Saturday, January 31, 2004

Blair vs BBC II

Is this as good an outcome as you can get ? The Beeb get a shoeing AND Blair loses yet more credibility ?

Not that BBC culture will change one iota. They don't think they've done anything wrong. They don't think they're biased. After all, all their friends think the same way as they do.

It's also been a week in which the stories of the top-up fees vote and the cancelled Cambridge research centre reveal that a Government with a majority of 160-odd doesn't actually seem able to govern.

What a wasted six years. What an opportunity missed. I had such high hopes on May 1, 1997. But when Frank Field went the project stopped. Blair recoiled from the (tax-funded) vested interests who want to keep the benefit dependency culture alive. In doing so he missed the chance of changing millions of lives for the better, and condemned yet more of the poorest people to the sort of fear and misery that drives some to suicide.

Now I wonder - what exactly are Labour for ? And all the answers are bad ones.

Friday, January 30, 2004


Well, they hired him so that the Today programme could set the news agenda. By that yardstick he should be due for a fat bonus, though there is the minor issue of collateral damage to his chairman and chief exec ...

Greg Dyke - don't set up as a fortune-teller. On January 5 it was 'there are no fall guys, and we'll only accept criticism we agree with'. Today the Shepherd's Bush skies are thick with falling guys.

At such a time magnanimity rather than gloating is in order. Tee hee.

UPDATE - Last Night's BBC News has a wonderful diary of Jan 28, following BBC news from the early expectation - 'This report may lead the government to consider the wisdom of blazing a trail first and then looking back on the wreckage'

through the dawning realisation that the BBC, not Blair, would be where the wreckage was - 'We have just heard Lord Hutton say Andrew Gilligan's allegation that the government knew the 45 minute claim in its dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "unfounded". It is not good news and you can not rule out the possibility of BBC resignations'

and on to the realisation of the full horror - 'Gavin Hewitt reports: "The BBC has never suffered criticism like today. Lord Hutton attacked its editorial values, its management, and its journalism". Hewitt says that the BBC's managers never anticipated this'.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

A Left And A Right, Babylon On The Ground

Now I know why the BBC gave such coverage to the anti-war protesters.

They're the same people ! I listened on R5 as hundreds of BBC employees, selflessly giving up an afternoon's tax-funded pay (or else I want my refund), gathered outside offices in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Londonderry, Manchester and Cardiff to protest Greg Dyke's resignation. Lots of (mostly female) chanting - add a few whistles and you could have been in Parliament Square on May Day. These people are still at university. The same chants too ...

Middle class female vocal - "What do we want ?"
"Greg Dyke !"
"When do we want him"
"Now !".

I'm sure I heard 'One, two three, four, we don't want your racist war' in the background when Peter Allen on R5 was talking to staff outside Broadcasting House. Maybe I dreamed it.

And the scenes of hysteria when Mr Hubris, after his interview with that nasty Ms Nemesis, left the building - you'd have thought John Pilger or Michael Moore was there ....

I liked this report ....

"The exclusive party will include the 'Hutton VIP room', which will blast out the Hutton report, mixed into dance music. MPs are expected to re-create Andrew Gilligans now infamous radio report, backed by conga music, whilst dancing hand in hand through the corridors of power."
State Funded Terror

The people for whom Jenny Tonge feels such empathy killed another bus-load of people today. The bomber was a Palestinian policeman, whose wages are funded by the EU.

Currently EU Fraud Officers are investigating the PA budget, according to this report. Given the EUs inability to spot fraud within its own borders, I don't hold out much hope for them on the West Bank. Good liberal EU commissioner Chris Patten denies any wrongdoing has taken place.

Stephen Bloomberg, a British born Israeli, is currently suing the EU after Palestinian police shot up his car, leaving him paralysed and killing his wife.

I hope he wins, but what a thought. We pay taxes to support Arafat's gunmen, then we pay again to support compensation for his victims. Could you make it up ?

Woman Sour

Listening to 'Jenni' Murray discussing anti-social behaviour with a spokesman from the Children's Society. This organisation, believe it or not, was once the Church of England Children's Society. Now they hold sincerely the belief that no child should ever be punished for anything - up to and including the Bulger killers, who should not have been locked up for the abduction, sexual torture and beating to death of a toddler. But they adopt a gradualist approach - the last campaign was against any children being held in secure accommodation (which includes prison where secure council units are unavailable), with a particular focus on Section 130. The people who support the campaign are the usual depressing pro-criminal suspects (Baroness Stern doesn't want adults locked up, never mind children), the childrens liberation movement (NSPCC, Barnados, National Children's Bureau) and assorted liberal bishops. Plus Paul Marsden.

