff.

*Oh come on. That one’s damn good. Laugh, you swines. Don’t you get it? How.. many.. kids.. did.. you .. kill.. today.. Bunch of Scopers.**
**Scoper- when I realised children are inherently evil. The Spastics society change their name to Scope – the cerebal palsy charity. The playground result? Scoper, a new insult for physical ineptitude. Awful, but irresistable. If you laughed. Give them money, you heartless swine. I didn't find it funny, I'm just exposing your dark nature. You nasty little shit.

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Hutton Transcripts online

I've made an executive decision not to blog on the Hutton enquiry. First, it'll be in every newspaper, TV broadcast and website from now till september, so unless i've got something unique to add, I'll stay shtum

The good knews is that the transcripts are available on the Hutton Inquiry website. It takes time to read them, but it'll be worthwhle when you realise that every media organisation in the country has an agenda, so every quote neds to be checked for context. The Gilligan transcript should be up late today or early Wednesday.

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Anti-Globalisation, Borders and Chomsky..

Blairista brings to my attention a rather amusing Samizdata post by one Michael Jennings.
Mr Jennings wandered into his local Books Etc, to discover, first, an “Anti-Globalisation” section, stuffed full of staff recommendation cards for Chomsky, Moore and sundry other lefties and malcontents (I’m shocked, No Monbiot?).

The enterprising (and how appropriate that this compliments a libertarian) Mr Jennings removed the recommendations and created his own “Samizdata picks” Hayek features prominently.

His outrage, stunt and the reaction of those libertarians who felt his action was a property theft and therefore wrong, are all most amusing. Kudos to him for originality.

But something about it puzzled me. Wasn’t Books Etc a division of Borders? Why yes.

And where had I heard of Borders and Michael Moore before?

It’s all flooding back

Moore was banned from a Borders store back in 1996 for inviting union organisers into a Borders store for a Book signing and wrote an outraged article about it
(Does he write any other kind? Ed.) for the Nation. Borders then featured in one of his movies.

There was even a Boycott Borders campaign, featuring Moore and guess who, Noam Chomsky.

The company has a very anti-union mentality, despite it’s “progressive vision” (or because of it depending on your ideological bent). Borders opposes union organisation wherever it gets the chance. You van read more about the US campaign, including some rivetting employee quotes about union busting, here.

The Irony here cuts both ways. First Moore and Chomsky boycott the store (though I assume the boycotts has more or less collapsed) but their books are predominantly displayed.

Second and to me more amusingly tragic, Borders bans writers that causes it trouble, tries to stop union organisation, but allows employees to push Moore and Chomsky’s work at customers and best of all, as a UK subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company, has an “anti-Globalisation” section.

At least I can understand why Books etc staff might be interested in Moore and Chomsky’s work now. Poor sods, they get to write little cards, but woe betide them if they want to get organised.

And the final irony- Borders and Books etc are on Michael Jennings side, after all.

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Monday, August 11, 2003

Metropolitan nonsense department

One of the things I love about blogging is how non-metropolitan it is. No London media elitists at work in the blogging world (or if they are, they keep jolly quiet about it).

So why not a new competition for Bloggers? The Metropolitian Bollocks award, given to london based columnists who write piffle and balderdash about the world beyond zone 5.

My first nominee is Matthew Parris, writing in the Spectator about alan Milburn and his partner.

"her powers of persuasion lay behind his decision not to live in his unattractive Darlington constituency"

Now Darlington may be many things, but it is a rather charming Quaker town, and not at all unattractive. Unlike say a sweltering city where the trains and buses cause people to pass out and a few days of sunshine leads to smog. Even if I thought it was in North Yorkshire. Aux Armes Citoyens.

UPDATE: Darlo resident Peter Cuthbertson has a more succinct comment.

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