Friday, August 08, 2003

That's what you give the man who has everything

The BBC has appointed a David Beckham corespondant, Liquid news, the oh so arch and ironic BBC shoxbiz show, will be hiring Ms Tamzin Sylvester to report on the wonders of Mr Beckham. Acording the Daily Telegraph, the BBC defended tis move by pointing out that all the tabloids had Beckham correspondants.

Secondly, this is clearly the way of the future. So far, Only Kings, Prime Ministers and President's have their personal entourage of reporters. Soon, It will be the latest mark of celebrity cool. Your own travelling pres secretary,haraasedly dealing with the demands of the pack, explaining and briefing and cajoling a press pack with their own mad obessions.. So I got to thinking.. How long is it befoe even the Beckhams press briefings are immortalised for the world?

(With apologies to the White House Press room)

Press Gaggle, by Claire Buchan, Press Secretary to David and Victoria Beckham
August 7, 2003

BUCHAN: Good morning, everybody. Let me just give you a little bit on David's day today. He had his usual fitness and ball skills training.

Q We can't hear you.

MS. BUCHAN: Okay. Now I'm sure you can hear me. And we're going to turn down the air conditioning here, so hopefully you can hear a little better. I was giving you an update on David's day today. He began the day with his usual fitness and ball skills training. He also met with Real Madrid Coaching staff on a number of issues. Then he had a Spanish lesson and is going for a run.

Q Now?

MS. BUCHAN: Now. On tomorrow, just to give you an update there, Victoria, Her mother and some of their key family members who will traditionally come to see David in August to catch up with him on family matters will be coming down again tomorrow. Victoria will arrive tonight and we'll have open press of her arrival -- actually this afternoon, at 3:05 p.m. at TSTC. Brooklyn and Victoria’s mother will arrive tomorrow. They'll have discussions and then then David will go training around 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Training Ground
And with that, I'm happy to take your questions.

Q You saw that Juan Veron has been transferred to Chelsea. Will David be talking to him or any other United player, or can you definitively say whether there will be any contact with Juan – a Man U player who’s leaving Old Trafford?

MS. BUCHAN: David believes that this is an issue for Juan and the Chelsea board. And that's where it stands.

Q That means he will not -- you can say he will not be, for sure, talking to any Ex- Man U players today?

MS. BUCHAN: I'm saying that the President believes that this is an issue for Juan and the Chelsea Board.

Q So basically you have no reaction to Veron’s transfer?

MS. BUCHAN: It’s for him and the Chelsea board.

Q Juan played with David. Does he think that he would make a good player for Chelsea?

MS. BUCHAN: The Chelsea fans and boards will decide whether he will make a good player.

Q Former Forest Manager Brain Clough said some very harsh comments about David in the Times today, saying he needs to focus on football, not celebrity. Do you have any reaction to the Interview?

MS. BUCHAN: I just dismiss it. I think people know David's commitment to Football and to winning trophies for Real Madrid and England -- and I think people well know the David’'s commitment to them.

Q And what about Brian Clough? What do you think of him at this point?

MS. BUCHAN: As I said, I dismiss the comments that he made.

Q I just want to make clear, Claire. When you say the President believes that is an issue for Chelsea, you're not saying one way or the other whether David thinks Veron is a good player, you're simply saying he believes it's an issue for Chelsea. But you're not flatly ruling out that he would play with him again, is that correct?

MS. BUCHAN: Obviously, if there's anything to update you on, we would, of course, do that. But we have not gone beyond that at this point.

Q Just a logistical question. You said 3:05 p.m. for Victoria?

MS. BUCHAN: Right.
Q For tomorrow, do we know if there will be questions? Is it expanded pool?

MS. BUCHAN: We'll look into the expanded pool. I think at this point, it's scheduled as a pool. David will make remarks, and we'll see on questions. It will be up to him.

Q Can we ask about an expanded pool -- look how there's so few of us. Can we --

MS. BUCHAN: Sure, we'll take it under consideration. Nothing else?

