Saturday, May 03, 2008

Who's Sorry Now ?

September 2006 ... Blair makes his valedictory speech at the Labour Party conference. You can see the video here.

I commented at the time :

It was a fantastic speech, even if I didn't believe a word of it (apart from those bits which agreed with my prejudices, of course) and consider Blair to have been the most disastrously successful election-winner since Stanley Baldwin. Listening to the R5 coverage, the presenters were struck by the supportive texts and calls coming in (the general message being 'they must be crazy to drop him').

How confident the Labour party were, that they could jettison perhaps the greatest con-man in British political history. "It wasn't the Tories, it was Labour that forced Tony Blair to depart now - instead of serving the full term he promised at the last election."

Now ? Peter Oborne :

It is worth recalling that only as recently as September Gordon Brown seemed unshakeable as British prime minister. He was 15 points ahead in the polls, his leadership was universally praised.

Had Brown called an election then - and how much that memory must torture him! - he would have won a commanding victory and be looking forward to being in power until 2012. Yet, he recoiled at the last moment - and this week he paid a terrible price for that cowardice and procrastination.

In Hank Williams' words :

You know that you're the one to blame
There's no use to pretend
Today's the day you start to pay
I'm Sorry For You, My Friend.

Post-Christian entertainment

In a Johnny Vegas stylee. In fairness, I must say I've seen one or two highly embarrassed chaps get rather worse treatment at the hands of 'lady entertainers' at the works football dinner. They just had to grin and bear it.

It's a lovely day ...

The sun is shining ... the weather is sweet ...

Matthew Parris :

Mr Miliband said the message Labour had now to get across was how different and dangerous were the Tories, who deeply hated government and wanted to cut it wherever they could. Mr Burnham said the message Labour had now to get across was how David Cameron and George Osborne were just shallow copycats with no philosophy of their own - their ideas and plans merely aping new Labour. I didn't have the heart to put to Mr Burnham what Mr Miliband had said.
He correctly interprets the results as a resounding raspberry to Labour and GB, rather than a resounding endorsement of DC. Grauniad commenter outradgie notes :

It's a disturbing echo of the Tory disarray in 1997, when some of them were issuing dire warnings that Blair was a dangerous radical who would ruin everything, while the rest were complaining that Blair had stolen their policies.

Funnily enough, both were right.

Not much has changed and we're still doomed, but it's a lovely day and the garden awaits. Here's some happy music. Don't take it too literally - from personal experiance not all Rastamen are Godly paragons. I do like Biblical reggae :

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.

Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me

Politics As Usual

"A new dawn is awakened ... yet nothing has changed ..." as Gregory Isaacs put it.

"Dangerous criminals are being placed in low security open prisons due to overcrowding, at "massive" risk to the general public, the BBC has learned."

A new (to me, anyway) type of crime - kidnapping back in the old country.

Bradford businessman Mohammed Zaman, 55, said: "Kidnappings in Pakistan that resort to ransoms demanded from relatives in England are all too common. I cannot praise the police enough. What are words in a matter like this?"

The police operation's inception has an air of the old country about it, too.

Zaman defied the gang's threat to kill his brother if he contacted the police. He contacted a family friend, Jawaid Akhtar, who is an assistant chief constable at West Yorkshire police.

23.3% of primary school children are now classified as 'ethnic minority', up from 21.9% last year.

The share of pupils in England's schools speaking English as a second language has risen to a record high, government figures show. Some 14.4% of primary school pupils spoke a language other than English as their first language in 2008 - a rise of 0.9 percentage points on 2007. It was 10.5% in 2004, the year before the main European Union expansion, and has almost doubled since 1997.

In secondary schools, the proportion rose from 10.6% to 10.8% over 2007-08. The latest figures translate to some 470,080 pupils in primary schools and 354,300 pupils in secondary schools whose first language is thought not to be English.

Man commits suicide after his daughter loses in the Brighton schools place ballot. I can't help thinking the need for a father comes before the need for an education, but you can understand his distress.

Steve Don, 43, threw himself under a train after telling his wife that if the local education authority would not listen to him while he was alive, “perhaps they will if I was dead”.

A little ramble through the Matthews (as in Shannon) family tree.

Her forbears, though, were the footsoldiers of industrial Britain. Some of her parents' generation even worked in the last factories, mines and mills - relics of West Yorkshire's status as an economic powerhouse. Today, heavy industry has moved on to other, cheaper and more productive parts of the globe. Only 40 people are now employed in weaving in the whole of Dewsbury. The original workforce and their descendants, however, have been left marginalised, often suspicious of growing immigrant communities. Indeed, 13 per cent of Dewsbury's population is of Asian origin - who bring their own traditions and entrepreneurial drive.

Other traditional foundation stones have also shifted. The powerful family cornerstone of marriage no longer exists, nor in many cases does the nuclear household and the maternal bond. The result has been disastrous. At least 13 of the children in the latest generation related to the Matthews family do not live with their mothers, for one reason or another. Several are being looked after by others. One was put out for adoption. Another is serving a life sentence in prison.

What would Grandpa Matthewman have made of it all?

The EU appear to be making it unlawful to hold illegal immigrants in detention for more then 6 months. Apparently illegal immigrants are 'modern slaves'.

He said there would be a six-month limit on detention for most people and a readmission agreement would have to be struck before they were sent home.

And failing that ? You're out and you vanish until the amnesty.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Boris Wins ....

Quite comfortably. And his acceptance speech is as multicultural as any Guardianista could wish, with a generous tribute to the ghastly Ken and Mr Paddick.

Ken : "there is nothing I could have asked from the Labour Party that they didn't give"

That's why they got hammered outside London !

In the Finance department at City Hall the shredders will be working overtime as the bodies are buried. I hope Veronica Wadley has a team of photographers outside 24/7, looking for people removing bulging black bin-liners.