Naturally the CS spokesman was against ASBOs - they were 'too punitive'. Always the criminal, never the victim.

Jenni was sympathetic. Of course, this doyenne of BBC PC had the money to leave Wandsworth for the Peak District when the children reached secondary age, a place where ASBOs are few and far between. So much easier to be a liberal on crime when it doesn't come back at you.

PS - Dalrymple wrote a while back 'beware of contracted first names'. This is a Seventies phenomenon which mostly affects women, though 'Jon's' and 'Miki's' are not unknown. It was hip and liberated for Jennifer to become Jenni, Nicola to Nikki, Susan to Suzi, Debbi, Traci and so on. Really hip girls dropped another letter - so we had Jeni, Niki and Debi. It's as sure a way of dating someone as the name Doris or Elsie once was. Anyone with such a contracted name is likely to be in the 45-55 range.

As one generation dies, its names, usually hopelessly unfashionable with young parents, return after lying fallow for a few years. Names like Ivy, Phoebe, Olive are starting to return. Strange to think a time will come when Wayne, Gary and Darren will be associated with old men.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Tony Sewell

One of my heroes, was the interviewee on Feargal Keane's R4 programme yesterday (RealAudio). I wish they'd just put up a transcript, but for those of you with broadband it's well worth a listen.
Blair vs BBC

Like Leeds v Arsenal, you want both sides to lose. But Melanie Phillips has some wise words on the Beeb,

"What's happened at the BBC is a bit like what's happened in our schools and universities -- a pervasive corruption of the culture and the erosion of its founding values. I don't want to destroy public service broadcasting any more than I want to destroy our schools and universities. But how can one change the culture and restore it to its founding values? How does one cleanse the Augean stables?

..... the criticism made elsewhere that it is wrong for the governors simultaneously to be defenders of the BBC and its regulators -- although correct -- opens up the possibility of putting the BBC under the control of the meddlesome, bureaucratic monstrosity that is Ofcom, which would destroy it."

and on the Tories opportunism over Kelly and Hutton.

" ... by deciding that Blair was the villain of the piece, the Tories were effectively siding with the BBC, when it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that the BBC was entirely in the wrong, that its position was utterly indefensible -- and that in the long run, it is the BBC, not the Labour party, that is actually the Tory party's biggest enemy because of the role it plays week in, week out in subverting the values of this country and the nature of truth itself.

But the Tories simply would not listen ..... because they were transfixed by the mantra of 'Blair the liar' which they have elevated to their main plank of opposition. Now they have been well and truly caught out on the wrong side. The roar of derision from the Labour benches that greeted Howard's feeble and glancing nod towards Hutton's demolition of the BBC was well deserved."

UPDATE - Norman Geras isn't too impressed with the Blessed Michael either. Nor is Stephen Pollard. Still, as Greg Dyke would doubtless say, we all make mistakes.

UPDATE 2 - DumbJon isn't too happy either.

"Howard's position was so blatantly opportunistic and cynical that it achieved the almost impossible: it made Blair look principled."

"Just when we were getting ready to enjoy the Beeb catching a full load of consequences, up pops Howard to stand shoulder to shoulder with the self-same people who are normally employed trying to convince the public that he eats babies. Absolutely brilliant."

I wonder if anyone thinks Howard did well or rightly. Out in the big wide world Dyke, Gilligan and co are getting the kicks, but in this corner of the blogosphere there's only one villain. A week is a long time in blog politics.
And I Thought My Blog ....

Covered a limited range of subjects. What does this blogger do in his spare time ?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

PC Plod

Remember Richard Brunstrom ? The North Wales Police chief who called a press conference after a pensioner complained about a speeding fine ?

He's in the news again - because a deputy Mayor is suing him for failing to cut Scally-related crime in Anglesey.

And for more sinister reasons - the letter sent to a woman after remarks she made at a public meeting in Llandudno, called to debate the effect of Brundstroms anti-speeding measures on business in the town.

"Mrs Elphick told Arrive Alive project manager Inspector Alan Hughes she appreciated the kind of work the police had to do in places such as Caia Park, Wrexham, scene of last summer's riots.

"But I would beg you not to put the rest of us in the same category as the people you had to deal with in Caia Park.

"The majority of people in here are upright, upstanding, good, honest citizens and I know there are one or two like that in Caia Park," she said.