Q The hearty few of us who are here deserve that, yes.

MS. BUCHAN: And Brooklyn
Q Well if --

MS. BUCHAN: That's right. Only if Brooklyn can be a part of the expanded pool, yes.

<< Home

Unintentionally hilarious..

The BBC reports that the President Bush's spokesman dismissed the Gore speech below with the following comment

"A White House spokesman later dismissed Mr Gore's statements, saying that the American people knew "the president's commitment to the security of the United States and to winning the war on terrorism and our economic security".

ummm right.

Factcheck: Both ABC news and the White House site report the Bush spokeswoman's words differently, both without any apparent commitment to a war on American economic security. However, they both report the words differently from each other, so it's to the tape for this. Outrageous BBC bias or Presidential cock up? I report, you wonder why on earth I care.

<< Home

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Al Gore nails it.

I was intrigued by the fact that Al Gore was speaking to today.

It's some speech. It's probably the toughest denouncement of the Presidency of George Bush outside of a Howard Dean wet dream (and could you link the dots to the fact that this was delivered to a very pro Hward Dean crowd? Any Americans want to help with that speculation?).

The US right tend to denigrate Gore as a wooden, unvconvincing hack without a brave or sensible bone in his body. I read this, and I see how wrong they, and republican apologists here, are. They tried to destroy him, because, like Clinton, he was a threat to them.

"Millions of Americans got the impression that George W. Bush wanted to be a "healer, not a divider", a president devoted first and foremost to "honor and integrity." Yet far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America. His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of 'civil cold war' against those with whom they disagree.

And as for honor and integrity, let me say this: we know what that was all about, but hear me well, not as a candidate for any office, but as an American citizen who loves my country:

For eight years, the Clinton-Gore Administration gave this nation honest budget numbers; an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation; honest advocacy for the environment; real compassion for the poor; a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued, in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity, and not every administration in recent memory has displayed it.

So I would say to those who have found the issue of honor and integrity so useful as a political tool, that the people are also looking for these virtues in the execution of public policy on their behalf, and will judge whether they are present or absent.

I am proud that my party has candidates for president committed to those values. I admire the effort and skill they are putting into their campaigns. I am not going to join them, but later in the political cycle I will endorse one of them, because I believe that we must stand for a future in which the United States will again be feared only by its enemies; in which our country will again lead the effort to create an international order based on the rule of law; a nation which upholds fundamental rights even for those it believes to be its captured enemies; a nation whose financial house is in order; a nation where the market place is kept healthy by effective government scrutiny; a country which does what is necessary to provide for the health, education, and welfare of our people; a society in which citizens of all faiths enjoy equal standing; a republic once again comfortable that its chief executive knows the limits as well as the powers of the presidency; a nation that places the highest value on facts, not ideology, as the basis for all its great debates and decisions. "


<< Home


To some new and not so new bloggers..

Norman Geras, about whom little more needs to be said. Marxist professor, Country music connoisseur, cricket buff and huge blog star. A must read. Not as must read as this blog though, so don't abandon me, please.. sob, wail, entreat etc.

Blairista, the third out and proud north-easterner on the blog scene, following Iain "mackem" Murray and my good self. It's possible, but by no means certain that the author wrote a book on local government (I googled, see), so things can only really look up in terms of interesting subjects.

Finally, for today, Vivienne Raper, who is a young Liberal Democrat, and isn't ashamed or a social outcast or anything. Kudos to her, as her fangirl approach to Cleopatra 2525 allowed me to discover the greatest blurb of all time.

"As Hel and Sarge educate Cleopatra in the art of war, she teaches them that looking good won't necessarily hurt their cause."

How true, how true.

Anyway, all are on the Blogroll. Go read, learn and inwardly digest.

<< Home

And we turn to the Tories.

Things should be fairly rosy for the Tories. The Sun is shining, the Government is sustaining a shitstorm of Watergate media magnitude, and as Mr Duncan Smith is wont to say “Nobody believes a word the Prime Minister says”.