That's just about put the tin lid on Gordon's day. I almost felt sorry for him this morning as the insufferable "Nicky" Campbell told him his fortune on R5. Let's hope Sarah has a hot whisky and a cuddle plus 'extras' on the go.

Only the Assembly top-ups to go. Let's hope the cup of bitterness is full to the brim, pressed down and running over.

UPDATE - I'd lock up loose cannon sister Rachel Johnson as well - speed-gabbling on R5 about the amount of champagne, oysters and caviar at Bozza's party. Apparently 'London belongs to him' and 'who needs Henley' - I'm sure the voters there will be well pleased to hear that. Ah well - you certainly can't accuse her of being in thrall to the spin doctors.

Already people are calling in to protest.

UPDATE2 - the final London Assembly figures were really a contrast to the rest of the country. Labour didn't lose a seat, the Lib Dims and UKIP lost two each, Tories gained two, Labour actually gained one and the BNP gained one. So not exactly a Tory landslide and not exactly a Labour disaster in the assembly.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

This Summer's Guardian Today

Opposition leaders arrested again as Livingstone faces critics

· London leader defiant on eve of Labour conference
· No sign of election results
· More electoral officials charged

Ken Livingstone, seen here with his spiritual adviser, has approved proposed legislation to force all white-owned companies to hand over 51% of their shares to Lee Jasper.

London's security forces detained the opposition leader, Boris Johnson, and other political activists in a raid on his party headquarters yesterday as Mayor Ken Livingstone prepared to tell a meeting of southern English leaders today that his rule has not degenerated into lawless banditry. The results of the May 1st London Mayoral election have still not been announced nearly four months after the election.

The mayor threatened more arrests of opposition politicians and journalists, who it accuses of fomenting a coup, in what appeared an act of defiance by Mr Livingstone towards regional leaders who have become increasingly concerned about London's increasing culture of corruption and critical of violence against the opposition Conservative Party. Four more returning officers for outer London boroughs were arrested yesterday - 11 have already been charged with "destroying votes" for Mr Livingstone and "fabricating votes" for Mr Johnson. All entered guilty pleas after 42 days of "intensive interviews" by the Met's specialist "Voter Support Unit".

In an impassioned speech delivered at the Regents Park Mosque last week, Mr Livingstone denounced the 'British imperialists and their agents in this our city' before calling on his young militants, the so-called "war on terror veterans", to "smash the white colonialists once and for all". Two days later, in a sinister development, several articulated lorries containing what are described as "a few bits and pieces we forgot to decommission" left Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, for London following a deal struck between Mr Livingstone and border farmer Mr Thomas 'Slab' Murphy. Trade unionists at Heysham have refused to unload the vehicles, and the vessel carrying them left last night for an undisclosed destination.

The Tory party headquarters was raided just before Mr Johnson was to hold a press conference about the rising number of abductions and beatings of opposition activists by squads of armed men loyal to Mr Livingstone.

Southern English leaders called a meeting in Tunbridge Wells to discuss the "political and security situation" in the region after international outrage at the severe beating of Mr Johnson and other Tory activists earlier this month.

Mr Livingstone blames the opposition for the violence and England and the US for the deepening economic crisis. But the region's leaders are increasingly unwilling to accept that explanation.

Gordon Brown, who has resisted public criticism of Mr Livingstone, last week described London as in "meltdown" and is believed to be the driving force behind the meeting of regional leaders.

But analysts said that whatever may be said to Mr Livingstone in private, it is unlikely that Labour MPs will all agree to strong criticism in public.

Inventions of the British Imperialists

Early 70's Oman. Selected Arabs are being flown to Mao's China for guerilla traning and indoctrination. From Ranulph Fiennes' "Where Soldiers Fear To Tread" :

Ahmad Deblaan remembered the endless indoctrination lessons for the Chinese instructor had spared no pains to see that every word was lodged firmly in his head. He would be able to repeat them for the rest of his life :

"What is the Koran and who is the Prophet, comrade ?"

"The Koran, the Prophet and all other manifestations of Islam are the inventions of the British imperialists who are runing dogs and lackeys of the U.S."

"Why did they spread about such inventions in Arab lands ?"

"They wished to poison our society with the class-ideologies of religion. To cloud the Arab mid with Islamic ritual - leaving no time to ponder the injustice of our suppression ... to make us place all inequalities at the door of a make-believe God when in reality the British and their puppet-Sultans were to blame ... "

The guerillas took it seriously - torturing villagers for publicly praying and executing any of their members who failed to reject God. I'm not sure many on the Left, including those so keen for Mao in the 60s, would follow this approach now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Busy ...

Busy ... a small post at B-BBC.

And a comment at CiF on the "what does this tell us about Austrian society" coverage of the case where a man kept his daughter imprisoned in the cellar while fathering seven children by her.

I think we can assume that if a big news story fits into an existing liberal narrative, we'll see "what does this tell us ?" rolled out. If there's no existing liberal picture frame for the story, there'll be no interest, and if the story fits into an existing right-wing narrative, media types will shy away from it like an alcoholic sighting a pink elephant. A simple rule, but seems to fit the evidence.

This sad tale of evil fits into the 'evil patriarchal family' picture frame and so will appeal to the people who keep "A Child Named 'what the *** are you looking at ?'" in the book bestseller charts. You see, they really do **** you up, your mum and dad !

Abu Ghraib fits the 'evil US imperialists' frame, the Walker and Lawrence murders the 'evil white racists' frame. On the other hand, a case like Kriss Donald's, the worst racist murder in UK history, has no framing narrative at all, and the Leneghan murder only fits into a far-right 'these sub-human beasts' narrative which all right thinking people would shy away from.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008