On the video she continues: "But I have to say if you only left Caia Park six months ago you could stand the danger of judging us all by the same. We are not hooligans and we are not fast drivers.""

After the meeting she was sent a letter warning her that her speech had 'serious racial undertones. In the event of further inflammatory conduct you can be assured of a swift police response'.

The mighty Littlejohn has more.
The Evils of Multiculturalism

I bet neither the BNP nor Enoch Powell foresaw this.
Just A Few Votes ...

Blair survives, thanks to the votes of Scottish MPs. But it's all a little bit more damage ... better to hang on as long as possible, creating a greater fall.

The state of Labour is that of the mine-shaft in Zola's Germinal, after the anarchist Souvarine has attacked it. Planking is holed, water is spraying into the shaft from a dozen places, steel supports are held by only a couple of rusting screws. Behind the planking sands and water are moving. But for the moment it holds, and at pit-bottom things just seem a bit leakier than usual.

Hypocaust Memorial Day

Today, when for some reason the Government wants us all to contemplate Roman central heating systems. Yet when I rang the people at Chedworth about running a school trip there, they don't open till March !

The Government supports some strange initiatives - last year we had Balsamic Awareness Week. My friend Tim who knows about these things tells me it's a kind of herb vinegar from Modena, much favoured by Islington types for sprinkling on their organic scoff with rocket and tarragon. How typical of New Labour - what's wrong with decent working class British vinegar like Sarson's, brewed in Stourport since 1798 ?

Holocaust Memorial Day

In 2001, Education Secretary David Blunkett sent an information pack on the Shoah to every head teacher in Britain. It's an interesting document, with two basic themes. The first is that racism is a slippery slope - object to asylum seekers one day, and soon you'll be packing those cattle-trucks full of unfortunates. "Such events could happen anywhere at any time unless we ensure that our society is vigilant is opposing racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry". Continuous parallels are drawn between modern asylum-seekers and 1930s German Jewry.

"Research Britain's response to victims of Nazism throughout the 1930s.
Could the British Government have done more?
Provide examples of refugees who have come to Britain in the last 10 years.
How do we know about them and how are they treated here?"

I presume the correct answer to the last question is 'vilified by the tabloid press, especially the Mail' rather than 'given housing, heating, clothing, water, education, TV and phone'.

The second theme is that diversity and tolerance are so precious that there are some things which we should not tolerate. Like people with the wrong, 'intolerant' views.

"No one can legislate against a person holding intolerant views and in a democracy, where freedom of speech is a fundamental right, we cannot prevent people from expressing opinions that are prejudiced or even discriminatory. However .........antisemitism, racism and other prejudices are not neutral concepts, but harmful, anti-social ideas based on a desire to demean others, to harm them and even to wipe them off the face of the earth. Such prejudices are not in keeping with democratic values..... Independent, critical thought and moral values do not, even in a democracy, emerge of themselves but need to be nurtured through dealing justly with individuals at every level of society."

"If the lessons of the Holocaust are to be learnt, the suffering that is still caused by the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and 'acceptable' prejudice must be addressed."

In order to save free speech we had to destroy it.

I love that bit about independent thought not emerging of itself but needing to be nurtured.

Very independent. And how do you nurture it ?

"The promotion of democracy is a matter of education, not propaganda. A sense of justice and respect for human rights can be developed by educating young people to become independent critical thinkers, not susceptible to crude propaganda nor to cynical manipulation by politicians or demagogues. Societies ... racism ..... democratic ideals of social inclusion .... MacPherson Report ... Stephen Lawrence ..... institutional racism ... in our society".

The answer seems to be "Call your propaganda education".

Perhaps the government could save some money next year. Just hand out a small sheet - 'Two Facts About The Holocaust You might Not Have Realised".

#1 - Killing People Is Bad
#2 - The Germans Did It

And older children can read The Last Of The Just, Andre Schwarz Bart's epic of the Just Men.
It Continues ....

"Doing something to assist .... may seem difficult. But if we are not prepared to stand up to those who persecute others, then a situation can easily get out of control." DFES Holocaust pack, 2001.

It already has.

Five million in the UK since 1967.

Foetus ? Baby ?

The British Medical Association's 'Ethics Adviser' now wants post-natal abortions.

"Every Child A Wanted Child, Every Mother A Willing Mother" - the smiling, reasonable face of death. Great slogan - much better than 'Kill Unwanted Children' with its relentlessly downbeat, negative message.

How about "Every Jew A Wanted Jew, Every Neighbour A Willing Neighbour ?" for Hamas rebranding ? I'm sure Jenny Tonge would understand.