And yet…. The Tories have failed to do what they did during the fuel crisis and capitalise. The economy is still strong. The feelgood factor is out there. When Lord (Tim) Bell appeared on Breakfast with Frost he was reduced to the hoary opposition standby of saying that when the sky falls in (inflation, unemployment, recession, huge tax rises etc) then the Tories will be popular. Sdaly, this response, while likely very true, doesn’t really cover the fact that ahem for 6 years the sky hasn’t fallen in.

So what happens. Well. This is politics, so someone has to cop the blame. It’ can’t be IDS after his glorious victory in the local elections (“We won back seats we lost when we less popular than the plague- the recovery has begun”). So after looking around, it appears that Ms T May has been sitting under the sword of Damocles.

Tim Bell has been brought back, and took no time in slapping around the idea that the Tories were the nasty party (© T May 2002) on his first TV appearance.

Now, Tim Yeo has piled in on Theresa May by proxy in the Telegraph

"The party needs to let Iain Duncan Smith lead in the way that previous leaders have. At the moment there are too many elements in the organisation which act as blocks against what he's trying to do."

Now why might Mr Yeo say such a thing?

First, what does IDS want to do. Hen he started out he put the traditionalists in control, but farsighted Tories talked a “reverse Hague” strategy, where the Tory base was secured, then more socially moderate conservatives brought in. The “traditionalist” programme had little impact, and David Davis was replaced by Theresa May in what was either a panic move or an accelerated liberal programme. Ms May then delivered a very centrist, even Portilloite, agenda.

All this left supporters of IDS infuriated. They had got their leader, but the Portilloista’s appeared to have CCO, the shadow cabinet and the policy programme.

So they pressured IDS to assert himself. He appointed a close ally as chief of staff, but that went down so badly that he was forced to sack him. The battle lines appeared to have been drawn up, and IDS's terrain was weak, his forces on hte verge of being over-run..

But then the Tories did well in the local elections. IDS was safe, ater that, the War and it's aftermath intervened to take off any pressure. Just think, if The Tories were still behind Labour in the polls with no war (and there's little doubt that the war has helped them) how much pressure would IDS be under?

Strengthened immeasurably by these two factors IDS has been emboldened to give more weight to his own personal instincts. Paul Baverstock is brought in, and brings in his old boss Tim Bell. IDS adopts a more vigorous and contemptuous style in attacking the government.

But through all this there is no breakthrough. Labour remain just out of reach, and the black cloud remins in every mind that this is the mid term, and Governments only strengthen. So frustration seethes and settles on a target.

Who failed to back up the Leader over his chief of Staff?

Who referred to the Tories as the nasty party- making it so hard to be, well, nasty?

Who tries to thwart and manage the plans of the small IDS appointed group at CCO?

Theresa May.

As soon as IDS feels strong enough, she’s gone. The excuse of “change wasn’t happening” ringing in her ears.

A year later, the dance begins again.

<< Home

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

He was born in Nacogdoches

I've refrained from joining the Norman Geras lovefest, for two reasons. First jealousy, and second, awe, at the sheer productiveness of the man. I know it's summertime so these academics have nothing to do, but this level of output is unnatural. That goes for you too Kamm.

However, the man breached my defences today by posting a list of his favourite Country music stars. Now, I take a lot of stick from my metropolitan friend for my adoration of country music, and I think Mr Geras' choice is superlative.

If I were to name my 15, I'd go for several of Norman's choices plus Johnny Cash,Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss, Lucinda william (OK, personal bias for Alt Country women there), Bob Wills and Woody Guthrie, if I was allowed him. Oh, and I might put the Byrds in, purely on the basis of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. And my current favourites the Dillards would get a shout. Actually that's all wrong, and frankly I've not listened to enough old school country to have an opinion.

When people laugh at me for liking Country Music (as happens all too often, even from people who have a Justin Timberlake album) I try and tell hem about the emotional honesty, the humour, th down to earthness, the directness and the beauty of the music. Mostly though, I just put on Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and live at San Quentin. If they don't like it, it's their problem.

<< Home

Terrorise Terrorists, say I.

The British Blogosphere is getting itself into a tizzy about the Red Army Fraction and the concept of “understanding terrorism”. Personally, I never understand Terrorism. Especially not when it’s committed by people like Nelson Mandela and Yitzhak Shamir. Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of moral equivilence. As Benjamin Netanyahu said “'Nothing justifies terrorism. Nothing!'

<< Home

Banging your head against the wall (cont.)

Things you might not have noticed while Kelly vs. Kelly dominates the headlines.

David Hill has now been slated as the successor to Mr Alistair Campbell by both the Times and the Spectator (Paper only, Author: Mr R Liddle, late of the Today programme and currently residing in the “not him again” category of ubiquitous jobbing columnist,)

As always seems the case for the coming man, no-one has a bad word to say about Mr Hill, who was Roy Hattersley’s chief adviser during his spell as deputy leader and Labour’s Director of communications for the 1997 Election campaign. While I have it on good authority that in this case the accolades are deserved, just for once wouldn’t it be nice to see someone commit career suicide by attacking a key source just before they become v. v. important?

Oliver Letwin, who appeared to have very little to say about the Tories “infectious asylum seekers” plans of yesterday, talks about crime today. (Express, not online, but entirely predictable boilerplate) One has to wonder what he thinks of Liam Fox issuing more anti-immigrant policy than the Tory Home Office spokesman. What might this portend for any future Tory leadership election?

<< Home

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Banging your head against the wall

So, is everyone else depressed by the state of play?

The media and the Government appear locked in a death-grip, each clinging desperately to the other. A civil servant has an off the record conversation with a journalist which is damaging to the government.
Of course, this time, Mr Kelly’s name is revealed by the media pretty quickly. What price the anonymity of sources here?

The Tories use the opportunity of the summer to set the agenda to put out a nasty little policy piece about screening immigrants for infectious diseases. It’s all in the subtext. Asylum, Infectious disease, Virus, Contamination, Immigrant. Before it’s too late. Don’t think this hasn’t been picked up as a hot button issue by Tory pollsters. They know this stuff plays and are using it precisely because it plays.

Want to know the killer fact about TB infection in Britain? The Home Office tested 4000 immigrants last year. Number of TB cases found? 0.

Think about it. We live in a world where travel is easier and infectious disease is rife in the poorest countries of the world. So who is more likely to bring diseases into this country, the sick, halt and lame of the poorest countries in the world- or our travellers there who visit and return in huge numbers? Their might well be a marginal utility to the Taxpayer in testing every immigrant for health, but think of
a) The cost,
b) The fact that it’s likely to drive people underground
c) That it will do absolutely nothing to halt infectious diseases as long as people still visit and mingle with people in poor countries.

The Tories don’t even to bother trying to hide why they’re doing this. As Liam Fox tells the Tories website “If issues, such as the testing of those coming from overseas, are not addresses by the political mainstream in a responsible and rational way, then we risk them being hijacked by political extremists with an entirely different and undesirable agenda”. In other words, we want to make sure we lock up the BNP vote.

How depressing.

So like me, You want some proof that politics does some good, that it’s worth wading through all this rubbish, worth caring.

Try this. Sure Start. Never heard of it? It’s a programme started by this government to invest in the parents and young children of our poorest communities. It gives classes to parents in parenting skills or jobs training. It provides nursery care and special classes for children who would not normally get them. It’s run locally, with each community deciding their own needs. By next year 400,000 kids will get access to Sure start programmes.

These are the single mothers on council estates that were a national disgrace a few years back. Now, thanks to the Government, their kids will be more socialised and even able to read when they get to school. Young Parents will know how to look after their children. People even learn new skills, get to know each other and get jobs.

The first generation of Sure start children are only now making their way through the early years of infant school. Research (and the anecdotal experiences of my primary school teaching friends) says it’s making a big difference to the standard, sociability and involvement of the children and the parenting skills of the mothers.

Try and get a story about that in the newspapers.

<< Home